There’s no doubt about it, earning an online degree is a great way to complete your education while working a full-time job. Online delivery of course content is a new thing in the world of higher education and is just over a decade old. Most colleges and universities these days offer a variety of online courses and even allow the completion of entire degree programs via the internet. You can even earn a graduate degree entirely online through many different private and state schools. But one thing that many people who are considering earning a degree online are unsure of is whether these degrees are accepted in the workplace. In other words, how do potential employers view college degrees earned online? It’s a valid question that deserves a closer look.
Online Learning Trends
The best way to look at the acceptance of online degrees by employers is to compare the new trend with a trend that was new just a few short decades ago, evening and weekend degree programs. College courses and degree programs offered of the evenings and weekends were started by various schools across the nation in the years following the end of World War II as a way of increasing access to higher education. The GI Bill gave returning veterans a way to pay for college but since most of them had to work full-time to support themselves, they didn’t have a way of attending traditional college programs offered during the day.
Although many people signed up for college degree programs offered of the evenings and weekends, some employers initially scoffed at those who completed their degrees through these programs. Some television comedy programs even made jokes about the programs, as if a college course offered during the day was somehow superior to one offered of the evenings or weekends. However, as time passed degrees earned through these programs became more and more accepted. These days no one so much as bats an eye if you tell them you earned your degree through such a program. They are now universally accepted as being fully equivalent to traditional programs.
Online degrees have experienced a similar transition period. Like weekend and evening degree programs, when online degree programs first came out they were widely mocked as not being “real degrees.” This couldn’t be further from the truth as evidenced by the many big-name schools that now offer such programs.
Online Learning Research
Researcher Thomas L. Russell of North Carolina State University recently put online learning to the test. He pulled existing data from over 200 studies already completed on distance education and analyzed the results. His study confirmed his hypothesis that there was no difference at all in the learning outcomes between those who earned their degrees the traditional way and those who completed them via distance learning. He published a book titled “The No Significant Difference Phenomenon” to get the message out about his results.
Just as evening and weekend college degree programs initially took a while to catch on and to be accepted by employers, so too did online degree programs, but that transition period is now over. The overwhelming majority of employers now accept online degrees as being every bit as good as those earned on a traditional campus. Don’t be surprised, in fact, if the person interviewing you for your next job earned his or her degree online.