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:
- Guaranteed in-state tuition saves you money
- Be a part of a university or college you know and love
- Get a degree from a school employers know and trust
- Be close enough to easily visit when desired
Ranking guidelines for the best online colleges in Iowa:
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.
- See who ranks as the best college and university in Iowa today.
- Upper Iowa University ranks among The 100 Best Online Colleges for 2018.
The Best Online Colleges in Iowa
1. Upper Iowa University
Upper Iowa University, founded in 1854 by pioneer Elizabeth Alexander, is a private university. The university has over 5,500 students in attendance, 4 academic colleges and over 40 degree programs. The university also has campuses across America, as well as in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada.
Upper Iowa University offers a variety of associate’s, baccalaureate, master and certificate programs fully online, self-paced or via email correspondence. Associate’s degrees include liberal arts and criminal justice. Bachelor’s degree options include sociology and information technology. Master’s degree offerings include education and public administration. Certifications include marketing and organizational development.
Online student resources include disability services, online tutoring, writing assistance, access to helpful learning software and an online library with access to a plethora of online databases.
Upper Iowa University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
See some of Upper Iowa University’s top rankings on TBS
- 100 Best Online Colleges for 2018
- The Best Online Colleges for Military Personnel & Families
- The 15 Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Programs
2. Iowa State University
Iowa State University is a land-grant and space-grant university founded in 1858. The university offers over 290 degree programs spanning eight academic colleges and teaches over 35,000 students. Some of the university’s notable distinctions include participation in the Manhattan Project and as the birthplace of the first electronic digital computer.
Iowa State University offers a variety of baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs completely online. Online bachelor’s degrees include liberal studies. Online master’s degree options include aerospace engineering and plant breeding. Doctoral degree offerings available online include hospitality management. Online certifications include food safety and occupational safety. Iowa State University is involved with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA).
Resources for online students include technical support, veterans’ services, an online job board, online tutoring, an online writing center, disability resources, an online library and much more.
Iowa State University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
See some of Iowa State University’s top rankings on TBS
- The Most Affordable Four-Year College in Iowa
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- The 10 Best Online Master’s in Internet Security Programs
- The 10 Best Online Master’s in Math Education Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Information Assurance and Security Degree Programs
3. Buena Vista University
Storm Lake, Iowa
Buena Vista University, a Presbyterian institution established in 1891, offers students over 40 degree programs across five academic colleges. The university hosts an annual lecture series on American freedoms which has included guest speakers such as Jehan Sadat, Walter Cronkite, Carl Sagan and a host of former world leaders.
Buena Vista University has a number of baccalaureate and master’s degrees available online. Online bachelor’s degree options include criminology and human services, while online master’s degree offerings include multiple topics in education.
Online student resources include career services, internship services, online tutoring, technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, text message or over the phone.
Buena Vista University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
See some of Buena Vista University’s top rankings on TBS
- The 10 Best Online Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs
4. Graceland University – Lamoni
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, Missouri, 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.
Graceland is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The nursing programs offered by Graceland University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
See some of Graceland University – Lamoni’s top rankings on TBS
5. University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
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.
The University of Northern Iowa is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
See some of The University of Northern Iowa’s top rankings on TBS
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs
- The 10 Best Online Master’s in Nonprofit Management Degree Programs
- The 30 Best Online Master’s in Reading Programs
- The 50 Best Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts Programs
6. University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
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 a number of 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 of which include live chat services.
The University of Iowa is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
See some of The University of Iowa’s top rankings on TBS
- The 50 Best RN to BSN Online Programs
- The 15 Best Online Bachelor’s in Writing Programs
- The 15 Best Online Master’s in Media Communications Programs
7. Briar Cliff University
Sioux City, Iowa
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.
Briar Cliff University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and its bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing are accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education. The bachelor’s in social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
See some of Briar Cliff University’s top rankings on TBS
- The 30 Best Online Nursing Practitioner Master’s Programs
- The 10 Best Online Bachelor of Social Work Degree Programs
8. Iowa Wesleyan University
Mount Pleasant, Iowa
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.
Iowa Wesleyan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school’s nursing programs, including online degrees, are accredited by Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The nursing program is also approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.
9. William Penn University
As a Quaker institution, William Penn University is one of the leading online colleges in Iowa’s southeastern region. Situated in Oskaloosa, Iowa, 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, 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.
William Penn University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school’s education programs are accredited by the Iowa Department of Public Instruction.
10. Mount Mercy University
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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.
Mount Mercy University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and its nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The nursing program, including its online offerings, is also approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.
11. Saint Ambrose University
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.
Saint Ambrose University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school’s online business degrees are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and its nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.