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How many Americans do their entire degrees remotely?

        Culture | Schooling

While the percentage of students who do their entire degrees remotely may be small, times are changing for online classes.
While the percentage of students who do their entire degrees remotely may be small, times are changing for online classes.
Gary John Norman/Getty Images

If you prefer to attend classes online instead of on campus, pursuing a degree probably means spending lots of time in front of a computer screen. For-profit online schools like the University of Phoenix and others offer associate's, bachelor's, master's and even doctoral degrees in some cases, but how many students actually obtain their degrees remotely?

Before we get to the statistics, let's step back and take a look at online learning for a moment. There are big things brewing in online education. Around 80 percent of universities are now offering at least some of their classes online, and employer resistance to online degrees may be diminishing as more and more students and schools embrace the format. A shift in perception from doubt to acceptance could be at work, and that's a significant development [sources: Online Learning Consortium, SHRM].

The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Educational Sciences compiled a distance learning report in 2012 for the period covering 2007 to 2008. This was before the advent of MOOCs, those massive open online courses being offered for free by top-flight universities, and even before a number of 2010 studies about improved employer attitudes toward online degrees. The report revealed that 20 percent of all undergraduates took at least one long-distance learning course, and about 3.7 percent pursued their postsecondary programs entirely online. For advanced degrees, the numbers were even higher. Twenty-two percent of postbaccalaureate students attended at least some long-distance classes, and 9 percent pursued their programs entirely online [source: Institute of Educational Sciences].

The future is looking brighter for online education, but there's still resistance in some disciplines and industries. If you're still in school, it's always a good idea to investigate all the options and keep a close watch on educational trends as they relate to a specific field of study.


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