By Charlene Lattea, WVU Online | Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Online degrees are gaining in popularity, but do employers respect them? We’ll discuss if you can get a good job with an online degree as well as the different considerations employers make about them.
The popularity of distance learning continues to increase, as millions of students all over the world choose to get their degrees online.
If you are thinking about getting an online degree, you may be feeling uncertain about what it will mean when you start job hunting.
What do employers think about online? Are they respected?
In this article, we will help you understand how employers view online degrees and how they can prepare you for exciting new career opportunities.
First of all, the answer is yes, people with online degrees can get great jobs!
If you have concerns about online college, you should know that over the past two decades, online programs have become more reputable and most employers are now much more accepting of online degrees and view them as being just as valuable as on-campus degrees.
A quality online program from a reputable, accredited educational institution will give you the same knowledge and professional skills as a traditional on-campus program.
Next, we will break down why an online degree is a great investment in the current job market.
Employers are continuing to recognize and respect the value of online degrees, and they especially value online degrees from accredited institutions.
Chris Caserta, a former WVU Online student and chief executive officer for Ascension Living, one of the largest not-for-profit senior living providers in the country, agrees. He says online learning from an accredited school is now fully accepted in the workplace by employers.
Chris worked for several years in various marketing positions before earning his Integrated Marketing Communications degree from WVU Online. Now, he is the one making hiring decisions and looking at the qualifications of various candidates.
"From my experience, a student considering an online education just needs to make sure the school is well-branded and that it is a school that employers will respect," he says.
One of the most important things employers look at is accreditation. This is an evaluation by a third-party review board of a school’s operations, educational standards, graduation rates, and professional outcomes for students.
Accreditation assures that a school’s programs meet established criteria. If an online degree comes from a regionally or nationally accredited school, employers know it is reputable.
There are two main types of accreditation in the U.S. – regional and national –with accrediting agencies operating at both levels. Generally, regionally accredited schools are more widely respected than nationally accredited schools.
It is also important to consider the type of online degree to pursue.
Some programs of study lend themselves well to online learning, such as business, social sciences, computer science, marketing, education, and languages. It is important to consider the type of degree you to pursue because with some degrees not all the requirements can be completed online.
Some careers are also more friendly to online degree holders, such as nursing, where there is currently a shortage of qualified nurses with bachelor’s degrees and many students are studying online.
Technology departments are also friendly places for candidates with online degrees, as are businesses and financial institutions.
Most importantly, employers want to see employees demonstrate skills that are relevant to the job.
They will be looking at the projects you worked on in school, the skills you learned, and the personal connections you made.
Graduates of online programs have unique skills and abilities that set them apart and make them even more attractive employees in today’s digital world. These include self-discipline, motivation, time management, technological skills, communication skills, collaboration, and teamwork.
Employers value candidates with online degrees, not only for their skills, but for their other unique qualities. Online students must have a strong work ethic and must be able to motivate themselves and accomplish their goals with minimal supervision.
The following are some of the qualities online students have that allow them to stand out in the job market:
Online students learn how to manage their schedule and complete their work during the time that is available. Most already have a busy schedule, with a full-time job and family obligations. They have to be efficient with their time and able to manage competing priorities.
Students pursuing online degrees often have more diverse backgrounds and more life experience. They tend to be adults or non-traditional students who already know what their career path will be, and they are focused on improving their lives.
Through completing coursework online, students have technological abilities that they might not develop as an on-campus student. They must become proficient in the latest technology in order to complete assignments, access lectures, and communicate with professors and other students.
Online students are also used to collaborating with professors and other students remotely. Online courses not only require collaboration, but interpersonal skills such as teamwork and leadership. These are also valuable skills in the workplace.
According a 2021 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, 61 percent of undergraduates at public institutions were enrolled in at least one distance education course and 28 percent took distance education courses exclusively.
Also, 56 percent of post-baccalaureate students were enrolled in at least one distance education course and 40 percent took distance education courses exclusively.
This shows the popularity of online learning, since most college students in the U.S. today take at least some classes online.
Do employers differentiate between online degrees and on-campus degrees?
Rest assured that the acceptance of online degrees and their professional desirability has never been higher.
According to a 2022 article by U.S. News, employer perspectives on online degrees have changed in recent years and they now recognize them as equal to on-campus degrees.
A recent survey by the Society for Resource Management reported that 79% of employers have hired someone with an online degree in the past year.
Today, it doesn’t matter as much to future employers whether your degree was on-campus or online. What matters is what you studied and whether or not your school was accredited.
A U.S. Department of Education study found that students learn just as effectively online as they do in on-campus classes and that, on-average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those in face-to-face instruction.
Corey Edmonds, a WVU Online student who graduated with a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree 2023, is an example of someone who found plenty of future growth opportunities in his job through online learning.
Corey chose WVU Online because he was a busy working professional and it allowed him to further his education without having to sacrifice the career progress that he had already made.
"The MHA online program is designed for working professionals,” he says. “Now that I have graduated from an online program, I recognize that there are so many benefits that you often don't experience in on-campus courses."
Since graduating, has continued to move up the career ladder within his organization. The WVU Online MHA program equipped him with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform confidently and efficiently as a healthcare administrator.
"I am still with the same organization that I was with prior to graduation, however, I have advanced,” he says. “I have been promoted to take on a much more intensive business development role where I have actually had the opportunity to help guide my organization through multiple clinical and service expansion projects."
It is now time to do further research and evaluate whether online learning aligns with your personal learning style and life situation.
Educational pathways can be challenging, but you need to take the time to make informed decisions that will help you reach your career goals.
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.
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.
Call us, write us, or fill out the request information form. Whichever communication style you prefer, there will be someone from WVU Online on the other end waiting to help.