How Adult Online Graduates Portray Their Degree
This qualitative case study investigated how adult graduates of online Bachelor’s degree programs describe the online aspect of their degree. Online education is promoted as a method for adult students to access the benefits of a college degree. Therefore, it is important for prospective online students, higher education institutions and policy makers to understand how online degrees are valued in society and by online graduates. The primary method of data collection was interviews of 24 graduates. The setting of this study, a well-regarded research university primarily known for its traditional campus-based programs, helped to isolate perceptions of the online delivery modality. All participants in the study held a high opinion of their online degree and of the university. However, the participants also recognized that some people have a negative opinion of online degrees. The participants described two strategies for dealing with encounters with people with negative perceptions of online degrees. Slightly more than half of the participants were forthcoming and open about earning a degree online. However, a large minority of participants were concerned about negative perceptions of online degrees. These participants often did not volunteer information about the online aspect of their degree to other people unless specifically questioned. Additional research is recommended to further explain the extent to which perceptions of online degrees are associated with the online delivery mode rather than other factors and to investigate the effect of delivery mode and institution type on the economic impact of an earning a Bachelor’s degree later in life.
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration