Is online learning still popular after the pandemic ended?

75% of college students took distance education courses in 2020. Leaders should know that this is still a popular option post-pandemic.

Although it existed before the pandemic, online learning took off with as many as 75% of college students enrolled in distance education courses in the fall of 2020. Is it still an option students prefer?

New data from Forbes Advisor reveals enrollment declines in online learning since 2020, although participation remains robust. In the fall of 2022, approximately 54% of college students took online classes, which represents about 10 million learners.

“Instead of reverting to the pre-pandemic status quo, college students increasingly choose to take classes online,” Forbes’ Ilana Hamilton wrote.

The state of online learning by the numbers

A fair share of college students prefer taking online courses exclusively, the data suggests. Twenty-six percent of students enrolled in online classes only in fall 2022. Sixty-three percent of those learners attended in-state colleges, while 33% enrolled in schools in other states.

Enrollment is similar when comparing undergraduate to graduate students. Fifty-four percent vs. 53.5% of undergrad and graduate students took distance education courses in fall 2022, respectively.

However, undergrads are more likely to prefer hybrid options with 30.5% taking both online and on-campus courses. Fully online options are more popular among grad students (38.7%).

More from UB: This branding agency ranks the 33 best college mottos

Finally, for-profit private colleges are far more likely to enroll students who exclusively take online classes. Here’s a look at that data:

  • For-profit private colleges: 64.8% of all students enrolled in online only
  • Nonprofit private colleges: 26.5% of all students enrolled in online only
  • Public colleges: 23.6% of all students enrolled in online only

“Online learners save the most when choosing a private, nonprofit college,” the analysis reads. “While the median cost of tuition and fees at primarily online colleges in this category is around $10,000, the overall cost of tuition and fees reaches nearly $28,000, indicating that degree seekers interested in private, nonprofit institutions can cut costs with an online format.”

To explore more of the data, including stats about online learner demographics and degree type, click here.

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a University Business staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

Most Popular