Postgraduate Study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary Futures Await

Online Learning - Is an online degree a 'real' degree?

Misconceptions about online learning often fuel the myth that online degrees aren’t ‘real’ in some way. In this blog post we demonstrate that online degrees are a hard-earned and legitimate reward - just like their on-campus counterparts.

Misconceptions about online learning often lead to a snobbery that online degrees aren’t ‘real’ in some way. If a student hasn’t attended tutorials in person or physically handed in their assignments, then they were never really part of the university. Their degree isn’t quite as good. In other words, it’s not ‘real’.

online student graduating

In this article, we’ll (hopefully!) convince you that online degrees are exactly the same as on-campus qualifications. Apart from the obvious difference in learning environment, they hold exactly the same value as a traditional degree – online degrees are as real as can be.

Our online learning students often have to juggle not only university life, but also a busy schedule of professional and personal commitments too. An online learning degree is a hard-earned and legitimate reward, just like its on-campus counterpart!

A valuable addition to your CV

Fortunately, the myth about online degrees not being ‘real’ is actually very easy for us to bust! Our programmes are just as valuable as traditional campus degrees…and we can prove it.

Online programmes at the University of Edinburgh involve exactly the same level of work as on-campus degrees and the qualification gained is of equal value. This means that when you graduate as an online student, your degree certificate looks exactly the same as that of an on-campus graduate – the document makes no reference to the fact that you studied online.

online student graduating virtually

And that’s that! Prospective students and graduates should feel confident that an online degree is an extremely valuable addition to their CV. It’s definitely a ‘proper’ degree and you’ll have a copy of your certificate to prove it. 

Did you know…? Many of our online students can opt to graduate virtually during the Winter Graduation ceremony if they can’t make it to Edinburgh!

At the University of Edinburgh, we try to make our graduation ceremonies feel as real as possible for those who can’t attend. Graduates tune in to the live ceremony from all around the world, and even appear via webcam when it’s their turn to receive their scroll.


Hear from one of our online students

Salaviriuse Ahimbisibwe is a vet from Uganda who studies the MSc in One Health online. In the video below, he explains that he wasn’t 100% convinced about online learning at first, but this has quickly changed over the course of his degree. Salaviriuse is now convinced that other health professionals should start taking this form of learning more seriously.

Video: Salaviriuse Edited Video
Student testimonial with Salaviriuse, one of our online students in the Masters of Public Health.

Teniola Lawanson is another of our online students. He is from Nigeria and is currently enrolled on the MSc Global Health and Infectious Diseases programme. He had a similar response to Salaviriuse originally, but now believes that online learning has changed his life completely. 

Back home where I come from, there is this idea that online degrees are less work compared to the on-campus traditional degrees. I also thought I might not be able to use it to get work, and the curriculum might not be as 'good' as the on-campus degree. But all of that is a fallacy - online degrees are very, very good. The curriculum is comparable to what you'd have with a traditional on-campus degree, and the truth is it's going to improve your self-directed learning skills too. 

Teniola LawansonMSc Global Health and Infectious Disease

As you can see, online degrees allow professionals to continue providing services in their field while they develop their knowledge and skills through online study. And that’s not the only benefit

Hear from our academic staff

Gill Aitken is a senior lecturer and programme director of the MSc/Pg Dip/Pg Cert in Clinical Education. She believes that the advantages of online study can even outweigh those of on-campus degrees:

“Online degrees are not the same as on-campus programmes…in fact they can be even better. The flexible delivery allows people from all over the world to come together, share experiences, learning with and from each other, which leads to a vibrant and exciting learning environment.”

Gill AitkenMSc Clinical Education

Professionally-accredited online degrees

And finally, if you needed any more persuading about the true worth of online learning, it’s important to note that many of our degrees are accredited by professional bodies and organisations.

online business meeting

It’s extremely hard to earn an accreditation. These endorsements prove that our programmes are being recognised by external bodies for their high educational standards, outstanding course design and the relevance of their content to a professional setting.

  • 8 of our masters programmes are delivered in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons, while two are delivered with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
  • The Master of Public Health degree has been validated by the Agency for Public Health Education Accreditation (APHEA).
  • The online MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour has been accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).

We really hope that this blog post has helped to successfully dispel the myth that online degrees aren’t ‘real’. In actual fact, online programmes at the University of Edinburgh are exactly the same as traditional degrees, with all of the added benefits that flexible online learning brings.

If you’d like further information on our full range of degree programmes, then please visit the University of Edinburgh's Online Learning homepage. 

Online Learning at the University of Edinburgh


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