Should You Consider a Candidate With an Online Degree?

Close to two million students are taking at least one online course offered by a college or university. Between 2002 and 2012, there was an increase of nearly 30 percent in academic institutions that offered online degree programs. Today, the percentage is about 65 percent of all schools. So clearly, online studies are a force to be reckoned with.

Since the likelihood of people getting online degrees has grown so dramatically in recent years, there is a much greater chance that you will have such graduates applying for jobs at your company. Should you give credence to applicants based on whether their academic credentials are traditional or online?

Accreditation is Key

Accredited online degrees should be seen as equally valuable to traditional degrees because these programs must prove the same level of academic standards as their brick-and-mortar peers. Accreditation is a voluntary form of self-regulation and peer review that ensures top quality and educational excellence. As long as you select candidates who have graduated from an accredited online school, hiring these graduates poses no more risk than hiring traditional alums.

Times Have Changed

In the past, there was more skepticism about hiring employees who had earned online degrees. But that “diploma mill” reputation has been all but erased, as long as programs are accredited. More and more prestigious schools, including Stanford, MIT and Duke, now offer online education.

Recent research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and others supports this fact. In one survey, 75 percent of employers had embraced the concept of hiring online graduates.
SHRM research likewise showed a growing acceptance of accredited online courses and degrees. In their survey of leading employers:
• 79 percent said they had hired candidates with online degrees.
• 87 percent agreed that online credentials are viewed more favorably than in the past.
• 73 percent agreed or strongly agreed that individual courses taken online were equally credible to traditional coursework.

The Benefits of Online Graduates

Being receptive to online degrees can benefit your business in a number of ways:

• You have a wider, deeper candidate pool. This makes it easier for you to find suitable prospects.
• Online degree holders tend to be more self-disciplined. Remember, they have completed their degree with a minimal level of supervision. Many have done so while still working. This points to high levels of determination and motivation. Their strengths also include the ability to work independently and take initiative, both on day-to-day and long-term bases.
• Job seekers with online degrees need to be computer savvy. They generally can ease into the technical aspects of their jobs more quickly and seamlessly as a result of their educational experience.
• To succeed in an online program, students need a high level of maturity and self-management. This is necessary to manage course requirements. Online work is not “easier.”

Do you need additional assistance, insight and resources as you formulate your hiring plans and make recruiting and HR decisions? Consider partnering with the PrideStaff Modesto team. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.