Tell me about online-only Master's degree programs

…specifically, what is the experience like? Is the flexibility of location and schedule a sufficient benefit to outweigh the lack of in-person interaction? Do you feel like the program has effectively prepared you to realize the goals you set prior to starting the program? Any insight or advice is welcome and appreciated.

I’ll try to answer some of these questions. For background, I attended a small, private university for my BA (English) and obtained my MA (English) online from National University, an accredited school.

I found it more pleasing than my experiences as an undergraduate. Like all the advice you get about online courses, I’ll say that you have to be motivated and responsible, since it is up to you to “log in” and go to class every day. But the flexibility of the web course allows you to do things on your terms (I was a late-night posting guy.)

I found no significant disadvantage in having no face-to-face contact with the professor or students. You interact enough through message boards and emails to get the same type of relationship any other course does.

Absolutely. The caveat is that I began the program for 2 reasons: 1) to learn for my own benefit, and 2) to have the credential to teach at a community college. I realized both of those goals. Even before I had officially finished (I was writing my thesis) I was hired as an adjunct English professor at the local college. I’m interviewing with the search committee next week for a full-time job.

My transcript does not reflect that my degree was online-only; it looks the same as a transcript a brick-and-mortar student would receive, though I have always been honest with my employers. I now adjunct at 2 colleges and my alma mater university, and as I said above, I’m at least interviewing and doing a teaching segment for one of the colleges.

Will an online degree grant you the prestige of a brick-and-mortar degree? Probably not, though as time passes and more people go this route it may become less stigmatized. I myself have not been discriminated against, but one of my undergrad professors indicated that, to her, the online degrees seem to imply an “ease” that she isn’t fully comfortable with. Personally, I found it to be a rigorous experience–each course was 1 month long, and that went on for 10 months. A 10+ page, researched paper each month with a Master’s thesis at the end. I was friends with a woman getting her own MA English at a local, in-person school, and it seemed I was working harder and understanding more concepts than she was. And her capstone project was less intense–2 brief essays.

Advice: it is an expensive process, so know that upfront. I’d advise you to have a very related goal for employment, since just getting the degree for its own sake isn’t usually the most logical choice. It’s like what many of us found out about our bachelor’s degree: it’s not a magical employer magnet.

If you do take the plunge, make sure the school is regionally accredited (duh, I know.) Find out if your transcript will reflect online courses, or simply courses.

Realize that it’s not the “easy” way to get a degree; you’ll probably work just as hard as you would in a brick-and-mortar school, and you’ll have to be twice as motivated.

I did mine with a dial-up connection, but increasingly you need high speed for videos and the like.

Be prepared to read a lot and write a lot.

I have found online degrees to be very beneficial. I worked full-time and was able to do the classes at night after dinner. I worked it to fit around my schedule and it worked out for me. Do you know if you were going to go for an online mse engineering degree? I do agree with BlakeTyner, there is a lot of reading and a lot of writing. My class had discussion boards and I was required to comment a certain amount of times. I had fun with my degree, I hope that yours worked out.

Reported as spam.


I don’t know. The user has been here since 2001. Thats a long time to wait around for the chance to spam the message board…

Maybe you know more than the rest of us do. If it gets locked I guess that will answer that.

Since February 2011, actually. And his post revives a dead thread to include a link to a website. As do several of his previous posts:

The first two examples link to the same website.

I’ve been considering an online master’s degree program. I agree that there are two many reasons to get such a degree - one, to “have the degree” as a paper qualification, and two, to gain useful skills and knowledge.