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.

Four Reasons to Find an Online College in Your State

  1. Guaranteed in–state tuition saves you money
  2. Be a part of a university or college you know and love
  3. Get a degree from a school that employers know and trust
  4. Be close enough to easily visit when desired

Ranking Guidelines for the Best Online Colleges in Iowa

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

Note: In ranking the best online colleges in Iowa, giving attention to the variety of degree programs available at the institutions is of utmost importance. For this reason, a more prestigious school in Iowa may offer one, or a few online degrees, but that may not be enough for that school rank highly among the best online colleges in the state. In this ranking, we are dedicated to showing who’s leading the way in delivering quality online degree programs in Iowa.

The Best Online Colleges in Iowa

The Best Online Colleges in Iowa

1
Upper Iowa University
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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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End of list, bravo!

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Iowa

Most Affordable Bachelor's Degrees in Iowa
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Online four–year colleges and universities and online community colleges in Iowa offer convenient and affordable associate and bachelor’s degrees. When seeking affordable online colleges in Iowa, students should consider additional factors beyond cost, including the quality of instruction, the reputation of a school, and program options, in order to ensure they’re getting the most value from their education.

The Most Affordable Online Bachelors in Iowa

1
Shiloh University
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4

University of Northern Iowa 

Cedar Falls, IA

About this school

Founded in a former orphanage in 1876, UNI grew from a teachers school to offer diverse academic programs through five colleges. UNI provides more than 11,000 learners with undergraduate and graduate programs in over 90 disciplines.

UNI's online offerings include undergraduate degrees in elementary education, liberal studies, and criminal justice. The 2+2 elementary bachelor of arts curriculum builds off an associate of arts degree from a partner community college to prepare learners for careers in teaching. The school's online bachelor of liberal studies and bachelor of arts in criminal justice degrees also allow learners with an associate degree to earn their bachelor's by taking 60 additional credits.

UNI offers online master of arts in education degrees in early childhood, elementary, special, and literacy education. Students can also earn master of arts degrees in teacher leadership, social science, school library studies, and physical education. Additional graduate programs include online master's degrees in music education, public policy, and social work.

UNI students can also pursue online certificates and endorsements for educators on topics like educational leadership, driver education, reading, and health education. The nonprofit leadership alliance program at UNI offers an online certified nonprofit professional program for AmeriCorps members in conjunction with the Alliance Management Institute.

5

Graceland University 

Lamoni, IA

About this school

Founded in 1895 by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church, GU remains affiliated with the group's successor -- the Community of Christ. GU hosts learners through campuses in Iowa and Missouri and online.

GU offers 12 online degrees. The school's online bachelor of arts programs in business administration, criminal justice, and organizational leadership include 120 credits each. The online bachelor's in nursing allows registered nurses to transfer up to 28 credits into the program. GU's dual major in business administration and organizational leadership is a bachelor's program that combines business fundamentals in finance, human resource, and policy with coursework in leadership, management, and communication.

Online graduate programs at GU include master of education tracks in literacy instruction, special education, and instructional leadership. Each program includes 30 credits of coursework. GU's online master of science in nursing includes RN-to-MSN, family nurse practitioner, and adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner tracks. Full-time students can complete the nurse practitioner curriculum in eight semesters, while part-time learners earn their degree in 12 semesters. GU also offers an online doctor of nursing practice program.

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End of list, bravo!

The Most Affordable Online Associate Degree Programs in Iowa

Most Affordable Associate Degrees in Iowa
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Online four–year colleges and universities and online community colleges in Iowa offer convenient and affordable associate and bachelor’s degrees. When seeking affordable online colleges in Iowa, students should consider additional factors beyond cost, including the quality of instruction, the reputation of a school, and program options, in order to ensure they’re getting the most value from their education.

The Most Affordable Online Associate in Iowa

1
Indian Hills Community College
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4

Marshalltown Community College 

Marshalltown, IA

About this school

One of the schools within the Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD), MCC functions alongside Ellsworth Community College to provide career and technical programs and associate degrees. Located in Marshalltown, MCC began as a junior college in 1927 and joined IVCCD in 1966. MCC offers academic programs in 55 areas and boasts a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

MCC's online programs include a 64-credit associate of arts degree. Students can complete their associate of arts curriculum in one of 51 disciplines. The school holds articulation agreements with Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa to facilitate seamless transfer.

MCC also offers an online associate of applied science paralegal degree that prepares students to enter the workforce as legal professionals. This two-year program emphasizes Iowa law procedures and regulatory practices. Students also build writing, research, and computer skills, while learning about legal ethics, criminal law, and dispute resolution.

MCC delivers online courses through the Blackboard learning management system. MCC provides tutorials and tips for online learners, teaching them to use Blackboard.

5

Kirkwood Community College 

Cedar Rapids, IA

About this school

Based in Cedar Rapids, KCC offers more than 120 degree, diploma, and certificate programs. The college hosts students on a main 885-acre campus and at 10 additional locations in seven counties. KCC supplements on-campus classes with distance learning offerings.

KCC offers a business administration management associate of applied science degree. Learners can complete this 62-credit degree in five semesters. Business administration certificates in human resources, entrepreneurship, global perspectives, and project management are also available; these include 12-15 credits that students can complete in one or two semesters.

The school also offers online associate of applied science degrees in paralegal studies and water environmental technology. The paralegal studies program prepares students for entry-level legal careers through classes that cover the legal system, legal procedures, and legal document preparation. KCC's water environmental technology degree emphasizes technical aspects of water and wastewater procedures with mathematics, science, and humanities classes. Students also complete a water environmental technology internship. Graduates of KCC's water environmental technical degree may transfer directly into the technology management bachelor's program at the University of Northern Iowa.

Additionally, KCC offers associate of arts and associate of science degrees in liberal arts. Students study general education and elective courses in anticipation of transferring to a four-year college or university. KCC also offers individual online classes.

6

Iowa Central Community College 

Fort Dodge, IA

About this school

After the merger of three junior colleges in Fort Dodge, Webster CIty, and Eagle Grove in 1966, Iowa Central emerged as a single institution to serve nine counties in the state. Iowa Central hosts roughly 5,000 students on its main campus in Fort Dodge, at sister campuses in Webster City and Storm Lake, and online.

Online programs at Iowa Central -- offered through the iNET learning management system -- include an associate of arts in general education. Students complete 60 credits of coursework in topics like English, history, psychology, and sociology to prepare for transfer to a four-year institution.

Iowa Central's online associate of professional studies in business includes 64 credits that learners can complete in two years. Students study accounting, entrepreneurship, management, and economics to prepare for an entry-level business career. The online associate of applied science in computer networking technology incorporates 69 credits of classes covering topics like internet design, configuration and implementation protocols, and network maintenance. The program prepares students for networking certifications from Microsoft and Cisco.

Iowa Central's 67-credit online associate of professional studies in criminal justice degree introduces students to the fundamentals of law enforcement, corrections, judicial services, and forensics, while healthcare administration students take 66 credits of classes in medical terminology, healthcare economics, and managerial and legal issues in healthcare. Iowa Central also offers a professional studies associate degree in human services; the 67-credit curriculum builds competencies for careers in social work, counseling, and social service assistance.

7

Des Moines Area Community College 

Ankeny, IA

About this school

Established as a vocational and technical learning center in Des Moines in 1966, DMACC now provides academic and career-technical programs at 13 locations in the region. DMACC also offers online programs in business, management, marketing, education, human services, and health sciences.

Online business, management, and marketing programs at DMACC emphasize accounting, business administration entrepreneurship, and general business concepts. Accounting students can complete a 64-credit associate degree, a 42-credit diploma, or a 12-credit certificate online. DMACC's online business administration entrepreneurship associate programs include pathways for learners seeking to enter the workforce, transfer to a four-year institution, or earn specialized certificates, while the general business associate degree includes 64 credits of foundational coursework.

Education, public, and human service associate programs at DMACC include an associate of applied science and associate of arts in criminal justice. The school's online associate in education and law degrees serve as pre-professional programs, as does the pre-medicine associate of science degree. Additional transfer programs at DMACC include an associate of arts in liberal arts and a transfer pathway in liberal arts for students still deciding on a major. Learners can also complete an associate of arts in psychology as a transfer pathway option.

DMACC provides online certificates in human resource management, retail management, digital forensics, and homeland security, as well. Students interested in early childhood education, insurance services, and digital marketing can also earn online certificates.

8

Northwest Iowa Community College 

Sheldon, IA

About this school

Initially a vocational high school, NCC became a community college in 1966. From its main campus in Sheldon and online, NCC offers more than 40 technical and associate degree programs. NCC also provides high school completion, career training, and continuing education courses to more than 25,000 learners each year.

NCC offers online associate of arts degrees in healthcare management, business, and nine pre-professional disciplines. The online healthcare management associate degree prepares students for careers as managers in healthcare settings through coursework on accounting, economics, and human relations.

The business curriculum includes specializations in management and financial and insurance services. Learners can earn their business degree in two years. The pre-professional associate of arts degrees prepare students to transfer to a four-year institution. Concentrations include accounting, criminal justice, environmental science, and mortuary science. NCC holds articulation agreements with schools in Iowa and South Dakota to facilitate seamless transfer.

NCC also offers online associate of applied science degrees in health information technology, information technology, and web and graphic design. Additional online options include diplomas and certificates in health information technology, web and graphic design, and business. Students can complete standard diplomas in two semesters, while customizable certificates vary in length.

An online medical coding diploma incorporates two semesters of coursework in medical procedures, classification, and software to prepare students for certified coding associate credentials from the American Health Information Management Association.

NCC participates in the Iowa Community College Online Consortium to offer online classes through the Canvas learning management system.

9

Iowa Western Community College 

Council Bluffs, IA

About this school

IWCC's vocational, technical, and liberal arts programs extend through seven Iowa counties and into the greater Omaha, Nebraska, area. IWCC offers 87 degrees, certificates, and diplomas, including two online associate degrees. Students complete online classes through the Moodle learning management system.

IWCC's online associate degrees in psychology and sociology use a cohort learning model. Students enter the program with a group of classmates and progress through the curriculum together. The online associate of arts in psychology includes 60 credits that learners can complete in two years. Students take general education coursework alongside classes in developmental psychology, personality and adjustment, and interpersonal communication.

Students pursuing IWCC's online associate of arts in sociology study topics like social problems, marriage and family, minority group relations, and gender in society. Participants learn the fundamentals of sociological principles while exploring human behavior, family dynamics, deviance, and related topics. The two-year program includes 60 credits of coursework, preparing students to transfer to a four-year institution.

IWCC students benefit from articulation agreements with universities throughout Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri.

10

Ellsworth Community College 

Iowa Falls, IA

About this school

Founded in 1890, ECC now functions within the Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD). Organized in 1966, IVCCD includes ECC and Marshalltown Community College. ECC offers learners a 24-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The college offers more than 55 certificates, diplomas, and degrees in areas such as agriculture and animal science, business and computers, and health occupations. Additional programs in liberal arts, social science, mathematics, and science prepare students to transfer to four-year institutions.

Online programs -- offered through the Blackboard learning management system -- include a 64-credit associate of arts in liberal arts transfer degree. This degree transfers seamlessly to institutions throughout the Midwest. Students can complete a general curriculum or specialize in a discipline that aligns with their future major. Degree emphasis options include communication, education, human services, and social work.

ECC also offers online classes that meet general education requirements. Students can take courses in statistics, English, computer applications, and philosophy as part of their associate degree curriculum.

Transfer students at ECC may receive credit for prior learning through individual assessments. For example, individuals can submit documentation from state and national certification exams and licenses, noncredit coursework, or portfolios from previous student work for consideration.

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End of list, bravo!

Additional Online Colleges in Iowa Featured on TBS

Allen College

Waterloo, Iowa

Ellsworth Community College

Iowa Falls, Iowa

Emmaus Bible College

Dubuque, Iowa

Iowa Central Community College

Fort Dodge, Iowa

North Iowa Area Community College

Mason City, Iowa

Northeast Iowa Community College

Calmar, Iowa

Northwest Iowa Community College

Sheldon, Iowa

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

Archive

2017 Best Online Colleges and University in Iowa
  1. Upper Iowa University
  2. Buena Vista University
  3. University of Northern Iowa
  4. University of Iowa
  5. Briar Cliff University
  6. Iowa Wesleyan University
  7. William Penn University
  8. Mount Mercy University
  9. Saint Ambrose University
  10. Iowa State University
  11. Upper Iowa University
  12. Allen College
  13. Ellsworth Community College
  14. Emmaus Bible College
  15. Iowa Central Community College
  16. North Iowa Area Community College
  17. Northeast Iowa Community College
  18. Northwest Iowa Community College
  19. Northwestern College

 

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