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What employers really think of online degrees

What matters most is where you got your degree — not how.

Swapping the lecture hall for a laptop doesn't mean your degree doesn't measure up. Credit: Zoonar Swapping the lecture hall for a laptop doesn't mean your degree doesn't measure up.
Credit: Zoonar

“Online degree” used to have a negative connotation. But as these degrees become more common, employers aren’t looking down on them anymore. In fact, a quick Internet search will show that more and more accredited colleges are adding online courses to the curriculum. And not the occasional online class, either; we’re talking full degrees earned entirely on the Web.

Drexel University in Philadelphia, which offers both traditional and online learning, released an infographic depicting how employers view online degrees. “To create the infographic, our team looked at research studies conducted by a variety of news publications, career groups, and educational organizations,” says Andrew Meyer, associate at SEER Interactive, who helped create the project.

“We gathered the data and found common themes that, when woven together, began to tell a story about traditional and online degrees. We knew that university name recognition was a factor in hiring decisions, but we were surprised to find just how important it was.”

Frank Mulgrew agrees. He’s a former Drexel employee who managed traditional and online programs. Currently, he is president of the Online Education Institute at Post University. “The No. 1 advertisement for any program is the quality of people that come out of it. Alumni that are respected and successful reflect well on the institution, regardless of how they earned the degree,” says Mulgrew.

Many employers understand that a college with a strong traditional core will likely have quality online courses as well.

According to Chris Cullen, managing director at the brand strategy agency Infinia Group, relevance of a degree matters even more than where it was received.

“The notable exception would be the Ivies and ‘Ivy Plus’ institutions. In general, as long as the credential is relevant and comes from an established, reputable institution, it carries much more weight than a course or credential that is less relevant and comes from a prestigious brick-and-mortar institution,” says Cullen.

 
 
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