In order to create the map, Hanover Research analyzed and mapped the latest NCES distance education enrollment data, along with information gathered from the NCES’s Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to determine the total number of post-secondary students in each state.
After analyzing and mapping the data, Hanover focused on two measures. The first was “the percentage of degree-seeking undergraduate students enrolled in four-year institutions (as defined by IPEDS) in the state that are enrolled exclusively in distance education courses and live outside the state.” The second was “the percentage of degree-seeking undergraduate students enrolled in four-year institutions in the state that are enrolled exclusively in distance education courses and live within the state.”
Furthermore, the interactive map has four options for viewing: Total Distance Education Students, Distance Education Students from Different States, Distance Education Students from Same State, and Distance Education Students from Outside US or Unknown Location.
Through analyzing what is shown by the map, numerous trends have become more apparent:
Nationally, the distance education market is dominated by a few large nationwide institutions that serve students beyond just their home state. The largest institution is Arizona’s University of Phoenix, with over 200,000 undergraduate distance education students, and more than half of degree-seeking undergraduates enrolled in four-year institutions in Arizona are also enrolled in distance education programs. However, few of those students are actually Arizona residents.
The map also reveals that the only other state where more than half of students are enrolled online is Iowa, which is home to Ashford University and Kaplan University’s flagship campus, which have 68,000 and 34,000 online undergraduates respectively. West Virgina also comes close, with its American Public University System distance students accounting for 40% of the state’s undergraduate enrollments at four-year institutions.
Some of the higher-population states like New York, Florida and Illinois, though their distance education students do not comprise as much of their state’s percentage of four-year undergraduate students, also still have many online institutions. Florida was recognized by Hanover for having six different institutions with at least 5,000 degree-seeking undergraduates enrolled in distance education programs when most states only have one or two.
Kansas was also recognized for standing out, as its Fort Hayes State University reported 3,600 students from outside the United States were enrolled in its undergraduate distance education programs in 2012-2013. In a stark contrast, no other schools had more than 200.
(Next page: See what the map reveals about same-state institutions)