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/
- About Tulane, Tulane University, accessed May 29, 2018, http://tulane.edu/about-tulane
- "A new college entrance exam: talking about the Classic Learning Test with Jeremy Tate," by Ian Lindquist, March 7, 2017, AEIdeas, http://www.aei.org/publication/a-new-college-entrance-exam-talking-about-the-classic-learning-test-with-jeremy-tate/
- A Stronger Nation: Louisiana, Lumina Foundation, April 2016, https://www.luminafoundation.org/files/publications/stronger_nation/2016/louisiana-brief-2016.pdf
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- Classic Learning Test, accessed on May 30, 2018, https://www.cltexam.com
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 17, 2018,https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Distance Education Accrediting Commission,https://www.deac.org/Seeking-Accreditation/Eligibility-Requirements.aspx, accessed August 2018
- Employment Projections: Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 27, 2018, https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
- English As A Second Language (ESL) Placement Test, Delgado Community College, accessed May 30, 2018,http://www.dcc.edu/student-services/testing/esl.aspx
- Economy at a Glance: Louisiana, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 23, 2018,https://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.la.htm
- FAQs about Accreditation, U.S. Department of Education, accessed May 29, 2018,https://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/faqaccr.aspx
- Finding the Right College for You, The College Board, accessed May 29, 2018,https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/professionals/finding-the-right-college-for-you.pdf
- Grants and Scholarships, Federal Student Aid, an Office of the U.S. Department of Education, accessed May 29, 2018,https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships
- How the CLEP Program Works, The College Board, accessed May 30, 2018, https://clep.collegeboard.org/about-clep/how-clep-works
- Know Your Tests: College Entrance Exams, FastWeb, July 17, 2017, https://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/know-your-tests-college-entrance-exams
- "LC accepts Classic Learning Test entrance exam," by Norm Miller, Louisiana College, accessed May 30, 2018,https://www.lacollege.edu/content/lc-accepts-classic-learning-test-entrance-exam
- "Louisiana Community and Technical College System's plan to build 29 new facilities halted to halfway mark because of state budget constraints," by Rebekah Allen, The Advocate, March 28, 2016,http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/education/article_af9a5dcc-d69a-5cea-888c-6627c96be679.html
- Louisiana Distance Learning Association, accessed June 29, https://www.regents.la.gov/assets/docs/Public_Affairs/BUDGET/LAHigherEdLandscapePowerPointDeck2016Updated6.2.pdf
- "Louisiana High School Graduation Requirement: Complete a FAFSA Form (?)" by Mercedes Schneider, Huffington Post, November 13, 2017,https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/louisiana-high-school-graduation-requirement-complete_us_5a0926afe4b0ee8ec36942ff
- Louisiana Leading the Way in Post-Secondary Certification, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance blog, May 23, 2016, http://www.cenla.org/blog/louisiana-leading-the-way-in-post-secondary-certification/
- Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, Louisiana Board of Regents, accessed May 29, 2018,http://www.osfa.la.gov/index.jsp#prgms
- LouisianaOnline, Board of Regents, State of Louisiana, accessed June 29, 2018,https://louisianaonline.org/Prior-Learning-Assessment.php
- "More Louisiana high school graduates are going to college," by Amanda McElfresh, Daily Advertiser, May 23, 2018,https://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/local/education/2018/05/23/more-louisiana-high-school-graduates-going-college/636862002/
- Number of Louisiana Graduates Entering College Improves by Six Percent, Louisiana Believes, Louisiana Department of Education, April 2, 2015,https://www.louisianabelieves.com/newsroom/news-releases/2015/04/02/number-of-louisiana-graduates-entering-college-improves-by-six-percent
- "Number of Louisiana students graduating from high school reaches all-time high," Nikki Henderson, May 10, 2018,http://www.arklatexhomepage.com/news/local-news/number-of-louisiana-students-graduating-from-high-school-reaches-all-time-high/1171506227
- "Online Education is Booming at Delgado; Record Growth in Online Enrollment Reported by U.S. Department of Education," Delgado Community College, January 9, 2018,http://www.dcc.edu/news_center/online-boom.aspx
- Online Programs, Southeastern Louisiana University,https://www.southeastern.edu/acad_research/programs/online_learning/, accessed August 2018
- Qualifying for TOPS, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, Louisiana Board of Regents, accessed May 30, 2018,http://www.osfa.louisiana.gov/MainSitePDFs/QualifyingforTOPS_QnA.pdf
- Rankings + Honors, Loyola University New Orleans, accessed May 29, 2018,http://www.loyno.edu/jump/about/loyola-at-a-glance/rankings-and-honors.php
- "Report: Louisiana leads nation in 2018 job growth," by Blane Skiles, Eyewitness News WFSB-TV, May 18, 2018, http://www.wfsb.com/story/38226758/report-louisiana-leads-nation-in-2018-job-growth
- SARA, Board of Regents, State of Louisiana, accessed June 29, 2018, https://regents.la.gov/divisions/planning-research-and-academic-affairs/institutional-licensure/sara/
- Student Services and Support, Online Programs, University of Louisiana at Lafayette,https://online.louisiana.edu/student-support/student-services-resources/student-services-support, accessed August 2018
- The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, U.S. Department of Education, accessed May 29, 2018,https://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/
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Louisiana is resilient. Touting its unique cultural assets, this boot-shaped state is committed to economic diversification and doubling down on economic development efforts — and those efforts have started to pay off. According to the Economic Policy Institute, as of May 2018, Louisiana's job growth rate of 1.1 percent is higher than any other state. This is great news for those looking to start careers in the Bayou State.
With such promising job growth and growing demand for an educated workforce, now is an excellent time to explore Louisiana colleges that offer online degree programs.
Online degree programs in Louisiana can address the needs of high school graduates, professionals and adult learners seeking to advance in their careers. Online programs can be accessed from any place where there's a computer, and can fit into your schedule. This is especially helpful in Louisiana, where most of the state's residents live in just three of the state's 64 parishes; those in rural areas simply may not be close enough to attend a desired class on a college campus.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Louisiana?
The Louisiana Department of Education says that 51 percent of the state's jobs require postsecondary education, but currently only 44.7 percent of the state's working adults have attained such an education, with either a high-quality credential or a college degree. State officials know that in order to continue its economic growth, the state's education attainment rate must grow. And the Louisiana Workforce Commission Long-Term Occupational Forecast indicates that a whopping 84 percent of the state's top jobs require some postsecondary credential, leaving 1.1 million Louisianans currently unable to meet the basic requirements to apply for those jobs.
Plus, postsecondary education pays dividends: According to a 2017 State of Working Louisiana report, "In 2016, the median wage for a Louisiana high school graduate was only 57 percent of the median wage for a college grad."
Top Online Colleges in Louisiana
Whether you're fresh out of high school, a working adult looking for an advanced degree or a parent trying to finish a degree while raising a family, you'll have a lot to consider about any online degree programs in Louisiana. We've tried to do some of that work for you by developing a ranking methodology, using metrics such as number of online programs, tuition, graduation rate and more to prepare this list of the top Louisiana colleges that offer online degree programs.
Best Online Degree Programs in Louisiana
Colleges and universities generally address workplace shortages and meet the demands of industries in the state by developing certificate and degree programs aligned with those industries. By reviewing the most popular programs, you can often see where the state's employment is most concentrated. Utilizing data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we've pulled together this list of the top online degree programs in Louisiana.
Quality of Online Education in Louisiana
The Louisiana Distance Learning Association is a nonprofit professional organization that was developed to offer leadership for the field of distance learning in the state. The goal is to promote best practices, advocate for distance-learning students and programs, share information about statewide regulatory issues pertaining to distance education, promote scholarship among those working in the field and more.
To ensure the quality of online education in Louisiana, several efforts are underway in the state. First, the state became a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) in 2014. This voluntary agreement among accredited member states enables students to complete distance education programs across state lines without paying out-of-state tuition, which expands students' options while helping to enhance the overall quality of distance education by ensuring that schools meet a baseline standard of rigor.
Efforts to Improve Higher Education Attainment in Louisiana
Numerous initiatives are in place to make a college education, both on-campus and online, affordable and accessible to residents. And they're working: Not only did the 2017 four-year high school graduation rate break state records, but the percentage of students with high-quality postsecondary certificates is now the highest in the nation.
Prospective online students may also be interested to know that Delgado Community College, in the Greater New Orleans region, was recently recognized as one of the fastest-growing online higher education providers in the nation, which may be attributed to its robust number of course offerings. In fall 2016, Delgado boasted 114 different academic programs, with accelerated course and degree schedules available.
At the statewide level, Louisiana's plan to improve the postsecondary education attainment rates of its citizens has involved:
- Higher academic standards in K-12
- Access to the ACT college placement test for juniors, regardless of background or income
- Opportunity to earn college credit through Advanced Placement and dual enrollment
- Jump Start, the state's new program for school districts, colleges and businesses to collaborate by providing career courses and workplace experiences to high school students
- A high school accountability system that ensures students are better equipped for college and the workplace
Prospective students may also want to explore LouisianaOnline, a one-stop shop for students to find information about online programs in the state through one location, with details about paying for college, information about receiving credit for prior learning and more.
These efforts have combined to ensure the quality of higher education and rate of attainment in Louisiana are continuously improving.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Louisiana
Whatever your circumstances or career aspirations, there are certain criteria you should consider when evaluating online degree programs in Louisiana.
- Access to faculty: It's important that you have the desired amount of access to and feedback from your faculty. For those who might be nervous about taking classes from home rather than in a classroom, a lot of one-on-one interaction with teachers could mean the difference between a discouraging college experience and a supportive one.
- Campus life: Nearly 75 percent of online college students select colleges close to home. This is likely due to the fact that online students still can take advantage of resources such as academic advisors, libraries, computer labs, career advisement centers and extracurricular activities such as sporting events and clubs. It may be wise to consider the benefits of these options, if you are considering enrolling in a hybrid program in Louisiana.
- Student support services: Does your prospective online school offer academic assistance, such as tutoring, study groups or advisers? Counseling services? Financial aid counseling? These services can impact your college experience, especially if you've been away from school a while or are juggling many responsibilities. Colleges like the University of Louisiana at Lafayette offer online tutoring help and academic counseling for online students. Southeastern Louisiana University offers free peer consultation when you need help on a paper, as well as a 24x7 chat with a librarian.
- Accreditation: The goal of accreditation is to ensure that the school maintains a standard level of educational quality. It ensures that graduates leave with relevant knowledge that's valued in the workplace. Transferring credits, receiving financial aid and earning career certifications are reliant upon accreditation, so any school you plan to attend should be accredited. Take a look at our top 10 online colleges - all of which are accredited. [jump to top ranking]
Finally, consider the experiences of others. Read reviews, visit the campus if possible and speak with admissions officers to learn as much as you can about what the school can offer you.
Top Occupations in Louisiana
Louisiana's location is responsible for much of its economy. Being situated on the oil-rich Gulf Coast means that trade, transportation and utilities are the industries employing the most Louisianans. Manufacturing and leisure and hospitality are also important economic sectors. As the state strives to diversify its economy and lessen its reliance on oil and gas, other sectors are likely to grow in importance. We've drawn from Bureau of Labor Statistics data to craft this list of the state's top occupations, to help you align your postsecondary education with career prospects.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||269,380||$32,630|
|Sales and Related Occupations||209,520||$31,540|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||185,570||$20,510|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||152,120||$36,760|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||133,380||$64,850|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||119,170||$45,250|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||114,450||$45,240|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||94,280||$44,170|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||71,290||$21,910|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||68,480||$60,590|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||57,510||$22,960|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Louisiana
Fortunately, Louisiana agencies and higher education institutions are working hard to keep costs down in order to encourage more students to enroll in college. In fact, the Louisiana Department of Education so badly wants students to be able to afford college that the state started making completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) a mandatory requirement for high school graduation.
Certainly, completing the FAFSA is the only way to access such federal student aid as the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant.
But this form also is needed in order to be eligible for Louisiana's renowned scholarship program, TOPS, as well as other financial aid programs.
TOPS: The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students is a collection of student scholarships for Louisiana residents. With four different awards -- Opportunity, Performance, Honors and Tech awards -- TOPS monies are awarded based on GPA and ACT scores. The program is credited with significantly improving college enrollments in the state.
LA Go Grant: This need-based grant supports nontraditional and low- to moderate-income students who need additional aid in order to afford college.
Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship: This scholarship awards $2,000 annually for an undergraduate student and $3,000 annually for a graduate student to pursue a degree in forestry, wildlife or marine science at one of the state's public colleges or universities.
Chafee Educational Training Voucher (ETV) Program: This program awards up to $5,000 (based on need) annually during the academic year to qualified students who have been in the foster care system and wish to pursue a college education.
Additionally, other financial assistance opportunities exist in the state for college savings and loan forgiveness. And be sure to check to see whether the schools that offer the online degree programs in Louisiana that you're considering offer their own grant or scholarship opportunities.
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
Though there is no standard college entrance exam that must be taken by all students in order to attend Louisiana colleges, each individual school has its own admissions requirements, which often includes a score from one or more of the following exams:
- ACT: More than most states, Louisiana heavily emphasizes the ACT, even going so far as to require minimum ACT scores in order to qualify for and receive TOPS funding. Many colleges in Louisiana require an ACT score as part of the application, and some offer the option to submit an ACT or an SAT score.
- SAT: The SAT is offered to students as both a Reasoning Test, which considers evidence-based reading, writing, math and an essay; as well as a Subject Test, which is a one-hour test that assesses mastery of a specific subject (English, math, history, science or foreign language).
Because many schools take the highest scores or a cumulative score of all tests taken, students usually benefit from taking each of the above exams more than once.
In rarer cases, you may want or need to take the following exams:
- Classic Learning Test :Louisiana College is one of a growing number of schools now accepting the CLT as an alternative to the SAT and ACT. The CLT is a 120-question test that must be completed in 120 minutes and is distinctly western in content, presenting students with readings from great thinkers of western traditions (for example, C.S. Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, Gregory Mendel and others), as well as pure aptitude-type questions of logic and reason.
- CLEP: The College Board's College-Level Examination Program offers students the opportunity to demonstrate prior knowledge of introductory college-level materials in order to earn college credit.
- ESL Placement Test: Many schools in Louisiana, including Delgado Community College, ask students with limited English proficiency to take the ESL test to determine what courses they are best suited to start with (for example, English 101 or a more developmental-level English course).