Due to the pandemic, online learning has seen a large increase, however, distance learning has been an excellent option for many students for some time, offering better opportunities for international students who do not need to relocate for their degrees. With education being one of the least digitized and most people-intensive economic sectors, this move to remote learning had its challenges.
In a recent study, it was reported that students enrolling in online courses rose from 37% in 2019 to over 50% in 2020 in response to the pandemic. It is also expected that the online-only education market could grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024 according to data from Market Research.
Now that students are learning they can frame their education around their schedules, routines, and learning techniques the interest in online education is ever-growing with lots of colleges offering MOOCs (Mostly Open Online Courses). This is likely to be a notable turning point in the state of education in the US and the accessibility of university degrees.
As mentioned, while some colleges offer unique online programs, some colleges only offer online courses or have an online ‘college’ to earn degrees. Higher Visibility has analyzed the online-only colleges that offer the widest range and number of degree programs using data from the NCES.
TOP COLLEGES OFFERING ONLINE-ONLY STUDIES
Hailing the tagline “The Campus of the Future”, Arizona State University’s Digital Immersion platform currently boasts 121 online programs, allowing students to access education both in the classroom and at home. According to the ASU website, the top three most popular online majors are Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. When the online platform was first launched in 2010, it had just 1,200 students enrolled in its degree programs. Now, over 57,000 students attend classes online.
With 105 online programs available for prospective students and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Capella University, a private online university with headquarters based in Minneapolis, offers people the chance to “earn your degree online, on-demand, and on your terms”. At the forefront of the university’s agenda is making online degrees work alongside the demands of everyday life, by offering a plan called FlexPath which allows learners to coordinate their deadlines, manage costs to suit their lifestyle, and advance through the program at their own pace.
The American Public University System is an online space created to provide education to primarily those interested in working within the military and public service communities. Currently offering 96 online programs, it is the No.1 provider of education to U.S. Military and Veterans.
Walden University offered its first online master’s degree in Educational Change and Technology Innovation in 1995, making it the first online-only master’s degree in the United States. The institution is now reportedly attended by students from over 145 countries around the world. Ashford University operates in association with the University of Arizona, offering an array of different online majors from Business Studies to Social and Behavioural Sciences. Both currently offer 71 online programs.
Offering 24 online degrees, Colorado State University (Global Campus) currently has an enrollment of 1,796 and an acceptance rate of 98%.
Further down the list, the University of Florida (Online) and Florida Institute of Technology (Online) both offer over 20 online courses, whilst Taft University System offers just 8 programs, mostly focused on Business with others such as law and taxation.
TOP PROGRAMS FOR ONLINE STUDIES
The need for Healthcare professionals across the world has risen significantly since the beginning of the pandemic, specifically within administration and health management. The most commonly offered programs include Health Care Administration/Management, Registered Nursing, and Public Health.
Education is popular in our study, with many taking an interest in Educational/Instructional Technology and Educational Leadership and Administration, alongside Early Childhood Education and Teaching. Psychology follows, with students drawn to qualifications focused on Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, Forensic Psychology, and Social Work.
Further down the list, we have Language and Literature, with Applied Linguistics, English Literature, and Teaching English or French as a Second or Foreign Language being the most common online. When it came to Marketing degrees, the most frequently offered were Advertising, Public Relations, Applied Communication, and Digital Marketing.
Towards the bottom of the list is Cultural Studies, with programs including African-American/Black Studies and Women’s Studies, and Human Resources.
When it comes to programs within subject areas, Business Administration and Management rank highest, with 35 programs of the same name offered across the colleges in our study. Following closely behind is Health/Health Care Administration/Management with 26.
Organizational Leadership places third, with degrees focusing on human behavior within the workplace, navigating complex problems, and building an understanding of how organizations run. Registered Nursing also finds itself among the top 10, with American Public University’s ‘Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)’ ranked one of the best in the country.
Further down the list Accounting amount for 18 offered, whilst Finance programs were less common with 10.
Marketing, Project Management, and Psychology were all offered at 13 different online colleges, while Legal Assistant/Paralegal were some of the least common.
If you want to learn more about US colleges and their popularity online, find the most popular colleges on TikTok here.
*All data sourced from NCES: https://nces.ed.gov/