Are Online Degrees Respected Like Traditional Degrees?

Online degrees were once an oddity, and the value of these degrees was ambiguous at best. But in the last decade, residential and traditional universities have started offering online degrees and courses. What might have caused this dramatic shift?

More than one-third of all colleges and universities offering online degrees are entirely online.More than one in four students (28%) take a class online, and among these students, a majority of them are enrolled at public institutions. Up until a decade ago, employers did not prefer online degrees, but the equation has drastically changed now.

Because of the changing trend of how people are seeking education, employers have had to change preferences. With each passing year, the percentage of students pursuing online degrees is increasing, with the numbers increasing for a consecutive 10th year. If employers stay persistent about their requirements for a traditional degree, with passing time, they won’t have healthy hiring pools to choose candidates from.


Nowadays, 83% of business executives say that an online degree is just as credible as a traditional degree. But with that being said, most employers do not think every online degree is credible. It comes down to the reputation of the college or university that the student has acquired the degree from.

What Makes an Online Degree Credible?

While the trend has certainly changed, and online degrees get a lot more respect than they used to get before, certain factors determine the credibility of an online degree. Ironically, all of these factors are what make a traditional degree credible too. So maybe, just maybe, we haven’t made that big of a jump.

School Accreditation

One of the most common factors employers look for when they’re hiring a student with an online degree is whether their degree is accredited. There are many types of accreditation. The strongest and most reputable is regional accreditation. Graduate programs and college transfer requirements often specify that a student should have their credits accredited regionally.


But with that being said, there are also national accreditation that can be sufficient for some colleges and universities. The accreditation of a program has an impact on its license in some professions. So before you go for an online degree, it’s vital that you check the accrediting body.

Physical Location

There are two types of institutions that offer online programs:

  • Institutions that operate solely online
  • Traditional colleges offering online programs


Many employers despise online “diploma mills”, that is why online degrees from traditional colleges are less scrutinized, compared to those from solely online institutions. According to research, employers don’t differentiate necessarily between degrees earned online or on-site. In most cases, your interviewer won’t be aware that you were an online student, and you won’t be required to mention it.


However, some online degrees indicate clearly that the student has studied online, so in those cases, the employer will be aware that you were an online student.

Program Reputation

Apart from the recognition of the college’s name itself, some colleges and universities have a good reputation for specific programs. Some of these well-reputed programs are offered online, so if you’re going for an online degree, try to find programs that have a good reputation. Not only do programs with a good reputation get you your first job quickly, but they also have significant benefits over the course of your career.


The best part about opting for a program that is well-reputed is that employers won’t usually question the mode of delivery. Additionally, some renowned rankings won’t rank colleges that don’t have regional accreditation, so using popular rankings might help you narrow down your options.

Acceptability of Degrees

The significant increase in the number of students preferring to study online has stopped a lot of people from raising eyebrows whenever they come across a student who is pursuing an online degree. Only because they are becoming the norm, employers are easing their requirements too. For example, in Fall of 2014, approximately 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one online course, and now, more than 80% of all colleges offer online courses.

Why Your Online Degree Should Demand Respect

The drastic change in employer attitudes towards online education does not mean that employers are settling for lesser capable candidates. But it instead means that employers are changing their opinions about online degrees and are starting to realize that education that is based online is just as effective as education that is acquired from the class room.


Even though it’s a popular opinion, but online classes aren’t easier than classes taken in the classroom. In fact, they can be more difficult at times because they usually have less strict attendance policies, and a student has to be responsible enough to take the class and focus. An online student is also more disciplined because, unlike students sitting in the classroom, they are not under constant surveillance.


Students of online classes also get more course work compared to students studying inside a classroom, so on the whole, online students have to be much more determined and motivated to get a good grade in their online course. Determination and motivation are two of the qualities that employers look for in the people they want to hire.


As an online student, you’ll have to work hard to earn your online degree. An online degree’s coursework isn’t necessarily easy, and your online experience will be just as fulfilling as a student who is studying on site.


Interestingly enough, employers are now learning about online degrees just as much as a student would, and as their knowledge of online degrees grows, so does the respect they have for online degrees. This means that you can enjoy the comfort of a flexible schedule without any disadvantages.