Across the country, enrollment in online courses and programs has ticked up each year for the last 13, according to the most recent data from the Online Learning Consortium. Western Carolina is no exception to that rule.

Since 2007, enrollment in online degree programs has grown from 1,624 students to 2,045, a 25 percent increase in 10 years. Some of that growth has been fueled by the expansion of certain degree programs to the online space, including a bachelor of science in business administration and law added in fall 2015 and a master of science in sport management added in 2016. Both programs have exceeded enrollment goals.

Susan Fouts, executive director of WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach, which supports all online degree programs, said the driving force behind the growth of distance education at WCU has been demand in the market.

“There is a need for individuals across the state to complete a bachelor’s degree or earn a graduate degree in order to progress in their careers,” Fouts said. “Many of those people cannot leave their jobs or their families to attend school, so they are looking for an alternative way to get that degree. I think WCU has stepped up and made the process easy through hands-on student support.

Originally published Sept. 3, 2017.