UofL’s online learning programs thrive in the face of the pandemic

    UofL online learning student David Beumer studying at home with family.
    UofL online learning student David Beumer studying at home with family.

    As the COVID-19 pandemic thrust most all of education into the virtual realm, the University of Louisville online learning programs experienced more than 40 percent growth, with 1,534 students in Fall 2019 increasing to 2,156 students in Fall 2020.                                                                                                                  

    “Our online programs deliver the same renowned education and degree as students would receive in-person, developed and taught by UofL faculty,” said Gale Rhodes, vice provost, UofL Delphi Center. “Online students walk away with the same pride in their degree, ready to take the next step in their life and pursue career progression.”

    UofL entered the emerging field of fully online education 20 years ago with the launch of three master’s degrees in 2001. Since then, online education at the university has not only grown, but flourished—making a significant impact on the communities of Louisville and beyond.

    Online programs give UofL an expanded reach beyond Kentucky, with 36 percent of students living outside the Commonwealth, excluding the reciprocity Indiana counties. Military-connected students make up 20 percent of online learners, making higher-education attainable even while students are deployed overseas. Military-connected encompasses Active-Duty, Coast Guard, Reserve, National Guard, veteran or dependent.

    The university’s online programs portfolio has grown to more than 50 programs, including bachelor’s, master’s and certificates. The university also is slated to launch around 10 additional programs over the next year.

    “As we move into 2021, the non-traditional student population remains a high priority for the university. Our focus is to reach these students and provide them the opportunity to receive high-quality, market-driven online education that aligns with employer demands,” Rhodes said.

    In academic year 2020-2021, UofL launched 13 new programs in market-demand areas including analytics, business administration and health administration. UofL’s MBA program became available as a complete online option in 2019. 

    Online education is appealing, as it allows students to balance work, life and education without having to deprioritize the things that matter most.

    “I needed flexibility, there’s no way I could earn an education in-person. I needed a program where I could also go pick up my son from daycare or go to work,” said Sasha Hill, UofL online engineering management student. 


    Ashley Jefferson contributed to this story. 

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.