Will an Online Psychology Degree Have the Same Prestige as a Traditional Psychology Degree?

Respect for online degrees is increasing among educators, a group that is likely more qualified to evaluate learning effectiveness than employers. The Sloan Consortium released its 2012 Survey of Online Learning at http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/changing_course_2012, confirming developing trends in education. More than 75 percent of 2,800 academic leaders rank the results of online education as equivalent to or better than face-to-face learning environments, according to survey results.

The ease of attending an online class, the affordability, the quality of information obtained and the increasing respect for online degrees contributes to three key findings in the report:

• more than 6.5 million students enrolled in one or more online classes in the fall of 2011
• enrollment represented the participation of 570,000 more students than the previous year
• enrollment now includes 32 percent of students who take one or more courses online

Finding that Employers Respect Online Degrees

The most frequent approach to employment for most job applicants is through the human resource department of corporations. Changing attitudes toward online degrees are reflected in survey results from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Published by the U.S. News and World Report, the results of the survey contained responses from employers regarding their hiring trends. According to the survey, nearly 80 percent of employers reported that they added a new employee with an online degree in the previous year. Further evidence of respect for online training is shown by the 55 percent of employers who did not make a distinction between candidates who held on campus or online degrees.

A sign of the increasing respect that employers have for online degree holders is reflected by the nearly 90 percent of human resource officers who view the degree more favorably than they did five years ago. The typical review process starts by eliminating resumes that are from applicants who do not hold a degree.

Higher level review of resumes includes looking at the name of the school that granted the degree, and then a candidate is usually invited to a personal interview. The ability of an applicant to demonstrate knowledge that is relevant to the position is then the most influential factor in getting hired.

Understanding the Importance of Accreditation

Human resource officers who were interviewed for the survey indicated that departments usually do not make a distinction between online and on campus degrees as long as the institution is respected. On campus colleges that offer online programs are sometimes preferred over institutions that have only an online presence.

Accreditation is often an influential factor when human resource departments evaluate a job applicant’s suitability for a position in a company. With the prevalence of enrollment in accredited online schools, employers are facing many job applicants who have earned a degree that is as valuable as those from on campus colleges.

Changing with the Times

The number of companies that exclude online degree holders from consideration as potential employees is diminishing as more and more applicants present degrees from respected online institutions. With increasing respect from the academic community, online degrees are gradually gaining more acceptance from employers.