Written by Joanna Hughes

Online learning opens doors to many students. One particular demographic that’s taking advantage of this relatively new path to college degrees, according to the results of a joint study by The Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research? Women. Here’s a closer look at the findings.

The Significant Majority

The report, 'Online College Students', reveals that women comprise a significant majority of online learners at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Specifically, women represent 70 percent and 72 percent, respectively, of undergraduate and graduate online learners, according to the most recent data.

At some schools, meanwhile, women make up as much as 94 percent of enrolled students, according to US News & World Report.

This phenomenon is not limited to the US, however. The numbers also hold true in Canada, where women account for two-thirds of online course participants, according to The Globe and Mail.

Flexibility Matters

To what can this trend be attributed? Experts cite several reasons. The ability to balance work, school and family commitments is a major part of it.

Amanda Tutlewski, who is halfway through an online master’s degree in nursing, said, “It’s convenient and it’s flexible.”

Additionally, the gender imbalance can be attributed to the fact that women in general are pursuing higher education in larger numbers.

Lastly, the type of jobs women are interested in may influence their interest in online studies.

According to Aslanian Market Research senior vice president Carol Aslanian, “Women tend to enter professions where continuous education is needed and degrees and certificates are valued and even required. Education, the social services, the health professions -- all have requirements for further education to move up the career ladder."

Regardless of the motivations that drive them to online learning, students can walk away with other benefits as well.

Fully-funded PhD researcher Alice Piotrowska said, “Distance courses helped me realize that I do very well as an independent researcher.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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