Online Degrees, Where Do They Stand (Part II)…

Last week, we focused on online degrees through a narrative post. Included below is a list of survey statistics and other information related to post-secondary costs and online education.  All of the information was gathered from the online articles listed at the bottom of the page.


According to a new study from Harvard University, only 56% of college students who enter a four year program graduate within six years. 

Only 29% of students who enter a two year program complete their degree within 3 years.

Among 18 countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. finished last for the percentage of students who completed college once they started.

The high cost of college is the main factor cited for the high college dropout rate in the U.S. according to a 2009 study conducted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A 2009 report from the nonpartisan research group Public Agenda stated that “most dropouts leave college because they have trouble going to school while working to support themselves.”

Unlike in the past, many students today work and have families.



The cost of college has nearly sextupled since 1985.

Average Annual sticker price for an in-state public college:  22,261

            This is an increase of 42% over last 10 years

            Private not for profit institutions – 36,300

            Private for profit institutions – 23,500

Average cost of just tuition and fees:

            Public – 8,665

            Private 29,056

Online tuition costs tend to be more than traditional college.

A study in 2008 by the Babson Research Group found that online students pay about the same in tuition and fees as traditional college students.  They also found that scholarships and grants are more scarce.

A 2009 college costs survey by WCET and the Campus Computing Project found that among accredited colleges which offer the same courses online as on campus about half charge more for online courses.

20% of colleges reported that they charge less for online courses.

“Tuition costs tend to be more expensive than at public, nonprofit institutions, but less expensive than at private nonprofit schools.  But there is value in that students may be paying a premium for an accelerated program.  They might be able to complete a degree within half the time it would take at a traditional university.”  According to EduVenture’s Gallagher.


More than 1,700 of the roughly 4,500 U.S. colleges offer completely online degree programs and more than 3,300 of them offer at least 1 online course in 2009.

Ten years ago less than 10% of college students were enrolled in online courses.

31% of students are enrolled in online courses.

The number of college students enrolled in at least one online course increased for the ninth straight year, with more than 6.1 million students taking an online course in 2010.  This is a 10% increase from 2009.

Almost 2 million students are taking courses fully online.  This makes up about 10% of higher education students.

The majority of online students are between the ages of 23 and 40.

“It’s widely accepted among educators that online courses are more difficult in most cases because you need to be a self-directed student.” Gallagher

88% of HR professionals agree that online degrees are viewed more favorably today than they were five years ago.


According to Breneman, studies suggest that an online education “is about the same as sitting in a classroom.”

Most employers consider online degrees acceptable, but not as credible as traditional degrees.” According to a recent survey by Vault, a career information provider.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they prefer applicants with traditional college over online.

In a survey of 1,500 CEOs conducted by Zogby only 45 percent felt that online programs were just as credible as traditional college.

83% of business executives surveyed by Zogby in 2008 said that an online degree was as credible as one earned through a traditional program. 

49% of executives had encountered an applicant with an online degree.  Only 19% had hired such an applicant according to a 2008 survey by Vault.

Abigail Tremble, the director of learning and development for Randstad, a global staffing company, said that employers are split down the middle, with about half fully accepting online degrees.  However, she says employers regard degrees earned from an online program through a traditional campus based university more favorably than those from completely online universities.

66% of college faculty members surveyed who had not conducted an online course felt that online courses were inferior to traditional courses.

39% of college faculty members surveyed who HAD conducted an online course felt that felt that online courses were inferior to traditional courses.

Julianna Gilbert, executive director of the Office of Teaching and Learning at the University of Denver said that just like in traditional courses, the success of the course is dependent on the quality of the instructor.


U.S. News and World Report
How to Maximize an Online Education Program
By Rebecca Kern
Online Colleges Earning Respect — To A Degree
Many hiring managers still skeptical, but distance learning hard to ignore
By Eve Tahmincioglu
Online Certificates – Cheaper, Faster, Better Than a College Degree?
Online Learning Statistics & Education News
By Vicky Phillips
Do Online Colleges Make the Grade?
By Marilyn Bowden •
U.S. News and World Report
College Professors Fearful of Online Education Growth
A recent study reflects faculty members’ anxieties and doubts about online courses.
By Ryan Lytle
3 Reasons Why E-Learning Is Bigger and Better than Ever
by Elizabeth O’Neill | Published on: August 07, 2012
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Digest of Education Statistics, 2011 (NCES 2012-001), Chapter 3
Study: Nearly Half Of America’s College Students Drop Out Before Receiving A Degree


Darrel Casperson, Career Educator

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One Response to Online Degrees, Where Do They Stand (Part II)…

  1. Jen Cook says:

    Interesting statistics. It’s good to see online degrees becoming more socially acceptable. I believe with advances in technology and education, online degrees are going to eventually be the norm. Traditional classes will always exist, but online degrees are just a lot more convenient for busy people.

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