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How Credible is an Online Degree in Today's Job Market?

By Mary P. Ivy,
Staff Writer

83 percent of business leaders who are familiar with online degree programs found them as credible as traditional degrees.

Students who are considering obtaining an online degree inevitably arrive at one very important question: In today's job market does an online degree have credibility with employers? It is a legitimate question. After all, for most people the point of getting a degree is to advance their career.

It may be re-assuring to know that an online degree has more credibility with employers now than ever before. A study done by Excelsior College/Zogby International found that 83 percent of business leaders who are familiar with online degree programs found them "as credible" as traditional degrees.

A Yahoo! Education article entitled "The Value of Online Degrees" sites another study done by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009/2010. The study found that employers may actually "value online degrees more because they show that someone is able to work well online." Employers realize that these graduates are comfortable with technology and have refined their online communication skills.

Increasingly, employers are learning the value of these graduates. Yet there are a few caveats and other factors to consider.

1. Institution reputation

Face it, the quality of the institution you receive your degree from is still important, and that is true for any degree. Select a school that has received accreditation. For extra assurance, choose a state college or university with an online option. Many Ivy Leagues are among those offering online degrees.

2. Field of study

According to the same U.S. Department of Education study, some fields seem more compatible with online learning. These are

In these fields particularly, students learn to work in teams using technology, just like real-world businesses do.

3. Employers

Many employers have experience with online education and know how rigorous the work can be. Perhaps they have taken a chance with another employee who turned out to be a star performer. Most bosses realize that personal qualities matter and there are other factors determining a candidate's success in addition to their degree.

The candidate may have to gently educate a reluctant employer, but that is just part of the interview process, highlighting one's experience and special abilities. Successful online students must possess certain traits, prized by employers, to reach graduation.

These graduates are:

  • Organized
  • Excellent with time management
  • Intrinsically motivated
  • Skilled at setting and achieving goals

Emphasize that you were able to achieve a degree while holding a job and perhaps caring for a family. Never underestimate the value of that. As graduates of online schools work their way through their career levels and begin making hiring decisions, the value of an online degree will not be questioned. Every year more employers will see online degrees as credible.

Last edited: April 4, 2012, 7:32 pm EST
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