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Online Degree Vs. On Campus: Is There a Difference?

Friday, January 27, 2023

If you have decided to pursue a college degree, you have many decisions to make. You’ll need to determine whether to enroll in a two-year or four-year program, what types of college majors interest you, and what college you want to attend. In addition, you will need to decide whether you want to earn your degree online or choose a more traditional, on-campus program.

Many prospective college students have concerns about the differences between the two options. When comparing online degree vs. on campus degree programs, they are often equal in all the ways that truly matter. Ultimately, it is far more important to choose a high-quality college, an accredited program, and a major field of study that interests you. Then, you can opt for an online or in-person program based on what will best meet your needs.


Some students are concerned that an online degree will not be favorably viewed by prospective employers because of a perception that it is somehow a lesser degree. In the early days of online learning, some online degree programs did lack the quality of comparable on-campus options. Today’s online degree programs, however, generally have the same quality as their in-person counterparts. Also, because distance learning grew exponentially during the pandemic, today’s employers typically focus on whether a prospective candidate earned a college degree, not on how the candidate earned it.

The most obvious difference you will experience if you choose an online program is that you will attend classes, complete your coursework, interact with instructors and fellow students, and take exams entirely online. Your courses may be asynchronous, meaning you have the freedom to attend/participate whenever works best with your schedule.


Exploring the pros and cons can help you make a more informed decision about whether to choose an on-campus or an online degree program.


  • Flexibility. Many students choose online options because of the inherent flexibility. Online programs make it possible to attend classes in your kitchen, in your pajamas, or at 2:00 a.m. if that’s what works best for you.
  • Cost. Because online education does not come with the same overhead expenses as on-campus offerings, online programs are often more affordable.
  • Geography Doesn’t Matter. Distance learning means you can consider attending a college in a different part of the country without having to uproot your home and family to do so.
  • Streamlined Admission. Online college programs often offer rolling admissions and a simple application process. This means you could start working toward your degree sooner.


  • Interaction Requires Effort. While distance learning’s flexibility is hard to beat, it can be more difficult to interact with instructors and fellow students. After all, your professor is probably not going to be available at 2:00 a.m. if you have questions about course material. You’ll need to be intentional about communication. Similarly, peer discussions also take place online.
  • Practical/Hands-On Learning Is Harder. Most distance learners do not have ready access to a lab or physical library. Because of this, online courses are often more limited to textual learning rather than experiential learning.
  • Different College Experience. Choosing an online program, particularly if the college is not in the same geographical area as you, means a different college experience. Students don’t have access to college cafeterias, career fairs, guest speakers, and other on-campus experiences, but many online learners find that this allows them to focus on their field of study without what some perceive as distractions.


As you evaluate your decisions about where to go to school and whether to choose an online or on-campus mode of learning, consider what you want to study and think about the ways in which you typically learn best. Don’t be afraid to reach out to prospective colleges to ask questions about their programs so you can weigh your options.

Generations College offers on-campus and accredited online associate degree programs in several exciting fields. Contact us for more information or apply online today!