Should I List Online Courses Separately from My Degree?


The Rise of Online Education

Online education has become an integral part of modern learning. With the flexibility and accessibility it offers, more and more individuals are turning to online courses and degrees to advance their knowledge and career prospects. As this trend continues to grow, job seekers often wonder how best to showcase their online education on their resumes.

Importance of Properly Showcasing Online Learning

Effectively highlighting your online education can significantly impact your job search. Whether through individual courses or complete degrees, the way you present this information can demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning, adaptability, and expertise in specific areas.

Objective of the Article

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on whether and how to list online courses separately from your degree on your resume. By understanding the benefits, drawbacks, and best practices, you can make informed decisions that enhance your resume and improve your job prospects.

Understanding Online Education and Degrees

Definition of Online Degrees

Online degrees are comprehensive educational programs offered by accredited institutions that can be completed remotely. These degrees are equivalent to traditional on-campus degrees in terms of curriculum, academic rigor, and recognition.

Types of Online Courses

Online courses can range from short-term classes focused on specific skills to extensive programs that may take several months to complete. They are offered by universities, specialized platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity, and various professional organizations.

Difference Between Online Courses and Online Degrees

While online degrees are full-fledged academic programs culminating in a diploma or degree, online courses are typically shorter and may or may not lead to certification. Both can be valuable, but their place on your resume might differ depending on your career goals and the relevance of the content to your desired job.

Benefits of Listing Online Courses Separately

Highlighting Specific Skills

Listing online courses separately allows you to emphasize specific skills and knowledge areas you have developed. This can be particularly useful if the courses are highly relevant to the job you are applying for.

Demonstrating Continuous Learning

Including online courses on your resume shows that you are committed to continuous learning and professional development. It signals to employers that you are proactive about staying current in your field.

Showcasing Specialized Knowledge

If you have taken online courses that cover specialized topics not included in your formal degree program, listing them separately can help showcase your unique expertise and interests.

Drawbacks of Listing Online Courses Separately

Potential for Overloading the Resume

Listing too many online courses can make your resume look cluttered and overwhelming. It’s important to strike a balance and ensure that only the most relevant courses are included.

Risk of Perceived Redundancy

If the online courses you list overlap significantly with your degree coursework, they might be seen as redundant. This can dilute the impact of both your degree and the courses.

Confusing Employers

Some employers might be unfamiliar with certain online education platforms or the value of the courses you’ve taken. It’s important to clearly communicate the relevance and credibility of these courses.

When to List Online Courses Separately

Complementing a Traditional Degree

If your traditional degree lacks specific courses that are highly relevant to the job you’re applying for, listing online courses separately can complement your degree and fill in gaps.

Relevant to the Job Applied For

When online courses are directly related to the job description and required skills, listing them separately can highlight your preparedness and suitability for the role.

Acquired from Prestigious Institutions

Courses from well-known universities or recognized platforms can add significant value to your resume. If you have completed courses from institutions like Harvard, MIT, or Stanford, listing them separately can enhance your credentials.

How to List Online Courses Separately

Creating a Dedicated Section

Consider creating a separate section on your resume titled “Relevant Online Courses” or “Professional Development.” This allows you to clearly highlight your online learning without overwhelming other sections of your resume.

Formatting Tips

Use a consistent format for listing online courses. Include the course title, institution or platform, and the date of completion. For example:

  • Introduction to Data Science, Coursera, University of Washington, Completed May 2021

Examples and Templates

Here’s an example of how you can format this section on your resume:

Relevant Online Courses:

  • Machine Learning, Coursera, Stanford University, Completed June 2021
  • Digital Marketing Specialization, Coursera, University of Illinois, Completed August 2020
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Prep, LinkedIn Learning, Completed March 2021

Integrating Online Courses with Your Degree

Blending Courses with Degree Information

If you prefer not to list courses separately, you can integrate them into your degree section. Mention specific online courses alongside your degree to highlight relevant skills.

Highlighting Projects and Practical Applications

Describe projects or practical applications related to your online courses. This provides context and shows how you’ve applied the knowledge gained from these courses.

Balancing Detail with Brevity

While it’s important to highlight relevant online courses, avoid overloading your resume with too much detail. Be selective and concise to maintain a clean and professional look.

Effective Resume Formatting

Chronological Format

A chronological resume format lists your work experience and education in reverse chronological order. This format is best if you have a strong and consistent work history.

Functional Format

A functional resume focuses on your skills and abilities rather than your chronological work history. This format can be effective if you want to highlight specific skills gained from online courses.

Combination Format

A combination resume merges elements of both chronological and functional formats. It allows you to highlight skills and experience while providing a timeline of your work history.

Showcasing Online Learning in the Cover Letter

Mentioning Key Courses

In your cover letter, mention key online courses that are particularly relevant to the job you’re applying for. This reinforces the skills and knowledge highlighted on your resume.

Relating Learning to Job Requirements

Explain how the online courses you’ve taken relate to the job requirements and how they have prepared you for the role. This helps demonstrate your suitability for the position.

Expressing Enthusiasm for the Field

Show your enthusiasm for continuous learning and professional development. Mentioning your online courses can underscore your commitment to staying current in your field.

Using LinkedIn to Highlight Online Courses

Adding Courses to Your Profile

Add your online courses to your LinkedIn profile under the “Licenses & Certifications” or “Education” sections. This increases the visibility of your skills to potential employers and connections.

Endorsements and Recommendations

Seek endorsements and recommendations from instructors or peers who can vouch for your skills and knowledge. These add credibility to your online learning achievements.

Networking Through Course Alumni

Connect with alumni from the same online courses or programs. Networking with peers can lead to new opportunities and valuable professional relationships.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Listing Too Many Courses

Avoid listing every online course you’ve ever taken. Focus on the most relevant and impactful courses to keep your resume concise and targeted.

Including Irrelevant Courses

Only include courses that are directly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Irrelevant courses can dilute the overall impact of your resume.

Lack of Specificity

Be specific about the skills and knowledge gained from each course. Vague descriptions can make it difficult for employers to understand the value of your online learning.

Enhancing Online Courses with Certifications

Earning Certifications for Completed Courses

Whenever possible, earn certifications for the online courses you complete. Certifications add credibility and demonstrate your commitment to professional development.

Adding Certifications to Your Resume

Include certifications in a dedicated section on your resume. Mention the certification title, issuing organization, and date of completion.

Benefits of Professional Certification

Professional certifications can enhance your qualifications and make you more competitive in the job market. They provide tangible proof of your skills and expertise.

Employer Perspectives on Online Courses

Changing Attitudes Towards Online Learning

Employer attitudes towards online learning have evolved significantly. Many now recognize the value of online courses, especially when they are from reputable institutions.

Value Placed on Specific Skills

Employers often value specific skills gained from online courses. Highlighting these skills can enhance your resume and demonstrate your preparedness for the job.

Insights from Hiring Managers

Hiring managers may have varying perspectives on online courses. Some may place significant value on them, while others may focus more on practical experience. Understanding these perspectives can help you tailor your resume accordingly.

Case Studies: Success Stories

Individuals Who Benefited from Listing Online Courses

Share success stories of individuals who have benefited from listing online courses on their resumes. These examples can provide inspiration and practical insights.

Examples from Different Industries

Provide examples from various industries to show how online courses can be valuable across different fields. Highlight specific courses and the impact they had on these individuals’ careers.

Lessons Learned

Summarize the key lessons learned from these success stories. This can provide practical advice for job seekers looking to enhance their resumes with online courses.

Adapting Strategies for Different Careers

Tech and IT Roles

For tech and IT roles, emphasize technical skills and certifications. Highlight relevant online courses that demonstrate your expertise in specific technologies or programming languages.

Healthcare and Nursing

In healthcare and nursing, focus on courses that provide practical skills and knowledge relevant to patient care and medical practices. Certifications and continuing education are particularly important in this field.

Business and Management

For business and management roles, highlight courses that cover key concepts such as leadership, project management, and financial analysis. Showcase any practical applications or projects completed during these courses.

Creative and Design Fields

In creative and design fields, emphasize courses that develop your technical skills and creativity. Include a portfolio of your work to demonstrate the application of your online learning.

Preparing for Interviews

Discussing Online Learning Confidently

Be prepared to discuss your online learning experiences confidently in interviews. Highlight the benefits of online education and how it has prepared you for the role.

Relating Courses to Job Duties

Relate the content of your online courses to the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. Provide examples of how you have applied this knowledge in practical scenarios.

Handling Skepticism

If an interviewer expresses skepticism about online learning, address their concerns by emphasizing the quality and rigor of the courses, the reputation of the institutions, and the practical skills you have gained.


Summary of Key Points

Effectively showcasing your online courses on your resume can enhance your qualifications and make you a more competitive candidate. Whether you list them separately or integrate them with your degree, focus on relevance, specificity, and clarity.

Final Thoughts on Listing Online Courses

Online courses are a valuable addition to your resume, demonstrating your commitment to continuous learning and professional development. By following the strategies outlined in this article, you can ensure that your online education is presented in the best possible light.

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