Every year, more and more students are earning an online bachelor’s degree through hybrid programs with some face-to-face learning or four-year degree programs that are 100 percent online.
Adult or nontraditional students benefit from online degree programs in that you’re able to manage a family and/or career while completing a bachelor’s degree. Online courses also benefit traditional students–those of you who are fresh out of high school–because you’re able to balance a part-time job and/or internship while staying on track with your academic timeline.
In addition to keeping your job, online learning can save you money through accelerated programs and generous transfer credit policies. If you enter one of these degree completion programs, often referred to as “fast tracks,” with a military background, work experience and/or credits from prior learning, you could graduate with your bachelor’s degree within just one year (sometimes, even less). On average, though, students graduate with a bachelor’s degree within two years by taking the accelerated program route.
Purdue University Global, for example, offers an accelerated online business administration degree program in which the average bachelor’s graduate saves 44 percent on tuition via transfer credits. Luckily, most of the majors listed below are available in an accelerated format more often than not.
Speaking of the below majors…
When we describe these five career paths as the easiest bachelor’s degrees to earn, take it with a grain of salt. These online programs will be easier only if:
- You are at least somewhat interested in the subject and its related courses
- You are already proficient or naturally talented in the field
- You are interested in the subject’s career options available to recent college grads
- You are able to handle the workload required by that major
- Your field of choice offers job opportunities that will offset any student loans you may have
- You are choosing a college or university that’s degree program is accredited and trustworthy
- You are self-disciplined with solid time management skills
If we haven’t scared you off, you’ll be glad to know that we chose these five degree options based on the fact that their undergrads have some of the highest average GPA among college students (AKA, they’re more accessible than other bachelor’s degrees).
Plus, online degree programs for these majors come with additional perks, including:
- Shorter class terms (anywhere from six to 16 weeks long)
- Global networking opportunities with fellow students logging in from around the world
- Year-round start dates
- Competency-based education (CBE): Self-paced courses with efficient and relevant content, including project-based assessments and real-world scenarios to help you take your book smarts to the streets. All of the course content in CBE classes is available up front so that you can move through the course at your own pace (often anywhere from two to 10 weeks). Finally, these courses are asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to log in during a set class time.
- The option (usually) to choose however many classes you wish to take on at a time
One of our sources for this article, CollegeVine considered additional factors in its research, like the average weekly study hours required to succeed in the major and the 20-year ROI (return on investment). The 20-year ROI is the total of 20 years of median pay for a college grad within each major, minus how much the four-year degree cost. We chose to include additional information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, like projected job growth (from 2018-2028) and median annual salary for each career field
|Average GPA: 3.6||Weekly Workload: 14||Median Annual Salary: $50,790|
|20-Year ROI: -$9,000||Projected Growth: 5%||Accelerated Programs: YES|
Degree Types: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Education or Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Education, as well as specialized programs, like Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education, Sciences Education, Special Education, Educational Leadership, etc.
Education, as is the case with all five of these majors, requires its students to truly have a passion for this degree. As you can see above, that negative ROI can be a bit spirit-crushing. For those with a love for teaching and motivation for making a difference, though, the product is worth the payout.
If you want to be an educator, you should aspire to make a difference in the lives of your students, and you’ll need to have a lot of patience and resilience while doing so. Today, being an educator means much more than scratching some chalk across a board and attending parent-teacher conferences. For instance, many teachers and educational administrators in low-income school districts end up paying out of pocket for their students’ school supplies.
Educators who take the time to build real relationships with their students often end up playing roles like mediator, social worker, psychologist, correctional officer and more. If this seems like too much work, your heart may not be in the educational field. But those who aren’t discouraged tend to find that the occupation feeds their soul.
The high average GPA among students in the education major lends to the “ease” of this degree program. The course content is easily digestible, and recent college grads can find decently paying education jobs in a variety of settings.
Earning a bachelor’s in education online will give you a leg up in the rapidly advancing digital education realm by learning both in-person and online education models. Teaching students in a classroom can be similar to teaching online, but the different platforms affect more than you’d think. Being an educator in these times requires an understanding of what it’s like to learn from the other side of the screen. Plus, you can take the opportunity to log hours as an in-person (or online) teaching assistant while enjoying the flexible class times and assignment dates of an online degree program.
One tip for placing yourself ahead of your peers: Get your degree in the subject that you are most interested in teaching, rather than a generic teaching or education degree. This will provide you with a much more in-depth understanding of your subject of choice, consequently making you a better educator on the subject. Not to mention, you can still take the opportunity to minor or double major in education.
- Educating Exceptional Students
- Intro to Instructional Technology
- Classroom Management
- Human Growth & Development
Careers in this field you can get with a bachelor’s degree:
- Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teacher
- Career and Technical Education Teacher
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher
- Middle School Teachers
- High School Teachers
- Special Education Teachers
2. Social Work
|Average GPA: 3.4||Weekly Workload: 12||Median Annual Salary: $50,470|
|20-Year ROI: $139,000||Projected Growth: 11%||Accelerated Programs: YES|
Degree Types: Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Social Work or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Social Work
Before you get it in your mind that social work is easy, please understand that this career field requires its employees to:
- Complete 400 hours* of supervised field experience as an undergraduate (900 as a graduate student)
- Pass an exam to obtain a license
- Work full-time, even through evenings, weekdays and holidays
- Solve problems and help others cope with often traumatic experiences
- Remain highly resilient, mentally and emotionally speaking (AKA keep your cool when things are definitely not cool)
- Practice consistent self-care
- Do all of this for the lowest median annual salary on this list
*The Council for Social Work Education (CSWE), a respected degree program accrediting agency, set this requirement. Programs without accreditation are not worth your time and money.
The easiness of a bachelor’s degree in social work online comes from the comfortable GPA that’s doable with a smaller workload, compared to other majors. From a more technical point of view, the course content within social work degree programs is not difficult to grasp. Plus, as an undergrad, you’re not focusing on the Pandora’s Box that is the academic research realm of social work.
Instead, social workers holding a bachelor’s degree focus on the practice, providing immediate and direct care to clients. Social work is special in that the field experience side of the career is the most difficult but rewarding part. In-the-field social work, especially in large metropolitan areas, can be incredibly taxing. However as a social worker, you get to have face-to-face experiences of making a real difference in your clients’ lives. Plus, the bachelor’s degree program and career in social work will greatly heighten your emotional intelligence.
Another “easy” thing about earning a bachelor’s degree in social work is the high demand for employees across various settings, like schools, hospitals, detention centers and more. Earning your bachelor’s degree online means having the flexibility to intern or volunteer in social work settings in step with your classes. It also means tapping into the field of online social work as a professional. Finally, most online social work degree programs allow you to tailor the coursework to your interests through specializations like criminal justice, addiction studies, healthcare, etc.
Still, because social work is full of devil’s advocates, taking a career in social work seriously means going after a Master of Social Work (MSW).
- Diversity and Multiculturalism
- Human Behavior in the Social Environment
- Crisis Communications
- Juvenile Delinquency and Justice
Careers in this field you can get with a bachelor’s degree:
- Social Worker*
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
- Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist
*From BLS.gov: “Although some social workers only need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.”
3. Business Administration
|Average GPA: 3.2||Weekly Workload: 13.5||Median Annual Salary: $105,660|
|20-Year ROI: $563,000||Projected Growth: 7%||Accelerated Programs: YES|
Degree Types: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Administration/Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
According to most sources, a bachelor’s in business administration is the most commonly sought-after college degree among all majors. CollegeVine ranked it as their No. 1 easiest college major because the average GPA and ROI are high while the weekly workload is low. However, business degrees are “easier” in that they come with a wide variety of specialization options and provide ample access to well-paying jobs without having to go to grad school. The degree program may require less weekly study time on average, but the courses can still be difficult.
If you’re considering entering the world of business, you want to be a problem-solving people person with a love for numbers and the ability to think fast on your feet. You should also prepare yourself for long working hours and a lot of desk time.
The benefits of earning this degree online include the networking opportunities you’ll have with both students and teachers from around the world. Plus, it’s a major where putting theory to practice is incredibly important, and online education allows you to hold a job and/or an internship as you learn.
With the right amount of transfer credits, you can graduate from some online accelerated business degree programs within a year. For instance, Purdue Global’s online BS in Business Administration is an accelerated, competency-based program that requires 180 credit hours. However, if you have the credits and/or prior work experience, you can transfer in as much as 75 percent of the degree’s total required credits. As a result, the average student in Purdue’s online degree program earns their bachelor’s in business within fewer than two years.
- Corporate Finance
- Marketing Research
- Operations Management
- Management of Information Systems
Careers in this field you can get with a bachelor’s degree: