Study: Business Most Popular Field of Study Among Online Students

A new report reveals the motivations of current or prospective online education students

By Ryan Lytle
Posted 2012

One out of every three students who enroll in an online education program study business, according to a recent report about online students in 2012 by The Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research, which included survey responses from 1,500 current and prospective online students nationwide.

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Of the survey respondents, 34% reported that they're studying or plan to study in the field of business; and fields of study in health professions and social sciences rounded out the top three most popular areas with 16% of online students currently studying or planning to study in each discipline.

This trend is consistent in traditional U.S. higher education as well, with subjects in the business field accounting for roughly 20% of all bachelor's degrees awarded annually—making it the nation's most popular field of study.

More than 90% of online students noted that their primary motivation for joining an online program involved their careers: 46% reported that their motivation was to advance in their current career, while 29% hoped to change careers.

"Changes in people's careers most often directed them to further education," the study's authors write. "Failing to rise to the next level or increase income drives many people back to school to gain the credentials they need to succeed."

Online students are also motivated to consider online programs or institutions that have a nearby campus or service center, according to the report. In fact, about 80% of online students reside within 100 miles of a campus or service center of the program they attend.

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"Online students seriously consider physical location when selecting an institution," the report's authors write. "Institutions that offer online programs should promote their programs to local residents within 100 miles of campus."

Originally published at on August 2, 2012.

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