Traditional Degree vs. Online Degree – What to choose?


When the issue of online degrees comes up, the first question that I always hear is “Are online degrees treated the same way as regular degrees?” To answer that question is not always so easy as it often depends on a number of factors.  One thing I can say, however, is that they are becoming much more accepted than they were just a decade ago.

One of the major factors in how an online degree is perceived and thus treated is the level at which it was attained.  Was it a Bachelor’s Degree, or was it a Master’s Degree?  Personally I don’t think it should matter what level it is – it’s still online learning at either level – but apparently a number of human resource professionals don’t think quite the same way.  A study recently conducted by back in 2001 showed that 26% of respondented found an online degree as credible as a traditional one, 61% considered the online degree acceptable but less credible, and 13% found the online degree to be unacceptable.  Online graduate degree were found to be as credible as traditional ones by 37% of respondents.  I would be very interested to see a poll conducted a little more recently, to see how much opinions have changed.  While I understand that some don’t look at an online degree as favorably as a traditional one, I think it is completely ignorant to find them “unacceptable”.  I mean, its not like you don’t do any work in an online degree.

Another issue with the treatment of online degrees your field of study and the industry you’re trying to break into.  Degree programs in IT, accounting, graphic design, etc. tend to be treated better than say a degree in law or a medical area.  Some industries treat online degrees better than others.  The most accepting industry is Online & New Media, which is understandable.  Other industries that look well upon online degrees include technology, high tech, marketing, and media.

Where you get an online degree is also very important. Some online degrees are completely not credible, especially if they are not from accredited institutions.  If it’s not accredited, it’s not worth it as a lot of places will thus not recognize it.  An online degree from a top name university will clearly be more accepted than one from a shady institution, so make sure you check out a potential school’s reputation before committing to anything. Find your true calling with the help of, a
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Another factor that is often taken into consideration is the overall student’s package.  What do you have to offer?  Perhaps you also have actual work experience in the field that you’ve choosen to study online.  That will bode well for you, especially if you were taking your online classes while working in such a field.  It shows that you are a highly motivated learner and individual that is willing to put forth some effort to advance yourself.  Employers like to see that.

So when it comes down to answering whether or not an online degree will be treated the same as a traditional one, it really depends on a lot of different factors.  I completed my degree online, but it was really only the last year of school as the rest of my classes were all taken the traditional way on campus.  I haven’t had anyone question the validity of it thus far, and I believe that is because I got it from an accredited school, had some regular classes as well, and I think my resume has helped things out.

2 Responses to “Traditional Degree vs. Online Degree – What to choose?”

  1. stikynoterightr Says:

    I would say that an online degree from an accredited university should be comparable to the same degree you would get from attending classes on campus at a similarly accredited college. But I can understand where certain majors might be easier to accept online degrees from such as computer science and accounting versus nursing and veterinary sciences. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that employers might not be as familiar with online universities as they are with many traditional colleges. I think you will see as time goes on employers will be more accepting of potential employees with online degrees.

    Oh BTW thank you for the link I really appreciate it, but I did just make the move from blogger to wordpress (partially thanks to you). My new URL is:


  2. Dustin07 Says:

    In the tech field I know more people who have non-traditional education than those with standard 4-year University experience. Many don’t have degrees at all, but instead a pile of certifications. Most of them make decent money and work for well known companies in the ‘biz.’

    While the online schooling appears to be great from the outside (I’m doing it as well, University of Phoenix) the one thing that bothers me is that the schools are not keeping up with technology. There’s more than a few little things about UOP that drive me nuts. They’re all small things, but the whole program has a very 1998 feel about it once you get behind the curtain.

    I think when it comes time to redeem my UOP degree, the only person that will question it’s integrity will be me.