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/
- 15 to Finish, State of Indiana, accessed June 20, 2018,https://www.in.gov/che/3126.htm
- 2016-2017 Annual Report to the Member States, Midwestern Higher Education Compact, accessed June 20, 2018, https://www.mhec.org/sites/default/files/resources/201617MHEC_annual_rpt_to_mbr_states_0.pdf
- 2018 State Education Policy Watch List, Education Commission of the States, January 24, 2018,https://www.ecs.org/state-education-policy-watch-list/
- Admission Process, University of Southern Indiana, accessed June 20, 2018,https://www.usi.edu/admissions/admission-process/
- Admissions Requirements, Indiana Wesleyan University, accessed June 20, 2018,https://www.indwes.edu/undergraduate/admissions/admissions-requirements
- Entrance Exams, Learn More Indiana, an Initiative of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, accessed June 20, 2018, https://learnmoreindiana.org/college/applying-for-college/entrance-exams/
- Explore Indiana's Hottest Jobs of the Future, Hoosier Hot 50 Jobs, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, accessed June 19, 2018, https://netsolutions.dwd.in.gov/hh50/jobList.aspx
- Freshman Application Instructions, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, accessed June 20, 2018, https://www.iup.edu/admissions/undergraduate/applynow/freshman-instructions/
- Higher Education in Focus 2017: Indiana, The Midwestern Higher Education Compact, copyright @2017, accessed June 19, 2018, https://www.mhec.org/sites/default/files/resources/2017INHigherEdinFocus.pdf
- "Holcomb rolls out Indiana's 'Next Level Jobs' initiative with two programs to help meet current workforce demand," press release from the State of Indiana Office of the Governor, August 14, 2017, https://www.nextleveljobs.org/Communications-Kit/Next-Level-Jobs-Press-Release.pdf
- Indiana Advantages, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, accessed June 19, 2018,https://www.iedc.in.gov/indiana-advantages
- Indiana College Network, accessed June 19, 2018,http://www.icn.org/
- Indiana Gives Credential Engine a Boost, Ken Sauer and Stephen Crawford, New America, Dec. 13, 2017, https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/indiana-gives-credential-engine-boost/
- "Indiana's progress toward the goal," A Stronger Nation, Lumina Foundation, accessed June 19, 2018, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2018/#state/IN
- Indiana approved as first SARA state, NC-SARA, February 24, 2014, http://nc-sara.org/content/indiana-approved-first-sara-state
- More Than 1000 Accredited Colleges and Universities That Do Not Use ACT/SAT Scores to Admit Substantial Numbers of Students Into Bachelor-Degree Programs, FairTest, The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, Summer 2018, http://fairtest.org/university/optional
- Office of Admissions, Indiana University Bloomington, accessed June 20, 2018,https://admissions.indiana.edu/apply/freshman/step-two.html
- Office of Admissions: Freshman Application, Indiana State University, accessed June 20, 2018,https://www.indstate.edu/admissions/applications-us/freshman
- Office of Undergraduate Admissions: High School Students, Ball State University, accessed June 20, 2018, http://cms.bsu.edu/admissions/undergraduate-admissions/information-for/high-school-students
- "Purdue University Global Holds First Commencement; Over 9,000 Graduates Makeup Historic Cohort," by Amy Hawkinson, BusinessWire, June 2, 2018, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180602005021/en/Purdue-University-Global-Holds-Commencement-9000-Graduates
- Reaching Higher, Delivering Value: A State Agenda to Increase the Value of Higher Education in Indiana, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2016, accessed June 20, 2018, https://www.in.gov/che/files/77185_2016_RHDV_Report_Master.pdf
- Research & Policy INsights: People and Places: The Nature and Location of Talent in Indiana; by Lionel J. Beaulieu, Indraneel Kumar, and Michael D. Wilcox; Purdue University Center for Regional Development, March 2018,https://pcrd.purdue.edu/files/media/004-People-and-Places.pdf
- State Financial Aid - General Information, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, accessed June 20, 2018, https://www.in.gov/che/4497.htm
- State Financial Aid - By Program, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, accessed June 20, 2018,https://www.in.gov/che/4498.htm
- The 2018 Economic Forecast for the US and Indiana, Michael J. Hicks, Ph.D., Dec. 7, 2017,https://cms.bsu.edu/-/media/www/departmentalcontent/cber/econoutlook/outlook2018-forecast.pdf?la=en
- Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, accessed June 20, 2018,https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time
- Trends in College Pricing 2017, The College Board, October 2017, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time
- Quality Matters, QM Member Institutions/Organizations, https://www.qmprogram.org/qmresources/subscriptions/subscribers.cfm?program=0#, accessed August 2018
Indiana has a lot going for it. Not only does the Indiana Economic Development Corporation showcase this state as one of the nation's top tax climates, but it is also ranked among the top 5 states for business. This has created a climate that continues to encourage companies to set up shop within its boundaries. What Indiana is looking for are enough qualified workers with a postsecondary degree to meet the demands of its growing job market.
In such a competitive job market, those who have a certificate, associate, bachelor's, or master's degree are more likely to have better job opportunities. If a busy lifestyle prevents you from achieving your career goals, consider earning a degree online in one of Indiana's reputed online colleges. Online degree programs can provide the flexibility you're looking for as well as access to the same rigorous curriculum of an on-campus program.
Whether you're a high school graduate, a professional who has a job to keep, or a stay-at-home parent with family commitments, you can earn an online degree and improve your chances of getting a better job in Indiana's growing job market.
Continue reading to discover more about the benefits of earning online degrees in Indiana.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Indiana?
State leaders know that in order for wages to increase and for the state to maintain its solid economic footing, diversifying the economy and growing high-paying and fast-growing STEM jobs will likely be key. Economic development officials are focusing their efforts on drawing these jobs to the state, and their efforts are paying off. State industries such as life sciences, information technology, aviation/aerospace and renewable energy are growing rapidly and drawing major companies to set up business in the state.
But the state's workforce must be ready for job growth in these and other growing industries. Eight of what Indiana's Department of Workforce Development determined as its "10 hottest jobs" require either a postsecondary certificate or college degree.
The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) projects that 62 percent of jobs in Indiana will likely require some level of postsecondary education. Indiana's leaders are eager to increase educational attainment in the state in order to continue this economic diversification; their goal is to increase the state's postsecondary education attainment rate from its current 42 percent to 60 percent by 2025. As part of this effort, they're growing the number, quality and affordability of online degree programs in Indiana.
As if these facts alone didn't make earning online degrees in Indiana attractive enough, this may help: Economic research from Purdue University says that, on average, incomes among adults in Indiana go up with levels of education. In 2016, those in the state with a high school diploma had median earnings of $29,793, while even some college or an associate degree boosted those earnings to $32,469; those with bachelor's degrees earned even more that year, with median earnings of $46,344.
Top Online Colleges in Indiana
Perhaps you are looking to complete a degree you started but never finished. Maybe you're seeking a promotion at work or a total career change. Or maybe you're looking for a more convenient means by which to complete the courses you need while juggling the demands of work and family. Whatever your circumstances, you'll need to be sure that any school you attend is the right fit for you.
We've made the work easier for you by compiling the following list of top two- and four-year Indiana colleges that offer online degree programs, using a methodology that weighs such important factors as graduation rate, tuition, student services available and more.
Top Ten Online Degree Programs in Indiana
Frequently, a state's institutions develop online programs to meet the state's workforce needs. This means that the quantity of online programs in a particular subject area may be an indicator of where the job needs are in the state. Using occupational information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've compiled the following list of the most popular online degree programs in Indiana. Depending on the program, you may be able to complete these programs fully online or through a hybrid format that combines online and on-campus delivery.
Quality of Online Education in Indiana
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education set forward a student-centered strategic plan called Reaching Higher, Delivering Value, creating a three-pronged agenda to accomplish its goal for on-campus and online students. The three sections — Competency, Completion and Career — are focused on improving the academic quality of education, rates of persistence to graduation and preparation for the workplace. Clear guidelines were established to ensure that innovation in the higher education system does not come at the expense of quality. Other commitments include:
- Encourage college faculty to consistently evaluate program quality in alignment with nationally-recognized approaches
- Efforts to ensure more efficient paths to degree completion and outcomes that align with quality assurance for employers
Other organizations in the state that are taking steps to provide a quality experience to students in online degree programs in Indiana include:
State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA): Indiana was the first state to join the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, which may demonstrate its commitment to quality online distance education. SARA helps make online courses more accessible and enhances state regulation of distance education.
Quality Matters (QM): This is a nonprofit organization that can provide certifications of quality to online programs. It works alongside colleges to improve the quality of online education and student learning. Several online colleges in Indiana are members of QM including the American College of Education, Ball State University, Indiana State University, Indiana University, Purdue University Northwest, University of Indianapolis, and University of Southern Indiana - just to name a few.Useful Resources for Prospective Online Students
Indiana College Network (ICN): The ICN is a "matchmaking" service in which member institutions from around the state (including some of the state's most well-known schools, such as Indiana University and Purdue University) collaborate to help students find useful information about distance learning programs.
Purdue University Global: This personalized online university actually tailors an educational path for every student to earn the degree of their choosing based on work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations.
What to Look For in Online Degree Programs in Indiana
Students should be sure that any college or university offering online degree programs in Indiana has the technology to support it, according to Emad Rahim, associate professor and program director at Bellevue University, a partner university offering online programs through Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana (thanks to the state's participation in SARA).
As an example of such technology, Rahim asks students to consider such factors as whether the school has a dynamic LMS system, whether its online programming is compatible with mobile devices, whether it offers resources focused on serving technology needs around the clock and whether it offers an online library filled with resources students can access.
Rahim also suggests that students check to make sure any schools they are considering are accredited, which is a measure of the school's adherence to quality standards and often is required for transferring credits and certain types of professional licensure. (You can take a look at our top online colleges in Indiana, all of which are accredited.)
Rahim also says students may want to search reviews to see whether prospective schools and programs have received good or bad marks from former students.
Once students do choose the right schools, however, they have plenty to gain. For example, adult learners who want to earn online degrees without leaving their careers can typically do so by completing their studies online during the evenings and on weekends. And, as Rahim points out, students who travel a lot may also benefit, since they can learn on the road as long as they have valid internet connections, time to do the work and the determination to make it happen.
Additionally, prospective online students in Indiana may benefit from the Indiana College Value Index, an effort to quantify return on investment for any student earning a degree in the state, to ensure students learn what they need to in order to find employment in their chosen fields.
Top Occupations in Indiana
Manufacturing has been Indiana's bread and butter, and this trend should continue as advanced manufacturing technology improves. Indiana currently leads the nation in manufacturing job growth, and it has the second-largest automotive industry in the nation, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Life sciences are also growing rapidly; the state has the second-highest total of life sciences exports (medical devices, etc.) in the U.S. And because Indiana has the highest number of pass-through highways and is situated ideally near numerous population centers, railways and water ports, the state's logistics/transportation/distribution jobs employ high concentrations of workers as well. Education at all levels is also a large employer in the state.
We've pulled occupational information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop this list of top occupations in Indiana, to help you align your area of study with job prospects.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||419,830||$34,810|
|Sales and Related Occupations||288,890||$37,840|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||279,700||$21,500|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||262,380||$35,340|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||193,410||$74,600|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||162,240||$47,490|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||131,940||$44,750|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||117,810||$49,410|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||117,190||$63,380|
|Assemblers and Fabricators, All Other, Including Team Assemblers||89,450||$36,190|
|Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food||89,250||$18,860|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||88,220||$26,650|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Indiana
Indiana state financial aid ranks fifth in the nation for its amount of need-based grant funding per undergraduate full-time student, which aligns with the state's commitment to improving affordability to make college for accessible to its students.
The state's grant and scholarship programs include:
- Frank O'Bannon Grant: Indiana's primary need-based financial aid program
- 21st Century Scholarship: the state's early-promise program, for which students sign up in middle school
- Adult Student Grant: offers a renewable $2,000 grant to assist returning adult students in starting or completing certificates or associate or bachelor's degrees.
In 2017, Indiana's Next Level Jobs initiative also took effect as a way to help meet the state's workforce demands. The initiative established two new grant programs intended to get Hoosiers into in-demand jobs quickly. One of these applies to students interested in earning certificates or degrees. The Workforce Ready Grant: covers full tuition costs for adult learners to earn career certificates in high-growth sectors of Indiana's economy: advanced manufacturing, building and construction, health and life sciences, IT/business services and transportation and logistics. These certificates can be earned through Ivy Tech or Vincennes University.
Eligibility for these programs and other federal aid programs (such as Pell Grants and others) is based on information provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as tuition and fees at the designated school.
Be sure to check with your individual school and program to identify other grant or scholarship programs you may qualify for.
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
Most schools require the completion of either the SAT or the ACT, and some colleges accept either. Some schools are "test flexible" or "test-optional" preferring to take students' highest scores, while others take a cumulative average. Some schools may require SAT or ACT scores but use them only for placement purposes.
SAT: The Indiana Commission for Higher Education recommends that students start taking this exam in their junior year, which can provide students time to take it more than once, preferably in their senior year. The SAT includes sections on math, reading and writing, and optional subject tests (such as history or foreign language) are available as well.
ACT: It's also recommended that student take this test during their junior year to allow time to retake it. The test assesses students in the areas of English, math, reading and science, and an optional 30-minute writing portion is available too. Students should check with their prospective colleges to see what's required for admission.