Here's breaking news about getting an online degree.

Wikipedia says: "The term online degrees refers to college degrees (sometimes including high school diplomas and non-degree certificate programs) that can be earned primarily or entirely through the use of an Internet-connected computer, rather than attending college in a traditional campus setting. Improvements in technology and the increasing use of the Internet worldwide have led to a proliferation of online colleges that award associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to students."

According to the July 30, 2006 Alex Wellen article in the New York Times, seven percent of postsecondary-school students (1.2 million) did all of their study over the Internet.

Over-aggressive student recruiting landed the University of Phoenix with a $9.8 million fine.

About 300,000 students are enrolled at that institution.

Employers prefer traditional degrees but 40% according to one survery said they didn't discriminate.

Texas Instruments spokeswoman Kim Quirk says: “We don’t hire people with online degrees."

Employers who say they do not discriminate against online degrees from accredited universities include Northrop Grumman, United Parcel Service, Boeing and Discovery Communications.

“We would not dismiss a résumé that cited a degree received online,” says Discovery spokeperson Michelle Russo. The company “would take into consideration the reputation and status of the granting college regardless of whether it was an online or regular bricks-and-mortar college.”

But how do you assess the status of online colleges?

“The methods of delivering distance learning and the expansion of the market have grown too quickly for anyone to adequately measure the quality of education,” says Susan Patrick, president of the North American Council for Online Learning.

Many companies, including Johnson & Johnson, pay (at least in part) for their employees to get study online.

I recommend these links about the online degree:

Online Degree

Online Degree

Online Degree

Online Degree

Online degrees at the Open Directory Project

Glossary of Online Undergraduate Degrees

Financial Aid for Online Education

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"The more prestigious or 'name brand' the institution, the more credible the online degree will be," Mr. Oldman adds. "A Stanford degree earned online is still golden, but a degree from, say, 'Silicon U.' won't open as many doors to recruiters, because it's an online degree from an unknown or online source."

An online degree won't necessarily harm graduates, but it raises a red flag that needs to be explained. This is especially true if you're younger and never attended a bricks-and-mortar college vs. an experienced older student who has used online education to change careers or earn a promotion, says Alex Bacas, vice president of U.S. Operations for Segue Consulting, an Ottawa, Ontario-based information technology recruiting firm.

"If someone has never set foot on a campus and is 23 or 24 years old, they won't have some of the socialization skills or maturation that their contemporaries gained by being on a college campus," says Mr. Bacas. "Companies spend lots of money training and developing people and so they need to have confidence in those people. This isn't a black-and-white issue, but whenever you give a recruiter reason to pause, you run the risk of not being accepted."

Karen Schweitzer writes:

Many people consider getting an online degree, but worry that they will have a hard time getting hired after graduation. But, these worries may not be necessary. Online degrees are increasing in popularity and are thought to be more valuable than ever before.

An Online Business Degree vs. a Traditional Business Degree
Many different colleges, universities, and business schools offer student the opportunity to get the same business education online that they would inside a traditional classroom. Often times, the degrees that are rewarded are not even noted as online or on-campus, because they are the same degree.

For example, at Columbia University, online students can earn various degrees through Columbia Video Network (CVN). The degree is absolutely identical to the one awarded to on-campus students.

What Type of Value is Place on an Online Business Degree?
The big question is what type of value is placed on an online business degree? There's no exact answer to this. Just like with most questions, it depends on whom you ask. However, according to a recent survey by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), more than 70 percent of corporate supervisors rated the value of a distance or online degree as "just as valuable" or "more valuable" than traditional degrees in the same field.

Here's a report:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The Online University Consortium, an independent, third-party organization founded to help adult learners and corporations identify the best online degree programs, has reported a 24% increase in the number of quality offerings since the Consortium was founded over four years ago. The Online UC, which qualifies online degree programs offered by accredited colleges and universities, has noted a steady rise in the standards expected by both students and institutions.

According to Greg Eisenbarth, executive director of the consortium, "In 2004, when The Boston Globe first recognized Online UC as a group that was leading the initiative in setting standards of quality for online education, only six out of every 10 programs met our criteria. As of the end of this year, the Consortium has approved five out of every six programs that have applied, which is evidence more institutions are stepping up to quality standards demanded by students and employers."

The increase in quality of available online programs coincides with the increase in online class enrollments noted in The Sloan Consortium's annual report, "Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning", which cites 3.5 million student enrollments in 2006, with nearly 20 percent of higher education students in the US enrolled in at least one online course.

Based on these statistics, the Online UC estimates enrollments are growing at about 10 percent each year. Consequently, demand is outpacing the supply of quality offerings which are growing by the consortium's estimate at about six percent annually. This gap presents new market opportunity for institutions that can meet or exceed consumer demands. To achieve and protect the standards students and employers are relying on to identify the best programs, accredited colleges and universities are joining organizations such as the Online University Consortium to help substantiate the quality of their programs.

Participating schools that submit their online degree programs to the Online UC for evaluation, must pass seven quality criteria; including measures on faculty, accreditation, investment in curriculum and program development, and student throughput, to receive the consortium's stamp of approval. This enables adult learners and companies who fund professional development to recognize the best quality offerings from reputable institutions, and make the most of their investments in online degree programs.

From Jonathan Deutsch: "Recently, while doing some Internet research on the curriculum of programs that might compete with ours, I found myself on a Web site that refers prospective students to a variety of online degree programs. I won’t use its real name here, and will instead call it COLLEGEFORNOTHING.COM, but you’ve probably seen the services of entities like this when you use search engines. Since this was not what I was looking for, I closed the browser window, only to be offered the chance to chat about my educational and professional goals with a “live agent:” “Wait! A live agent is here to assist you with any questions you might have about online universities.” I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for free advice. Here is the full transcript of that conversation with the purportedly live agent, the epicene-named Morgan."

From the TimesUnion.com:

Getting a college degree online has become a popular alternative for students whose family or job responsibilities preclude them from enrolling in a traditional campus program. But is learning in cyberspace comparable to learning in the classroom?

Answering that question is difficult because there are as yet no widely recognized objective standards to assess the value of computer-based education. As a result, the online degree is often viewed as inferior, even by those institutions that offer them. For example, the Web site of Pennsylvania State University assures enrollees in its online MBA degree program that their diploma will make no mention it was earned via the Internet. But things are about to change for the better, and a large part of the credit belongs to Excelsior College of Albany, a longtime leader in distance education, awarding degrees in such diverse fields as nursing, business administration and engineering.

Excelsior recently hosted a forum that brought together representatives from a small group of colleges that have joined to develop standards for online education, with a focus on how effective their programs are in teaching students what they need to know in a specific program.

The colleges have varied missions, but all are regionally accredited. If their criteria become the gold standard for assessing online degree programs, then prospective students will have an easier time making choices as they pore through a maze of courses offered by private and state campuses, and for-profit and nonprofit institutions. Employers will benefit as well, as they will have an easier time judging the value of a prospective employee's online degree.

Bennett J. Loudon reports:

Imagine earning a college degree — listening to lectures, taking exams and trading ideas with professors and classmates — without ever stepping into a classroom.

As many as 20 percent of college students have traded in campus classes for computer connections.

A fledgling concept a decade ago, online education has become a hefty chunk of America's higher education system. More than two-thirds of all colleges and universities are now offering classes over the Internet. In the fall of 2006, about 3.5 million students were taking at least one college course online, more than twice the number in 2002, according to a report by the Sloan Consortium, an online-education advocacy group.

As defined by the Sloan report, online courses are classes in which at least 80 percent of the content is delivered online with no face-to-face meetings. They use computer software through which students can access lectures, assignments and other course materials, communicate with teachers and other students, and take tests.

Online courses make it possible for students to do coursework on their own time, whenever and wherever they can connect to a computer. Students who might want to meet their instructor or other students face to face, even while taking online classes, can select a school close to home.