The Pros and Cons of Online Grad School
Online grad school is an increasingly popular and powerful way to advance your career and improve your salary potential. The flexibility, accessibility, and convenience of online education makes it a perfect fit for working adults. If you have an interest in updating your knowledge, enhancing your skills, or adding leadership training to your resume, you may want to earn a master’s degree. But is online grad school the right path for you?
If you are considering graduate school but you would like to explore traditional brick-and-mortar options, start with a look at the 50 Best Grad Schools 2022.
Many of these top institutions offer opportunities for both in-person and online learning. So if you are unsure about pursuing a grad degree online, you may be able to balance a traditional master’s degree program with a few online grad courses.
However, if you are actively considering a fully online grad degree, start by weighing the pros and cons of online grad school.
Advantages of Online Grad School
Online education provides the ultimate in scheduling flexibility.
The single biggest benefit of the online grad degree is that you will enjoy a level of flexibility that simply cannot be achieved through a traditional grad school program. This is especially important if you plan to hold down your full-time job while earning a degree. U.S. News & World Report points out that the best online master’s degrees are designed so that you can balance your work and personal responsibilities with the pursuit of a high-quality degree. Professionals in fields as diverse as business, social work, and nursing can take the next leap forward without stepping away from the important work they do every day.
And perhaps the best things about getting a self-paced degree is that there are many online master’s programs that you can start any time. If you are hoping to get started on your online master’s degree program right away, there are some excellent options.
If you like self-paced education, you will love the online master’s experience.
In many ways, a master’s degree is inherently self-guided. Much of your work will be based on your own original research inquiry and your personal educational and career goals. But the online master’s degree gives you even greater latitude in determining the scope and pace of your education. Because online grad degree programs are often designed with the needs of working adults in mind, many provide self-paced (or asynchronous) options including access to pre-taped video lectures, online group forum discussions, and accessible professors.
With an online master’s degree, you will save thousands on additional expenses.
Living on campus comes with plenty of perks, but you will certainly pay for them. From student housing to campus fees, from parking and transportation to on-campus dining options, the expenses of a brick-and-mortar experience far exceed the basic cost of tuition. When you pursue an online graduate degree, it may be possible to cut your costs simply by maintaining residency in your home, attending class without the commute, and making lunches in your own kitchen. When you get your master’s degree the traditional way, all of these expenses can add up. Cut them out of the process and your degree will ultimately be more affordable, even if you pay the exact same amount (or slightly more) for tuition.
Disadvantages of Online Grad School
Adjusting to online learning can be a challenge.
If online grad school marks your first experience with remote education, it may take some time to adjust. After all, working in the privacy of your own space, and on your own schedule, may feel quite different than attending live classroom lectures, studying in campus libraries, or working under the in-person oversight of a college professor. By contrast, pursuing an online master’s degree is very much a self-guided process. Give yourself time to adjust to this new medium, and try to embrace the opportunity to improve your organization, time management, and study skills. Ultimately, these are all skills that will help you succeed in grad school and move forward in your career. Take advantage of this chance to refine your workplace skill set.
If you are used to classrooms and crowds, the online master’s can be isolating.
But it does not have to be! it is true that working in isolation can take some getting used to you. Some students simply thrive in live classroom discussions or find it easier to stay motivated when surrounded by other studious learners and educators. With an online grad degree, it really is up to you to remain motivated. But here is the good news—you do not actually have to go it alone. do not be afraid to reach out and make connections with your professors and classmates. They may be more accessible than you realize.
You will not get the same social experience you would from an on-campus master’s degree.
If you thrive most when part of an active educational community, it may be difficult to find your footing as an online grad student. While it is possible to make personal connections, it will require proactive effort on your part. As an online student, you will not necessarily participate in the on-campus events, attend the social gatherings, or join the in-person clubs that made college so enriching. On the other hand, a growing number of online grad students are actively seeking online grad schools located close to home. Not only can you get in-state tuition rates when you attend a public online grad school in your home state, but your proximity may make it possible to have some social experiences. By choosing an online grad school program in your home state, you may be able to occasionally visit camps for events, join your online classmates for in-person study groups, or even just meet up with a few fellow grad students for coffee.
Ultimately, of course, the best argument in favor of getting a remote grad school degree is that online master’s degrees are growing in availability, convenience, and quality all the time. And the number of subjects in which you can earn a fully accredited and highly regarded online master’s degree has grown to include disciplines like accounting, education, health science, criminal justice, and much more.
Not sure where to start your search? Check out our look at Best Online Master’s Programs.
Learn more about applying to and excelling in your advanced degree program with a look at our Guide to Grad Life.
Or jump to our student resource library for tips on everything from studying to starting on your career path.