Getting a degree can be a great way to take the next step in a career, change careers or simply increase your salary or employability. To make attending college easier, especially for working adults, there is now a plethora of online universities that may offer you an online degree in many different fields. Programs where you take all classes online can be pricey, and many people wonder whether they are indeed worth it.
The degree to which your online education will be taken seriously depends upon the type of material you study, and also the reputation of the university giving the degree. Many mainstream colleges have jumped into the field of distance learning, and these may be better choices if you want to obtain an online degree. Colleges with proven accreditation and long histories may make no distinction between the degree you earn on the Internet and one you might earn on the campus, so they may be best choices if you want to pursue distance education.
If the college you’re looking at doesn’t have a physical campus, you definitely want to at least look for accreditation with various licensing and regulation boards. In the US you can check accreditation through the CHEA (Council for Higher Education) Database list created from the various recognized US Accrediting Organizations. Do plenty of searching to make sure that the college program you plan to attend will earn you a degree that will be recognized by employers and other universities, and that the college you'd like to attend has a stable history that will not leave you unable to finish your online degree program should the school close.
There also appears to be some prejudice against online degrees in fields where there is a significant amount of practical work involved. For instance, if a college offers you a nursing program but no way to fulfill hours working as a nurse prior to obtaining licensure, an online degree may not be worthwhile. Similarly a medical or law degree from online may not get you employment. If the type of degree you’re looking for has a lot of practicum hours or supervised experience requirements, you ought to know how the distance college arranges this, and whether board-certifying agencies will accept your online degree.
You should avoid getting an online degree from any college or school that lacks accreditation, and you ought to weigh whether attending class online is really your best way of learning. If you like the college life, interaction with students and being able to speak at length with professors, pursuing a degree at a college nearby is likely a better and less expensive choice than getting an online degree.