I'm currently attending an accredited university which provides an online BSc CIS program. Is an online degree considered lowly in compared to a traditional education, and can it affect admissions into masters programs offered abroad?

  • What kinda online degree program is it? It should not hurt any admissions.
    – sadStudent
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 7:33
  • Also look at that question: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/14833/distance-learning-taken-seriously
    – Alexandros
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 23:57
  • The critical disconnect is letters of recommendation. Even if you do have considerable on-line contact with the instructors for the on-line courses, enough to generate a legitimate personalized reference letter, they themselves may not have the kind of credentials that would make their letters carry the necessary weight. That is, some schools hire adjuncts, perhaps lacking PhD's, thus, lacking substantive successfuly (!?!) graduate-school experience, thus, lacking the power to persuade others of your likely success in grad school. Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 23:10
  • You say that the program is at an "accredited university." The US federal department of education recognizes five traditional "regional accrediting agencies" and several newer national agencies. Most regionally accredited colleges and universities won't accept credits from other schools that are not also regionally accredited and would be unlikely to accept a student from an institution in the US unless that institution was regionally accredited. Which accrediting agency has accredited your BS program? Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 4:47
  • @BrianBorchers I'm actually attending a Canadian University (I'm from Alberta, Canada), Athabasca University. Details about their accreditation can be found at athabascau.ca/aboutau/accreditation.php
    – B-Rad
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


If you are seeking a BS degree from a United States accredited university through an online program, and wish to enter a Masters program with another U.S. accredited university, it should not be an issue on its own merits.

However, research universities may take a second look at your application if the online-achieved BS degree is not from another research institution. To ensure your acceptance to such a Masters program, you will want to achieve a higher grade point average than expected. It would also help if you publish any articles during you progress towards the BS.

Other non-research institutions in this scenario should not have an issue accepting you with your online-achieved BS degree, so long as you clearly demonstrate in your application you meet all their requirements for admission.

Now, even with that said, non-research universities may even accept you even if you have defficiency in required undergrad coursework. In this case, a little real-world job experience as little as 1 year can help assure them you can do the work.

In all cases, don't underestimate the application letter you submit. I would make sure it communicates you have a goal in your education and career after the Masters. And it should demonstrate you are capable to meet their requirements, and to succeed in their program. That is ultimately what they are looking for.

  • 1
    I don't want to dispute your answer because I don't have a good one. However, I am wondering how would the OP get creditable recommendation letters if he gets the BS degree from online schools?–
    – Nobody
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 5:32
  • It will be a lot harder with online-only programs, since the face-to-face association is not available. However, for any recommendation, it is necessary for the student to develop a professional and/or academic relationship with the professors they want recommendations from. They must give the recommender something to recommend. That just may require extra work or effort outside of the class session. Perhaps with a research or independent study project completed under the supervision of a professor. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 18:06

Firstly, let me clarify that i am a full-time B.IT (Hons) Majoring in Information Systems Engineering degree holder, currently trying for an admission for part-time MSc/MIT.

It definitely does make a difference when the degree is earned online. From the point of view of the faculty, especially if you're applying for a full-time course, is that you did not have face-to-face interaction within the learning process. Although, some online courses do include some physical classes in campus and video conferences via the web. At the end of the day, an online degree would not have included the same experiences a student has in campus running here and there to print and submit assignments etc.

But, on the other hand, it really does depend on the universities you are applying for and whether they would accept your BSc that as part of their requirements.

To me personally though, being from technical IT background, I know some people who are working hard to earn their degrees online and it definitely isn't easy juggling between studying and working as all of them work full-time. I think some universities would definitely take full credit from your BSc and allow you to enter to a related Masters program

Good luck in completing your program!

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