Attrition in Online and Campus Degree Programs


The purpose of this study was to examine how the mode of instructional delivery, campus face-to-face or online, affected dropout relative to students’ academic and demographic characteristics. A quantitative study was conducted to analyze the academic and demographic characteristics of newly admitted, matriculated degree-seeking students (N = 640) from Fall 2002 to Fall 2004 in the Master’s of Business Administration and Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders at a national research university in the southeastern United States. Demographic variables analyzed were age, gender, and ethnicity.  Academic variables analyzed were program delivery mode, undergraduate grade point average, graduate grade point average at time of dropout or completion, admission test scores, and number of terms to degree completion or number of courses completed at time of dropout.

Results of the study found that online students were significantly more likely to dropout than campus based students. Age was found to have a significant unique affect on dropout in both programs with older students more likely to dropout. Academic and demographic variables were not found to be significantly associated with dropout in the online formats of either program.  Variables related to dropout for the campus based groups of both programs differed. Campus MBA students who dropped out were older and had higher GMAT scores while campus CSDI students who dropped out had lower undergraduate GPA’s and GRE scores. Logistic regression analyses showed age and delivery format to have  significant unique effects beyond other predictors on dropout in the MBA program overall while age and undergraduate GPA had significant unique effects beyond other predictors on dropout for the CSDI program.

Download Resources