The need for nurses is as persistent as the common cold. In terms of demand, most health care professionals, in general, benefit from the aging population, as well as advancing technology helping people live longer, healthier lives. And prospects for registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs)—both among our Best Jobs for the Future—are particularly promising with their numbers expected to grow by 16.3% and 35.2%, respectively, over the next decade. RNs earn a median $69,789 a year; NPs typically make nearly $103,947 a year. And the field is as rewarding as it is lucrative: 82% of employees with this degree report feeling a high sense of meaning in their careers, the highest share of all 102 majors included in our rankings.
The curriculum varies between programs, but courses generally provide reading, discussion, and writing forums for students on topics like education finance, the achievement gap, and education reform. Students also choose an emphasis area, such as elementary education, mathematics education, science education, special education, school administration, or educational technology, and take courses focusing on topics in that field. One of the most important components of a doctorate in education program is the dissertation. Students choose an original topic and an advising professor, then read extensively about their topic, and conduct their own research.
Fort Hays State boasts numerous accolades for its online degrees and virtual college. Several of the school's online bachelor's pathways serve as degree completion programs geared toward transfer students with an associate degree; most students complete these tracks in two years or less. Additionally, some programs carry a foreign language coursework requirement.
The University of Arkansas at Monticello features an online Bachelor of Science in Education Studies. The program is designed for nontraditional students, and particularly for full-time public school paraprofessionals. Anyone may apply. Freshman admission requires a diploma and a minimum GPA of 2.0. The ACT is preferred. Transfer students also need a minimum 2.0 GPA. The program does not lead to licensure but on completion, graduates may choose to enroll in UAM's online MA in Teaching, which does lead to certification. Sample courses include Education, Schools and Society, K-6 Planning, Curriculum and Programming, and Needs of Diverse Learners in Inclusive Settings.
The opportunities in this field may be limited, but the financial rewards are great. There are only about 20,000 nuclear engineers in the country, and while those numbers have risen 12.2% over the past decade, the growth is expected to slow to 5.3% over the next decade, compared with 9.7% growth for all jobs. Plus, you can only find those opportunities in certain pockets of the country. Virginia holds the greatest number of positions, according to the BLS, while New Mexico has the highest concentration of nuclear engineers.

To get started as a materials scientist, you typically need a bachelor’s degree, but some research positions may require you to extend your education for a master’s or doctoral degree. It might be worth the added boost. Materials scientists make a median income of $99,549 a year, well above the national median of $43,992 a year. But you can expect some competition: While the number of positions is expected to increase a modest 7.4% over the next decade, slower than the projected 9.7% growth for all jobs, the market remains small with there being just about 8,000 materials scientists currently.


Instructional technology degrees are usually earned as graduate degrees. Most people who become interested in this field are already educators or educational leaders, such as vice principals or curriculum developers. Students who are choosing instructional technology paths are interested in becoming better at their jobs, learning to take their techniques and skills in new directions. This makes the masters degree or the masters of education degree very popular. Students study computer programming, the teaching of computer programming, introducing students to technology, using technology paired with written literature and traditional teaching methods, and training other teachers to use technology in their classrooms. 
If you can handle those kinds of ebbs and flows, plan on studying architectural design basics, architectural history, architectural technology and other similar subjects. Learning about eco-friendly designs, too, can help give your career a boost as demand for energy-efficient buildings and structures increases. Also note that many bachelor of architecture programs can take five years to complete on schedule. And after graduation, you need to work a paid internship for up to three years and then pass the Architect Registration Examination in order to earn your license as an architect. Find out more through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
Yes! WGU combines rigorous online curriculum with local placement for an in-person field experience in order to complete your teaching degree. Our program allows you to complete most of the program online, and only requires an in-person commitment at the very end of your program. To complete the degree you will be required to do several weeks of observations and a 4-6 month demonstration teaching experience at a local school. WGU’s Field Placement department will help you find a suitable school for this commitment.
Consider the rapid growth in the number of online degree programs available between 2012 and 2014. Over the last three academic years, we've seen a 45% increase in the number of online programs offered across the United States, for a total of 13,092 in 2014-2015. You can choose from over 550 individual degree programs alone that are offered by the 4-year colleges featured within our list of the best online universities.
Since 2006, the University of Alabama—a public research university—has been offering high-quality online programs through Bama by Distance, their distinctive online portal. Bama by Distance currently offers around 60 accredited online degrees and certificates—primarily in the areas of education, engineering, healthcare, and business—at the undergraduate through the doctoral levels.
For us onlooking or partaking upperclassmen, that feeling isn’t too distant. As a freshman, the sense of being lost in a big new world was exciting, but at the same time I treasured every bit of advice I could get. And there are still many things I wish I would have known then. Now that I’m a few years older, I thought I’d share some thoughts. More importantly, I went around and asked some of the most accomplished Penn students for what recommendations they’d give to freshmen.
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