What is the Difference Between a Traditional Degree and an Online Degree?

A traditional degree and an online degree can have a lot of differences or only a few. Some of these distinctions are most noticeable when a student receives an online degree from a non-accredited university, while others are most noticeable when a student receives his diploma or transcripts. For example, some schools automatically note that a student earned his degree online, while others do not, and some online schools have physical campuses, so the degree’s actual weight is not significantly lower than if he took classes on campus. Furthermore, the way each type of degree can be weighed, as long as they both come from accredited schools, is dependent on the student’s major and career path, as well as whether the degree is a stepping stone to further studies, such as in graduate programs.

Some students and educators argue that while students can feel the differences between traditional and online learning, future employers may not. Even a comprehensive online program differs from the experience of attending classes in a traditional classroom setting. Some classes, where students learn together, may have a certain level of student participation, while others are self-paced and self-directed. The reality of “physical campus” classes is that there are learning opportunities not only from teachers, but also from other students.

Participation and discussion in the classroom can benefit a student’s education allowing him to think about what he learns in new ways. Furthermore, some general education courses, such as science labs, require a certain amount of hands-on experience. Although a non-science major may never need to take a lab, it’s difficult to say how online classes would match these requirements. However, an online degree from a well-respected, accredited university is unlikely to be perceived as significantly different, though it may make sense to obtain a degree from a university with a physical campus that does not specify that the degree was earned online.

If a student plans to attend graduate school, there may be some differences between a traditional degree and an online degree. Excellent letters of recommendation from instructors are often required for graduate school applications. It’s often more difficult for a student to make a good impression when they only meet the instructors in an online setting. Instructors rarely get to know their students as well as they would if they were sitting in their classes; in fact, they may have no idea who is in the class. This can detract from the luster of a recommendation, and top grad schools frequently seek letters of recommendation from well-known professors, so students may be limited in their options for further education.

In some fields, such as health care, where a lot of hands-on experience is required, there may be significant differences between traditional and online training. A nursing student pursuing a degree from an online university that does not have an approved program for completing practicum hours may find it difficult to find work, and the degree may not be worth the paper it is printed on. Because so much of a nursing degree is based on hands-on learning, students may be better served pursuing a traditional degree.

Some universities offer a large number of online courses, which can help with things like commuting to class, but students must still spend time on a physical campus. These universities’ degrees aren’t considered online degrees, and they’ll usually work with any traditional degree. If a student works well independently and has a very tight schedule, taking some classes online may be a good option. The student will almost certainly need to finish some of his university courses, which may be the best of both worlds.

People who obtain their degree from an unaccredited university will undoubtedly notice the most significant differences between a traditional and an online degree. This essentially means that the degree has not been judged to be as good as a traditional degree various learning institutions. If the person is looking for work or wants to further his education, this could be extremely important. Students should always ensure that any university they attend has a good reputation and is accredited so that their degree will be recognized other universities and employers.