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Are Online Degrees Respected?

By Charlene Lattea, WVU Online | Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Are online degrees respected? Yes! Here's Why.

Online learning has increased dramatically, especially in the past three or four years, becoming a popular option for students from around the world.

But are online degrees respected? Is earning one worth it?

The answer is a resounding YES and in this article we’ll tell you why and give you all the information you need to understand the value and acceptance of online degrees and why online education is here to stay.

Why Consider Online Education?

Why should someone consider pursuing a degree online?

It turns out there are many practical reasons why you may want to consider an online education, with one of the main reasons being that you can take courses that accommodate your schedule.

You still need to devote time to completing assignments and preparing for exams, but you can attend college and also continue working full-time and fulfilling family obligations. You can also shift your schedule around as much as you need, to fit in work trips or kids’ sporting events.

You also don’t have to attend class in a fixed location because all you need is an internet connection. You save the time and money it takes to relocate to attend school and even to commute back and forth to class.

Online Degrees vs. Traditional Degrees

Both online degrees and traditional degrees can help you advance in your career with the same credentials, skills, and opportunities, but they are different types of programs.

The following are the key similarities and differences between online and traditional degrees. As you can see, your choice of program depends mostly on your personal preferences, as well as what you need in order to handle your personal responsibilities on a daily basis.


Available degrees
Students can choose from a variety of degree programs in both traditional and online settings. However, it's worth noting that some degree programs, such as some of the more research-intensive degrees, can only be offered in person.

Whole and individual programs can be accredited, regionally and nationally. Employers look at accreditation, especially if they are not familiar with the school.

Both kinds of degrees are widely respected by employers. Brick-and-mortar colleges were historically seen as more productive, but the perspective is shifting. The respect has grown substantially, and employers recognize and respect the value of online degree programs.

Ease of earning degree
Takes a great deal of time and effort to complete a degree, whether it is a traditional on-campus degree or an online degree. Top degrees are rigorous and online degrees are not any easier.

Time Commitment
For both kinds of degrees, there is a commitment of time each week you will need to devote to studying, class activities, completing assignments and preparing for exams. The only difference is that online students according to their own schedule.

Job opportunities
Online students have the same job opportunities and are just as competitive in the job market as someone who completes a traditional on-campus degree. They receive the same kind of assistance from career service units at their school.



There is no fixed location for classes. You attend class wherever you have an internet connection. Many online students never come to campus at all.

Students must attend a school that is close to them, or else move to be closer to school. Their classes are held on campus, in-person, at fixed times.


May be more affordable due to fewer overhead expenses to operate online programs and the fact that students don’t have housing and transportation costs.

Often more costly because of "brick-and-mortar" campus, housing and transportation costs, overhead costs, and printed course materials.

Social Interaction

Students interact with professors and classmates via discussion boards, Zoom, video calls, synchronized class meetings, and more.

Students interact with classmates and professors in the classroom and sometimes outside of class.

Instructional Format

Students enjoy a customized learning environment that is tailored to meet their needs. They interact with course materials via slideshows, videos, online forums, discussion boards, and video chats. Professors often post lectures within course modules.

All students learn in the same classroom environment. The professor teaches directly to students, conducts classroom discussions, and can give immediate feedback and assistance. The learning environment is limited to the teaching style of the professor.

Skills learned

Students learn skills such as computer programming languages, project management skills, time management, goal setting, prioritizing, managing interruptions and procrastination.

Students learn most of the same skills, but many of the skills related to time management, self-discipline, and collaboration may not be learned until they are on the job.

Student Services

Students might miss out on campus facilities and services, career development programs or job counseling services that are located on campus. However, better technology gives access to more resources.

Student services and campus facilities are available on campus. University experts are often on hand to provide assistance.

Myths About Online Degrees

In this section, we will debunk the unflattering myths about online degrees and give you the facts so that you will have realistic expectations about them and what the experience would be like for you, both as a student, as well as after graduation, when you enter the job market.

Online degrees are less expensive

This may be true, but it depends on the school and the program. Some online degrees are more affordable because there is no "brick and mortar" cost. Schools may apply either in-state or out-of-state tuition rates to online degrees, and this varies by school. Fees for online classes are also common, and could add hundreds of dollars to the cost each semester.

Online learning is easier

Until recently it has been widely accepted by some that online courses are easier. Nothing could be further from the truth. Online students have the same stressors of earning a college degree as students on campus and the same deadlines to meet and exams to take.

Online degrees take less time

Online degrees offer convenience and flexibility, but the classes also require a huge commitment of time each week, the same as on-campus classes. Students spend the same amount of time working on course materials, participating in class activities, completing assignments, and studying for exams.

Online degrees aren’t respected

Today, most top educational institutions offer online versions of their on-campus courses and programs. The radical shift to online learning following the pandemic was only possible because students and employers also respect online degrees.

Online degrees aren’t as popular

In the past few years, online learning has become increasingly popular for students all over the world. Companies hire graduates with online degrees and treat them equally to on-campus degrees. Online learning is growing steadily, due to its greater accessibility, flexibility and convenience.

What Do Employers Think of Online Degrees?

Employers are continuing to recognize and respect the value of online degrees, as the popularity of this kind of learning continues to increase dramatically. They especially value online degrees from accredited institutions.

According to information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as reported in Forbes Magazine, in May 2023, most college students in the U.S. today take at least some classes online.

A 2022 article by U.S. News, says employer perspectives on online degrees have also changed in recent years. Today, most colleges offer online programs and many employers have begun to recognize them equally.

Most of all, employers want to see employees demonstrate skills relevant to the job. They value experience and are attracted to online degree candidates who have obtained their skills in a resourceful way.

According to Chris Caserta, a former WVU Online student and now a faculty member in the WVU Online Integrated Marketing Communications program, online learning from an accredited school is now fully accepted in the workplace by employers.

Chris earned an undergraduate degree in biological sciences and then worked for several years in various sales and marketing positions before earning his IMC degree.

"From my work experience, a student considering an online education needs to make sure the school is well-branded and is a school that employers will respect," he says.

"For example, I chose WVU Online’s Integrated Marketing Communications M.S. degree program because it was from a well-known school, had an asynchronous format, was strictly online, and delivered content in a ‘learn it today, use it tomorrow’ format."

Finding an Accredited Online Program

If you are thinking about pursuing a degree online, you have a lot to consider in order to make the most of the online learning experience. You should research all the programs you are interested in to make sure the one you choose is reputable, has a program that aligns with your career goals, and is supportive of its students.

Consider the following list of key things to look for when researching possible programs and schools:


Accreditation ensures that programs meet strict academic standards, including the quality of the program, success rates, faculty, curriculum, and more. This can influence your financial aid, as well as your future employment, so be sure to choose an accredited school! Look for regional accreditation, especially.

Faculty Credentials

You can find information about faculty on the program website, or by doing some research on the internet. In order to teach online, faculty usually need to be qualified by meeting certification requirements. Some programs may require additional professional development in online teaching and learning.

Student Support Services

Be sure to speak with admissions counselors about student support services, career services, student success, and graduation and job placement rates. The institution you choose should be available to guide you throughout your educational journey and your future job search as well.

Reputable Institution

Is the college or university you are considering a non-profit institution? There is a stigma associated with for-profit online schools that sometimes have low standards of quality, low graduation rates, and high student debt. It is best to choose a non-profit school that is regionally accredited.

Well-known Institution

If employers are not familiar with a school, it could have a detrimental effect on your job search. So, look at the school’s reputation and brand to make sure it is known and trusted. Schools that provide traditional, on-campus degrees, as well as online degrees, are often more credible to employers.

Scholarships and Tuition Aid

Make sure the schools you are looking at have access to federal aid and government grants and that the school provides scholarships as well. Look for any financial aid you may be able to get and try to find a balance between program cost and program quality.


Your program’s curriculum will have a lot to do with your future success. It should have courses that will prepare you with all the skills you will need. Many employers are looking for hands-on or experiential learning experiences, so that what you learn in the classroom is connected to its use in the workplace.

How Online Learning Prepares You for the Future

As you prepare for your future career, you want to stand out, even at the entry-level. Online students are well prepared for the workplace because they have had to learn “soft skills” such as self-discipline, time management and collaborative skills that other students may take longer to learn, or that they often learn only after several years on the job.

Online students learn these skills early, because they must collaborate and problem-solve with professors and fellow students more intentionally. They must adapt to new conditions, studying at unconventional times and remaining organized.

They become experts in new technologies and communication platforms and also learn to balance coursework with a full-time job and other obligations. They learn to be self-directed to stay motivated and take action as valued team members.

With these traits and skills, online students are perfectly in line for a new career, career advancement, a salary increase, and more.

Many students say that earning an online degree gives them a good return on their investment. This means the financial returns justified what they spent earning their degree.

Amanda Santiago, who received a M.S. in Software Engineering from WVU Online and is now Senior Principal Computer Systems Architect at Northrop Grumman Corporation, says earning a degree online prepared her well for her future role.

"Online learning prepared me to work remotely, giving me an opportunity to use tools that enabled remote work, while learning additional self-discipline tactics for managing my time," she says. "It enhanced my work-life balance, now that I am balancing my career and family life."

Achieve Your Goals with WVU Online’s Degree Options

Online education is here to stay, so act now and prepare for a future where online education and remote work will be increasingly significant. WVU Online is an ideal starting point in your search for the right school. Our degrees are perfect for working professionals or others who want the convenience and flexibility of online learning from a nationally recognized university.

Learn More

Contact the Coaches at Our Learning Engagement Center

After reading this article, if you are unsure about your goals, or how to identify your interests and skills, be sure to reach out to one of our WVU Online admissions coaches. They are trained to help you look at your individual situation and make the right choice for your future.

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