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Least Accepting Industries of Online Degree Programs

Dec 14, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

As accredited online degree programs become more common, more and more industries are changing their perception of online degrees. However, some industries are more accepting than others—and there are a few sectors where it’s still difficult to compete with traditional degree-holders. Here are a few of the least accepting industries of online degrees. 


If you want to work as a professor with an online doctoral degree, the road may be tough. As early as 2005, studies noted that those in academia had negative perceptions of online education when it came to making hiring decisions. More traditional and high-ranking colleges
tend to be less open to candidates with online degrees,
while community colleges and other online colleges
tend to be more open.

See Also: Online Degree Programs

However, this may be changing—slowly. More and more traditional colleges—even high-ranking colleges such as MIT and Yale—are starting to offer classes online; the idea of online education is no longer foreign to many traditional schools. As time goes on, it’s likely that academics will start to open more to online degree holders.

If you want to go for a doctoral degree online and work in academia, it’s obvious your school must have proper accreditation. However, regardless of its accreditation status, many of the more exclusive colleges are likely to be less accepting of for-profit degree programs and those that come from schools that are entirely online. It’s best to choose an online program from a traditional school that offers an online component.


Some areas of healthcare—such as IT and administrative positions—are fairly open to online degrees. However, if you want to work as a nurse or other medical care provider, it’s not easy to do with an online degree.

See Also: Online Healthcare Degree Programs

For instance, it is impossible to earn a medical degree online. There are plenty of online nursing programs, but the perception still exists that “online” means “no hands-on component”—an attitude that can hurt holders of online degrees in this area. And in the medical profession, the in-person apprenticeship period is essential to training.

It’s important to note that nursing training involves classroom-based instruction as well as the clinical component—and it may be possible to find traditional degree programs that allow you to take some classroom credits online. If so, that’s probably your best bet for earning your online degree in this field.


Currently, it’s very difficult to practice as a lawyer with an online degree. All lawyers practicing in the United States must pass the Bar exam. Only applicants who have graduated from American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited degree programs are permitted to sit for the Bar. And the ABA does not accredit online law schools.

See Also: Online Law Degrees

This makes the situation for those interested in online degree programs for law difficult—but not impossible. For instance, in California, you can sit for the bar even with an online law degree. But you cannot practice law anywhere but California. If you want to move, not only will you have to retake the Bar—you’ll have to earn your entire law degree over again.

There have been signs of change in this area as well, although they are slow. More and more schools—including Washington University*, home of the seventh-ranked public law school program in the country—are starting to offer online Master’s degrees in law. It’s possible that the ABA will change its policy on online Juris Doctors as online degree programs become more common.

It’s not easy competing with traditional degree holders in these areas. However, there have been signs that even these industries are starting to open to online degree programs—even if the progress is slow. It’s possible that, as technologies improve, more and more people gain first-hand experience with online education, and more online education programs are offered by traditional schools, online degrees will start to make inroads even into the most change-averse industries.


Naresh Kumar Behera Over a year ago

Nice Article Ms. Jennifer. Thanks for the related articles on heath and law!

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