As online graduate education programs are still in the early stages, common misconceptions about what’s offered in an online course run rampant. We completely understand individual misgivings — with any new thing, there will be skepticism at the onset.

To battle this trepidation, we’ve taken the most important aspect of a higher-education program — the professor — and have done a side-by-side comparison of online professors and traditional professors.

Professor Qualifications Traditional Professor Online Professor
At least a Master’s Degree in the relevant field of study
Industry experience to support expertise in relevant field of study
Extensive teaching and research experience in relevant field of study
Superior verbal communication skills — must be able to communicate complex material that is, in most cases, brand new to the student body
Outstanding written communication skills — must be able to present research and subject matter in ways that are clear, concise and understandable when paired with adequate guidance

You’ll notice that both types of professor are equal across the board in the Professor Qualifications categories — this is because online professors and traditional professors are appointed from the same pool of educators.

The difference between online graduate education programs and traditional programs does not lie in the instructor or the material — 77 percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in traditional formal learning environments. The major differences stem from the education methods used.

Differences aren’t always a bad thing; in some cases, the differences between online programs and traditional programs work in favor of the former. For example, according to Dr. Gail Kirby a successful online professor, “Unique to the online professor experience for students taking an online course is the challenge of building an active, student-centered learning environment. The professor must continually provide feedback that improves students’ learning outcomes as she becomes a guide, facilitator, and teacher.”

We know that the hesitation toward online courses is not ill-intentioned, however, it is often misguided. We are at a point technologically that allows institutions to run courses online that facilitate superior learning experiences, superior student outcomes and the opportunity for career progression. So the next time someone asks you, “traditional education, or online?” you will be knowledgeable of the advantages of online learning!

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