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How Do Employers View Online DegreesHow Do Employers View Online Degrees?

Acceptance is on the rise in an emerging industry

Increasing numbers of older students are participating in online courses or seeking full degree programs online. These programs are an attractive alternative as they help busy adults balance hectic schedules. As the numbers of interested students steadily increase, the number of colleges and universities providing these online programs also continue to rise. According to recent statistics, over 90 percent of traditional institutions provide or plan to provide some kind of program through distance learning.

For example, Keller Graduate School of Management has several online master's degree programs for busy working professionals. Many other nationally recognized universities are offering full programs through the Internet as well. Professors who teach the online courses have commented that the quality of work is typically higher from the online student than the traditional student who is physically attending a class. In addition the degree earned online is the same credential earned when attending a traditional class.

Traditional, brick-and-mortar universities often make no separation between their programs and the type of degree awarded. For example, students can take 90 percent of their coursework in the classroom at New York State University, and the remaining 10 percent online, and receive a degree from New York State. Students could also complete 90 percent of their classes online, take only 10 percent on campus, and be awarded the same degree. If a student is interested in taking some courses online at a regionally accredited university, and then transferring them to the traditional university next door, the transfer credits will be accepted 90 percent of the time, according to John Bear, author of Bear's Guide to College Degrees by Mail and Internet.

It is vital that students interested in online programs do their research before selecting a program. Some institutions lack the appropriate accreditation, or provide poor interaction between students and faculty. Other universities, termed "Degree Mills," award diplomas not worth much more than the paper they are printed on.

Recognized institutions with online degree programs carry more weight with employers than degrees awarded by lesser known schools. A study reports that 77 percent of hiring managers say that an online degree received through an established university such as Duke or Stanford is more acceptable than a degree earned through an Internet only university like Capella or Jones International. However, some say such an assessment is unfair, as Capella and Stanford have the same regional accreditation and uphold rigorous academic standards.


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