Pyjamas Learning: Pursuing Online Degrees in Canada

Even a decade ago, the idea of attaining a university degree online was too good to be true and usually indicated a scam nearby. Now, online degrees in Canada have become legitimately attainable and have made lives easier for mature students, professionals, parents and other students who wouldn’t have been able to make their education possible otherwise. When it comes to earning a degree online Canada is ripe with schools that can help most students in pursuit of most degrees.

Of course, there are still factors to consider when pursuing an online degree.

The first indication that an online university course is legitimate is if the application process is the same as non-distance learning universities in Canada. If one cannot apply to the school through that province’s online university application web site, then the university is not a recognized institution, so one’s “degree” may not hold much water. They should still have to acquire their high school transcripts and complete any program-specific tests or tasks.

The next sign that the school may not be legitimate is the list of programs the school claims to offer. Though a huge number of degree programs are available online, some university degrees are not as easily attained via distance learning; most degrees that require a practicum component, lab sessions or experiential learning placements cannot translate well into an online learning environment. Most Canadian online universities do not offer bachelor’s degrees in engineering as engineering students have to spend hours in labs – however, this rule does not apply to a diploma in engineering technologies. A general bachelor’s degree in science may be studied, but specific studies such as chemistry and biology, again, require more hands-on practice. BEd (Bachelor’s of Education) degrees are also unattainable through distance learning since all candidates must complete a practicum, and in-person tutelage is especially important for those in this field.

If an applicant comes across an online school that offers a bachelor’s degree in engineering or education, sadly they may be barking up the wrong tree.

Athabasca University in Alberta is one of the most famed Canadian universities for providing a variety of online degree courses, both undergraduate and post-graduate. The biggest variety of online degrees at Athabasca lies in the school’s faculty of arts, which offers almost every imaginable arts degree from English to women and gender studies. The school offers the option of four-year honours degrees or three-year “concentration” degrees, meaning a general bachelor of arts with a concentration in that field of study.

Some may argue that the school offers more than many traditional Canadian schools, which put much of their stock into their largest programs and eliminate or trim down smaller programs in favour of these more popular fields of study – for example, Wilfrid Laurier University is known largely as a “business school” and University of Waterloo is regarded as an “engineering school.” Due to the nature of distance learning, Athabasca’s courses all receive the same amount of resources.
Studying at an online university will obviously present a unique set of challenge not found in traditional, in-class study. Administration for online schools must be top-notch in order to best address students’ needs despite not being there in person. However, students must apply a great deal of independence and discipline in their learning. Most online learning programs assign tutors to students, but without the regular in-person instruction, motivation or organization may suffer.

There are a lot of things to consider and a lot of potential scams to watch out for, but there are still plenty of amazing online degree programs Canada has to offer.

One Response to Pyjamas Learning: Pursuing Online Degrees in Canada
  1. Claudia
    June 8, 2012 | 6:57 am

    I really like reading news about Universities in canada. Thanks for that informative post! Best wishes, Claudia.