When it comes to educational attainment, the state of Louisiana is struggling to keep up with the rest of the nation. While 40 percent of U.S. adults ages 25-64 held at least a two-year degree in 2013, only 29.6 of adults in Louisiana were college graduates.
While those figures speak volumes about educational attainment in Louisiana until now, they also show that the state has plenty of room for improvement. For example, as of 2013, 22.41 percent of adults in the state had some college experience, but no degree. Meanwhile, 32.94 percent of Louisiana adults had at least a high school diploma, 6.09 percent held an associate degree, 16.06 percent had a bachelor's, and 7.41 percent held a graduate or professional degree.
Fortunately, there are plenty of schools available for anyone seeking on-campus or online degrees in Louisiana. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state is currently home to 125 colleges, universities, trade schools, and community colleges. While some of these institutions offer traditional learning environments, others focus on hybrid and online education. Here's how the state's schools break down:
- Public 4-year: 17
- Public 2-year: 16
- Private 4-year, nonprofit: 12
- Private 2-year, nonprofit: 6
- Private 4-year, for-profit: 5
- Private 2-year, for-profit: 19
As you can see, this unique combination of schools provides a comprehensive mix of educational options that can benefit both traditional and online students. Interested in pursuing a degree in Louisiana? Check out the guide below.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Louisiana?
Although it's good to know there are plenty of options for on-campus degrees and distance learning in Louisiana, it's important to understand the state's economy and job market as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,915,800 individuals were employed in Louisiana in 2014, and they earned a mean annual wage of $40,190. The following chart shows just some of the careers in Louisiana that employed a high number of college graduates in 2014:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||275,660||$32,200|
|Sales and Related Occupations||214,300||$32,170|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||190,700||$20,160|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||154,460||$36,880|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||130,960||$63,930|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||116,700||$44,160|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||108,480||$45,430|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||98,120||$43,170|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||72,290||$21,260|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||68,740||$60,060|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||58,330||$22,780|
As the 25th most populous state and one with multicultural roots, Louisiana is steeped in both culture and history. Unlike any other state in the nation, Louisiana's heritage includes French, Spanish, Native American, and African influences.
The biggest metropolitan areas in Louisiana include the regions surrounding big cities like New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport. These cities, and others in the state, are home to a thriving film industry that has led to many industry insiders calling Louisiana "Hollywood South." Because of the state's unique culture and history, many reality television shows have also chosen Louisiana residents to tell their stories.
According to the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, key industries in the state include aerospace, manufacturing, agribusiness, process industries, automotive, software development, energy, water management, and entertainment. The Port of South Louisiana, which is located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, has also helped grow the state's shipping and receiving industries and fueled growth in logistics and strategic planning.
The U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop lists top employers in a number of thriving Louisiana industries. Here are some of the biggest employers as of 2014:
- Louisiana State University Health
- University Health Hospital
- Ingalls Shipbuilding
- Willis Knighton Medical Center
- LSU Health Sciences Center
- Hilton New Orleans Riverside
- Lafayette General Medical Center
- LSU Human Resources Management
- LSU Public Hospital
In addition to a bustling economy, Louisiana has plenty to offer in terms of higher education. The biggest schools in the state include Louisiana State University, Delgado Community College, Southeastern Louisiana University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Along with the many large four-year schools, you'll find a wide selection of small community colleges, trade schools, and technical schools.
Plenty of local schools also offer the option for distance learning in Louisiana. Currently, schools offering online courses and degree programs in the state include the University of Louisiana, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Louisiana State University in Shreveport, among others. The State of Louisiana Board of Regents also hosts LouisianaOnline, an online search engine that helps students locate various opportunities for hybrid and online education in Louisiana. Using the site, you can search for online options based on program level, program type, and program category.
On top of offering a plethora of educational options, the state of Louisiana boasts lower than average college tuition costs. According to the College Board, tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to only $3,683 for public two-year schools and $7,314 for public four-year schools.
Beyond the state's obvious attributes, Louisiana offers much more than meets the eye. Here are some interesting tidbits that make Louisiana a truly interesting place to live:
- New Orleans hosts the biggest Mardi Gas celebration in the world, which is attended by more than 1.2 million people annually. Louisiana also hosts more than 600 festivals each year. Meanwhile, the unofficial state drink is the "Hurricane."
- The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest bridge over water in the world at 24 miles long.
- The Louisiana Superdome, located in New Orleans, is the largest enclosed stadium in the world.
- Louisiana is home to the Jazzland Theme Park, a park that pairs Disney-themed rides and attractions with the soft jazz and southern comfort foods that make Louisiana famous.
- Nature lovers, rejoice. Louisiana is home to 6.5 million acres of natural and scenic wetlands.
What Makes Louisiana Ideal for Online Education?
While traditional education is also gaining steam, a number of factors continue to make distance learning in Louisiana preferable to certain types of students. According to Paula Thornhill, Director of Online Education at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, part of the allure of online learning is the fact that it can be advantageous to working adults, and those who need to finish a degree they already started.
"Louisiana has over 600,000 adults who have some college credit but did not finish a degree," says Thornhill. "Attending class in an online environment enables working adults to earn a degree and provides the credentials to advance professionally or begin a new career."
In other words, it's not just the quality of instruction that continues to make online degrees popular in Louisiana; it's the convenience factor, too. When you have a full-time job or a family, it can be difficult to juggle a degree program at the same time as all of your other responsibilities. Because online learning makes it possible to complete coursework at any time or place, online degree programs have changed the dynamic somewhat.
"Online instruction has broken down the barriers and has extended opportunities for adults to learn and succeed beyond the four traditional classroom walls," notes Thornhill. "Students who learn online now have the same opportunity to earn a degree as students who attend class on campus."
Although the quality of instruction is certainly important, the state's geography also plays a part in the popularity of online programs. While many of the state's big cities offer plenty in terms of higher education, those who live in Louisiana's rural areas may not have access to the same range of options. By offering degree programs that can be completed anywhere with an internet connection, Louisiana's online schools have put a college degree within reach of more students than ever.
Top 10 Degrees in Louisiana
While the U.S. Department of Labor predicts healthy growth in plenty of Louisiana industries, several degree options and corresponding careers stand out. Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we compiled this list of top degrees in the state:
Thanks to recent advances in technology, the need for professionals with computer science degrees is on the rise. Because of this growing demand, several computer-related careers are expected to burst with opportunity in the coming decade. From 2012 to 2022, the following computer science jobs are expected to see exceptional growth: software developers, systems software (81 percent); software developers, applications (72 percent); computer systems analysts (47 percent), and information security analysts (40 percent).
Learning a foreign language can lead to a number of promising careers, including interpreter or translator. Thanks to the prevalence of foreign languages in Louisiana, these workers are expected to see a 63 percent surge in employment from 2012 to 2022.
Logistics/Supply Chain Management
A degree in logistics is the fastest way to begin a career as a logistician. Because of the strategic location of the state of Louisiana, it's no surprise that this career remains in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, logisticians in Louisiana could see employment growth as big as 39 percent through 2022.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Earning a degree in diagnostic medical sonography is the most common way to get started as a diagnostic medical sonographer. In some cases, this degree program can also lead to a career as a cardiovascular technologist or technician. Thanks to an overall demand for sonography, demand for these professionals is high. According to the BLS, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers in Louisiana is expected to rise 39 percent from 2012 to 2022. For cardiovascular technologists and technicians, the expected increase is slightly more modest at 27 percent.
Biomedical Engineering/Biomedical Technology
A degree in biomedical engineering or technology can lead to a number of careers in the manufacturing and research side of health care. One of the most popular careers in this field is biomedical engineering, which typically requires a four-year degree. Becoming a medical equipment repairer, on the other hand, usually requires a two-year degree in biomedical technology or engineering. Both careers are projected to see a huge surge in employment in Louisiana between 2012 and 2022, with demand for biomedical engineers rising 25 percent and demand for medical equipment repairers rising 35 percent.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
If you want to work in an occupational therapy assistant's office, you may want to consider a two-year degree in occupational therapy assisting. And thanks to overall demand for occupational therapy, the future looks bright for this career. As the BLS notes, employment of occupational therapy assistants in Louisiana is expected to increase by as much as 35 percent through 2022.
A degree in hospitality management can help you begin several promising careers, including one as a meeting, convention, or event planner. Thanks to a growing tourism industry in the state, employment of these professionals is expected to increase 34 percent in Louisiana from 2012 to 2022.
Personal Financial Advisor
If you want to help individuals manage their finances and investments, a degree or certification in personal finance could be a good investment. Since people will always need help managing their money, the future looks bright for this career. Through 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts a 33 percent increase in employment of these professionals.
A marketing degree is a great way to land a job in marketing, promotions, and advertising. Two of the most popular careers in this field, marketing specialist and market research analyst, are expected to see exceptional growth in Louisiana over the coming decade -- up to 33 percent through 2022.
Individuals who love animals might want to look into majoring in veterinary technology. In addition to providing an opportunity to provide loving care for animals of all shapes and sizes, this degree can lead to a career as a veterinary technologist or technician. According to the BLS, job openings in this field could increase by as much as 33 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Top Cities for Louisiana College Students
With 378,715 residents as of 2013, New Orleans is the state's largest city. As the host of numerous culture events and festivals, including a world famous Mardi Gras celebration, many also consider it Louisiana's cultural hub. In addition to jazz music festivals, New Orleans is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity, its abundance of unique architectural styles, and its wealth of fresh seafood.
Straddling the Mississippi River, New Orleans also boasts plenty of economic activity, too. In addition to a bustling oil and natural gas industry, the city offers opportunities in fields such as health care, cultural tourism, manufacturing, and academic research. And with access to the Port of New Orleans, the region is also ripe with employers in various shipping and logistics industries.
New Orleans is home to 17 colleges, universities, community colleges, and trade schools, including these prominent institutions:
University of New Orleans
The University of New Orleans has received numerous awards for quality instruction and affordability, including nods from the Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report, and Newsweek. With a total enrollment of 9,284 students, and average in-state tuition and fees of $7,293, the school offers high quality education to students from all 64 Louisiana parishes, as well as all 50 states and at least 100 other countries. The University of New Orleans is known for the following degree programs:
- Online Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies
- Online Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Along with their high quality degree programs, Tulane is known for its focus on medical research. Current enrollment includes approximately 13,531 students, 8,353 of which are undergraduate students. Tuition and fees vary by school, but the average cost of attendance was approximately $48,305 for the 2014-15 school year. According to the university, however, the average financial aid package awarded to first-year students with financial need was $34,764. Tulane University has also received accolades for its online learning options. The school is home to numerous popular degree programs, including these:
- Bachelor of Science in Engineering
- Associate of Arts in Digital Design
- Associate of Arts in Marketing
Southern University at New Orleans
Southern University at New Orleans offers a wealth of educational options for students of all disciplines, including a number of fully online degree programs. Current enrollment includes approximately 2,292 students, and tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to an affordable $5,218. If you're considering a future at SUNO, take a look at these popular degree programs first:
- Online Master of Art in Museum Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education
- Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
Baton Rouge is Louisiana's second largest city, with a population of 229,426 as of 2013. As part of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, it is also known as the center of political activity in the state.
Because of its location near the Port of Baton Rouge, the city has experienced a flurry of activity in industries you may not expect, such as manufacturing, petrochemical, medical, and research. Top employers in the city include the State of Louisiana, Turner Industries, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools, and Louisiana State University.
Currently, 25 colleges, universities, trade schools and community colleges call Baton Rouge Home. Here are three of the most prominent:
Baton Rouge Community College
With tuition and fees that averaged out to only $3,693 for the 2014-15 school year, Baton Rouge Community College aims to expand educational access to all Louisiana residents. The school's 8,000+ students can pursue various associate degree and certificate programs in fields such as computer technology, accounting, and health care. The following programs are some of the school's most popular:
- Associate of Science in Nursing
- Associate of Applied Science in Management
- Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Louisiana State University
As the state's flagship university, LSU is one of Louisiana's biggest schools. Current enrollment includes over 30,000 students, yet tuition remains rather affordable. As of the 2014-15 school year, tuition and fees for in-state students averaged out to $8,750. In addition to its many on-campus programs, Louisiana State also offers a comprehensive list of online degree options. Here are a few of the most popular programs at LSU:
- Bachelor of Architecture
- Online Master of Business Administration
- Online Master of Science in Construction Management
Southern University and A&M College
Southern University and A&M College has received numerous awards for its engineering, nursing, and business programs. In addition to the school's on-campus options, Southern University also offers an array of online degree programs for busy students. Current enrollment includes 6,777 students, and tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $6,630. Some of their popular degree programs include:
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
Following closely behind Baton Rouge in terms of population is Shreveport, Louisiana. With approximately 200,327 residents as of 2013, Shreveport is the third largest city in the state. Part of the Shreveport Bossier City Metropolitan area, the city is a major medical hub. Other industries prominent in the area include military, public education, casinos, and film.
In addition to a healthy economy, Shreveport offers several benefits that make it the perfect place to lay down roots. A median housing value of only $123,000 as of 2013 certainly plays a part, as does the city's many cultural events and destinations. Not only does the city host its own Cinco de Mayo festival, but it is also home to the Louisiana Film Prize, the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, and its own ballet and opera.
Shreveport boasts 15 colleges, universities, community colleges, and trade schools, including these three top-notch institutions:
Louisiana State University in Shreveport
Louisiana State University in Shreveport has a current enrollment of around 4,051 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1. While offering a creative and nurturing environment, LSUS offers 25 separate undergraduate and 12 graduate programs. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $6,168 for in-state students, and the school is known for these popular programs:
- Online Master of Business Administration
- Online Master of Health Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Southern University at Shreveport
Southern University at Shreveport is a comprehensive community college with a focus on preparing students for quick entry into the workforce or transfer to a four-year school. Current enrollment includes 3,018 students, and tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $3,634. Programs that help this school stand out include the following:
- Associate of Science in Accounting
- Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Associate of Science in Nursing
Louisiana Tech University
Located in the Shreveport-Bossier area, Louisiana Tech University is a satellite campus with a focus on teaching trades and technical skills. Tuition and fees averaged out to $8,052 for in-state students, and the school is known for the following degree programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
- Bachelor of Business Administration
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Once you've narrowed down your list of schools, it's time to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. While cumbersome, this form can help state and federal agencies determine whether you qualify for student financial aid, and if so, how much. Types of federal aid can include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance also lists a number of state-specific scholarships, grants, and college savings opportunities on their website, including these:
- START Saving
- Louisiana GEAR UP
- Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship
- Louisiana Guaranteed Student Loans
- Volunteer Firemen's Tuition Reimbursement
- Chafee Educational Training Voucher Program
- Go Grant
- Trailblazer Leadership Program
These are just some of the aid options that may be available to students pursuing on-campus or online education in Louisiana. In addition to these, you may be able to qualify for school-specific aid programs. If you want to learn more about scholarships and financial aid in Louisiana, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance offers plenty of resources that can point you in the right direction.
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, Louisiana, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#louisiana
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=LA&ct=3&ic=2
Explore Louisiana's Key Industries, Louisiana Department of Economic Development, http://www.opportunitylouisiana.com/index/key-industries
Fastest Growing Occupations, CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=22&ShowAll=
LouisianaOnline, Board of Regents, State of Louisiana, https://louisianaonline.org/
Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, http://www.osfa.state.la.us/index.jsp
May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_la.htm
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, New Orleans, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/2255000.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Shreveport, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/2270000.html
State Profile: Largest Employers, CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.acinet.org/oview6.asp?soccode=&stfips=22&from=State&id=&nodeid=12
Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time