Congratulations! You proudly juggled your personal obligations and professional responsibilities and obtained your Master's Degree. But you fear that such a degree will not be respected by potential employers. Should this be something to worry about?
For the most part, no.
As long as you have gotten your degree from an accredited institution, it's likely that most employers will respect your online Master's Degree. Based from the 75% of employers who accepted online degree holders, according to U.S. News and World Report in 2013-2014, nearly all placed importance on accreditation for online degrees. These accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
However, there are other reasons that an employer will respect your completion of an online Master's Degree program.
What Employers Respect About Online Master's Degrees
One thing that jumps out to a prospective employer about a candidate who has earned his/her Master's Degree online is the level of commitment and dedication it took to pursue their studies while working full-time and handling family matters.
Employers are more likely to admire such traits and skills like time management, self-motivation, and computer literacy. They might generally respect your perseverance and self-discipline. In addition, they will see that you have the ability to learn independently, a trait that can translate successfully to the workplace as you have demonstrated your ability to work with little or no supervision.
Trevor Leb, Chief Marketing Office of BoardVitals, Inc., says, 'If someone has an online graduate level degree, such as an online MBA, I'll often look at that a bit differently since that person supplemented their education with an online program. I'll view online certificates for additional skills as favorable to a candidate with a traditional campus-based degree because that signals to me that this person is actively looking to improve their knowledge and skillset.'
Online Master's Degree Programs Offer Quality Education
It has become increasingly apparent to employers that many online graduate programs deliver a quality education, one that can be matched to the traditional classroom program.
This is especially true for programs offered by established brick-and-mortar schools with online program offerings since the virtual programs are often taught by the same instructors conducting the classroom setting classes.
Even the school's name alone could prove impressive to a potential employer who might not even ask whether you obtained your degree online or on-campus.
Jeff Cravy, principal of South Whidbey Elementary School in Washington whose responsibilities include hiring teachers, says, 'I haven't had a bad experience with anyone who has been trained at a specific online college,' adding that he himself earned his Master's Degree in Education from an online university.
Respect Indicative of Changing Times
There might have been a time when your online Master's Degree would not have been respected but the shift toward acceptance marks a change in employers' thinking.
Advanced technologies, the rise of online study as a viable option, and the growing number of accredited and nonprofit schools offering online graduate degree studies have made employers more accepting and respectful of online degrees.
'I think more and more employers don't have a knee-jerk negative or positive reaction when they hear the word 'online,'' says Richard Garrett, chief research officer at Eduventures.
Mike Schmeckebier, associate director of graduate career services at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, notes this shift by employers as an 'exciting time'. He says, 'In five to seven, eight years, we're going to look back, and we're going to identify this time as really the turning point of when this was really coming to fruition.'
So, as long as you've pursued your online master's degree from an accredited school (and one that also has a physical campus as well as offering online programs) and reflect the type of qualities inherent to many who have completed online studies, it's likely you'll be a valuable candidate for any job you pursue. In fact, a degree--no matter how it's earned--is of course not the sole factor examined when one is being considered for a job.
'An employee's performance and skill-set are measured during an interview and at the job regardless of the type of educational instruction they received,' says Jose Galindo, CEO of MoneyMio. If your online master's degree program adequately prepared you for the job you're seeking, and you display the qualities an employer is seeking, then your online master's degree will be respected and will not impede your professional success in any way.