Higher Education

LSU Logs 45% Growth with their Online Program, But the University Has a Lot of Ground to Cover to Reach their Ambitious Goal

By Martha Cruz
August 28, 2020

In 2018, Louisiana State University (LSU) set an ambitious goal for their online program. The institution hired an online learning veteran of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and hoped to reach an enrollment of 30,000 online students by 2025. This week, LSU announced it had grown their online enrollment by 45%, but there’s a still a long way to go in five years.

That growth is impressive, but LSU’s online enrollment remains a fraction of their on-campus equivalent at 1,403 students, according to university reporting.

Students have seen a steep increase in online learning opportunities across the country, especially since the outbreak of the pandemic. Even before the rise of COVID-19, a significant number of universities, like LSU, have provided more and more online courses to break the boundaries of traditional learning. Two years ago, the institution laid these plans as an effort to avoid declining enrollment. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the effort has an added relevance.

What LSU Is Doing to Boost their Online Program

To begin their rigorous plan, LSU hired Sasha Thackaberry, the former assistant vice president at Southern New Hampshire University. SNHU saw a significant increase in online enrollment when they invested large sums of money in bringing their courses online and providing them across the country.

LSU’s online program under Thackaberry announced eight new fully online degrees this week. The LSU Online & Continuing Education offers more than eighty online degrees. These courses also include certificates and MicroCred programs across a wide range of high demand fields. By providing these online courses, LSU hopes to attract students from anywhere in the world.

As Thackaberry told Inside Higher Ed in 2019, “What we’re doing here at LSU is “leapfrogging today.” We have a lot of ground to make up, but a lot of unique strengths to leverage in order to do that. As we build our programs and online offerings to meet our mission, we’re not attempting to “catch up” with the big players in the field. Today is gone. We’re building programming, support, and structure to scale relevant, contemporary options for our students in Louisiana and beyond. Everything we’re creating is focusing on stackable learning opportunities, from the micro to the macro.”

New Online Program Offerings

LSU’s new remote offerings include three online master’s programs, three graduate certificates, and two undergraduate degrees. Learners can apply to enroll in the fall semester as late as October 5.

“We are excited to launch our online B.S. in Sport Administration to further provide LSU students the opportunity to earn this degree in a flexible format,” said Michael Martinez, LSU School of Kinesiology assistant professor, in a statement. “Students pursuing this degree will be exposed to relevant topics and trends to the management and administration of the sport industry.”

Featured Image: William Murphy, Flickr.