College students today have a variety of options when it comes to getting a bachelor’s degree including getting one online, but some may wonder about the viability of getting a master’s degree at a traditional college after earning an undergraduate degree from a virtual campus.

Do online degrees hold the same weight as degrees from brick-and-mortar campuses? What are colleges really looking for when you apply for a graduate program? In reality, factors like accreditation matter much more than a school’s location. If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree from a traditional campus with a bachelor’s from an online program, then read on for additional information and tips.

How Graduate Schools Gauge Applicants

Every graduate program requires that students meet certain prerequisites in order to be considered for admission, but these prerequisites could vary significantly depending on the type of institution and state guidelines. In general, most master’s programs require a bachelor’s degree, a strong GPA, passing scores on the Graduate Record Exam or GRE, several letters of recommendation and a personal statement or statement of intent. Note that these general requirements do not differentiate between an online and on-campus degree. Getting a master’s degree is a matter of proving to the graduate school admissions faculty that you have the right skills to earn the degree.

You may be surprised that graduate schools require a personal statement, but this statement could make the difference between admission and denial. According to Dr. Tara Kuther with About Graduate School, the personal statement showcases “writing ability, motivation, ability to express yourself, maturity, passion for the field, and judgment.” Grad schools are looking for people who will succeed in the program, and your academic record along with references and statement help them to determine whether you meet their criteria for success.

Red Flags for Online Programs

If you’re interested in getting a master’s degree, then you need to choose your online bachelor’s program carefully to make sure the program will be counted toward your graduate degree. In a report on virtual programs, U.S. News and World Report cites three things to look out for when choosing an online school: accreditation, curriculum and support services. Accreditation is one of the most important factors and can be verified through the Department of Education website.

What Matters to Future Employers

Graduate programs may not mind if your bachelor’s degree comes from an online campus, but will your future employer hesitate when she looks over your resume? Thanks to widespread use and acceptance of online programs, your future employers will not care whether you earn a degree online or in a classroom according to an article hosted on NY Daily News in July 2013. As long as the program has been accredited and is relevant to the position to which you’re applying, you have the flexibility to choose both virtual and traditional courses.

As technology advances and schools become more open to the idea of distance learning, students around the world will enjoy better options when it comes to undergraduate and graduate education. Businesses continue to look past the location of a college and instead focus on the graduate’s applicable job skills and characteristics. You don’t need to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a physical campus in order to obtain a master’s degree as long as your goal in Getting a master’s degree is clearly represented by previous coursework and a commitment to advancing your education.

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