By Holly Regan
September 10, 2011
For current or recently discharged military members, there are many advantages to online education. As opposed to the rigid structure of traditional schools, military-friendly online programs allow students the freedom to work on their own schedule and from their own location.
Campus-based schools require significant commitments in terms of a fixed schedule and travel. Students who are currently enrolled may not be able to leave their base to attend regular classes on a school campus. Students who have been recently discharged may be working civilian jobs, and unable to attend on-campus courses due to work schedules. Online education offers the benefit of flexibility to these servicemen and –women, regardless of their situation.
Once a potential student has located the military-friendly institution of his or her choice, there are a vast array of online educational programs and degrees available, just as they are in traditional schools. These programs include:
- Associate’s degree
- Bachelor’s degree
- Master’s degree
- Doctorate degrees
- Certificate and technical programs
The programs offer a variety of online course formats to meet different learning styles. They also feature flexible absence policies for active-duty students, benefits for spouses and other family members, tuition discounts, and transfer credits (“Accredited Online Military Friendly Colleges”, About-elearning.com). The Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits apply to online programs as well as traditional ones, and can provide assistance for currently enlisted or recently discharged service members.
Click here for an explanation of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
There are several ways of determining which schools are considered “military-friendly”.
Schools can claim this in their advertisements, but their claim may prove to be false (“Choosing a School”, gibill.va.gov). To help prospective students verify a school’s claim, the American Council on Education (ACE) has compiled a list of “military-friendly” criteria, including:
- Transfer of credits from past schools or military service
- Community support, including medical and mental health
- Representation for, and involvement of, veterans in school administration
- A specific point of contact for veterans on the school website
- School housing designated for veterans
Click here for more information from VA on choosing a school.
Another great resource is Military Advanced Education, a bi-monthly magazine produced by KMI Media Group. In addition to providing regular information about schools, higher-learning programs and career opportunities for service members, the magazine features a special issue every year called “Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Schools.”
The institutions listed in this publication are selected through a careful survey process, conducted by leaders in the military as well as the higher-learning community. Schools make the listed based on programs and policies that favor military students. Concise but detailed information is provided about each of the schools and the programs they feature – including whether or not there is an online learning option.
Click here to go to the Military Advanced Education website, where you can download the top schools survey.
Another good resource for locating military-friendly educational programs is to look for schools that are part of the Service Members Opportunity College System (SOC). This is an organization that supports higher learning benefits for students in the service; its website provides a list of member schools, many of which also include online programs. The criteria SOC uses to determine whether or not a school is “military-friendly” are:
- Reasonable Transfer of Credit
- Reduced Academic Residency
- Credit for Military Training and Experience
- Credit for Nationally-Recognized Testing Programs
Click here to see the list of SOC member institutions. There are many institutions, both online and on-campus; the list is sorted by state.
No matter what type of program they are seeking, what their living situation is, or what their goals are, military-friendly online educational programs provide a valuable path to success for servicemen and –women. With the flexibility the programs allow, education does not have to take a backseat to serving America in the Armed Forces. Explore the links above to learn more about these exciting opportunities.