Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Choose an Online Degree

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

If you've been to this blog before or have seen me on Twitter or have just happened to see one of my Youtube videos, then you know that I am a doctoral student at Capella University. And like those unfamiliar with for-profit universities or online degrees, I was skeptical about the quality and reputation those programs provided. But that all changed when I called Capella about their master's programs in Non-profit Management. Once I did the research about their accreditation, I applied and have never regretted my decision.

A for-profit online university has worked well for me. Not only have I been able to build a knowledge-base in educational philosophy, classroom assessment, leadership and numerous other educational theories, I've been able to tailor my coursework around the growing field of social media, becoming a budding scholar in the process. Add my internships with J.T. O'Donnell and Ingrid Stabb, along with my dissertation on how social media can be used to individualize professional development for teachers, and I feel confident in my ability to lead a social media institute, as well as teach a couple of classes as an adjunct. But for those unsure about online degrees or even how to go about choosing one, here are some things to look for:

- Check for the school's accreditation. Regional accreditation is good, but subject or field accreditation, such as NCATE or ABET is better.

- Ask about the modules used to teach. Are they asynchronous? If so, how are they structured? If they're synchronous, what kind of video conferencing tech will you need? If it's a hybrid program, how much time will you spend on campus?

- Be aware of time. This points to the length of each quarter or semester as well as the due dates for coursework.

- If it doesn't make dollars, then it doesn't make sense. Compare the tuition rates. No need to rack up a mountain of debt if the degree program or school's reputation won't make you a credible candidate in the eyes of HR.

- Know what you are going to learn and whom you'll be learning from. Ask for a syllabus of the classes you're interested in taking. Also, talk to a professor or two. You have to feel confident that you are making the best decision for your needs.

As much as I've enjoyed being a student at Capella, you'll never find me pushing an online program on anyone. Everyone's needs, learning styles and career interests are different. Also, be sure to note that not all online degrees are created equal or are offered by for-profit universities. Many state and private universities are offering online degrees now. Going to school online has its advantages as well as disadvantages, depending on the individual needs of the person. But if you're interested, I hope those tips will be helpful.

The New School

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.


  1. Make sure online learning is right for you. Ask yourself whether you can handle not having an instructor leaning over your shoulder, reminding you an assignment is due or an exam is upcoming, and whether you need that face-to-face interaction with other students and the instructor to succeed.
    Career With Online Degrees

  2. Jacob,

    Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.