Is an Online Degree Enough in the Eyes of Recruiters?

Getting a bachelor's or master's degree online is becoming more and more appealing to many individuals, but what do recruiters think of online degrees when it comes to the hiring process? Are they viewed the same as traditional degrees from a major university?

Currently, almost all (close to 90 percent) universities provide or plan to provide some sort of online program in addition to offering traditional classes and degrees. Schools are seeing the value and benefits that attending class online provides.

But what do employers think of an online degree?

Fortunately, with more and more people attending school online, employers do value and recognize online degrees. They do view the institutions differently, though.

For example, a degree obtained online from Arizona State University may be viewed differently by some employers than a degree from University of Phoenix or Jones International, which are both online-only institutions.

A survey conducted by found that more than 75 percent of employers look at the institution and rank the traditional institutions higher than the online-only institutions. They don't seem to care if the degree was obtained online or traditionally, though.

U.S. News found that in 2011, more than 6 million people were taking at least one class online.

Benefits of taking classes or obtaining degrees online include:

  1. Flexibility - You can study and complete coursework on your own time. Of course, due dates still apply when taking courses online, but it's up to you to decide when you want to study and complete assignments.
  2. Ability to work full-time - No need to quit your day job for online degrees. You can still work full-time at your regular job and study in the evenings or on weekends. This benefit is extremely attractive to those looking to switch careers or who have children and need to continue supporting their family.
  3. Endless options - Since both brick-and-mortar schools and online universities offer classes and degrees online, you can decide which school you want to 'attend.' You're not limited to only those schools that are in driving distance from your home. If a school in California offers a better online business program than where you live, you're free to attend that program.
  4. Less expensive overall - Online programs still offer grants and scholarships and accept tuition reimbursement from employers. Though the tuition is most likely the same, by attending online you'll save on gas, parking, transportation and more. Books are also purchased as an online book, which is typically much less expensive than the typical hardback.
  5. Socialization - Online classes normally require participation via discussion boards and group projects. You can email or call other students in your class for questions, assistance or to discuss an upcoming project. In traditional schools, you can normally sit quietly in the back. Online classes force you to be social, which can make the whole experience much more fulfilling.

As a recruiter, it's up to you to decide whether or not you wish to recognize an online degree.

Keep in mind, though, that online degrees are becoming increasingly popular. They require the same level of discipline and organization skills that traditional schools demand.

In fact, obtaining a degree online is perhaps more challenging than obtaining one on campus because the person is most likely juggling things other than schooling - such as a family and/or a job.

At the end of the day, would you hire someone with an online degree?

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ. She writes on online degrees, small businesses and personal finance.

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