Are Online Degrees Worth IT?: Evaluating Your ROI

Online University Degree Worth Investment

Are you thinking about going back to school? Perhaps, you are worried about the extensive time commitment involved and the possible relocation required. For many potential students, the cost of funding their education is also a major concern.

However, with the availability of online degrees, you can set aside some of your worries. Not only does an online degree allow for flexible scheduling, you can attend class right in your own living room. Earning an online degree does not require you to leave your job or move halfway across the country in order to achieve your educational goals. Furthermore, online degrees are increasingly respected by employers and academia as the online learning trend continues to grow.

Although online learning is easily accessible, you might still be concerned about the cost of tuition. The best way to view your online degree is as a business transaction. The first thing you should do when considering how to utilize your resources is to make sure that you will earn a decent return on your investment (ROI)—meaning that you will get back more than you put in.

Online Degrees By Level

Assessing an online university degree from an ROI perspective requires some research. Begin by evaluating the various levels of online degrees available and the current employment market.

  • Online Certifications & DiplomasOnline certificate programs tend to be the shortest and least expensive programs available. They often offer career-training for a specific field and generally have the fastest turn-around time when it comes to your investment.
  • Online Associate’s Degrees– Providing a more well-rounded education than certificate and diploma programs, these two-year degrees are almost always less expensive than a bachelor’s degree. Since so many online associate’s degrees are highly specialized, the transition into a career is typically immediate.
  • Online Bachelor’s Degrees– The online bachelor’s degree is the most widely-pursued degree-level and provides a more in-depth education than the associate’s degree. When pursing your degree, you should carefully explore the various schools available to ensure that you are selecting a program that will provide the most bang for your buck. According to the United States Census Bureau, earning this four-year degree nearly doubles a person’s income over the course of a lifetime.
  • Online Graduate Degrees– Encompassing both master’s and doctoral degrees, online graduate programs will pick up where the bachelor’s degree leaves off. When selecting an online university degree program at the graduate level, it is essential to keep your career goals in mind. Although not required to advance your career, many individuals interested in executive, academic, and scientific positions might benefit from pursing a graduate program.

Show Me the Money: Deciding if Online Degrees Are Worth It

How do campus or online university degrees translate into your paycheck? According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medium weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers in 2012 broken-down by education level are as follows:

  • High School Diploma/ GED- $652
  • Some College-$727
  • Associate’s Degree- $785
  • Bachelor’s Degree- $1, 066
  • Master’s Degree- $1,300
  • Doctoral Degree- $1,624

Based on these statistics, with the addition of just some college experience, an individual’s median weekly income will increase by 11.5%. Bachelor’s degree holders earn almost twice as much as those students who have earned only their high school diploma, and their weekly salary increases 36% from those who have earned an associate’s degree. Advanced degree holders earn the most money, at an annual median salary of $67,600 for master’s degree holders and $84,448 for doctoral degree holders.

Whether or not you determine online degrees are worth it depends on your career goals and personal bottom-line. However, with careful planning and research, it is possible to see the realization of your college dreams in the place it matters the most—your paycheck. Consider exploring online degree programs today.