Employers reviewing resume of online graduate

Are Online Degrees Respected?

When adults are considering going back to school, and have begun looking into their options - both on-campus and online - one of the biggest questions that comes up is, "are online degrees respected?" With stories about disreputable online institutions (particularly for-profits) dominating the media, many students worry that their degree will not be worth it, or won't be seen as high-quality or "real" in the eyes of a potential employer.

While it's smart to think carefully about your decision to enroll in any institution, online or not, there's no need to worry about the concept of an online degree as a whole. Although there are certainly players in the online higher education market that students should be wary of, for the most part, degrees from online institutions are well-perceived.

If you've got concerns about the quality of the online learning experience, read through some of the most common questions student ask about online degrees, and the answers we've compiled to help assure you that your investment will be a wise one.

Are Online Degrees Credible?

Overall, yes, online degrees are credible, but this does depend somewhat on the institution that is conferring the degree. If you're attending a school that has a poor reputation - for example, is a for-profit, is nationally and not regionally accredited, or has been in the news for its unethical practices around things like financial aid and student recruitment - employers may not view your degree as credible. However, savvy students can avoid disreputable institutions by doing their homework, and researching any school they plan to apply to thoroughly.  

If you are attending a well-regarded institution with reputable programs (look for rankings on top industry sites like US News & World Report), non-profit status, and regional accreditation, then your degree will generally be perceived as credible.

Are Online Degrees Good?

Because online education is still a relatively new mode of learning, some prospective students feel a bit apprehensive about diving into a degree program when they aren't sure what they'll get out of it. At some point during your research, you might find yourself wondering if an online degree is worth it, or asking yourself, "how good are online degrees, really?"

Again, while quality varies from institution to institution (just as it does in on-campus schools), in general, there's no reason to worry about whether online degree programs, as a whole, are good. Online learning is simply another way of getting information; while you will be relying on tools like discussion boards and email rather than face-to-face conversations and lectures to learn, the quality of that learning won't be any different from what you'd be getting in a physical classroom.

Are Online Degrees Respected by Employers?

An online degree will not be perceived any differently than a traditional degree by most employers - online learning has become so common that, unless your degree is from one of the notorious for-profits that dominate the media, employers won't think twice about your educational credentials. As long as the institution is reputable, most people understand that online learning and on-campus learning are equivalent in terms of quality and workforce preparation. In fact, employers may even see your online degree as additional proof of your ability to work independently, self-motivate, and see a project through to completion.

If you have concerns about how employers will see your online degree, check out some tips on leveraging your online learning from our career services team.

How Do I Find a High-Quality Online Degree Program?

Now that you know that - with some exceptions - online degrees are generally viewed positively, you most likely are wondering how you go about finding a high-quality online degree program with a good reputation. Turning to resources like US News & World Report, which contain third-party validated information on hundreds of schools (and include rankings in various categories) is a good place to start.

Doing your research is essential - you'll want to find out about teaching philosophy, instructor credentials, transfer credit policies, time to completion, cost of tuition, and the online classroom format, for starters. You'll also want to keep an eye out for some of the red flags associated with a negative online experience (such as for-profit status, canned curriculum designed by third party vendors, low completion rates, and poor reviews).

Are you still wondering how to ensure that your online degree will be respected by employers? Check out our guide on "What's In Your Education" for everything you'll need to make a savvy investment in your education.