Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Do online degree programs really measure up to their traditional four-year counterparts?

“Do online degree programs really measure up to their traditional four-year counterparts? All evidence seems to indicate that the answer is ‘Yes.’” (EMD, 2007).

An online education offers students several advantages over traditional institutions. Online students do not experience the headaches of fighting traffic to commute to school like they would if attending a traditional institution. Combine this with the ability to set their own schedule and online students can easily save an hour or more in commuting time per class day. Another advantage for out-of-state online students is that most online institutions charge the same tuition for in state and out-of-state students.

In terms of educational quality, most accredited online universities offer courses and degree programs that are equal to those offered by four-year universities and colleges. Studies show that for most students, distance learning is just as effective as traditional in-class learning. In his book, The No-Significant-Difference Phenomenon, Thomas L. Russell, cites over 300 research reports that found no significant difference between in-class and distance learning. (EMD, 2007).

In terms of time and cost of education, online universities have the advantage. It normally takes four years for most students to earn their degree at a traditional university or college. Students of online universities can earn their degrees in far less time (average 2-3 years). And earning a degree at a traditional university or college may cost tens of thousands of dollars. Online degrees can be earned for a lot less money, and online schools offer the same financial aid options that are available to students of traditional schools. (EMD, 2007).

Before you enroll, make sure that the university or college you are considering is accredited. Many of the well-known online universities offer programs that are overseen by the same accredited standards as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Watch out for diploma-mills and check a source like to find information on the specific institution before you apply.


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