Can You Get a Degree While Actively Serving in the Military?

Degrees while serving in the militaryThanks to increasingly sophisticated online learning tools, it’s entirely possible for military personnel to get a degree while actively serving in the military, whether at home or abroad. In fact, a large number of universities have customized their online learning environments and calendars specifically to cater to members of the military who are earning their degree from a distance, according to the US News and World Report. Before enrolling in any of these increasingly popular programs, however, military members should do a fair amount of research concerning accreditation, scheduling, curriculum, and helpful discounts on per-credit costs that may apply.

Where to Start: Begin with the School’s Accreditation

The biggest concern for any prospective student is their future institution’s accreditation. It’s absolutely essential for today’s military members to determine whether their school is accredited regionally or nationally by a recognized entity. The Department of Education’s Council on Higher Education Accreditation recognizes several regional bodies, and a handful of major national ones, that verify the quality and academic rigor of universities and their majors. Verifying accreditation will also ensure that students gain access to financial aid programs and tuition assistance benefits that are made available to both the student population at large and military families specifically.

Course Scheduling and Majors: Is it a Viable Option?

Another key concern for members of the military is whether or not the school is interested in accommodating their unique schedule and overall academic needs. Many universities understand that the military has unique demands, with deployments and combat not necessarily lining up with the academic calendar. For this reason, the best schools for military members will often extended absence accommodation, accelerated course schedules, and a variety of learning formats that can accommodate distance, changes in Internet availability, and unexpected deployment that will cause absence from the online classroom.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the school offers the right major, with credit for prior experiences or challenge exams that can help to waive credits. Members of the military often have unique training and experiences that could reduce the number of their required credits, helping them take part in graduation sooner than they would otherwise be able to do.

Discounts and Benefits: A Key Area to Conduct Some Research

Many universities offer special tuition discount for military members or their immediate families, both as a form of gratitude and as a way to maximize the salary paid to members of the military for their service. Schools like American Military University, Franklin University, Wilmington University, and many others, deduct anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars from their per-credit tuition costs, which can help many service members afford their higher education without resorting to student loan programs or other forms of borrowing.

Related Resource: Become a Teacher at a Military College

Distance Education is Transforming the Military Experience

In an era before Internet classes, members of the military often had to delay their higher education goals until they returned home and reentered civilian life. Thankfully, that reality is now only part of history. Many universities, from the for-profit online schools to non-profit, traditional institutions, offer online classes, tuition discounts, and special accommodations for military members that will help them achieve their educational goals sooner and for a far lesser cost. For this reason, it’s actually recommended that today’s service members do all they can to get a degree while actively serving in the military.