In-Person vs Online Learning Statistics (2024 Guide)

Last Updated on June, 2024

As the educational landscape continues to develop, the ongoing debate between in-person vs. online learning has garnered significant attention.

The differences between these two learning modes shape students, institutions, and educators’ preferences and choices.

This article presents the education statistics and trends defining education in 2023, examining the advantages and disadvantages of in-person and online learning.

Quick Summary

The ongoing debate between in-person vs. online learning has garnered significant attention in the education landscape, with a significant increase in online learning and 98% of universities shifting to virtual platforms.

Online learning offers various advantages, including flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and potential for improved academic performance and retention rates. However, it also presents challenges such as the digital divide and potential risks of inappropriate content.

The future of education suggests a more blended approach, with the incorporation of AI and personalized learning. This is projected to drive significant growth in the eLearning industry, reaching a valuation of $1 trillion by 2028.

Top In-Person vs. Online Learning Statistics and Trends

a student learning online using a laptop
  • The United States is expected to generate $70.23 billion in online learning revenue in 2023.
  • Revenue per user in online education is projected to exceed $20,000 in 2023.
  • 98% of universities globally have moved classes online since 2020.
  • 70% of students prefer to attend an online class over traditional learning.
  • 77% of academic leaders worldwide believe online education is equal or superior to traditional learning.
  • Distance learning enhances retention by 2560%.
  • Online learning requires 4060% less time compared to traditional education.
  • Online degrees are cheaper by more than $10,000 than conventional on-campus degrees.
  • 63% of students in the U.S. report daily engagement in online learning activities.
  • 72% of online students believe online learning is superior to the traditional classroom setting.
  • Online learning is environmentally friendly, using 87% less energy and emitting 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student.

What is the Difference Between In-Person and Online Learning?

In-Person vs online learning presents different approaches to education delivery. 

Online learning uses digital platforms and the Internet, enabling students to engage in coursework from virtually any location. 

This format often allows for learning at your own pace, granting online learning users the flexibility to tailor their schedules. 

Communication, collaboration, and content delivery occurs digitally, requiring a reliable internet connection and access to digital devices. 

In contrast, In-Person learning takes place within physical classrooms or educational institutions. It adheres to a fixed schedule, fostering face-to-face interactions with instructors and peers. 

Additionally, traditional learning provides access to physical resources such as libraries and laboratories, enriching the learning experience. 

The Rise of Online Learning


Research findings from show the remarkable trajectory of online learning:

  • Since its inception in 2000, online learning has witnessed a staggering 900% growth, solidifying its status as the fastest-growing sector in the education industry.
  • Projections indicate that by 2026, the online learning industry will surpass $370 billion, with an anticipated user increase to 57 million by 2027. 
  • In 2023, the United States is expected to generate a substantial $70.23 billion in online learning revenue. 

Research findings from the University of Potomac given below explain enrollment trends in online education and show a steady increase in enrollments for distance learning courses:

  • A substantial 6,700,000 students are currently enrolled in online courses, with 275+ accredited online universities, attesting to the legitimacy and proliferation of online educational institutions. 
  • Moreover, 30% of college students have embraced online learning by enrolling in at least one online course. 
  • Regardless of whether it’s an online or traditional classroom setting, 67% of college instructors emphasize the importance of multimedia tools such as videos, blogs, podcasts, and other online media for effective teaching. 

In-Person Vs. Online Learning: A Comparison

in-person learning vs online learning

Below is a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of both learning modes.

Advantages of Online Learning Over In-Person Learning

1. Adaptability

  • According to research by, 63% of students opt for online learning due to its flexibility, highlighting the appeal of virtual learning environments.
  • Approximately 30% of employees pursue online classes to initiate a new, higher-paying career, while online learning demands 60% less employee time than traditional classrooms.

2. Performance and Outcomes

  • Studies by reveal that online learning can boost student and employee retention rates.
  • Student retention rates were greater by up to 60%, leading to a 60% reduction in study time.
  • About 60% of online learners report enhanced soft skills, contributing to a holistic educational experience.
  • Employee performance sees improvement by 15% to 25%, and retention rates can increase by more than half through online learning and online training.

3. Engagement

  • Research indicates that 63% of U.S. students actively engage in online learning activities daily, and over 2 in 5 students participate daily.
  • In the academic realm, 49% of full-time faculty members have received online training on various online learning techniques.

5. Cost Efficiency 

a bar graph showing the average cost for a degree
  • Online degrees stand out as a cost-saving option for higher education.
  • Potential savings exceed $36,000 over four years when learning online compared to traditional learning options.
  • According to the University of Potomac, the total average net cost of traditional degrees is estimated at $85,000, significantly higher than the $30,000 average cost of public online college degrees.
  • The average cost of online college courses is approximately $15,000 annually, whereas public online colleges offer cost-effective alternatives at $10,000 annually.

6. Time Efficiency

  • According to research by the Brandon Hall Group, online classes reduce study time by 40% to 60% compared to in-person classes.
  • This time efficiency is attributed to factors like the absence of commuting and associated costs.

7. Environmental Impact

environmental benefits of e-learning stats
  • In-person vs online learning statistics from the Open University of Britain demonstrate environmental benefits by using approximately 90% less energy and producing 85% fewer CO2 emissions than in-person learning.
  • Reduced waste in terms of disposable and construction materials contributes to the overall ecofriendliness of online learning.

8. Accessibility

  • Worldwide, 49% of students have completed some form of online learning, and over 30% of American students have taken at least one online course.
  • Massive open online courses (MOOCs) gained popularity, with more than 200 million students enrolled in at least one MOOC in 2022.

Read the complete list of advantages of e-learning.

Disadvantages of Online Learning Over In-Person Learning

a boy stressed during online classes

1. Security and Content Risks

According to research by MarketScale, K12 online learning devices in the United States comply with antivirus standards only 60% of the time, posing a potential risk of schoolwide shutdowns lasting weeks.

MarketScale’s findings also indicate that online learning students spend an average of one hour per day viewing inappropriate content. The challenges in web filtering solutions contribute to 41% of schools facing rogue VPNs when school devices are disconnected.

2. Digital Divide

ACT Research underscores the genuine threat of the digital divide, which limits online learning opportunities.

In the United States, 25% of low-income students studying online experience limited access to technology and the Internet, a higher percentage compared to the 18% reported for students who are not first-generation or low-income.

internet scarcity in US households for children

According to a study by the PEW Research Center, 15% of households in the U.S. with children aged 4 to 16 lack internet access.

The same study also found that lower-income Americans have lower technology adoption rates, making online learning more challenging for this demographic.

4. Not Universally Feasible

While online learning offers various benefits, it is not universally feasible, especially for those aged 4 to 16.

According to the PEW Research Center, 15% of households with children aged 4 to 16 lack internet access, emphasizing that online learning cannot be the sole form of education.

Lower technology adoption among those with lower incomes is a barrier to the widespread practice of online learning.

5. Other Challenges

Graduates of online programs face challenges, as explained by BestColleges, with top issues including paying for school while minimizing student debt (26%), experiencing unexpected circumstances or personal life events (20%), and staying on track with classes online to graduate within the planned time frame (15%).

Read the complete list of disadvantages of e-learning.

Do Students Prefer In-Person or Online Learning?

Research findings on student preferences demonstrate a strong inclination toward virtual education, driven by flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and perceived academic benefits.

1. Overall Satisfaction and Preference

a bar graph showing the percentage of satisfactory levels of students studying online
  • Nearly 70% of all students claim that online instruction is as good as or better than traditional classroom settings.
  • A study by the University of Potomac revealed that 70% of students preferred online distance learning, citing reduced expenses, time savings, and flexibility.
  • Studies report that of the 1.4 billion students affected by the sudden closure of learning institutions, 78% expressed satisfaction with their online classes. Additionally, 41% found online classes are better than traditional learning, and 38% found it comparable.

2. Improved Academic Performance

  • 8 in 10 students claim that digital technology helps them improve their grades.
  • The learning industry’s study suggests that online learning is more effective in retaining information than traditional education formats.

3. Academic Leaders’ Perspective

  • Contrary to expectations, a study by Forbes found that 77% of academic leaders globally believe online learning is just as good, if not better, than in-person learning.
  • The alignment of views between academic leaders and students indicates the widespread acceptance and effectiveness of online learning.

4. Affordability and Financial Considerations

  • A report from the Education Data Initiative reveals that an online degree is typically around $10,000 cheaper than its equivalent taught on campus.
  • Postpandemic, over 60% of graduates choose online learning because of its affordability compared to in-person learning, according to research by Statista.

5. Retention of Information in E-Learning

  • In a study by the E-Learning Industry, E-learning/remote learning students were found to retain between 25% and 60% more information than in-person students.
  • This outcome supports the popularity of remote learning, as the effectiveness of the method is crucial for its continued adoption.

6. High Recommendations for Online Courses

  • Best Colleges’ report indicates that 95% of individuals who have participated in an online course highly recommend them.
  • This high recommendation rate reflects participants’ positive experiences and perceived benefits of online learning.

7. Graduate Student Preferences

  • According to Statista, 41% of graduate students in the United States prefer online education over traditional classroom learning.
  • This preference suggests a growing belief among graduate students that online learning offers a comprehensive and satisfactory educational experience.

8. Positive Anticipation and Return on Investment

  • Insights from a 2023 Online Education Trends report reveal that 96% of online college graduates are willing to recommend online learning to others.
  • Anticipating a positive return on investment, 93% of graduates expect favorable outcomes from their online degree.

Future Trends 

a teenage boy learning online

According to insights into the current status of education and projections made based on research findings, here are a few proposed trends in online learning market growth, technological advancements, and global projections.

1. Projected Growth in Online Learning

  • Projections indicate that the online learning market will experience a remarkable 200% growth between 2020 and 2025. 
  • This surge underscores the increasing demand and confidence in the efficacy of online learning platforms.

2. Market Growth and Revenue Predictions

  • Notably, the online learning sector grew to an impressive $240 billion by 2022, showcasing its sustained growth and pivotal role in the global education landscape.
  • By 2030, the U.S. online learning sector is estimated to reach an impressive valuation of $687 billion, positioning it as the world’s largest.
  • Simultaneously, China’s online learning industry is forecasted to attain $171 billion by the same year. 

3. Adoption of Online Learning By Universities

  • A significant shift is observed in higher education, with 98% of universities transitioning to offer online courses. 
  • This shift shows the incorporation of online learning in traditional educational institutions.

4. AI Integration in Education

  • AI’s practical application in education, estimated to reach $6 billion by 2024, is becoming increasingly visible. 
  • AI-driven recommendation systems focus on individualized learning experiences by tracking student progress and suggesting tailored resources. 
  • This is a move towards personalized and adaptive education.


The main difference between In-Person and Online Learning is in their approach to education. In-Person learning emphasizes direct teacher-student interaction, while online learning relies on flexible internet resources like videos for self-paced learning. Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to evaluate their effectiveness through education statistics.

Studies suggest that online learning is more effective for information retention, showing a 25-60% increase compared to traditional classrooms. However, it may have effects on social interaction and psychological well-being.

Approximately 79% of undergraduate students prefer in-person learning over an online program. However, preferences may differ depending on factors such as age and course type.

In-Person learning has advantages over online learning, such as face-to-face interaction, encouraging discussions, and hands-on experiences through labs or group projects.

The drawbacks of online learning include higher dropout rates, potential isolation, and reduced social interaction.

The success rate varies, but studies show that students in in-person learning tend to achieve higher grades.

The completion rate of online learning can vary depending on the length of the course. In shorter online courses lasting four weeks, the completion rates are typically higher, suggesting potential effectiveness.


In education, the statistics on in-person vs. online learning tell a significant story.

The sharp increase in online learning, growing 900% since 2000, and 98% of universities shifting to virtual platforms highlights a significant change in how education is approached. 

While 72% of students prefer online learning for its flexibility and cost-effectiveness, challenges like the digital divide and content appropriateness still exist.

As we look forward to a projected $1 trillion eLearning industry by 2028, driven by AI and personalized learning, the future suggests a more detailed approach, recognizing that the contrast between in-person vs. online learning is turning into a dynamic blend, providing a wide range of educational options.

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Carlos Eduardo
Carlos Eduardo
Hey there, I’m Carlos Eduardo, the Founder and Author of Scorebeyond. Delving deep into 20+ years of education transformation through innovative e-learning, I’ve poured my expertise into this platform. My enduring legacy continues to drive the path towards a future empowered by knowledge!

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