Connecticut is home to such noteworthy schools as Wesleyan University, University of Connecticut and Yale University. That may be why a recent report from the Lumina Foundation shows that educational attainment in Connecticut is much higher than the national average. According to the study, 54.1 percent of Connecticut adults ages 25-64 held high-quality credentials, compared to just 47.6 percent of the adult population nationwide.
But even with this high rate of educational attainment, Connecticut still has room for improvement. Despite its impressive number of college-educated adults, employers are struggling to find workers trained in some of the state's most in-demand fields; the Lumina report says that 60 percent of Americans will need some type of high-quality credential beyond high school to meet workforce demand.
Connecticut colleges that offer online degree programs can play an important role in meeting this rising demand while helping to accommodate the changing needs of students. Check out the guide below for more information on earning online degrees in Connecticut.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Connecticut?
Although Connecticut boasts a relatively high number of college-educated adults, the state's economic growth has been stagnant in recent years. A mismatch between skill sets and available jobs may be to blame. Employers in several industries, including manufacturing, construction and health care, are facing significant labor shortage and may need to fill tens of thousands of jobs in the coming years.
But with a low unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent (as of September 2019), the vast majority of Connecticut residents already hold jobs. How are the roughly half of workers without postsecondary credentials but who are employed supposed to take classes, too? An online education in Connecticut may be the answer.
Online programs usually allow students to complete their school work according to their own schedules — rather than meeting at appointing class times and locations — as long as they meet their assignment deadlines. As long as they have computers and internet connections, any place can be your classroom, whether it's 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.
Plus, in this state with one of the nation's highest costs of living, it may help knowing that earning these postsecondary credentials pays off. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that median weekly earnings increase with every level of education beyond high school — from $730/week for high school diploma only to $862 for an associate degree and $1,198 for a bachelor's degree.
Top 10 Connecticut Colleges that Offer Online Degree Programs
To help make it easier to select from online degrees in Connecticut, we've used a methodology to evaluate Connecticut colleges that offer 2- and 4-year online degree programs. Our methodology considers factors such as tuition and fees, retention rates, graduation rates, percent of students awarded financial aid, placement services for graduates and more.
Top Online Degree Programs in Connecticut
If you're looking to choose online degrees in Connecticut that align with the needs of its employers, the following list can help. We've drawn data from the National Center for Education Statistics to create this list of top online degree programs in Connecticut, which may be offered fully or only partially online.
Quality of Online Education in Connecticut
When it comes to making sure you're earning a quality online education in Connecticut, the state's membership in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) is an important component. Institutions in the state who participate in SARA are voluntarily agreeing that their distance education programs will adhere to consistently quality guidelines as other programs in other states. Participating in this agreement makes it easier for students to take high-quality online courses offered by postsecondary institutions in Connecticut, or vice versa, while ensuring comparable quality among those programs.
Additionally, individual online colleges make their own efforts to assure students of their quality. For example, the University of Connecticut's (UCONN's) eCampus courses are developed according to standards for course design set by Quality Matters (QM), a quality-assurance organization for distance education. Gateway Community College employs dedicated Distance Learning personnel who establish and preserve design standards for online courses and train faculty in this delivery mode to ensure consistent online course quality. And the University of Saint Joseph's Teaching & Learning Center is a dedicated center to assist faculty with training in learning technologies, online course design and more. Make sure you explore prospective programs to see what efforts they're making to ensure quality.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Connecticut
Unlike with traditional, campus-based colleges, which you can visit and tour, it's often difficult to get a feeling for the student experience at online colleges. To assist with this selection process, the National Council of SARA has developed several criteria for students to consider in narrowing down their choices. These include:
Managing expectations: It's important to know both what the program requires of you (time commitment, face-to-face activity requirements, etc.) and what you need from the program (quality, level of training/credentials, flexible scheduling, etc.). Make sure the two are in harmony.
Considering the learning experience: Talk to instructors, administrators and even former or current students to discover what it's actually like to be a student in this program on a day-to-day basis. Make sure the experience is one you're looking for.
Looking for support: Research suggests that support from school faculty and staff correlates to higher student retention and success. How much support will you get at these prospective programs? Services may include tutoring, writing and math centers, advisement, mentoring and coaching, career planning help and more.
Top Occupations in Connecticut
When deciding among online degrees in Connecticut, it may be helpful to know which fields are growing the fastest in the state. This list of top occupations in Connecticut comes from Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS') latest employment data.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||224,470||$47,390|
|Sales and Related Occupations||156,010||$48,570|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||137,680||$30,220|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||121,750||$38,370|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||121,290||$67,460|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||105,800||$93,090|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||94,570||$86,280|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||77,930||$34,040|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||55,830||$36,930|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||53,980||$58,110|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||51,040||$60,710|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||48,650||$95,310|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||47,440||$35,370|
Top Metropolitan Areas in Connecticut
Connecticut has been known as an industrial leader since the American Revolution, when it was the site of firearm production. Manufacturing continues to play a critical role in the state's economy; it's home to such worldwide companies as Xerox, G.E., Uniroyal, Champion International and Union Carbide. As of October 2019, the state had posted 24 consecutive months of manufacturing growth, hitting a record high number of jobs in the industry. Finance and insurance also are critical industries in Connecticut, thanks to 106 insurance companies that are based here. High-tech jobs are growing, with new and expanding companies hiring thousands of new employees, and health care is growing due to a rapidly growing population of seniors.
Here's a look at the top occupations in some of Connecticut's major metropolitan areas:
Hartford - West Hartford - East Hartford: Situated in the middle of the state at the intersection of several major interstates, this area benefits from being a transportation/trade/utility hub (an occupational group employing 91,700 residents) and being within a two-hour drive from over 23 million people. Other important industries are insurance, aerospace, manufacturing and health care.
Waterbury: This city at the crossroads of Interstates 95 and 84 is experiencing revitalization in its downtown core, meaning that construction is booming. It's home to Post University's online graduate classes, administrative offices and Information Technology Center and a thriving manufacturing sector. Educational and health services, trade/transportation/utilities and goods-producing industries (manufacturing and construction) employ the highest numbers of people in Waterbury.
New Haven: Located in southern Connecticut along the Long Island Sound, New Haven is situated well to be a hub for trade/transportation/utilities jobs. It has the second-largest bioscience cluster in New England and is home to eight colleges and universities, where considerable innovation is taking place and giving birth to startups; New Haven is a top destination for entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, educational and health services employ the highest concentrations of residents. Government jobs and manufacturing also employ high numbers of workers.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Connecticut
Unfortunately, Connecticut's reputation as a leading provider of higher education also comes with a hefty price tag. Its students graduated with the highest student loan debt in the nation in 2017, reported CTPost.com.
Fortunately, the state offers options to help students afford college. Chief among these is the Roberta B. Willis Scholarship. This need- and merit-based grant is offered to residents who are Connecticut high school seniors or graduates with high school ranks of 20 percent or better and/or SAT scores of at least 1200 or ACT scores of at least 25 who are enrolled full time in four-year programs of study. The recipients must attend Connecticut public or nonprofit private colleges. A need-based-only scholarship is also available for students attending Connecticut public or nonprofit private colleges who qualify with eligible Expected Family Contributions according to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Students may also benefit from the New England Board of Higher Education's Tuition Break program, which provides New England residents discounts on more than 315,000 annual tuition bills. Students in New England who wish to earn their online education in Connecticut may qualify for Tuition Break. In the 2018-19 school year, full-time students in the program received an average tuition break of $7,900.
Tests You May Need to Take
You should expect some Connecticut colleges that offer online degree programs to require ACT or SAT exam scores as part of their admissions packages. For example, Central Connecticut State University and UCONN require one or the other. Some, like Connecticut College and Post University, only recommend, but don't require these tests. On the other hand, some schools, such as Goodwin College and Sacred Heart University, have no test scores requirements. Check with your prospective schools for details on what's required.
To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
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- Connecticut's progress toward the goal, A Stronger Nation, Lumina Foundation, February 2019, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#state/CT
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