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How to Find the Best Degrees for Working Adults 


The decision to go back to school and advance your education can positively impact your life in many ways. But if you’re hoping to get the most out of your higher education experience, it’s important to find a degree program that will adequately support your needs as an adult student.

Balancing college courses with the demands of work, family and other day-to-day responsibilities won’t be easy. That’s why you need to find an institution that’s equipped to partner with you in your journey toward personal and professional success.

We’ve identified some of the top criteria to consider as you search for the best degrees for working adults. Finding a school that checks these boxes can help you thrive in your academic journey.

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5 Things Adult Students Should Look For in a Degree Program

In researching different degree programs, working adult students can benefit from finding an institution with the following:

1. Flexible Learning Options

The best degrees for working adults include one very important element: accessibility. Those with busy work and family schedules simply don’t have the same level of freedom to visit a campus for classes — or even to join a synchronous class session (one with a set class time) via video.

Degree programs that offer courses fully online in an asynchronous format (with no set times) can be beneficial for that reason. The School for Professional Studies at Saint Louis University (SLU) offers a range of fully online certificate and degree programs that were specifically designed with working adults in mind. Students can complete their coursework at any time, from anywhere in the world.

If you’re drawn to the idea of in-person classes but would still benefit from the convenience of online learning, you may also want to look for programs that offer a hybrid learning model, where you can take advantage of both class styles.

2. Accelerated Scheduling

As a working adult, if you’re going back to school you probably have a very specific goal in mind. As you research your options, you’ll find there are some degree programs that can help you achieve your goals sooner than others.
Accelerated programs are designed to expedite the time you spend on your studies, helping you earn your degree faster. At SLU’s School for Professional Studies, for example, students take shorter, eight-week classes, rather than the traditional 16-week, semester-long courses. The school also offers multiple start dates, which allows students to begin working toward their degree or certificate at any time.

3. Affordable Tuition

One thing that holds many working adults back from returning to school is the overwhelming cost of a typical degree program. Even if the long-term benefits of earning a degree will be worth it in the long run, it can still seem nearly impossible to fit tuition into the budget in the short term. That’s why it’s critical to do your research to identify your most affordable options, which will give you the best return on your investment.

The programs within the School for Professional Studies, for example, were specifically designed with the unique needs of working adults in mind — and that includes affordability. Students at SLU can expect a high-quality education at a reduced rate, with additional discounts available for military service members, veterans and first responders.

4. Generous Transfer Policy

Whether you have previous college credits, you’ve accumulated applicable real-world experience in your intended field of study or both, the best schools for working adults will grant you credit for what you’ve already learned. This can often shorten your path to graduation significantly, so be sure to analyze each school’s credit transfer policy closely with this in mind.

During the admissions process for the programs within the School for Professional Studies, the team at SLU will evaluate your transcripts and work experiences to help you get as much credit as possible.

In addition to accepting transfer credits, the institution allows students to demonstrate their mastery of introductory college-level material by taking an examination through one of the higher education industry’s widely adopted and respected exam services:

5. Consistent Student Support

Lastly, it’s important to choose a higher education institution that is going to offer you the kind of dedicated support you’ll need as a working adult. Whether you need assistance navigating the admissions process, you’re unsure of which courses to enroll in, or you need additional academic guidance, you’ll benefit from attending a school that will partner with you every step of the way.

For example, every student in the School for Professional Studies at SLU gets paired with an academic coach. These dedicated professionals are there to help you map out and achieve your academic goals, offering guidance and support from application to graduation. As a SLU student, you will always have a resource to reach out to when questions arise.

Find a Degree Program That Will Work For You

Going back to school at this stage in life will inevitably be a challenge, but choosing a school specifically made for working adults will provide you the flexibility and support you need to reach your educational goals.

Saint Louis University’s School for Professional Studies has been offering adult students dynamic, skills-based programs with the flexibility they need for more than 60 years. These degree programs were designed with students like you in mind.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. You can learn why real students are grateful they chose Saint Louis University in our article “Why I Chose SLU: 4 Reasons Alumni Recommend Saint Louis University.”

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