Distance education makes it easy to earn your masters degree without leaving home, but is going to school online worth it? What do employers think about online degrees? Will they accept them? Will your online degree really teach you the skills you need for the workplace?
The answer to all these questions is a resounding “Yes!” Employers are increasingly holding online degrees in high regard, as long as they come from non-profit, regionally accredited schools. The skills and competencies you learned during your degree program are more important than how you earned your degree, and employers may also value the time-management skills you developed while you were earning your online degree.
Most Employers Hold Online Degrees in High Regard
While there was a time not so long ago when employers may have discounted the value of online degrees, that attitude is rapidly fading, especially since COVID-19 restrictions forced most college students to take at least some of their courses online. Since everyone was forced to go to work and school online for a couple of years, employers are now on the whole more concerned with your field of study and whether you got your degree from an accredited school, regardless of whether you studied online or in person.
Online Degrees from Accredited Institutions Are Just as Good as In-Person Degrees
The key to earning an online master’s degree in criminal justice that employers will take seriously is to make sure you’re attending courses from a regionally accredited university. Employers will typically take an online degree more seriously if it’s earned from an accredited institution, especially if it’s one that also offers in-person degree programs, because they’ll assume that any accredited institution that offers in-person degree programs will put that same amount of care into developing online programs in the same fields.
Of course, it’s not just important for employers that your institution be regionally accredited. You’ll get a higher quality of education and be more likely to learn the skills you’ll need for your career in an accredited institution. Accreditation ensures that your program meets high standards of academic quality.
Employers May Prefer Degrees from Non-Profit Rather Than For-Profit Schools
For-profit colleges and universities have a bad reputation for providing poor-quality, unaccredited degree programs. Many have been criticized for low employment rates and problematic recruitment practices. Many have even been accused of committing fraud or behaving in a predatory manner towards students, especially marginalized ones. That’s why most employers prefer to hire candidates with degrees from non-profit institutions.
Competencies and Skills Are More Important Than How You Earned Your Degree
Degrees are an important way to show that you have completed important coursework in your field, but beyond having the basic credential on your resume, employers are far more concerned with your competency and skill in your field. Plenty of people earn degrees with a straight C average; it’s totally possible to get through an entire degree program without actually mastering the skills and competencies you need to work in the field. Employers are going to be far more concerned with whether you’re good at your job than where you earned your degree. In any case, earning a degree online can show employers that you’re resourceful and motivated, in addition to showcasing your competencies.
Employers May Value Your Time-Management Skills
Few things can help you develop your time management skills like an online degree program. When you’re going to school online, you need to be very self-disciplined and motivated to succeed. You won’t be walking into a classroom three times a week where your professor and classmates can remind you of upcoming assignments and help you stay motivated and on-task. It will all have to come from within, and you’re going to need to learn to manage your time carefully in order to get good grades and master skills in your degree field. When you interview with prospective employers, make sure to emphasize that you have learned strong time management skills in your online masters program. Most employers will be impressed with how you’ve managed to juggle the responsibilities of coursework with your other responsibilities in life.
If you’re worried that employers won’t take your online degree seriously, don’t be. It’s 2023, and employers these days consider online degrees to be just as good as the old-fashioned kind. The main thing is to show employers that you have the skills and competencies they require, and the self-discipline and motivation to succeed in the workplace just like you succeeded in academia.