Distance learning is becoming more mainstream thanks in large part to the traditionally brick and mortar colleges who have embraced the possibilities it offers. Even some Ivy League institutions now offer the opportunity to take some portion of a degree programs curriculum online. Interactive multimedia materials and better access to faculty in years past combined with a highly computer literate population have made online learning popular with students from all walks of life. But what about after college, when its time to get a job? Does an online degree stack up to a campus based degree in the eyes of employers?
The answer, as one might guess, is both yes and no, or more aptly, It depends on the situation. Some employers from specific industries only care that you have a degree or meet the basic hiring criteria. Those industries are typically associated with jobs that are in demand or tied to technology in some way. Few human resource managers from an information technology based firm would scoff at an online degree because of the nature of their business. Likewise, few teaching positions at the grade school or high school level are off limits to the qualified regardless of where their degree came from as the position requires state certification and there is always a shortage of applicants.
For mid level managers of Fortune 500 companies, pedigree counts. Few hiring managers in the business world are going to be as impressed with a degree from University of Phoenix as they would be with a degree from San Jose State University, much less a school with a nationally recognized business program like Dartmouth or Northwestern. Thats not to say that a person with a degree from college or university typically associated with distance learning cant find a great position in business, finance, banking or management, just that certain industries are going to be far more aware of their educational background than others.
For graduate level studies, an online degree fares better in most industries. Distance learning degrees tend to take on the same luster as those offered by state universities. You may not get top billing when going up against a masters of business administration graduate who went to Harvard with an online MBA, but you can easily compete with someone who went to the University of Kentucky.
Regardless of whether a person has an online degree or one from a traditional campus based college, one thing is certain. Experience is the great equalizer. If you find employment in your field and do stellar work, the combination of any degree and your track record will eventually open doors.