1. Assess your specific needs. Many traditional college students take almost five years to complete their bachelor's degree, a degree designed to take four years to complete. Often, students take an extra year because they are unsure of what degree they want to complete. Even then, many graduates return because the degree they earned did not provide them with the job opportunities they expected. Knowing what you want to get out of a degree can save you time and money.
2. Explore institutions that offer online degree programs. Many traditional colleges have begun offering online programs for continuing education and non-traditional students. Make sure the degree program you're interested in is offered online.
3. Scrutinize reviews from other students. Not all online programs are equal; some have delivery systems that are difficult to use or inadequate student services support, while others can be more expensive than attending a traditional program. See the Resources section for websites that offer reviews and directories of online degree programs.
4. Customize your degree. Some programs allow you to create your own degree entirely, while some professional degrees have mostly prescribed curricula. Even in the most restrictive curriculum, however, there is room for electives, courses you can select to help define your degree. If you're designing your degree from scratch, try to model it closely after an existing program. If you're interested in pursuing a degree that focuses specifically on trade relations with Japan, you can review the curricula for majors in Japanese, International Business, or International Relations and include only the courses that pertain to your specific needs.
5. Consider general studies degrees if a fully customizable individual studies program is not available. General Studies, sometimes called Liberal Arts, require a spread of courses over a wide array of subjects, but reserve around half of the total course requirement for student-selected electives. These programs are often aimed specifically toward working adults with well-defined career needs and goals. Many distance programs offer academic advising departments to help you customize your program to meet your career needs.
6. Justify your customizations. If you're in a company that trades with Japan, taking electives that focus on international trade or Japanese language and culture will help distinguish your Master of Business Administration. Tailor your program with the available flexible options that relate to your career goals.
eHow : How to Create Your Own Individual Online Degree Program