Are Online Degrees as Respected as Traditional Degrees?

In the post-pandemic world, remote learning has exploded in commonality and has significantly closed the gap with traditional on-campus degrees. With this rapid shift in public perception, many current and prospective students are led to ask the question "If I get an online degree, will employers still consider hiring me?" To address this common question and help students know whether they can take advantage of the convenience of an online degree, we've researched perception and compiled our findings.

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Do Employers Respect Online Degrees?

Online education was once an oddity and the value of an online degree was uncertain at best. In recent years, even the most traditional colleges and universities have begun offering college courses through online learning due to the demand for socially distanced learning. Northeastern University found that 61% of HR employees view online degrees as equal to or better than traditional, in-person degrees.

Further, they found that the majority of these HR hiring personnel are considering placing less emphasis on educational credentials like degrees and focusing more on competency and skills. U.S. News also reports that many employers are more focused on competency-based progression in online degree programs that allow students to move through the material as they become familiar with it rather than the more structured semester approaches.

With this advancement in public image, online students now have a shot at employment very comparable to that of an on-campus student. U.S. News also reported that accreditation of the school and the quality of graduates were far more important to employers than the method by which the degree was earned. With accreditation carrying more weight than the learning method, students can now earn far more convenient and self-paced degrees and still maintain the same employability as traditional students.

Most of the sources we found in researching for this article noted that online undergraduate degrees are the most accepted, while online graduate degrees still carry some skepticism and stigma. Therefore those looking to continue their education past a bachelor's degree level may want to go to in-person classes for their master's, doctor's, and other more advanced degrees.

Tips for Finding a Respected Online Degree

If you're looking to go back to school online, consider these four things to evaluate a quality online degree program.

1. Reputation

Does the school you're considering have a brick-and-mortar location or is it online only? Schools that have physical campuses are viewed as more credible. If the school only has a P.O. box or suite number, employers will view it as a red flag.

2. Accreditation

The Department of Education says that accreditation is essential to credibility. Make sure that the school you plan to attend is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Diploma mills are typically accredited by fake agencies.

3. How quickly can you earn the degree?

It depends on what type of degree you're seeking. For most associates degree it'll take about two years but some can be completed on a fast track in 12-18 months. A bachelor's degree can take up to 4-5 years but can be completed in less time on an accelerated path. Be wary of programs that offer degrees in only a few months.

4. Quality of the school's graduates

Make sure to research data and information on what employers think of a school's graduates. One statistic that will help you determine graduate quality is job placement rates, which can be found using NerdWallet's school comparison tool.

By choosing a college that is reputable and known by your employer, your online degree will have a higher chance of being respected. In the end, where you earned your degree is more important than how -- online or on campus.

Further Reading

How Employers View Your Online Bachelor's Degree - Online degrees still carry a stigma with some employers, but that’s quickly changing.

What Employers Think of Your Online MBA Degree - Most employers are receptive to reputable degrees, but some still need to learn more about online education, experts say.

What Employers Think of Your Online Master's in Education - Those looking for an online master's degree in education should make sure their program will lead to the right state credentials.


What is the Most Respected Online University?

The most respected online university is one that will offer a great education at an affordable price with great future value. According to our analysis, the University of Michigan provides an affordable education with a high return on investment. Other prestigious colleges that made it on our list were the University of North Florida and Villanova University.


Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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