Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mark Piwinsky, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Beth Leidman, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Theresa Calderone, Ed.D.


Despite the rapid growth of online learning and student enrollment at for-profit colleges, previous research has found that employers are wary of job applicants with credentials earned from these sources. This study compared the attitudes of health care recruiters toward four different RN-to-BSN degree options based on the method of instruction (classroom, online) and the type of college (traditional, for-profit). A sample of 116 health care recruiters from across the United States completed an online survey. The study revealed that there were significant differences in the perceived advantage in the hiring process, credibility, concerns about credentials and likelihood to recommend hiring. Applicants with RN-to-BSN degrees from traditional colleges and via classroom instruction were clearly most favored and those with degrees earned through online instruction at for-profit colleges were perceived the least favorably. An online degree from a traditional college was determined to be more acceptable than an online degree from a for-profit college but still less acceptable than a degree earned through classroom instruction at a traditional college. The implication of these findings is that the return on education for students earning college degrees online or from for-profit colleges may be inhibited by employer perceptions regarding the quality of credentials earned in these environments.