Although you might think getting into an accredited online degree program will be a piece of cake, it is not necessarily so. The number of online degree students registered has gone up every year by over 30%. You have competition at legitimate distance learning schools just as you would at a college with traditional real estate. In fact, some of these traditional schools are at the forefront of online education as well. State schools like the University of Illinois as well as private universities are seeing the advantage to online learning and establishing online degree programs, and hold prospective students to the same stringent requirements as their more traditional applicants. More than likely the professor who is teaching a resident student is also teaching in the online degree program, using the same textbooks and tests in both courses.
When you are narrowing your field of schools, look at the entrance requirements. More than likely you will be asked for SAT, SAT2, GRE (Graduate Record Exam), GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) or MAT (Miller Analogies Test) scores and well as a solid GPA. You might want to check out your scores with the average score of students who have been accepted to the program to assess your chances of acceptance. But because the online degree is more attractive to someone who has been on a specific career track and is older, there is a chance that these tests are not required. If this is an issue, look for online programs that bypass these tests.
Living la vida local
If you are intending to attend classes 100% online, make sure that the program you are interested in does not require you to show up for weekend classes, seminars or thesis defense. About a third of the online programs require some kind of physical presence. Think airfare, hotel, car rental when looking at this kind of school.