Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Cecilia Maldonado-Daniels, Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

Sterling Saddler, Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

Robert Ackerman

Graduate Faculty Representative

Paul Jones

Number of Pages



Since the late 1990s, online education programs for academic credit have emerged in colleges and universities across the country at an astonishing rate. Enrollment in online courses and online degree programs has grown dramatically. Online education is in high demand because it allows individuals to pursue an education while maintaining their full-time jobs and commitments to their families. However, the employability of a graduate with an online degree has not kept pace with the growth of this delivery method. This study was an attempt to explore the workforce sentiments concerning employment of college graduates obtaining a degree completed through online education.

Using a conceptual framework of human capital theory and the theory of credentialism, a Web-based self-administered questionnaire was implemented. A national survey was conducted to investigate the perceptions of human resource (HR) professionals and employer policies and practices toward hiring college graduates who have earned traditional degrees compared to those who have earned online degrees. In this study, HR professionals are defined as executives, directors, or managers who develop and manage human resources polices and practices, as well as those who specialize in employment, recruitment, and placement of job applicants. Participants were instructed to rate policy-oriented statements as to how well each statement reflected their organization's current hiring practices on a 6 point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 to 6 (1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree).

Findings indicate that respondents have a strong preference for graduates with traditional degrees compared to graduates with online degrees. While online degrees from accredited institutions are accepted for employment, some employers may only consider job candidates with traditional degrees and prefer not to have applicants from online degree programs. Additionally, the findings indicate that employers have different policies and practices toward hiring college graduates who have earned their degree traditionally or online. Differences exist in industries where a college degree is often required for employment and work activities require a high degree of expertise and training. Moreover, differences exist in organizations that have a large percentage of employees with a bachelor or graduate degree.


Degrees; Academic; Distance education--Public opinion; Employability; Employee selection--Decision making; Vocational qualifications--Certification


Higher Education Administration | Human Resources Management | Industrial and Organizational Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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