Online degrees gaining acceptance

August 01, 2010|By HEATHER LOWERY

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Continuing education is expanding in new directions and online degrees offer students a convenient way to advance their education.

Does having a degree obtained over the Internet hurt a person's chances of landing a job?

Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium, said the trend appears to be moving toward the online degree.

"Getting an online degree is increasingly popular and is probably more acceptable now than it was some years back because the Internet is much more a way of life than it ever was, and now there are online universities," Thomas said.

"I think that the acceptability of an online certificate or degree is growing, and the particular field might be where the value is either up or down," Thomas said.


William Sonnik, director of Washington County's Division of Human Resources, said every applicant is given an equal opportunity, no matter what type of degree he or she has.

"I wouldn't think it would be held against them. It certainly wouldn't hold more weight, or any less weight. I wouldn't look at it any differently than any other degree," he said.

Sonnik, who said he has not seen a lot of applications that list online degrees, said he "wouldn't be too concerned about the type of degree, as long as it's an accredited school by some accrediting agency."

Jodi Irvin, a nurse recruiter for Washington County Hospital, said on-campus degrees offer hands-on experience and clinical rotations that benefit nursing students.

But, she said, "We don't not hire someone who has an online degree."

When screening applicants for jobs with the City of Hagerstown, Human Resources Director Donna Frazier said she looks into the information listed on the application.

"We always verify that indeed an applicant, if they say they have a degree, does have a degree," Frazier said. "Before they are seriously considered, we have to see transcripts. And whether the school is accredited or not would make a slight difference."

Sonnik said he believes that any type of degree would benefit an applicant.

"So many of our jobs don't require degrees, but some of the jobs do require a degree or equivalent work experience, and that would be good to have," he said.

Thomas said he believes that any certification is beneficial to applicants.

"I think any credential has value and we constantly encourage people to acquire credentials that basically prove that a person has completed a certificate and, better yet, a degree, because that's almost something that's demanded anymore," Thomas said.

For jobs that do require degrees for the city, Frazier said there have been more applications coming across her desk that list online degrees.

"I am seeing more and more of that, especially from the nontraditional student who is trying to hold down a full-time job while getting a degree," Frazier said.

Thomas said he believes work experience is important when applying for a job, but a degree or certificate also plays a role.

"When I look at an application, while work experience is important, it's also important to have that complementary paper that says 'This person has completed the following' that complements a person's work experience. It's of significantly more value if there is a formalized education piece involved," Thomas said.

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