Online and On-campus learning: Which option is best for learning today?

Online and On-campus learning are both mode of learning in today’s society. The former allows you to combine interactive online teaching through video conferences and the use of electronics resources while the latter involves face-to-face periods on campus.

Today, more over 6 million students are enrolled in at least one online course, as one recent distance education study shows, and although this format represents a different experience than the on-campus schooling, it is an option that continues to gain traction, especially among non-traditional adult learners and a busy workforce.

However, with this increased popularity, a question has risen on whether online education is the best option for  learning today or not.

The decision in choosing between online and on-campus learning is one that should be made intentionally. While each option can equip you for success, one learning style may suit you better than the other.

Here, we compare what it’s like to be in an online and on-campus learning environment to help you decide which option is best for you

Online Study
On-Campus Study
No set class times

Many online programs do not feature set class times. In these programs, students can access videos, presentations, and other course content at their convenience.

Set class times

On-campus learning programs require students to attend classes at set times, offering less schedule flexibility than many online programs.

Discussions and Assignments

Online programs may feature live or ongoing discussions that require student participation. Additionally, online students must turn in assignments by specific due,

Discussions and Assignments

Many On-campus learning programs require students to participate in discussions as part of their grade. Additionally, students must turn in assignments by set due dates.


Rolling Start

Some schools offer rolling admissions, meaning students can begin classes on one of multiple start dates throughout the year.

Semester or Quarterly Start

On-campus learning programs usually follow a semester or quarterly schedule, giving students only a few start dates to choose from.

Electronic Material

Nearly all online courses use digital learning materials, including e-textbooks, websites, library resources, software, and digital/interactive exercises. Fees for these materials are generally minimal compared to standard textbook fees.

Standard Textbooks

Many On-campus learning programs require students to purchase or rent textbooks, which can be very costly. Some traditional programs are beginning to use electronic course materials in lieu of textbooks, which usually saves students money.


Provided the school holds accreditation, online programs offer the same credibility and quality as on-campus programs.


Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, student learning outcomes, and academic rigor.


Online students do not experience as much structure as on-campus students, which requires self-motivation and self-discipline.

Clubs and Campus Activities

Some schools reserve clubs and events for on-campus students.


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