Have Aspirations, Will Travel

Students are increasingly looking across state lines to find online degree or certificate programs — especially if an institution can tempt them with improved job prospects, according to a new look at trends in distance education.

This spring, the researchers, consultants and senior officers at Learning House and Aslanian Market Research surveyed 1,500 recent, current and prospective online undergraduate and graduate students pursuing either degrees or certificates at institutions across the country. Now in its third year, the report released Tuesday morning is the most recent effort by market researchers to identify the millions of students who take all their courses online — and what motivates them to do so.

Their work has gotten a little easier now that the U.S. Department of Education collects data in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System about the number of students who study online, but the data are still out of date. The most recent information is almost two years old. As the report suggests, a lot has changed during that time.

In the inaugural Online College Students report, released in 2012, 80 percent of surveyed students said they enrolled in fully online programs at institutions within 100 miles from where they live. This year, only 54 percent say the same. The growth is largely driven by graduate students, 48 percent of whom said they study at an institution more than 100 miles away from home, compared to 35 percent two years ago.

That development, the researchers said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, is fueled by both supply and demand. <Read more.>

Via Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed.