4 Ways an Online Degree has Lost Its Stigma

When online degrees first started to become widespread, they were largely thought of as being able to buy an education instead of legitimately earning one. But then Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) came along, changing the landscape of education. Now, an online degree is seen not only as okay, but as a viable alternative to an in-person degree. Why? Here are 4 reasons how online degrees aren't stigmatized anymore.

Brand Name Schools Got on Board

Whatever cause anyone is fighting for, it's awfully hard to get recognition and exact change if there are no major players in the group. It's unfair, because Joe Nobody and Jane Doe might be working really hard to promote their cause and be branded as progressive thinkers, but people rarely pay attention to them. But throw in a few heavyweights, and suddenly everyone's looking at you.

That's what happened with online education when big name schools like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, the University of Texas, the University of California Berkeley, and more. When these colleges began to say they supported online education, the rest of the world had little choice but to start to follow along…or risk being left behind.

The MBA Started Being Offered

The Masters of Business Administration (MBA), also known as B-School, was an elite achievement where students could only pick it up in person. The reasoning was that as with any professional school (e.g. law, medicine), there was a real and distinct need for students to engage with professors in real time.

That's since changed, of course, and now students can get their MBA online and jump ahead in the workforce. For example, the University Technical School in England offers an online 12-coures MBA that's broken down into seven-week mini-terms. Classes start at 5:30pm so students can easily balance work with academics.

Online Chatting has Made Communication Easier

One of the biggest knocks against online degrees is its lack of real-time interaction between students and professors. That hasn't entirely gone away, but the stigma of distance has lessened it. Professors utilize Skype, forums, g-chat, and other online tools to help students communicate with each other because if knowledge learned isn't talked about, it's forgotten.

The Price is Right

Americans pay some of the highest tuition rates in the world, while countries like Germany, Sweden and Norway don't charge any tuition. A college degree is still more valued than a high school education, but the extremely high tab has made it hard for non-wealthy students to avoid going into crippling debt in order to get that leg up. But online degrees, on the other hand, have knocked down their prices so they're more in line with the rest of the world, and really ingenious students can even find a way around them for free.

Take Canada as an example. There, tuition for in-person Canadian students ranges from lows of $2,550 per year in Newfoundland and Labrador and $2,224 in Quebec to a "high" of just under $6,000 in Ontario. And if Americans want to study there, they'll be tagged as international students and be billed anywhere from $8,540 in Nova Scotia or $8,800 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $32,075 in Ontario (although average international tuition is in the mid-teens).

Compare that to the United States, where tuition is an average of $13,856 a year, or $7,173 for a public school and $24,700 for a private school. Online degrees offer a much cheaper way around, pricing courses as low as $92 per credit at Daytona State for in-state students. Even with ancillary fees, it still works out cheaper.