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/
- Institute for Research on Higher Education. (2016). College Affordability Diagnosis: Kansas. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Research on Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania. http://www2.gse.upenn.edu/irhe/affordability-diagnosis
- U.S. Census, "QuickFacts: Kansas," July 1, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ks/PST045218
- "10 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an Online University," Military.com, accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://www.military.com/education/finding-a-school/10-questions-to-ask-before-selecting-an-online-university.html
- Institute for Research on Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, "College Opportunity Risk Assessment: Kansas," accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://irhe.gse.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/College-Opportunity-Risk-Assessment-2018-IDAHO.pdf
- Young, Jeffrey R. "Do Online Courses Really Save Money? A New Study Explores ROI for Colleges and Students," EdSurge, April 12, 2018,https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-04-12-do-online-courses-really-save-money-a-new-study-explores-roi-for-colleges-and-students
- National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, "Kansas," accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://www.nc-sara.org/states/KS
- Kansas Board of Regents, "Scholarships and Grants," accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://www.kansasregents.org/students/student_financial_aid/scholarships_and_grants
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections, "Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, 2017," March 27, 2018, https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
- Picchi, Aimee, "Rural America's 'brain drain': How student debt is emptying small towns," Valley News Live, Jan. 21, 2019,https://www.valleynewslive.com/content/news/Rural-Americas-brain-drain-How-student-debt-is-emptying-small-towns-504663872.html
- Bisaha, Stephen. "Strong Economy And Costly Tuition Stall Increases In Kansas College Graduates," KCUR 89.3, Jan. 23, 2019, https://www.kcur.org/post/strong-economy-and-costly-tuition-stall-increases-kansas-college-graduates#stream/0.
- EduKan, accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://edukan.org/
- Tallman, Mark. Kansas Association of School Boards. "Kansas' educational attainment is at an all-time high, but it must continue to improve," accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://kasb.org/blog/kansas-educational-attainment-is-at-a/.
- Kansas Department of Commerce, "Economic Indicators," accessed Jan. 30, 2019, https://www.kansascommerce.gov/949/Economic-Indicators
- Guevara, Natalie. "Washington has one of the most educate populations in America," KOMO News, Jan. 26, 2019,https://komonews.com/news/local/washington-has-one-of-the-most-educated-populations-in-america
- Washburn University, "RN-to-BSN Online Program," accessed Jan. 30, 2019, https://washburn.edu/academics/college-schools/nursing/undergrad/rn-bsn/
- Wichita State University, "Online Faculty Support," accessed Jan. 30, 2019, https://www.wichita.edu/academics/online/facultyresources.php
- The KU Center for Online and Distance Learning, The University of Kansas, "Resources for Teaching Online," accessed Jan. 30, 2019,https://codl.ku.edu/get-support
Kansas, where America's East meets its West and its mountains meet the plains, another sort of crossroads is found: It's where some of its fastest-growing urban centers and its smallest rural towns live side by side. Kansas is America's bread basket, an agrarian state where much of our wheat and other crops are grown. But 30 percent of the world's aviation aircraft is also produced here in Wichita, and the state is a leader in alternative energy and other science and technology industries.
Herein lies a problem for Kansas: a brain drain. As economic opportunity abounds here, many of its brightest workers are leaving the state in search of bigger urban centers. Its economy will be unable to grow if its workforce cannot provide enough qualified workers to meet demand.
A major key to meeting this demand is online education in Kansas. This guide will highlight the opportunities online education provides, offer insights into the quality and accessibility of online education and much more.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Kansas?
Kansas' educational attainment is currently at an all-time high, according to the Kansas Association of School Boards. It ranks 15th among all states for its educational attainment. Unfortunately, though, this simply isn't enough to meet the state's needs. Since the Great Recession, a whopping 99 percent of all new jobs created have required education beyond high school.
By 2020, 71 percent of jobs in Kansas will require some postsecondary credential. But as of 2016, its rate had only reached 50.7 percent. Though unemployment in the state is low, workers without postsecondary education may be completely shut out of the fastest-growing, highest-paying jobs.
As if employment prospects weren't attractive enough, pay also has been shown to increase with education level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2017, weekly earnings for those with high school diplomas were $712. It jumped to $836 with an associate degree and $1,173 with a bachelor's degree.
Earning an online degree in Kansas makes sense for those in rural areas or who simply aren't geographically close to schools offering their chosen programs. Online programs allow students to complete their studies on their own schedules, making it possible to work, raise a family or fulfill other obligations. And research shows that online classes are typically less costly than on-campus classes.
Top Online Colleges in Kansas
The following list of colleges was developed using a methodology that evaluates such factors as tuition, number of online programs, student support resources and more, to help you make the right choice of program.
Top Online Degree Programs in Kansas
We've used information from the National Center for Education Statistics to create this list of top online degree programs in Kansas, which may be an indicator of employment demand in the state.
Quality of Online Education in Kansas
The Kansas Board of Regents was awarded a $50,000 Lumina Foundation grant in 2017 for its Get AHEAD (Adult Higher Education Accessible Degrees) initiative to encourage more adult students to return to school and complete their degrees by 2020. Part of this grant funding is designated for online degree completion programs as Kansas works to expand online offerings and make college more accessible to residents.
Expanding programs helps, but there must be an assurance of quality. Fortunately, the state has joined the National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). This mutual agreement among volunteer states is designed to create standards for content and quality across state lines, while making online colleges affordable, whether you're in state or out of state. Currently, there are 43 SARA-approved Kansas colleges and universities.
Additionally, students may find that many schools adhere to their own self-imposed quality measurements. For example, The University of Kansas, Wichita State University and Washburn University all subscribe to the Quality Matters standards for online education quality. And EDUKAN is a consortium of four rural Kansas community colleges that have come together to develop new technologies for online education, increase choice and affordability and ensure consistent quality.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Kansas
Whether you're a recently graduated high school senior or a returning adult with a full-time job, you'll have some important considerations to make. Here are a few things to look for:
- Accreditation: A school's accreditation status tells you about its commitment to quality, rigor, growth and student success. It's required for federal financial aid and most state and private aid. Be sure any school you're considering has current accreditation.
- Type of program: Not only must the college offer the degree and subject you're seeking to accomplish your goals, but its requirements must suit your life. Are its activities synchronous (in real time) or asynchronous? Is there a face-to-face requirement? Is the program going to suit your abilities and schedule?
- Support and instruction: Do you need a lot of feedback and interaction with faculty and peers, or is a large class with little personal interaction going to suit you? Do you prefer a lot of advisement, counseling, tutoring and support, or do you prefer more independent pursuits? Be sure the class size, level of interaction and availability of support is suitable to your needs.
Top Occupations in Kansas
What industries in Kansas are experiencing the highest demand? Here's a list of the top 10 occupations in Kansas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||219,120||$35,580|
|Sales and Related Occupations||127,920||$39,430|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||122,590||$21,740|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||93,920||$38,300|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||92,590||$45,800|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||81,700||$69,570|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||69,610||$68,190|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||60,260||$46,700|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||57,550||$45,310|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||50,270||$24,780|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||40,390||$27,800|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||40,090||$29,420|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Kansas
In order to qualify for financial aid, it's essential that you submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by October 1. All federal aid, and most state and private aid sources, will require this first.
At the state level, here are some sources of scholarships and grants offered by the State of Kansas that may be used at Kansas colleges that offer online degree programs:
- Kansas Career Technical Workforce Grant: This need-based grant may be available to students enrolled in an eligible career technical education program operated by a designated Kansas educational institution. Typically, technical certificate and associate of applied science degree programs are included among the eligible programs.
- Kansas Nursing Service Scholarship: This scholarship typically requires an obligation to practice as a registered nurse in Kansas and work for a sponsor. The sponsor may provide partial scholarship funding and may provide employment upon licensure of the recipient.
- Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship: This merit-based scholarship is for both students pursuing bachelor's degree programs and currently licensed teachers pursuing an endorsement in hard-to-fill disciplines or master's degrees or either group planning to teach in an underserved geographic area.
Other awards exist for special populations, such as military or ROTC members, aspiring nurses or teachers and graduate students with a variety of interests.
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
In Kansas, there is no single college entrance exam that is required by all colleges and universities. You may be required to submit scores from the SAT, ACT or other exam, or you may not need to submit one at all. Contact your prospective school for details about what's required.