The Best Online Colleges in Iowa

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Online schools in Kansas offer greater flexibility and affordability than on–campus schools.

Students benefit not only from scholarship and grant opportunities, but also in–state or discounted tuition. According to 2017–2018 statistics from College Board, public universities in the Jayhawk State charge approximately $9,000 in annual tuition, while private institutions cost around $23,500. These prices, when coupled with the state’s relatively low cost of living, make Kansas a great place to earn a degree, advance your career, and raise a family. PayScale reports that living costs in Kansas routinely stand below the national average, from 4% in Topeka to 15% in Salina.

Business, healthcare, criminal justice, and education are some of the most common degrees offered by online colleges in Kansas. Distance learners can enroll in fully accredited programs in health management, nursing, organizational leadership, cybersecurity, and early childhood education and teacher preparation. Because many private colleges and universities in Kansas emphasize faith–based education, distance learners may also pursue degrees in areas such as theological studies, Christian leadership, and urban ministry. Online courses usually follow an asynchronous format powered by learning and conferencing platforms like Desire2Learn or Blackboard. Some schools offer accelerated online courses that last seven to nine weeks instead of the conventional 15. These features allow distance learners to create flexible degree plans that fit their schedule and goals.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Iowa 2020

#1 Upper Iowa University Fayette, IA
#2 Iowa State University Ames, IA
#3 Buena Vista University Storm Lake, IA
#4 Graceland University Lamoni, IA
#5 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
#6 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#7 Briar Cliff University Sioux City, IA
#8 Iowa Wesleyan University Mount Pleasant, IA
#9 William Penn University Oskaloosa, IA
#10 Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids, IA

The Best Online Colleges in Iowa

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4

Graceland University 

Lamoni, IA

About this school

One of Iowa’s Christian-based online colleges, Graceland University offers degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Based in Lamoni, Graceland was founded in 1895. It also has a campus in Independence, Mo., where the university operates its online programs in nursing, business, education, and religion. Graceland provides online education to more than 800 students, from 43 states and six different countries.

Undergraduates at Graceland can complete one of five online bachelor's degrees. Graduate students can enroll in one of the school’s five master of education programs, with options for emphasis in curriculum and instruction, differentiated instruction, literacy instruction, special education, or instructional leadership. Graceland also offers two master of nursing programs (nursing and RN to MSN), two master of religion degrees, and one online doctoral degree in nursing.

Graduation Rate
50%
5

University of Northern Iowa 

Cedar Falls, IA

About this school

The University of Northern Iowa, founded in 1876 as a teacher training institution, offers more than 90 programs of study to its 11,000 students, across seven academic colleges. The university provides studying abroad opportunities at the graduate level, with over 80 countries and 1,000 programs available.

The University of Northern Iowa offers several baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs entirely online. Bachelor’s degree options include liberal studies and technology management. Master’s degree offerings include several topics in education, including TESOL and early childhood education. Certifications include instructional coaching and educational leadership.

There are many online student resources available, including technical support, program advising, disability services, career services and an online library with access to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s online edition.

Graduation Rate
66%
6

University of Iowa 

Iowa City, IA

About this school

Established less than two months after Iowa joined the United States as a state in 1847, the University of Iowa is the state’s oldest university. The university established the first law school west of the Mississippi River. The space–grant university has over 20,000 students in attendance and over 200 degree programs spanning 11 academic colleges.

The University of Iowa offers several online baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs entirely online. Bachelor’s degree options include social work and nursing. Master’s degree offerings include educational leadership and the arts. Certifications include public health and online teaching.

Online student resources include technical support, veterans’ services, career services, disability services, counseling, tutoring in math and writing and access to three online libraries: a general library, a health sciences library and a business library, all which include live chat services.

Graduation Rate
70%
7

Briar Cliff University 

Sioux City, IA

About this school

Founded as Briar Cliff College in 1930, Briar Cliff University is among the leading online colleges in Iowa. Located just outside Sioux City, Iowa, the private Franciscan institution provides online degree completion and graduate programs to students across the globe. Online programs in accounting, operations management, business administration, health sciences, social work, and nursing provide students with an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree. Graduate programs in management, health administration, and nursing are also available online, with the required hours for credit completion ranging from 33 to 44. Briar Cliff also offers an online program for a doctorate in nursing.

Graduation Rate
43%
8

Iowa Wesleyan University 

Mount Pleasant, IA

About this school

Iowa Wesleyan University, founded in 1842 and located in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, provides online programs for undergraduate and graduate students studying nursing, business administration, criminal justice, human services, and management leadership. Iowa Wesleyan continues to add degree programs to offer more options for students.

Iowa Wesleyan has four bachelor’s programs available completely online, including an RN to BSN for practicing nurses. The online bachelor’s in human services is an interdisciplinary program that incorporates criminal justice, psychology, and sociology coursework. The online master of arts in management leadership can be completed in under two years and has six start dates during the year for convenience.

Graduation Rate
30%
9

William Penn University 

Oskaloosa, IA

About this school

As a Quaker institution, William Penn University is one of the leading online colleges in Iowa’s southeastern region. Situated in Oskaloosa, IA, William Penn is an hour from Des Moines, offering a small town feel with easy accessibility to urban settings. William Penn also has a metropolitan campus in Johnston, IA, a suburb of West Des Moines.

William Penn’s online bachelor’s and master’s programs are designed to meet the needs of students through eight-week classes that can accelerate degree completion. The school offers online undergraduate degrees in business management, human resource management, and psychology, as well as a graduate degree in business leadership. They also offer a degree completion program online for a bachelor of arts in elementary education.

Graduation Rate
31%
10

Mount Mercy University 

Cedar Rapids, IA

About this school

Mount Mercy University’s main campus, graduate center, and sports complex are located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with the main campus sitting on 40 acres of wooded land in the center of the city. Mount Mercy is a Catholic institution, and a leader among online schools in Iowa, providing accelerated undergraduate and graduate programs designed to help learners maintain their current careers while completing their degree.

Mount Mercy offers bachelor’s degrees online in business administration (with concentrations available in business, human resource management, and management), along with healthcare administration and nursing (RN to BSN). Mount Mercy also has two online master’s degrees, one in criminal justice and one in business administration.

Graduation Rate
54%
11

Saint Ambrose University 

Davenport, IA

About this school

Saint Ambrose University, a private Catholic institution founded in 1882, is located in Davenport, Iowa, one of the Quad Cities straddling the Iowa-Illinois border. As one of the online schools in Iowa committed to outcomes-based education, Saint Ambrose emphasizes a liberal arts core curriculum at the heart of all of its programs.

Saint Ambrose offers online degrees to undergraduates and graduate students, including bachelor's programs in applied management studies and business management. Students in business management can pursue a concentration in accounting as part of the curriculum. Saint Ambrose also offers an online nursing degree (RN to BSN). Master’s programs include degrees in public health, criminal justice, and business administration.

Graduation Rate
63%
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Ranking Methodology
Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in Iowa Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online schools in Iowa based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.

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