Special Reports

The Difference Between Nonprofit And For-Profit Online Degree Programs


With the rise in popularity of online education, students can find several programs to choose from. One of the choices that they will have to make is whether to go with a nonprofit or for-profit online degree program.

Similar to traditional universities and colleges, there is a difference between nonprofit and for-profit online degree programs. While the term for-profit has generated a negative perception for most people, Money Crashers noted that this type of school does sell education but does have a goal of providing quality to create a positive return, also known as profit, for the company's shareholders.

According to U.S. News, some students feel that taking a for-profit online degree program seems risky. Matt Warner, a 30-year-old cybersecurity and information assurance master's student at the nonprofit, online Western Governors University, admitted that he has seen several reports on how for-profit schools base their incomes on its students' ability to get financial aid.

He added that he is personally doubtful about for-profits. However, Warner suggested that students who plan to take up a for-profit online degree program should focus on other factors such as the cost as well as the degrees offered.

Carlos Ramirez, on the other hand, is enrolled in an online doctoral program in health administration at for-profit University of Phoenix. He earned his bachelor's degree and master's at the school and admitted that he was satisfied with the flexibility and student support it provided.

Karen Pedersen, chief knowledge officer for the Online Learning Consortium, noted that the difference is actually less about the sector and more on how students feel that the institution meets their needs as well as how the school keeps up with the best practices and prepares their faculty to teach in a non-traditional learning setting.

For-profit institutions have continued to face backlash for their dubious recruitment practices. While employers are currently becoming more receptive of applicants with for-profit, online degrees, there continues to be a stigma surrounding it.

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