Whether you’re in the middle of earning your online degree or you have your diploma from an online institution, you may be wondering: Are online degrees respected by employers? How can I talk to a potential employer about my online degree?
While the pandemic accelerated the acceptance of online degrees, some employers still may question the reputation and quality of online undergraduate degrees. Be ready to share how your online degree challenged you and prepared you to excel in your field.
The most important thing to know as you apply or interview for jobs is how your online school is accredited. Employers want to see degrees from schools that are approved by a higher education governing body. For example, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been regionally accredited since 1913 by the Higher Learning Commission, and UW–Madison Online falls under that accreditation.
Here are four ways you can confidently talk about your online degree with employers:
- Emphasize the rigor and quality of your online degree program. If you’re attending an accredited online institution, you’re likely being challenged by your courses and instructors. Talk about the hard work you put into your classes and be ready to share information on specific academic challenges. You’ll also want to emphasize the qualifications and expertise of your instructors. Make sure your employer knows that you were required to meet the same academic standard as students attending in person.
- Talk about specific skills you learned. Employers value a degree, but primarily they want to see students demonstrate skills relevant to the job. In addition to academic knowledge, make sure you have a list of skills you learned from your online college. These skills could be in the categories of communication, problem-solving, technical proficiency or other areas. Match your skills list with skills required by the position for which you’re applying. Because you learned online, you may be able to showcase your computer skills and remote collaborations.
- Highlight the self-discipline needed to earn an online degree. Many people earning a fully online degree do so because they want the flexibility to continue to work and meet other professional and personal obligations. With flexibility comes the need to be self-disciplined. Perhaps you were working full time or managing your family while going to school. Talk about the time management skills, work ethic and organizational skills you needed to balance work, school and life. Your employer will be impressed.
- Be direct and positive. As an online student, be up front with – and proud of – your online degree. List your school on your resume along with your degree and any distinctions or awards. Add leadership experiences, work with faculty or real-world experience you gained from your program. When you’re talking about your school, be proud of your affiliation and accomplishments. And don’t be afraid to talk about overcoming obstacles to earn your degree. You did it!
Are online degrees respected by employers? Yes, but be sure you know the best way to talk about your online degree. Highlight the rigor of your program, competencies gained and your work ethic, and your potential employer will be impressed with your education. By showcasing these qualities and addressing any concerns or questions directly, you can relay the value of your online degree and position yourself as a strong candidate for employment opportunities.
For more information on UW–Madison Online, see our Ultimate Guide to Online Business Degrees.