Does an Online University Degree Count with Human Resources?

Nick Fishman

EmployeeScreenIQ recently released our annual background screening trends survey: “Threading The Needle: Employment Background Screening in an Age of Increased Litigation and Legislation.” More than 650 HR professionals from across the country, in organizations large and small, shared their thoughtful (and sometimes surprising) insights on everything from falsified resumes to the phenomenon of Facebook in our revealing 20-page report.  Listed below is one of our Top Findings which deals with how HR professionals view online universities.

Division Over Online Universities:

Employers are divided on the legitimacy of online universities. 45% believe that online universities are less credible than brick-and-mortar universities, while 55% do not. For employers who are ambivalent about this issue, the next few years will likely help them clarify their positions, as more and more trusted, brick-and-mortar schools are expected to add online programs.

While some employers embrace the “advantages” that online universities offer attendees (such as lower costs, flexible scheduling and accelerated programs—all of which can be helpful to students who already hold jobs or who cannot afford tuition at traditional universities), other employers remain wary of online options due to the less-than-ideal reputation these programs earned when they first gained recognition.

This negative perception has been slowly but steadily changing, not only in the court of public opinion but among educators themselves. And even well-known traditional universities have begun offering their own online programs. If these trends continue, employers’ perceptions will likely shift accordingly. Additionally, it will be interesting to see whether employers come to prefer or make distinctions between brick-and-mortar institutions that have online courses and those that offer only online course work.

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