Do Employers Take Online College Degrees Seriously?

Over the last decade, the rise of online college degrees has been meteoric. Everything from business to rigorous science courses are offered in packages that can be consumed from home, using a computer with an Internet connection.

As distance learning has developed and grown, the question that students, academics, business people, and everyone concerned has been asking is: “Do employers take online degrees seriously?”

Back in 2013, Devon Haynie of The New York Daily News said that employers are not as accepting of online degrees as they are of traditional education.

In 2017, Jordan Friedman of US News wrote, “Many employers accept online degrees, experts say, though some still favor the traditional graduate.”

However, these days, attitudes have entirely changed.

A 2019 Online Education Trends Report by tackled the issue of employer perception of online education.

The survey included 451 school administrators representing both private and public institutions and 1,500 current, prospective, and former online students.

The results were quite surprising, given that only a few years ago, online degrees were not seriously considered as employer worthy.

According to the results of the survey, 38% of current employers deem online degrees to be equal to on-campus degrees. In fact, 23% of employers even perceived online degrees to be better than on-campus degrees.

Those numbers speak a lot regarding the change in perception of the credibility of earning online degrees.

Only 10% of current employers thought of online degrees as being inferior to on-campus while 29% were unsure.

A major factor to keep in mind for the increasingly positive perception of employers for online degrees could be because more online degree alumni are now integrated in the workforce.

More importantly, a significant number of these alumni have become upper management as these people were taking online degrees a few years ago during their spare time while being employed. They were the trailblazers a few years ago when distance learning was not the norm.

It may be safe to assume that they have proven their worth in their chosen fields and industries, thereby enhancing the credibility and perception of graduates of online college degrees.

Online Degree Factors To Consider To Enhance Marketability To Employers

Today, online degree holders are everywhere. Doing business remotely is becoming exceedingly common, and so is remote learning.

Still, there are things that would-be and current online degree holders should take into consideration regarding their choice of an online degree to enhance their marketability to employers.

6. Take Courses That Can Be Reasonably Taught Online

Let’s face it, some disciplines simply cannot be reliably taught through a computer screen. The ultimate example is probably acting. Now, we’ve never heard of an online acting degree, but they are probably out there.

A more relevant example might be the culinary arts. Seeking a position as a chef after completing an online degree is foolhardy at best. Students who are considering an online degree would be best served by taking a course of study that can reasonably be transmitted via online media rather than face to face.

5. Enroll In An Online College With A Strong Reputation In Your Field

Even traditional colleges have areas of specialty. For some, it is the law. For others, it’s science, finance, and so on.

Those considering online education should analyze their choice according to the discipline that their potential school specializes in. In other words, one would not take a math degree at a school that specializes in psychology.

Even if a school can teach that discipline adequately, an employer may not feel comfortable hiring the holder of a degree from a school that seems to be an ill fit.

4. Choose A School That Will Accommodate Your Situation

Most of the time, employers are intensely practical people. They understand that a person beyond the age of thirty is likely to have accrued responsibilities and commitments that make traveling to a far-off college impractical.

A mother who worked to obtain a degree online would seem quite respectable to most employers. Anyone working full time and completing an online degree in their spare time would equally look good in the eyes of a shrewd employer.

3. The Choice To Take An Online Degree Should Be Demonstrably Reasonable

As mentioned in the section on the age factor, a person’s life circumstances, access to tuition, transportation, and life commitments all come into play when presenting an online degree to a prospective employer.

For a lot of people, the choice to pursue a degree online is still the less conventional choice. When presented to an employer, some people still have some concerns with it. However, if the reason for choosing the distance learning route is clear and demonstrable in an interview setting, then a job applicant really should not be concerned with it.

2. Accreditation Seriously Matters

There are online colleges that are not accredited at all. Avoid them. Accreditation is critical. Online college accreditation is important if a person wants to have a public record of their learning that will be widely accepted by employers, professional associations, and other colleges and universities. Make sure to check for a college’s accreditation.

Furthermore, it’s not enough to just check on the accreditation of the online college. Make sure to check if the accrediting agency is reliable and recognized by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Seeking a skill through non-accredited training is fine. But for those who are staking their future on their degree, accreditation is fundamental.

1. Narrow Down Your School Choice To Those That Employers Are Already Working With

If you want to stack things in your favor to increase your marketability to employers, enroll with an online college that your employer or future employers are already working with.

Do some research and find out which schools employers are hiring from and working with. You can even ask employers directly which online colleges they work with or would recommend. By doing so, it helps to reinforce your decision as to which online college to enroll with.

Furthermore, at least you have the peace of mind that your online degree passes the reputation and credibility tests with the employers.

Lastly, keep in mind that most employers would not know if a degree was earned online as documents from online colleges do not specifically say so.

This means that not unless it’s discussed or it’s obvious that a job applicant earned a degree online, employers would not really know how a degree is obtained.

The bottom line is, make sure that your choice of an online college is aligned with your career goals and marketability to future employers.


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