Online Degrees In Mississippi (MS)
Mississippi offers plenty to attract visitors, from internationally acclaimed golf courses to 160 miles of maritime forests, bayous and sandy beaches; to a rich arts and culture heritage that includes being the birthplace of blues, rock ‘n’ roll and country music.
But attracting residents is another matter. The Magnolia State is struggling with a brain drain in which its most highly educated residents are leaving the state while those who stay are not obtaining the skills most in demand by its employers, resulting in a widening and worrisome skills gap. In particular, a disproportionately large rural population faces challenges with financial and geographic access to Mississippi’s colleges.
Online degree programs in Mississippi can help address these issues. With online programs, students who otherwise would not be able to attend classes because of their locations, work schedules or other responsibilities gain access to the education they need. This page shows the several benefits of online degrees in Mississippi.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Mississippi?
When it comes to the education level of its citizens, Mississippi lags behind the nation. The Lumina Foundation’s 2019 A Stronger Nation report on college attainment says that by 2025, 60 percent of Americans is likely to need some education credential beyond high school. Mississippi’s current rate of attainment is 41 percent, which falls behind the national average of 47.6 percent.
This may be due, at least partially, to its rural makeup. Of Mississippi’s 2.98 million residents, more than half (about 54 percent) live in officially designated rural areas. Though the state is home to 60 postsecondary institutions, the majority of these are located in urban centers, making it difficult for many of these rural residents to attend classes.
The benefits of earning these postsecondary credentials include higher rates of employment, higher salaries and even better health. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) says that between 2016 and 2030, workers with a high school education or less are likely to see more jobs lost than gained, while many more jobs are likely to be created for workers with a bachelor’s degree or more. And The Chronicle of Higher Education estimates that people with bachelor’s degrees earn $32,000 more per year on average than their high-school-diploma-only counterparts.
Earning an online education in Mississippi can help reduce geographic and scheduling barriers to a college degree while also providing opportunity for greater employment and salary potential.
Top 10 Online Colleges in Mississippi
Whether you’ve recently graduated from high school or a mid-career professional looking to complete a degree or upgrade your credentials, we can help you in your online degree search. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and a methodology that considers factors such as number of online programs, tuition, graduation rates, student services and more, we’ve developed this list of the top 10 Mississippi colleges that offer online degree programs.
|Average in-state tuition||$5,732|
|No. of online programs||4|
|% of students in distance education||69|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$11,041|
|Average in-state tuition||$15,980|
|No. of online programs||7|
|% of students in distance education||100|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,777|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,200|
|No. of online programs||71|
|% of students in distance education||56|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,387|
|Average in-state tuition||$2,600|
|No. of online programs||95|
|% of students in distance education||51|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,040|
|Average in-state tuition||$2,900|
|No. of online programs||7|
|% of students in distance education||56|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,093|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,876|
|No. of online programs||15|
|% of students in distance education||62|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,788|
|Average in-state tuition||$6,840|
|No. of online programs||8|
|% of students in distance education||69|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,284|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,100|
|No. of online programs||20|
|% of students in distance education||48|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,181|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,150|
|No. of online programs||58|
|% of students in distance education||76|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,066|
|Average in-state tuition||$8,514|
|No. of online programs||57|
|% of students in distance education||69|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,458|
Top Online Degree Programs in Mississippi
Drawing upon NCES data about online degree offerings around the state, we’ve composed this list of the top online degree programs in Mississippi, which may be offered fully or partially online at the associate, bachelor’s or graduate level.
Quality of Online Education in Mississippi
As Mississippi’s lawmakers and educational leaders strive to improve the college-going rate in the state, they’re taking steps to ensure that the state’s schools offer the quality and rigor needed to attract greater numbers of students. This commitment can be seen in Mississippi’s membership in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and the SREB.
Twenty-nine colleges and universities in Mississippi participate in NC-SARA, a voluntary membership agreement in which states agree to observe best practices and follow processes that ensure consistent quality in their distance education offerings across state lines.
The SREB is the nation’s first interstate compact for education. This consortium of 16 states works to improve public education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education. Membership in SREB tells students that the state is actively engaged in helping policymakers to make informed decisions about education and helping educators to strengthen student learning through professional development, assistance with curricula and recommendations for proven practices.
At the institutional level, many schools emphasize quality as well. Northwest Mississippi Community College was a pioneer in online education, with offerings dating back to 1999, and in 2018 it became the first community college in the state to offer online courses certified by Quality Matters (QM), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to define and maintain quality assurance in online learning. The University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Mississippi and Northeast Mississippi Community College have also adopted QM standards.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Mississippi
Here are a few important questions students in Mississippi should ask before selecting an online degree program:
What are the program’s expectations? Since more than half of Mississippi’s population is rural, you should know whether the program has any on-campus requirements. Are on-campus courses, tests or other activities required? Consider whether you can adhere to other requirements such as those regarding technology, meeting deadlines or completing courses.
What do you need and expect of your chosen program? Does the program offer the hands-on skills and certifications you need? Would you be able to work in your chosen profession following this program? Does its learning requirements, delivery method, course sizes and instruction suit your learning needs?
What services are available to students? Does the prospective program offer services that help students to be successful? To improve enrollment and retention, many Mississippi colleges are taking big steps to support students. For example, Delta State University offers a first-year seminar, academic maps and supplemental instruction. And at Mississippi State, every incoming freshman is assigned a freshman year navigator — an upperclassman who helps the student progress through the freshman year.
What it is the cost? Affordability is a factor in deciding on a program. You’ll need to understand the tuitions and fees charged, as well as what your tuition includes. And, of course, it’s important to know how much financial aid might be available to you at each school. More on financial aid for online colleges in Mississippi is included below.
Top Occupations in Mississippi
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says these occupations are seeing the greatest job growth in the Mississippi. This information can be helpful in determining where you’ll concentrate your studies.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||144,010||$30,730|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||122,600||$27,960|
|Sales and Related Occupations||117,170||$22,950|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||102,470||$19,210|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||78,860||$53,580|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||73,100||$41,080|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||51,750||$40,030|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||45,380||$22,570|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||42,570||$37,540|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||34,750||$21,630|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||34,000||$57,040|
|Protective Service Occupations||32,180||$30,760|
|Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand||31,950||$24,450|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||23,220||$20,050|
|Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers||22,600||$43,510|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Mississippi
Each year, the State of Mississippi helps provide about $40 million to students to help them afford college. This includes three undergraduate grant programs that are available to full-time students:
HELP: The Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students awards full tuition to students with demonstrated financial need (according to federal aid eligibility data), for up to four years.
MTAG: The Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant awards $500 per year to freshmen and sophomores and $1,000 per year to juniors and seniors. Students must attend state-approved public and private not-for-profit two-year and four-year eligible colleges and universities.
MESG: The Mississippi Eminent Scholars Program awards $2,500 per year to high-achieving students with a score of 29 or higher on the ACT and 3.5 or higher GPA.
Other programs, including a grant for Mississippi dependent children and spouses of law enforcement and fire protection officers and a private scholarship from Nissan North America are also available. To receive these and any federal, institutional and private financial aid funds, your first step should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Tests You May Need to Take
There is no one college entrance exam that Mississippi online colleges require. Some schools, such as The University of Mississippi or Mississippi College, can accept either an SAT or ACT score, while East Mississippi Community College requires the ACT. Still others, such as Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, require no test scores. Check with your chosen school to determine its individual admissions requirements.
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
- About SREB, Southern Regional Education Board, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.sreb.org/about
- Admissions Process, Mississippi College, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.mc.edu/admissions/undergraduate/process
- Admission Requirements, The University of Mississippi, accessed May 28, 2019, http://admissions.olemiss.edu/apply/freshman/
- Approved SARA Institutions in Mississippi, NC-SARA, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.nc-sara.org/states/MS
- A Stronger Nation: Mississippi’s Report 2019, Lumina Foundation, February 2019, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#page/downloads
- Bruce Coleman, “QM certification solidifies commitment to online education,” The University of Mississippi Medical Center, March 11, 2018, https://www.umc.edu/news/News_Articles/2018/03/quality-matters-certification-solidifies-ummcs-commitment-to-online-excellence/
- College Navigator: Mississippi, Institute for Education Studies, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 28, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MS
- eLearning, Northeast Mississippi Community College, accessed May 28,2019, http://catalog.nemcc.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=10&poid=648&returnto=628
- Entrance Exams, East Mississippi Community College, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.eastms.edu/admissions/entrance-exams/index/
- LaJuan Tallo, “Northwest first in state to have officially recognized QM course,” Northwest Mississippi Community College, June 25, 2018, http://www.northwestms.edu/index.php/?p=26058
- Mark A. Heckler, “The Importance of a College Education,” The Chicago Post-Tribune, September 11, 2018, https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-heckler-guest-column-st-0912-story/
- Mississippi: The Magnolia State, National Geographic Kids, accessed May 28, 2019, https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/states/mississippi/#mississippi-gulf.jpg
- “Unprepared and Unaware: Upskilling the Workforce for a Decade of Uncertainty,” Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), February 2017, https://www.sreb.org/publication/unprepared-and-unaware
- Mississippi, Rural Health Information Hub, December 3, 2018, https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/states/mississippi
- “Questions You Should Ask When Choosing an Online Program,” NC-SARA, accessed May 28 2019, https://www.nc-sara.org/studentquestions
- “Retention Efforts Help Students Reach Finish Line,” press release, Mississippi Public Universities, March 18, 2019, http://www.mississippi.edu/pr/newsstory.asp?ID=1501
- Sydney Briscoe and Paige Briscoe, “NWCC Offers Flexible eLearning Classes for On-the-Go Students,” HottyToddy.com, December 24, 2018, https://hottytoddy.com/2018/12/24/nwcc-offers-flexible-elearning-classes-for-on-the-go-students/
- What is Quality Matters?, The University of Southern Mississippi, accessed May 28,2019, https://online-learning.usm.edu/quality-matters/