Online Degree vs Traditional Degree Programs

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Admissions

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Are you wondering if you should go for an online or traditional degree program?

With the rise of the internet in the last few decades, learning is no longer confined to physical spaces. Today, students can study and attain a degree qualification from the comfort of their bedrooms.

Most traditional universities have started offering online programs that are fully accredited. Renowned institutions such as MIT and Harvard are trendsetters in this aspect. 

While online degree programs are becoming increasingly popular, some people worry that they are not of the same quality as traditional degree programs that are taught in physical classrooms. In this article, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of each program. Keep reading to find out which is the best option for you!

Advantages Of Traditional Degrees

Most people are familiar with traditional degree programs. After all, these are the kinds of programs that have been around for centuries. Typically, traditional degree programs are conducted at a physical institution where students interact with their professors on a face-to-face basis. Students often live in or near the institution and get to interact with each other throughout their studies. Let us explore some benefits of this model of learning. 

#1 Networking Opportunities

One of the biggest advantages of traditional degrees is the chance to network. In a physical institution, students get to meet and interact actively with their peers all the time. Professors are also more easily available, and some universities hold reunion events where current students have an opportunity to connect with alumni. While it is possible to connect virtually, physical proximity makes it much easier to meet a wider variety of people and form more concrete relationships with them. The networks that students establish while on campus tend to be crucial later on when they are seeking professional opportunities. 

#2 Useful Resources

Pursuing your degree in a physical institution means that you have access to a wide range of useful resources. These include libraries, laboratories, student clubs, gymnasiums, and theaters, among others. Some traditional universities have superior resources that all students who are enrolled in that institution can take advantage of. These types of resources are obviously not accessible if your degree program is fully online. 

# 3 Wide Range of Extracurricular Activities

Traditional institutions of study give students room to engage in many extracurricular activities. Students can participate in athletics, debate clubs, and writing, among others. Through these activities, some students are able to reach unprecedented levels of professional achievement. For instance, students who play sports get a chance to be recruited by professional teams while still in college. This is of course not possible if a student is pursuing a strictly online degree program.

Disadvantages of Traditional Degree Programs

While traditional degree programs offer many rewards, they also have their own downsides. Below are a few of them: 

# 1 High Tuition 

Because of the cost of maintaining their extensive systems, traditional institutions tend to have high tuition rates. For instance, in the United States, tuition in private universities can run as high as 70,000 dollars per year. This is not affordable for most students. 

#2 Low Flexibility 

Pursuing a traditional degree program confines a student to the requirements of that program. For instance, you have to physically attend most classes to earn a passing grade. Unlike online systems where you can attend a class no matter where you are, traditional programs require your physical presence, meaning you have no room to do much else in the course of your degree program.  

Benefits Of Online Degrees

Online degree programs are becoming more popular for a good reason. Below, we highlight some of the key benefits that online degrees offer to students. 

#1 Self-Paced Learning

One of the biggest advantages of online learning is that students are able to learn at their own pace. Unlike physical classes where students are required to be present in a certain room at a specific room, online programs allow students to complete their assignments on their own time. While some online programs require students to attend live sessions, the attendants are still able to join from any part of the world. This makes online programs more flexible, hence students can simultaneously pursue other activities.

#2 Acquisition of Technical Skills

Learning online requires someone to use technical tools such as video conferencing apps. Students also have to familiarize themselves with a range of other collaborative tools, and in this process, they grow their technical skills. In a world where work is becoming more and more remote, these skills can come in handy during a student’s job search. 

#3 Affordability 

Online programs tend to be cheaper than traditional degree programs. Some traditional degree programs cost as much as 70,000 U.S. dollars per year while most online programs rarely exceed 20,000 U.S. dollars. This means that students who do not have enough funds to pursue traditional degree programs can still manage to attain higher education. 

Disadvantages of Online Learning

While pursuing online programs has its benefits, it also comes with some downsides. Below, we highlight a few of them. 

#1 Distractions

Because students are not required to congregate at a common physical location, there are often many distractions that students are likely to encounter as they complete their classes. These can include wandering to unrelated websites. If you’re studying from home, there is also a higher likelihood of losing focus and doing other things like house chores. 

#2 Technical Issues

Online learning is fully reliant on students having access to computers, electricity, and the internet. In the event that any of these are not available, pursuing an online degree program is impractical. 


Ultimately, the decision to pursue either an online degree or a traditional degree program will depend on your specific circumstances. It is up to you to evaluate the pros and cons of each program and make a decision that will work best for you. 

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