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ERIC Number: ED552957
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 147
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3030-1473-4
Adult Graduates' Perceptions of the Value of a Bachelor's Degree Earned Online from a Private Research University: A Qualitative Case Study
Hagan, Eric J.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Drexel University
This qualitative case study examined the life impact of earning an online Bachelor's degree as an adult from a large private East Coast research university. As the number of adult students and the popularity of online learning continue to increase, there is a need for improved understanding of the value of online degree programs for adult students. This study was designed to answer the following research questions: How do adult Bachelor's degree completers describe the impact of earning their degree? What larger contextual and environmental conditions affect these graduates' perceptions of value? The primary source of data was personal interviews of 24 recent adult graduates (age 30 or older at time of graduation). The themes that arose out of an inductive analysis of the interview data formed the findings of the study. Study participants experienced their degree programs as rigorous and stated that online learning provided them with essential time and place flexibility that enabled them to complete a Bachelor's degree. Participants described outcomes including career benefits, a sense of accomplishment, increased confidence and self-esteem, family benefits, and improved knowledge and skills. Many participants continued on to graduate school or plan to do so. Participants perceived that the reputation and prestige of the research university provided significant incremental value. Some participants described a stigma associated with online learning, but felt that the academic reputation of the research university reduced or eliminated any negative perception that might otherwise be associated with online learning. The findings of this study are consistent with previous findings of positive outcomes for adult college graduates. This study extends the previous body of research by suggesting that the online delivery modality does not negatively affect the outcomes experienced by adult Bachelor's degree graduates of a research university. Recommendations include continued development of adult-oriented online Bachelor's degree completion programs in research institutions as well as additional research to determine whether the findings of this study hold true in other higher education contexts and to determine the extent to which student characteristics affect the outcomes of earning a degree in adulthood. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A