The Drawbacks of Studying Online master’s degrees

online master's degrees
Masters Degree

The Drawbacks of Studying Online master’s degrees

Online master’s degrees are becoming a practical option for many people. This is especially in such a time when many jobs are primarily remote. Even though the pandemic is considered to be almost ending, many students still choose online master’s degrees. This may be for many different reasons. 

For example, online degrees are way more flexible than in-person degrees. They are also relatively cheaper than traditional degrees when considering all expenses when pursuing a degree abroad. These are among several other benefits. But there are also drawbacks to studying an online master’s degree, as there are with anything in the world.

This is why it’s essential to learn the drawbacks to see what’s the right choice for you! Sometimes, it may be better suited to opt to study an in-person degree rather than an online master’s degree. Here are some of the drawbacks of studying an online degree. This is so you can keep both sides in mind when deciding which degree type to pick. 

What’s an online master’s degree?

Before we get into the topic, let’s first define what an online master’s degree is. An online master’s degree is a degree for those who want to study a master’s degree. However, the degree is online instead, rather than in person. It provides many of the same benefits that students receive when studying for a traditional master’s degree. You’ll also probably gain the same level of knowledge. 

Thankfully, another benefit is that they are usually more flexible. They also have many course offerings and are cheaper than traditional degrees. There are online master’s degrees in many fields. They are available in practically every subject you can think of. That means if you want to study business or chemistry or even study an engineering master’s degree, you can find a program that’s good for you. 

Read more: 4 Pros and Cons of Studying Online

The Drawbacks of Studying an Online master’s degree

Even though it might seem attractive to study an online master’s degree, it is not for everyone. Sometimes, it may be better to study an in-person master’s program. This may be due to your personality traits or the degree program you have chosen. For example, if a degree requires lab work or practical experience dealing with patients, it might not suit you.

This might be the case for those who choose to study medicine. Medical students might have to go to campus to fulfil their degree requirements. Here are some other drawbacks to studying an online master’s degree: 

1. Limited access to Campus and services 

First of all, students who choose to study a science master’s degree will require hands-on work and time to conduct studies and research in a lab. This is also the case for those with degrees that are practical in nature.  It’ll be difficult for you to recreate such an environment as labs have. After all, labs have expensive technologies that you won’t be able to afford to acquire at home.

You might also need to see patients or clients to get the most of out of your degree. This is if you study a degree with a practical placement time. In this case, you’ll need to be present on campus to carry out the work. In this condition, an online master’s degree with limited campus access won’t suit you or your degree.  

Read more: Top 12 destinations to get Free Online Degrees in Europe

2. High discipline levels are required

Another drawback of studying an online master’s degree is that it needs students to have very high discipline levels. They also need to have a good ability to motivate themselves. Students must log on to study or attend lectures of their own free will. That means if they aren’t very disciplined, it may be easy to procrastinate and fall behind their peers.

They are held more accountable for their actions. This can be a negative point for some if they cannot stay on track without professors pushing. Some also require motivation from being around peers to be disciplined enough to study.  Students also need to commit deeply to studying, and completing assignments and projects.

They also need to attend online lectures and seminars. This is when they could instead be doing anything else, like going out with friends or visiting family. If they leave things to pile up and do them last minute, they’ll likely fall behind. This means they’ll perform poorly on assignments and exams. The discipline requires a high level of commitment and dedication. That’s so that nothing interferes with coursework and study time.  

3. Less contact with professors and colleagues

The fact that online master’s degrees provide less social contact is another downside to studying an online degree. Even though technology has become more highly advanced and continues to advance over time, some students might prefer or require an in-person classroom. This is to be able to focus and learn.

Face-to-face interaction might also be critical to some degree programs. This might be because online classes don’t accurately convey body language, the feeling of teamwork or the sense of “we’re all in this together”. It’s not the same as how in-person degrees feel. Being online might decrease motivation for some people. This can negatively affect their academic performance. 

Read more10 Incredibly Useful Highest Paying Online Degrees

4. Some employers are sceptical of online master’s degrees

Another point you should consider if you choose to study an online degree is the fact that not all employers might be accepting of the degree. Some might be sceptical of online degrees. This is due to the fact that many providers of online degrees sell worthless degrees. They might accuse your provider of being a “degree mill”. Being a degree mill means they hand out fake degrees for money.

Employers may be unsure of the quality of the degree.  Because of this, they might choose someone from a traditional master’s degree program or a hybrid degree program. This is over someone with an online master’s degree if both are applying for the same position. They might also think that courses offered by the online program aren’t as in-depth as in-person degree programs.

That’s because some concepts aren’t practical to be studied in an online setting. However, if you choose a school that is accredited with a good program, this shouldn’t be a problem. A good name can prove the authenticity and quality of the program. In this case, this drawback can be avoided. 

Read more: 4 Important Pros and Cons Which Come with Studying Online

5. The feeling of overwhelm by study material 

Because online master’s degrees are Distance learning programs, this means that most of the work is self-directed. If you require attention from professors to understand complicated concepts, an online master’s degree might not be the right program type for you. This is most often the case if you are studying a complex subject. This is because complex subjects need supervision and advice from professors or tutors regularly. 

Online degrees can teach you to be more independent when it comes to studying. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for everyone. You need to figure out what type of student you are and whether you’ll be overwhelmed by self-studying the material. This is a critical deciding factor when choosing between an online and an in-person degree. Feeling overwhelmed can make you feel helpless and put off studying. This could result in bad grades or even failing your degree program.  

online master's degrees
Studying an online degree.


6. No individual attention and feedback

Another drawback to studying an online master’s degree is the lack of individual attention and feedback from professors. Many students find this drawback the deciding factor against online degrees. This is because they can feel very isolated and unmotivated. However, some blended courses could be the best of both worlds.

Blended, or hybrid programs, combine both online learning and classes. If you feel this sounds good for you, choosing to study a hybrid degree could be a better option than an online master’s degree. You could also choose to enrol in an online degree from your workplace. This means that several colleagues can share the experience with you. This could compensate for the lack of socialisation in the course and motivate you. 

Read more: 7 Fastest Online Degree Programs in 2023

7. More time-consuming than regular classes

Finally, a drawback you might not believe is that online master’s degrees typically are more time-consuming than regular in-person master’s degrees. This is because when choosing to study an online degree, you’ll take more time studying and completing assignments than you would in a traditional program. This is because the online study environment is based on text. That means to communicate with anyone, you’ll have to type out messages and emails or post. Typing is way slower than speaking!  

Reading lecture materials on your own can also take more time than listening to the lecture from your professor. If you watch online lectures, you might also be tempted to rewind them to catch that sentence you missed.  However, this could also serve as a benefit as you reap more information.

There’s no denying that even though this might be a plus, it’s more time-consuming than simply attending the lecture once. And that’s with all the zoning out and attention lapses included. It’s true that in an online degree, you might get more information as it’s all at your fingertips. You should keep in mind that it’ll take you a lot more effort to get that information. However, that means if you’re not motivated, then you won’t be willing to put that effort and extra time in!  

Read more: The best online degrees for senior citizens in USA

There are numerous drawbacks to studying an online degree. Examples of these might be the fact that they might be more time-consuming than a regular degree. They also require a lot of self-discipline and a lack of procrastination to do well when studying a degree. If you don’t feel you’ll be able to organise your time and stay on track, then maybe an in-person degree is better for you.

However, if you still feel you can handle an online master’s degree, there are so many programs available. So many that it may seem overwhelming to choose one. From arts to law to nursing, there are so many specialisations and fields to pick from. If an online master’s degree is the most suitable degree type for you, let Uniapp help you choose the perfect degree program for you. 

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