In the most basic terms, the job of HR is to recruit and retain good employees. In a competitive business world, it takes a lot of effort to do it right. You want to attract the best people and you want to create a work environment and culture that keeps them engaged, happy, and productive so they stay with you as they grow and continue to contribute to the company’s success.
One way to do all of that is to include tuition reimbursement in your employee development and benefit plans. An advanced degree is a worthwhile investment that pays dividends to both the employee and the company, and you don’t have to be a big corporation to swing it.
Major players like Intel and Raytheon pay up to 100% of an employee’s grad school tuition, and many others like Bank of America and Apple give tuition assistance of a fixed amount – generally about $5,000 — a year. Whatever your organization can afford is all to the good.
Health insurance giant Cigna, for example, found that it saved $1.29 in recruiting costs and reduced turnover for every $1 it spent on tuition reimbursement. Participants were more likely to prove their value to the company and be promoted, and over three years of their degree completion earned an average of 43% more than co-workers who didn’t participate.
Of course you want your employees to be able to complete their advanced degrees without affecting the work they’re currently doing, which is why online programs are so in demand. Many fine schools offer online MBA programs and are designed for people who have already begun their business careers or are even well into them.
One question you might have is how an online master’s program compares to the education in a standard classroom setting. Do they both provide the same value?
Here are some ways they compare:
While courses may differ among different schools, there’s no difference in the subject matter of classroom and online courses offered by the same school. Generally, the same instructors teach the same curricula both online and in the classroom.
Most online programs provide an overall course outline of each subject but only allow access to actual content modules on a weekly or other basis. These modules typically contain reading and essay assignments and tests, as well as special projects and possibly also participation in discussion boards.
Most tests are designed with the understanding that students will have access to their study material, and while they’re not monitored, they’re often timed.
Now that university libraries and a wide world of research are available online, there’s no limit to the resources available to a student who isn’t on campus. As far as required books and study material, they would generally be the same for online and traditional students.
Most online graduate programs are offered asynchronously, which means that students are not required to log in on a specified day or at any particular time in order to access the coursework as long as it’s within the time frame of the study module. As opposed to synchronous programs requiring that everyone who’s enrolled is at it simultaneously, this kind of scheduling allows students to do the work when they’re best able, whether it’s before or after work, during lunch, or on the weekend.
Because there’s no commuting involved, of course, an online student also has more time to devote to actual coursework instead of spending that time hassling traffic getting to campus.
The one area where online degree programs don’t compare equally to study on a traditional campus is in offering regular and casual face-to-face interaction with the instructor and the other students. Many instructors offer video conferencing, though, and there are discussion boards and other means of connecting with peers. Also, given that students can live half a continent away from the college campus, some universities have satellite facilities in different cities that offer in-person guest lectures and opportunities for local participants to get together.
Surveys have shown that whether coursework is delivered online or in a classroom, with the same instructor and the same materials, there is little to no difference in how students perceive the course relative to how much they learned, or how they perform on exams.
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