Online Degrees: Are They Respected?

are online degrees respected

Are online degrees respected? The answer is YES. Reputable traditional colleges and universities offer many online degrees across a multitude of disciplines. 

Enrollment in online degrees has risen significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCES reports that 28% of college students are enrolled exclusively in a distance learning program. On the other hand, 61% of college students took at least one distance learning course.

You need to know that an online degree is only as good as its accreditation and reputation. Most employers do not recognize degrees from unaccredited higher learning institutions. 

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The Rise of Online Education

Distance education has been around since 1989. However, recognition for this learning type has only increased in the 2010s. Its popularity peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the pandemic surge, online education enrollment continued to stay high. In 2019, the enrollment of online degrees was only 15%. In 2022, the NCES recorded 54.2% online student enrollment. This increase showcases that online learning has become a staple in higher education. 

A career with online degree programs can become a viable option for busy adult students. They offer flexible formats, allowing you to study from anywhere and anytime. It is best for students with important commitments beyond studies. 

Online degrees also break geographical barriers that once limited access to higher education. These programs are more affordable than traditional degrees. They may have the same tuition structure, but they won’t incur high campus fees. There will be technology fees, but they won’t be as expensive as traditional fees. 

Are Online Degrees Respected?

It’s a common misconception that online degrees are less credible than traditional degrees. This is not always the case. A respected online degree is as rigorous and intense as its campus counterparts. 

Accredited online degrees follow the same on-campus requirements. Online students learn from the same faculty experts and study the same curriculum. They also participate in internships or practicums like their on-campus peers. 

As long as a reputable institution offers the program, you have nothing to worry about. Accredited institutions offer great faculty members and advanced learning resources. You’ll also benefit from strong support services.

Factors Affecting the Respect for Online Degrees

Are online degrees worth it? Yes! But only if you choose wisely. 

Online programs are not built the same. Some of them are better than others, depending on your preferences. But the following factors ensure the general credibility and reputation of online degree programs: 


Accreditation assesses factors like success rates, faculty, and curricula. It is crucial to verify the legitimacy of a degree program. The highest form of accreditation is regional accreditation, yet there are also national and programmatic accreditation. 

Student success rate

Student success rates reflect the effectiveness of the school’s curriculum. Institutions with high success rates also have high retention and graduation rates. These elements will ensure you of the school’s lean support system. 

Faculty expertise

Instructors play a big role in your academic journey. Faculty members with field expertise can provide practical knowledge and skills. You should research the educational qualifications of the university’s faculty members.

You can read reviews and testimonials from alumni and current students. These methods give you valuable insights into teaching style and class engagement.

Real-Life Success Stories

Are online colleges legit? Definitely yes! You can find real-life success stories of online degree graduates with a quick click. 

Online programs offer nontraditional students an alternative pathway to academic and career success. Despite technological advancements, there are still debates about the value of online degrees. Nevertheless, these success stories speak for themselves.

Heather Osness

Heather Osness, Program Director at Utah Tech University, embodies resilience and determination. Juggling her role, family, and studies in Healthcare Administration during the pandemic, she emerged with honors and a newfound confidence. Heather’s advice echoes her journey: discipline, prioritize, and seize opportunities. Her success story inspires future healthcare leaders. 

Doug Rowland

Doug Rowland, a chemical plant operator, and his wife Tracy pursued MBAs at CSU. Their daughter Amber, 23, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2016. Their degree has helped them gain promotion opportunities and become certified public accountants.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is a popular Nobel Peace Prize winner. He achieved his education through distance learning and working as a Legal Clerk in Johannesburg. He continued his studies even in jail, earning a law degree from the University of London. After 27 years, Mandela was released and became President.

So, are online colleges worth it? Based on these success stories, among others, they are!

Tips for Ensuring the Respectability of Your Online Degree 

Looking for credible online colleges is not that different from choosing traditional colleges. Like brick-and-mortar schools, reputable online colleges boast accreditation from recognized accrediting bodies.

Here are a few quick tips for verifying legitimate online colleges:

  1. Check to see if the institution is accredited by a reputable agency recognized by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
  2. Consider factors such as course content, faculty qualifications, and instructional methods. 
  3. Ensure that the school offers curricular student services. Look for academic advising, technical support, an online library, and career services. 

Leveraging Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online learning provides every student an opportunity to reduce the cost of education. Students often don’t need to purchase textbooks, pay parking fees, or buy different school attire. They’re also not required to pay campus fees.

Moreover, online learning also gives you the opportunity to apply nationwide. In return, you can quickly compare tuition fees and financial aid opportunities.

Although online learning tends to be cheaper, it’s still a significant investment. Consider these tips to maximize financial cost savings:

  • Apply for online schools with school-based scholarships.
  • Look for industry-specific scholarships.
  • Check for employer assistance or scholarships.
  • Apply for paid internships.
  • Speak with the school’s financial advisor.


So, is an online degree respected? 

Online programs offered by accredited and reputable schools are, without a doubt, respected. Accredited online programs can give students a high-quality education. These degrees provide students with the same curriculum as in a traditional classroom setting. 

Yet, online degrees are not created equal. What’s best for others may not work for you. But with a vast selection of degrees, you have several opportunities to find the perfect fit.