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The weak job market has many Americans heading back to school to improve their skills or enter a new industry, but instead of returning to campus to get a degree, they’re logging on to their computers.
According to a recent study conducted by the Sloan Consortium, 83% of institutions with online offerings expect their online enrollments to increase over the coming year.
In the past, online degree programs were often overlooked and brushed off by employers compared to traditional degrees, but experts say that nowadays, online Master of Business Administration (MBA) and advanced degree programs are just as rigorous and well-respected as paper degrees.
“Sixty-five percent of managers that I surveyed are looking at online education degrees and traditional education degrees as the same now. In the past, there was a stigma with online education,” says online education consultant, Danielle Babb.
Colleges are recognizing a demand for virtual learning. Prestigious universities such as University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Duke University have added online programs to their curriculum choices, and many other schools are following suit. Here’s what the experts say is driving the trend and what students should expect before logging on.
Rise of the Virtual Classroom
Schools are now seeing an influx of “non-traditional” students—those who are older, have part-time or full-time jobs and may have families. Instead of leaving their jobs or uprooting their children to move halfway across the country to attend school, online higher-degree programs allow more flexibility and convenience.
“Letting students study online is a way that schools can grow their class sizes and revenue base without having to find physical space for these students”
- Scott Shrum, director of MBA Admissions Research at Veritas Prep.