We’ve ranked the 20 Most Flexible Programs for Adult College Students for 2020.
If you’re interested in returning to school but are worried about making it work with your already full schedule, you might consider schools that offer flexible programs. Many schools, both online and on-campus, now offer flexible degree programs designed for busy people.
Best Programs for Adults Returning to College
There are multiple programs that offer flexible scheduling options for students with jobs, children and other responsibilities. Below are twenty of the best of these programs.
If you have a thing for numbers, finances, budgeting or something similar, an accounting program could be an easy transition for you. If you’re good at math, analytically-minded and know how to manage money, you’d likely do very well in this field.
In this program, you’ll take a lot accounting and finance-based courses, as well as courses in taxation. Micro- and macroeconomics are also par for the course in an accounting program.
After receiving your degree in accounting, you could become an accountant, obviously, or a tax preparer, auditor, financial analyst, budget analyst and more.
2. Business Administration
If you enjoy working with people and have good leadership skills, you might do well in a business administration program. Good money management skills should also serve you well in this field. This program usually appeals to those who want to work in management or human resources.
Courses may include many of the same courses you’d take in an accounting program, such as finance, economics, budgeting and other courses that teach you how to manage money. Additionally, courses could include improving your leadership skills, project management, business intelligence, strategy and innovations and more.
If you enjoy communicating with diverse groups of people, you might do well in a communications degree field. Furthermore, if you enjoy tracking down and researching a good story and sharing it with the masses, this could be the degree for you.
There are a wide variety of courses involved in a communications degree plan. In addition to basics, such as composition, journalism and public speaking, you might also be required to take courses in business, sociology, marketing and, of course, communications.
Potential jobs in the communications field could be in television media, online media, magazines or newspapers. Job titles could include editor, writer, journalist, social media specialist, reporter, anchorperson and more. Furthermore, there are job opportunities within non-media businesses in public relations, human resources and/or digital media marketing.
4. Computer Science
If you’re interested in STEM fields, particularly those involving computers and technology, computer science is a very lucrative field, and many of the degree programs offered have incredibly flexible schedules. Some even allow you to do the vast majority of your work online from the comfort of your own home.
If you pursue a computer science degree, you’ll most likely be required to take a multitude of CIS classes. Furthermore, you’ll probably also be required to take math classes, including algebra, calculus and more. Statistical analysis is common, as are science and engineering courses, including physics, programming and more.
After earning this degree, you could start a career in many different computer-related fields, including software or web developing, computer programming, software engineering, customer support (IT) and other related careers.
5. Criminal Justice
For those of you who have a passion for the law and/or criminology, you might consider pursuing a degree in criminal justice. This degree usually appeals to those who have a strong sense of social justice or even those who are interested in understanding the minds of criminals.
The heaviest focus in a criminal justice degree will be on criminology classes. Some sample classes you could be required to take include:
- Crime Prevention
- Crime in America
- Deviance and Social Control
- Drugs and Society
- Theory and Practice of Criminal Justice
- Crime Statistics
- Criminal Evidence
- Principles of Investigation
There are, of course, numerous jobs within and related to the criminal justice field.
A love of teaching and children, a ton of patience and a calm disposition – if you have these qualities, education is a great choice for you. A bachelor’s degree in education can ready you to teach at any K-12 school in your state.
There are general education requirements you’ll be required to take no matter which subject you hope to teach. Furthermore, there are teaching-specific courses which you’ll likely have to take as well. These may differ slightly depending on whether you want to teach at the elementary or secondary level.
Some common classes include courses on diversity and inclusion, strategic instruction, education assessment, classroom management, teaching exceptional children, instructional planning and more. If you’re focusing on a secondary subject – math, English, history or science – you’ll have to take many classes in that subject as well.
8. Early Childhood Education
Although most fields in education appeal to similar types of people, a degree in early childhood education is most likely to appeal to those people who love working with extremely young, toddler-aged children. There’s a little more fun and play to early childhood education, so if you’re interested in this degree, you need to be a bit of a kid at heart.
Some courses you may be required to take for this degree include:
- Intro to Early Childhood Education
- Child Health and Safety
- Science for Young Children
- Language Arts and Reading for Young Children
- Mathematics for Young Children
- Beginning Literacy
- Evaluation and Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Early Childhood Language Development
Once you’ve earned your degree in this field, you should be equipped to work in daycare centers, preschools, kindergarten classrooms or as a live-in nanny or something similar.
8. Elementary Education
Many of the same courses that would be required of you in a general education program would also likely be required of you in an elementary education program. Furthermore, the types of people who’d do well in education should also do well in elementary education. However, this field appeals more to people who prefer younger children (grades K-6) as opposed to teenagers.
Courses you may be required to take in this field include numerous core education classes in all subjects and the following:
- Diversity of Learners and Settings
- Introduction to Elementary Education
- Foundations of Literacy and Language
- Music and Related Arts
- Various Curriculum Courses in Core Subjects
This degree helps prepare you to teach grades K-6 in the public or private school setting.
If you love reading, writing or literature, a degree in English can be a great choice. English programs usually appeal to those who love the written word in all its forms. If you love reading, particularly the classics and world literature, and also don’t mind a lot of writing, this could be the program for you.
English degrees require you to take a lot of literature classes. Some of these can include World Literature, Southern Literature, African American Literature, English Literature, American Literature, mythological lit, folklore and fairy tales and more.
English degrees lend themselves nicely to a job as a writer, editor, paralegal, technical writer, librarian, reporter and more. Because you learn to research and write so well, English degrees are also excellent degrees to get if you want to go to law school or another graduate program.
Entrepreneurship usually appeals to those who are self-reliant, driven, hard-working and focused. Normally, if you go into the entrepreneurship degree program, it’s because you hope to own your own business one day. Classes could include many business-related classes, including classes in planning, marketing, finance, strategy, operations, leadership and even law.
In addition to giving you the skills you’d need to open your own business, other career opportunities with this degree could include management analyst, operations manager, sales representative, business consultant and more.
If you enjoy working with numbers, money, and budgets but don’t necessarily want to work in accounting, you might consider working towards a degree in finance instead. There’ll most likely be some overlap with courses in an accounting degree program.
Other major-specific requirements could include classes such as:
- Principles of Business Finance
- Advanced Business Investments
- Professional Development in Finance
- Principles of, Intermediate and Advanced Accounting
- Financial Modeling
- Principles of Marketing
Once you earn your degree in finance, there are several different job opportunities that could potentially open up for you. These include job titles such as financial adviser, manager, sales agent or analyst, credit analyst and more.
12. Healthcare Administration
There are generally two types of people who pursue degrees in healthcare administration. The first are people interested in working in the medical field but who don’t want to become nurses or doctors. The second are people who actually work in healthcare already as doctors, nurses, etc. but want to transition out of the medical side and into the business side of things.
If you fall into the first group, it’s more likely you’re working on your undergrad degree in healthcare administration. If you fall into the second group, you could potentially be working on your graduate degree. Either way, there are flexible programs of study in healthcare administration at both levels.
Courses should focus on a mixture of finance, grant-writing, management, budgeting, leadership and communications courses. Jobs that follow this degree program could include medical records manager, administrative supervisor and healthcare support among others.
13. Human Resources
Earning your degree in human resources could potentially give you access to jobs in more fields than any other degree on this list. Practically every company, no matter its focus or field, needs people in their human resources departments. A job in human resources may require you to perform such tasks as:
- Recruiting and Hiring
- Disciplining and Firing
- Mediating Disputes and/or Conversations Between Management and Employees
- Performing Various Administrative Functions
- Educating Staff Members about Company Policies
- Assisting Employees with Their Benefits
To better prepare you for these types of duties, a sample curriculum in human resources will focus on courses such as :
- Business and Tax Law
- Legal Issues in HR
- Employee Training and Development
- Financial Accounting
- Behavioral Science
- Organizational Ethics
In addition to preparing you for a job as a human research specialist, manager or director, this degree program can also ready you for other potential careers, such as benefits manager, training specialist, financial manager, accountant, computational manager and more.
14. Information Technology
A degree in information technology (IT) is an incredibly lucrative field. With practically everything moving online and e-commerce growing daily, just about every company in the world needs an IT person. This degree plan appeals to people interested in STEM and computer science.
This degree can prepare you for numerous potential jobs such as IT specialist, systems analyst, networking specialist, systems administrator, tech consultant, web developer, software engineer and more.
We all know what a career in management looks like. If you’re interested in going that route, you’re probably driven, hardworking, a good communicator, problem-solver and a people person. The specific field in which you’re interested isn’t incredibly important as all fields need managers.
Because being a successful manager requires you to have a multitude of different skills and talents, the management degree curriculum covers many different types of classes. Some of these include courses on organizational theory and behavior, human resources, research skills and strategy, social sciences, communications and more.
Furthermore, because management is such a popular degree field, you can find a ton of schools that offer programs in it, many of which are very flexible in their schedules.
The management degree program can help ready you for the management team or a higher-level management position in a multitude of different fields. With this degree, you could potentially become a management consultant, policy analyst, upper-level executive or something similar.
The field of marketing appeals to those with a vivacious, creative, dynamic personality. Not only do marketing professionals have to be imaginative and innovative in order to create new campaigns and design new advertisements, they also have to have a lively, outgoing, persuasive personality that allows them to sell products and services with conviction.
There are many different courses you’d be required to take in pursuit of your marketing degree. Many of these are marketing-related, of course, but there are also several business classes too. The goal of your core classes in marketing should be to teach you how to promote products, find the right audience, appeal to a target demographic, find the right price for your product and more.
A sample curriculum might include such classes as:
- Graphic Design
- Sales and Marketing
- Global Marketing
- Business Writing
- Finance Management/Economics
- Principles of E-commerce
- Public Speaking
Jobs in this field could include brand manager, admissions manager, fundraiser, event planner, public relations specialist, marketing assistant/director and more.
17. Nursing (RN to BSN)
Nursing is another field with which we’re all familiar. We know what the job entails, and we know it appeals to those who want to help people. You can become a nurse with as little as an associate’s degree, and if you want to continue to work your way higher and higher up the nursing chain, you can.
Different degrees in nursing can lead to you becoming a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse case manager, travel nurse, operating nurse and more. Nursing programs also offer very flexible schedules as well.
18. Project Management
If you’re interested in moving into a leadership or supervisory role within your corporation, a degree in project management could be helpful to you. This type of degree lends itself best to people who enjoy working in teams, rather than independently, generally as the team lead.
This means you need to have great communication and leadership skills, but you also need to be a team player who respects the ideas of others and knows how to bring out other people’s potential. The curriculum includes courses on developing leadership skills, team-building skills, cost control, bid negotiation, risk assessment, budget management and more.
This degree can open up quite a few job opportunities for you in many different fields. With it, you could potentially become a manager in construction, healthcare, IT, hospitality and more.
A degree in psychology might be right for you if you’re empathetic, interested in helping others, strong-willed and a good listener. A curious mind and love of clinical research can also be beneficial in this particular field. If you’re interested in taking this degree path, you can expect many courses on the subjects of psychology, behavior and the human mind.
Some potential courses could include:
- Cognitive Psych
- Social Psych
- Developmental Psych
- Psychological Disorders/Aberrant Behavior
- Educational Psych
There are many other psychological-related courses you should take, and they become more specific once you pick a specialization, such as criminal psychology, child psychology, substance abuse counseling, couples and family counseling and more.
These specializations should lead to your potential career.
20. Sports Management
If you’re interested in a management-type career and also have a love of sports, a degree in sports management could be just the thing for you. Many of the courses you’d need to take for this degree are similar to the courses you’d have to take for a business or management degree plan.
The potential careers you could have after earning this degree are event coordinator, sports agent, personal trainer, coach, booking agent and other similar careers.
What Are Accelerated College Programs?
Accelerated college programs are programs that last a short period of time, usually eight weeks or less, as opposed to a whole semester. Because the term is so short, two classes are usually the most you can take each term, but you can have six to eight terms a year, allowing you to potentially graduate faster.
What Are the Best Self Paced Online College Programs?
The only best self-paced program is one that’s best for you. Look for a program that fits your schedule, budget and educational needs. That’ll be the best program for you, but here’s a list to get you started.
What Is Credit for Prior Learning?
Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is an initiative put in place to help combat the number of remediation or extraneous classes you might have to take. Instead, if you have prior experience in a field because you’ve worked in that field for some length of time, some colleges are authorized to give you “credit” for those experiences in lieu of remediation or extra classes.
What Is Credit by Exam?
A Credit by Exam (CBE) is similar to the above-mentioned CPL, except instead of getting credit for work experience, you can be awarded credit by passing comprehensive exams in specific subject matters. You choose the subject in which you feel confident, take an exam, and if you pass, you’re awarded credit for that class.
Is Going Back to College Worth It?
Most employers are willing to pay you more if you have a degree than they will if you don’t. Furthermore, earning a degree in a field in which you’re interested can open up opportunities for numerous new career options that could be very rewarding and lucrative for you.
The days are quickly falling behind us when a high school diploma is enough to get you a decent job. These days, if employers don’t see at least an associate’s degree on your resume, they often throw it back onto the pile. A bachelor’s degree is preferable. For all these reasons, going back to college is definitely worth it. Think about your future, and enroll in college today.