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Online Degrees in Ohio (OH)

Ohio has no shortage of notable colleges and universities. When Forbes released its list of the 25 best Midwest colleges in 2013, one-fifth of them were in Ohio. This may come as no surprise to those well acquainted with higher education in the state, but this next point might: Despite playing host to dozens of well-known colleges, Ohio desperately needs more college graduates. According to a 2014 report from the nonprofit Lumina Foundation (using U.S. Census data), only 36.5 percent of Ohio's working-age adults held at least a two-year degree in 2012, nearly three full points below the 39.4 percent national average. What's more, employer demand for college-educated workers within the state is growing -- fast. Lumina projects that if the state's college attainment rate continued to grow at the current pace, Ohio would be at least 16 percent shy of statewide demand by 2025. Unless this trend is reversed, employers will likely have to fill their ranks elsewhere, costing Ohio thousands of jobs.

None of these points are lost on Ohio's state leaders and voters. In a 2014 editorial penned for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Miami University President David Hodge and University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono said that higher education is key for Ohio's economic growth and civic prosperity. The vast bulk of Ohioans agree. According to the article, a statewide poll commissioned by the Inter-University Council of Ohio earlier that year found that a full 82 percent of respondents believed colleges are essential in developing the skilled workforce Ohio needs to compete in the global economy, and an impressive 93 percent said they want their children and grandchildren to attend college. Higher education ranked right up there with job creation and K-12 education in respondents' top three priorities.

How can Ohio address its looming higher education shortage? Lumina offers a number of solutions, but perhaps chief among them are finding ways to improve education completion rates and developing smarter pathways for students. In other words, the state needs to make it easier to attend -- and graduate from -- college. This is where online degree programs come in. As we will discuss at length below, online colleges can help make higher education more accessible (and often more affordable) to even the busiest students. This is precisely why even traditional Ohio colleges and universities are launching or expanding their online learning, while national and regional online schools continue to increase program options that cater to Ohio students. This trend bodes well for Ohio's workforce and, in turn, its economy.

  1. Why Should I Get My Degree in Ohio?
  2. What Makes Ohio Ideal for Online Education?
  3. Top 10 Degrees in Ohio
  4. Top Cities and Metros for Ohio College Students
  5. College Roadmap
  6. Scholarships and Financial Aid
  7. Discover Degree Opportunities

Why Should I Get My Degree in Ohio?

As highlighted above, Ohio is a higher education powerhouse offering prospective students no shortage of schools and degree programs from which to choose. The University System of Ohio reports that as of Fall 2012, it alone serves more than half a million students each year, and a growing number of private and online colleges in Ohio serves thousands more. Students from all across the nation flock to the state to attend college, and with good reason: When the American Institute of Economic Research released its 2014 ranking of America's best college towns and cities based on overall academic environment, quality of life, and professional opportunities, major Ohio cities like Cleveland and Columbus made the cut. Factor in additional state highlights, including a plethora of cultural institutions, entertainment venues, recreational highlights, and preserved nature lands, and it is easy to see what makes the Hawkeye state so appealing to students.

Thriving college towns and institutional diversity may draw prospective college students to Ohio, but the state's rising economic prowess surely helps keep them there. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of August 2014, Ohio's 5.7 percent statewide unemployment rate was a solid half-point below the national average, with key industries like education, health care, and business making up a sizable share of the state's economy. The tech industry is on the move, too: When Forbes published its list of America's best cities for tech jobs in 2014, Columbus, which experienced a whopping 16.7 percent job growth between 2006 and 2011, came in at number three. Students who graduate from Ohio colleges have an advantage in these booming markets (and the improved quality of life they bring). Those who continue to invest in their education once in the workforce -- an increasingly feasible option thanks to online degrees -- could fare even better.

Five reasons to go to college in Ohio

Ohio's sizable higher education system and growing economic potential are probably reason enough to consider earning a degree there, but they represent just a sliver of all the state has to offer. Here are five excellent reasons to consider the Buckeye State, in no particular order:

  • Quality colleges. When FineTheBest.com evaluated and ranked thousands of colleges nationally based on criteria like admission selectivity, academic excellence, and popular expert opinion, a whopping 44 Ohio colleges earned a "Smart Rating" of 90 or above.
  • Opportunities for college graduates. When NerdWallet ranked the top cities in the nation for recent college graduates in 2014, Columbus cleared the top 10.
  • Low cost of living. Ohio ranks in the top 20 states in the nation for low cost of living per the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center's 2014 Cost of Living Data Series.
  • Home buying potential. Generous home buying programs like the Grants for Grads program -- which provides recent college graduates with downpayment and closing cost assistance and favorable mortgage rates -- earned Ohio a spot on MSN's top 10 states in America for first-time homebuyers.
  • High quality of life. Ohio cities like Youngstown, Columbus, Toledo, and Cincinnati often rank in the the top 10 in Forbes Magazine's annual Best Cities to Raise a Family list, which considers factors like median income school quality, cost of living, home ownership, and crime rates.

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What Makes Ohio Ideal for Online Education?

From Amish country to its long Quaker heritage, Ohio has a history of embracing the simple things. Though this trend is a distinct part of its history, there is no denying that the Buckeye State is increasingly high tech. According to a 2012 column in The Plain Dealer, Ohio's growing technology sector is reshaping its economy; interactive advertising alone brought $12.6 billion in economic activity (and 129,560 new jobs) to the state in 2011. Major employers include high-tech companies like the Northeast Ohio Software Association, Rosetta, and the NASA Glenn Research center, and in a 2012 address, Ohio Gov. John Kasich promised a tenfold boost in Ohio broadband network speeds and renewed investment in high-tech startups. This is a key reason why, as discussed above, Columbus took the no. 3 spot on Forbes Magazine's list of the best U.S. cities for tech jobs. As the guest Plain Dealer columnist Chris Boggs wrote so frankly, "This isn't your parents' Ohio."

Another way Ohio embraces cutting edge technology: Online learning. Large and small schools alike now offer online degrees in Ohio, and the number of national online programs that cater to Ohioans expands students' options considerably. Schools like Ohio State University include investments in online learning technologies in their annual strategic plans, and Ohio University, meanwhile, has launched a program that allows community college students who have completed their associate degrees to earn their bachelor's degrees completely online, through the University, while paying community college tuition. When the tech startup Coursera began offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) -- huge, free online courses available to anyone, but rarely for credit -- OSU was among the first universities to join the initiative. The school served more than 100,000 students from over 150 countries in its first year with Coursera. As of 2014, the school hosts 11 MOOCs through the platform, and that share is likely to grow.

While the flexibility of online education in Ohio makes it easier for students complete their degrees (and contribute to the state's economic growth), online degrees are not the only way the state supports web-based learning. A program called the Ohio eTutoring Collaborate offers students free, web-based tutoring services. According to the program's official website, the initiative's goal is to eventually have all 107 Ohio colleges join the collaborative, extending services to more than 600 thousand students each year. While this program is open to students attending traditional and online colleges in Ohio, it is truly groundbreaking for the latter group, which does not necessarily have access to campus-based services.

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Top 10 Degrees in Ohio

For prospective college students, just applying to college in Ohio, online or otherwise, is a major investment in the future. This is doubly true for those who understand which degrees and majors are most in-demand in the state. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services projects that Ohio employment opportunities will generally grow fastest for workers with at least some college education between 2010 and 2020, but notes that some fields will grow faster than others. In other words, some Ohio degrees will be in greater demand than others, and students who enter those fields will have an advantage in tomorrow's job market. The following are 10 of the most in-demand degrees in Ohio -- based on state employment trends, including long-term outlook and earnings projections -- and some of the top schools in the state that offer them. Note that schools are not ranked in any particular order. Also remember that programs can and do change, so it pays to contact schools directly to confirm key information.

1. Nursing

Registered nurses, or RNs, are not just in demand in Ohio -- they top the ODJFS's list of the state's highest-growth, highest-wage occupations. The Department projects that demand for RNs will grow by 20.4 percent statewide between 2010 and 2020. The BLS, meanwhile, reports that Ohio RNs earned a mean annual wage of $61,750 in 2013. Though Ohio RNs can typically enter the workforce with an associate degree, those with bachelors of science in nursing, or BSN degrees, often enjoy better earnings and employment potential. Practicing RNs who would like to earn their BSNs without repeating a great deal of coursework can usually enroll in RN to BSN degree programs. A number of Ohio nursing schools offer such programs, many of which can be completed online.

Top nursing schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University's College of Nursing is one of the largest in the state, offering both undergraduate- and graduate-level nursing degrees, including an RN to BSN program. Some of the school's nursing programs can be completed online. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranked Ohio State University's online nursing degree programs among the best in the nation in 2014.
  • University of Cincinnati. Like Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati's School of Nursing is an academic powerhouse offering highly ranked degrees at both the undergraduate- and graduate-levels. The school also offers a handful of online nursing degrees, including an RN-to-BSN Online program. UC's online nursing degree ranked among the best in the nation in 2014, per U.S. News & World Report.
  • Cleveland State University. Cleveland State University's School of Nursing hosts a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including BSN, MSN, and accelerated programs. CSU is yet another Ohio school that cleared U.S. News & World Report's top online nursing degree rankings in 2014.

2. Accounting

Accountants are in-demand in Ohio. How in-demand? The ODJFS ranked accountants and auditors no. 1 among careers with high employment prospects requiring at least a bachelor's degree. The Department projects that Ohio will add an average of 1,300 new accountants to its rolls each year between 2010 and 2020. Accountants also tend to earn well above the statewide median wage for all Ohio workers. According to the BLS, Ohio accountants earned a mean annual wage of $67,080 in 2013.

Top accounting schools in Ohio

  • Miami University. The Miami University Farmer School of Business offers a wide breadth of accounting degree options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Businessweek named Miami University the top-ranked undergraduate accounting program in Ohio in 2013, and no. 22 nationally. According to the school's official website, Miami University graduates tend to earn higher salaries out of school than colleagues who attended other schools in the state.
  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business is nationally renown, as is its accounting program. The school offers undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees in a number of different specialties, plus an executive education program with an emphasis on finance and accounting. Students can also earn an Online Executive Certificate in Financial Planning 100 percent online. U.S. News & World Report ranked Ohio State University's accounting degree program 10th in the nation in 2014.
  • Case Western Reserve University.Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting, and in what the school describes as a "superior learning environment" that frequently earns "Top 50" billing nationally. A quick review of the school's ranking suggests it's on to something: Both U.S. News & World Report and Businessweek ranked Case Western Reserve University among the best accounting schools in the nation in 2013 and 2014.

3. Computer Science

Anyone who follows career and education news probably knows that computer science is a hot degree virtually everywhere, and Ohio is no exception. In fact, the ODJFS ranked computer systems analysts second in the state for high-employment prospect careers requiring a bachelor's degree or more, and computer systems analysts, software developers, and network and computer systems administrators all landed on the Department's list of "High-Growth, High-Wage Occupations." The Department projects the state will add at least 1,000 new systems jobs each year between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the statewide average for all occupations during that time. The BLS reports that Ohio computer systems analysts earned a mean annual wage of $79,220 in 2013.

Top computer science schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University's Department of Computer Science and Engineering is a large, diverse school offering a plethora of degree and certificate options, including computer science and computer information science programs. The school seems to know its stuff: OSU's computer science program was ranked among the top 35 nationally by U.S. News & World Report in 2014.
  • University of Akron. The University of Akron's Department of Computer Science also offers a diversity of computer science degrees and certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Perhaps what sets UA apart from other programs is its emphasis on serving what it calls "non-traditional students" whose career or other life demands make attending college difficult. Akron offers well respected computer engineering program options, too. In fact, U.S. News ranked the UA's computer engineering program among the best in the nation in 2014.
  • Ohio University. Ohio University is yet another large, well respected school offering computer science degrees for both undergraduate and graduate students. According to OU's official website, its computer science graduates have gone on to work for such high-profile tech companies as Microsoft, Amazon, GE, NCR, Boeing, and Lexis-Nexis. OU allows students to complete at least part of their courses online, and in 2014, U.S. News included the school's online graduate computer information technology degree program in its ranking of the best programs nationally.

4. Teaching

Teachers represent yet another fast-growing occupational field in Ohio -- one that landed on the ODJFS's list of "High-Employment Prospect" occupations requiring at least a bachelor's degree. While teachers of virtually all stripes are in demand in Ohio, elementary and secondary school teachers are especially so. The BLS reports that Ohio teacher wages varied tremendously from one position to the next in 2013. For instance, those teaching at the postsecondary level tended to earn considerably more than elementary, middle, or secondary teachers. With that in mind, the mean annual wage for ALL Ohio teaching and library professionals that year was $54,470.

Top teaching schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University's College of Education and Human Ecology is home to the no. 16 education program in the country, per U.S. News & World Report. Students can earn bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of educational specialties. Specific programs that cleared the U.S. News' top 10 national rankings: curriculum and instruction; education administration and supervision; elementary teacher education; secondary teacher education; student counseling and personnel services; and technical and vocational education. The school's online graduate education degree programs also ranked among the best in the country that year.
  • Ohio University. Ohio University's Patton College of Education notes it holds the distinction of earning "Blue Ribbon" status from the National Council of Accreditation For Teacher Education's Standard for Excellence in Teacher Preparation. Another bragging point: The school ranked among U.S. News & World Report's top 100 graduate-level teaching schools in the nation in 2014, and its online graduate education degree program was ranked no. 31.
  • Kent State University. If you could describe Kent State University's teacher preparation programs in a word, "diverse" would certainly make the short-list. The school offers degrees in a remarkably diverse array of specialties, and through a number of schools, including its schools of: Foundation, Leadership and Administration; Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences; and Teaching, Learning & Curriculum Studies. Students can pursue graduate and undergraduate credentials, some of which can be completed at least partly online. KSU represents yet another top 100 teaching school, as reported by U.S. News in 2014, and its online graduate teaching program also cleared the top 100 that year.

5. Marketing

Marketing has long been a booming field the nation over, and according to ODJFS, it remains one of the fastest growing occupational fields in Ohio. Market research analysts and marketing specialists even made the Department's list of "High-Growth, High-Wage Occupations," thanks in part to a projected job growth of nearly 35 percent between 2010 and 2020. The BLS reports that the mean annual wage for Ohio market research analysts and marketing specialists was $60,920 in 2013.

Top marketing schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business makes yet another appearance on this list, this time for its nationally renown Department of Marketing and Logistics. OSU marketing majors can earn bachelor's, master's, and even postdoctoral degrees, and its Marketing Executive Education Program is not to be overlooked. OSU ranked among U.S. News & World Report's top undergraduate marketing degree programs in 2014.
  • University of Cincinnati. The University of Cincinnati's Carl H. Lindner College of Business serves thousands of students each year, including hundreds of students through what it calls its "nationally ranked" marketing program lead by "award-winning faculty." Students can enroll in a number of specialized programs. Specific degree options include: the Bachelor of Business Administration with a marketing emphasis, an MBA in Marketing, a Master of Science with a marketing concentration, a Graduate Certificate in Marketing, and a PhD in Marketing. UC also offers an Online MBA program through Linder Online, which includes some executive-level marketing instruction.
  • University of Akron. The University of Akron's Department of Marketing promises students "hands-on, applied education" working with real clients and real-world case studies. Unlike the other Ohio schools offering marketing degrees on this list, UA does not offer a graduate-level degree in marketing specifically, but its unique undergraduate program allows students to specialize in key areas of the industry, like sales, marketing management, and marketing communications. UA also offers a 100 percent online Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management, plus an online certificate in Marketing Sales and Technology.

6. Management

All industries benefit from savvy managers -- a truth that drives demand for management graduates in Ohio (and most other states). There are a number of career fields that fall within the "management" umbrella, but according to the ODJFS, demand for management analysts is especially keen in the Buckeye State, earning the job a spot on the Department's "Ohio High-Growth, High Wage Occupations" list. The Department projects that demand for management analysts in Ohio will grow by 14.5 percent between 2010 and 2020, and according to the BLS, these professionals earned a mean annual wage of $79,410 in 2013.

Top management schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State is one of the best-represented schools on this list thanks in part to its high-ranked programs. Its marketing program is no exception. According to it's official website, OSU is committed to preparing its management graduates for an "increasingly fast-paced, competitive, and international" business environment. Students can choose from a variety of related majors and minors. The school offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in a number of specialties, including: international business, strategy, consulting, organizational behavior, and business administration. Once again, OSU ranked among U.S. News & World Report's best undergraduate AND graduate management degree programs in the country in 2014. It also made Bloomberg Businessweek's ranking of the best full-time MBA degree programs in 2012.
  • Case Western Reserve University. Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management says its "bold business ideas," "creative approach," and "adaptive" interactions make it different from other business schools -- an assurance that carries over to its plethora of business management degree programs. Students can earn bachelor's or master's degrees in management, including traditional, part-time, executive, and global MBA options. CWRU offers a handful of postgraduate management degrees, too. The school earned a place among top undergraduate management programs in the nation in 2014, according to U.S. News & World Report, and its Part-time MBA degree program ranked no. 46. Bonus: The university at large ranked no. 33 nationally among "Best Value Schools" that same year.
  • Ohio University. Ohio University's College of Business aims to provide students with notably specialized business training; it even offers so-called "selective" management degrees for high achievers. Students can earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees in management, including Full-Time MBAs, Professional MBAs, and an MSA/MBA Dual Degree. OU also offers an Online MBA program with concentrations in areas like finance, health care, and executive management. U.S. News & World Report ranked Ohio University's Part-time MBA program among the best in the nation in 2014, and its online business graduate programs cleared the top 100.

7. Engineering

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees are often considered some of the most in-demand, highest-earning credentials in the nation. The same is true in Ohio where, according to the ODJFS, engineering professions often rank among the fastest-growing occupations in the state. BLS data suggests that earnings for engineers can vary considerably by employer and specialty, though the mean 2013 wage for all engineering professionals was $71,870. Two of the states most in-demand engineering professionals, petroleum and civil engineers, earned $118,820 and $74,440 that year, respectively.

Top engineering schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University's College of Engineering is massive, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than a dozen engineering specialties. OSU also offers a unique BS/MS engineering degree program, which allows high-achieving students to earn both their bachelor's and their master's degrees at the same time, and at an accelerated rate. By now it is likely no surprise to learn that OSU was home to the U.S. News & World Report's no. 31 ranked engineering program in America in 2014; its online graduate engineering programs also ranked among the top 25.
  • Case Western Reserve University. Case Western Reserve University's Case School of Engineering offers "experience-based" learning in nearly a dozen engineering specialties. Students can enroll in undergraduate or graduate degree programs, including its 100 percent online, "course-only" Master of Science in Engineering program. CWRU made U.S. News & World Reports 2014 ranking for the best engineering schools in the nation; its graduate engineering school made no. 46 overall.
  • Ohio University. Aviation. Molecular engineering. Technical operations management. Anyone considering OU for an engineering degree will find no shortage of options, including a diversity of undergraduate majors and degrees and graduate-level credentials. As of 2014, OU offers four fully online degree programs in areas such as engineering management, electrical engineering, and civil engineering. OU's undergraduate and graduate engineering degree programs were ranked among the best in the country in 2014, per U.S. News, and its online graduate engineering programs made the top 50.

8. Physical Therapy

Occupational therapy is booming, and according to the BLS, demand is soaring not just for physical therapists, but also the assistants and aides that support them. Both physical therapy aides and assistants are in particularly high demand in Ohio, reports the ODJFS, which ranks them among "Ohio's Fastest Growing Occupations" between 2010 and 2020. The BLS reports that Ohio physical therapists earned a mean annual wage of $81,370 in 2013. Physical therapy assistants and physical therapy aides earned $56,480 and $26,100, respectively, that same year. Why the disparity? Physical therapy assistants receive a great deal more training than aides, a distinction that gives them more independence when working with patients in addition to more robust earnings.

Top physical therapy schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University offers students much, much more than the doctoral-level training required to become a licensed physical therapist. According to its official website, students can expect top notch facilities, residency, and fellowship opportunities, as well as access to plenty of student support groups and services. Bonus: U.S. News & World Report ranked Ohio State University's Physical Therapy program among the top 20 nationwide in 2014.
  • Ohio University. Ohio University's physical therapy program -- called OHIO Physical Therapy -- was the first Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the state of Ohio, and according to its website, boasts a 100 percent first-time passing rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam, a requirement for licensure. U.S. News & World Report ranked OU's physical therapy program no. 63 nationally in 2014.
  • Cleveland State University. Cleveland State University's Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences serves as an excellent starting point for future physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, but its Doctor of Physical Therapy program seals the deal (at least in the case of the former). A little research suggests the school knows its stuff: CSU's DPT program was ranked among the top 100 in the nation in 2014 by U.S. News.

9. Veterinary Medicine

If you ask any group of young children what they want to be when they grow up, "veterinarian" will likely be near the top of the list. Good news for Ohio students who never outgrew that goal: According to the ODJFS, veterinarian ranks among Ohio's "Fastest Growing Occupations" for 2010 and 2020. How fast? The Department projects that demand for veterinarians will grow by nearly 29 percent statewide over the course of the decade -- much faster than the average for all occupations. While nothing is ever guaranteed, future veterinarians in Ohio can look forward to solid wages in addition to excellent career prospects. The BLS reports that veterinarians in Ohio earned a mean annual wage of $95,010 in 2013.

Top veterinary schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University is a regular on this list, but its College of Veterinary Medicine deserves special note: According to U.S. News & World Report, Ohio State's Veterinary Medicine degree program was the fifth best in the nation in 2014. One of the features that separates OSU from other veterinary programs is its scope. According to its official website, students can pursue one of several degree options, including the: PhD and MS program; Combined Residency/MS program, Combined Residency program; PhD Program; or Combined DVM/MS program. Students can also participate in a variety of research areas, such as environmental health, applied clinical science, comparative oncology, and more.
  • Kent State University. Kent State University offers training and degrees in both pre-veterinary science and veterinary technology. While the former prepares student for the graduate-level training required of future veterinarians, the latter is a shorter two-year program designed to prepare students for careers as licensed veterinary technicians, which support licensed veterinarians. Note that KSU and OSU have a collaborative relationship: Students who hope to attend Ohio State's College of Veterinary Medicine can complete many of their prerequisites at Kent State.
  • Ohio Wesleyan University. Ohio Wesleyan University describes itself as a "highly selective," private institution, and one of the state's oldest colleges. Like Kent State, Ohio Wesleyan University offers students the undergraduate, pre-veterinary training necessary to apply to doctoral-level programs. Also like KSU, future OSU veterinary science students can complete many of their prerequisites through OWU via a collaborative partnership between the two schools.

10. Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Diagnostic medical sonographers -- often called ultrasound technicians -- frequently find themselves on both national and state-specific rankings of in-demand careers. The same is true in Ohio where the ODJFS places them on its list of "Ohio's Fastest Growing Occupations" between 2010 and 2020, thanks to a whooping 37 percent projected growth in employment. As with other medical professionals, the right training is a must for ultrasound techs, but this investment generally pays off in eventual earnings. The BLS reports that Ohio diagnostic medical sonographers earned a mean annual wage of $60,690 in 2013.

Top ultrasound technician schools in Ohio

  • Ohio State. Ohio State's diagnostic medical sonographer program is a six-semester career training program that, with additional time and coursework, could serve as a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree in health and rehabilitation science. According to OSU's official website, graduates are eligible to sit for national certification examinations from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, a must for employment in the state.
  • Kettering College. Located in Dayton, Kettering College holds the distinction of being one of the few colleges in (and out of) Ohio that offers a full-fledged Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This four-year program includes a full year of prerequisite coursework before embarking on more specialized training in areas such as abdominal, vascular, and obstetric sonography.
  • Mercy School of Diagnostic Sonography. Unlike every other school featured on this list, the Mercy School of Diagnostic Sonography is not an extension of a traditional college or university, but rather a specialized program offered by the Mercy Medical Center in Canton. This twelve-month diploma program prepares students for entry-level employment in the field, a process that includes successful passage of the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers' national exam. Note that MSDS requires applicants to have an associate degree in a direct-patient field, or a bachelor's degree in any field (so long as they have taken certain prerequisite courses).

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Top Cities and Metros for Ohio College Students

Part of the beauty of distance learning is that it gives students the chance to pursue a wider range of education options, regardless of their geographic location. That means students living in even the most remote areas of the state can earn a degree from one of Ohio's top universities without ever leaving the house. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for students and recent graduates to flock to the state's largest economic centers, which also support a fair share of the state's jobs. Read on to learn more about Ohio's three largest cities and metropolitan districts -- based on 2012 US Census population data -- and some of the colleges within them.

Columbus

Columbus is both Ohio's capital and its largest city. According to the U.S. Census, more than 822,000 people called Columbus home in 2013, and that figure only grows when you include other cities in the metro area, like Marion and Zanesville. The city is a cultural hotbed, offering museums, theaters, galleries, and more, and its dining and shopping options are not to be missed. These highlights -- and the city's booming economy -- make Columbus an ever popular destination for workers and visitors alike.

Columbus colleges

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Columbus is also one of the state's key educational centers. The Census reports that nearly 33 percent of working-age adults in Columbus had at least a bachelor's degree in 2012, which was significantly above the statewide average of 24.7 percent. According to Lumina, an impressive 60.9 percent of working age adults in Columbus' home county of Delaware had at least a two-year degree that same year, making it by far the most educated county in the state of Ohio. The city supports a number of major colleges and universities, including Ohio State University, which is not only the largest institution in the state, but one of the largest college campuses in the nation. More than a dozen additional colleges are located in the Columbus area. Here is a brief review of some of the city's best known schools:

Ohio State University

Ohio State University -- officially THE Ohio State University -- is one of the largest and best known colleges not just in Ohio, but in the United States. The institution serves more than 60,000 students both in Columbus and at regional campuses in cities like Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Wooster. OSU offers a plethora of undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines, some of which can be earned online. These degrees pack a punch in Ohio's job market, thanks in part to the school's stellar reputation: U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks OSU among the best universities in the United States, and places dozens of its degree programs -- undergraduate and graduate -- within the top 25. As of 2014, the publication ranked a number of the school's online degrees among the best nationally, including its online bachelor's programs at large, and its online graduate programs in the areas of education, engineering, and nursing. Several other key rankings groups -- think: Forbes, Washington Monthly, and the Princeton Review -- also place OSU among some of the nation's best schools.

Top-ranked Ohio State University degrees: Veterinary medicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, nursing, business, law, and engineering.

Ohio Wesleyan University

Situated in the Columbus suburb of Delaware, Ohio Wesleyan University bills itself as a "national liberal arts and sciences university with a major international presence." It also has the distinction of being one of only 40 colleges featured in what OWU deems the "highly regarded" book, "Colleges that Change Lives." Its student population is small (less than 2,000), but diverse, pulling from at least 42 states and 37 countries. In 2014, U.S. News ranked OWU among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the United States, and its High School Counselor degree program came in at no. 76. According to its official website, OWU offers more than 90 majors, minors, and concentrations in a number of disciplines, but its science, math, education, and music departments are particularly well known. It also offers pre-professional programs in dentistry, law, medicine, optiometry, public administration, physical therapy, and veterinary science.

Some of OWU's popular degrees: High school counseling, engineering, pre-veterinary medicine, music, and physical therapy.

Columbus State Community College

Unlike other Columbus colleges featured here, Columbus State Community College is a two-year institution -- but a massive one serving more than 25,000 students each year. Though the highest credential awarded by CSCC is an associate degree, a partnership with Ohio University allows students who have completed their AA to earn a bachelor's degree 100 percent online while still paying CSCC tuition rates. Speaking of online learning: According to its official website, CSCC became the largest provider of online education in Ohio in 2007 with enrollments exceeding 11,000.

Key CSCC degree programs: Nursing, nuclear medicine technology, architecture, veterinary technology, and aviation technology.

Online colleges in Columbus

We have already highlighted a few traditional colleges in Columbus, many of which offer online degrees, but there are a number of additional national or regional online colleges with campuses in the city, too. Among them:

Franklin University

Franklin University is a private, nonprofit, regional college -- and major online degree provider -- headquartered in Columbus, where it maintains its flagship campus. According to its official website, Franklin serves nearly 10,000 students from around the country each year, making it the second-largest private college in Ohio. While Franklin offers multiple campuses across the Midwest, it is particularly known for its online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As with Franklin University's Columbus campus allows students to complete hands-on courses and laboratory work in the classroom while taking the bulk of their remaining courses online.

Popular programs offered by Franklin University: Art, science, technology, business, health, and public administration.

Cleveland

Cleveland is one of Ohio's most important economic centers. Though the 2013 Census places Cleveland's estimated population of over 390,000 residents behind that of Columbus, the Greater Cleveland metropolitan statistical area -- which includes cities like Elyria and Mentor -- is actually a bit larger. Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland quickly became a major shipping and manufacturing hub, but its economy has diversified over time and now includes major industries like health care, financial services, and biomedical research.

Cleveland is a large and diverse city with a number of distinct neighborhoods, including the Buckeye-Shaker, Nottingham, and Brooklyn Centre areas. Major employers like NASA's Glenn Research Center, the Cleveland Clinic, and several tech startups produce thousands of jobs each year. The city is also a major cultural hub featuring art museums, the Playhouse Square Center (one of the nation's largest performing art centers), an opera, and several music groups. It also happens to be home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cleveland colleges

Cleveland has no shortage of well known colleges and universities, some of which we will profile below. Unfortunately, the city needs more graduates. According to the U.S. Census, only 14 percent of Cleveland adults age 25 and up had at least a bachelor's degree in 2012 -- well below the statewide average. This figure can be a bit misleading, however, because according to Lumina, nearly 40 percent of working age adults in Cleveland's home county of Cuyahoga held a two-year degree or higher that same year. In other words, many of Cleveland's most educated workers flock to the suburbs, often commuting to the city for work. Here are some of the city's largest or best known colleges:

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University -- or simply Case to locals -- is a private research university in Cleveland serving about 10,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year. It's located on Cleveland's famous University Circle, which hosts a handful of colleges. Readers will likely note that along with Ohio State University, CWRU was one of the best represented Ohio colleges in our list of the top 10 degrees in the state. This isn't a fluke: CSRU has produced no less than 16 Nobel laureates, and the school -- and several of its programs -- consistently fair well in college ranking publications like U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and Forbes. It is also known for being very socially progressive, even ranking among Campus Pride's Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities. Case offers degrees in a wide range of disciplines, including art, science, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing, and social sciences. Case also offers a handful of online degree programs. In fact, according to U.S. News, its online graduate computer information technology and engineering degree programs are among the best in the United States.

Top ranked degrees at Case Western Reserve University: High school counseling, part-time MBA, engineering, health care law, medical research, and nursing.

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University is a large public university situated in downtown Cleveland. Founded as Fenn College in 1923, and officially established in 1964, CSU is younger than most Ohio colleges featured on this list, but it nonetheless serves more than 17,000 students each year. It offers more than 70 academic majors, plus a handful of post-master's, doctoral, and professional degrees. It also maintains a research partnership with the nearby NASA Glenn Research Center. U.S. News & World Report ranks a handful of CSU's programs among the best in the nation, including its online bachelor's degree programs and online graduate degrees in business and nursing. Its City Management and Urban Policy degree program was ranked no. 2 in 2014.

Cleveland State University's top-ranked degree programs: Education, high school counseling, law, occupational therapy, and public affairs.

Cleveland Institute of Art

The Cleveland Institute of Art is a private liberal arts college situated along Cleveland's University Circle. It is a small school, serving fewer than 600 students on average per year, but it has a large footprint: Both Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News & World Report have ranked CIA among the best fine art colleges in the nation, though the latter focused on the institution's graduate programs specifically. According to its official website, CIA offers 15 majors designed to prepare students for competitive careers as studio artists, designers, photographers, contemporary craftsmen, and educators. Some of its programs are distinctly unique, including its Biomedical Art program.

Key Cleveland Institute of Art degree programs: Animation, game design, industrial design, photography, interior architecture, sculpture, and art education.

Online colleges in Cleveland

Prospective students will find no shortage of online degrees in Cleveland, though many attend national or regional programs that do not necessarily have a campus nearby. However, one major online institution does have a Cleveland location.

Remington College

Remington college is a private, non-profit institution, and perhaps one of the most prominent online colleges in Ohio. While it maintains a number of campuses -- including one in Cleveland -- it serves students from no less than 40 states online. Students can earn a handful of degrees online, including associate degrees in areas like health information technology and occupational assistance, and bachelor's degrees in business, criminal justice, and more. Cleveland students can expand their degree options considerably by reporting to the classroom, though even then, most complete at least some of their work from home.

Popular degree programs at Remington College: Business administration, dental hygiene, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapy assistant, dental assisting, and computer and network administration.

Cincinnati

Located along the Ohio River, near the Ohio-Kentucky border, Cincinnati was one of the nation's first major inland cities. The U.S. Census estimates that just under 298,000 people lived in Cincinnati in 2013. Though this places it behind both Cleveland and Columbus in population, its metropolitan statistical area -- which includes the city of Middletown -- is actually the largest in Ohio (though narrowly). Cincinnati is a major business center. Several major industries have headquarters here, including Proctor & Gamble, Macy's, Kroger, and American Financial Group.

Cincinnati is as much a cultural center as it is an economic one. The city was a key destination for German and Irish immigrants, and both cultures remain well represented there today, especially when it comes to cuisine. The city also hosts several museums, operas, entertainment venues, and art centers, not to mention dozens of festivals throughout the year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cincinnati's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is widely considered the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the country. Bonus: Cincinnati often ranks highly on various lists for its overall high quality of life.

Cincinnati colleges

Cincinnati has long prioritized education, a trend that carries over to its many colleges and universities. The region tends to be well educated, too: The U.S. Census reports that more than 31 percent of Cincinnati workers age 25 and up had at least a bachelor's degree in 2012 -- several points above the statewide average. Lumina reports that an impressive 43.7 percent of working-age adults in Cincinnati's home county of Hamilton held a two-year degree or higher that same year -- one of the highest attainment rates in the state.

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is a major research institution, shining in fields like engineering, music, architecture, and more. It is also the oldest college in the area, and -- thanks to a student population topping 40,000 -- one of the largest colleges in Ohio. UC has been ranked well both nationally and globally by a variety of publications, including U.S. News and World Report, Leiden University, and the UK-based Times Higher Education. It offers more than 400 programs of study and 300 degrees in a range of disciplines, including a number of online degrees.

Top-ranked degrees at the University of Cincinnati: Musical theater, industrial design, architecture, paleontology, accounting, and pediatric medicine.

Miami University

Don't be fooled by its name: Miami University is a public Ohio college situated in the city of Oxford, not far from Cincinnati. It also happens to be one of the oldest public universities not just in Ohio, but in the United States. Originally considered one of the so-called "Public Ivy" schools, Miami's mission was always to provide students with an elite education at a fraction of the cost. Today, Miami frequently ranks among the best colleges in the nation (according to such publications as U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and Businessweek). The school offers degrees in more than 11 majors across many different disciplines, including art, science, education, health, computing, and more. Its Farmer School of Business is held in particularly high regard, earning accolades from publications such as Entrepreneur and The Wall Street Journal.

Top-ranked degrees at Miami University: Business (including its accelerated MBA), teaching, speech-language pathology, English, and history.

Xavier University

Xavier University is a private Jesuit university located in the heart of Cincinnati, and according to its official website, the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the United States. XU serves more than 6,000 students a year across three primary colleges, hosting more than 90 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs. Key disciplines include art, science, social science, business, health, and education. XU reports that it is ranked no. 1 in the Midwest for overall graduation rate. It has also earned high rankings from such publications as U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance. In 2014, U.S. News ranked it among the top 5 Midwest colleges, and no. 2 nationally among the "Best Colleges for Veterans."

Top-ranked degrees at Xavier University: Health care management, occupational therapy, business, nursing, and more.

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College Roadmap

A major part of traditional higher education's appeal is the so-called "college experience," which is defined as much by a school's overall campus culture as it is by any of its programs, housing options, or extracurricular programs. That means the only way to truly know if a college is right for you is to actually visit it. In fact, in a perfect world, prospective students would visit several schools before committing to any one institution, just to weigh their options. A college road trip is an excellent way to do precisely that.

The following is a potential trip plan that not only allows students to visit several major Ohio colleges and universities, but also gives them an opportunity to experience everything else the state has to offer. Savvy road-trippers will arrange college visits around designated recruiting events, but most schools are happy to meet with students and offer campus tours any time, year-round.

  1. Begin in Cincinnati (or the neighboring Kentucky for Bluegrass fans). Take some time to experience the city's cultural highlights, such as the Ensemble Theater or the Performance Gallery. Grab a bowl of the city's legendary chili, and, if possible, plot a trip to Findlay Market, the oldest public market in the state. Potential schools include the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and the nearby Miami University. Music buffs should add the Cleveland Conservatory of Music to their list.
  2. Head north to Dayton, one of Ohio's largest cities. Aviation fanatics might want to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force and the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Other key highlights include the Dayton Art Institute, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park, and America's Packard Museum (a haven for auto enthusiasts). Major colleges in Dayton include the University of Dayton (Ohio's largest private university), and Wright State University in Beavercreek.
  3. Continue east until you hit Columbus, Ohio's capital city and home to its largest public institution, Ohio State University. Columbus is a dream for both foodies and shopaholics, and its huge collection of public parks deserve an extra trip. Those who want to plan their visits around major events should research the Ohio State Fair (one of the nation's largest), the Columbus Arts Festival, and the annual Jazz and Rib Festival held on the downtown riverfront. Potential colleges to visit include Ohio State University, Otterbein University, Ohio Dominican University, and Ohio Wesleyan University.
  4. Travel northeast to Akron. Nature lovers should head for the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm or Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Other key highlights include the Akron Art Museum, the Erie Canalway, and Lock 3 Park, which hosts a major festival each year. Try to slip in a visit to the University of Akron.
  5. Continue north to Cleveland and Lake Erie. Cleveland is teeming with cultural and recreational to-dos, so be sure to do your research and prioritize accordingly. Potential highlights: Playhouse Square Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several Cleveland colleges are located in the University Circle District, making college trips a cinch. (Note: Forbes once named University Circle one of the 10 prettiest communities in America). Colleges to consider: Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Cleveland State University.
  6. Follow Lake Erie west to your final stop: Toledo. Toledo offers a number of artistic highlights, including the Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and the Ballet Theatre of Toledo. Students who want to get in touch with their inner child before heading off to college should head to the Toledo Zoo or the Imagination Station, a hands-on science museum. Potential colleges to visit: the University of Toledo, Davis College, Lourdes University, and Bowling Green State University.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

Once students have decided to pursue a degree in Ohio and have put together a short-list of potential schools, their next concern is typically how to pay for it all. This is where financial aid comes in. The Ohio Board of Regents reports that Ohio college students are entitled to the same federal programs available to students in other states, including subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, grants, and, when applicable, civilian education benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Students can learn more about federal financial aid -- and even submit an application online -- by visiting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid's official website. Students can also look into private grants and scholarships -- some of which do not depend on demonstrated financial need -- by researching web-based databases or visiting prospective schools' financial aid offices.

The Ohio Board of Regents notes that some students may qualify for additional, state-sponsored financial aid. The following represent just a few of these programs. Visit Ohio Higher Ed and similar state resources to research others.

  • Choose Ohio First. Choose Ohio First is a statewide scholarship for Ohio college students pursuing careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, or STEMM. According to its official website, Choose Ohio First has awarded scholarships to more than 4,000 students attending more than 40 public and private Ohio colleges.
  • Ohio College Opportunity Grant. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant program is managed by the Ohio Board of Regents, and was designed to support Ohio college students who demonstrate the highest levels of financial need. Note that the program is open to Ohio residents attending eligible institutions in Ohio or Pennsylvania.
  • Forever Buckeyes. Forever Buckeyes is a unique program that extends in-state resident tuition rates to any Ohio high school graduate who leaves the state, but eventually returns to attend an Ohio college -- even if he or she has officially lost in-state residency status.

These are just a few of the financial aid programs available to Ohio students. The Ohio Board of Regents offers details on other, often discipline-specific programs. The Board also encourages potential students to contact prospective schools directly to learn more about any unique, institution-specific aid programs.

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