October 11, 2010 | | Leave a comment As more Americans return to school to obtain a higher education, colleges are seeing a change in the ages of their students. For example, Northcentral University (NCU), an online college, recently announced that a majority of the 8,000 students attending the school are older adults. The largest demographic is between 40 and 50 years old, according to the Prescott Daily Courier. A number of the students who are attending the online school are working professionals who are trying to obtain doctoral degrees. In the weak economy, many people have returned to college in hope of advancing their careers. NCU officials told the Courier that they have extended their business administration and doctor degree programs to 18 areas of study to meet demands. "We've been watching the trends for several years now," NCU chief marketing officer Ron Hendricks told the newspaper. "The trend lines are moving more and more in the direction of mature learners who are enrolling in doctoral degree programs in business as well as in behavioral and health sciences." Between 2004 and 2005, approximately 45 percent of adult education participants were between the ages of 25 and 44 years, according to the National Reporting System. As online colleges grow in popularity among working professionals, schools are continuing to expand their programs.