Online degrees as credentials for employment : how do Canadian employers view online degrees?

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Bahir, Fatima
Employer perceptions
Employment potential
Online degrees
Online degrees and employment
Online education and employment
Canadian post-secondary institutions cumulatively deliver over 300 programs online or at distance as alternatives to on-campus teaching, and student enrollments in online programs are expected to increase (Canadian Virtual University (CVU), 2013). However, little is known about online degrees as credentials for employment. Focusing on bachelor's degrees awarded by Canadian universities for online and distance education, this mixed methods study investigated the views of a convenient sample of 87 employers using hypothetical hiring and job promotion scenarios. A total of 84 surveys and 4 interviews were conducted with management and human resources personnel at Canadian organizations in the public, private, and social sectors. The findings indicated that 75% of participants considered online degrees equivalent to campus-based face-to-face degrees in the hiring scenario, and over 90% had no preference between campus-based and online degrees in the employment promotion scenario. Four themes emerged related to credibility of online degrees, educational quality of online degrees, affordances and constraints of online education, and gaps in awareness. The findings are relevant to graduates and students of online education as well as educational institutions offering online degrees.
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