Online and Evangelical

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Many of America’s evangelical Christian colleges are increasingly attracted to online education. According to an article by Steve Kolowich in USA Today:

The question facing universities looking to compete in the booming market for online higher education is not so much how to do it, but how to distinguish themselves from the rest. In this, Christian universities appear to have a built-in advantage. And many are seizing the opportunity to expand their footprint.

The combination of America’s religious character, its large and well-organized evangelical population, its sophisticated online education market, and the big-tent approach to Christian education taken by many of its faith-based universities has set the stage for rapid expansion of Christian-oriented distance learning, says [consultant Richard] Garrett, whose firm has worked with [several Christian] universities… on their online strategies.

Some of these Christian schools are for-profits, most of these appear to be traditional nonprofits but somehow— Onward, Christian Soldiers—they all seem to want to get a lot bigger. And online is an easy way to expand without spending a lot more money.

In addition, while the numbers for the true growth of the online Christian schools are a little murky, there appears to be a certain natural market for online schools in certain segments of the evangelical community. As Carlos Campo, incoming president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, explained, many evangelical parents seem to ask, “Is there someone in the virtual sphere where I can send my child where they can transition directly from a home-schooled environment into a collegiate environment and never leave the home?”

Well apparently there is now. Some 55 percent of Regent students are enrolled exclusively online. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer