Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Randy T. Busse

Second Advisor

Kris De Pedro

Third Advisor

Mark Maier

Fourth Advisor

Michelle Rosensitto


The purpose of this dissertation was to examine whether nontraditional student age, female gender, and the possession of nontraditional student risk factors predict enrollment in distance education college courses. This dissertation used data from the most recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12), which consisted of approximately 95,000 undergraduate students who were enrolled in higher education in 2011-2012. The results of a logistic regression analysis indicated that both nontraditional student age and female gender were strong predictors of enrollment in distance education, whereas the number of nontraditional student risk indicators was a partial predictor. As leaders in higher education are tasked with decreasing time to degree completion, it is hoped that the findings of this research will support distance education as one solution to this problem. Further exploration through the deconstruction of the nontraditional student risk index as defined by the National Center of Educational Statistics as well as examination of other factors such as ethnicity and GPA are needed to provide a more complete analysis of predictors of distance education enrollment as well as better data collection for distance education retention and success.