Americans’ Interest in Online and Hybrid Education is Strong, Regardless of COVID-19

Strada Center for Consumer Insights' weekly survey on the impact of COVID-19 finds that a majority of Americans prefer online-only or hybrid education options; Black Americans have the strongest interest in and perceptions of the value of online education among racial groups

INDIANAPOLIS — Strada Education Network, a national social impact organization dedicated to forging pathways between education and employment, has released a new analysis of its weekly, nationally representative survey tracking the impact of the global pandemic on Americans’ lives, work, and education.

This week’s Public Viewpoint survey finds that 42 percent of Americans say that if they were to enroll in postsecondary education in the next six months, they would prefer an online education or training program. Another 32 percent would prefer a hybrid option. Women (48 percent) are much more likely than men (33 percent) to say they would pursue online-only options if they were to enroll in the next six months.

This preference for online or hybrid options would remain strong even if Covid-19 weren’t a threat—with 31 percent saying they would prefer hybrid in that scenario, and 28 percent online only. However, the difference in preferences for online between women and men essentially disappears when people are asked to imagine Covid-19 isn’t a threat.

“The pandemic is clearly impacting enrollment preferences, but Americans are telling us that interest in online and especially hybrid options will remain strong even after the threat of the virus has waned,” said Dr. Dave Clayton, Senior Vice President at the Strada Center for Consumer Insights. “The country needs a renewed commitment to delivering education focused on student priorities, and that starts with recognizing that we need a much better understanding of what individuals are seeking from education, how they determine value, and ultimately how they decide whether to enroll.”

Only 45 percent of Americans are confident in the quality of online education, with 42 percent uncertain and 13 percent not confident. Americans’ perceptions of the quality and value of hybrid and online-only options rivaled their perceptions of in-person education. Black Americans and adults aged 25-49 have the most favorable perceptions of online education.

“There is no universal preference or one-size-fits-all option for education,” Clayton said. “So it will be important to help individuals match their learning styles, goals and circumstances with the choices available to them.”

Additional key findings from this week include:

  • Black adults (60 percent) were by far the most confident about the quality of online education, followed by Latino (46 percent), white (43 percent) and Asian (35 percent) adults.
  • Graduates of online-only four-year institutions (54 percent) are much more likely to say their education was worth the cost than graduates of four-year institutions with hybrid or in-person programs (35 percent).
  • Graduates of online-only institutions also are more likely to say their education made them an attractive candidate to employers (59 percent) and that they would recommend their educational path to others (54 percent) than are graduates of other four-year colleges (51 percent and 45 percent, respectively).


About Public Viewpoint

To date, over 14,000 Americans have been surveyed for the Public Viewpoint. The Public Viewpoint is produced by Strada Education Network’s Center for Consumer Insights, a research team that studies the experiences and perceptions of American adults in order to inform the development of a more consumer-centered learning ecosystem. The Center for Consumer Insights provides the nation’s largest education consumer database, which includes more than 350,000 completed surveys about the education and work experiences of American adults. View the full Public Viewpoint findings at:

About Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Surveys

This week’s findings include data from Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Surveys, administered between 2016 and 2020. From 2016 to 2019, a survey of 350 U.S. adults was fielded every day to give a voice to higher education consumers. From March 30–May 28, 2020, a revised survey was fielded, revealing new findings based on the responses of more than 10,000 U.S. adults.  These surveys measure the opinions, experiences and expectations of prospective, current and former students.

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a pioneering social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to create a new learning ecosystem that better serves the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at