Online Vs Traditional Education Degree

In 2018, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that there were more than 4,000 colleges and universities that existed in the United States.  During that year, enrollment nearly reached 20 million,  with a percentage of these students seeking a degree in education.

For many college-bound U.S residents who plan to pursue a degree in education, both online and traditional degrees are appealing options for many reasons. Whether you decide to physically walk through the door of a classroom or log-in from the comfort of your own home, when making this important decision regarding your education, it is necessary to review what these two different types of learning experiences entail.

What should students consider when seeking an online or traditional degree?

Cost of attendance


Traditional: The cost of a traditional college degree, at the very least, will factor in tuition, room and board and books. Depending on a student’s circumstances, they may also have to cover the cost of travel, equipment and additional fees, such as an activity fee.  Students will also want to consider the type of degree they wish to pursue. For example, the cost of an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate will differ, as additional courses will need to be taken depending on the degree.


Online: Similar to a traditional degree, there are a number of things that factor into the cost of an online college education, but when pursuing an online degree, the cost can be significantly less than a traditional degree. This is partly because online degrees do not require students to pay certain costs. For example, room and board and travel are not included in the cost of an online degree because students do not need to travel to class or live on campus in student housing. Not having to cover these two costs can easily save a student thousands of dollars each year.




Traditional: A traditional degree will require students to take traditional college course where students attend a class that is scheduled at the same time every week. When you have to attend class at a specified time every week, there is little to no flexibility in your schedule because that time has been claimed. This can potentially present some difficulties when trying to find a job, study or simply spend time with friends and family.


Online: Many of the courses that students take, online and traditional, may consist of weekly assignments, assigned readings, quizzes and exams. But the major difference between the courses that people take when pursuing an online and traditional degree is that online classes are often structured in a way that doesn’t require students to be in attendance at a scheduled time every week. Depending on the course, you may find that there are only due dates that need to be adhered to, but students will be able to complete the course at their own pace.

Course/program availability


Traditional: Many students will have already decided what type of degree they want to pursue before they enter college. When considering a traditional degree in education, you will have many colleges and universities to choose from, as many institutions across the U.S. offer this is as a degree option.

Online: Online degrees may not be an option if you wish to pursue a particular career. And even if the program you are interested in is available online, you may not find that it is an option at every university or certain courses are just not available to you in that class format. For those toying around with the idea of an online degree in education, you’ll find an online degree is a possibility, but it won’t be possible at every college and university.


Traditional: Accreditation, which refers to the quality of education that institutions of higher education provide,  is important to consider because it will affect your education, your skills and your ability to find a job once you complete your program. Luckily, many of the institutions that offer traditional college courses are accredited.

Online: Online degree programs may be accredited, but this doesn’t mean it is the accreditation that will get you a job as an educator once you graduate. You’ll have to pay special attention when the online college is not an extension of an accredited campus-based college or university because an employer may question if you have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.

The U.S. Department of Education can help students confirm if the college or university they are interested in attending is accredited.

Are you a good fit for an online or traditional degree?

Each type of college degree will offer students a different learning experience. The flexibility and affordability that online degrees offer students may make people want to pursue this type of degree, but this option is not for everyone. Many people have found that online degrees are better suited for someone who is disciplined and capable of effectively managing their time because even though students don’t have to physically attend class, there are important dates and deadlines to keep in mind.

A traditional teaching or education degree is the route that many people choose. This class structure is very similar to that of the classes you have taken your whole life. The only difference is rather than having class every day for 7 to 8 hours a day, you’ll have different classes you take throughout the week at scheduled times. If certain aspects such as affordability and flexibility are not of concern, a traditional degree may be the best option for you.

Deciding what type of education you want is the first step toward obtaining your degree in education. Whether you are a first-time college student or returning to the world of academia, you have two options that offer different learning experiences. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but it is important to fully understand if an online degree or a traditional degree will best suit your goals and needs.

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