Do Online Degrees Work? New Research Says Yes

Do Online Degrees Work? New Research Says Yes

Today’s online degree students are more like traditional students than in the past, according to the initial findings in a recent study from Babson Survey Research Group. They’ve just chosen to study for their degree on their own schedule and from their individual locations. The growth rate of online enrollment is three to four times that of classroom enrollment. Given that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that today’s online degree programs are much more like traditional classroom learning—minus the campus. That is one of the reasons for their popularity.

[Take the first step toward your online nursing degree.]

Online education works. It works for those trying to juggle other commitments while studying for a degree, and it works in the marketplace upon graduation. The study found that graduates see earning an online degree as a good investment in time and money. Among those surveyed, 45% received salary increases and 36% reported promotions—all within 12 months of graduation—and 77% of academic leaders feel that online education can be equal to or better than traditional learning. The majority of online students agree their program was a good investment.

[Is it better to go to college on a campus or online? Find out what other students think.]

Online Degree Demographics

Online education is popular not only with those returning to school after years in the workforce but also with those who are the traditional college or university age. Approximately one in five online students are younger than age 25, with about 40% younger than age 30. In fact, as the report points out, today’s online degree students resemble the traditional on-campus college population. They’ve simply chosen to leapfrog the classroom.

Why Choose an Online Degree Program?

One of the greatest benefits to an online degree program is scheduling flexibility. Are you unable to relocate to a college or attend classes in person at specific times? Online college or university programs provide the freedom to manage other responsibilities, such as work or child-care commitments. You’re still able to receive a degree from a well-respected institution, but you can do it from the comfort of your home. Other reasons may include tuition costs, or shorter terms of study.

[Read more: Find out how to get college credit for MOOCs.]

Online Degree Marketability

How marketable is an online degree? It depends on the school and program, just as a traditional degree does.

Does the institution have reputable accreditation? This is key, but you can’t depend on the school’s claims. Instead, check the US Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs. If the accreditation is valid the school will be listed there.

Is your degree in demand? Online programs with good return on investment include those that qualify graduates for jobs in growing industries, such as a business or health science degree. A bachelor’s of science in nursing is another very marketable degree, given the need for this qualification. Remember, accreditation is important. Not just any online nursing degree program will do. Be sure to check that any program you might be interested in is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Online Education: How to Choose the Right School

With a college or university degree—whether obtained online or in person—comes opportunity for a better job and compensation. But choose your academic institution wisely. Here are some questions to ask.

  1. What is the school’s reputation? Read school reviews and research the program you are interested in. Compare schools before making your decision.
  2. Are there scholarships available? All kinds of students are eligible, and there are thousands of different scholarships that could assist in funding your program of study.
  3. Can you try classes before enrolling? Your education is an investment of time and money. Try a free MOOC before committing to a program—it can help you decide if online study is right for you.
  4. Does the school offer credit for prior learning? Your professional work or certifications may be eligible for credit, as may military training, passing grades on competency exams, or previous college or university work.
  5. Is one-on-one support offered? This should include online help with admissions (from choosing courses to financial aid options), access to faculty during your program, and career services that prepare you for graduation.
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