Is an Online Master’s Degree Worth It?

There's no secret that a Master's degree can give a significant boost to your career, and it can also increase your earning power. An analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that there's a certain "wage premium" for an individual with a master's degree in practically every profession.

But the thing is, every working individual who considers getting a master's degree needs to find time in their tight schedule. When you're working a job, you're incredibly busy throughout the day, and even if you consider going to college for an evening class right after your job, would it be worth it?

You'd be completely drained of energy, and you won't have the mental capacity to focus. Some people also consider enrolling in a weekend program for their MBA, but that again is a tough decision to take. If you enroll in a weekend program, you're going to have to wake up all seven days with the noise of an alarm.

That would also deprive you of much-needed family time, and you're going to feel exhausted in no time. And if you're unbelievably busy right now, how could you possibly fit a master's degree into your schedule?

If you're looking for a solution, the answer is online education. Online education is one of the fastest-growing aspects of higher education these days. 3.5 million students now take some type of class online, 74% of whom are above the age of 25. But the question that often arises amongst potential master’s candidates is: do employers give online master's degrees the same respect as traditional brick-and-mortar degrees?

The short answer is yes, but this depends on a few factors.

What Employers Think About an Online Master's

Human resource professionals are more likely to prefer a master's degree from an institution that has a well-respected reputation, and they have the same opinion about an online degree. Ironically, a traditional degree and an online master's degree are similar in the way an employer perceives them.

Renowned Institutions

Realistically, even if you acquired your master's degree the traditional way by attending classes on-site, your degree won't necessarily guarantee you a job. Likewise, it helps if your degree is from a renowned institution, and the same can be said for an online master's degree. Most of the time, if you acquired your online master's degree from a renowned institution, the employer won't even ask you to mention how you obtained your degree.


But apart from having a degree from a renowned institution, there are a few other factors that employers consider when they are evaluating you as a candidate for a position. One other factor that matters is the accreditation your online master's degree has. If you're looking for an online master's degree, make sure you check which kind of accreditation that institution has.

There are many kinds of accreditations that an institution can have, but the most highly valued is regional accreditation. The U.S Department of Education recognizes accrediting agencies, so it's important you consider this factor before you opt for an online master's.

Usually, if a recognized body accredits your online master's degree, employers will consider your degree equivalent to one earned on campus. Most colleges don't make any distinction between online master's degrees or on-site degrees.

Employer's Experience

Another factor that can affect the employer's assessment of your educational credentials is the experience of the hiring agent. An employer is more likely to make a favorable assessment of your online master's if they have a positive experience with online education. The "wage premium" of getting a master's degree is what excites most graduates. With the passage of time, distance learning is earning greater acceptance amongst human resource professionals, especially in health care.

But with that being said, how will you commit time to your online master's? How will you fit a full-fledged online master's degree into your already-crammed schedule? There are many ways you can make it happen, and all of these ways and are under your control.

Make a Flexible Plan

Working professionals who already have a tight schedule dislike the idea of taking on workload from college. But an online program can change that. A survey showed that 71% of students who studied online liked their experience and considered it worth their time. Only 3% of students said that the experience wasn't worth their time, while 26% said that it was "somewhat valuable".

The key to efficiently managing your online master's degree is time management. You're going to need a plan that takes into account:

  • Your working hours
  • Your personal time
  • The time you'll commit to online lectures
  • The time you'll spend communicating with professors or students

Additional Tips

Commit to Your Plan

No one is going to know your schedule better than you. It will take you some time to analyze your schedule a bit better, for example, some people find studying late at night relaxing, and some people can find the time to study during lunch breaks. Perhaps you could try a combination of the two? While it is essential to follow your plan religiously, don't be too hard on yourself.

As long as your plan is making you study, it's okay to allow some exceptions.

Do Some Amount of Coursework Everyday

We understand there can be days when you have to stay at work the entire day and can't even find the time to have lunch, but with that being said – your online master's degree is important too. When you take out the time to do some amount of coursework, your mind stays consistently updated with what's going on in your class.

If you return to your online class after a long break, you may feel that you're not familiar with the concepts being taught, and then you'll have to backtrack. When you already have a tight schedule, not moving ahead and trying to catch up can feel agonizing. If you can find the time to do some coursework, do it! Don't think twice about it, because life is unexpected and you never know when you'll be forced to go out because of an unplanned office meeting.