Percentage of students taking distance courses 2012-2016

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This report uses data collected under the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Fall Enrollment survey.
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As of Fall 2016, there were 6,359,121 students taking at least one distance education course, comprising 31.6% of all higher education enrollments. This share represents the total number of students taking all of their courses at a distance, and those who are taking a combination of distance and non-distance courses. The proportion of the higher education student body taking advantage of distance education courses has increased each of the last four years. It stood at 25.9% in 2012, at 27.1% in 2013, 28.3% in 2014, and 29.7% in 2015.

The number of distance students at both the undergraduate and graduate level increased steadily each year from 2012 to 2016. Graduate and undergraduate students taking at least one distance education course increased 5.6% over the previous year, and grew by 17.2% in the four years since 2012. The 5.6% growth rate exceeds that observed between 2012 and 2013 (3.4%), 2013 and 2014 (3.3%), and between 2014 and 2015 (3.9%). The 6,359,121 distance education students in Fall 2016 includes 5,253,997 who studied at the undergraduate level, and 1,105,124 who studied at the graduate level.