Higher Education Reports

Chief academic officers at degree-granting institutions

Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States

Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States

The 2015 Survey of Online Learning, Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States, conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, WCET, StudyPortals, and Tyton Partners, reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 is up 3.9% over the previous year. Growth, however, was uneven; private non-profit institutions grew by 11.3% while private for-profit institutions saw their distance enrollments decline by 2.8%.

“The study’s findings highlight a thirteenth consecutive year of growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance” said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.

Growth has continued, despite muted support by faculty. The study reveals only 29.1% of academic leaders say their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education.” The proportion of chief academic leaders reporting online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped to 63.3% in the most recent results.

Related items for this report include:

  • The complete survey report, “Online Report Card”
  • Infographic of the report’s findings
  • Interactive data site containing all the enrollment data used in the report
  • WCET's companion report with additional IPEDS distance enrollment summaries

    • Pearson OLC BSRG Tyton Partners WCET StudyPortals

      Previous Higher Education Reports

      Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States

      The 2014 Survey of Online Learning, Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group and co-sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson and Tyton Partners, reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2014 is up 3.7 percent from the previous year.

      “The study’s findings point to a competitive marketplace, in which traditional institutions are gaining ground on the for-profits in online and distance education,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “While the rapid pace of online learning growth has moderated, it still accounts for nearly three-quarters of all US higher education’s enrollment increases last year.”

      INFOGRAPHIC: Grade Level

      Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States

      The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals a 6.1 percent growth rate, the lowest for a decade, but still representing over 400,000 additional students taking at least one online course. The report is available in multiple formats:

      Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States

      Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States

      The tenth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Based on responses from over 2,800 academic leaders, the survey report reveals that the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million. Higher education adoption of Massive Open Online Courses remains low, with most institutions still on the sidelines. The report is available in multiple formats:

      Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011

      Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011

      Based on responses from over 2,500 academic leaders, the complete survey report, "Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011" is available in multiple formats:

      Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010

      Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010

      The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010 (pdf), reveals that enrollment rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.

      Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009

      Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009

      The seventh annual Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that online enrollment rose by nearly 17 percent from a year earlier. The survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board and the Sloan Consortium, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Using results from more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide, the report finds approximately 4.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2008.

      Staying The Course - Online Education in the United States, 2008

      Staying The Course - Online Education in the United States, 2008

      The 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that enrollment rose by more than twelve percent from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 3.94 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2007. The sixth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board and the Sloan Consortium, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States.

      Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning

      Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning represents the fifth annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education. This year’s study, like those for the previous four years, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities, the study addresses the following key questions:

      • How Many Students are Learning Online?
      • Where has the Growth in Online Learning Occurred?
      • Why do Institutions Provide Online Offerings?
      • What are the Prospects for Future Online Enrollment Growth?
      • What are the Barriers to Widespread Adoption of Online Education?
      Making the Grade

      Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006

      Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 is based on data collected for the fourth annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board, the report, based on responses from over 2,200 colleges and universities, examines the nature and extent of online learning among U.S. higher education institutions.

      Maing the Grade Midwestern

      Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Midwestern Edition

      Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Midwestern Edition is based on data collected for the fourth annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board, the report, based on responses from over 2,200 colleges and universities, examines the nature and extent of online learning among U.S. higher education institutions.

      Making the Grade Southern

      Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Southern Edition

      Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Southern Edition is based on data collected for the fourth annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board, the report, based on responses from over 2,200 colleges and universities, examines the nature and extent of online learning among U.S. higher education institutions.

      Making the Grade

      Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States

      Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of education in the United States. Unlike the previous reports that focused exclusively on online learning, the current report examines blended (also called hybrid) instruction. The findings are based on three years of responses from a national sample of over 1,000 colleges and universities. Additional results are presented from an Eduventures-conducted national survey of 2,033 U.S. adults interested in postsecondary education in the next three years.

      Growing by Degrees

      Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005

      Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 represents the third annual report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from over 1,000 colleges and universities, this year’s study, like those for previous years’, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education.

      Growing by Degrees Southern

      Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 - Southern Edition

      Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 - Southern Edition is based on data collected for the third annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from over 400 southern colleges and universities, this special report examines the nature and extent of online learning among the 16 southern states that make up the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

      The survey analysis is based on a comprehensive nationwide sample of active, degree-granting institutions of higher education in the United States that are open to the public.

      Entering the Mainstream

      Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2003 and 2004

      The 2004 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the U. S. shows online enrollments continue to grow at rates faster than for the broader student population. Institutes of higher education expect this rate of growth to continue increasing. The second annual survey is based on responses from over 1,100 colleges and universities and represents the state of online education in U.S. higher education. The comprehensive survey by Babson College and Sloan-C concludes that the expected average growth rate for online students for 2004 is 24.8%, up from 19.8% in 2003.

      Sizing the Opportunity

      Sizing the Opportunity: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2002 and 2003

      The 2003 Sloan Survey of Online Learning polled academic leaders and was weighted to allow for inferences about all degree-granting institutions open to the public. When asked to compare the online learning outcomes with those of face-to-face instruction a majority said they are equal. Two out of every three also responded that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy. Sizing the Opportunity: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2002 and 2003 also looks at characteristics of online learners, student and faculty perceptions as well as how private and public institutions approach online learning.