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The Benefits of an Online Master’s Program

What’s the value of attending an online program instead of on-campus?

The value of an online program over a brick-and-mortar one depends entirely on the individual’s desired educational experience. Many brick-and-mortar schools currently offer online-only and/or blended courses that feature online and classroom components. These hybrid programs can serve as an attractive middle ground for students who have a hard time choosing between exclusively online and on-campus programs.

U.S. News & World Report contributor Devon Haynie encourages prospective grad students to consider the following points when weighing online and on-campus master’s programs:

Factors to Consider when Weighing Online and Campus Based Master’s Programs


Factor Details
Cost Contrary to popular belief, online education is not necessarily cheaper than traditional higher learning. While not always the case, If a web-based program is less expensive than the brick-and-mortar equivalent, be sure to do a thorough assessment of the program’s academic merits.
Rigor “If you are not self-motivated and very disciplined you are not going to be successful in an online program,” notes Ibrahim Helou, dean of the college of business and public management at the University of La Verne.
Student Support While most on-campus student services are only accessible at certain times (i.e. 9am to 5pm), online resources should be accessible 24 hours a day, since e-learners often work in the mornings or evenings.
Faculty There are few differences between online and on-campus instructors. All full-time faculty and adjunct professors (part-time or contracted employees of the university) are held to the same standards of credentialing, professionalism and experience in order for the schools and programs to qualify for accreditation. This high regard to hiring the best in any given field ensures that the quality of an online education is equivalent to that found at brick-and-mortar schools.
Degree All online-educated students must expect that the degree they earn will be identical to the credential a traditional student in the same sort of program would earn.

What are the perks of enrolling in an online program?

Although some aspects of online education can and should mirror traditional learning (such as course content and availability of student services), web-based programs offer unique perks to the students who choose them. Benefits of online education include:

  • Convenience: Rather than commuting to campus and sitting in classrooms, most online programs allow students to listen to lectures, study, and complete most written assignments from home.
  • Flexibility: Many online master’s programs are self-paced, allowing students to study and complete assignments on their own timetable.
  • Balanced schedule: Since online course materials are available any time of day, students with full-time jobs, family obligations, and other commitments can study and complete assignments any time of day.

I want more flexibility, how do I transfer into an online program?

Transferring college course credits to an online program is essentially the same process as transferring credits to brick-and-mortar institutions. First, students should contact the admissions office of the college or university where they wish to transfer.

At this time, students should ask two key questions:

  • What is the maximum number of credits you will allow me to transfer?
  • Are there any courses on my transcript that will not transfer?

Every school has a different credit limit (and some may not impose a limit at all), but most admissions offices provide a free transcript evaluation to determine how many credits a given student will be able to transfer into his/her graduate program. Be sure to get this in official documentation, or at the very least, in writing.

Once the number of transfer credits has been determined at all of a student’s prospective college choices, he or she can begin seeking admission for different programs. Please visit our Application Process Guide for more of a step-by-step description of the online master’s program application process.