School as a Service: Earn a Master’s Degree Online

Have you heard of SaaS? If you’re a little on the geeky side or if you have experience outsourcing your company’s IT services, you’ll know that it stands for “software as a service.” SaaS means that you can access programs that your company would normally host on its internal network, like Microsoft Office, through someone else’s cloud. The advantage to SaaS is that it reduces the upkeep and hassle of having to deal with maintaining software on your own servers and networks.

If the company 2U has its way, “SaaS” might soon stand for something else: school as a service. 2U is one company that’s selling its cloud services to traditional universities. Want to expand the number of students you serve without expanding your campus? At the University of Southern California, 2U helped grow the School of Education’s Master’s Degree program from 120 students to 2,000 students. Want to serve busy working adults seeking a convenient online graduate degree or online professional degree from a reputable institution? Use 2U’s cloud-based platform. Companies like 2U are determined to deliver the exact same quality Master’s Degree a student would get on campus via their online platform.

Why Master’s Degrees Are the Perfect Degrees to Earn Online

Many traditional brick-and-mortar schools are starting to figure out that the online-only schools have a good thing going. A traditional brick-and-mortar university can only serve the students who live close by. As many universities are located in “college towns,” that is, small towns that thrive only because of the university’s presence, offering Master’s Degrees to working professionals in the area gives them a rather limited market. Some universities have rectified the situation by opening satellite classes in bigger cities, but that’s expensive for them. Wouldn’t it be better if they could reach anyone in the world with their online degree program, without students having to leave home?

For these traditional schools, offering a bachelor’s degree online is tough. When earning a well-rounded bachelor’s degree, students have to fulfill degree requirements by taking courses from many different professors across many different departments; even a student majoring in computer science may also be required to take a semester or two of a foreign language, a few English courses and certainly plenty of math and science classes.

Offering an online Master’s Degree or professional degree, on the other hand, is different. All the courses are offered by the same handful of professors within the same department. The course requirements are usually standardized and streamlined, without multiple electives making things complicated. Furthermore, the student body is smaller, which makes it easier to manage students, and the degree program is typically two years instead of four. Finally, a Master’s Degree appeals to the students who are perfect candidates for taking online courses: Master’s degree students are often working adults who are ready to go back to school to further their careers. They aren’t looking for the “college experience;” they’re looking for a way to climb the career ladder without having to quit their jobs for two years to go back to school.

Online Graduate Degrees Are Meeting with Great Success

So far, 2U is helping students and universities alike experience tremendous success. For starters, the 2U Master’s Degree students have a retention rate of 98 percent. That’s an extremely high retention rate for a traditional university, but it blows the retention rate for most online programs out of the water.

Which universities are using 2U’s “SaaS” technology? To name a few:

  • Duke University
  • University of North Carolina’s schools of business and government
  • Washington University’s School of Law
  • George Washington University’s School of Public Health
  • University of Southern California’s schools of social work and education

2U’s success has much to do with the way it helps universities to use technology. To begin with, students use webcams and front-facing cameras on their tablet devices to participate in “live” classes with actual college professors and other online students. Although all online universities utilize some degree of classroom interaction and many are starting to use streaming video, it’s still relatively unique to have live online classes.

While some of the classes are live, other classes include pre-recorded documentary-style videos and coursework that’s available online 24 hours per day. It’s this convenience, of course, that draws many working adults to take classes online in the first place. Like many other online universities, the 2U technology also allows for online discussions through forums and chat rooms as well as a chance to form study groups online with other students in the program.

The Time Is Right to Earn a Graduate Degree Online

For working adults who have been thinking of going back to school to obtain a Master’s Degree, there’s never been a better time to earn a degree online. New technologies are making some experts wonder if there will soon be more online degree programs than offline ones. This idea holds especially true with graduate degree programs.

While working adults who already have an undergraduate degree may question the value of obtaining a Master’s Degree or professional degree, a recent article in The Atlantic includes an infographic that should put all such hesitations to rest. According to The Atlantic, individuals who hold a professional degree earn more and have lower unemployment than any other segment of the population, even those with doctoral degrees. People with Master’s Degrees are right behind them.

Explore the possibilities of earning your Master’s Degree online. A little research may prove to you that your Master’s Degree is the next important career move that you should take.