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Online Degree vs. Traditional

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Founder 6083 replies100309 threads Senior Member
edited August 2011 in Online Degrees
To get the ball rolling in this new forum, it would be interesting to get some feedback from individuals who have either earned an online degree or are in a position that hires degreed individuals. We know from surveys that the credibility and acceptance of online degrees varies - what has your experience been? (Lets limit the discussion to legitimate degrees that require a typical set of courses to be completed; it's more or less a given that mail order diplomas or degree programs without academic requirements will fool relatively few employers.) If you are a degree holder, do you mention that you earned it online on your resume? Have employers grilled you about it, or accepted it without comment?

If you are a hiring manager, how do you view online degrees? Does your company have a policy on them? How do other managers feel about them?
edited August 2011
54 replies
Post edited by Roger_Dooley on
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Replies to: Online Degree vs. Traditional

  • HImomHImom 36066 replies396 threads Senior Member
    I have read that the University of Maryland has both on-line and in-person degree programs that are well respected. I have also read about schools that allow students to take both on-line and in-person classes during the same semester. This can be very helpful to students who have difficulty with scheduling or other issues.

    Thanks for this forum. I am very interested in finding out more about highly selective colleges which allow both on-line and in-person classes in the same semester, as I think it is a helpful option, especially for patients who have health challenges that may cause them to miss many days of class.
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  • scmascma 127 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Bentley allows web-based and traditional classes. The web-based classes run simultaneously with the traditional class (some students are sitting in the classroom, and some are there via web). You also have the advantage of playing back the webcast if you miss a class.
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  • overanxious motheroveranxious mother 302 replies23 threads Member
    My best friend has an online MBA from University of Phoenix, and she has to "defend" its legitimacy regularly...she's currently applying to law schools (she's waitlisted at two, rejected at all the others to which she applied) and despite her straight As, impressive work background (she's middle-aged and returning to school after years in the work force), and solid LSAT scores, it seems almost as if her online degree is a negative. I know we discussed leaving it off her application...she got very defensive w/me about that...

    Now that my S is leaving for college and I'm entering "empty nest" I've given some thought to earning an online degree, too...but my friend's experience makes me think I'd be better served by dealing w/the logistics of earning a degree from a brick-and-mortar school, even if I take a course or two online...
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  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Founder 6083 replies100309 threads Senior Member
    I've seen quite a bit of defensiveness on the part of online degree holders, though perhaps that has been because online degrees are questioned so often. If your friend had earned her MBA at a local college of no particular distinction, she probably would have had few questions about it; no interviewer would have weighted it as heavily as an MBA from Harvard or Columbia, but they probably wouldn't probe for details.

    The challenge for the recruiter is to understand the rigor (or lack thereof) in the online degree program. It's a new enough area that many may have difficulty in distinguishing between legitimate and demanding programs and those with looser standards.

    It may take the entry of "brand name" colleges to legitimize online degrees in the minds of recruiters. If a candidate showed up with an online degree from Yale (not yet available, unfortunately), the recruiter would most likely presume that reasonably high standards were upheld in granting the degree. I don't think we are that far away from all the top schools offering a variety of distance degrees.
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  • momof1momof1 787 replies7 threads Member
    I earned an Master of Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership through The George Washington University. I have had many positive comments about the rigor of the program vs. that of other schools offering similar degrees, and the degree has really aided me in securing consulting positions with the Alaska Department of Education, becoming a Cadre Trainer for MarcoPolo Internet Content for the Classroom, and establishing a business with my husband.

    As I proceeded through the program, it was necessary to visit my school district main office and the techs there were very pleased at the projects I had to complete and the level of preparation I had. I could easily work downtown if I wanted to give up my summers off (no way!) and I am called on a few times a year to conduct training.

    So, to summarize, the exclusively online delivery of the degree has actually been a positive, given that the delivery method tied in with my degree area. How much easier it is to design online courses, delivery methods and online communities having experienced it all firsthand. Perhaps that would make my experience the exception, but I thought it applicable here nonetheless.
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  • ThomasH32ThomasH32 700 replies31 threads Member
    I completely agree. I've actually known folks who received their degrees on-line. Employers were very impressed, due to the fact that obtaining an online degree is, in a sense, even more rigorous than going to class because you have to be EVEN MORE responsible and motivated/dedicated to do your work all on your own at home.
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  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Founder 6083 replies100309 threads Senior Member
    I suspect the GWU brand name didn't hurt either, momof1. Plus, as you note, the area of your degree was particularly suitable to a new-tech approach to learning. Glad it's worked out well for you...
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  • momof1momof1 787 replies7 threads Member
    Mr. Dooley,

    I believe that you are correct, the GWU brand had a lot to do with the acceptability of my online degree. I believe, also, that it also points up the fact that it is extremely important that you DO select a rigorous, hightly respected program that is closely aligned with your goals if you want it to be an advantage in the workplace.

    If, however, you choose a program that is "easy" and doesn't require a great deal from you in terms of effort, time, or money, well, you get out what you put in.
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  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Founder 6083 replies100309 threads Senior Member
    I guess that's true of many things in life, momof1 - you get out what you put in. The fear that some have, though, is that they may put in a lot of effort to earn an online degree and then have it not be respected by employers.

    I guess some key factors would be,
    1) Well recognized name, particularly a bricks & mortar university
    2) Rigorous program with controlled testing and good prof/peer interaction.
    3) Optional (or required) campus participation.

    Most employers wouldn't know about #3 unless the applicant discussed it, but it might add credibility. Some executive MBA programs, for example, meet periodically in person but do most of the work offsite.

    It's a pretty good bet if the degree is from someplace you never heard of and they are willing to waive most courses based on your life experience, the degree won't meet the sniff test.
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  • merlinjonesmerlinjones - 758 replies49 threads Member
    Whenever I speak of the fact that I am currently an online student. I always say that I opted to finish my BS on line because I did not desire to move where the University is located and that I am grateful for the on line degree option. That normally hushs folks up.

    However, since my degree with look like everyone else's I am toying with the idea of just not even mentioning that I finished my BS on line. But, I do not yet know how that will work out. Where I live, folks are easily five years behind the times with things that are more modern with schooling.

    When I earn my BS, I am thinking of just stapling a copy of my degree to my resume. Would that look weird?
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  • dstmarsdstmars 1 replies0 threads New Member
    I earned a BS in Business Management at the University of Phoenix and thought it was an excellent program. I'm a working adult so the program fit my needs perfectly. FYI, there is very little about the program that is online. They do offer programs that are 100% online but I chose their in-class option. Class is held once a week from 6 to 10 p.m. One thing that really impressed me was the high quality of their instructors. They are all professionals in their field and hold Masters degrees from top universities. The classrooms are all top of the line with full A/V capabilities in each.
    The online portion of the program is only used to check grades, order books, download weekly assignments and syllabus, organize and update your class schedule, and they have an awesome online library that has literally everything you could ever want.
    They also have an online writing lab and math lab where you can send in your homework before it's due and they'll check it for grammar and punctuation.
    I thought the program was very rigorous. I also got the same books that traditional university students get and there is a ton of homework, for those of you who think it's a degree mill. Every week one individual paper is due (ranging from 350-2500 words depending on the course). In addition, one team paper is due (ranging from 1500-2500 words). In addition there is a team presentation due with powerpoint slides and assigned reading each week which is then discussed in class the following week
    I have to tell everyone that this program was no walk in the park. This was 4 years of very hard work.
    When I started the program there was roughly 40 people in my class. By the time I graduated only 4 of them made it all the way through. Most of them dropped out by the second or third class and some of them couldn't pass the math courses.
    Over the course of my studies I was grouped with other students, many of whom were sent by employers such as Disney and Warner Bros.
    After graduation, I picked up some additional courses in marketing at UCLA Extension mainly to see for myself if there was any difference in the quality of education at a brick-and-mortor university than a so-called online university and I'm happy to report that I noticed no significant differences. The only thing better about the UCLA experience is their beautiful campus.
    The classes are essentially the same.
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  • AlphaFlightAlphaFlight 110 replies35 threads Junior Member
    I took an on-line US history class and I will never do it again. We were forced to discuss the material on a message board like this, well it was horrible. Many people would include whole responses of other students in with theirs, so I was almost impossible to detect where the new thought was and how it related or even if it did relate to the new thought. I complained to the instructor and he said, "no one else has complained or thought the interaction format needs to be changed or improved". Then after the class is over, I was told that more than half the class cheated, on assignments and tests.

    My main problem is with non-technical instruction, though I am not sure how one can get a BS in Chemistry or Biology online. I learn from my fellow classmates and from the instructor. I can't do that in an isolated environment.
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  • HImomHImom 36066 replies396 threads Senior Member
    Quality, of course, can vary GREATLY between programs & instructors. On-line courses is an important option for folks who are otherwise isolated & unable to attend school due to geographical, time, and/or other constraints. It's also a great way for folks to be able to supplement the materials/courses othewise available to them. Johns Hopkins Center for Gifted & Talented Youth offers some courses on-line. My kids' HS is starting to explore this as a way of reaching more students--we shall see how it goes (too late for us, as our D is graduating in 2008).
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  • mammasitamammasita 2 replies0 threads New Member
    I have earned two degrees online, BSN and MSN in Ed. Without the availability of online learning I would not have been able to continue my education. I work fulltime and my hours don't agree with the traditional course schedules. Online has been a wonderful experience for me and I am now pursuing my Phd in Distance Education and plan to teach in an RN to BSN or MSN program in the short future. Although the University of Phoenix is expensive, it offered the best programs and instructors and I checked many schools before making my final decision. I wasn't looking for cheap or expensive, just competitive, accredited, with an above average reputation. The UOP is well worth the price. Since I have only taken three courses at Capella I will have to get back to you on how I like this facility, so far so good. Mammasita
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  • ElliottsMomElliottsMom 357 replies5 threads Member
    I too earned my MSN (masters of science in nursing) predominantly online. The university is a state brick and mortar type, but their nursing program is a well known distance program dating back to the early 1980's. After years of holding classes every other week at hospital locations throughout the state, the natural outgrowth of their distance program became online. It is well respected in the nursing community.

    After obtaining my BSN through this state univ., I took two years off and then started looking for MSN programs. Since I'd moved to a semi-rural area I really wanted an online program. My alma mater didn't have their MSN up and running online, so I looked at many other programs throughout the country. There were similarities in the core classes, but variances in the degree of specialization. Just before I signed up with a mid-western univ. I received a notice from my alma mater indicating they were enrolling students for the online MSN program. The reduced tuition (state univ.) and known quantity of that program drove my decision to enroll there.

    I found the online classes to be of the same cailber or tougher than the "live" classes. Students interacted via online discussion forums, e-mail, and phone (when desired). What I disliked most was the group work since there is really no remedy for non-performing peers.

    The distance formats for nursing BSN and MSN meet the needs of most RNs who work. The majority of the RNs in this country are educated in community college settings and receive an Associate degree. Many go out into the workforce for many years before heading back to college for a BSN. By then, they have many life and work experiences. They usually prefer a adult learning style and coursework relevent to their job. The distance formats accomplish these well, often allowing the nurse-student to set up their own preceptorships (internships) to accomplish clinical course objectives. It's so much more relevant for a Labor and Delivery nurse to be able to individualize her coursework to that specialty, rather than to take a traditional clinical course that would make her do clinical hours in an adult surgical unit.

    On the other hand, there are some distance programs for LPNs to become RNs. Those are much more concerning to me. These lower division course are supposed to be ones in which basic sciences and basic nursing care is learned. I believe that close "live" supervision of that learning is prudent.

    So, this is a very long post, but in summary I think the worth of the online degree depends on the school, the individual, and the field of study.
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  • diode494diode494 3 replies0 threads New Member
    If you are going for graduate studies in engineering fields, DO NOT enroll an online program. If you have to, go at night and earn it part time.

    I've seen so many managers at my current job throw resumes in the trash after seeing the 'online' graduate degree listed at the bottom of the resume. In fact, one resume got folded into a paper airplane and was passed around the office. Quite horrible.

    Also, stay away from places like DeVry, University of Phoenix, Career America, and other lame rank-and-file universities. Like the poster above, you don't want to have to explain why you attended a university with a bad stigma associated with it.

    The exception is for continuing education purposes in the same field AFTER you've earned the graduate degree, but don't desire to get a PHd.

    --diode four nine four
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  • mildredmildred 613 replies73 threads Member

    Are you solely referring to diploma mill type of places? Or, are you referring to (totally legit) state schools which offer a handful of online degree options as well?
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  • admisscounsadmisscouns 182 replies0 threads Junior Member
    The best programs are those affiliated with existing colleges or universities, where the reputation of the college offsets any questions raised by the idea of an online program. Some colleges or universities will not differentiate in the diplomas granted or transcripts issued to online degree recipients.

    If you will be put into in the position of having to defend the work you have done, then it is probably not an appropriate academic choice. It doesn't matter if you can logically defend what you have done ... right or wrong ... the very fact you are in that position means you have already lost.
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  • mildredmildred 613 replies73 threads Member
    The best programs are those affiliated with existing colleges or universities, where the reputation of the college offsets any questions raised by the idea of an online program.

    You hit the nail on the head ^

    For example...

    I live in Memphis Tn and attend a private University here called Rhodes College on a full academic scholarship. I have a little working list of Universities to apply to for grad school. This list is rather realistic and humble and open.

    One of the universities on my list is the University of Memphis. If I get lucky with obtaining nice employment upon graduation, I can go to the University of Memphis and earn an online masters.


    And, I will always know in the back of my mind, that the university is on the up and up and that I can go there at any time in order to use the library or even to take some "in class" classes in something nifty. Or, even attend a football game or something. None of the diploma mills have sports teams, eh? Can one say that if they attend the University of Phoenix? No. Can one say that if they attend a school which only exists online? No.

    I wish there were laws against these diploma mills. Blessed shame. My worse case scenario is this University of Memphis. And, for a bit over $700.00 a grad class, it is a steal! I wish more folks would look into the Universities of their own city or state before picking a diploma mill.
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