Related to my recent post about eLearning Certifications, someone went back through some of my older related posts such as eLearning Certification, Online Degrees Get No Respect and particularly: Lower Value of Online Degree Programs and asked:
I am curious, now that things have changed over the last three years, where do you stand with online degrees, specifically, WSAC (regionally) accredited online PhD degrees?
Don't you think that a person with an accredited PhD and has real world experience should be a top candidate versus a PhD who has been going to school for the last 10 years?
It’s great to have someone willing to call you out. They are likely referencing my statement back in 2006:
I personally hire mostly folks with undergraduate degrees and mostly they are technical. I look at the individual first and foremost - but that said - I definitely am looking for an undergraduate degree from an in-person program first and foremost. For graduate programs, I probably have less of a bias and I would value an online graduate degree from a bigger name higher than an in-person from a local, lesser name program. That said, I still would value the in-person higher than the online for the same university. Given my passion around distance learning, it's a bit weird to admit this bias. But, I wonder if this isn't shared and that people should be aware of it?
My thinking has definitely changed over the past few years, but if I’m being honest, I still value an in-person degree a little bit higher. But look closely. If going for an online degree allows you to attend a better program, then that ranks higher than a lower quality but local degree.
Also the person asking the question also asked about “real world experience” combined with a degree, e.g., a PhD. Of course, that’s going to come in above someone who has no real world experience. And since a lot of people who are doing online degrees are also working, there’s a lot to be said for finding a quality program online and attending while you are working.
In our field, that may have even higher value as the experience of having attended a quality online program likely will give you a leg up. As an example take a look at: Discussion Forums for Knowledge Sharing at Capital City Bank. Becky really learned how to have effective online discussions by going through a great experience herself.
All that said – my guess is that there’s still bias – even three years later.
What do you think?