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Pricing online vs. on-campus courses

By Meris Stansbury, Managing Editor, @eSN_Meris
July 17th, 2015

Initial investigation aims to get the ball rolling on understanding course pricing at today’s institutions.

online-course-pricingAll institutions offer online courses at a lower price than on-campus courses, but the size and scope of the institution often affects how low the prices will go.

This finding comes as part of an initial investigation by Shouhong Wang, professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, into how online courses are priced at various institutions, as well as the reasoning behind pricing decisions.

“As higher education has become a global competitive business, pricing education products is a strategic tool for education institutions to compete with each other,” he explains in his research. However, “the literature of issues on online course pricing is scarce.”

Wang hopes that by taking a small introductory step in understanding how online courses versus on-campus courses are priced, the data-based findings might be helpful for administrators to understand how different types of educational institutions adopt different online course pricing strategies and practices.

Methodology for this small glimpse into online course pricing included looking at 103 U.S. institutions that offered both online programs and regular on-campus programs. These institutions also freely made available information on the prices for their online and on-campus courses per credit hour.

Attributes of those institutions in the data included: Academic class (Carnegie classification, such as Doctoral/Research, Master’s, etc.), Scale (total student enrollment), funding source (public or private), online course administration (registrar’s office or continuing education), and program level (undergraduate or graduate).

More information on methodology can be found in the report.

(Next page: What Wang discovered)


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