Online education has always been a popular option.

After all, we live in a busy world, and it’s often difficult to find the time to learn something new.

Being able to do this online makes it easier. 

The concept of remote learning is not new.

There is evidence of courses being offered and sent via post as long ago as 1850!

However, online education really started in the 1960s.

This was when the University of Illinois established an internal internet for students, allowing them to access course material and listen to lectures.

It eventually went global. 

As the following online education statistics show, the world of online education has transformed dramatically since then.

It’s no longer seen as the last option. 

Today, for many people, online education is the logical and practical option. 

Of course, while online education was already becoming very popular, the global pandemic has benefitted the industry.

Almost overnight thousands of children across the planet started to be taught remotely 

While most schools have returned to a classroom-based education system, the benefits and reliance on online education tools continues.

Key Statistics

  • 30% of American students are doing at least one online course.
  • 99% of US online degree courses are being taken by us residents.
  • 52% of US graduates felt the online experience is better than classroom-based.
  • Over $13 billion has been invested in the us on online learning.
  • Online videos are considered the most effective learning tool.
  • 67% of US online students use their mobile to access course content.
  • The number of online students increases by 5% every year.
  • Nearly 9 million students solely learn online.
  • One in ten further education facilities offer online courses.
  • 47% of schools intend to increase spending on online learning.
  • In 2020 2.8 million students enrolled with online colleges.
  • 68% of online students are also employed.
  • Online college courses are generally cheaper than in-classroom ones.
  • 96% of online graduates would recommend it to others.
  • Online education reduces co2 emissions by 85%.
  • Online learning encourages higher student retention rates .
  • 42% of educational organizations saw increased profits after offering online learning .
  • The online learning industry will be worth $325 billion by 2025.
  • 90% of US corporations are using online training.

Top Online Education Statistics in 2024

Online Education Statistics

1. 30% Of American Students Are Doing At Least One Online Course

The online education industry is growing rapidly, the following statistics will confirm this.

While the pandemic artificially inflated online student registrations and provoked a dip in numbers post-pandemic, the trend for the industry continues to be favorable. 

As of 2018, 30% of American students admit to taking at least one course online, sometimes more. 

By 2019-2020 this figure had increased to 51.8% of all students.

It dropped back to 30% in 2021 after the pandemic but has started to rise again. 

Current estimates suggest nearly 40% of students are now enrolled in at least one online course. 

(Palvia, et al. 2018)

2. 99% Of US Online Degree Courses Are Being Taken By US Residents

Online courses can be accessed by anyone in the world.

However, despite the ease of access, the latest survey shows that 99% of all US online degree courses are actually being taken by US residents or people living in the US. 

This may be because US college degrees are best recognized within the US, making them less worthwhile to people based in other countries. 

(Palvia, et al. 2018)

3. 52% Of US Graduates Felt The Online Experience Is Better Than Classroom-Based

The success of any course is dependent on the learning experience as seen by students.

It is generally their word-of-mouth recommendations that encourage more students to join and keep the institution funded. 

That’s why it’s important to look at how the online education experience is viewed.

The latest report by Statista suggests 52% of graduates found the online education experience to be better than a classroom-based one. 

38% of graduate students felt the experience was about the same and just 10% felt the online experience was worse than the classroom.

The figures are slightly different for undergraduates.

39% felt the experience was better online, while half of them felt there was no real difference on or offline.

At 11%, slightly more undergraduates than graduates felt the classroom experience was better.


4. Over $13 Billion Has Been Invested In The US On Online Learning

The online education industry has exploded in recent years, in part thanks to the global pandemic. 

It’s also thanks to the industry’s ability to evolve, making the most of the latest technology to give the best possible service to students across the country and even the world.

Of course, the creation and subsequent evolution of this industry costs money.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of investors. 

The latest figures show US investment in the industry has already exceeded $13 billion. 

The industry is still growing, as will this figure. 

(Technology for Education Consortium 2017)

5. Online Videos Are Considered The Most Effective Learning Tool

It’s said that a picture contains a thousand words.

There is a lot of truth in this saying as the human brain has evolved to extract information from pictures far faster than from words. 

Studies show that the human brain can extract information from a picture 60,000 times faster than from a block of text. 

It’s little wonder that studios have found online videos to be a better learning tool than text by itself. 

While some topics need the text to explain the principles involved, many can be learned just as easily, or even easier via an image or a video. 

It’s not just that the brain is configured to absorb visual information.

Video content is generally more fun to view, helping to boost knowledge retention.


6. 67% Of US Online Students Use Their Mobile To Access Course Content

Desktops have always been the most popular way to access the internet, especially data-heavy sites, such as educational ones. 

However, as of 2016, the use of mobile devices to access the internet has become more popular than desktops.

It’s thanks to the more powerful processors and general specs on the average mobile device. 

This explains why, a recent survey by found that 67% of American students were accessing their college course via a mobile device. 

The survey found that some of these students were using their mobile device to do everything connected to the course, others did some via a mobile and the rest on a desktop. 

The reasons for this weren’t looked at but it’s likely connected with the ease of typing offered by a desktop.

Just 29% of those asked had not, and did not want to, use their mobile device to access their studies. 

Interestingly, 12% of respondents were unable to access course material via their mobile.

But, they would if they could. 


7. The Number Of Online Students Increases By 5% Every Year

The latest figures show that the number of students taking the online option increased from 15.6% in 2004 to just over 43% in 2016.

That’s just undergraduate courses. 

The report also showed an increase in those completing degrees online, transitioning from 3.8% in 2008 to 10.8% in 2016.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic from the report is that post-secondary student enrollment has been declining by 1-2% a year, while online courses have seen a 5% increase in students every year.

It suggests a significant number of people are partaking in online courses who wouldn’t feel able to enroll in the classroom-based option. 

Although it’s impossible to know the future, the report suggests that this growth rate will continue for the next couple of years and then start to increase further. 


8. Nearly 9 Million Students Solely Learn Online

There are approximately 19 million college students in the US.

An impressive 47% of these are taking college classes exclusively online. 

That means, they never need to step foot into a college in order to get a college degree. 

Alongside this, the Best Colleges Report 2023 shows that 75% of students do at least part of their course online.

That’s not just homework, the survey specified they take at least one e-learning class. 

This figure dropped to 60% in 2021, showing that the global pandemic had a significant impact on education and how it is accessed.

However, with many schools and colleges still transitioning to offering online courses, it’s likely that this number will gradually increase again. 

(Best Colleges)

9. One in Ten Further Education Facilities Offer Online Courses

The array of topics covered by online courses is mind-blowing.

There is literally a course for anything.

This is certainly making it easier for people to commit to an online course. 

Educational institutions are aware of this.

The number of them offering online courses is increasing rapidly.

The latest survey shows one in ten offers online education options.

The report also estimates that, within five years, that figure will be closer to nine in ten educational facilities that will offer online courses.

(Best Colleges Report 2023)

10. 47% Of Schools Intend To Increase Spending On Online Learning

As the online learning industry continues to grow it’s inevitable that more schools will join the revolution and expand their online presence.

If they don’t they are liable to lose students to other establishments. 

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the Best College Report 2023 found 47% of schools are, or plan to, increase their spending on online learning. 

The report also found that 50% of schools expected their budget to stay the same, in many cases because budget restrictions didn’t allow for an increase. 

Just 3% of schools asked said that their online education budget would be decreasing.

The study didn’t look into why this was the case.

Of course, the exact amount of spending increase varies between institutions, depending on what budget they have available. 

(Best Colleges Report 2023)

11. In 2020 2.8 Million Students Enrolled With Online Colleges

In 2020 2.8 Million Students Enrolled With Online Colleges

The number of educational institutions offering online options is growing.

In 2020 an estimated 422 colleges offering online courses. 

By 2021, the number had grown to over 1,000!

Of course, the number of students learning online has also grown.

In 2020 an impressive 2.8 million students were enrolled with online colleges.

That was 15% of all the college students in the year. 

The survey showed that 14% of them were full-time, 17% were part-time, and 14% were undergraduates.

A further 16% were graduate students. 

In the fall of 2021, Statista shows 5.7 million college students enrolled in college courses exclusively through online colleges. 

Some of this huge increase is likely to be connected with the global pandemic.

However, it clearly highlights how quickly online education is growing in popularity.


12. 68% Of Online Students Are Also Employed

This statistic is a perfect example of why online education courses are becoming so popular.

A recent survey by Best Colleges highlighted that 68% of online students were employed either full or part time. 

A staggering 95% of online students had children in the household under the age of 18.

In other words, for the majority of students, online courses are the only way to maintain a household and a job while improving your prospects for the future. 

(Best Colleges)

13. Online College Courses Are Generally Cheaper Than In-Classroom Ones

Comparing costs can be difficult.

Not all online colleges report net prices and there are many variables which need to be considered.

What is known is that the average net price of an online college course is $18,020.

Public online colleges are cheaper, with an average of $12,980.

Naturally, private online colleges cost more.

Those operating on a not-for-profit basis charge an average of $15,940.

While profit-based online colleges charge $20,980.

That means, online college courses can vary from $200 to $600 per credit hour. 

Considering the average cost of college in the US is $35,700, all online options are significantly cheaper. 

Actual student experience generally agrees with these facts.

A recent study showed 14% said the price of online courses were lower than classroom-based options. 

(Garrett, R., & Legon, R., & Fredericksen, E. E. (2020)

14. 96% Of Online Graduates Would Recommend It To Others

Online learning is easy to access, doesn’t require you to commute, and can be done whenever you like.

These are the biggest reasons for using e-learning instead of classroom-based courses. 

However, perhaps the best reason to start considering e-learning is that most people think it’s extremely beneficial.

The latest statistics show 96% of online graduates would recommend the experience to others. 

Considering how hard it is to keep everyone happy, that’s an impressive statistic. 

The survey also showed that 84% of graduates valued being able to learn without leaving home. 

In addition, the survey found that 75% of students engaged in online courses felt the education was better than learning in the traditional manner.

That’s a 5% increase on the previous year’s figure. 


15. Online Education Reduces Co2 Emissions By 85%

While the environment may not be the top reason why people choose online education courses, it is worth noting that online education has a positive effect on the environment. 

The reduction in transport usage and the need to heat buildings can reduce the Co2 emissions by 85% compared to a standard, classroom-based course. 

It’s not just Co2 emissions which are lowered.

Online education courses have been shown to consume 90% less energy than a classroom-based version. 

The saving is possible as less lighting and heat are used.

Individually students are generally not using additional light or heat and the educational institution doesn’t need to use any.

In short, choosing e-learning can be beneficial to the environment.

That’s a powerful motivator in the current climate.


16. Online Learning Encourages Higher Student Retention Rates 

One of the biggest issues which many educational facilities face is student retention.

The problem is, no matter how good the course material is, large classes can become boring. 

Part of the issue may be the delivery of the material.

However, in most cases it’s simply because all students learn at different rates.

Some will feel the lessons are too slow, others will feel they are too complicated. 

The result is students drop out. 

This is less of an issue with online courses as students can generally progress at their own rate. 

It’s also much easier to go over the same material multiple times to ensure they understand it. 

The latest figures indicate that retention rates for classroom-based learning are often as low as 10%.

In contrast, online learning courses enjoy retention rates of between 25-60%.


17. 42% Of Educational Organizations Saw Increased Profits After Offering Online Learning 

Statistics suggest that everyone benefits from online education courses.

All the educational institutions that offered online courses saw an increase in profit.

The average increase across the industry was an impressive 42%.

It’s not just educational institutions that benefit.

Figures show that, in 2020, the US government made an additional $1.67 billion from online education platforms.

This was in taxes and associated charges. 

They made a further $5.75 billion from self-paced e-learning and nearly $10 billion for pre-packaged learning content. 

Alongside this, funding for public education facilities was reduced, showing a significant increase in funds going to the US government. 


18. The Online Learning Industry Will be Worth $325 Billion By 2025

The online learning industry is growing rapidly in size.

According to statistics it was worth $165 billion in 2014.

By 2022 the market was worth $243 billion. 

Granted, some of this increase in value can be attributed to the global pandemic.

It certainly increased the need for e-learning and the reliance on digital technology. 

What’s interesting is that the online learning hasn’t shrunk after the pandemic, as may have been expected.

Instead, the industry is still growing and is forecast to be worth $325 billion by 2025.

That’s a 900% growth rate since 2000.

It has the potential to grow much larger.

It’s worth noting that the US is the world leader in online education.

It has a significant number of university courses with online options. 

China and South Korea are also surprisingly big players in the industry.

In Europe, Germany is considered the market leader

Additionally, MOOC, the open online course platform is expected to be worth over $25 billion by 2025.


19. 90% Of US Corporations Are Using Online Training

90% Of US Corporations Are Using Online Training

As a sign of how popular and practical e-learning is, a significant number of employers are starting to use it. 

The latest figures show that 90% of US corporations use e-learning in some form in the workplace. 

For many businesses it’s the simplest way to ensure all staff receive the same level of training, regardless of when they join or what their current education level is. 

It’s also considerably more convenient and, therefore, a cost-saving for the company.

Online training can be done when it best suits the employee and the company, helping to ensure profits and efficiency are maintained.

For employees, online training is easier to do at a time that suits them.

It’s also generally more enjoyable and helps ensure all the necessary information is assimilated.


Summing Up

As the above online education statistics show, it’s been a bumpy few years for the industry.

The pandemic increased investment in the industry and the number of students using e-learning. 

However, online degrees are still considered lower quality than those gained in the classroom.

There is no reason for this as the material covered is the same.

But, until this perception changes, the growth of the industry will be hampered.

That’s a shame as this is a better and more convenient way for many people to improve their education.

You can try it and see for yourself!


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