With the evolution of technology and the wider availability of video conferencing, email and webinars, many people now perceive education to be only a click away.
However, others are still highly skeptical about the acquisition of hard skills that a person must forego by pursuing distance learning and whether employers value it as much as gaining a Masters’s degree in a traditional classroom.
Here are the Pros and Cons of Online Masters Degrees
What are the Pros of Online Master’s Degrees?
Convenience is a major factor and is probably what attracts many people to online master’s degree programs. Consider the following reasons online masters may be the right choice.
Online master’s degree programs at public colleges and universities are less expensive than campus-based plans because you don’t need to live on or near campus. You pay tuition, but you don’t have to worry about room and board or vehicle costs associated with driving to campus.
Studying online offers greater flexibility, especially for master’s degree students who already have full-time jobs. Some students prefer asynchronous courses to log on to the learning management system anytime to view recorded lectures and post comments to discussion boards.
Synchronous courses are taught online, and students meet online with an instructor at a specific time. For students who enjoy face time with instructors and peers, synchronous classes may be preferable.
Access to Top Schools
Getting a master’s degree online gives the student access to programs at nationally recognized, accredited universities. Whether a student lives in a rural area or serves in the military, they can earn a master’s degree from a prestigious school.
What are the Cons of Online Master’s Degrees?
Studying for a master’s degree online is not for everyone. There are some situations where it may be best to enroll in a campus-based program. For example, some graduate degrees may require lab classes or have residency requirements, making it necessary to spend time on campus.
Limited Access to Classes
A student who prefers getting a degree in a scientific or technical area that may require hands-on practice, such as research in a lab, will benefit from taking such classes on campus.
For example, if the master’s degree is in a clinical or medical area, several courses may involve seeing clients or patients. In other classes, students may need to perform lab experiments that cannot be simulated online.
Online Study Requires Discipline
An online master’s program requires perseverance and discipline. When it is up to the learner to decide when they will log in and study, there may be a tendency to procrastinate.
Other commitments can impact how much time a student spends with online learning activities. The temptation to multi-task and give attention to family, work and home obligations can interfere with learning and completing assignments or courses.
Limited Contact with Instructors and Peers
While the technology used in online learning is beneficial, some students prefer a classroom setting with face-to-face engagement with instructors and peers. Online classes don’t capture body language, nuances, and camaraderie within a live group setting.
Some Employers Are Still Wary of Online Degrees
Although many employers accept online master’s degrees, some may be skeptical because providers are considered ‘diploma mills’ and sell worthless degrees. Employers may question the quality of instruction. When an employer has these concerns, the tendency may be to select a candidate who earned a degree from a campus-based program.
Getting an online master’s degree is an acceptable and convenient way to gain advanced knowledge and skills. Many reputable schools offer online programs. However, it is important to find a program or school that is accredited, has a good reputation, and offers a program that will fit your learning needs.