Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Ioan G. Ionas


The academy, its faculty, and recruiters have discordant views about credentialed graduates’ workplace viability. As the powerful gatekeepers between education and the employment market, recruiters’ perceptions of college credentials may dictate applicants’ interview progression. Although nearly 100% of today’s college administrators believe higher education programs prepare students for the workplace, less than 12% of recruiters deem graduates ready to succeed in organizational settings after graduation. The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in recruiters’ perceptions of online and face-to-face higher education credentials as indicators of applicants’ workplace readiness. The theoretical foundation of this study was Spence’s signaling theory grounded on the traditional premise that academic credentials profoundly benefit college graduates. Topics of inquiry were recruiters’ perceptions of college degree importance, the applicability of online and face-to-face higher education credentials, academic rigor, educational quality, credential trustworthiness, and applicants’ workplace and leadership readiness. A non-experimental cross-sectional Higher Education and Workplace Readiness Survey comparative design provided quantitative data from 159 recruiters and was analyzed with U, H, and t tests. Recruiters viewed academic credentials as important to applicants’ workplace readiness, yet perceived that online college degree programs lack academic rigor and educational quality. Online bachelors, masters, and doctorate credentials were viewed as inferior to and less trustworthy than face-to-face credentials. Positive social change can occur when academic and organizational leaders collaborate to build principled degree programs around essential job skills, so graduates and recruiters view all academic credentials as trusted predictors of career readiness that benefit society.