Why Hide Online Degree Tuition?

Why Hide Online Degree Tuition?

Where Is The Online Degree Tuition?

I’ve spent a good deal of time researching online degree tuition and other key characteristics of online programs for competitive analyses. Our database of online degree program information (www.onlinedegreedatabase.com) currently holds details for nearly 5,000 online programs from more than 950 U.S. institutions. This makes it, by far, the most comprehensive information available about online degree programs in the U.S. market today.

We update the records in our database at least twice per year. Our updating process includes verifying:

  • the program website link (which we provide to students who download our free reports)
  • degree name
  • available concentrations
  • total credits
  • cost per credit (including in-state where appropriate)
  • prerequisite requirements
  • admissions requirements
  • plus several other key characteristics

The new 2019-2020 tuition is now posted on university websites for most programs. We are in the process of updating the online degree tuition and program characteristics for all of our records.  Our search for online program details replicates how a student would shop for an online program. This means that I’m in a unique position to offer some insights about online program website strengths and weaknesses.

In my experience, the greatest weakness is that online degree tuition, or the tuition / cost per credit of these programs, is often the most difficult item to find. And yet, it is one of the most important considerations for students who are shopping for an online program.

Biggest Website Weakness

There are often no references or links to tuition / cost information on the program websites. Only a few programs have clear, easy to find information about their tuition on their websites.

Many websites link to outdated tuition or to pages that no longer exist (the dreaded “404” error). In some cases, the tuition and fee information provided on the university website is so complicated that it is nearly impossible for an outsider (and prospective student) to interpret. For example: In-state vs. out-of-state costs. Multiple add-on fees with acronyms that make no sense to someone outside of the university. Different tuition for each school or division. Undergraduate vs. graduate tuition. Tuition rates for multiple campuses. Total tuition numbers without clarifying the number of credits each represents. Any or all of this information may or may not apply to an online program vs a campus-based program.

And, even in early July 2019, many programs still have the tuition tables for the previous academic year on their websites (too many with 2017-2018 also!). And many provide tuition data without referencing the academic year to which it applies.

Other Website Weaknesses

To make matters even worse, many websites demure their discussion of cost to information about how to ‘fund’ education costs. Here they introduce their process for helping students get loans and scholarships.

As a consumer, I always get a little worried when someone offers me financing options before I even know the total cost. And online students say they are experiencing buyer’s remorse. This is largely because they did not complete enough research on tuition and fees before enrolling in their online program.

Most university online program websites also lack:

  • complete application deadline information for programs, so there is no way to know how many opportunities a student has during the year to enter the program
  • a thorough discussion of the curriculum, including course descriptions and course sequence
  • prerequisite requirements

It’s time for online program websites to step up to this challenge. Students will move on to other online program websites if they can’t get the information they need on yours.

Website Strengths

There are improvements in the overall level of relevant details provided by most online program websites. More programs are providing meaningful details and improving the usability of their sites:

  • details for all online programs offered are located in the same area of the website
  • online program pages include a “summary” area near the top that includes cost per credit (which includes tuition and fees), total credits, available concentrations, and the time required to complete the program
  • prerequisite and admissions requirements are clearly identified
  • application fees and the application process are also clear for applicants

There are definitely more online program websites with improved content this year vs. the previous three years. But there are also many more online programs in the market, as competition continues to intensify.

The Online Degree Database Difference

Gathering detailed online degree program information takes hours, if not weeks, of time scanning university websites. This is why the Online Degree Database exists.

And, we collect details from university websites for the universe of most popular online master’s degrees like the MBA, MPA, MPH, MHA, MSW, MSN and more. And we’ve significantly increased the number of online information systems master’s degrees and bachelor’s degree programs since last year.

Even more important, our interactive tool allows prospective students to work with the database details to find the best online programs using criteria that are important to them. Plus, we give prospective students helpful information on thinking through what program characteristics are most important. And we offer tips for how to talk with online program advisers for the most popular master’s degrees.

Visit our website today to see what we have to offer. Let us web-surf university program websites for you! With our data, you can complete the due-diligence research a purchase this important deserves!

If you work at a university, let the Online Degree Database help you find your most competitive price and program characteristics. Contact michelle@onlinedegreedatabase.com for more information on our market intelligence reports today!