Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education?

50 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2016

See all articles by Joshua Goodman

Joshua Goodman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Julia E. Melkers

Georgia Institute of Technology - School of Public Policy

Amanda Pallais

Harvard University

Date Written: October 2016

Abstract

Though online technology has generated excitement about its potential to increase access to education, most research has focused on comparing student performance across online and in-person formats. We provide the first evidence that online education affects the number of people pursuing education. We study the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Online M.S. in Computer Science, the earliest model to combine the inexpensive nature of online education with a highly-ranked degree program. Regression discontinuity estimates exploiting an admissions threshold unknown to applicants show that access to this online option substantially increases overall enrollment in education, expanding the pool of students rather than substituting for existing educational options. Demand for the online option is driven by mid-career Americans. By satisfying large, previously unmet demand for mid-career training, this single program will boost annual production of American computer science master’s degrees by about seven percent. More generally, these results suggest that low-cost, high-quality online options may open opportunities for populations who would not otherwise pursue education.

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Joshua and Melkers, Julia E. and Pallais, Amanda, Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education? (October 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22754. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2858064

Joshua Goodman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/about/faculty-staff-directory/joshua-goodman/

Julia E. Melkers

Georgia Institute of Technology - School of Public Policy ( email )

685 Cherry St.
Atlanta, GA 30332-0345
United States

Amanda Pallais

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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