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Online college enrollment growth outpaces real-world institutions

Online college enrollment growth outpaces real-world institutions


Emily Bamforth
April 30, 2021
Online higher education institutions continue to see enrollment gains during the coronavirus pandemic, rising another 2.2% in the spring 2021 semester, the National Student Clearinghouse said Thursday, with part-time students powering the increase.
Full-time enrollment at online schools rose less than a percentage point this spring, but part-time enrollment grew 5.1%. Older students, between 21 and 24 years, also drove the growth, with their enrollment rising 7.1%.
By comparison, undergraduate enrollment overall dropped 5.9% for spring, the steepest decline since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the clearinghouse. Much of this drop was experienced by two-year institutions, which saw enrollment decline by 11%. Graduate enrollment, however, is up overall, jumping 4.4% compared to a year ago.
The growth in overall graduate programs centers on master’s certificate programs — short-term courses that focus on specific skills — where enrollment is up 10%, and master’s degrees, which saw a 5.2% enrollment increase.
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