US Online Education Market To Reach $144.30 Bn & 87.6 Million Users By 2029



29 April, 2024

US Online Education Market To Reach $144.30 Bn & 87.6 Million Users By 2029

Eric Schuermann says, “The future of e-learning is wide open! Learning Doesn’t just happen during business hours in the office or the classroom. It happens everywhere through a number of different channels.”

Online education hit the sky in the early 2010s in the US. At that time, it hadn’t revolutionised education. Today, it has led to the emergence of various learning platforms and delivery methods. According to a report by Statista, the highest share of revenue will be generated in the US. The major factors that fueled the rise of online education are its flexibility, accessibility, and affordability.

The actual demand for online education arose during the pandemic lockdown. Everyone was forced to rely on online learning platforms, Zoom calls, or Google Meets. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of education regarding student enrollment and the number of institutions incorporating online education. According to Statista, the number of users in online education in the US is projected to reach 87.6m by 2029. Not just that, the revenue is expected to grow at 10.52 % annually, and the projected market volume will be around US $144.30 bn by 2029.

As the US is a hub for a large section of the student population, we have tracked down the rise of online education in the US in this blog.

Rewind to the Past

  • In 1960, the University of Illinois launched the 1st computer-assisted learning programme for teaching. It contained forums, chat rooms, messaging, testing, video games and more.

  • In 1982, the California-based Western Behavioral Sciences Institute implemented computer conferencing technology, which businessmen used. This was later followed by educational institutions.

  • Jones International University became the first entirely online accredited university in 1993.

Since that day, online education continued to evolve and grow in the US. The new EdTech sector is the fastest-growing field which holds wide appeal. But how big is it? Let’s go deep.

Online Education Landscape in the US

Recent data published by NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) shows that 7.5 million students enrolled in online programmes at public colleges. Whereas, 2.6 million online learners were admitted to private schools. Although there was a significant drop in online enrollments after the post-pandemic period, the number is still higher than in pre-pandemic years. In the US, it was observed that even before the pandemic, online/distance learning was growing at a steady pace. The World Economic Forum reports that Coursera gained 92 million users in 2022, even though schools were open for offline classes.

While short courses and certifications are on the rise, degree programmes also have a trend to watch out for. Particularly at the graduate level, the growth is highest. If you compare gender-wise, over 65% of the online learners are female in the US. Forbes highlighted a survey by New America which showed that most Americans rate online education as equal to or better than in-person education.

Online Education Trends in the US

  • An increasing number of colleges are turning to open educational resources. They are free education tools under the public domain and are licensed for no-cost use.

  • Virtual reality is making it possible to add practical learning programmes online. Some subjects, like biology, are difficult to offer online. But with virtual reality, interactive videos and online skill demonstrations have become possible in online education. For instance, the University of North Carolina has interactive walkthrough videos in the construction management course.

  • Blended learning will hold its place for a long time. The hybrid learning format is expected to gain more popularity in the coming years. It is a great way to maximise the benefits of learning resources. A large number of working professionals choose the blended learning format.

  • Expansion of virtual student space. Many universities have created virtual student unions and group activities to familiarise the online learners among themselves. This has positively impacted student engagement levels.

  • Certificates, badges and micro-credentials are very popular. In earlier times, universities or companies offered short skills-based courses and badges. Now, it has become a more common phenomenon to enhance industry-specific skills and expand your professional credentials.

  • Collaboration between higher education institutes and corporations. Business entities offer various tuition assistance programmes that are reimbursed. Such collaboration between companies and educational institutions has grown significantly in recent years. This reduces financial burden and is much more industry-relevant.

  • Online education has become the first popular choice. Working professionals and other older graduates in the US find online education more convenient. However, according to a report by U.S. News, students between 18 and 22 also choose online degrees.

Are Providers Ready to Meet the Demands?

Online education is growing unimaginably, and competition is fiercer for students and providers. Is the market ready? As per the McKinsey report, the four major forces that pose challenges for providers are:

  • Increased competition

  • The dominance of a handful of big players

  • Inflow of investments

  • Rising bar of academic quality

To meet the rising demands, online education providers can adopt the below-mentioned strategies:

  • Focus on the ROI of the degree a student will get.

  • Improve the career planning and coaching services.

  • Build and maintain corporate relationships that highly reflect the quality of education.

  • Research and analysis to deliver a distinctive experience.

End of Story

The rise of online education started in 2010 slowly and gradually. Since the demand was not enough, the growth was limited. However, students’ perspectives in the US have changed suddenly and they now find online education better than in-person. This ultimately has bridged the gap between online and offline learning quality.

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