Student Advice

Grad School: On Campus or Online?
Student Advisor posted on March 27, 2017 |

From shopping to socializing, many activities we engage in today have shifted to the Internet. The same applies to education, with a host of online master’s programs available for grad school students looking to complete their studies from the convenience of their own homes.

Earning a master’s degree online, both in the engineering space and beyond, has become more widely accepted, and programs are available at many leading schools. However, there remain some important factors to consider when choosing between remote or on-campus graduate programs.


Embracing Online Learning

Where the educational community was once sceptical of online graduate programs, it now embraces them. The largest and most renowned colleges and universities offer an increasing number of online master’s degree programs, many of them in engineering.

This increased trust in the quality of online degrees has transferred over to the employment sector, with the latest data highlighting the fact that a growing number of corporations and CEOs deem online master’s degrees just as valid as those gained in traditional education settings.

While it remains true that not all employers look positively upon online learning, attaining an online degree at a reputable school, coupled with achieving strong grades, will undoubtedly boost employment prospects.

Factors to Consider

If you are contemplating enrolling in an online graduate program, there are some important considerations to take into account. First, even in online settings a lot of value remains attached to a name, so choosing a well-known school with a strong reputation is paramount. As mentioned above, many leading schools now offer online graduate programs, which gives students a wide range of options.  

An online master’s degree is also beneficial to those already employed in the industry they are pursuing additional studies in. Numerous engineers, for example, study for master’s degrees in order to refine their existing knowledge and skills, or to acquire specific know-how in a branch of engineering unfamiliar to them.

The opportunity to complete their degree in their own time and at their own pace makes it possible to maintain existing employment. Balancing work and study in the same field is a sign of a driven individual, and bodes well for future employment prospects.

If you are leaning toward pursuing a master’s degree online, you must also ensure optimal self-discipline. Unlike traditional educational settings, online learning does not entail attending lectures and classes at specific time. While having the flexibility to create your own study schedule is certainly a perk, sticking to that schedule and devoting enough time to studying is imperative. Just like skipping classes in real-world environments can harm your grades, a lax approach to online learning will do the same.

Additionally, online master’s programs tend to impose more writing-based tasks on students, as opposed to discussion and group-based learning. This is an important consideration for those who may not enjoy writing endless amounts of essay papers.


Weighing the Pros and Cons

Online graduate programs continue to grow in popularity and credibility, making them a valuable way to enhance your employment prospects.

The key is to plan in advance and weigh the pros and cons, in order to accurately determine whether it is the right fit for you and your career. Online master’s degrees will not suit everyone, particularly those that prefer face-to-face and discussion-based learning.

On the other hand, those that need flexible learning schedules and are looking to juggle work and study may be more inclined to pursue a graduate program online. And, if the online educational route is indeed the one you choose, self-discipline and a strong work ethic will be required to get the most out of it.