An analysis of newly released Education Department data finds that four big universities, operating mostly online, are granting the most education degrees in the U.S. Last year, the four — three of which are for-profit — awarded one in 16 bachelor's degrees and postgraduate awards and nearly one in 11 advanced education awards, including master's degrees and doctorates.
In 2001, the for-profit University of Phoenix awarded only 72 education degrees to teachers, administrators and other school personnel through its online program, according to federal data. Last year, it awarded nearly 6,000 degrees, more than any other university. Online schools rounding out the top four are Walden University, Grand Canyon University and National University. Every one of the top 10 online schools now offers an online education credential.
"We shouldn't be surprised because the whole industry is moving in that direction," said Robert Pianta, dean of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education. "The thing I would be interested in knowing is the degree to which they are simply pushing these things out in order to generate dollars, or whether there's some real innovation in there."