According to U.S. Census figures, approximately 41.3 percent of working age adults in Kansas (ages 25-64) held either a two-year or four-year degree in 2012. And that figure has jumped considerably over the years. A Lumina Foundation study shows that only 40.5 percent of adults held a college degree in 2008.
Breaking those numbers down further reveals even more about educational attainment in the state and where it's headed. For example, as of 2012, 24.91 percent of the state's adults had some college experience but no degree, 9.02 percent held an associate's degree, 21.12 percent held a bachelor's, and 11.19 percent had earned a graduate or professional degree. Add those percentages up and you can clearly see that more than 66 percent of adults in Kansas had at least some college experience, if not a full-fledged college degree, in 2012.
Fortunately, adults and recent high school graduates who want to continue their studies have plenty of options when it comes to traditional or online education in Kansas. As the National Center for Education Statistics notes, the state is currently home to 59 schools where students can pursue an associate's degree and an additional 35 colleges and universities that offer bachelor's degree programs.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Kansas?
Kansas workers find employment in a wide range of industries that are spread all over the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, 1,336,460 Kansas residents were working in 2013, and they earned a mean annual wage of $41,240. The following Kansas occupations employed a healthy number of college-educated workers in 2016:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||223,690||$34,110|
|Sales and Related Occupations||134,730||$37,990|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||119,770||$20,690|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||92,890||$35,520|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||89,190||$44,620|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||80,790||$71,050|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||66,250||$67,140|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||58,330||$45,460|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||58,290||$44,340|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||45,300||$23,840|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||43,180||$27,470|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||41,200||$26,280|
The Kansas Department of Commerce lists several key industries as the backbone of the state's economy. Included on the list are advanced manufacturing, bioscience, professional services, and renewable fuels and bioenergy. Interestingly enough, the state of Kansas has consistently ranked as second in the nation in terms of potential for wind energy, which is why wind energy is also on the list of emerging industries in the state.
Kansas is also home to big employers in a wide range of fields. For example, several aviation and aerospace manufacturing firms currently employ thousands of the state's residents, including Spirit Aerosystems, Cessna Aircraft, and Bombardier Aerospace. Meanwhile, food production and processing plants are also big in the state, with National Beef Packaging and Tyson Foods employing thousands of workers in several plants.
But these industries, and others, require college graduates to keep things running smoothly. Fortunately, there are a multitude of large public universities and small private colleges and technical schools in the state that can supply them. The University of Kansas, for example, is the largest school in the state and boasts several locations, including a flagship campus in Lawrence. Tuition and fees for Kansas colleges and universities have remained reasonable as well. According to College Board figures, average tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public institutions in the state came out to $8,086 for the 2014-15 school year.
Still, Kansas has much more to offer than colleges and jobs. Beyond those important qualities, there are plenty of reasons to call this state home. Here are some important (and interesting) pieces of information that make Kansas stand out:
- Dodge City, Kansas is the windiest city in the nation with an average wind speed of 14 miles per hour.
- Kansas leads the nation in wheat production and comes in at second place for beef and cattle production. Meanwhile, Wichita is one of the top aviation manufacturing cities in the entire United States.
- One of the world's largest balls of twine can be found in Cawker City, Kansas.
- Kansas is known for being flat as a pancake, but did you know that it currently has 528 verifiable caves? Many of them are also open to the public and able to be explored.
- Kansas is not only home to thousands of wild buffalo, but also has the largest population of wild prairie chickens in North America.
What Makes Kansas Ideal for Online Education?
The National Center for Education Statistics reports there are total of 103 colleges, universities, and trade schools currently operating in the state of Kansas. And with each passing year, more of them are opting to offer online degree programs and web-based courses in order to lure students that need the added flexibility that often comes with distance learning. And it's working. According to many experts, students from all age groups are finding that earning an online degree comes with advantages that are often unheard of in traditional learning environments.
"Online degree programs offer the flexibility and convenience of asynchronous course delivery, meaning that students can engage in the learning process during windows of time most convenient for them," explained Dr. Michael Schirmer, Associate Professor and Faculty Chair at Peirce College in Pennsylvania, adding that "the relative rigidness of regularly attending class in person may not mesh well with students whose lives outside of school pull them in many different directions."
In other words, online education in Kansas might be perfect for people with busy lives, those with families, or working adults who need to continue earning a living while they study.
But that doesn't mean that all students will be successful in an online learning environment. According to Schirmer, online students especially need to develop the mindset that they are the ones responsible for their own success. That means taking an active role in the learning process and taking advantage of opportunities to participate whenever possible, even when you don't want to. In addition to "showing up" to do the work, students who study online need to be willing to commit the time it takes to really succeed.
Top 10 Degrees in Kansas
College graduates in Kansas can find many opportunities in a diverse array of industries and careers. However, some college degrees could pay off more than others over the next decade. Using employment predictions and wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've compiled this list of top 10 degrees in the state:
Geography degrees are the most common beginning to a career as a geographer, although some students who earn this degree go on to work as cartographers, environmental specialists, or teachers. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, employment of geographers, specifically, could increase by as much as 50 percent in Kansas from 2012 to 2022.
English or a Foreign Language
Because of the influx of non-English speaking people entering the United States, professionals who are able to speak more than one language remain in demand. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor shows that interpreters and translators in Kansas could see employment in their field grow by as much as 48 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Sonography degrees prepare students for careers in diagnostic medical sonography or for work as cardiovascular and vascular technologists or technicians. Because of the growing demand for ultrasound as a means for diagnosing medical conditions, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment of diagnostic medical sonographers could increase by as much as 41 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Earning a degree in occupational therapy assisting is typically the starting point for anyone who wants to work in an occupational therapist's office and assist them with day-to-day patient care and therapeutic work. Thanks to the overall demand in this field, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment of occupational therapy assistants should increase 38 percent in Kansas from 2012 to 2022.
Computer science degrees prepare students for a wide range of technology careers. Some of the possibilities include computer programming, software development, web development, and more. Because of the prevalence of technology in the workplace, employment is also on the rise in many of these careers. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that demand for information security analysts in Kansas could increase by as much as 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, while demand for computer system analysts could rise 30 percent during the same timeframe.
Earning a degree in marketing can prepare you for a job as a marketing specialist or market research analyst, in addition to certain careers in public relations and advertising. Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Labor numbers show that market research analysts and marketing specialists in Kansas may see employment in their field increase by as much as 34 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Physical Therapy Assistant
A specialized degree in physical therapy assisting can prepare you for a career working alongside a physical therapy assistant and helping them rehabilitate patients. Because of an overall growth in the use of physical therapy to help heal injuries, data shows that demand for physical therapy assistants could increase by as much as 32 percent in Kansas during the decade leading up to 2022.
Personal Financial Planning
Earning a degree or becoming certified in financial planning is a great way to begin a career as a personal financial advisor. And thanks to the fact that most people need help managing their investments and financial lives, employment of personal financial advisors in Kansas is expected to increase by 32 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Advanced math degrees prepare students for careers in business, government, logistics, actuarial science, engineering, statistics, and more. The Department of Labor predicts that employment in at least a few of these careers is on the rise. Specifically, they estimate that jobs for actuaries in Kansas should increase 32 percent from 2012 to 2022, while demand for logisticians is expected to rise 30 percent.
Biomedical Engineering or Bioengineering
Students who pursue a degree in biomedical engineering could have a wide range of job opportunities waiting for them, including work as clinical engineers, technical sales engineers, or staff engineers who work in medical research. Because of growing demand in this field, U.S. Department of Labor figures project that employment of biomedical engineers could increase 28 percent in Kansas from 2012 to 2022.
Top Cities for Kansas College Students
With a population of 386,552, according to 2013 U.S. Census Estimates, Wichita is by far the largest city in the state of Kansas. Its metropolitan area, the Wichita metro area, was home to more than 630,000 residents in 2013. The U.S. Census reports approximately 28.3 percent of Wichita residents held at least a bachelor's degree in 2008-2012 and 87.1 percent had earned a high school diploma or better. The National Center for Education Statistics lists 17 colleges and universities as active in the city.
As the largest city in the state of Kansas, Wichita is known for being a hub for industry and culture, and for the many manufacturing businesses that reside in the area. Known as the ""Air Capital of the World,"" Wichita is also one of the top cities for aviation manufacturing in the United States.
When it comes to earning a college degree in Wichita, the following schools stand out:
Wichita State University
With a main campus in Wichita and a number of satellite locations, WSU has solidified its place as a collegiate power to contend with in the state's biggest city. However, a student population of 14,386 and student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1 also show that the univeristy is dedicated to keeping a small school atmosphere, regardless of their size. And they've also kept higher education affordable. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year came out to $6,926 for in-state students. Here are a few of the degree programs WSU is famous for:
- Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
- Master of Engineering Management
- Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering
Newman University is a Catholic University with an enrollment of approximately 3,700 students and a student-to-faculty ration of around 14:1. The school offers degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, including some online options. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $24,960 for on-campus students, and the following programs are a few of their biggest and most popular:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
According to 2013 estimates from the U.S. Census, Overland Park, Kansas is home to around 181,260 residents, and is the second most populous city in the Kansas City, Missouri metropolitan area. Reportedly, an astounding 57.1 percent of Overland Park adults ages 25-64 held at least a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012, and 96.5 percent possessed a high school diploma or better. With that kind of educational attainment among its residents, it's no wonder that the city bodes well for the many industries that thrive there. Jobs in health care, financial services, insurance, and information technology are prominent in Overland Park, and over 40 businesses have their headquarters there. The National Center for Education Statistics lists 12 colleges and universities in the Overland Park area, including these popular institutions of higher education:
Wright Career College
Wright Career College offers certificate, associate, and bachelor's degree programs to over 1,700 students each year. As a career college, most of WCC's programs were created to prepare students to transition directly into the workforce from school. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year came out to approximately $12,700 for most students. Here are a few of the degree programs they are known for:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration
- Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and Analysis
- Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology
Johnson County Community College
JCCC is a career-oriented community college with an enrollment of approximately 19,672 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1. They offer a wide range of vocational programs that might appeal to students who desire to be career-ready as quickly as possible, and all for an affordable tuition rate. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year came out to $2,550 for in-district students. Here are a few of their most popular programs:
- Online Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration
- Online Associate of Applied Science in Marketing and Management
- Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene
Kansas City remains the state's third largest city and is home to approximately 148,483 residents, according to 2013 U.S. Census estimates. Unlike other areas in Kansas with relatively high educational attainment, less than 15 percent of working age Kansas City residents held a bachelor's degree in 2008-2012, and only 77.7 percent had their high school diploma. Kansas City boasts jobs in plenty of industries, however. The city is home to businesses that deal in auto manufacturing, food production and packaging, healthcare, finance, and more. The National Center for Education Statistics also lists two schools in Kansas City:
With an enrollment of approximately 474 students, Donnelly College is a small town school aimed at preparing students for their big city dreams. They offer programs in a wide range of disciplines that can lead to certificates, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year averaged out to $6,579. Donnelly College is known for the following programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership
- Certified Pharmacy Technician
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology
Kansas City Kansas Community College
As a public, urban community college, KCKCC strives to prepare students for careers out in the real world. Currently, the school has an enrollment of around 6,570 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year came in at $78 per credit hour for in-state Kansas students. Out of the school's many popular programs, these few stand out:
- Associate of Applied Science in Registered Nursing
- LPN to Associate of Applied Science in Registered Nursing
- Associate of Applied Science in Accounting
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students in Kansas may be eligible for several kinds of federal aid, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. In order to determine eligibility, all students should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. In addition to these options, students seeking on-campus and online education in Kansas may also qualify for state-based scholarships and grants. The following list includes some of those options:
- Kansas Career Technical Workforce Grant
- Kansas Ethnic Minority Scholarship
- Kansas Military Service Scholarship
- Kansas National Guard Educational Assistance Program
- Kansas Nursing Service Scholarship
- Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship
- Kansas State Scholarship
- Kansas Comprehensive Grant
- 40 and 8 Scholarship
- A. Eugene Harris Memorial Scholarship
- Tom Parks Memorial Scholarship
- Wingert Scholarship Award
- Kansas Association of Broadcasters Scholarship
- Kansas Distinguished Scholarship Program
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""CareerOneStop,"" U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=20&ShowAll=
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=KS&l=93
Kansas Department of Commerce, http://www.kansascommerce.com/index.aspx?NID=438
""May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Kansas,"" Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ks.htm#15-0000
""State and County QuickFacts,"" U.S. Census, Kansas City, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/20/2036000.html
""State and County QuickFacts,"" U.S. Census, Overland Park, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/20/2053775.html
""State and County QuickFacts,"" U.S. Census, Wichita, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/20/2079000.html
""Trends in Higher Education,"" College Board, https://lp.collegeboard.org/trends