Home » Online Classes » Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes

Traditional campus coursesWith so many universities offering degrees online, more and more students are comparing online classes vs. traditional classes.

You’ve heard the basic arguments from both sides. If you are organized and a self-starter, then online classes are right for you.

Well, maybe that’s true.

Maybe it’s not.

You don’t have to be hyper-organized to excel in online classes any more than you have to be a social butterfly to do well in a traditional setting. Any student, given the right motivation, can do well in an online class.

Online classes vs. traditional classes – Which is better?

Online classes have a very different way of educating students than a more traditional college campus course.

But that doesn’t mean that one method is superior to the other.

The real question is: which delivery method is right for YOU?

What is an online class like?

In “most” cases, online classes are asynchronous. You can log-in anytime and from anywhere to complete your work and participate in classroom activities, just as long as you complete all your work by the required deadlines.

Traditional classesYou have got to love that kind of freedom.

Unless you let your schedule get away from you — and that’s the danger with online classes. Not whether or not they are superior or inferior to traditional classes, but whether or not, given your current schedule (i.e. distractions), you are able to maintain sufficient focus to complete your assignments on time.

Does this mean you have to be OCD and schedule every moment of your life around your classes? Absolutely not.

But it might help if you set a reminder on your iPhone to post to the discussion board by midnight on Friday.

Getting started

At many universities, when you log into the online portal to access your classes, you will be able to view or listen to lectures pertaining to the subject course matter. This simulates the feeling of sitting in a lecture hall, without the dozens or hundreds of students. Students can all stop, rewind, and fast forward the lectures to take down certain important notes.

Another difference with online classes vs. traditional classes is that most of online courses are asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to be online at the same time as your instructor and other students.

online classes vs traditional classesOther methods of presenting material to online students often include completing assigned readings in a textbook or participating in online discussion boards and forums. These types of educational delivery systems do not require a set day or time to access the coursework, since there is no form of “live” lecture or presentation given by the faculty.

With this style of distance learning, your instructor will provide the materials, homework, tests, and lectures, all of which can be accessed at any time before the due date.

Assignment Modules

Typically, an online class has defined modules, typically one week, that begins on Monday and ends on Sunday. During this period, students are required to view lectures, read assigned chapters in the textbook, participate in assigned discussions, and complete any other assignments due that week.


Instructors can be reached via email, chat, or phone should you need assistance, so help is never far away.


The best feature of online classes is flexibility. I have attended both traditional classes and online classes.

Personally, I prefer the online format. As an online student, I was able to work full-time and carry a full-time course load without any issues. Also, when I needed to log-in at midnight and do all my work, it was never a problem. Just as long as you turn in your assignments on time, time and place will not matter.

Popular Online Degree Programs

Although you can earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree online, by far, the most popular online degree programs are those offered at the bachelor’s level. For this reason, I’ve included a few of the more popular programs below:

  • Bachelor’s in Accounting
  • Bachelor’s in Psychology
  • Bachelor’s in Education
  • Bachelor’s in Business Administration
  • Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor’s in Finance
  • Bachelor’s in Information Technology
  • Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management

If the degree that interests you isn’t listed here, use our degree search and get matched with an accredited university offering degrees online.

Accelerated online degree plans

Quite a few colleges these days offer accelerated degree plans. Rather than going to business school for four years, for example, you may be able to find a program that allows you to graduate in less time.

You can also find a number of colleges that offer classes that last only eight weeks. Keep in mind, though, that these classes may fill up quickly, so enroll in one of these programs as soon as possible if you decide that’s the route you want to take.

Universities offering accelerated 8-week online classes:

  • Post University
  • Liberty University
  • Walden University


This discussion would not be complete if I didn’t touch on the legitimacy of online classes vs. traditional classes.

We’ve all heard opinions one way or another, but the truth is, if you enroll in online classes offered by a regionally accredited university, your degree will in no way differ from the students who attended that very same university on-campus.

In fact, dozens of national universities ranked in the Top 100 by U.S. News are offering degree programs online. Even the Ivy League has started to join in with universities like Columbia offering Master’s programs in Engineering online.

Taking your classes online is increasingly becoming a part of mainstream education – most colleges, in fact, offer at least one course online.

So, when deciding between online classes vs. traditional classes, remember that the question is not one of superiority or inferiority, it’s a matter of personal preference and learning style.

Leave a Reply