The educational qualifications required for many jobs have increased over the years with employers demanding higher educational degrees than they did previously. Forty-four percent of employers reported that they increased the level of education preferred for the same job roles in just five years, states the Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy.
Online degrees have been gaining in popularity over the past decade with several studies showing increases in enrolment year-on-year. Employer perceptions on online learning are changing. An early 2010 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey stated that only 42 percent of employers would accept candidates with an online degree. Today, 100 percent of the graduates of 2020 attended some or all of their classes online according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF affirms that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest force against any stigma associated with online learning.
As the lines between virtual study and traditional brick-and-mortar learning blur, students who have opted for online degree programmes may actually find themselves with an advantage especially in as remote work gains in popularity.
Online degrees vs. Traditional Degrees
There is a lot to be said about attending school on-campus including being surrounded by an academic atmosphere. However, online degrees give learners an advantage where they can immediately apply their learnings in real-world scenarios as they go along. This view is backed-up by research conducted by the U.S. Department of Education which found that ‘Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.’
Has the pandemic shifted employer perceptions of online degrees?
FutureLearn conducted a survey of hiring managers and employees who got their degrees online to see if there was a noticeable shift in perceptions during the pandemic. The results overall are positively in favour of online degree programs:
- 62 percent of employers felt they needed to rethink their hiring processes regarding applicants with online degrees.
- 44 percent of hiring managers surveyed felt online education to be extremely valuable during the hiring process.
- 89 percent believed that online learning would become more popular in the future, especially since 75 percent of them already used online training tools to do their jobs.
The ability to work independently along with soft skills like problem-solving and familiarity with remote communication tools and collaboration tech are part of the major appeal when it comes to hiring graduates of online degree programs.
Why study for your master’s degree online?
Enrolling in an online master’s degree programme can offer the flexibility you need to continue working or adhere to other commitments while earning a postgraduate degree. Employers surveyed by were positive about encouraging employees to continue with their education stating that employees who continued their education online were more likely to earn promotions, pay raises, and enter leadership roles than those who did not. An online master’s degree programme can also help you gain the knowledge and skills to switch careers should you wish to do so or even enter the worlds of academia and research by continuing your education further.
If these hard facts aren’t persuasive enough, have a look at what this former online degree student has to say.
Check out some online master’s degree programs that are available and compare their pros and cons here.
Educational Credentials Come Of Age, Northeastern University Center for the Future of Higher Education & Talent Strategy, 2018, https://www.northeastern.edu/cfhets/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Educational_Credentials_Come_of_Age_2018.pdf
Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, the U.S. Department of Education, 2010, https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
Hiring Practices and Attitudes: Traditional vs. Online Degree Credentials SHRM Poll, Research and Surveys, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), https://shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/hiringpracticesandattitudes.aspx
How COVID-19 is ending the stigma of online learning, World Economic Forum (WEF), June 2021, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/06/covid-19-is-ending-the-stigma-of-online-learning-higher-education-workplace-candidate-evaluation-future-of-work/