Update: The original version had incorrect totals for total enrollment including non-online students. I have removed those columns until I can verify that data. I apologize for the mistake and any confusion.
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. At long last they have started to include data fields for online education (technically distance education, the vast majority of which is online) starting with the preliminary data released through Fall 2012 term. Despite all of the talk about data and measuring online programs, we can only now start to get official information from a central source rather than relying on surveys or institutional data.
As an example, let's look at the top 20 online programs (in terms of total number of students taking at least one online course) for various sectors. Some notes on the data:
- I have combined the categories 'students exclusively taking distance education courses' and 'students taking some but not all courses as distance education' into 'total students taking online courses'.
- IPEDS tracks data based on the accredited body, which can differ for systems. For example, the University of Phoenix puts all of their online students into the Online Campus while DeVry, Kaplan and Heald assign their online students a home campus. I manually added the DeVry, Kaplan and Heald totals, but I'm sure there are other examples where the data should be combined.
- I have not been able to set up WordPress to both show these tables in a usable format while also allowing copy / paste / sort, so for now these are images.
Public 2-Year Institutions - Fall 2012
Private 2-Year Institutions - Fall 2012
For-Profit 2-Year Institutions - Fall 2012
Public 4-Year or Above Institutions - Fall 2012
Private 4-Year or Above Institutions - Fall 2012
For-Profit 4-Year or Above Institutions - Fall 2012
This is great data which should support much better data analysis. Kudos to the Department of Education and NCES.