10 Great Degrees for Military Spouses 

Great Degrees for Military Spouses - featured image

While there are perks to being a military spouse, the challenges that come with the lifestyle have a negative impact on your education! With frequent relocations, unpredictable deployments and financial issues, you must consider not just the usual factors but also your unique circumstances. Aside from your personal interests and professional goals, also consider the programs’ flexibility of schedule and access, the portability of credentials, and the opportunities for remote work. 

Does it sound more challenging than it should be? You’re in luck because we have identified ten colleges that offer every military spouse online degree options!

Great Degrees for Military Spouses - fact

Characteristics of Great Degrees for Military Spouses

Of course, military spouses can pursue the college degree they want, but with their lifestyle’s unique challenges, there are a few more considerations that non-military spouses likely won’t give a second thought.

Featured Programs

Flexible Schedules and Ease of Access

As a military spouse, online degree programs are the best choices because of their synchronous and asynchronous course delivery. You can access your learning materials, participate in class activities, and attend live classes regardless of your location (i.e., with a stable Internet connection). You should look into online part-time programs that accommodate frequent relocations and unpredictable deployments.

But be sure to look into the student support services, technical support services, and career development services that online degree programs offer! If possible, choose colleges with active support programs for military members and their spouses, such as Yellow Ribbon schools.

Portable Credentials 

We recommend choosing degrees with portable credentials, meaning these are accepted across different industries and locations, particularly across state lines. You can then easily practice your profession with little to no fuss, especially if you have a professional license or certification. You may have to reapply for a license or certification if you’re moving across state lines, but the additional requirements are fairly easy to comply with, such as with a teacher’s license or a CPA license.

Remote Work Opportunities

Your choice of a college degree should also consider remote work opportunities, particularly if you’re planning for career continuity despite frequent relocations. With the Internet, fortunately, certain industries and professions now allow remote work or telecommuting, such as computer and information technology.

Career-ready Knowledge And Skills

You may want to consider college degrees that emphasize transferable skills applicable to diverse industries and jobs. Many employers emphasize soft skills, too, since hard skills can be earned through formal and on-the-job training. You should consider the internship opportunities that college degree programs usually require among students.

Financial Considerations

While online programs are usually more cost-efficient than in-person programs, thanks to lower travel and incidental costs, these charge tuition and fees, too. You must then consider if you have the financial resources, particularly if you’re already struggling with relocation and living costs. You have to look into military-specific and institutional scholarships and grants, too.

Lastly, you must ask for your family’s support because your academic pursuits will have an impact on your ability to meet family obligations.

Strategies to Leverage Degrees for Career Advancement for Military Spouses

Once you earn your college degree, despite the challenges of being a military spouse, you must leverage your education. After all, you have stiff competition! In the 2020-2021 academic year alone, more than 3.1 million individuals received their undergraduate degrees – and every single one of them can be your competition in the job marketplace. 

  • Highlight the versatility of applications of your college degree instead of being limited by its obvious applications. A business degree, for example, can be applied in for-profit corporations as well as in government agencies and nonprofits.
  • Maximize your networking opportunities by building a strong online presence, joining professional organizations, and attending networking events (e.g., conferences, job fairs)
  • Emphasize your soft skills, many of which have been developed as a result of your military spouse lifestyle,  on your cover letter, resume and interview. Resilience, resourcefulness and adaptability are highly sought-after traits.
  • Reskilling and/or upskilling are a must in the fast-changing world. You should consider earning professional certifications or pursuing advanced degrees, learning new knowledge and skills outside your profession, and staying updated. Your college degree is just a stepping stone, not the final learning destination. 

Of course, you should maximize the available military resources if you want to leverage your college degree! You will find that the military takes good care of its own, but you should take the initiative to become aware of the available education-related programs.

Great Degree Choices for Military Spouses

We want to emphasize that the degrees featured here are available in online learning formats. You will find plenty of brick-and-mortar schools offering online and hybrid academic programs in these fields and online colleges that offer fully online programs. Examples of the latter include Penn State World Campus, UMass Global, and Purdue Global.

Business Administration and Management

Nearly every industry, from the business and finance industry and arts scene to the STEM sector, appreciates professionals with business administration and management skills! Aside from their business growth abilities, business professionals possess soft skills like communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills with diverse applications. Indeed, portable credentials and versatile abilities are the hallmarks of business degrees. 

The job opportunities with a business degree are impressive with 911,400 openings, on average, forecasted every year. The median annual wage in business and finance occupations is impressive at $76,850 (May 2022). 

There’s also the wide diversity of job opportunities and career paths that a business degree opens, including: 

  • General management 
  • Human resources management 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • International Business 
  • Nonprofit management 

You can pursue professional certifications, such as Certified Business Analysis Professional and Professional in Human Resources, which are recognized across state lines.

Finance

As with business degrees, finance degrees are characterized by their portability, meaning these are accepted in diverse locations and industries, usually without the need for licensing compliance. Many finance-related jobs allow for remote work and telecommuting, such as credit analysts and investment analysts. 

Jobs in the finance industry are associated with job security and career advancement, as well as global opportunities. With a finance degree, you can provide military spouses and families with financial advice – and that’s aside from your non-military clients if you take the self-employment route. 

You will also find plenty of employment opportunities in the business and financial occupations. Your finance degree can open doors toward careers as: 

  • Financial analysts 
  • Financial planners/advisors 
  • Loan officers 
  • Insurance underwriters 

You can pursue professional certifications, such as Financial Risk Manager, Certified Treasury Professional, and Chartered Investment Counselor, after earning your bachelor’s degree in finance.

Accounting

Yet another versatile degree with portable credentials is accounting! If you already have a CPA license in one state, for example, you can transfer your license to another state by complying with the latter’s licensing requirements. The transfer of license is usually easy to do, not to mention that the generally accepted accounting and auditing principles are accepted nationwide. 

Aside from being able to earn an accounting degree fully online, many accounting jobs can also be done remotely or with less traveling required. With a degree in accounting, you have less risk of unemployment because accounting is considered a recession-proof profession.

Indeed, the demand for accountants and auditors is 126,500 openings per year, overage. Their median annual wage of $78,000 (May 2022) is impressive, considering that accounting has a shorter educational path. The career paths are diverse, too, including public accountants, corporate accountants, and forensic accountants.

Social Work

Professionals with social work degrees are welcome across diverse locations and industries, too. Aside from local communities with social development programs, healthcare facilities, K-12 and post-secondary schools, government agencies, and nonprofits are also in need of social work professionals. 

Social workers earn a livable median annual wage of $55,350 (May 2022) and enjoy diverse career paths, including: 

  • Clinical social worker 
  • Medical social worker 
  • Hospice and palliative social worker 
  • Child and family social worker 
  • Community organizer and advocate 

If you have a social work degree, you can apply your knowledge and skills in your military network and make a positive difference in their lives. You can be employed as a social worker or in a related position in military bases and communities – truly, a portable credential! Note, too, that a license in social work can be easily transferred between states, meaning you can practice in whatever location your family will be stationed in.

Nursing

When it comes to portable and flexible degrees, nursing tops our list! Yes, you can complete a nursing degree fully online, thanks to a combination of fully online classes and in-person clinical experiences completed in your place of employment. You can then maintain full-time or part-time employment and meet your personal obligations while pursuing your nursing studies. 

While there’s no universal nursing licensure in the United States, licensure reciprocity and nurse licensure compacts make it faster and easier for registered nurses to practice in multiple states. The Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) allows registered nurses to possess a multistate license, but only within the 41 participating states, including Arizona, New Jersey and Utah. 

There’s a consistent demand for nurses in diverse settings, including military bases and hospitals. Registered nurses earn a median annual pay of $81,220 (May 2022) and enjoy flexible schedules, diverse career paths, and remote work options. 

Education

Yet another college degree that can be earned completely online is education with the likes of Western Governors University, Liberty University, and Florida International University known for its education programs. You can then achieve a good balance between family and work responsibilities while earning your degree in education, particularly in an online part-time program.

The professional credentials, such as a teaching license and graduate degrees from regionally accredited institutions, are portable, although in a limited manner. If you have a teaching license in one state, you may have to comply with additional licensing requirements in another state to practice your profession. 

State reciprocity agreements, however, make the process easier and faster. Florida, for example, has teacher certification reciprocity agreements with California, Virginia and Michigan, among others. Reciprocity makes it easier to open doors of opportunities for licensed teachers in multiple states.

Computer and Information Technology

Many computer and information technology degrees can be completed fully online, with Southern New Hampshire University, Arizona State University, and Ball State University being among the schools that offer them. The education, training and credentials that come with earning computer and information technology degrees are accepted across diverse locations and industries. 

Many professions in the field don’t even require certification or licensure, such as web designers and developers. Even occupations that require professional certifications aren’t regulated by the states but are instead recognized by the industry. Examples include CompTIA’s Network+ and Cisco Certified Network Associate. 

The jobs in computer and information technology can be performed remotely, such as software development. The knowledge and skills learned are adaptable in diverse industries, from business and academia to government agencies and nonprofits.

The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations sits at $100,530.

Psychology 

Earning a psychology degree completely online is possible, too, with the likes of Drexel University and the University of Florida being popular in this regard. Furthermore, a psychology degree opens career advancement opportunities in the military establishment and civilian organizations, thanks to the transferability of the knowledge and skills learned. 

Examples of possible career paths include: 

  • Clinical psychologists
  • Industrial-organizational psychologists
  • Sports psychologists
  • Human resources specialists or human services managers 
  • Market research analysts

In the case of psychologists, there isn’t a universal license to practice in all states, but you can look into the ASPPB Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS) system for a multistate license. 

Psychologists and similar occupations earn well, with psychologists’ median annual wage at $85,330 (May 2022). There’s also a good demand for their services.

Marketing

Like its sister professions – business, finance and accounting – marketing is also a versatile field that makes it an excellent choice for military spouses. Marketing degrees can be earned completely online in schools like Penn State World Campus and Colorado State University, among others. 

With an online marketing degree, you can become one of these professionals: 

  • Marketing specialist
  • Digital marketing manager
  • Social media manager 
  • Public relations specialist 
  • E-commerce manager 

Obviously, many of these jobs have a remote work component that makes it easier for military spouses to maintain job continuity. These jobs pay well and offer 40-hour working weeks, such as in the case of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, with a median annual wage between $127,830 and $140,040 (May 2022).

Project Management

If you want to enter defense contracting and other entrepreneurial ventures, you may want to consider earning a project management degree. Aside from learning knowledge and skills with diverse applications in the military and civilian sectors, you can earn it completely online and earn professional certification afterward. Check out the online programs at the University of Arizona Global Campus, Northeastern University, and University of Kansas. 

Your college degree, combined with your relevant work experience, professional certifications, and work ethic, will result in a fast return on your investment, regardless of your location. Note that professional certifications in project management aren’t issued by the state but by industry organizations and, thus, are recognized across state lines. Examples include Project Management Professional, Certified ScrumMaster, and Agile Certified Practitioner. 

Project management specialists aren’t just in high demand but are also paid well – $95,370 in median annual wage (May 2022).

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the effective strategies to maximize tuition assistance programs?

  • Research the eligibility requirements, benefits, and application process of military-specific tuition assistance programs. Examples include MyCAA, SECO, and Post 9/11 Bill, as well as Army Emergency Relief, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and Air Force Aid Society.
  • Apply to as many education benefits programs as you can. Coordinate with counselors to increase your chances of a scholarship. 
  • Look beyond military-specific education benefits, such as institutional scholarships and grants.

Can military spouses transfer credits between schools?

Yes, but we suggest enrolling in regionally accredited colleges and universities. You should ask about a college’s articulation agreements with other schools.

  • Explain your gaps in education briefly and focus instead on your freelance projects, volunteer work and informal education experiences.
  • Provide appropriate context for your low GPA, such as family responsibilities and personal challenges. Demonstrate your academic progress over the years, too.
  • Highlight the soft skills you learned from your leadership roles and professional development activities.
  • Demonstrate your resilience and determination in your personal statement and interview.

How can military spouses maintain their careers despite frequent moves?

  • Consider remote work and telecommuting
  • Become a freelancer
  • Focus on portable careers
  • Invest in continuous professional development
  • Establish a strong and supportive network

Are there resources available to help military spouses choose the right degree?

Consider these resources:

  • Military OneSource
  • Spouse Education and Career Opportunities
  • On-base counseling and education centers
  • College and career counselors
  • Career exploration websites
  • Professional associations

Sources:

National Center for Education Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Department of Defense
Nurse.org
Education Commission of the States