Online Degrees Blog Are Online Education Degrees Respected?

Are Online Education Degrees Respected?

24 October
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Are online education degrees respected? Chances are, if you've considered enrolling in an online master's program, this is a question you've mulled over. Earning an online master of education offers many benefits: flexibility in your schedule, the ability to earn a degree without moving, working while completing your studies, applying course learnings to your current job in real-time and many more.

But do any of those conveniences matter if your employer, or future employers, don't respect the degree you worked so hard to earn? There's good news on that front. We'll break down what most employers really think of online degrees and how online education may help your resume.

Record growth in online programs leads to respect

Female teacher providing an online lesson to her students, using advancements in online learning technologies.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a radical adjustment in education delivery, enrollment in online graduate programs had been growing steadily. That growth helped drive greater respect for the value of online master's degrees among hiring managers across fields, including education.

The difference in online enrollment from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020 was dramatic. Exclusively online students in postsecondary degree programs accounted for 17.5% of the total student population in 2019. In 2020, that figure jumped to 45.5%. The percentage for online master's students was even higher, at 51.8%.1

Employers are getting with the times

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Nearly 70% of higher education students involved in online learning are in programs offered by nonprofit and public colleges and universities.2 Because these institutions are, by definition, more focused on online students' education than on profits, hiring managers often view their online master's degree programs more favorably.

As more and more well-respected universities offer online-only programs, more hiring managers are recognizing the potential value of online degrees and adjusting their hiring practices to consider all types of degrees. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says organizations that ignore candidates with online degrees will miss out on a diverse talent pool.2

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If your degree is granted by a reputable university that also offers on-campus programs, it's likely that hiring managers won't know or recognize that you earned your master's degree online.

How choosing an online master of education can make you an attractive candidate

When you share with a potential employer that you graduated from an online graduate program, which is likely to happen in the interview stage, share the factors that influenced your decision. Whether it has to do with the caliber of the school or your ability to keep up with other life commitments, explaining your decision showcases your critical thinking and decision-making skills.3

How will employers evaluate candidates from online master's programs?

SHRM recommends that hiring managers evaluate degrees from online programs on numerous criteria in addition to the institution's charter as a for-profit, nonprofit, or public institution.

Mature man using laptop at home to access online education.

Reputation is just one factor. Relevant reputational elements include retention and graduation rates for the program, as well as where graduates are employed. National rankings are also good indicators of a program's quality.

Accreditation is an indicator of an online master's program quality

Whether or not a reputable organization accredits a program is another element of online graduate programs employers often scrutinize. The University of Kansas School of Education and Human Sciences is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of EducatorPreparation and the State of Kansas Department of education.

Accreditation is important for all online programs, but it's especially important for lesser-known schools, as employers will want to verify whether an online program meets a high standard of quality. You can check on the legitimacy of an accrediting organization by visiting the website for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Should you consider 1-year master's programs online?

Smiling professional education leaders and employees group team portrait.

There are one-year online master's programs in education, which may be a good choice for people who can devote concentrated time to their studies. You will see one-year online master's degrees that require 32, 34 or 36 credits. That's similar to the course loads for two-year online master's programs in education, like the highly-ranked programs at the University of Kansas.

Two-year online programs offer some important advantages over one-year online master's programs. They allow for deeper exploration and richer understanding of the subjects covered, along with more opportunities for networking and collaborating with other online graduate students. And if you are working and have family or other responsibilities, the longer timeframes can help you more successfully manage all your commitments.

Use your online master's degree to your advantage

When conducting your job search, there are several things you can do to highlight the unique qualifications you gained in your graduate program, and in the online learning environment. Be prepared to discuss the rigor and relevance of your online master's program curriculum. 

Cheerful student smiling to his kind teacher.

You'll want to be able to talk about the skills you gained through the program, share industry-accepted accreditations, provide details about experiential learning opportunities and list ways you directly applied your learning to your current job.

You should also expect employers to be interested in your collaborative skills and your job-specific competencies.3 The best thing you can do is embrace the aspects of an online education degree that make it different from on-campus programs. An online education degree requires students to collaborate and problem-solve with their peers more intentionally. 

Graduate students who earn their degrees online are often balancing a full-time job with their education and other outside commitments. Many employers view these aspects favorably, as they demonstrate your desire to overcome obstacles and further your career and education.

Take the next step

Your talent, intelligence, work history and drive are more important than the method by which you earned your degree. But the reputation of your school and the quality of your education certainly matter. If you're thinking about earning a master's degree in education, consider how an online Master of Science in Education from the University of Kansas can further your career. We are proud to offer top-ranked online graduate programs in Special Education (#1 nationally), Educational Administration and Supervision (#12), and Curriculum and Instruction (#14).4