According to a recent report from the Lumina Foundation, 39.9 percent of Delaware adults ages 25-64 held at least a two-year degree in 2013, compared to 40 percent of adults nationwide. While being average isn't necessarily something to celebrate, Delaware has been making strides in this regard. For example, just 37 percent of Delaware adults held a two-year degree or higher in 2008. With each passing year since then, Delaware educational attainment figures have been inching up slowly.
But there's still plenty of room for improvement. As Lumina Foundation figures show, 29.64 percent of the state's adults held only a high school diploma in 2013, and another 20.15 percent had some college experience, but no degree. The total count -- which includes 49.79 Delaware adults without any type of degree -- means that non-degreed adults outnumber adults with at least a two-year credential.
The state hopes to change this, of course, which is part of the reason Delaware has so many school and degree options to choose from. As the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports, 19 colleges, universities, trade schools, and career centers offer programs in the state. While some focus entirely on traditional classroom education, others offer innovative hybrid or online degree options to students. Continue reading to learn more about higher education in Delaware, plus information on the state's economy and cultural activity.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Delaware?
Even though Delaware is small in size, it offers a lot in terms of economic activity and job prospects. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, a total of 424,330 workers were employed in the state in 2014. And together, they earned a mean annual wage of $49,520 that year.
Certain jobs for college graduates featured higher than average pay and employment levels, however. The following chart highlights some of those careers:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||71,050||$39,770|
|Sales and Related Occupations||48,190||$39,040|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||43,390||$25,230|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||31,680||$87,520|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||29,680||$35,150|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||28,070||$78,850|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||25,280||$55,540|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||17,120||$93,550|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||16,850||$51,260|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||16,420||$51,410|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||15,980||$30,080|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||15,570||$28,130|
In total, the state of Delaware expects to add 40,900 jobs across all industries between 2012 and 2022. That figure represents annual growth of .9 percent.
A strong foundation for higher education also helps Delaware attract employers, new industry, and young talent. With 19 institutions of higher education in the state, students have plenty of options when it comes to pursuing on-campus or online degrees in Delaware. Large colleges include Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, and Wilmington University. However, many community colleges and trade schools also call the state home.
Students who pursue on-campus or online education in Delaware will find affordable tuition prices when compared to neighboring states. This set of figures shows how tuition prices stacked up for the 2014-15 school year in current dollars:
- Public Two-Year: $3,471
- Public Four-Year: $11,448
- Private Nonprofit Four-Year: $14,786
As you can see, Delaware offers both exciting job opportunities and plenty of degree options, but that's not all. Here are five interesting facts about the state that we bet you didn't know:
- Tired of paying state taxes? Delaware is one of five states in the nation that doesn't impose a state sales tax.
- As one of the smallest states in the nation, Delaware only has three counties.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Delaware has the highest concentration of chemists in the nation. Out of every 1,000 Delaware residents, 7.98 individuals are chemists.
- One of the oldest churches still in use in America, Old Swedes (Holy Trinity Church), is in Wilmington. It was built in 1698.
- Denver is home to the Dover International Speedway, which hosts two NASCAR races each year. The track is commonly referred to as ""monster mile.""
What Makes Delaware Ideal for Online Education?
According to James K. Broomall, Associate Vice Provost of the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Delaware, online education in Delaware is ideal for several reasons.
First, a lot of online degrees in Delaware have a regional reach, with plenty of students taking advantage in nearby cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. Since Delaware is densely populated, driving to a physical campus each day can be a challenge. Online education saves students from spending that time on the road, which is a major consideration for Delaware's online students, notes Broomall.
Further, there's a convenience factor. ""It's a function of convenience of time and place,"" he says. ""You can pursue your degree 24/7 and you aren't tied to the course schedule."" And since many of the online programs at the University of Delaware are unique, students from all over the country gravitate towards them.
Meanwhile, the unique technologies that online education takes advantage of can serve as a great introduction for students. In many cases, the same technologies they use in distance learning also apply to the workplace. With more and more workers doing their jobs remotely, it is common for employees to communicate with one another through online chat, message boards, and video. According to Broomall, these technologies are advantageous for both online students and college instructors.
Broomall notes that online education ""allows instructors to do things online that they can't do face to face. Chat rooms let people interact and can foster more collaboration."" Furthermore, Broomall asserts that online students can interact more freely, even if they are introverts.
In summary, distance learning in Delaware offers an alternative for students who live in hard-to-reach urban areas, as well as those looking to embrace new technologies or earn a degree around their already busy schedules.
Top 10 Degrees in Delaware
While investing in a college degree is almost always a smart decision, some majors show more promise than others. Using the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Delaware Department of Labor, we complied this list of hot degrees in Delaware:
Earning a degree in sonography or diagnostic sonography is the fastest way to find work as a diagnostic medical sonographer. These programs, which typically take two years to complete, usually culminate in an associate degree. Because of the growing demand for ultrasound technology, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase 37 percent in Delaware through 2022. High wages also add to the popularity of this degree program. As of 2014, diagnostic medical sonographers in the state earned a mean annual wage of $69,890.
In a state like Delaware, a degree in hospitality management could be an especially good investment. A four-year degree in this discipline could lead to employment as a meeting, convention, or event planner. According to state employment data, jobs for these workers are projected to increase 34 percent in Delaware from 2012 to 2022.
A degree in a foreign language could lead to an exciting career as an interpreter or translator. As languages other than English continue to spread across the U.S., job openings for these professionals are expected to increase 29 percent in Delaware from 2012 to 2022.
Earning an associate degree in cardiovascular technology is one way to begin a rewarding career as a cardiovascular technologist or technician. With demand for these professionals on the rise, employment in the field is expected to surge 27 percent in Delaware between 2012 and 2022. A high mean annual wage of $55,790 in the state also adds to the allure of this degree choice.
Physical Therapy Assistant
With an associate degree from a licensed physical therapy program, you could start a career as a physical therapy assistant. And thanks to the overall demand for health care in Delaware, these professionals are in demand. Specifically, employment of physical therapy assistants is expected to grow 26 percent from 2012 to 2022. In 2014, the mean annual wage for these workers was $56,550 in Delaware.
Since construction is one of Delaware's fastest-growing industries, a degree in this field could really pay off. One possible career path for graduates is becoming a cost estimator. As state employment projections show, jobs for these professionals could increase by as much as 26 percent in the state from 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, employment of construction managers is expected to surge 23 percent during the same timeframe. High mean annual wages of $68,350 for cost estimators and $110,540 for construction managers in 2014 also makes this degree choice a potentially lucrative option in Delaware.
As businesses continue to rely on marketing professionals to help promote their products and services, degrees in this field remain in demand. In fact, employment of marketing specialists and market research analysts is expected to increase 26 percent in Delaware from 2012 to 2022. Exceptionally high mean annual wages of $77,620 in 2014 add to the allure of this degree field.
Earning a degree in computer science is a great way to break into a number of computer and technology-related fields. Many careers in this sector are also in high demand, with plenty of growth predicted through 2022. That includes information security analysts (26 percent), computer systems analysts (22 percent), and software developers of applications (18 percent), among others.
If you love animals, and want to start working in animal care without becoming a fully licensed veterinarian, a degree in veterinary technology may be right up your alley. Most graduates in this field go on to become veterinary technologists or technicians. In Delaware, employment of these professionals is expected to increase 23 percent between 2012 and 2022.
A two-year degree in medical technology could put you on the fast track towards becoming a medical or clinical laboratory technician. Because of the overall growth in biosciences and the medical field, jobs for these workers could increase by as much as 23 percent in Delaware through 2022. For a two-year degree, this field offers relatively high wages as well. As of 2014, medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned a mean annual wage of $44,310. Meanwhile, a four-year degree in this field could lead to employment as a medical or clinical laboratory technologist, a career where workers earned a mean annual wage of $63,480 in Delaware in 2014.
Top Cities for Delaware College Students
Located on the Christina River where it flows into the Delaware, Wilmington is the largest city in the state. According to U.S. Census estimates, the population of Wilmington was 71,817 in 2014, and the median household income was $38,127.
Low housing prices keep Wilmington an affordable place to live. Through 2013, the median housing value was only $172,000. Meanwhile, 24.8 percent of Wilmington residents held a bachelor's degree in 2013, while 81.4 percent had a high school diploma or better.
Wilmington is known for its distinct neighborhoods and historic areas, business-friendly tax policies, and many ethnic festivals. The National Center for Education Statistics lists six active institutions of higher education in and around the city. Here are the top schools:
Located in a suburb of Wilmington sits Wilmington University, the premier institution in the area. With a student population of 14,467 in 2014, it is also one of the largest schools in this part of the state. In addition to its on-campus offerings in disciplines such as business, education, and the arts and sciences, the school also offers an array of online learning opportunities. In short, Wilmington University is known for these top programs:
- Online R.N. to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Online Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Delaware Technical Community College - Wilmington
DTCC is a two-year school with a focus on associate degrees, transfer programs, and career certificates. Programs are available in fields such as education, business, agriculture, health and science, public service, and transportation. Enrollment included 6,700 students in 2014, and tuition averaged out to only $3,530 for in-state students. Here are a few of the school's most popular programs:
- Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems
- Associate degree in Dental Hygiene
- Associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technician
Goldey-Beacom College offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields such as criminal justice, business, health care, and finance. The student population included 2,012 individuals in 2014, and tuition and fees were $22,500. Here are a few of their top programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- Bachelor of Arts in English
- Bachelor of Science in Economics
Dover is the capital of Delaware and the state's second-largest city. According to U.S. Census estimates, Dover's population was approximately 37,355 in 2014. Through 2013, the median household income in Dover was $46,267, yet the median housing value was only $181,300.
Large employers in the Dover area include the state government, Dover Airforce Base, Kraft Foods, and Procter and Gamble. The city is home to the Delaware State Library, the Delaware State Museum, and the Delaware State Archives, as well as the famous Dover International Speedway. Four institutions of higher education are located in Dover, including these:
Delaware State University
As one of the larger schools in the region, Delaware State University offers 53 undergraduate programs and 25 master's degrees. The student population was 4,397 in 2014, and pupils enjoyed a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1. Tuition for in-state students was just $7,336 during the 2014-15 school year. A few of their top programs include:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications
Harris School of Business - Dover
Harris School of Business offers a wide range of career-focused certificate programs for business and health care-related fields. Enrollment was made up of 491 students in 2014, and tuition and fees were $16,732 that year. Here are a few of their most popular programs:
- Massage Therapy
- Dental Assistant
- Surgical Technology
Wesley College is a four-year, private school that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificate programs. A student population of just 1,615 in 2014 enjoyed small class sizes, thanks to a student-to-faculty ratio of around 16:1. Tuition for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $24,100, and the school is known for these programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
- Bachelor of Arts in English
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
With a population of 33,008 in 2014, Newark is Delaware's third-largest city. A hub for higher education, Newark boasts high levels of education attainment. Through 2013, 53.3 percent of Newark residents held a bachelor's degree, and 94.3 percent had at least a high school diploma. The city's high median annual income of $54,580 in 2013 was counterbalanced by high housing prices. As the U.S. Census Bureau notes, the median housing value in Newark was $275,800 that year, which is likely the result of having the University of Delaware nearby.
With a location that is halfway between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Newark is densely populated. However, it is still known for its many parks and natural areas, including the Middle Run Valley Natural Area, White Clay Creek Preserve, and White Clay Creek State Park. According to the NCES, four institutions of higher learning call Newark home. Here are the top three:
University of Delaware
As the state's flagship school, the University of Delaware boasted a student population of 22,680 in 2014. Students can choose from a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, some of which are available online. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $12,342 for in-state students, and the school is known for these top programs:
- Online Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Online Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Paul Mitchell School - Delaware
Newark's Paul Mitchell School prepares students for a future in hair design or cosmetology. Over 140 students were in attendance in 2014, and tuition and fees were $14,900 for the 2014-15 school year. Here are their most popular programs:
Strayer University - Delaware
Strayer University is a four-year, private school that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of vocational and technical career fields. Student enrollment was 335 in 2014, and tuition and fees were $12,975 for the 2014-15 school year. Popular degree programs include:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- Associate of Arts in Marketing
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students interested in on-campus or online degrees in Delaware should plan on filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, right away. This form helps state and federal agencies determine what kind of aid students may qualify for based on income and other criteria. Types of federal aid can include, but are not limited to: Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
State-based aid may also be available. Delaware.gov lists resources that can help students locate and apply for state-based tuition aid programs. Popular aid opportunities for Delaware residents include:
- Delaware Nursing Incentive Program
- Christa McAuliffe Teacher Incentive Program
- B. Bradford Barnes Memorial Scholarship
- Charles L. Hebner Memorial Scholarship
- Herman M. Holloway, Sr. Memorial Scholarship
- Diamond State Scholarship
- Delaware State Loan Repayment Program for Heath Professionals
- Delaware Engineering Society Scholarships
- Delaware Open Cross Country Championship Scholarship
- Delaware Solid Waste Authority John P. ""Pat"" Healy Scholarship
- First State Manufactured Housing Scholarship
- Port of Wilmington Maritime Society's Dennis Latina Scholarship
Students interested in financial aid should explore all state and federal aid options, as well as check with their school's financial aid office for other opportunities. Institution-based aid may be available to students who meet certain criteria.
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Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time