Legal Law

Growth of Online Degree Programs in the Philippines

Online degree programs were first offered in the Philippines in the early 1990s, during which there was continued growth in the number of state and private institutions in the country. It was also during this period that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), one of the three government organizations that manage the educational system in the country, encouraged many educational institutions to offer distance learning programs. This movement was triggered by the increase in population and increased enrollment in tertiary education in recent years.

1990s: Rise of open universities

One of the most renowned HEIs offering online degree programs in the country is the Open University of the Philippines (UPOU), which was established in 1995. OPOU is a pioneer in open learning and distance education in the Philippines. . . Another prominent open university in the country is the Philippine Open University Polytechnic University (PUPOU). PUPOU began offering online degree courses in 1990. The Asian Institute of Distance Education (AIDE) is one of only four government-recognized distance education providers in the country that offer full academic degrees. Other pioneers of online degree programs are the University of Santo Tom├ís (UST), the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) through the e-Learning Access Program, and the Dela Salle University (DLSU). The online programs offered by these online universities include undergraduate programs, graduate certificate programs, postgraduate programs, master’s programs, and doctoral programs.

2000’s – Technological advances in HEIs

The eLearning market begins to emerge in the Philippines in the early 2000s. However, the online courses offered at that time are limited to certificates and vocational training only. The government agency that helps facilitate these online programs is the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Today, TESDA offers various online courses in the fields of IT, Tourism, Electronics, Automotive, HVAC and Agriculture under the so-called Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Although these programs only provide Diploma and Certificate courses, TESDA has scaling programs from these courses to degree courses.

With the turn of the millennium, Internet technology begins to gain momentum in the Philippine education system. This technological milestone gives way to the emergence of more public and private HEIs that offer online courses. According to a study, the number of Internet users increased by around 291% during the period 2000-2006, which is equivalent to 7.82 million people. According to the Philippine ICT Statistics Portal, mobile phone subscription more than doubled between 2006 and 2011 and fixed broadband subscription more than quadrupled in the same time period. According to, several public and private websites have also sprung up to offer online programs and services to higher education students. These institutions include the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Kodiko Online,, Education for Life Foundation,, FAPENET, Gurong Pahinugod, and

2010 – High economic growth impacts higher education programs

According to Business World Online, there are nearly 2,300 HEIs in the Philippines and 1,259 of them offered business degrees in 2012. According to CHED, tertiary enrollment reached 3.3 million in the same year. According to, there are many graduate courses in the Philippines that can be taken online at various public and private HEIs today. These are online courses in education, public administration and management, agriculture, media and communication, health and related sciences, computer science, business, and architecture and engineering.

The Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) can be considered as one of the major developments in enhancing online degree program offerings in the Philippines. Under this program, students who aspire to earn a bachelor’s degree can complete their studies in about a year and also have the option of taking the online program from accredited online colleges and universities.

Driven by the growing economy, more and more higher education institutions are offering online degree courses to Filipino and international students across the country. And with the educational programs offered by TESDA and CHED, online degree programs in the country are expected to continue to see further growth in the coming years.

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