In our November 19th post, “Online Education Isn’t Slowing Down,” we discussed the continuing growth of online college courses and degrees. In the same spirit of adaptation and accessibility, more and more big-name universities are expanding into new cities. According to a New York Times article, Northeastern University is spending $60 million to expand into Charlotte and Seattle. The goal (besides increased revenue) is to match graduate programs to the specific labor needs of each city.

It’s no surprise that schools like Northeastern are feeling the pressure to compete with online schools like the University of Phoenix. Recent tough economic times have students searching for more cost-effective ways to pursue a degree.  Online universities and community colleges have seen their enrollment numbers explode in recent years.  Building campuses in cities where a large number of young professionals are looking to pursue a graduate degree just makes sense. . .or does it?

Physical buildings cost money, and building rapport in a new community can be even more of a challenge. Philadelphia-based Drexel University opened a campus in Sacramento two years ago, but they’ve struggled to meet enrollment requirements. These two challenges alone make the online model — with its lower operating costs and convenience — look much more attractive.

Only time will tell if students embrace the expansion model.  Will Cornell still be Cornell if it isn’t in New York? Or will graduates relish the idea of campuses close to home?

Do you think the university expansion model will catch on, or will it fail to catch hold amid the growing online education movement?