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Can I Earn My University Degree Online While Teaching English Abroad?
Written by: Tyler Parsons
Last Updated: January 12, 2021
What’s that old saying about cake and eating and keeping it for yourself? You can’t have your cake and eat it too? Not sure that phrase makes a lot of sense, but the point it’s conveying is that a person can’t have something both ways. That some situations call for a person to choose between two tough options. While that may be true in many cases in life, when it comes to advancing your education or traveling the world, maybe you don’t need to make that choice.
Bottom Line: Can you take university classes online or in-person & earn your degree at the same time you are teaching English abroad?
Yes - I did it myself. I earned my Master's Degree in Marketing while teaching English abroad in Hong Kong.
With the emergence of online education programs, the opportunities to continue your education and earn a degree or advance degree while living abroad have multiplied several times over in just the past decade. Many universities now offer complete online programs, allowing students to take courses while teaching English and traveling the world.
In addition to students earning a degree online, there are opportunities for students to enroll at overseas universities in countries in Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East, and also in language classes. For those attending a university abroad, teaching English is a great way to supplement your income & boost your skill set & resume by tutoring or working at language schools. One perk of becoming a student in a foreign country is that it often enables you to obtain a student visa. Very often in countries like France, Spain & Italy a student visa provides a legal opportunity to teach and work in those countries.
Whether you are considering earning a degree online or enrolling at a foreign university and teaching English abroad, it’s best to first talk with your ITA admissions advisor and university admissions advisor to create a viable plan.
Watch ITA graduate Tommy Joiner discuss his experience teaching ESL while attending graduate school in Medillin, Colombia.
Tips To Remember When Considering Earning Your Degree Online while Teaching Overseas
As for earning your online degree, let’s take a look at some of the tips and research required before making the decision to study whilst abroad.
Online Degree from U.S. University
Much like when choosing a TEFL school for your certification, there are steps a student should take to ensure they’re enrolling in a school and program that best suit their needs for traveling and being abroad. This includes being mindful of whether any programs you consider for earning your degree online are actually accredited.
1. Are there any components of the program that require students to be present on campus or in the U.S.?
Some universities may require students to physically be on campus for certain modules, trainings, or events to complete graduation or specific units. Perhaps it’s only a one-time event or training, but students should be aware of any such requirement before enrolling and moving abroad.
2. Time Zones & Live Components
Some online classes may require students to be ‘live’ and login during certain times of the week for lectures, presentations, or group work, so students should be aware of this and if it matches the time zone they’re located. If class requires you to be present online at 3:30 am where you are, may want to re-think the program or completely rearranging your schedule.
3. Accessibility of the Online Course
The number one priority for an online class should be being able to access, login and operate the system of the university. This can present challenges in places like China, which may block or limit web access which can block the course site completely or make certain assignments difficult to finish. (Read this article about how English teachers in China work around official website blocks.) Other areas of the world may also have slower internet speeds making downloading assignments, videos, and other readings more difficult. Talk with your advisor or speak with alumni currently living and working in the countries you are looking to live, teach, and study!
International education provides unique opportunities to broaden your horizons & meet new friends while exploring the world.
4. Flexibility with Course Load
Overall, you’re experiencing a truly amazing experience living in a different country and you probably made the decision to teach English abroad to travel, make friends, and immerse yourself in a new culture. Loading yourself with substantial extra school work may detract from opportunities and experiences you dreamed of when hopping on your flight to abroad, so finding a balance between work, school and time to enjoy life is important!
Posted In: Teach English Abroad Visas
Tyler is California born and raised. After graduating from Chico State University with a BA in journalism, he traded his life on the beach for teaching English in Hong Kong. Now he helps others achieve their goals of teaching & living abroad as an Admissions Advisor at International TEFL Academy.
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