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
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- College of Western Idaho, "Are the College of Western Idaho Online Learning programs and courses comparable in quality to on-campus programs?" accessed Jan. 29, 2019,http://cwidaho.cc/faq/online/are-college-western-idaho-online-learning-programs-and-courses-comparable-quality-campus
- "Idaho Board of Education launches online data dashboard," KIVI-TV, Jan. 16, 2019,https://www.kivitv.com/news/idaho-board-of-education-launches-online-data-dashboard
- Idaho State University, "Quality Matters at ISU," accessed Jan. 29, 2019,https://www.isu.edu/itrc/quality-matters-at-isu/
- Idaho State Board of Education, "Data Dashboard," accessed Jan. 29, 2019, https://boardofed.idaho.gov/data-research/data-dashboard/postsecondary-education/
- Idaho State Board of Education, "Higher Education in Idaho Booklet - 2018/9," accessed Jan. 29, 2019,https://boardofed.idaho.gov/resources/higher-education-in-idaho/
- Idaho State Board of Education, "Idaho Scholarships," accessed Jan. 29, 2019, https://boardofed.idaho.gov/scholarships/
- "Idaho Postsecondary Numbers Improve, but Remain Far From Goal," Idaho Ed News, Feb. 14, 2018,https://www.idahoednews.org/news/idaho-postsecondary-numbers-improve-remain-far-60-percent-goal/
- "Idaho wants students to consider higher ed. In its way: Culture, geography, economics," Idaho Statesman, Nov. 28, 2019,https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/education/article222195410.html
- Institute for Research on Higher Education. (2016). College Affordability Diagnosis: Idaho. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Research on Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania.http://www2.gse.upenn.edu/irhe/affordability-diagnosis
- Institute for Research on Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, "College Opportunity Risk Assessment: Idaho," accessed Jan. 29, 2019, https://irhe.gse.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/College-Opportunity-Risk-Assessment-2018-IDAHO.pdf
- "State Board Opens Free College Application Website," Idaho Ed News, Oct. 2, 2018,https://www.idahoednews.org/news/state-board-opens-free-college-application-website/
- U.S. Census, "QuickFacts: Idaho," July 1, 2018,https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/id/PST045218
Idaho, with its rugged landscape and vast area consisting of protected wilderness and public recreational areas, has a population of 1.75 million concentrated in its urban centers that include Boise and Twin Falls. The rest reside in highly rural areas that often are separated by many miles and geographical barriers from its institutions of higher education.The entire first paragraph can be replaced with the above.
In a state where the need for college-educated workers is acute, these physical challenges, along with issues of financial need, can mean the difference between keeping the status quo and earning that college degree. Fortunately, the state's lawmakers and higher ed leaders are working hard to improve college access, including making great strides in expanding online degree programs in Idaho and improve financial aid resources.
Keep reading to discover how online education in Idaho can help you reach your educational and career goals.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Idaho?
According to the Institute for Research on Higher Education (IRHE), by 2020, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Idaho's jobs may require some postsecondary credential. To help bolster college attainment rates among Idahoans, state leaders established a goal to have 60 percent of its 25- to 34-year-olds complete some education beyond high school — at least a one-year professional certificate.
Yet, although great strides have been made, its rate was still just 40.6 percent in 2016. Idaho may face severe employee shortages if it does not drastically improve its number of college-going students. Students who enroll in online colleges in Idaho are likely to find more employment opportunities. Not only that, but an average distance of 13.7 miles sits between each county center and the closest degree-granting institution; online colleges in Idaho can provide college access to students who may not have it otherwise.
Plus, the Idaho State Board of Education says that someone who graduates from college earns more money than those with only high school educations &mdash pay increases by education level, on average. With a high school education, an Idahoan can earn $638 per week, while someone with a college degree can earn $1,100 a week.
Top Online Colleges in Idaho
The following list ranks Idaho colleges that offer online degree programs on such factors as admission rates, student support services, tuitions and more.
Top Online Degree Programs in Idaho
Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we've created the following list of the top online degree programs in Idaho.
Quality of Online Education in Idaho
Students considering enrollment in online degree programs in Idaho may appreciate knowing that the state's leaders and higher education institutions have worked extremely hard in recent years to make college accessible and valuable to its students.
At the individual school level, efforts to step up quality include the College of Western Idaho, whose online faculty must complete online instructor certification programs, and Idaho State University, which subscribes to the Quality Matters Program.
Also, Idaho is a part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) through the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. States who are members of SARA agree to meet a set of national standards for postsecondary distance education. It not only improves access across state boundaries, but it insures a level of quality of online education at member schools.
Helpful tool: To step up its level of accountability and quality, the Idaho State Board of Education unveiled its new Data Dashboard in early 2019. Accessed through the state board's website, this online tool shares information about student access, progress and success at the state's eight public colleges and universities, in a user-friendly format.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Idaho
Currently, 10 institutions in Idaho are approved member institutions with SARA. If this designation is important to you, it's important when you're considering online degree programs in Idaho that you choose from these member schools.
Other factors to consider include:
- Accreditation: The voluntary process of a third-party review of quality and rigor to receive accreditation is a measure of a school's stability and ability to adequately prepare students for the workplace. Accreditation is also a requirement for receiving federal or institutional financial aid, scholarships or military funding. Any online college you're considering should be accredited.
- Degree offerings: The Idaho State Board of Education can provide useful information at a glance about which types of credentials its public colleges and institutions offer. Students should consider whether their preferred online schools can offer the practical experience needed to meet career goals.
- Student outcomes: The state's Data Dashboard may be helpful in choosing among Idaho colleges that offer online degree programs. You can search graduation rates of individual schools or categories of schools or explore the number of graduates produced and more. Ask the schools themselves for information on job placement rates and success of graduates.
Top Occupations in Idaho
We used state industry data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to come up with this list of the top occupations in Idaho.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||106,040||$34,670|
|Sales and Related Occupations||71,880||$35,790|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||63,620||$22,210|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||45,330||$35,250|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||43,070||$43,410|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||41,250||$42,250|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||40,080||$77,510|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||31,110||$44,500|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||26,520||$63,730|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||24,200||$25,390|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||23,650||$27,780|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||19,600||$30,560|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Idaho
Until recently, the state of Idaho offered no need-based financial aid to its students. However, its "60 percent by 2020" goal motivated state leaders to take action which includes creating financial aid opportunities, such as:
- Idaho Opportunity Scholarship: This need-based award offers Idaho high school graduates and state residents with GPAs of at least 2.7 up to $3,500 per year (renewable for up to four years).
- Idaho Opportunity Scholarship for Adult Learners: This need-based award of up to $3,500 is specifically for students with at least 24 college credits under their belts and at least 24 months since they last attended postsecondary institutions.
Other scholarships from Idaho are offered for students in varying specific circumstances of school, industry or background. In order to qualify for these, and any other form of federal grants and scholarships, as well as most private scholarships or tuition assistance, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-19 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Tests You May Need To Take
There is no standard, required college entrance exam that Idaho schools require applicants to complete. Students may be asked to submit SAT, ACT or other exams, depending on their circumstances, in order to apply.