Are Online Degrees Worth Pursuing?

Online School

How valuable is an online degree in this day and age? I know that online degrees are common now, but I’m never sure how much people respect them. It seems to me that people my parents’ age (or older) would assume that an online degree is worth less than one from a “real” college. Do you think that’s true, or am I just being paranoid? I’m considering getting an online graduate degree while I work in business (probably finance/economics type stuff, since that’s what I’m studying as an undergrad), because I think I’m too busy to go to school full-time at a traditional university. But I don’t want to waste money or go with an inferior option. Experts, please help!

You’re right to point out that online schools are more common than ever. Online education — including entirely online universities, brick-and-mortar universities that offer all-online degrees, and in-person degrees that offer some classes online — is on the rise, statistics show. Has that lead to a change in perception for those who hold online degrees?

In a word, yes. Experts in their fields — including the economics and finance experts that you expect to be interviewing with for your future jobs — know what online degrees are worth, and they can be worth quite a bit. And these hiring pros are more welcoming toward online degree holders than they used to be. But it’s also important to note that the rising tide of online degree normalization has not necessarily lifted all boats: there are still some online universities that are less reliable than others.

For-profit universities have become the subject of quite a bit of scrutiny in recent years, and for good reason. These universities offer questionable return on investment for their students, and their for-profit status may interfere with the more altruistic priorities that are embodied by more traditional institutions. A for-profit university may care less about whether or not a student can afford to take out loans, and it may be less likely to emphasize the right things when awarding scholarships (if it does so at all). And a for-profit university may be less concerned with supporting students after they graduate, since they have already made their money and are less reliant on gifts and donations from their alumni base (which may also be younger and smaller than the alumni bases at non-profit colleges, which may be more established and traditional).

When you set out to get your next degree, you should absolutely look at online universities. But you should also consider the reputation of the specific university to which you are applying, experts urge. That’s not too hard to do, especially now that so many reputable brick-and-mortar schools are offering online degrees. For instance, you can get a online applied economics degree from Boston College. Boston College was founded in the 1880s, which was certainly a long time before the internet. Its reputation is excellent, and it is very unlikely indeed that any reputable employer will care whether your Boston College degree was earned online or in-person!

Boston College is far from alone. These days, there are plenty of brick-and-mortar universities with well-established online degree programs. There are also plenty of all-online universities that have great reputations and exist on a whole other level from the less reputable for-profit gang. Just do your research when choosing your online university, and you’ll be fine! You’ll be able to get your degree on your schedule and on your turf, and you won’t sacrifice any prestige or legitimacy to do it. Good luck with your education and your future career!

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