Is an Online Degree Worth It?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

India recently updated its stance on online degrees and now allows certain universities to offer fully online degree programmes. Find out if an online degree is worth pursuing.

[Featured Image] A student sits at her desk at home studying for an online degree using her laptop and notebook.

Indian learners say online degree programmes provide a flexible way to obtain job skills at an affordable cost.

Recent policy changes in India have allowed learners to get an online degree. In 2020, education officials allowed the country's top 100 universities to offer full-fledged online degrees, and now many learners are exploring their options. 

Online degree programmes in India

While online degree programmes started in the US back in 1989, Indian universities were only allowed to offer 20 percent of a degree programme online due to concerns over quality and lack of oversight. Recently, the policies that govern online education have started to shift.

To raise enrollment rates, India now allows higher educational institutions to offer online degrees if they have a score of 3.26 or above from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council or are ranked in the top 100 universities in India according to the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two of the last three years. 

Online degrees offered in India are non-technical and restricted areas like law, engineering, agriculture, or medical degrees.

Indian universities that offer online degrees

The University Grants Commission (UGC), a branch that oversees the standard of university education, maintains a list of Indian universities that offer online degrees. A few examples and the types of degrees they offer include the following:

Higher Education InstitutionOnline Degree Programme
Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies, HaryanaBachelor of Computer Applications
Bachelor of Business Administration
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) - Economics
Bachelor of Commerce
Master of Commerce
Amity University, Uttar PradeshBachelor of Social Work
Bachelor of Commerce (General)
Bachelor of Arts (Journalism and Mass Communication
Master of Arts Public Policy & Governance
Master of Social Work
Master of Arts (English)
Central Sanskrit University, DelhiShastri (Vyakarana in Distance Mode)
Shastri (Sahityam)
Acharya Phalitjyotisha
Acharya (Sahityam)
Acharya (Vyakaranam)
Mizoram University, MizoramMaster of Arts (Psychology)
MSW (Social Work)
Master of Arts (Education)
Andhra University, Andhra PradeshBachelor of Commerce (Accountancy)
Master of Arts (Sociology)
Bachelor of Arts (History, Economics, Politics)
Bachelor of Commerce
Master of Business Administration
Master of Computer Applications
Master of Commerce
Master of Science (Psychology)
Master of Arts (Political Science)
Master of Arts (Human Resource Management)
Master of Arts (Journalism and Mass Communication)
Master of Arts (Economics)
Master of Arts (English)

International online degree programmes

India has recently relaxed its stance on international degrees but will not accept degrees from international online programmes. The UGC will accept an in-person degree as long as it's proven equivalent to a degree programme in India. As a potential learner, you'll likely need to apply for an equivalence certificate and use it during your application process.

The UGC is responsible for evaluating whether or not international degrees are valid in India. It will review the application and make a decision. 

However, the relaxed guidelines do not include online degrees from foreign universities. Equivalence certificates are only available for degrees obtained through in-person instruction, not online or distance learning. 

India does allow learners to enroll in international online programmes, but the credits earned can't be applied to a job in the country. That may be okay if you plan to live and work outside of India. But if you plan to earn a living in India, seeking an online degree through an Indian institution would be your better option.  

Is an online degree worth it to Indian employers?

Employers usually acknowledge the programs as the country allows universities to offer online degrees. While traditional degrees from a brick-and-mortar school have been the norm, experts say employers will evolve with the new education opportunities and likely explore the university's accreditation, courses attended, and skills obtained to vet incoming employees.

If you're wondering how to market your online degree to employers, emphasise the rigour of your programme, talk about specific skills you've learned, and discuss the self-motivation it takes to complete an online degree.

Benefits of an online degree

Online degrees are beneficial. A degree virtually means no commuting to campus, allowing learners to gain an education from anywhere. Additional benefits include the following:


  • Learners obtain job-readiness skills for in-demand positions

  • Online degrees can be more affordable than traditional universities in India

  • Learners can live anywhere and access the tools they need online

  • Programmes are usually self-paced

  • Learners aren't locked in one stream and can cross over based on interests

Potential drawbacks of an online degree

While online degrees do offer advantages, drawbacks exist, too. Many drawbacks stem from online degrees breaking the traditional brick-and-mortar college experience. Since it's a relatively new concept in the country, disadvantages may include the following:

  • Some employers may be hesitant to embrace them since they stray from tradition

  • Learners must ensure the online programme stems from a valid Indian-based university

  • Only a small portion of Indian universities offer online degrees

How to find an online degree programme that's right for you

Explore your options to find the right online degree programme in India. Consider these tips to find the programme that's best for you:

1. Look for credible opportunities offered by universities in India.

Review the university, courses, and credibility. Check the UGC website, which publishes a full list of approved higher education institutions (HEIs) that can offer online degrees for each academic year. The UGC site lists prohibited fields, like engineering, medicine, and architecture, that cannot be taught via an online degree programme. 

2. Identify programmes that can help you grow. 

Consider the kind of programme you want. You might want to pursue a bachelor's degree online to gain job readiness skills in a particular field or get a master's degree that focuses on a specific skill that could be of interest if you're trying to pursue a promotion or change career fields. Select an area you're interested in, whether business, communication, human resources, social work, banking, financial services, or other fields. 

3. Review costs and duration.

Programmes can differ in cost and duration. Identify similar opportunities and write down how much each costs and how long each takes to complete. Compare your options and see which makes the most sense for your budget and daily routine. 

Getting started with Coursera

A recent policy change in India allows universities to offer online degrees, which learners see as a flexible and affordable way to gain job skills. Choosing from the available online programmes can provide a valuable new educational option.

If you're undecided about the degree course you'd like to pursue, consider taking shorter online coursework on Coursera to explore the topics that interest you most, such as computer applications, business, or sociology. You might also prepare to launch your career within six months with a Professional Certificate, such as the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate or the IBM AI Developer Professional Certificate.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.