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Education

What Your Employers Really Think About An Online Degree

Many students pursuing bachelor’s degrees have busy lives. It may not be possible for them to attend classes in-person due to work, family demands, or other personal commitments. Luckily, there are now many degree programs offered partially or even completely online, meaning these students don’t have to miss out on advancing their careers and achieving their goals.

There may be some reluctance, however, to enroll an online degree program based on worry about how an online degree will be viewed by employers. Are online degrees respected? Can they carry the same weight in a professional environment as a traditional, four-year, on-campus degree?

Here’s the truth about virtual degree programs and the job outlook for those who finish them.

Types of Online Degrees and Programs

Online degrees aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. But for anyone with time restrictions or who lives far away from a physical college campus, it’s a realistic avenue for starting and completing a bachelor’s degree in dozens of respected fields.

Some online degree programs are completed 100 percent onlinewith no physical interaction with other students or professors. Rather than having to attend class on a set schedule, these students can learn at their own pace, studying and completing assignments in the spare time between work shifts and caring for children.

Other online programs feature a hybrid of online and on-campus instruction. These programs may hold a majority of courses virtually with a few cornerstone courses taking place in-person, or in an internship/incubator environment, so students still get valuable face-to-face mentoring.

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It’s also possible to have degree programs that simply have an online component, offering hybrid classes that combine in-person and online classes for the same course during a semester—giving live or recorded online learning formats to those who need it most.

The Increasing Popularity of Online Degrees

As the advantages of online learning become more widely documented, virtual degrees are becoming an increasingly popular option for students from all walks of life.

With so many online learners making up the student body at top institutions, it’s becoming less acceptable for these degrees to be ignored. Companies have been taking notice of this trend and have adjusted their hiring practices to account for all types of degree-earners.

The Truth About Online Degrees vs. Traditional Degrees

Because of how common online learning has become, there’s a noticeable shift in how many people perceive online degrees; there’s no longer quite the stigma attached to pursuing an education through your home computer. But while it’s easy to share anecdotal evidence of how an online degree is “just as valuable as a traditional classroom-based experience,” there’s also data to prove it.

What Employers Really Think

Despite the empirical data, students may still be wary about whether today’s employers consider an online degree to be as good as its on-campus counterpart. How do hiring managers really feel?

The news is positive for online degree holders:

  • 61 percent of HR leaders firmly believe that online learning is of equal or greater quality to more traditional methods.
  • 71 percent of organizations indicated that they had hired a job applicant with an online degree in the last 12 months.
  • 52 percent believe that, in the future, most advanced degrees will be completed online.
  • 33 percent believe that, enabled by technology, online education will ultimately be better than traditional face-to-face instruction.

Not all online degree programs are created equal, however. Where you receive your online degree makes a significant difference in how employers will view your credential.

How Employers Evaluate Online Degrees

As many as 83% of business leaders see an online degree at a “well-known” institution as having the same value as an on-campus degree. If they are not familiar with a school, however, or the institution isn’t known for producing prepared graduates from its programs, your degree may not be seen as having the same value. In fact, 58 percent of employers “believe that an institution’s brand and reputation is the main driver of a credential’s value, regardless of whether or not it was earned online.”

Employers are also more likely to embrace an online degree from a school that provides traditional, on-site coursework in addition to its online offerings.

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