Should I Pursue a Traditional Degree or Will a MOOC Be Sufficient?

In this day of age, we all know that in the modern economy we must continue learning if we want to be successful. Are formal degrees like a Master’s or Ph.D. sufficient and a worthwhile investment? Does one target certain certifications or perhaps partake in a self-learning initiative by signing up for an online opportunity, such as a MOOC?

In the past years, over 30 million people globally have enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses, which are offered by Coursera, EdX, and various platforms.

What is MOOC?


A massive online open course (MOOC) is a Web-based distance-learning program that is designed for the participation of larger numbers of geographically dispersed students. Unlike the traditional classroom environment, MOOCs present a new fashion of taking classes – one that’s considered the future of classrooms as technology advances. They are more accessible, flexible, affordable, and liberal.

A MOOC may be structured like a college or university course syllabus or may be slightly less structured. However, MOOC’s don’t necessarily offer academic credits, they seek to provide education that may enable certification, further studies, and employment. If you have ever heard of a successful person who was self-taught and wanted to be just like them, MOOCs may be just the thing for you. Of course, you won’t necessarily learn everything all by yourself, but the lecturers at these platforms are ideal for persons who would like to learn from home, or alternative locations that you would prefer not leaving.

An adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business says that he has taught several classes for degree programs along with developing a number of online courses, so he is familiar with the kind of programming suitable for professional needs. MOOCs are usually taught by individuals with years of experience in a particular field, with the desire to share this knowledge with students through this new approach to both learning and teaching.

She breaks down three questions that will help individuals decide their next educational move.


What’s the accepted standard in your company or industry?

Fields that require an advanced degree, such as a Master’s or Ph.D. then you have your answer. However, in several situations, professionals may face a roadblock, which might be more ambiguous. A situation where having an MBA may be considered an “asset”, but it is not a requirement for the particular position. So if a certain accreditation isn’t a formal requirement, it might be implicitly accepted as such. Therefore, it is imperative to thoroughly understand the norms and standard of your particular industry or organization. It’s all really a matter of personal preference. It may be due to financial reasons, or the lack of sufficient time to both work and take classes, or you may be one of those people who just can’t multitask successfully. It’s understandable since MOOCs provide a way of being more flexible and affordable in terms of time and money.

What Specific Skills do you want to foster?

Former degree programs thrived at general education, for example, an MBA, will equip you with the essential overall business skills, leadership skills, financial operations, and marketing strategies. However, if you are looking to refine or specialize specific skills, rather than getting a broad general overview, you may prefer a targeted education-training program or an online course like, DevOps Foundation Certification Training. A ship without a captain will either hit something and sink, or end up a shipwreck on some island, and the captain of a ship who lacks a sense of direction is bound to lead his ship to one of the earlier mentioned conditions. MOOCs demand self-discipline. They are only beneficial if one is sure of what one wants, and where one wants to go. It’s only from the assurance of what you want to do can you decisively determine the course that will best suit your particular situation and help you grow in the direction you want. A little research will be necessary to determine what you really want to do, and which MOOC has the best professor, or person, or teacher to help you develop in the area of interest.

What are the best learning methods for you?

Everyone learns differently, it is vital to understand how you learn best, which methods are more effective for you. For example, you might be a self-motivated, disciplined individual, in which case an online course with limited to no interaction with professors or other students might be best for you. Whereas, some individuals learn best in a classroom environment with other students and live discussions. Understanding your ideal learning environment will allow you to make better choices. Furthermore, one of the advantages of MOOCs is that you don’t have to get stuck with a particular professor in taking a particular course. In the event, you find yourself with a professor whom you feel is just not making sense to you, you can freely look for someone else who delivers the knowledge you are seeking in a fashion that’s more to your taste and style. One of the things that MOOCs bring to the table that you won’t necessarily find in an actual classroom environment is freedom. You choose your MOOC, you choose your professors, and above all, you choose when you want to take your lessons.

As the economy continues to get competitive, it is quite clear that we continue learning and stay up to date. By asking yourself these important questions, you can determine which educational path will yield the greatest return on investment for your career.


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