Online education seems to be very appealing to those who need the flexibility, convenience and independence that it offers. But some are hesitant about getting a degree online because of the negative stigma that it may have with employers.

Vault Inc. performed an online survey showing that 85% of employers think that online degrees are more acceptable today than they were five years ago. Find your degree using our degree finder tool.

enrollment in degree-grant institutions

Since 2009, the number of students participating in online classes increased by 17%. One in four college students has taken at least one online course.

Eighty-three percent of employers feel that an online education is as credible as one earned through a traditional campus-based program. – Excelsior College and Zogby International

In some fields, marketing or information technology, for example, online learning can be an advantage. Employers see these added benefits of receiving an online education:

  • Reading/Writing
  • Technological savvy
  • Problem solving
  • Time management
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-motivation

Online degrees are becoming increasingly popular and accepted. Now, employers now look at whether the degree is offered by an accredited institution and that school’s reputation rather than the manner that the degree was earned.

School Accreditation

When choosing a school, there are a few tips to ensure that you’ll degree will be validated on your resume:

  1. Make sure the school has regional/national accreditation.
  2. Choose a degree program that is applicable to the industry you want to be in.
  3. Do your homework before choosing a school and investigate the school’s track record.
  4. Consider a school that has actual campus locations as well.
  5. Try to avoid school’s that say “distance learning” or “online courses” in the title.

To ensure school accreditation, you can look at the U.S. Department of Education’s Institutional Accreditation System database and find out where the school’s accreditation comes from. You will find a list of legitimate accrediting agencies.

Degree Mills

Beware of degree mills. A degree mill basically awards degrees and diplomas with substandard or no academic study. The “student” claims to hold a degree and the “school” earns a profit. There are also diploma mills.
Degree mills provide REAL degrees from a FAKE college.
Diploma mills provide FAKE degrees from a REAL college.

What Do Students Think?

“Even though I never mentioned the online nature of my degree in my resume, it did often come up in cover letters and interviews. Being able to navigate the online world is crucial and my responses to questions confirmed that my ‘online’ degree was an asset, not a liability.”

What Do Professors Think?

Less than 1/3 of academic officers the value and legitimacy of online education. This percentage has changed little over the last six years. One online professor said, “In some aspects the courses are more difficult because students need to be more committed to their own learning. Some students expect online courses to be easy and miss the mark. They are asked to leave the program. Some students show a joy of learning and some just want to get the job done.”

Another professor said they believe online schools are equally as credible as traditional schools, but added, “I do not feel comfortable writing a letter of recommendation. The names of students are words on the computer screen. I don’t always make a connection between the students’ words and the person. If I wrote a recommendation I would be concerned about drawing an incorrect conclusion based on too little information.”

value and legitimacy of online educationwhat schools think of online education

What Do Academic Officers Think?

what students think of online education

What Do Employers Think?

In an interview with the HR Director at a growing corporation, he answered the following:

1. Do you think online degrees are as credible as traditional schools? Why?
Yes, in fact those that understand the demands required to complete courses on-line appreciate the dedication and focus that it takes. In traditional classroom settings it is easier to gain insight as many other classmates may ask the questions you were wondering about, it takes much more determination to get that answer when it’s just you responsible for asking the appropriate questions. Most of those who take online course are also working full-time. I believe it speaks highly of their commitment to education when they combine full-time work with their studies.
2. Do you hire people with online degrees?
3. Why do you think some employers don’t think it is as credible?
Back in the day, many employers associated “online degrees” with “mail order degrees,” meaning that to have a degree would simply cost you money. I believe that they also didn’t feel that those “legitimate” institutions and the appropriate accreditations and the learning experience were not as valuable. As the world has moved to the internet, education has as well. Not only are there now strict accreditation processes in place for online universities but almost all brick and mortar schools offer online courses.
4. Do you think there are some fields/industries that an online degree would be more/less credible? Which ones?
I would think that anything that would require special “hands on” training (more vocational in nature) would be more difficult to do online; not impossible, but more difficult. I think it would be difficult to do medical training online as there are specific procedures that are best suited in a monitored environment. All other more traditional learning based curriculum that I think are well suited to the online world.

In the end the only opinion that matters is YOUR employer and whether or not they feel that your degree is credible. Find your degree using our degree finder tool.

What do you think about online degrees? Do you have any experiences with online degrees? Tell us about them in the comment section below!
Graphs From Sloan Consortium:

3 comments on “What Employers Really Think of Online Degrees

  • I think your right and employers are becoming to see online degrees as valid qualifications – they have to move with technology too

  • With five children, a job, and unreliable transportation, I could not find any reason not to get an online degree. The curriculum is tough and requires a lot of self motivation. I have dedicated a large amount of time to maintain a 4.0 GPA. I am confident that my efforts will be recognized when I am finished with my degree program (B.S. in Criminal Justice).

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