Should I Take Distance Learning Accounting Courses at an Online-Only School or a Brick-and-Mortar College?

Today’s distance learning students have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting a college. They can study at public schools and private schools, community colleges and major universities, non-profit and for-profit institutions. Some online accounting programs operate out of schools with traditional brick-and-mortar campuses, while others are part of colleges where every classroom is virtual. As a prospective accounting student, you might be wondering what choices to make for your online education – especially whether to study at an online-only school or a traditional college that offers distance learning classes.

Comparing the Quality of Online-Only and Brick-and-Mortar Schools

As long as you choose a quality school – one that’s accredited and has a good reputation – you don’t have to worry that choosing either an online-only or traditional college will prevent you from getting a quality education. In fact, today prestigious and longstanding brick-and-mortar schools like the University of Alabama at Birmingham share space on top ranking lists with online-only schools like Walden University. You can feel confident that your online education will be worthwhile, no matter what kind of schools you’re looking into during your college search.

The Reputation of an Online Education

A major factor in whether you should choose an online-only school or a traditional college for your distance learning education is whether it will be respected accounting professionals. How prospective employers will view your degree matters. If you study online at a school with one or more physical campuses, recruiters and prospective employers who see your résumé might not know that you studied online, at least not at first glance. On the other hand, studying at an online-only school makes it clear that your education wasn’t traditional.

Whether that fact will affect your future job searches and advancement opportunities is still in question. Some online students have reported being treated by peers and potential employers like “second-class students,” USA Today reported.

On the positive side, however, the growing popularity of online education has prompted many people, employers included, to rethink their preconceived notions of an online degree. A recent survey showed that 83 percent of executives considered an online degree “as credible as one earned through a traditional campus-based program,” CNN reported.

If your prospective employers see online education like the majority of surveyed executives do, they will be more concerned about whether your school is regionally accredited and what reputation its graduates have earned the institution. Find out before you enroll what kind of accounting firms or other employers recruit from your intended school. This way, you’ll know what kind of employers value your degree – and if it will help you land your dream job.

Whether you should pursue an online accounting degree from an online-only school or a brick-and-mortar college depends on the specific schools you’re considering, your career goals, and what kind of school you’re most comfortable attending.

Also see:

Top 10 Best Online Masters in Accounting Degree Programs 2014