Comparing Online Degrees: Are They Worth It?
Comparing Online Degrees: Are They Worth It?
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Comparing Online Degrees: Are They Worth It?

Online degrees have surged in popularity thanks to the flexibility and accessibility of learning remotely. Top schools now offer online bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs spanning every academic and professional field imaginable.

But how do online degrees compare to traditional in-person programs? Can you still get a quality education? Will online degrees limit your job prospects upon graduating?

This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of online degrees, accredited online program options across fields, and whether earning a degree fully online is worth it compared to on-campus in the modern workforce.

The Benefits of Earning a Degree Online

Pursuing an online degree comes with some distinct advantages that provide flexibility and broad access to higher learning.

Learn From Anywhere

Online programs allow you to complete coursework 100% remotely so you can study from home or wherever you have internet access.

Schedule Flexibility

Many online programs allow you to learn on your schedule by watching pre-recorded lectures or completing assignments asynchronously.

Saves Travel Time

Avoid long commutes to a physical campus for those without colleges nearby. Everything is done virtually.

Potentially Lower Costs

Some online degrees from state schools can have lower tuition than in-person. And you save on gas, parking, etc.

Keep Working Full-Time

Easier to earn an online degree while working compared to coordinating in-person classes around your schedule.

Wide Range of Program Options

Top online degrees now span nearly every academic and career field imaginable from arts to tech to business.

Gain Valuable Digital Skills

Learning online inherently builds skills with digital tools and remote collaboration increasingly useful in the workforce.

Potential Downsides to Consider

While online degrees provide amazing access to education, there are some potential tradeoffs to weigh as well.

Lacks In-Person Campus Experience

Miss out on social growth opportunities and mentorship gained be studying alongside peers physically.

Requires Self-Motivation

It’s easier to procrastinate or fall behind without set class times. You must provide internal drive and structure.

Potential Employer Bias

Some old-fashioned employers still view online degrees as less credible. But this is fading fast.

Lab Work Limitations

Degrees like chemistry and biology are harder to complete online due to lack of access to physical labs and equipment.

Less One-On-One Support

Communication with faculty is often more sporadic in online programs. You may feel “on your own” at times.

Burnout Risk

Staring at a screen constantly while keeping up with remote coursework can lead to extra fatigue and burnout for some.

Technology Issues

Spotty internet or tech problems can disrupt the remote learning experience if you lack backup options.

Skills You’ll Learn Earning a Degree Online

While the curriculum similarities depend on your specific degree, online programs strengthen a common set of valuable skills:

Time Management

Managing your own schedule and getting assignments done without set class times requires strong personal time management abilities.


You must provide internal motivation to stick to materials without an in-person professor keeping you accountable each week.

Digital Literacy

Navigating online learning platforms, video meetings, corresponded education and collaborative software boosts your digital skills.

Communication Skills

You must become comfortable engaging via digital mediums like video chats, email correspondence and discussion boards.

Self-Directed Learning

Online education requires taking initiative to get questions answered and grasp concepts deeply on your own.

Technical Troubleshooting

Honing skills to quickly troubleshoot any technology issues that arise during remote learning prevents disruptions.

Personalized Learning

Cater your learning style and study habits towards subjects and at times that work optimally for you.

Which Fields Offer Quality Online Degrees?

While limited for lab sciences, top online degrees now span most major academic and career categories:


Extremely common. Prestigious schools like Harvard Business School offer online MBAs. High demand and salaries.

Computer Science/IT

Coding and tech skills translate well digitally. Flexible skills-focused online Bootcamps also popular.


Digital marketing skills are learned remotely. Tons of online undergrad and masters programs available from top schools.

Psychology/Social Work/Counseling

Gain clinical and interpersonal skills digitally. Allows helping professionals train without career interruptions.

Criminal Justice

Study law, public policy, criminology and administration fully online. Prepares for government and legal system roles.

Healthcare/Public Health

Nursing, healthcare management and public health degrees teach vital skills remotely. Allows current providers to advance while working.


Teachers can earn masters in education fully online. Prepares for leadership roles. Great for current teachers balancing work.

Graphic/Web Design

Technical design and coding skills translate very well digitally through remote project and portfolio work.


Quants and number crunchers can gain knowledge remotely. High ROI careers.


Learn strategic communications, writing and storytelling skills from anywhere. Prepares for digital media era.

Are Top Online Degrees Worth the Investment?

For most career paths, earning an accredited online bachelor’s or master’s degree can provide tremendous long-term value if aligning with your professional goals.

Career Advancement

Degree holders gain skills preparing them for higher level roles and greater leadership responsibility. Many professions require degrees.

Higher Salary Potential

On average, degree holders across fields earn significantly higher lifetime incomes than non-degree holders according to labor department data.

Gain Valuable Knowledge

Earning a degree shows commitment to deepening your expertise in a field and successfully managing intensive workload.

More Job Opportunities

Many lucrative and interesting careers are simply not available to those without relevant degrees and training. Degrees open doors.

Job Security and Resilience

Degree holders tend to have lower unemployment rates and greater ability to pivot into adjacent roles if industries decline. Provides flexibility.

Personal Growth

The journey of earning a degree builds confidence, focus, and life skills transferable well beyond just your career.

While costs and debt must be weighed carefully, high quality accredited online degree programs can provide strong long-term ROI for career, earnings potential and personal growth.

FAQ: Comparing Online Degrees: Are They Worth It?

1. What are the benefits of earning a degree online?

Earning a degree online offers several advantages:

  • Flexibility: Study from anywhere with internet access and choose your own schedule.
  • Cost Savings: Potentially lower tuition fees and savings on commuting and campus-related expenses.
  • Career Continuity: Balance full-time work while studying, enhancing career prospects without interrupting employment.

2. What are the potential downsides of online degrees?

Consider these factors when opting for an online degree:

  • Lack of In-Person Experience: Miss out on campus social interactions and hands-on learning experiences.
  • Self-Motivation Required: Stay disciplined to manage coursework independently without structured class times.
  • Perceived Credibility: Some employers may still hold biases against online degrees, though this perception is changing.

3. What skills can I gain from earning a degree online?

Online learning cultivates essential skills such as:

  • Time Management: Juggle coursework and personal responsibilities effectively.
  • Digital Literacy: Navigate online platforms, collaborate remotely, and use educational technology.
  • Communication: Engage effectively through digital mediums like video conferencing and discussion boards.

4. Which fields offer quality online degrees?

Top online degrees span diverse fields including:

  • Business and MBA: Highly sought-after with prestigious programs available from renowned institutions.
  • Computer Science and IT: Skills in coding and tech are well-suited for online learning formats.
  • Healthcare and Public Health: Remote degrees cater to healthcare professionals seeking career advancement.
  • Education: Teachers can pursue online degrees to specialize or advance in educational leadership roles.

5. Are top online degrees worth the investment?

Yes, accredited online degrees can provide significant value:

  • Career Advancement: Prepare for higher-level roles and increased responsibility.
  • Higher Salary Potential: Degree holders generally earn more over their careers compared to non-degree holders.
  • Job Security: Degrees enhance job market competitiveness and adaptability during economic shifts.

6. How can I ensure a top online degree is right for me?

Evaluate based on:

  • Career Goals: Ensure the degree aligns with your desired career path and industry requirements.
  • Program Quality: Research accreditation, faculty credentials, and student reviews to gauge educational standards.
  • Financial Considerations: Calculate costs, potential earnings post-graduation, and return on investment (ROI).

Earning an online degree can offer flexibility and accessibility without compromising educational quality, making it a viable option for advancing your career and personal growth in the modern workforce.

By Dani Davis

A true visionary in the realms of tech writing, digital storytelling, and e-commerce, Daniel Davis (known as Dani) has carved out an exceptional career spanning over 15 years. Born and raised in San Francisco, Dani's innate affinity for technology and creative expression propelled them to explore the intricacies of computer science while honing their storytelling abilities. Their unique blend of technical expertise and narrative prowess laid the foundation for their multifaceted success. Dani's journey has been marked by groundbreaking achievements, including authoring bestselling books that demystify complex technological concepts through captivating narratives. As the founder of the influential online platform "TechTales," Dani has created a hub for educational content, podcasts, and video essays that cater to tech enthusiasts worldwide. Moreover, as the head writer of, a leading resource for e-commerce and digital marketing, Dani has established themselves as a preeminent authority in the field of online business and entrepreneurship. Their consulting work, speaking engagements, and advocacy efforts have inspired countless individuals, solidifying their legacy as a true pioneer in the digital age.

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