2U, Inc. Survey Finds Over 50% of Prospective Students Much More Likely to Consider Online Programs as COVID-19 Drives “Share Shift” in Higher Education

Survey Explores Impact of COVID-19 on Prospective Graduate and Undergraduate Student Decision-making

2U, Inc., a global leader in education technology, announced the results of a survey exploring how COVID-19 is impacting the decision-making of prospective students considering entering graduate and undergraduate programs. The data show that, irrespective of discipline, prospective students are more likely to consider online degrees.

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The survey of 1,754 prospective students, conducted from June 30 through July 22, 2020, underscores that COVID-19 is driving a paradigm shift in online education. Prior to COVID-19, only 16% of students across U.S. undergraduate and graduate programs were enrolled in exclusively distance-learning degrees, according to the latest federal data on distance education. Data from 2U’s survey show that the pandemic will dramatically impact the share of undergraduate and graduate students considering enrolling in intentionally-built online programs as perceptions around the traditional campus experience evolve.

Key survey findings include: 73% of respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic has made them much more likely (52%) or somewhat more likely (21%) to consider online programs, and 20% of respondents said that, absent COVID-19, they would not have considered an online program.

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“In this time of significant disruption, it’s incredibly important to 2U that we understand how and why students are making decisions as the pandemic continues to create new challenges and opportunities in education,” 2U Co-Founder and CEO Christopher “Chip” Paucek said. “The results of this survey show a clear share shift toward online higher education among prospective degree students. As more and more of these students affirmatively choose online degrees, universities with experience delivering intentionally designed, high-quality online programs with great student outcomes will stand out to this growing universe of learners.”

2U has spent over a decade helping top-tier non-profit universities move online and currently powers over 70 online graduate and undergraduate degree programs across 26 disciplines. As part of this quantitative research, 2U surveyed a representative cross-section of prospective students who expressed interest in 2U-powered graduate and undergraduate degree programs from April 1 – May 31, 2020 to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their consideration of online and on-campus degree programs.

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