Is it Better to Get an Online Degree or a Traditional One?

Deciding to complete an academic program is a huge decision, and the increasing use of technology make many people wonder if it’s better to get an online degree or a traditional one. Each option offers both positive and negative aspects. Choosing the best type of program format is a highly individual decision.


One of the hallmarks of online programs is that they are flexible. Traditional degrees offer courses that are set to a rigid schedule that must be adhered to receive all the vital information that is taught in a course and well as set times to take quizzes and exams. Traditional courses can be held in a variety of formats. Therefore, students may be required to attend a class for 50 minutes three times per week, an hour and a half twice per week, or sometimes even three straight hours only once per week. Online programs often offer students pre-recorded lectures to be viewed at the student’s convenience. This can be advantageous for those who have work schedules that conflict with traditional class times or for a person who is able to perform better at different times than when traditional classes are offered. In an online program, students are often given a more generous timeline by which reading assignments, homework assignments, quizzes, and exams must be completed which requires the students to pace themselves appropriately. A person should be reflective to understand their level of self-discipline as well as the best setting and times in which they are best able to perform.

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Program Availability

Online programs transcend location. Therefore, an abundance of degree programs are available in a variety of fields and on all degrees levels. Traditional programs restrict students to enroll in programs that are locally available. While this usually isn’t an issue for individuals living in large cities or metropolitan areas, this can be of great concern for those who live in areas that have fewer local colleges and universities, such as rural areas. Some courses, however, are not offered completely online, such as those that require in-person laboratory work or where clinical experience is required. Sometimes in cases such as these, hybrid courses may be offered where a portion of the class is conducted in-person while the remaining can be completed online.


One of the main factors that people consider when trying to decide if it is better to get an online degree or a traditional one is cost. According to the U.S. News & World Report, $286 was the average cost per credit hour in their survey of the 133 ranked online bachelor degree programs at public universities. The cost of an online degree or a traditional degree widely varies, especially when considering in-state or out-of-state status. However, it is common for online degree programs to be less expensive overall when considering the cost savings from not spending money on commuting or on room and board.

Choosing a suitable academic program requires careful thought as many factors should be considered. However, since different individuals have different requirements and situations, deciding if it’s better to get an online degree or a traditional one is truly a personal decision.