Nearly 1,000 students resumed their education at the University of North Georgia (UNG) this fall through online courses and degree programs, even as its five campuses resumed fully face-to-face instruction.
According to UNG’s fall census data, 921 students enrolled in UNG Online for the 2021 fall semester. It marked a 26% increase compared to the previous year’s online enrollment. The rise of students taking courses and completing their degrees online is a consistent trend since 2017.
“UNG is committed to providing the best education to students, whether through in-person interaction or online,” Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of UNG, said. “Based on this standard of excellence and the flexibility online programs offer to students, we attracted many students to our online degree programs.”
Of the students choosing to take classes virtually, associate degree-seeking students jumped by 69%. It was the most significant increase among associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
Michelle Eaton, director of enrollment management for student success, attributes the spike to students’ familiarity with online learning that was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. UNG transitioned to fully remote learning from March to August 2020 and switched to partial online learning in fall 2020.
Students experienced online learning during the pandemic, and online courses potentially suit their lives more appropriately at this time. The flexibility of online learning may allow students the opportunity to work and attend class asynchronously.
Director of enrollment management for student success
“Students experienced online learning during the pandemic, and online courses potentially suit their lives more appropriately at this time,” Eaton said. “The flexibility of online learning may allow students the opportunity to work and attend class asynchronously. We believe this is the reason an increasing number of students are choosing online learning.”
UNG has six online associate degree pathways, including criminal justice, general studies, healthcare services and informatics administration, political science, social work, and sociology.
A virtual education also continues to prove fruitful for graduate students.
Online graduate enrollment rose by 25%, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth.
“The College of Education (COE) saw the largest gains in online enrollment at the graduate level. It increased by 34%,” Cory Thornton, director of graduate admissions said. “This can be attributed partly to the Master of Arts in teaching program transitioning fully online for the summer 2021 term. It can also be attributed to the increase in enrollment in the COE’s online curriculum and instruction program that saw a 50% boost in new student enrollment for the summer 2021 term.”
UNG has seven online master’s degree programs and two online doctoral degrees. It also has 11 graduate-level certificates and endorsements. Graduate-level programs also are available in person at UNG’s Cumming, Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses.
Three bachelor’s degrees are online and accounted for a 9% increase. They are healthcare services and informatics administration, political science and registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Overall, enrollment at UNG’s Dahlonega Campus grew to 7,387 students this fall to become the campus with the highest student population.
Fall 2021 enrollment figures for the University System of Georgia were released Nov. 1. Enrollment for the system dipped only slightly this fall despite facing challenges that have buffeted higher education institutions nationally. Total enrollment stands at 340,638 students attending the state’s 26 public colleges and universities.
The “Fall 2021 Semester Enrollment Report” analyzes enrollment data by institution, age, gender, race and ethnicity, in-state, out-of-state and international students.