Factors Affecting Adult Enrollment in Online Higher Education: For-profit vs Nonprofit Institutions




Harris, Erin

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This study explored factors affecting adult enrollment in online degree programs offered by for-profit virtual universities relative to those offered by traditional nonprofit institutions. A mixed methods approach was taken to investigate differences in perceived motivations and barriers to participation and the extent to which adults differentiate between nonprofit and for-profit institutions in the context of online programs. The findings indicate a perception among those selecting for-profit universities that a degree from an institution which is “known” is just as good as one from a “reputable” institution, and differences in how each institutional preference group searched for and evaluated potential programs. It is suggested that future research focus on understanding perceptions o f online programs offered by nonprofit colleges.



distance education, adult education, for-profit universities and colleges, nonprofit organizations, telecommunication, internet in education, higher education, computer-assisted instruction


Harris, E. (2009). Factors affecting adult enrollment in online higher education: For-profit vs nonprofit institutions (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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