I have BSc. in Statistics and I am interested in pursuing a Master's degree in Statistics. I have looked at several master's program in Statistics, and I have narrowed my options down to few.

But it turns out that I can take all these master's program either via distance learning (i.e. online) or on-campus. Personally, I want to take my master's program via distance learning if I can, mainly because the issues that I have with relocation. But some people has been telling me to take the program on-campus because of the following reasons:

  1. Taking program on-site is better because you don't get to chance to build a connection with people from industry or with your professors if you are an online student.

  2. The employers will notice that I took the Master's program online, and it will serve as a disadvantage when I look for a job after graduating from the program

Can I overcome these issues while being a online student? Also, what are the pros of taking graduate program online compared to taking it on-site?

Thank you,

  • You could also take a hybrid approach, combining some online and some in person courses. – aparente001 Feb 4 '17 at 6:07
  • Are these purely course-based master's degrees, or is there a research component? – JeffE Mar 6 '17 at 7:09

Some possible pros of doing the master's on campus: doing the program on campus could lead to a higher chance of actually finishing the program. It's nice to have professors, classmates, advisors, administrators to talk to in person, when you (inevitably) experience a rough patch in the program - it could make the difference between finishing and not finishing.

Some possible pros of doing the master's online: you can learn at your own pace, to some extent, without peer pressure from classmates, and this might fit your learning style better. Also, I imagine the online programs are much cheaper.

So ultimately, you have to decide whether you'll have the discipline to start and finish an online program. As for job searching in stats, your skills probably matter way more than whether you did a degree on-campus or online, unlike, say, going for an MBA or JD, where prestige matters a great deal. Also, you have other verifiable credentials to go after, with your stats skills set - such as actuarial exams.

Edit: Just saw your other questions and it seems that you are also considering PhD programs. If so, you'll need letters of recommendation from professors, but for this to happen, you'll need to do the program on-campus.

  • The majority of online statistics programs that I've looked at aren't that much cheaper than their on-campus counterparts. Another huge benefit of an online program is that there's no commute. Depending on how far the student lives from their local on-campus alternative, this could be an enormous time saver. It's not true that an on-campus program is required for letters of recommendation. A student can go to a PhD program after completing an online master's program. – tilper Feb 4 '17 at 5:13
  • @tilper, the no commute thing the OP seems to already know is a huge benefit, so I didn't address that in my answer. But how does an online program student get (substantive) letters of recommendation from professors, if they did an online program? – User001 Feb 5 '17 at 2:40
  • I don't see any mention of commute in OP. I mean commute as in regularly traveling between home and the university. Even if OP didn't move to the US and stayed in Canada, there would still be a commute between home and campus. Re: how to get letters, the answer is the same way they get them from professors of classes they took in person. The ideal situation I think is the class size is very small and there's a lot of interaction with the professor. I recently took two online courses with both of these features and one professor agreed to write me a rec letter after I asked. – tilper Feb 5 '17 at 4:35
  • Interesting @tilper - I didn't realize there was much (if any) interaction with professors for online courses. What you say would make a good answer for this question. (Unfortunately, I don't see an option to delete my own answer.) – User001 Feb 5 '17 at 21:49
  • There should be a horizontal list of words saying "share edit delete flag" in between your answer and its comments but I don't think you should delete your answer. And some (maybe even most?) classes do indeed have little to no interaction with the professors. I took an online intro to computer networks course recently and my only interaction with the professor was in the beginning of the semester to get my account set up to access the online materials. – tilper Feb 5 '17 at 22:16

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