How Hard Is IT to Earn a College Degree Online?

Earning a degree online presents unique challenges but doesn't have to be any more difficult than earning a degree in a traditional setting. Read on to learn more.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Online Over Traditional Degrees


Nearly all reputable online programs require the same amount of work as traditional programs. Courses are of equal difficulty, making online degrees no easier - or harder - to earn than traditional degrees. With more and more universities like Southern New Hampshire University or University of Maryland offering their traditional programs in an entirely online curriculum, the line between traditional and online degrees becomes almost nonexistent. Students have to work just as hard regardless of the option they chose.

Technological Requirements

Earning a degree online can be a fitting choice for working and non-traditional students, but may be much harder for some who have difficulty with technology. Some courses that traditionally require heavy interaction with classmates - like oral communication - may require using complex video recording technologies in order to complete the course. Even classes that traditionally require minimal contact may utilize a broad array of productivity tools, such as Microsoft Office, online forums and multimedia conferencing. Thus, while earning a college degree online may benefit many working adults, it still requires baseline knowledge of computer technology in order for students to be successful.


According to CBS News, student enrollment in online programs has been growing by almost 30% annually, with many traditional colleges now offering online curricula. With the rise in demand for online programs that cater to working adults, the U.S. has also seen an increase in unaccredited institutions that offer empty degrees backed by less-than-reputable accreditations, if any at all. These programs lure students in by promising degrees in accelerated time frames that may have exceptionally lax general education requirements. It is important to ensure that these online degree programs and schools are properly accredited, or else one may pay for a degree that is not recognized by any other schools or employers.


With an online program, there is no required attendance, but there are homework deadlines and exam dates. While this can afford working students the flexibility they need, a certain amount of self-discipline is required in order to complete the program on time. There is also the problem of social isolation. For students who like to interact with other students, earning their degree online might not be the best choice.

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