According to Wang’s sample of institutions, which he says included a diversified sample:
Overall, educational institutions set significantly lower prices of their online courses than that of on-campus courses. On average, the price of an online course could be about one-third less than the price of an on-campus course. Wang suggests that perhaps lower cost could be associated with cost savings from physical facilities, even though online education involves costs of various technological support.
Also, academic levels of educational institutions have no effect on setting the prices of the two forms of courses.
However, scale of educational institution has a significant effect on setting the prices of the two forms of courses. Specifically, small institutions or large institutions set significantly lower prices for their online courses than medium-sized institutions.
Private educational institutions also set significantly lower prices of online courses than public institutions.
Yet, online course administration body has no effect on setting the prices of the two forms of courses, and neither does program level.
Though Wang emphasizes that this initial study has many limitations in terms of scope and depth of data presented, it is perhaps the first step in a larger discussion as to what may currently affect online course pricing in comparison to on-campus pricing, as well as to the motivations of different types of universities in offering their online per-credit prices.
“Pricing online courses is an important issue for managing online education,” notes Wang. He hopes that this will spur other researchers to investigate and offer best practices to online program administrators.