Will My Online Degree Hurt My Future Job Prospects?

If you are worried that your online degree may impede your ability to find work, you’re not alone; several students who see an online degree as an affordable and flexible option for their education are wondering this very same thing. With a debate swirling around if an online degree can really help you get a job, there are some things that you should be aware of that could help or hinder your job prospects.

The Changing Opinion Around Online Education

Online degrees have been around for decades, beginning their long journey into acceptance as part of distance education programs delivered by some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. In the beginning, they were considered laughable as an acceptable way of obtaining an education, but that has quickly changed. With many professionals obtaining online degrees while working and taking care of personal obligations, employers are now seeing the benefits of online education. Some of the country’s biggest employers are now even paying their employees to go back to school using virtual programs.

Accredited Versus Unaccredited Programs

As with traditional degrees, programs that are accredited, online or not, are more accepted than unaccredited programs. Accreditation, done by independent governing bodies as well as regional government agencies, distinguishes between not-for-profit schools in good standing and for-profit scandal-ridden institutions. For students interested in earning a reputable online degree, an accredited program is the only pathway forward. For students in professional fields, online programs with additional distinctions in their field are also possible, eliminating the stigma from unaccredited schools.

Undergraduate Versus Graduate Degrees

While online education is becoming more accepted by employers, there is a difference between online undergraduate and graduate degrees in respect to what companies will accept as a viable education. Because many professionals are now pursuing online graduate programs, there seems to be more acceptance of online graduate degrees. At the undergraduate level, however, there is caution on the part of employers. This caution is being dissuaded by the number of programs that now have accreditation; some schools even claim there are no differences between their traditional and online programs. Other schools are also refusing to distinguish on their diplomas which degrees have been earned online, claiming that the programs are exactly the same and should be given the same diploma.

The Future

As more professionals take online professional development and continuing education courses online, the culture around online degrees will continue to change. Because these degrees are asynchronous, meaning they can be earned at a student’s own pace and without rigid schedules to follow, they are the preferred method of gaining a degree when a professional is ready to switch to a second career. With time, online degrees will obtain the same status and respect as traditional degrees; this change is already being seen around the world. With so much of business being transacted online, it is expected that online degrees will become the norm within ten years.

Online education is no different from a traditional education; these degrees have the same rigorous standards, and in some cases, the same professors, as traditional degrees. But they are easier on a student’s schedule and provide a viable way to advance in your career without having to leave your job. Now that you know that your online degree will not hurt your future job prospects, you can rest easy knowing you are a pioneer in online education and employers will see that as a benefit.

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