The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) and its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) provide the most official data on colleges and universities in the United States. Last year they released data on distance education (essentially online courses) starting with the Fall 2012 term. Last week they released new data for the Fall 2013 term.
Let’s look at the top 30 online programs for Fall 2013 (in terms of total number of students taking at least one online course) while showing both 2012 and 2013 data. Some notes on the data source:
- I have combined the categories ‘students exclusively taking distance education courses’ and 'students taking some but not all distance education courses' to obtain the 'at least one DE' category;
- The 'All Students' category combines those taking DE course with those taking no DE courses;
- I have highlighted in red the not-for-profit sectors;
- IPEDS tracks data based on the accredited body, which can differ for systems - I manually combined most for-profit systems into one institution entity as well as Arizona State University1; and
- Please note that along with Russ Poulin from WCET we have identified some significant problems with IPEDS data validity - see this article for more information.
Fall 2013 Top 30 Largest Online Enrollments Per Institution
All Students Taking At Least One Online Course (Graduate and Undergraduate, including Non-degree or certificate-seeking)
- With the exception of Grand Canyon University overall and Argosy University for DE, the for-profit sector took a beating with significant drops in both total enrollment and DE enrollment.
- Western Governors University, University of Central Florida, Southern New Hampshire Univesity, Suffolk County Community College and Northern Virginia Community College seem to have the biggest DE enrollment increases; Suffolk is so dramatic a change in DE without a big change in total enrollment, however, that I assume they changed how they report the data (see the article mentioned above).
We'll add more data tables and graphics breaking apart this data over the next few weeks here at e-Literate.
Update: Fixed the rank ordering for Suffolk County Community College and Northern Virginia Community College.
By Phil Hill
- ASU splits into various entities although the online programs are coordinated. [↩]