Skills Gained While Earning a Degree Online

This post was written by Michelle Curtis, her background is in nonprofit work and she plans to take the skills that she has learned at USC Rossier to the classroom. Learn more about Michelle here.

Earning your degree through USC Rossier Online will help you hone skills that may go uncultivated in a traditional brick-and-mortar program. The skills discussed here are only a small representation of the growth you will experience throughout the program.

Technology Skills

In a brick-and-mortar program, you need technology to write papers, produce PowerPoint presentations and occasionally email professors and classmates. However, technology is a focal point in the USC Rossier programs delivered online. This shouldn’t scare potential researchers and students from the program because it is something you learn along the way with your peers and teachers. Some of the skills I perfected involved using Skype, utilizing Adobe Connect to host and attend meetings, and converting and compressing files. While I may have learned this had I attended an on-campus program, I would not have used it every day and thus perfected it. It is important to keep in mind that learning 21st century technology to attend classes, record and edit videos, and submit papers would not have been a smooth process if it had not been for my peers sharing tips on using the technology properly.

Building Relationships in the 21st Century

When someone says, “I am earning my degree online,” what is the image that comes to mind? Is it sitting alone at the computer? No, it’s connecting with your classmates through live, online classes through videoconferences. I have built a stronger relationship with the peers in this program than as an undergraduate despite it requiring more effort to build a friendship online. To build a relationship via a computer, it is essential to stay updated on contacting peers even if it is a one-line “Hi, how are you?” and to call or message each other before enrolling in classes for the upcoming semester. Building a relationship does not only occur face to face; one can build a relationship with peers, bosses and companies by staying in contact through the latest technology available. USC Rossier Online cultivates these skills.


One of the concerns I had prior to entering USC Rossier Online was completing assignments. This had nothing to do with my ability to do them, but with my self-discipline. When I was an undergraduate, I was at school and in an environment where studying was promoted, especially in the library. However, in this program I was at home and immersed in distractions: family, television, pets, chores, etc. In short, at home we are surrounded by distractions that can make the studying process difficult. Thus, to succeed in the program, it is essential to find a study area and time. It is also important to create a distraction-free environment. In USC Rossier Online, it is essential to learn how to focus and become self-disciplined to succeed.


This is a skill I would have never imagined I would develop in a graduate school program. Sometimes technology does not work properly and your peers’ video and/or microphone disconnects during a group presentation. Instead of panicking, you learn to work with things and step in when needed, even if it was not your turn, and lead the discussion while staying composed. This issue can also happen with the professors’ video and/or microphone and they may get accidentally dropped from the live video classroom session. In one class, the professor kept loosing audio and video. She then asked for a volunteer to take over if it happened again. A student volunteered me for this role, and in a few minutes the professor was kicked out of the room. At this point, with only my knowledge of the readings to continue the discussion, I picked up on the PowerPoint slide where she had left off. Incidents like this teach the importance of staying composed and thinking on your feet when things do not go as planned.

These are just a few reasons why earning an online degree can help to develop your marketability. These skills can be used in a classroom as well as a professional setting.