In my country where I come from, online or part-time or even more, part-time online degrees are not comparable with on-campus full-time degrees. The difference in the value of the degree/diploma is huge, in the depth and breadth of the studied material and recognition from prospective employers.

Is it true for US education? Would a part-time student who earns his/her degree 100% online cover the same exact material than another student who is studying the same program but full-time and on-campus?

Do US employers favor on-campus graduates over online part-time graduates?


3 Answers 3


For many years on-line (a/k/a, "distance learning") degrees have been offered by regionally accredited universities In the USA. Until a decade or so ago, most of the degrees were earned by schools that specialized in distance learning. Even graduates of schools that had physical campuses and regional accreditation who studied full-time on campus were perceived as having earned their degrees through distance learning. Over the course of many decades with little or no government regulations, legitimate distance learning programs were viewed as "mail order" degrees and thus, looked down upon by brick and mortar schools as well as the business world. Schools often refused to accept transfer credits or admit holders of such degrees into their graduate programs. Employers, at least of top firms tended to reject such job applicants.

In more recent years however, many top tier universities have been offering on-line degrees adding legitimacy. American institutions of higher learning are slow to adapt new methodologies but are beginning to recognize we have already passed through the "Information Age."

So Daveel, I would say that if you earn your degree from a top tier university and your diploma does not make note that the degree is from the school's on-line division, your degree will increase its likelihood of being accepted in both the academic and business worlds. This is especially true of earned degrees in areas that are a natural match for on-line study, namely anything that has to do with computers.

Daveel, I suggest that you do an internet search on the history of distance learning. You will better understand the negative views that were held in the not so distant past. I would also highly suggest that you discuss the validity of such a degree with people in position to make such judgments. This specifically means academics people who hire professors in universities and human resource managers who are responsible for hiring in your intended field. If your degree is intended to be used for licensing purposes, contact the government agency that sets the licensing requirements. They will be the ones who can best answer your question.

Best wishes to you Daveel.

  • By the way Daveel, it would be helpful if you provided a short-list of schools you intended applying to.
    – JJLL
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 18:51
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    Another important point is if the school is non-profit or for-profit. Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 23:42
  • @JJLL I was thinking UC Berkeley
    – Darkhan
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 0:16
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    UC Berkeley is an excelelnt school, ranking in the Top Ten on most university rankings. Other than the school's political orientation, if anyone questions a degree from Berekely you don't want anything to do with them or their organization.
    – JJLL
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 18:16
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    @AustinHenley You are 100% correct Austin. For-Profit schools, such as University of Phoenix, have miserable reps for quality of education and customer service.
    – JJLL
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 18:19

Sometimes online learning is the only practical option, and in that case I'd recommend it. It may be difficult to find someone to speak for all prospective employers, so you might want to check on the college quality as much as you can yourself. Make sure that online or not, the colleges you consider have the same quality of programs.

It also depends on what field you're considering, and if you can demonstrate your knowledge to employers. For example, if you have projects to show off, a potential employer may be more convinced in the depth of your study.


The number of students who take online courses and get their degrees online continues to grow each year, so I would say that in general most employers view them as legitimate. More than 75% of colleges offer online courses.

US News puts together a list every year of the best online programs, so this might help when choosing a school: http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education

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