Which One Should You Choose: Online Degrees or Short-Term Online Courses?

Which One Should You Choose: Online Degrees or Short-Term Online Courses?

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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Jan 15, 2024 17:28 IST

Online degrees provide a well-organized and thorough education acknowledged by both employers and educational institutions. On the other hand, short-term courses stand as a potent resource for gaining targeted skills and expertise, particularly in scenarios where pursuing a formal degree might not be feasible or required. In this blog, we will help you decide which one to choose, online degree or short term online courses. Read on!


Both online degrees and short-term online courses and certifications have their own merit. Online degrees allow you to build your expertise and advance your career, while short-term courses can equip you with a specific skill set required for a specific job role. 

In India, UGC-DEB-accredited universities and colleges offer online degrees, and they can lead to the same types of jobs and promotions as traditional on-campus degrees. Short-term online courses and certifications can also be a great way to learn new skills and advance your career. However, they do not typically lead to a degree.  

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Here is a table comparing online degrees and short-term online courses and certifications:

Characteristic Online Degree Short-term Online Courses
Duration 3-4 years Usually, a few weeks or months
Cost-effectiveness Expensive  Typically less expensive than an online degree
Accreditation Offered by accredited universities and colleges May or may not be accredited, but it features expert instructors from big companies.
Job prospects Can lead to the same types of jobs and promotions as traditional on-campus degrees May or may not lead to a degree, but it can help you learn new skills specific to the domain and advance your career.

If you’re considering pursuing an online education, you may wonder whether to get an online degree or take short-term courses. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the one that’s right for you is important.

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Online Degrees

Online degrees are accredited degrees that accredited universities and colleges offer. They offer the same academic rigour as traditional on-campus degrees and are recognized by employers worldwide.

Suppose you are a student living in a rural area and want to get a nursing degree from a recognized university. In such a scenario, taking up an online degree can be a good idea, thereby enhancing your career prospects and earning potential with a respected degree.

Here are some reasons why an online degree can benefit your career –

A Valuable Addition to Your Resume

An online degree from an accredited university is as valuable as a traditional one on your resume. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from BITS Pilani is one such example of an online degree program from a reputed university.

Many employers are now more open to hiring online graduates as they demonstrate the ability to learn independently and manage their time effectively.

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Gain Comprehensive Knowledge

Online degree programs typically offer a more comprehensive education than short-term courses. While short courses focus on specific skills, degrees often include a wider range of coursework that can help individuals develop a deeper understanding of the field, which can be valuable for career growth and adaptability.

Credibility and Long-Term Opportunities

While some technology jobs may prioritize skills over degrees, there are positions and industries where having a degree can be advantageous or even required for career advancement. 

An online degree, especially in engineering or a related field like computer science, can open doors to various opportunities, including management and leadership roles. The B.Tech. Engineering Technology by BITS-Pilani for working professionals delves into core subjects of engineering as well as principles of management.

An online degree can help you qualify for higher-level positions if you want to advance in your current field.

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Flexibility for Career Changes

An online degree in a non-technology field can provide the flexibility to transition into technology careers later in life if an individual’s interests or circumstances change. It offers a more versatile educational foundation than specialized short courses.

Foundation for Graduate Studies

If an individual is considering pursuing advanced degrees in the future (e.g., a master’s or Ph.D.), having a bachelor’s degree, even in a non-technology field, is often a prerequisite for admission to graduate programs.

Networking Opportunities

Online degree programs often provide opportunities to network with professors and fellow students, which can be valuable for building connections in the industry. Institutes offering these programs also offer Alumni status – a ticket to virtual networking events.

International Recognition

Online degrees from accredited institutions are often more universally acceptable than short-term courses, which can be particularly important for individuals looking to work abroad.

Now that you know the benefits of taking up an online degree, let’s take at some of its downsides –

  • Time-Consuming: Online degree programs can take several years to complete, requiring a significant time commitment.
  • Costly: They are more expensive than short-term courses, including tuition and other associated expenses.
  • Less Flexible: Online degrees often have set schedules and deadlines, which may not suit individuals with full-time jobs or other commitments.
  • Less Focused: They cover a wide range of topics, which might include coursework less relevant to your specific career goals.

Top Online Degree Programs

Listed below are some of the online degree programs offered by top Indian universities –

Short-Term Online Courses

A short-term online course is a course that is typically completed in a few weeks or months and is delivered online. 

Short-term online courses are a good option for people who want to learn new skills or update their existing skills quickly and affordably. They are also a good option for people working full-time or with other commitments, as they can be completed at the learner’s own pace and on their own schedule.

Let us check out some of the reasons why short-term online courses are good –

Let us check out some reasons short-term online courses are good. –

  • Quick Skill Acquisition: Short courses are designed to quickly teach specific skills or knowledge, making them ideal for skill enhancement. This is important for upskilling in demanding jobs where efficiency is crucial. Otherwise, the non-upskilling employee can be replaced with one trained in the latest developments in the domain, including AI, blockchain, etc. This is where a traditional degree may not help much.
  • Cost-Effective: They are often more affordable than degrees, making education accessible to a broader audience. Further, most short-term Coursera courses are free to enrol with full access to the course materials. To get a certificate and network with online peers, you must pay a nominal monthly amount. 
  • Flexibility: Short courses can be taken online, in-person, or through evening classes, accommodating various schedules. Most short-term online courses come with pre-recorded lectures that students can learn independently. Vendors, including NPTEL, feature instructors from the IITs providing short courses with pre-recorded lectures. The learner who works or is in college can log in and learn any time of the morning or evening. 
  • Career Advancement: They can help individuals switch careers or acquire specialized skills relevant to their current jobs. Besides, some short course providers, including FutureLearn, provide globally recognised CPDs (Continuous Professional Development) certificates upon completion. This is an incredible addition to your CV. 
  • Practical Skills: Short courses often focus on practical, hands-on skills immediately applicable to the workplace.

Now let us understand some of the downsides of taking short-term online courses – 

  • Lack of depth: Short-term online courses are typically designed to teach you the basics of a topic, but they may not provide the same level of depth as a degree course. 
  • Credibility: Some short courses may not be widely recognized or respected by employers or institutions.
  • No Degree: They do not result in a degree, which can limit your long-term career options in certain fields.

Top Vendors Offering Short-Term Online Courses


The notion of “better” between online degrees and short-term courses is subjective and highly dependent on individual goals and circumstances. 

However, the primary distinction lies in the certification and formal education an online degree provides compared to the focused skill acquisition of short-term courses.

Online degrees are often advantageous because they offer a structured and comprehensive education recognized by employers and institutions. However, short-term courses can also be highly valuable for acquiring specific skills and knowledge, especially when a formal degree may not be necessary or practical.

Ultimately, the “better” choice depends on career objectives, time availability, financial resources, and the industry or field. As you noted, practical experience and demonstrated expertise can be just as important, if not more so, than formal credentials in many contexts.

Employers often value education and practical skills, and individuals should make informed choices based on their unique circumstances and career goals.


Do multiple degrees equate to a better job?

Not necessarily. Having multiple degrees can give you a competitive advantage in the job market but does not guarantee a better job. A few factors can affect whether or not multiple degrees will lead to a better job: The type of degrees you have: Some degrees are more valuable in the job market than others. For example, a degree in engineering is likely more valuable than a degree in liberal arts. The relevance of your degrees to the job you are applying for: If you are applying for a job in a specific field, it is important to have relevant degrees. For example, if you are applying for a job in engineering, it is important to have a degree in engineering. Your work experience: Work experience is often more important to employers than education alone. If you have relevant work experience, you can get a good job even if you don't have multiple degrees.

Are online degree courses from Indian universities as valuable as traditional degree courses?

Yes, as long as these online degree programs are recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India and the Distance Education Bureau (DEB), they are as valuable as traditional degree courses. Online degree courses from Indian universities are also gaining recognition globally. Many international universities and employers now accept online degrees from accredited Indian universities.

How do employers in India perceive online degrees compared to short-term online courses when hiring candidates?

In India, the perception of online degrees is improving, especially for accredited institutions. However, employers may value traditional degrees more. Short-term online courses are often seen as valuable for skill enhancement and can make you more competitive in the job market, but they may not replace the need for a formal degree in some professions.

Can I combine online degrees and short-term courses to enhance my educational qualifications and skills in the Indian context?

Absolutely! Combining online degrees and short-term courses can be a strategic approach. Pursuing an online degree can provide you with a solid educational foundation, while short-term courses can help you gain specialized skills that are in demand in the job market. This combination can make you a well-rounded candidate with both formal education and practical expertise.

What factors should I consider when deciding between an online degree and short-term online courses in India?

When making your decision, consider factors such as your career goals, budget, time commitment, and the industry's demand for formal education versus specific skills. Assess your long-term objectives and how each option aligns with your aspirations. Additionally, research the reputation of institutions or platforms offering these programs to ensure they meet your educational needs.

About the Author
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio