In the state of Missouri, more working adults have a college degree than ever before. At least, that's what a recent report from the Lumina Foundation says. According to the survey, approximately 36.4 percent of the state's residents possessed a two-year degree or higher in 2011, and that's up from 34.9 percent in 2008. Breaking the 2011 figures down further shows that a relatively small percentage of the population actually held an associate's degree, some 8.14 percent. Meanwhile, 18.08 percent of the state's working age population (ages 25-64) had a bachelor's degree and 10.13 percent held a graduate or professional degree. Another 23.93 percent of working age adults had some college experience, but no degree.
The fact that so many Missouri residents are at some stage of educational attainment is important because it goes to show just how much the state's residents value a college degree. Fortunately, Missouri residents have all kinds of schools to choose from when it comes to finishing their degree or earning a new one. For example, the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 82 institutions of higher education in the state offer students the opportunity to earn a bachelor's. In addition to traditional degree programs, students seeking distance learning in Missouri will find no shortage of options. Simply put, the state of Missouri offers a wide range of degree and certificate options for traditional and online students from all walks of life.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Missouri?
The state of Missouri is already home to a dynamic workforce that helps run the state's many industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that workforce was comprised of 2,639,120 workers in 2013, who earned a mean annual wage of $42,020 or $20.20 an hour. Although workers are spread throughout every industry represented in the state, the following occupations employ many of Missouri's college graduates:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||448,350||$35,060|
|Sales and Related Occupations||281,780||$36,290|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||264,430||$21,520|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||184,360||$34,260|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||183,850||$68,410|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||160,540||$50,230|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||134,590||$68,330|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||115,180||$43,970|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||102,120||$51,290|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||98,380||$23,570|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||84,990||$25,830|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||82,100||$78,270|
Missouri is a place of natural beauty, with a surprising landscape that includes everything from wide-open plains to the Ozark Mountains. The state's main metropolitan regions include the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Kansas City-Overland Park, and Cape Girardeu-Sikeston-Jackson areas. St. Louis and Kansas City are the biggest cities in Missouri by far, and the areas surrounding them contain many of the state's industries and jobs.
Speaking of those jobs, the Missouri Department of Economic Development reports that the state is home to many key industries. Included on the list are life sciences, transportation and logistics, information technology, financial services, national security, agriculture, automotive, and energy.
The Missouri Department of Economic Development reports that tourism has made a significant impact in the state as well. In fact, many people visit each year in order to explore downtown St. Louis and its Arch, enjoy one of the state's theme parks, explore the great outdoors, or drink at one of Missouri's 70+ wineries.
When it comes to higher education, Missouri offers a plethora of options for prospective students. For example, Missouri is home to the University of Missouri System, a centralized system that encompasses four state universities. Meanwhile, plenty of other public and private colleges and universities exist in the state, including some that offer online degree programs. Community college students will find plenty of two-year schools to choose from all over the state, especially in and around the big cities. According to College Board statistics, Missouri tuition and fees remain relatively low when compared to other states in the U.S. Specifically, they report that the average tuition for in-state students at four-year schools averaged out to $8,093 for the 2013-14 school year.
Now that you know about the educational and career landscape in the state, it's time to learn more about what Missouri has to offer. Here are just a few of the things that make the state so unique:
- St. Louis offers free entry into more museums and attractions than another city in the U.S. aside from the nation's capital. Some of the places that are free to visit include the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Cahokia Mounds, Museum of Westward Expansion, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and Grant's Farm.
- Kansas City mixes the opulence of an international city with the rural charm of the Midwest. It currently boasts more fountains than all of Rome and more boulevards than Paris.
- In addition to the plains and mountains found in the state, Missouri is also home to many caves and cave systems. In fact, the state has over 5,500 recorded caves, many of which are open to the public.
- Branson, Missouri offers country western music and family fun for people from all walks of life. The city has more than 100,000 hotel rooms, restaurant seats, and theater seats, providing plenty of room for the 8 million visitors who show up each year.
- The Gateway Arch of St. Louis is 63 stories high with 1,076 steps to the top, although visitors must ride one of the trams which hold can 240 people at a time.
What Makes Missouri Ideal for Online Education?
According to the Lumina Foundation, the state of Missouri will have at least 523,000 job vacancies for positions that require postsecondary credentials between now and 2018. That's why it's important for Missouri residents to get started toward degree completion and transition into the workforce as quickly as possible. However, students should choose their school and degree program wisely in order to ensure the best result possible.
Fortunately, there are many experts out there who offer up honest advice for students seeking online degrees in Missouri. One such expert is Dara Warn of Penn Foster Online, an online institution of higher education that serves students in Missouri and elsewhere in the country. According to Warn, there are plenty of steps students can take to make sure they choose a degree program that will help them achieve as much as possible.
For starters, Warn advises students to confirm the credentials of any school they are considering. And even once you confirm that your school is indeed accredited, she stresses you should make sure you understand what that accreditation means.
""Every online degree program has a differing level of accreditation, and some will better prepare you for certifications or exams you need to pass in order to get a job in that field,"" Warn notes.
Students should also choose a degree program that offers a level of interaction the student is comfortable with. ""If you prefer to have support throughout the learning process, look for a program that provides access to teachers, professors and other students,"" says Warn. ""This way, you can ensure that you'll have access to the resources you need.
Most experts agree, students who pick the right school and program have a lot to gain from choosing online education in Missouri. And if the ultimate goal is degree attainment, distance learning is yet another excellent option for students.
""These programs are designed to fit a variety of schedules, budgets, and learning styles, so it's really a matter of choosing the program that fits you best,"" Warn adds. ""With all of these options available to students, earning an online degree has never been more accessible and customizable than it is today.""
Top 10 Degrees in Missouri
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center lists a number of careers that should see exceptional growth in the coming decade. Using that data, information from the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop, and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've compiled this list of top degrees in Missouri that offer excellence in both opportunity and pay.
A degree in sonography can prepare you for an exciting vocational career in health care, usually either in diagnostic sonography or cardiovascular technology. Because of the growing demand in this field, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, and jobs for cardiovascular technologists are expected to surge 23 percent.
Spanish or Other Foreign Language
With global business on the rise, professionals are needed to translate between individuals, companies, and governments around the world. Learning another language can help you gain employment in nearly any career, but can also prepare you to work as an interpreter or translator. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, demand for interpreters and translators is expected to rise 33 percent in Missouri between 2012 and 2022.
Food Science or Agriculture
Most people pursue a degree in food science so that they can begin a career as a food scientist or technologist. Thanks to the prominence of the agriculture and food production sector in Missouri, deamnd for food scientists and technologists is projected to rise 30 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.
Students with degrees in computer science can work in nearly any business that employs technology. Because of the overall demand for technology, careers in computer science are expected to be plentiful in Missouri. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor expects employment of information security analysts and operations research analysts to increase 28 and 27 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2022. Meanwhile, opportunities for computer systems analysts are expected to grow 20 percent during the same timeframe.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Earning a degree in occupational therapy assisting typically leads to a career in that field. Due to an overall demand for health care services, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment of occupational therapy assistants will increase 28 percent in Missouri from 2012 to 2022.
Most people earn a degree in dental hygiene so they can begin working as a dental hygienist. And with the growing demand for dental care, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment of dental hygienists should increase 27 percent in Missouri between 2012 and 2022.
Earning a degree in marketing means working behind the scenes to help businesses advertise and sell their services and products. Because businesses need marketing experts to help them in this area, employment is on the rise. Specifically, the BLS predicts that demand for market research analysts and marketing specialists will increase 26 percent in Missouri from 2012 to 2022.
With big cities like St. Louis and Kansas City in the mix, it should be no surprise that Missouri is a hub for transportation activity. Fortunately, a degree in logistics can help prepare students for a career in this flourishing sector, and the employment outlook looks bright. Jobs opportunities for logisticians are expected to increase as much as 25 percent in Missouri between 2012 and 2022.
Since numbers play a role in every business and industry, a degree in math can be rather versatile. Many people who earn a degree in mathematics go on to begin a career as a cost estimator or actuary. Due to rising demand, employment of cost estimators and actuaries is expected to increase 23 percent in Missouri during the decade leading up to 2022.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Like almost all fields in health care, physical therapy is in demand. Earning a degree as a physical therapy assistant can help you get your foot in the door by preparing you for employment as a physical therapy assistant. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, jobs for physical therapy assistants are expected to surge up to 24 percent in Missouri from 2012 to 2022.
Top Cities for Missouri College Students
Kansas City is built around its own metropolitan area, the Kansas City metro area, and boasts approximately 467,007 residents, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 30.9 percent of the city's residents held at least a bachelor's degree in 2008-2012, and 87.1 percent had a high school diploma or higher. Kansas City is much more than its delicious BBQ scene; it's known as an affordable place to live and raise a family, as well as a unique cultural hub with many up-and-coming neighborhoods and attractions. The city also has over 200 working fountains, which adds to the overall beauty of the area. When it comes to higher education, Kansas City is proud to be home base for the following schools:
Rockhurst offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs in a cozy, intimate campus setting. And with a student-to-faculty ratio of only 13:1, it's no wonder that Rockhurst is the only local school that can say they earned the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Rockhurst is known for the following degree programs:
- Management Master of Business Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
University of Missouri-Kansas City
The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received some serious accolades, including nods from U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review, Newsweek and more. Even better, school staff members have won everything from the Pulitzer Prize to Guggenheim Fellowships. The university had a total enrollment of 15,746 during the Fall 2013 semester and a tuition rate of approximately $368.72 per credit hour for in-state students. Here are a few of their popular degree programs:
- Online Master of Science in Nursing
- Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship
- Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
The Kansas City campus of Columbia College offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in a wide range of fields, some of which can be earned in a flexible, online format. On campus, Columbia College students enjoy a 12:1 student-to-instructor ratio and a wide range of academic resources. Columbia College is known for the following popular degree programs:
- Online Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
- Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems
The city of St. Louis is part of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area, and home to around 318,416 residents in 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Approximately 28.5 percent of the city's working age adults held at least a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012, and around 82.3 percent had their high school diploma. In addition to its famous Arch, St. Louis is also known for professional sports and heavy industry in sectors such as service, manufacturing, trade, and logistics. And with a median housing value of $121,700, as of 2012, St. Louis is an excellent place to settle down and start a family as well. The following top notch schools can be found in the St. Louis area:
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University is a Catholic university that has been around for over 200 years. With a sister campus in Madrid, Spain, SLU offers vast resources and a focus on diversity. The school currently boasts over 13,000 students, 100 undergratuate degree programs, and 70 graduate programs. Tuition for the 2014-15 school year came in at $37,350, although 97 percent of incoming freshman received scholarships, tuition assistance, or some other form of financial aid. Saint Louis University is known for the following programs, among others:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Online Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Maryville University offers 75 different degree programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level, and currently enrollment sits at around 5,000 students. As a private university, Maryville has opted to focus on individual attention in the learning process, excellence in education, and an overall commitment to helping students achieve their goals. The following degree programs are a few of the school's most popular:
- Master of Science in Actuarial Science
- Bachelor of Science in Biology and Biomedical Science
- Bachelor of Science in Marketing
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis enrolled over 14,000 full-time and part-time students in 2014, with representation from all 50 states and over 100 separate nations. According to the school stats, approximately 40 percent of their students study abroad at some point, and over 90 percent of their undergraduate students are not from Missouri. Because of these factors, Washington University in St. Louis has a dynamic and multicultural campus with room for anyone from anywhere around the world. Base tuition for the 2014-15 school year came in at $45,700, and the school is known for many high quality degree programs, including these:
- Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
- Master of Accounting
- Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
With a population of 164,122 according to 2013 U.S. Census estimates, Springfield is the third largest city in Missouri. Approximately 25.8 percent of the state's working age adults held a bachelor's degree in 2008-2012, compared to the 87.1 percent who had earned a high school diploma. With a median housing value of $106,500, Springfield has some of the lowest living expenses in the Midwest. This, in combination with other factors, makes Springfield an excellent place to set down roots and earn a college degree. However, because of its varied climate, Springfield is known for having some of the wildest weather and most drastic weather changes in the United States. The city is also home to the following top notch schools:
Missouri State University
Although Missouri State's main campus is located in Springfield, three other campuses exist throughout the state. Currently, enrollment consists of over 23,000 students spread throughout the school's six academic colleges, School of Agriculture, and Graduate school. Missouri State University currently offers 85 undergraduate majors and 45 graduate degree programs, all with tuition as low as $7,008 per year for Missouri residents. When it comes to academic offerings, Missouri State University is known for the following programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics
- Bachelor of Science in Marketing Research
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Ozarks Technical Community College
As a career-oriented, two-year school, Ozarks Community College aims to teach students applicable skills that can help them transition into the workforce. They currently provide certificates and associate degrees to students in a wide range of fields, including some online degree programs. They're currently known for the following popular degree options:
- Online Associate of Applied Science in Business and Marketing
- Associate of Science in Engineering
- Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene
Current enrollment at Evangel stands at around 2,200 students, and over 100 academic programs are currently offered at the school. As a private, liberal arts college centered around the Christian faith, Evangel focuses its efforts on high quality education in a wholesome, yet diverse setting. The school is currently known for the following degree programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems
Scholarships and Financial Aid
All students, including those in Missouri, should fill out a FAFSA form to see if they're eligible for some type of federal or state aid. Federal aid can include, but is not limited to: Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. Other scholarships may be available based on your location, college major, and school of choice. Students should contact potential schools for more information on any aid options that might be available based on their specific situation. The following list includes a sample of the many scholarships available to Missouri students:
- Donald Howard Scholarship Fund
- Hatton W. Summers Law Scholarship
- Kathryn Nelson Early Childhood Scholarship
- Kansas City Mid-America Chapter PMI scholarship
- Missouri Public Service Survivor Grant Program
- Missouri Vietnam Veterans Survivor Grant Program
- Missouri Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Internships
- Mary S. Burt Memorial Envirothon Scholarship
- John R. Justice Grant (loan repayment assistance)
- Missouri Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program
- Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Scholarship
- Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship
- Missouri Teaching Scholarship
""A Stronger Nation through Higher Education,"" Lumina Foundation, http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/#missouri
""A Stronger Nation through Higher Education,"" Lumina Foundation, http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/state_data/2012/Missouri-2012.pdf
""CareerOneStop,"" U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu3&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=29&ShowAll=
""Key Industries,"" Missouri Department of Economic Development, http://www.cn.missouri.gov/industries.htm
""May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Missouri,"" Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MO&l=93
""State and County QuickFacts,"" U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/29/2938000.html
""Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time,"" College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-sector-and-state-over-time