Online University Consortium Surveys Concur with Latest Industry Report: Traditional Universities’ Degree Programs Preferred 2:1 Over For-Profit Providers

April 29, 2004

April 27, 2004, Dallas, TX – Surveys conducted by Online University Consortium indicate traditional universities remain the preferred choice for online education and degree programs. These findings were substantiated in a recent report by Eduventures, prompting the Consortium to help clarify the market by making its industry checklist available for public download at The list features seven important factors for choosing online education, and includes buyer preferences and recommendations for what to look for in quality degree programs.

Results from the Consortium’s surveys of corporate decision-makers at industry events, such as the Society of Human Resources Management conference, suggest that when hiring and promoting, employers prefer candidates with degrees from traditional universities 2:1 over for-profit providers such as University of Phoenix.

Eduventures’ recent market update reinforces the findings of the Consortium, emphasizing that, as the market matures, brand strength will increasingly favor non-profit institutions. According to the report, traditional universities command significant brand equity, and will threaten market share of for-profit businesses, because students identify them as a familiar provider from which they will choose an online program for traditional reasons.

Traditional universities that provide online degree programs, such as the SMU School of Engineering, must pass a 7-point qualification standard to become a member of the Online University Consortium. Following evaluation of quality online degree programs from education providers, the Consortium then conducts research with organizational and individual learners to determine size and demand in the market.

“For-profit providers enjoyed an initial surge in popularity partly because of convenience,” notes Greg Eisenbarth, the Consortium’s Executive Director. “However, the market has shifted dramatically with the country’s most respected universities now offering quality online degree programs for greater choice and flexibility.”

This finding is validated by Director of Distance Education at Southern Methodist University School of Engineering. According to J. Kim McNutt, “These studies corroborate what our distance education students have been telling us for some time….earning a degree online from a traditional university is extremely important to both the student-employee and their employer, who in many cases pay tuition costs for their professional staff.”

“Industry reports, including our own studies, continue to confirm that traditional universities such as SMU’s School of Engineering remain the trusted and valued choice,” adds Eisenbarth. “They provide a balanced education backed by a reputation and quality that remain unattainable by for-profits. For most individuals and corporations choosing an online degree program, this is critical to making a successful decision.”

Along with the industry checklist, results from Online UC’s initial preference studies can be reviewed at

A summary of Eduventures’ report, “Online Distance Education Market Update: A Nascent Market Begins to Mature” is at

About Online University Consortium
Online UC uses the industry’s highest quality education standards and most accepted learning practices to evaluate online degree programs from education providers. To date, twenty-eight of the world’s largest corporate learning departments, representing in excess of 2.5 million employees, now employ these standards of education. For more information, call 435.649.2190 or visit

About SMU School of Engineering
For more information about SMU School of Engineering and the 19 programs it offers via distance education, visit