Online degrees sound almost too good to be true: you can learn from absolutely anywhere and take courses in whatever interests you, all for an affordable tuition price. If you’re wondering whether online colleges and universities are a smart investment, you aren’t alone.

It’s easy to be skeptical about online degrees. But they’re incredibly important, offering you an affordable, easy way to earn your degree. Here’s what makes online degrees a smart, valuable investment.

Online Degrees Are Offered By Top Colleges

Most online degree programs are backed by well-known universities and colleges, making them equal to degrees earned on-campus.

According to The Edification, many respected universities are adding online degrees and courses to their education options. These colleges simply adapt their traditional on-campus courses, creating an online equivalent for any bachelor, master, or Phd program in a vast selection of fields. From business to political science to social work, you can earn a degree in any subject online.

And some of the most popular universities in the U.S. offer online degrees. U.S. News writes that full four- or two-year graduate and undergraduate online programs are offered at schools like Ohio State University, Arizona State University, and University of North Carolina.

Online Degrees Are Becoming Students’ Preferred Choice

Each year, millions of students choose to take online classes instead of spending their days sitting in a classroom. And this ever-increasing trend is making online classes the preferred way for students to learn.

The Pew Research Center found that 89 percent of degree-granting institutions in the United States offer online courses. And the Babson Survey Research Group writes that more than 6 million students took at least one online course in 2011.

Today, it’s even more common that students pick online coursework instead of traditional classroom learning. With the largest colleges and universities offering online degree programs, the number of students earning online degrees will keep growing.

Online Degrees Are Equal to Traditional Degrees

If you assume online degrees aren’t equal to traditional on-campus degrees, you’ll be surprised to know that the two types of degrees are actually identical in many ways. Earning an online degree is as rigorous as on-campus programs, and the work you’ll do is very similar.

Every aspect of an online degree program is identical to an on-campus program. That’s because the professors at each college or university convert their classroom courses into online versions, keeping the majority of the content and coursework the same.

In fact, the very same university faculty members teach both online and in-person courses. And they’re responsible for creating the content used in all online classes and degree programs. The primary difference is that online students will learn via video or audio lectures, following along via slideshows or visual presentations. And you’ll most likely rely on e-books or downloadable textbooks for your assignments.

Online Degrees Are Affordable

The cost of earning a degree doesn’t have to be expensive – and that’s exactly why so many more students are opting to earn online degrees. An online program can save you significantly, slashing the price of everything from tuition to daily expenses.

First and foremost, all online students pay one affordable tuition rate. While physical colleges and universities charge different tuition amounts for in-state and out-of-state students, online colleges offer all students the same price.

On top of this, you won’t have to spend money to commute to class. There are no parking fees, no fuel expenses, and no need to pay for on-campus housing. You also won’t be charged common campus fees, like lab and activity fees, since you aren’t using any campus amenities.

And you can even take advantage of financial aid at an online college. Online students are still eligible for the exact same financial aid options, including scholarships and grants, which can help you reduce your costs and make your degree even more affordable.

Employers Respect Online Degrees

Because online colleges offer classes and degrees that are equal to traditional on-campus degree programs, you can be 100 percent confident that, if you attend an accredited university or college online program, employers will respect your degree.

There’s proof that employers don’t mind online degrees: a survey conducted by Excelsior College and Zogby proved that 83 percent of CEOS and executives think an online degree is just as credible as those earned through on-campus programs.

Companies are only interested in whether or not you earned your degree from an accredited program. Companies in every industry want employees with online degrees – and the name of the school you chose can also help to prove just how credible your college education is.

Consider an Online Degree for Your Future

Online degrees are affordable and accessible, allowing absolutely anyone to earn their degree on their time. And you don’t need to give up any of your current responsibilities to fit education into your life.

The key to finding the right program is doing your research. It’s important to look into each online program you’re interested in. Search online to see if these schools offer the subjects or majors you need, and what’s included in the degree program. You should also compare tuition costs and see what students have to say about the coursework before making a decision.

Doing your homework and thoroughly researching your future degree program is the first step towards success. Once you find the right program, you’ll be well on your way to earning your degree.