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What Do Employers Really Think of Online Degrees?

  • Posted by WritingScale
  • May 25, 2017
Content what do employers really think of online degrees

A classic Bob Dylan song has the words, “The Times, they are a Changin’.” Of course, this is true of every aspect of life today, but for those looking for jobs, it is especially true. It’s hard enough to put together just a cover letter and an attention-grabbing resume. There is the anxiety of wondering if your background and experience, as well as your education, is good enough to make you a serious candidate.

And one of the big debates right now is the value of a traditional college degree (undergraduate or graduate) vs. an online one. And the big question for students, of course, is do employers accept online degrees?

A Bit of History

For years, any “by mail” or online degree was considered worthless. They came from unknown colleges, many without even a street address. There just were lots of scams out there. And unknowing students would often be drawn in by the easy program, pay their money, and end up with a degree that no employer would consider valid.

There were also correspondence courses from reputable colleges and universities. These were single classes that a busy student could take and fill a requirement. Students received a curriculum, a text, and assignments and they completed assignments were sent by mail back to a professor. These courses were considered fine – most colleges and universities accepted the credits.

Enter Newer Online Degree Programs

As web-based learning began to take hold, colleges and universities also began to see the value of online coursework, if only for students whose schedules wouldn’t let them get everything they needed. In fact today, it is the rare student who does not take at least one of his classes online.

And given the technology that allows face-to-face discussions, group projects, and lots of communication between students and instructors, online courses are more and more like the “real thing.”

It was only natural that online degree programs would be the next step. But what kind of reputation do they have when they appear on a resume? Do employers look down on online degrees? The answer is, “It depends.”

What Employers Want to See in an Online Degree

A recent survey of hiring managers revealed that they consider certain online degrees valuable and others not so much. Basically, it breaks down like this:

  • They do not necessarily care whether the institution is for-profit or not-for-profit.
  • They do very much care about accreditation. If a school is accredited by a reputable association, then the degree is valuable and will “count” as much as a traditional degree from a comparable school.
  • They will often put more emphasis on work history and other job-related experiences than the degree.

What You Need to Do To Make Your Degree Count

  • Choose Your Program Carefully: Do not pour money into or take out loans for any program from an institution that is not accredited. And do some research to make sure that the coursework involves lots of group participation and communication. Checking out the backgrounds of the instructors would be wise too.
  • Look for Practical Experience in Your Degree Field: This is important to future employers. If you can find part-time work in your field while completing a degree, you will not only impress an employer but you will be much better prepared for a job in the future.
  • Connect with Graduates: Look for networking opportunities with graduates of the same program. Many of them will be working in the field and can point you in good directions during a job search.

A college degree is still a requirement for many jobs. If you anticipate a career with a degree requirement, then make sure you get it from a reputable institution, off- or online. That degree won’t get you the job, but you cannot get “into the door” without it.

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