Are Online College Degrees Legitimate

Are Online Degrees as Respected as Traditional Degrees?

When Holly was thinking about going back to school, she wondered if she should go to an online college or traditional on-campus college. She’d heard that online degrees weren’t as respected as traditional, but she’d also heard that some companies respect online degrees.

Do Employers Respect Online Degrees?

Online education was once an oddity and the value of an online degree was uncertain at best. In recent years, traditional, residential colleges and universities have begun offering college courses through online learning. More than one-third of brick-and-mortar colleges and universities offer degrees entirely online.

According to a recent study conducted by Online Learning Consortium,

  • More than one in four students (28%) now take at least one online course.
  • Public institutions command the largest portion of online students, with 72.7% of all undergraduate and 38.7% of all graduate-level distance students.
  • The total of 5.8 million fall 2014 distance education students is composed of 2.85 million  taking all of their courses at a distance and 2.97 million taking some, but not all, distance  courses

Unlike a decade ago, the majority of employers are now embracing online education. As more and more trusted schools offer online degree programs, respect continues to grow. Online education is no longer an oddity but the norm as online course enrollment climbs for the 10th straight year.

According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 83 percent of executives say that “an online degree is as credible as one earned through a traditional campus-based program.”

When asked, employers said that accreditation of the school, quality of its graduates, and the reputation of the college or university were among other things that make an online degree more credible.

Although employers see online degrees as reputable, the rest of America is slow to adopt the new education platform. According to a recent Gallup poll,

“Public perceptions about online education’s ability to deliver education in a format most students can succeed in, as well as its ability to tailor instruction to the individual, are more mixed, but tilt negatively”

The majority of Americans call online degree programs “only fair” or “poor” while 34 percent rate such programs as “excellent” or “best.” Adversely, 68 percent of Americans rated 4-year schools as “excellent” or “good” and 64 percent rated community colleges as highly as 4-year schools.

Americans' Views of Online Education vs. Traditional Classroom-Based Education

Quality of Education Ratings

Online Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

 

An online learning study conducted by the United States Department of Education addressed the topic of online vs traditional face-to-face- learning at the higher education level. The study, undertaken from 1996-2008, concluded the following:

  1. Online higher education is more effective than traditional face-to-face learning.
  2. Hybrid/Blended learning (online learning combined with traditional learning) is the most effective.
  3. Face-to-face learning alone is the least effective method of among the three types of learning methods studied.

Lastly, according to a survey by OnlineLearningSurvey.com, faculty acceptance of online vs. face-to-face learning has increased from 57 percent in 2003 to 78 percent in 2011. Three-quarters of faculty see online learning as being just as good or better than traditional, face-to-face learning.

Tips for Finding a Respected Online Degree

If you’re looking to go back to school online, consider these six things to evaluate a quality online degree program.

  1. Reputation

Does the school you’re considering have a brick-and-mortar location or is it online only? Schools that have physical campuses are viewed as more credible. If the school only has a P.O. box or suite number, employers will view it as a red flag.

2. Accreditation

The Department of Education says that accreditation is essential to credibility. Make sure that the school you plan to attend is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Diploma mills are typically accredited by fake agencies.

3. How quickly can you earn the degree?

Be wary of schools that offer the opportunity to earn a degree in just months

4. Quality of the school’s graduates

Make sure to research data and information on what employers think of school’s graduates. One statistic that will help you determine graduate quality is job placement rates, which can be found using NerdWallet’s school comparison tool.

By choosing a college that is reputable and known by your employer, your online degree will have a higher chance of being respected. In the end, where you earned your degree is more important than how — online or on campus.

8 Ways to Find Out If an Online Degree is a Scam or the Real Deal

With so many people today turning to online university degrees and distance learning programmes to improve their skills, almost all universities have started offering such courses.

And it’s no wonder online degrees are so popular! They allow you to work at your own pace, set flexible schedules for study, and save money by eliminating all costs associated with staying on campus.

Unfortunately, the popularity of online degrees has also led to a negative side effect. Some online degrees out there can actually be a scam.

The so-called diploma mills are the most common type of internet education scam. By posing as a legitimate school, some websites are able to cheat you by providing essentially worthless online degrees at an apparent bargain.

Real online universities

While we cannot give you an extensive list of legit universities offering online degrees (there are thousands of them), we can give also help you with 8 tips to avoid being tricked by an education scam.

Find online studies

1. Check the accreditation of online degrees

The best way is to be sure that any school or distance-learning programme that you choose is fully accredited. This means that the school or programme has been reviewed by its peers in the education field and validated or verified.

Typically, an agency or the National Ministry of Education recognises online universities vouching they respect educational standards. If the university is accredited, you will find a reference to it on their website.

2. Avoid universities that copy the names of famous institutions

You might be scammed if the institution has a name that seems very familiar to a reputed, prestigious university, only it added something more to it. If you see a title like Oxford Technological Online University, this is a classic scam that would make you think the institution is a part of the prestigious Oxford University.

3. Beware of too good to be true admission criteria

If there are few admission criteria or very simple requirements, such as just a resume and a motivation letter, that should make you think something is not right. The only exception is if the institution is an open university – which typically has very few admission requirements.

4. Don’t pay the tuition upfront

If the institution requires a lot of money upfront before you even know you were admitted, it is surely not a legit online programme. Universities don’t require to pay the entire tuition fee, that is strictly optional; usually, tuition fees are paid in instalments, each year or each semester.

 

5. Be sceptical of earning a degree way too easily

If getting a degree seems too fast and easy, that should make you reconsider. Online degrees may be a little more flexible than the on-campus ones, but they still require the same amount of effort and coursework.

6. Check what resources online universities offer you

Accredited online universities have available resources on their websites related to student support services, or libraries. If you don’t find this information available, most likely, the institution is not valid.

Check out online programmes

7. Verify university contact details

When you search for more information, browse the website of the institution. If you don’t find any detail about their campus or business address, that is a hint you’re dealing with a scam. Sure, there are universities that are exclusively online and might not have a campus address, but they should still have some business contact details.

8. Check reviews from graduates on Google

A good way to get a real impression of how the university is like and the reliability of the programmes is to hear what other students have to say about it.

Many students post reviews on uni pages but also on education-related websites such as our own Studyportals. If the students obtained a certified diploma and were happy with the course they will surely mention it. The same goes for the opposite.

Invest some time to secure a valuable education

All these may seem to be a lot of extra steps to have to go through, but doing so will help assure you that whatever distance learning degree programme you choose, it will be a wise investment for your future education and employment.

However, if you would like to skip some of them, you must at least stick with tip number 1:  Make sure the university has been validated by external bodies such as:

  • ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education)
  • EURASHE (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education)
  • ENIC Network (European Network of National Information Centres on academic recognition and mobility)
  • EABHES (European Accreditation Board of Higher Education Schools)
  • CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation)

These non-governmental agencies research accreditation issues in the education field. To be sure that a particular distance learning school is legitimately accredited, visit their official website, enter the name of the educational institution, and find out if your online school is by a legitimate accreditation body.

The Truth About Online Degrees: 5 Common Myths Busted

In addition to expanding your educational horizons and enriching both your personal and professional life, pursuing college coursework or completing your degree is a smart way to recession-proof your career.

One of the most convenient ways for busy working adults to finish school is by pursuing a degree in an online format.

Online degrees have gotten a bad rap by some. Often, this is just a case of being uninformed about what it’s really like to earn a degree online. The truth of the matter is that online instruction, online degrees and distance learning provide a highly flexible and creative way to finish your education.

Here are 5 common myths about online degrees—and the real truth behind them.

Online Degree Myth #1: You’re in it alone.

Well, yes and no. Yes, there is definitely a level of personal responsibility that comes with this type of learning. But no, you’re not without community. The fear of being left to your own devices is a valid concern, to be sure. But if you’re envisioning that it’s just you and your computer (possibly at crazy hours of the night) with seemingly nobody to talk to or ask questions, you may be pleasantly surprised at how some of today’s online learning platforms help keep you connected to classmates and professors. Even though there is no classroom, chalkboard or lectern, there is plenty of interactivity happening within the virtual walls of online learning environments. With chat rooms, forums and 1:1 instructor feedback, as well as phone, text, email and office appointments (depending on your location and the program you choose), suffice it to say that many online degree students feel infinitely more connected online than they do in the regular classroom. Make a list of what’s most important to you in this area. If you come out on the side of “con” more than “pro,” consider traditional classroom learning. Better yet, take one online class to see how you fare. Hybrid classes are also quite popular – take some classes online and others face-to-face. See what you like by getting a feel for both formats.

Online Degree Myth #2: Your degree won’t be taken seriously by prospective employers.

A commonly overlooked fact is that grads of online degree programs earn the exact same degree as face-to-face students. Unless you volunteered this information during an interview, the prospective employer would rarely know the difference. What employers are more often looking for when weighing your qualifications is the reputation of the institution. Employers may be suspicious of a degree from one of those large, for-profit diploma mills (and sometimes rightly so), but most are not at odds with online degrees in general. To ensure that prospective employers will take your degree seriously, explore your school’s relationship with the local business community. A recent survey of members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicated that 79% of those surveyed had, within the previous 12 months, hired a candidate with an online degree.

Online Degree Myth #3: You’re guaranteed to have professor problems.

There are no guarantees; however, some say gaining the attention of your professor may be even easier in the virtual world given the variety of contact methods at the disposal of today’s online student. There are plenty of ways to interact with professors, including phone calls, texting, email, instant messaging, group work and chat. Some online learning environments, like Franklin University’s LMS (learning management system) platform, incorporate online learning tools and faculty profiles and blogs into their curriculum, giving students unprecedented access. Before choosing a program, ask how the school facilitates the working relationship between professor and student and between student and classmates. Some questions to ask include:

  • How do I contact my professor?
  • Can we meet face to face, if necessary?
  • Are there required in-person meetings?
  • Aside from email, what other ways is course information delivered?
  • Will I receive feedback from my professor? If so, what kind and how will I receive it?
  • How do I get technical help?
  • What if I need technical assistance in the middle of the night?
  • How can I get academic help or tutoring?
  • Can I work offline?

Online Degree Myth #4: Classes are too easy. You won’t learn or be challenged.

This is a common misperception. And one exacerbated, in part, by the prevalence of search engines and the help they potentially provide. In reality, you can’t just “Google” your way to test answers or a degree. There is just as much oversight in the virtual classroom as in the regular one. Rigorous standards, such as proctored exams, ensure you’ll earn your grade through hard-earned knowledge and skill. Also, with accredited online degree programs, the coursework is equally challenging regardless of whether classes are taken online or offline, as both modalities are held to the exact same educational standards. As in the classroom, the level of difficulty for each online class depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the content being taught and the professor who’s teaching it.

Online Degree Myth #5: Online degrees are not accredited, which means you’re not earning a “real” degree.

This one’s tricky because there are some institutions that are not accredited at regional and national levels. Steer clear of these diploma mills, and opt instead to pursue your online degree through an accredited institution. To become accredited, a university or college must be evaluated and validated by a reputable third-party accrediting agency as having met established education standards. According to the U.S. Secretary of Education, “accreditation of an institution or program by a recognized accrediting agency provides a reasonable assurance of quality and acceptance by employers of diplomas and degrees.” A great place to check for accreditation information is the U.S. Department of Education website at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation. If the school is accredited, it can be found in that government database.

So – given the above, what do you think? If you’re thinking an online college degree program is something you’re interested in, or think you might be interested in, click the banner below and get in touch with one of our online specialists. They’ll answer all your questions, and you’ll get good insight into whether or not an online degree is right for you.

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