college degrees

Which is better? Campus degrees or online degrees

Advisors may have heard this question many times. While one type of degree isn’t better than the other, there are pros and cons to both.

As a higher education administrator or educator, you’re often tasked with educating students, parents, colleagues and the community about campus vs. online degrees. For years, online degrees were flanked in a stigma that they weren’t “real” degrees, compounded by the influx of “degree mills” that weren’t accredited. We’re now squarely in an era where online and hybrid education isn’t just accepted, but oftentimes encouraged. However, how can you inform potential students about degrees without showing a bias? What’s the best way to direct someone to pursue a traditional, hybrid or 100 percent online degree?

Everyone has some bias, but with sound facts and figures on the potential pros and cons of both campus and online degrees, secondary and postsecondary advisors can help potential students make the best decision.

The Pros and Cons of Higher Ed Degrees

Campus Degrees

Traditional, in-person learning in a brick-and-mortar establishment was the only approach for years. However, it might not be the best fit for everyone.


  • Campus degrees are widely accepted around the world. Nobody will question a degree from an accredited, brick-and-mortar establishment.
  • These degrees also offer the classic “college experience,” if that’s what’s desired. From drop-in hours with professors to Greek Life, intramural sports, student government, football games and dorm life, it’s impossible to replace this beloved rite of passage.
  • Those who thrive with an in-person environment get what they need. Some learners require that in-class, interactive experience with minimal technology to fully digest the experience. This can be particularly true for mature students.
  • There are more resources with a brick-and-mortar environment. From social clubs to programming, students usually feel that they “get more” at a traditional university. There are limits to what an online environment can offer.


  • Innately, there’s a lack of flexibility with campus degrees. Everyone must be physically present, stick to dates and times, and work their life around earning a campus degree. It’s not feasible for some, especially in an increasingly virtual lifestyle.
  • Costs can vary dramatically. It’s not just tuition that fluctuates from campus to campus, but also cost of living, taxes, commute costs and more. Going to school in suburban Kentucky is going to be a lot more affordable than going to a university in Manhattan.
  • The “vibe” of the physical environment is strong, for better or worse. Students have to adapt to what they’re walking into every day.
  • Not all classes are designed to mimic the real world. Increasingly, telecommuting, virtual offices and depending largely on technology are all required in the real world. Sitting in a tech-free lecture hall may not be indicative of the real world experience anymore.

(Next page: The pros and cons of online degrees)

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