Why is Distance Learning So Popular in the United States?

When someone mentions higher education, you probably don’t instantly think of online and distance education in the United States. But distance learning has a great potential for contributing to worldwide mobility, to your lifelong learning and to giving you an equal chance to international education.

Although distance education is available all around the world today, the United States remains the forerunner in terms of online studies popularity. So, if you are considering doing an online degree at an American university, here are some key data and trends you should know.

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Where do most students do a degree online in the USA?

A Federal report from 2018 revealed which were the most popular American universities according to enrolments for the 2016 academic year. The first six winners are:

There are of course many other options for you if you want to apply to an online degree in the US, with both traditional and online universities working their best to offer students like you the relevant online programs. Here are a few other examples of universities offering distance learning programmes that you can check out:

There’s a growing demand and popularity of online learning in the USA

The latest statistics about online education in the USA reveal that enrolment in online classes has increased over 5% between fall 2015 and 2016 compared to the previous 3 years, according to the "Grade Increase" report released  by the Babson Survey Research Group in 2018.

Most interestingly, more American students are choosing local online degree programs, suggesting they prefer it because of the flexibility and reduced costs, and because they can also reach the campus easily if they want to or need it.

In total more than 6.3 million students in the U.S. took at least one online course in fall 2016. Students choose to do online courses at both public and private universities, but the highest increase was at public universities.

Who is studying online degrees at American universities?

Statistics about online studies in the USA help us with the profile of the typical online student these days, a profile you might identify with.

  • Most online students are already working.  More exactly 36% of online students are switching careers, while 34 % of them are looking to advance their career.  
  • The average online student is in his early thirties. The average age of the distance learner is 32 years old, which shows that you can continue your studies even if you are a parent, an industry professional and everything in between.
  • Graduate students are more likely to do a degree online.
  • If you already have an undergraduate degree, it’s more likely you’ll find a suitable online graduate course. About 22% of graduate students in the USA study online, compared to 11 percent of undergraduates.
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Online education trends in 2018

According to experts citied by the U.S. News, the number of students who enroll to an online degree in the US will continue to grow in 2018 while online programs will introduce more of the latest digital technologies in their teaching practices.

Secondly, there’s is a pressure to create more courses that teach job-specific skills, seeing how a good part of online students are looking for a career switch.

Thirdly, more health-related course will complete the online degree offers, because now it’s possible to virtually teach students how to interact with patients.

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The benefits of online education for students and universities

If you are wondering why online education is so popular, here’s some background to help you better understand the advantages online education can have for you:

  • accessibility: students are less bound by time and location
  • flexibility: students are not constrained by a fixed schedule and can continue to keep their personal circumstances and/or work obligations
  • affordability: distance education is often less expensive than traditional education, thus opening up learning opportunities to those people who otherwise, cannot cover the cost of a degree course.

Allowing any institution across the world to target anyone interested in their subject while reducing additional obstacles to international studies such as visa requirements, travel costs and travel time, makes online and distance education the next step to a truly globalised world of education. Are you ready to join?