The Three Worst Lies About Online Degrees

When you start to tell people you’re considering going back to school, it seems like everyone and their brother (and their aunt, and their neighbor’s cousin, and their former hairdresser’s old dentist) has an opinion about how you should do it. And the advice always differs wildly: you should go to trade school, you should try night school, you should move out of state and live in a dorm like a traditional student, someone might even tell you that you should move abroad! It can be difficult to know which advice is solid and which you should ignore.

One thing it seems like everyone has an opinion about is online degrees. And it seems like it’s always the people who haven’t gone to school online who think they know the most! So what is the real deal? Are there rumors out there about online degrees that simply aren’t true? We’ve got a list of the three most common myths about online degrees that have been busted.

MYTH: It’s not the same as a degree you earn on campus

This myth probably originated from extension schools and correspondence courses back in the day. While some big name universities do have separate colleges for their online programs because those programs are specialized and don’t exist on campus, most online versions of on-campus degrees offer diplomas and transcripts that are identical to those earned by traditional students on campus. If this is a particular concern for you, it would be wise to verify with your prospective school, but you will most likely find that your online diploma will be indistinguishable from that of any other alumnus.

MYTH: It’s easier

You may not like to see this myth busted, but it is simply not the case. Because of the differences between how online and in-person courses are conducted, you will probably find that the difficulty is maintained regardless. You most likely will have more flexibility in how you navigate your coursework schedule online, but the nature of online coursework often means more reading and lecture viewing hours than in-person work. To many students, online coursework is somewhat different than in-person coursework, but no more or less strenuous.

MYTH: It takes longer

This is an old myth that is a holdover from college correspondence courses in the past. People often have the impression that it takes years to complete an online degree because you won’t have the same access to courses that in-person students do. This is simply no longer the case. Most online programs have options for students to work as fast, or sometimes even faster, than students on campus. While taking longer to finish school is an option online, just as it is if you’re a traditional campus attending student, it’s certainly not required. Always talk to your advisor about your timeline goals for finishing your degree so she can help you plot the perfect course through your online degree program and help you graduate exactly when you’d like to.