Online master’s degree programs are highly convenient, enabling students to attend class without fighting traffic, navigating a massive campus, or even getting dressed up. This can improve accessibility for people with disabilities, busy jobs, and demanding families, as well as those in educational deserts with limited options. Even for students with access to an assortment of great institutions and relatively open schedules, online learning may offer a faster and lower stress way to get a degree. Yet some are reluctant to consider this option because of myths surrounding online master’s degree programs.
In 2016, 31 percent of students pursuing master’s degrees were enrolled in fully online programs. Today’s online programs boast exceptional instructors, challenging coursework, and plenty of support to help you graduate. Let’s dispel the myths so you can fully explore all of your educational options.
Myth: You’ll Have Fewer Job Options
While many factors may influence your decision to return to school, most people go back to college because they want a better or different job. A pervasive myth argues that employers do not respect online degrees. That’s just not true. Employers are more interested in what specific skills the program taught you than they are in the modality through which you took classes.
Most employers accept online degrees, especially when they come from high-quality, accredited schools. Some businesses even partner with online institutions to offer internships, provide course instructors, and prepare students for the working world. So ask about your school’s relationship with local businesses and their reputation in the wider academic community. If both are strong, then taking courses online won’t affect your job prospects.
Myth: You Won’t Get to Network
College isn’t just about what you can learn in your classes. It’s also about the relationships you make. Your peers may one day connect you to employers, give you a job, or even go into business with you. They are your earliest professional network, and your own career prospects could rise and fall with theirs.
When you take classes from a distance, you might worry you’ll have few or no opportunities to get to know classmates and begin cultivating a professional network. At some schools, this is indeed true. But today’s online universities understand that colleagues play a major role in student success, so they are diligently working to foster meaningful relationships that persist well past graduation. At SNU, students learn with a cohort of peers. You’ll get to know your cohort, forming the sort of close relationships that can only come from many months of partnering on various projects, participating in lively discussions, and steadily growing deeply invested in one another's lives.
Myth: You Won’t Learn as Much
Recent scandals with for-profit schools, some of which offered online degrees, have sounded alarm bells about degrees that are little more than a piece of paper. If you don’t know how to succeed in your chosen career, can’t pass licensing exams, and have not mastered professional norms, it doesn’t matter how many master’s degrees you have. But online degrees from quality schools impart just as much knowledge as traditional coursework.
In fact, at many schools, the online program is identical to or even more challenging than the school’s traditional degree track.
Students returning to school to get a boost in earnings at their current job or offer more value to their employers are especially invested in mastering the skills of their trade. That’s doubly true if an employer is footing the bill. Many applicants worry that their boss won’t pay for their degree if it’s online only. If you can show that the program is challenging, rigorous, and offers a similar knowledge base to traditional degrees, your boss could probably still be willing to pay—especially if you can demonstrate that online learning offers costs savings.
Myth: Others Won’t Respect Your Degree
If you attend a brick-and-mortar school like SNU with an online component, people will have no way of knowing that you pursued distance learning unless you tell them. This is just one of many reasons to consider a traditional school that also offers virtual learning options. Additionally, if you select this path, you’ll learn at an established university with a strong reputation rather than a new school no one has heard of.
With more students pursuing online education than ever before, odds are good that some of your future friends and colleagues will have completed distance classes. This means they’ll know firsthand that these classes are as rigorous and challenging as traditional courses. In one survey, 83 percent of executives asserted that online degrees are now as credible as traditional degrees.
Myth: Online Degrees Are Easy
It’s true that online degrees can make the path to finishing graduate school a little easier, particularly for people with busy lives. That’s a good thing. Fighting traffic, missing work, neglecting parent-teacher conferences, and watching your house fall into chaos are not necessary or beneficial aspects of the traditional college experience. Yet for many returning learners, these frustrating experiences are par for the course with traditionally scheduled in-person learning. Online degree programs offer a viable alternative that reduces stress, allowing you to focus on your classes while still tending to the people and things that matter most.
Although online degrees may be more affordable and less likely to disrupt your daily existence, they are certainly not easy. At SNU, students take rigorous, demanding courses with exceptional instructors who are leaders in their field. You’ll be required to demonstrate your mastery of course material, and in so doing, will also gain valuable career skills, such as public speaking, writing, and online communication.
Myth: You Can’t Transfer Course Credits
Some students worry that online coursework will not transfer. It’s irrelevant whether you take your classes online or in person. What matters most is the accreditation of your university. Regionally accredited universities have demonstrated their commitment to an excellent, consistent curriculum. This means that all or most of your credits should transfer without a problem. When a university only has a national accreditation but lacks regional accreditation, or has recently lost accreditation, you may have more trouble transferring coursework.
Accreditation is actually an excellent barometer for the educational quality of the school you choose. Regionally accredited universities have handed over their curricula to outside experts and proven that they help students master the material. Unaccredited universities have not submitted to the same rigorous evaluations, which means the quality of their classes may be inconsistent or wholly lacking.
SNU is regionally accredited, and uses industry experts and skilled professors to teach all of its classes. We work with you to transfer prior learning from other universities and to ensure your coursework moves with you if you change schools.
Myth: You Won’t Have Enough Support
Quality schools offer students a wide net of support that prevents them from dropping out. The right support services can also connect you to career opportunities, master the hard and soft skills today’s careers demand, and begin building a professional network. All students deserve institutional help to get the best possible return on their educational investment.
At SNU, we believe that every student deserves the chance to succeed. Our unique online programs cater to students from all walks of life, training them to enter meaningful careers. We would love to talk to you about the right degree for your talents and desired career. Contact us for individualized assistance and support!