Are Online Degree Programs Going to Kill Traditional Universities?

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These people are participating in degree completion programs (to finish a degree they’ve already started), degree acceleration programs (programs designed to finish before the “typical” four years), online degree programs and continuing education credits to increase their marketability and give them an edge in a tight job market. So what are online degree programs, degree completion programs, degree acceleration programs and continuing education classes?

According to the Higher Learning Commission’s Task Force, degree completion programs are designed for a working adult who already has previous college credit (60+ credit hours) or they are returning to college after an absence of several years.

The Higher Learning Commission’s Task Force states that degree acceleration programs are when a student will be able to complete the program in fewer than the traditional years of continuous study. This is accomplished through alternative class schedules, shortening the traditional semester time frame and awarding credit for prior learning experiences.

Continuing education is any type of post secondary education used to obtain additional certifications or maintain licensure. (

Finishing your undergraduate degree through a degree completion program is even easier now with the advent of online degree programs. These classes provide flexibility that traditional college courses do not. Online degree programs offer the working adult the ability to attend class, submit assignments and participate in discussions whenever it is convenient for them. The availability of online degree programs makes finishing your degree a tangible reality.

There are still some downsides to getting an online degree. Some employers still look at online degrees as less valuable than a brick and mortar university degree. This stigma is gradually changing with the success of online colleges such as the University of Phoenix. In addition, an increasing amount of public universities are offering online degree programs. When you receive your degree, it does not indicate that it was an online degree program.

There are some professions that are not on board with online degree programs. You can get a law degree online through Kaplan University. At the time of this writing, all states, except California, base their bar requirements on the American Bar Association requirements. As of this writing, the American Bar Association does not recognize online degree programs.

Projections by the US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics state that enrollment at public 4 year institutions will reach 6.5 million by 2018. Colleges and universities are making it easier than ever to achieve a college education. I would encourage everyone who wants to finish a degree to go back to school. Increasing your knowledge and expertise is never a bad investment.


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