The Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin

by Melissa Sartore

Updated September 20, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Nearly one-third of the Badger State's population aged 25 years or older holds an undergraduate degree.

Home to one of the largest public institutions of higher education in the country, Wisconsin boasts an extensive network of two- and four-year state universities. Wisconsin also provides educational opportunities at private colleges and 16 technical colleges.

In Wisconsin, online schooling spans disciplines and institutions. Online undergraduate programs offered through the University of Wisconsin System allow students to collaborate across campuses and schools, including programs in business administration, information science and technology, and nursing. There are also 23 private colleges in Wisconsin that offer online academic programs.

Earning a bachelor's degree in Wisconsin prepares graduates to pursue careers in the state's top fields, including business, digital technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. This guide provides information about the best online colleges in Wisconsin, detailing the types of available programs, common professional pathways, and salary data in the state.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Wisconsin 2021
#1 University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Milwaukee, WI
#2 University of Wisconsin - Superior Superior, WI
#3 University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie, WI
#4 Concordia University - Wisconsin Mequon, WI
#5 Cardinal Stritch University Milwaukee, WI
#6 University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire Eau Claire, WI
#7 Ottawa University - Milwaukee Brookfield, WI
#8 Viterbo University La Crosse, WI
#9 Maranatha Baptist University Watertown, WI
#10 Marian University Fond du Lac, WI

The Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin

  1. University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

    Milwaukee, WI

    The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, established in 1849, is the single largest university in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The university currently enrolls more than 25,000 students, offers more than 185 programs of study and contains 14 academic colleges and schools. Some of the majors the university offers include freshwater sciences, urban planning, nursing, engineering and applied science.

    The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee offers baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs through its UWM Online platform. Bachelor’s degrees include biomedical science, information science and political science. Master’s degree options include library science, translation and administrative leadership. Doctoral degree offerings include nursing. Available certifications include crime analysis, therapeutic recreation and digital libraries.

    Online student resources include an online library with librarians available via live chat, email or over the phone.

  2. University of Wisconsin - Superior

    Superior, WI

    The University of Wisconsin Superior, established in 1893, has more than 2,500 students in attendance. The university provides a variety of undergraduate majors and several graduate programs in the sciences, arts and professions.

    The University of Wisconsin Superior offers associate, baccalaureate, master and certificate programs online through its Distance Learning Center. Online bachelor’s degrees include communicating arts, exercise science and health and wellness management. Online master’s degree offerings include sustainable management and data science. Available online certifications include sustainable management science and sustainable management enterprise.

    Online student resources include an online job board, online tutoring, a writing center, online exam proctoring, technical support, counseling, disability services, veterans’ services, and an online library.

  3. University of Wisconsin - Stout

    Menomonie, WI

    The University of Wisconsin Stout, established in 1891, is named in honor of its founder, James Stout. The university is known as a polytechnic university and specializes in more than 75 academic programs within industry, home economics, technology, the helping professions and applied art. The university also features an English as a Second Language Institute in case any of its 10,000+ students do not speak English natively.

    The University of Wisconsin Stout offers a wide range of baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs both online and in a blended format. Bachelor’s degree options include digital marketing, management and sustainable management. Master’s degree offerings include construction management, education and conservation biology. Available certifications include legal studies, sustainable enterprise management and institutional research.

    Online student resources include disability services, career services, an online job board, online tutoring, technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, email, text message or over the phone.

  4. Concordia University - Wisconsin

    Mequon, WI

    Concordia University Wisconsin, established in 1881, is a private, Christian liberal arts university operated by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The university offers more than 95 programs of study. Some of their most popular majors include health professions, education and business.

    Concordia University Wisconsin offers online associate, baccalaureate, master, doctoral and certificate programs. Online associate’s degrees include business, criminal justice and health services. Online bachelor’s degrees include nursing, business and health services. Online master’s degree options include nursing, education and counseling. Online doctoral degree offerings include health services, business and occupational therapy. Available online certifications include health services, information technology and counseling.

    Online student resources include academic advising and an online library with librarians available via online form or over the phone.

  5. Cardinal Stritch University

    Milwaukee, WI

    Cardinal Stritch offers six fully online programs, including four bachelor's and two master's degrees. All students pay a per-credit tuition rate whether they are in or out of state. The university's main campus is north of Milwaukee, and there are satellite locations in Madison and Brookfield.

    One CSU offering that is unique among online colleges in Wisconsin is a bachelor's degree in respiratory therapy. Designed for current respiratory therapists who want to expand their career options, the program allows students to start their coursework in the fall or spring. Applicants must have a current respiratory care license to enroll in the program.

    The university gives prospective students the option to try out a sample online course to determine if distance learning is right for them. Once enrolled, students have access to resources like a digital library, academic support, and financial aid assistance.

  6. University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

    Eau Claire, WI

    The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Online offers a diverse selection of distance learning programs and courses, including master's degrees in communication sciences, business administration, and data science. Other options include online certifications in foundations of business as well as special education and pupil services.

    Like many online schools in Wisconsin, UWEC Online uses Canvas as its digital portal to access course materials, lectures, discussions, and assignments. Enrolled students also benefit from financial aid assistance, academic support, and services for military veterans and their families. Discounted tuition is provided for both Wisconsin and Minnesota residents.

    To apply as a graduate student, an individual must submit their undergraduate transcripts, a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a current resume. Some programs require GRE or GMAT scores.

  7. Ottawa University - Milwaukee

    Brookfield, WI

    Ottawa University’s Brookfield campus offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, many of which can be completed partially or completely online. Options cover numerous subject areas such as business, education, and arts and sciences, giving Ottawa one of the top selections of distance learning courses for online schools in Wisconsin.

    Prospective undergraduate students fill out an online application and submit their high school and/or college transcripts. Graduate students must have maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA throughout their undergraduate studies and are required to provide their transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a personal statement.

    All online students have access to services such as academic advising, registration assistance, financial advising, and tutoring. The school's Brookfield campus is located about 12 miles west of Milwaukee, the state's largest city.

  8. Viterbo University

    La Crosse, WI

    Established in 1890, Viterbo University is a private, Roman Catholic university which offers more than 75 programs of study. The university, founded as an elementary teacher training school for religious sisters, is known for its nursing and theatre programs. The university is one of only a few members of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities in the United States.

    Viterbo University offers online associate and baccalaureate degrees. Associate’s degree options include arts and science, while bachelor’s degree offerings include nursing, criminal justice administration, healthcare management, professional studies and organizational management.

    Resources made available to online students include online writing assistance, 24/7 online tutoring, academic advising, career services, technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, email, text message or over the phone.

  9. Maranatha Baptist University

    Watertown, WI

    Founded in 1968, Maranatha Baptist currently serves about 750 students online and at its Watertown campus. Offering flexible and engaging courses, MBU is one of the most convenient online colleges in Wisconsin. Options include bachelor's degrees in biblical studies, business, educational studies, and interdisciplinary studies. Students may also enroll in one of six online associate degree programs or select from three graduate programs. In addition to its online programs, MBU offers courses for guest students who aim to advance their knowledge in a variety of subjects.

    Enrollment is simple for prospective students. The application process is free, and most transfer credits from accredited colleges and universities are accepted. MBU charges a flat per-credit tuition rate, even for those who live outside of Wisconsin. Students over the age of 55 receive a 50% discount on their tuition.

  10. Marian University

    Fond du Lac, WI

    Marian University, originally Marian College, was founded in 1936 by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes. Nestled in the Fox Valley community of Fond du Lac, it offers nine online bachelor's and eight online master's degree programs. Hybrid courses are also available for those who want to take some classes on campus.

    Marian's selection of distance learning programs are unique among the various online schools in Wisconsin. One example is its MS in thanatology, which focuses on assisting individuals and families as they deal with death, dying, and loss. Students learn about the social, psychological, and physical issues related to end-of-life care and support.

    The university also gives distance learners the support they need as they complete their studies, providing academic advising, a counseling center, services for veterans, and tutoring assistance.

Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in Wisconsin Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online schools in Wisconsin 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.

Employment in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's major industries include healthcare, manufacturing, and digital technology, which coincide with many of the top-paying careers in the state.

Major cities like Madison host large technology employers, but Wisconsin also offers regional career pathways in more rural areas. Resources like the Wisconomy website and the skill explorer, both provided by the Department of Workforce Development, allow students to make informed choices about their employment options.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployment numbers in Wisconsin are on the decline. In December 2020, unemployment in Wisconsin was 4% — significantly lower than August 2020's 6% rate.

As employment opportunities expand, individuals can also benefit from the lower-than-average cost of living in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's cost of living index is just 90.9, as compared to the national standard of 100. The state's lowest cost of living expenses relative to the national average include housing and transportation.

The following data details the highest-paying roles employing more than 5,000 individuals in Wisconsin. Salary information applies specifically to Wisconsin, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.

Highest-Paying Careers in Wisconsin
Career Annual Mean Salary (2019) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
Physicians $246,060 4% Doctoral degree
Chief Executives $159,500 4% Bachelor's degree
Sales Managers $139,230 4% Bachelor's degree
Financial Managers $138,420 15% Bachelor's degree
Pharmacists $134,090 -3% Doctoral degree
General and Operations Managers $131,220 6% Bachelor's degree
Lawyers $129,440 4% Doctoral degree

The following data reflects the highest-paying roles employing more than 10,000 professionals in Wisconsin. Salary figures apply specifically to Wisconsin, while job growth data refers to the United States.

Most Common. Highest-Paying Careers in Wisconsin
Career Annual Mean Salary (2019) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
General and Operations Managers $131,220 6% Bachelor's Degree
Software Developers $92,560 22% Bachelor's Degree
Management Analysts $88,500 11% Bachelor's Degree
Computer Systems Analysts $84,340 7% Bachelor's Degree
Mechanical Engineers $80,650 4% Bachelor's Degree

Wisconsin Online Schooling: Associate and Graduate Degrees

Online colleges in Wisconsin offer undergraduate and graduate degrees that mirror their on-campus counterparts. For example, University of Wisconsin (UW) offers an associate of arts and sciences degree as both a traditional program and a flexible online option.

Through one of the technical colleges in Wisconsin, students can earn an online associate degree in accounting, early childhood education, and marketing. These programs lead to careers as accounting assistants, teaching aids, and marketing associates. Meanwhile, online associate of arts and sciences degrees build foundational knowledge for students aiming to enter the workforce or continue to bachelor's programs.

Online graduate degrees offered through Wisconsin's extension program unite institutions throughout the state, offering pathways in fields like study management, healthcare, and information technology. These lead to careers in business administration, healthcare management, and cybersecurity.

The UW online system provides online graduate degrees in nearly 60 disciplines. For example, students can pursue online master's degrees in business administration from three UW institutions, or they can earn online education and engineering master's degrees from six UW schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Online College Cheaper in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin offers online degrees to both in-state and out-of-state students. Some schools offer flat-rate tuition for online learners, keeping costs lower for out-of-state students than they would be if those students studied on campus

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Degree in Wisconsin?

Online degrees in Wisconsin vary in length. Students can earn associate degrees in two years or less. Online bachelor's degrees include roughly four years of coursework, while graduate programs can span 2-10 years.

What Is the Most Popular Degree in Wisconsin?

According to a UW report, the top online major in Wisconsin is business. Education, biology, health sciences, and communication arts round out the top five majors for students enrolled online with UW.

Portrait of Melissa Sartore

Melissa Sartore

Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.

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