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Online Bachelor's Degrees - Are They For Real?

Updated on July 6, 2011

Can One Really Earn A Bachelor's Degree Online?

Actually ... they can, and that comes as much to a shock to me as it must you. After all, haven't we been reporting to classrooms for centuries to obtain our credits? Well, evidently you no longer need to. So, why do traditional colleges still exist?

Well, some colleges are still very stodgy about allowing an online education, with many citing that some things can only be learned hands-on in a classroom - and they're right. However, by adjusting one's curriculum, it's possible to create a set of classes that can be accomplished online - and that's what many colleges are starting to do.

In this article we will take a look at a traditional education versus an online one and allow you to weigh the pros and cos for yourself to see if an online bachelor's degree might be for you.

The Advantages Of Earning An Online Bachelor's Degree

An online degree has its advantages. For one thing, within reason, you can attend college during the hours that work best for you. As such, this makes it easier to work while you earn your degree.

Of course, you can't take off a month and then work hard to catch up, nor can you work ahead a month and take time off. An online college demands a daily commitment just like its real world counterpart. The only difference is that attending online allows you to plan the hours of your day better.

Also, attending online allows you to go over class notes more thoroughly. Instead of a teacher giving you one lecture that you might forget by the next class, you can go through the class notes at your own speed, absorbing the material at your own pace.

There's also a savings in transportation, as you don't need to drive back and forth to class. And if you're thinking that's not much of a savings as you would have lived on campus at the dorm - think again - as you would have had to pay for that dorm.

Provided mom and pop are willing to allow you to stay home as you attend college online, this can be a very thrifty way to go - and did I remember to say that you can get grants and loans to offset the cost?

The Disadvantages Of Earning An Online Bachelor's Degree

Some employers are aware of the online colleges and don't see an education from one of these institutions as equal to one from a brick and mortar school. Of course, in time this slight against online colleges will change, but for now you need to be aware that it does exist.

Also, online classes prevent you from getting a lot of hands-on experience. For example, would you want to see a surgeon attend all of their classes online? Me? I would like to know that they have actually seen the inside of a cadaver up close, and that they wouldn't pass out from the sight of blood as they were about to operate on me.

And another thing you miss out on is the camaraderie of college. As you are not a member of the campus, don't expect to be invited to the big frat parties - of course, some might see that as an advantage ...

As you are earning your degree online, you must have a backup plan for accessing the internet. You will need a spare computer and a plan to get back online, should your connection happen to go down. Most colleges afford you some time if you can't attend online, but that window tends to be really small. As such, you must have a strong backup plan before attending classes online.

Donh121 mentioned another disadvantage that's important to note. I'll allow him to mention it in his own words:

"I'm old-fashion, so I really can't endorse online colleges. Another facet that you can add to your list of "disadvantages" is interaction. Many times, when I was in college, I frequented several of my professor's offices just to talk. I got to see his or her books, talk about current affairs, and even went out for a coffee just for the heck of it. You can't do that online, can you? In addition, I loved participating in class, especially when a debate suddenly occurs."

Dohn121 is right. Attending classes online does withdraw you from directly interacting with your professors. Of course, there are also those people who function well independently, and for them this wouldn't prove as much of a disadvantage.

I, like Dohn121, prefer to have a professor I can meet with after class; but many people with real life time restraints have overcome this hurdle to gain their degree online.

What Bachelor's Degrees Can One Earn Online?

Well, I thought there would only be a few to list, but I found out different. Here's a -small- listing of the degrees available at just one online college:

  • a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts
  • an MBA in Accounting
  • a bachelor's degree in Software Engineering
  • a bachelor's degree in K12 Education
  • a bachelor's degree in Psychology
  • a bachelor's degree in Forensic Sciences
  • a bachelor's degree in Sociology

In fact, I counted nearly 100 different bachelor's degrees available from this one college alone. This means there are tons of options to chose from. In fact, I found it difficult to find a college bachelor's degree that didn't have an online counterpart.

How Many Online Colleges Exist?

Many! And that's in your favor, as they are all competing to have you as a student. Another favoritism to your educational cause is the large class sizes provided by a virtual classroom. No longer held to the confines of a small building, colleges can take in several thousand students for the same course, provided they can maintain enough teachers to teach the course.

Here are some of the more prominent names I have come across in my own studies (in alphabetical order - so as not to show any favoritism):

  • AIU Online
  • The Art Institute Online
  • Baker Online
  • Benedictine University
  • Capella University
  • Champlain College Online
  • Colorado Technical University Online
  • Devry Institute
  • Ellis University
  • Everest University Online
  • Florida Tech University Online
  • Independence University
  • Jones International University
  • Kaplan University
  • Keiser College Campus Online
  • Liberty University Online
  • Regis University
  • South University
  • Strayer University Online
  • University Of Phoenix
  • Westwood College Online

Remember ... just because a college is on this list doesn't make it the ideal online college for you. Which one should you go with? Well, why don't we dive right into that topic ...

What Should I Look For In An Online College?

The first thing to look for is affordability. After all, if you can't afford to attend then it's foolish to apply. Some online colleges will go so far as to help you fill out the forms for grants and loans - and why not, as it's insuring them an income.

The next thing you need to do is ask a few questions:

  • How many students per class? A lower number is better.
  • How much help can you expect the receive? After all, not everything is clear and lucid the first time you hear it.
  • Do they support a class blackboard where you can participate in class with other students? While this isn't a necessity, it does help one learn when they can see questions brought up by others which might be their own questions later.
  • Can you juggle the amount of classes you will be attending? You need some elasticity in your schedule or any small snag can pull you under.
  • Are you looking to earn a degree or to pursue a career? There are some people out there that like to collect degrees and others who want to do something with them. To attend college just to place another degree on your mantel is a foolish pursuit. As such, attend online to pursue a career.
  • Is the school fully accredited? This is highly important. An online degree is useless if it isn't fully accredited, as no one will accept it as real.
  • Does the school have job placement opportunities? If so, this is a big boon as it could mean a job upon graduation.

Is An Online Bachelor's Degree For You?

Maybe ... maybe not! Hopefully, I've given you enough information to make a wise choice. The important thing is to weigh out all of your options and make the choice that will suit you the best. Regardless of your choice, the fact that you are considering a bachelor's degree tells me that you are a person taking the time to decide over your future - and that's never a bad thing.

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    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from a land called 'what if?'


      I agree, many of them are definitely scams. However, I did find a great online college this past fall that is affordable, nationcally accredited, and definitely not a scam. It's called Western Governor's University, and I'm already nearing the halfway point toward my Bachelor's Degree using their accelerated progress approach. At $6000/yr it's a steal, and its computer degrees are recognized by Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco.

      I wish I would have known about them when I first wrote this article, but to add such information now would make people think I was creating a billboard to sell a particular school, and I wanted this article to be as nuetral as possible, forcing readers to explore more and understand the options before leaping in.

    • kenredd profile image


      7 years ago from Panama City, Florida

      If you're considering attending an online university, better do your homework before you call. Most brick and mortar schools offer many of their programs online as well as a traditional classroom setting. They have far greater credibility within the business community. Personally, I would not attend an online only university. Many of them are out and out scams.

    • cmellon86 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the detailed hub! I'm glad there's a list of schools since it's hard to find credible accredited ones.

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      Actually, networking can be a bit easier. Most of these online colleges are now promoting forums to get the student's to interact more. As people attending college online are already using their PCs to go to school, they typically are more tech savvy and more willing to reach out electronically. :)

    • bdouble28 profile image


      8 years ago

      Networking is a little bit more difficult with online learning.

    • marilnelanoon233 profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree with everyone when they say there are certain advantages and disadvantages with online schools and degrees. I for one went the online route after taking traditional courses and have found success, even if it's taken some time.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was actually going to go online to get another BA and maybe a Masters in writing. Of course life has made me stopped for now so that hubby can go to school also online. I will hopefully get to go back soon so I can take writing classes and everything. but I did enjoy this hub. A lot of colleges I didn't even know until you did the list. great job!

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      I got my degree through UNISA which although not an online University is a distance learning University which basically has the same disadvantages of an online University. UNISA degrees are internationally recognized and besides being able to work and study part-time the biggest advantage as far as I was concerned is not attending classes. I have problems staying awake in a classroom situation which is terribly embarrassing. Online University would work for me and for people who need to work while studying.

      Thanks for a very informative hub and for warning people that not all online degrees are reliable.

    • myownworld profile image


      9 years ago from uk

      Not all online degrees are reliable, and you've nicely summed up the pros and cons, and offered some great advice! I forwarded this hub to a few close friends planning on choosing the online route, and am sure they will find it very useful. Thank you for sharing!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I had thought about an online school, but found that as you said no med-schools would accept a bachelor's from and online college. Additionally I had a very poor experience with the schools I initially talked to and found their reps to have more in common with used car salesman then student advisers. Although for some I can see how this format would be advantageous and preferable.

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I'm old-fashion, so I really can't endorse online colleges. Another facet that you can add to your list of "disadvantages" is interaction. Many times, when I was in college, I frequented several of my professor's offices just to talk. I got to see his or her books, talk about current affairs, and even went out for a coffee just for the heck of it. You can't do that online, can you? In addition, I loved participating in class, especially when a debate suddenly occurs.

      If I ever do go back to college to attain an MFA in Creative Writing, I'm going brick and mortar! Thanks for the great hub! You did well to include the pluses and minuses of online degrees.


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