Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen Crossney, Ph.D

Committee Member

Lisa Calvano, Ph.D

Committee Member

Dr. Jeremy Phillips, Ph.D


Online education has been around for several decades, but only recently has there been a boom in it integration into the public higher education sector on a larger scale. It proved instrumental to student education continuity and progression toward graduation during the COVID-19 health crisis and campus closures. Technological advances produce higher quality online courses that keep students engaged and allow for greater flexibility and accessibility, evident by its dramatic enrollment increase that outpaced the total enrollment at postsecondary institutions. Nine public universities in the State University System of Florida are analyzed to determine if greater enrollment in undergraduate online courses improves students' success outcomes and institutional effectiveness. A standard measure of these outcomes is graduation, retention, and time-to-degree rates. They are frequently used by policymakers, academic leaders, and students to evaluate institutional performance and effectiveness at meeting students' academic needs. Florida also ties its higher education funding model to these outcome measures to allocate funds integral to the institutional operation. A one-way ANOVA and panel data analysis is performed to evaluate the relationship between student enrollment in online courses and its impact on graduation, retention, and time to degree rates. The results show evidence that larger enrollment in at least some online courses positively affects graduation and retention while reducing the time to degree. These findings support that online education has more to offer than flexibility and accessibility and can improve student success outcomes and institutional effectiveness.