Women say online degrees ‘more achievable’

With college costs at a record high, many prospective students are forced to choose between price and prestige – and women facing that decision are overwhelmingly choosing the former by turning to online courses.

MOOCs have been male dominated.

Women “see online degrees as more achievable than traditional on-ground program” by a margin of three-to-one, according to a survey released in September by Western International University

Nearly 80 percent of the survey’s respondents, who were all women between the ages 22 and 50, said they believed online universities offered specialized degree programs and that they could advance their careers.

Since the late 1990s, the number of women earning degrees has been surpassing the number of men, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

First in bachelor’s degrees, then master’s, and finally Ph.D.s beginning in 2009. That trend can be found online, with 61 percent of online undergraduates being women.

The same, however, cannot yet be said for the most hyped member of the online education family, massive open online courses (MOOCs), where early evidence points to a potential male-heavy gender gap.

The Western International University survey aimed to gather information on what barriers and motivations exist among women interested in continuing their education.

See Page 2 for details on why more women than men may prefer online courses.

It was conducted with KRC Research in July and surveyed 1,000 women.

The results suggest that a majority of women feel strongly that a college degree would improve their lives, but that traditional face-to-face courses are too expensive and inflexible.

The findings back up earlier studies on women and online education, including research from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation which found that 60 percent of online students are women.

The top two reasons for choosing online education in that study? Saving money and flexibility.

“Women of all ages are incredibly motivated to earn a degree,” said Tracy Lorenz, president of Western International University, in announcing the results of July survey. “However, many have been unable to find a program that is flexible, affordable, manageable and that fits with their lifestyle.”

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