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Employers More Accepting of Online Degrees



By Catherine Groux
Posted July 10, 2012 07:55 AM

Many employers see the value of an online degree.
Many employers see the value of an online degree.
In the fall 2010 semester, about 6.1 million students across the nation took at least one online college course, and the Sloan Consortium reports this figure continues to rise each year. Despite the rapid growth of online education, some students are still wary of earning a degree online, fearing hiring managers will see a web-based degree as inferior to a traditional campus-based credential. However, according to various reports, as online education continues to establish itself in academia, many hiring managers are now seeing the quality of web-based degrees.

According to a 2010 CNN article, in the past, many employers were not familiar with online programs, which accounted for their sense of skepticism and distrust. Today, this apprehension is slowly disappearing, as web-based degree programs become more common. In fact, CNN cites a survey by Excelsior College and Zogby International that shows that about 83% of business executives believe an online degree is just as credible as one earned on a college campus.

A recent study in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration supports these findings, showing that many hiring managers are warming up to web-based Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees in particular. To conduct the study, Larry Flegle of the American Public University System and Jeffrey Bailey of Walden University interviewed 20 employers from Wisconsin companies.

In doing so, Flegle and Bailey found that half of hiring managers surveyed felt online MBA degrees are as valuable as campus-based credentials. Bailey told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that in the past, he would not have found as many employers who are supportive of online education.

"One person I interviewed made the comment that if I had asked five years ago, the answer would be different," he said. "Things are changing because more people [who] have gone through online programs are out working in the business world and doing well, which gives the degree more credibility."

Ann Nowak, director of recruiting for professional programs at Liberty Mutual Insurance, is one such employer who sees the value of online education. Nowak's company recently hired two graduates of online MBA programs, BusinessWeek reports. Typically, Nowak has recruited new hires from the top 50 MBA programs across the country, but as the academic landscape changes, she said she is willing to look at graduates of online MBA programs if they have high grades and a solid work history.

"Is it out of the question that I would hire someone from an online degree program? No, there is a good possibility that I would, but the candidate’s experience and academic record would have to be really rich for that person to get hired," Nowak told BusinessWeek.

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