The independent, trusted guide to online education for over 24 years!

Online Learning on Steroids – Growth Statistics Skyrocketing

A special online education statistics infographic from the Chronicle of Higher Education (November 2011) reveals that online learning continues to grow.

Er, wait, the term “grow” may be an understatement. Gobbling steroids with two-fisted gusto may be more like it.

In the last decade, online-only course enrollments in higher education climbed from .78 million to a possible 3.97 million in 2014 (projections from Eduventures).

Moreover, community college surveys cited by the special report indicate that many high education insiders report that their institutions remain largely unable to meet swelling student demand for online courses.

Some Highlights of Online Learning Growth and Demand:

*The largest, single online-only bachelors degree program major, in terms of number of students enrolled, is Criminal Justice. The firm Eduventures estimates that 27% of the online bachelors degree market may belong to that major area. The military, homeland security, and rising concerns and employment for corporate and private security professional may be driving demand and enrollments in that sector.

*The top online school in terms of number of students enrolled remains the University of Phoenix Online with a student body of 400,000. The second largest enrollment agent, Kaplan University Online, is a puny contender at only 90,000 distance distances.

*The percentage of college students taking at least one online course has risen from 12% in 2003 to 25% IN 2008 (Babson Research Group).

*The only non-profit institution among the top 10 largest online schools is the University of Maryland University College. UMUC has operated distance degree programs since the 1970s and was an early and aggressive provider of military distance education. UMUC enrolls about 38,000 online only students.

*Among two-year institutions traditional age students (18-25) at 52% now outnumber older students (26 and older) at 47% in online course enrollments.

Though the majority of residential colleges now offer online courses the statistics show that for-profit institutions enroll 42% of the online-only student demographic. Public institutions control the largest share of the marketplace at 46% while private colleges are holding the smallest percentage of the pie at 12%.

Chronicle’s Online Education Growth Special Report


Adult Learners Going Back to School Online Outperform Younger Students
Community College Online Education Courses Up 22 Percent
Half of All Medical Continuing Education Will Be Online By 2016
New Study Shows United States Distance Learning Up 17 Percent