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Online Degrees in Texas (TX)

A recent study by the Lumina Foundation shows that educational attainment in Texas is on the rise, albeit slowly. For example, only 33.3 percent of the state's working age adults (ages 25-64) held at least two-year degree in 2008, with that number jumping just slightly to 34.5 percent by 2011. Breaking the data down further reveals even more about educational attainment in the state. According to the Lumina Foundation figures, 949,585 Texas adults (or 7.10 percent of the working age population) held an associate's degree in 2011, while 2,494,952 (or 18.67 percent) held a bachelor's and 1,165,286 (or 8.72 percent) held a graduate or professional degree. Meanwhile, 3,093,545, or 23.14 percent of Texas adults, had some college experience in 2011, but no degree.

When you add all of those figures up, they show that more than 57 percent of working age adults in Texas have at least attempted to earn a college degree. This data seems to indicate that interest in higher education remains high in the state, although many people need help figuring out how to finish the remainder of their studies. Fortunately, Texas residents have a whole host of schools to choose from when the time comes to get started. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics shows a total of 135 colleges and universities in the state where students can earn a bachelor's degree. Some of these schools offer traditional degree programs, and others offer the opportunity to earn a degree in a flexible, online format.

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

Why Should I Earn a Degree in Texas?

Texans work in a wide range of industries and careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, as many as 10,913,950 residents were working in 2013, and they earned a mean annual wage of $44,400. The BLS reports that the following careers employ a healthy number of college graduates in the state:

Occupation

Number of Workers in 2013

Registered Nurses

190,090

General and Operations Managers

176,940

Elementary School Teachers

142,690

Secondary School Teachers

100,500

Accountants and Auditors

99,840

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

72,020

Middle School Teachers

71,640

Business Operations Specialists

67,540

Computer User Support Specialists

54,140

Correctional Officers and Jailers

47,910

Computer Systems Analysts

45,710

Software Developers, Applications

43,540

Lawyers

39,190

Human Resources Specialists

37,250

Management Analysts

30,100

Construction Managers

29,380

With its massive size, Texas is home to many diverse communities, from big cities to sprawling, rural towns. The major metropolitan areas in Texas include the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, San Antonio-New Braunfels, and Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metros. The state contains many colleges and universities that offer traditional learning as well as online learning options, including the Texas A&M University system which is one of the largest university systems in the nation. Community college students can pursue online degrees and certificates though Virtual College of Texas, a collaborative effort between community colleges in the state that is aimed at increasing access to distance learning in Texas.

Once students graduate, they will find an abundance of industries to work for. According to the Texas Department of Economic Development and Tourism, major industries in Texas include biotech and life sciences, information and electronics, professional and financial services, aerospace and aviation, industrial manufacturing, petroleum and chemical products, logistics and transportation, and food and beverage processing. Most of these key industries are clustered around the major metropolitan areas in the state.

The fact that Texas has so much to offer in terms of education and industry is promising, but the state itself is also an excellent place to call home. From the northern plains to the hip, oceanfront towns along its coast, Texas is the place to be. Here's why:

  • Houston, Texas is an important part of our planet's history. In fact the first word spoken from the moon on July 20, 1969, was "Houston."
  • The sheer size of Texas means a large population, but did you know that the state is home to three of the 10 largest cities in the United States? Those cities are Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
  • Almost 10 percent of the state is covered in forest which includes four national and five state forests. Meanwhile, Texas contains 90 mountains that stand at least one mile high.
  • Seventy-five percent of the world's Snickers bars are made in a plant in Waco, Texas.
  • Texas produces more wool than any other state in the U.S., and is also home to the nation's largest herd of whitetail deer.

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What Makes Texas Ideal for Online Education?

Anthony Edwards Director, Tarleton State University Global Campus in Texas
Enrollment counselors that seem more interested in your money than your future" are also a bad sign.

Students seeking distance education options will have no trouble finding online programs in Texas. For instance, the University of Texas Online Consortium allows Texas students to pursue distance learning at any one of the consortium's member schools. Furthermore, the Virtual College of Texas offers similar options to students at a community college level. These options, and others, round out the online educational offerings in the state and provide a meaningful alternative for students seeking a college degree.

However, many experts point out that not all online learning options are equal. To discover the differences between online programs, Dr. Anthony Edwards, Director of Tarleton State University Global Campus in Texas, suggests that online students do their due diligence before signing up. According to Edwards, this could be as simple as asking the following questions:

  • Does the institution offer only online classes or do they offer face to face programs as well?
  • Does the institution offer academic and career advising for distance learners?
  • Does the program require any on-campus residencies for program completion?
  • Is the institution accredited?
  • Is the program or academic college (division) accredited? For example, there are multiple accrediting bodies for Colleges of Business Administration.
  • Does the institution offer the program you want in an online format?

When it comes to red flags to watch out for, Edwards warns students should steer clear of schools that are not fully accredited, schools they have never heard of, and institutions with higher-than-average costs for tuition. "Enrollment counselors that seem more interested in your money than your future" are also a bad sign, he notes.

According to Edwards, finding out the answers to these important questions is one of the best ways to determine which school is for you. Still, there are other ways to prepare yourself for an online learning environment. For example, Edwards says students who are self-motivated and have good time management skills tend to do best in an online learning setting. Beyond those qualities, students who understand technology also tend to excel. If you're lacking in any of those areas, it might be wise to shape up before signing up for any form of online education in Texas.

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Top 10 Degrees in Texas

Although the state of Texas is home to a strong job market and many key industries, several college degrees could pay off more than others. Using employment predictions from the Texas Labor Market and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've compiled this list of the top 10 degrees in Texas:

Sonography

A degree in sonography can prepare students for several careers in health care, including diagnostic medical sonographer or cardiovascular technologist or technician. Thanks to the huge demand in this field, Texas Labor Market figures show that employment is expected to increase 57.5 percent for diagnostic medical sonographers and 44.3 percent for cardiovascular technologists and technicians from 2012 to 2022. If you want to earn this hot degree in Texas, check out the following top notch schools:

  • Austin Community College
  • University of Texas
  • El Centro College

Spanish

An influx of non-English speaking residents in Texas means plenty of opportunity for those who have mastered the Spanish language. In fact, the Texas Labor Market predicts that employment of interpreters and translators could increase as much as 49 percent in Texas between 2012 and 2022. If you want to earn this versatile degree, check out the following colleges and universities:

  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Texas State University
  • University of Texas at Tyler

Geography

Students who pursue a degree in geography typically do so in order to begin a career as a geographer. Fortunately, Texas Labor Market figures show that job opportunities for geographers are expected to rise 46.2 percent in the state from 2012 to 2022. Students looking for the best geography programs in Texas should look no further than the following schools:

  • Texas State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Texas at Austin

Engineering

Engineering degrees continue to provide excellent outcomes for students in Texas. However, certain engineering fields are expected to perform better than others. For example, Texas Labor Market figures show that employment of petroleum engineers is projected to rise 45.3 percent from 2012 to 2022, while opportunities for civil engineers are expected to surge 30.5 percent. The following Texas schools lead the way when it comes to engineering degree programs:

  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Texas Tech
  • University of Texas at Tyler

Computer Science

A computer science degree can prepare you for a career in a wide range of fields that deal with technology. And due to our growing demand for technology and experts in this field, employment is expected to increase for computer science graduates in Texas. For example, Texas Labor Market figures show that jobs for information security analysts could increase 45 percent between 2012 and 2022. Meanwhile, employment of computer systems analysts and web developers is expected to rise 31.6 percent and 25.5 percent, respectively. Several Texas schools offer top notch computer science degree programs, including these:

  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • Texas Tech University
  • Texas Christian University

Occupational Therapy Assisting

Students who earn a degree in occupational therapy assisting usually do so in order to work as an occupational therapy assistant. Texas Labor Market figures show that demand for occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase a whopping 44.1 from 2012 to 2022, thanks in part to the health needs of aging baby-boomers. These Texas schools can help you earn this in-demand degree:

  • Austin Community College
  • LoneStar College
  • South Texas College

Marketing

A growing economy means plenty of opportunity for marketing specialists who can help businesses sell their products or services. That's why Texas Labor Market figures show that employment of market research analysts and marketing specialists is expected to rise 41 percent from 2012 to 2022. Students interested in this top degree should check out these schools:

  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • Texas State University

Advanced Nursing

The robust population in Texas means plenty of work for most health care professions. Specifically, those with advanced nursing credentials could do better than most. The field of nursing needs instructors to teach the new generation of professionals in this field, which is why the Texas Labor Market predicts that demand for postsecondary health specialty teachers and nursing instructors and teachers will increase 41 and 41.6 percent, respectively between 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, employment of nurse practitioners is expected to surge 40.5 percent in Texas during the same timeframe. The following schools can get you started toward an advance nursing degree:

  • University of Texas at Tyler
  • Texas Woman's University
  • Texas Tech University

Hospitality Management

A degree in hospitality management can lead to many careers, including lodging manager, hotel/restaurant manager, or meeting, convention, and event planner. Because of growing demand for the latter, employment is expected to increase 40.9 percent for meeting, convention, and event planners during the decade leading up to 2022. If you're interested in this degree, look no further than the following Texas schools:

  • University of North Texas
  • University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Texas Tech University

Mathematics

Several careers that require advanced math degrees are projected to grow exponentially during the coming decade. For example, Texas Labor Market figures estimate that opportunities for logisticians could increase 39.8 percent through 2022. Meanwhile, employment of actuaries, mathematicians, and statisticians is expected to rise 34.6 percent, 33.3 percent, and 36.5 percent, respectively, during the same timeframe. Colleges and universities in Texas offering these top degrees include:

  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas Tech University

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Top Cities for Texas College Students

Houston

With a population of 2,195,914 according to 2013 U.S. Census Estimates, Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth most populous city in the entire United States. Its metropolitan area, the Greater Houston area, was home to over 6 million people in 2013. According to U.S. Census figures, approximately 28.7 percent of Houston residents held at least a bachelor's degree in 2008-2012, and 74.8 percent had a high school diploma or better. Houston's economy boasts many career opportunities in key industries such as energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation, but that isn't the only reason people want to live here. With close proximity to the water, a low unemployment rate, and low cost of living, Houston has tons to offer students in every stage of their educational attainment. When it comes to earning a college degree in Houston, the following schools stand out:

Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University has an annual enrollment of around 9,700 students and offers 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Tuition for in-state students costs around $7,500 annually, which is far less than the national average. A historically black university, Texas Southern is known for the following degree programs:

  • Online Executive Masters of Public Administration
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science in Entertainment and Recording Industry Management

University of Houston

The University of Houston boasts an enrollment of around 40,750 students each year, all of whom take part in one of the 300 undergraduate and graduate programs the school has to offer. Many U of H students also take advantage of the school's exemplary distance education program, which allows students to earn their degree in a fully-online or hybrid format. The University of Houston awards over 8,000 degrees per year and the fixed tuition rate for in-state students came in at approximately $4,750 per term. U of H is known for offering exemplary education in the following degree programs:

  • Online Master of Arts in Mathematics
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Supervision
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting

Rice University

With 3,920 undergraduate and 2,567 graduate students during the Fall 2013 semester, Rice University is a relatively small school built around focused, diverse communities. And with a student-to-faculty ratio of 6 to 1 for undergraduate students, Rice is definitely focused on quality, not quantity. The university awarded only 1,896 degrees for the 2013-14 school year, with tuition and fees coming to an annual rate of approximately $39,880. Rice is known for the following degree programs:

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

San Antonio

According to 2013 estimates from the U.S. Census, San Antonio is home to around 1,409,019 people, and is the center of the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan statistical area. Reportedly, 24.2 percent of the city's adults ages 25-64 held at least a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012, and 80 percent possessed a high school diploma or better. Perhaps best known for the Alamo, San Antonio is also home to a wide range of unique attractions and events. For example, San Antonio residents can choose to take in in the rodeo, explore the San Antonio zoo, or check out an e-book at the nation's first all-digital library. Here are a few schools that call this unique city home:

University of Texas at San Antonio

Established in June of 1969, the University of Texas at San Antonio has an enrollment of approximately 29,000 students, and offers 147 different degree programs to choose from. Although the school is known for excellence across the board, the following degree programs stand out:

  • Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Trinity University

Trinity University has 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students pass through its doors each school year, and is one of the top private liberal arts schools in the country. However, they still manage to offer a wide range of degree programs, with 43 majors and 58 minors to choose from, as well as five master's degree programs. Tuition for the 2014-15 academic year was $36,214 annually for students residing on-campus. Trinity is known for the following degree programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Although Texas A&M San Antonio currently only serves around 4,500 students, enrollment at the university has risen 216 percent since 2008. The school's goal is to continue growing its enrollment while keeping costs in an affordable range for the many low-income students it serves. Tuition and fees for in-state undergrads taking 20 credit hours for the 2013-14 school year came in at just $3,986.98. Texas A&M San Antonio is known for the following programs:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics

Dallas

Dallas, Texas is the state's third largest city and home to approximately 1,257,676 residents, according to 2013 U.S. Census estimates. The Lumina Foundation reports that only 34.22 percent of Dallas County residents held at least an associate's degree in 2011. Over 44 million people visit the Dallas metro area annually according to the Dallas Visitor's Bureau, and they can choose to stay in any one of the area's 75,000 hotel rooms. Dallas is also home to 18 Fortunate 500 Companies and five professional sports teams. When it comes to educational attainment, the following Dallas colleges and universities have an edge:

University of Texas at Dallas

Founded in 1969, the University of Texas at Dallas has grown to include 133 different degree programs, both for undergraduate and graduate students. Tuition for the 2014-15 school year came in at $1,332 per semester for in-state undergraduate students. Even though the University of Texas at Dallas is known for many degree programs, the following are some of the school's most popular:

  • Bachelor of Science in Child Learning and Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering

University of Dallas

During the Fall 2013 semester, the University of Dallas enrolled 1,380 undergraduate and 1,218 graduate students from 49 states and 22 countries. The school also boasts an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1 and an average undergraduate classroom size of just 17. The University of Dallas is known for the following degree programs:

  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics

El Centro College

As a community college, El Centro College offers basic college courses that are transferrable to many four-year schools, as well as career training for 50 different industries in the Dallas area. Even better, El Centro boasts tuition rates as low as $52 per credit hour for Dallas County residents. Even though many of their career track programs are popular, the following options stand out:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology
  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

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College Roadmap

Everything in Texas is super-sized, including any kind of road trip across the state. However, a college-themed jaunt might be just what you need to see what the state's colleges have to offer first-hand. If you're up for it, consider this roadmap when staking out your route:

Start your trip in the southeast portion of the state near Houston. There you can explore all of the beauty of Texas's coastal regions, as well as the colleges and universities in the area. Check out Texas Southern University and the University of Houston campuses before hitting up the nearby community colleges. Next, you'll travel north to the Dallas/Forth Worth/Denton area. There, you can visit some of the bigger public schools like Texas A&M University, Texas Woman's University, the University of Dallas, and Texas Christian University. While you're there, make sure to explore the intimate campuses found at the region's private schools such as Amberton University, Brookhaven College, Criswell College, and Northwood University.

Once you've explored the Dallas area thoroughly, head south to Austin where you'll find a whole new world of culture and opportunity in addition to some pretty interesting schools. In Austin, you'll need to see South University, Austin Community College, the University of Texas at Austin, and Concordia Texas-Austin. Drive a little further south and you'll end up in San Antonio where you can visit Trinity University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a diverse array of small community colleges.

A road trip like this is a great way to find out exactly where you want to end up. Because even if you plan to earn your degree online, you still have the option to reside nearby and it never hurts to get an insider's look at what your new area has to offer.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students in Texas may qualify for different types of federal aid, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. In addition to these options, students seeking on-campus or online education in Texas can apply for additional scholarships. While not all-inclusive, the following list offers some examples of what is available:

  • TELACU Scholarship Program
  • W. Price Jr. Memorial Scholarship
  • The Tall Texans of Dallas Scholarship
  • Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program
  • Fort Worth Scottish Rite Foundation
  • Horace M. Condley Scholarship Fund
  • Laura Woodman Memorial Scholarship
  • Carl C. & Mary E. Welhausen Scholarship
  • University of Texas at Dallas Academic Honors Scholarships
  • Area Go Texan Scholarship
  • Hildebrand Scholarship
  • Metropolitan Scholarship

Many other scholarships and financial aid opportunities may be available to you. When researching schools, make sure to explore all of your options and exhaust all resources before determining what your out-of-pocket costs might be.

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Sources:
"A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education," Lumina Foundation, http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/#texas
"Bureau of Labor Statistics," May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Texas http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tx.htm
"National Center for Education Statistics," http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=TX&l=93
"State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/4835000.html
"Texas Industry Concentrations," Texas Department of Economic Development and Tourism, http://governor.state.tx.us/files/ecodev/concentrations.pdf
"Texas Long-Term Occupation Projections," Texas Labor Market Information, http://www.tracer2.com/publication.asp?PUBLICATIONID=826
"Virtual College of Texas," https://www.vct.org/students/whatisvct.html