From the densely populated urban center surrounding Las Vegas to its vast, dynamic desert landscape, the state of Nevada offers something for everyone. But the fact that the state is bustling with economic activity doesn't mean that there isn't work to be done.
When it comes to higher education, Nevada's residents are lagging behind the rest of the country. According to 2013 U.S. Census figures, only 31.1 percent of Nevada adults age 25-64 held at least a two-year degree in 2013. Meanwhile, the national average for college completion lingers around 40 percent. And Nevada's numbers haven't improved much over the years either; in 2008, the percentage of adults with at least a two-year degree stood at 30.1 percent.
A recent report from the Lumina Foundation, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, breaks things down further to reveal more about educational attainment in the state. According to the most recent figures, 8.54 percent of the state's adult population held an associate's degree in 2013, while 15.39 percent held a bachelor's and 7.16 percent held a graduate or professional degree.
The area with the most room for improvement is the percentage of those with some college experience, but no degree. The statistics show that approximately 26.15 percent of Nevada adults fell into this category in 2013.
The good news is, the educational opportunities are there for those who seek them out. The National Center for Education Statistics currently lists 46 colleges, universities, and trade schools in the state of Nevada. While some schools focus on traditional education, others have even branched out to offer online and hybrid education.
And that's part of what makes pursuing higher education in Nevada so attractive to begin with. With so many options in both distance and on-campus learning, the state's institutions have something for everyone. Read on to learn more about traditional and online education in Nevada.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Nevada?
When you take a look at the statistics, it's easy to see why so many people opt to pursue distance learning in Nevada. A number of growth industries have set up shop and many are booming with opportunity for those with the skills and credentials required.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, the state of Nevada is home to 1,189,610 workers with a mean annual wage of $42,310. When it comes to the sheer number of people employed in each career, the following professions that require a college degree are some of the most prominent:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||197,610||$36,090|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||181,260||$26,500|
|Sales and Related Occupations||139,010||$35,400|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||92,650||$36,590|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||74,480||$26,910|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||73,420||$29,810|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||64,010||$49,810|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||56,200||$88,600|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||53,520||$48,610|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||47,970||$49,410|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||43,830||$64,450|
|Protective Service Occupations||41,050||$41,850|
Although Nevada residents and industries are scattered all over the state, certain regions are densely populated. Over two-thirds of the state's population lives in Clark County, which contains the Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada metropolitan area. Other major metro regions in the state include the Carson City metropolitan statistical area, the Fallon micropolitan statistical area, and the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area.
Although it's easy to assume that most of Nevada's economic activity stems from tourism to the Las Vegas area, that couldn't be further than the truth. The fact is, a number of key industries play a huge part in the economic prosperity of the state, many of which have nothing to do with the flashy lights found on the Vegas strip. The Nevada Governor's Office for Economic Development currently lists several emerging industries as key players in the state including aerospace, defense, agriculture, information technology, energy, healthcare, logistics and operations, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, and mining.
Since Nevada is the nation's leader in solar and geothermal energy, it's no wonder that energy jobs are on the rise. Meanwhile, it shouldn't surprise anyone that tourism and hospitality is a highly prized industry in the state. According to government figures, 398,700 Nevada residents worked in the tourism and hospitality industry as of 2014.
Those who want to pursue on-campus or distance learning in Nevada could be making an excellent investment. Because of the many industries that call the state home, job prospects remain relatively steady. Meanwhile, the educational options are plentiful. The Nevada System of Higher Education currently includes eight prominent colleges and universities in the state, and the University of Nevada boasts two main campuses. Online education in Nevada is also growing in popularity, with new distance learning options becoming available every year from schools like the University of Nevada - Reno and Sierra Nevada College. Seven of the eight schools from the Nevada System of Higher Education also offer distance education, either in the form of online courses or fully-online, flexible degree programs.
Tuition and fees in the state have remained relatively steady in comparison with national averages. According to the College Board, tuition and fees for public two-year schools in Nevada averaged out to $2,700 for the 2014-15 school year, while increasing to only $6,418 for public four-year schools.
Industry and educational opportunity aside, Nevada is just a fun and interesting place to live. The state's history is both unique and charming, but also surprising. Here are a few unexpected facts about the state of Nevada and its residents:
- Hikers and nature lovers will love the fact that Nevada is the most mountainous state in the nation, with over 300 mountain ranges.
- Love to gamble? There is currently one slot machine in Nevada for every eight of its residents.
- Nevada produces more gold than any other state in the nation.
- Want to keep more of your hard-earned dollars? Nevada is one of the nine states in the nation without a state income tax.
- As many as 230 marriage licenses are issued in Las Vegas every single day.
What Makes Nevada Ideal for Online Education?
Many people see the prevalence of new online degree programs as a huge step in expanding access to higher education, including Cheryl Oliver, assistant dean of online and graduate programs at Washington State University's Carson College of Business.
"Online degree programs allow students to pursue academic goals through flexible schedules, the convenience of learning anywhere they have mobile data available and the opportunity to study on their time in their own environment," Oliver notes.
In other words, online education comes with a "convenience factor" that on-campus education simply cannot match. Online degrees in Nevada offer other benefits as well:
- Location independence -- Online students in Nevada can complete their coursework from anywhere they can find an internet connection. This is a crucial benefit for students who reside outside of Nevada's major metropolitan areas.
- Control over cost of living -- Nevada's online students don't need to spend lavishly to live on-campus or in a pricey dorm. They can continue living in any situation that suits them while they earn their degree.
- The ability to remain in the workforce -- "Both online and on-campus programs have their merit but online learners have the advantage of integrating their learning with their work life on a consistent, meaningful basis," says Oliver. In other words, online students don't have to put their lives on hold to pursue higher education.
- Advanced technology -- Distance learning in Nevada has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Now, thanks to a number of innovations that have made online learning much more productive and efficient, students can expect a learning experience that is very similar to what they would experience on campus.
Another reason online education in Nevada is ideal -- quality. Because of the strides made in online learning over the past decade, online education offers more value and quality than ever before. In fact, Nevada students who take advantage of these programs should expect just as much from them as they would from their on-campus equivalent.
"Online students should expect a very interactive environment where they will discuss coursework with classmates and communicate frequently with instructors," explains Oliver. "They should expect to earn the same diploma/credential as on-campus learners and should expect academic rigor and a challenging learning environment."
The bottom line: Nevada's colleges and universities offer nearly unlimited options when it comes to both hybrid and online learning. In Nevada, you can earn a fully-online degree or settle on the best of both worlds and choose hybrid education.
Top 10 Degrees in Nevada
The Nevada Governor's Office for Economic Development predicts healthy job growth in a number of industries in the coming decade. Using employment and wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor, we've compiled this list of promising college degrees in Nevada:
With the landscape of Nevada growing and changing with each passing day, it shouldn't surprise anyone that a degree in construction management might be a good investment. In most cases, students pursue this degree in order to secure employment as a cost estimator or construction manager, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both of those careers remain in demand. Specifically, U.S. Department of Labor figures show that employment of cost estimators in Nevada could increase by as much as 60 percent from 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, job openings for construction managers are expected to increase 36 percent.
Earning a degree in drafting generally requires spending at least two years at a trade or technical school, and sometimes completing an internship. Most students pursue this path to begin a career as a drafter in architecture, engineering, or electrical. Thanks to anticipated growth in this field, job prospects look rather bright. Specifically, U.S. Department of Labor figures show that demand for electrical and electronics drafters could rise by as much as 48 percent in Nevada during the decade leading up to 2022.
With its location near the United States border, Nevada has become a great place for interpreters and translators. Because the use of foreign languages is on the rise, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job opportunities for interpreters and translators will increase 44 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Biomedical Technology or Engineering
Health care jobs extend far beyond basic patient care. Professionals are needed to conduct research, invent new technologies, and repair medical equipment. Earning a degree in biomedical technology or engineering is one way to begin a career as a biomedical technician or medical equipment repairer. With reliance on medical equipment on the rise, demand for medical equipment repairers is expected to surge 37 percent in Nevada from 2012 to 2022.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
The use of sonography to diagnose illness and injuries is on the rise, which means that the professionals who work in this industry remain in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase 36 percent in Nevada from 2012 to 2022.
Earning a degree in hospitality management makes sense in a state like Nevada, where tourism and hospitality make up the bulk of the state's economic activity. Furthermore, a degree in this field could lead to a job as a meeting, convention, and event planner, a career which is expected to see a 34 percent increase in employment in Nevada over the coming decade.
Earning a degree in finance is a great way to break into a number of careers in the business and financial services sector, including management analyst or personal financial advisor. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts excellent job prospects for both of these fields, with a 31 percent boost in employment for personal financial advisors and an 18 percent boost in jobs for management analysts in Nevada from 2012 to 2022.
Businesses in Nevada need qualified professionals to assist them in advertising and marketing their products, which is why a degree in marketing is always a good bet. Because of projected economic growth in the state, statistics show that employment of marketing specialists and market research analysts could increase by as much as 31 percent in Nevada from 2012 to 2022.
Students who love animals often want to join a profession that allows them to have direct contact with as many as possible. One field that offers this perk is veterinary technology. Because of ongoing demand, statistics show that employment of veterinary technologists and technicians in Nevada could increase by as much as 34 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Physical Therapy Assistant
The use of physical therapy as a treatment for injuries and disability is on the rise, which is why many people opt to earn a degree in physical therapy assisting. This is the fastest way to get your foot in the door in a physical therapist's office, and a good investment too. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, employment of physical therapy assistants is expected to surge 32 percent in Nevada from 2012 to 2022. Want to get started in this career?
Top Cities for Nevada College Students
When it comes to starting a new life in Nevada, the first place that comes to mind for most people is probably Las Vegas. However, there are other major metropolitan regions in the state, and they all offer a wealth of higher education options to choose from. When considering a future in Nevada, make sure to check out these major cities and metro regions:
The city of Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Often referred to as the "Entertainment Capital of the World" and "Sin City," Las Vegas is known for many temptations that draw in tourists time and time again, including gambling, nightlife, shopping, and Broadway-style shows.
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city's population was 603,488 in 2013. Approximately 21.4 percent of those ages 25 and up held a bachelor's degree or higher in 2013, while only 82.5 percent held at least a high school diploma. And although Las Vegas remains a popular and trendy locale with plenty to do and see, dropping housing values have made living there rather affordable. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median housing cost in Las Vegas was $163,500 in 2013. Here are a few of the city's top schools:
University of Nevada - Las Vegas
Founded in 1957, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas has grown to include an annual enrollment of over 28,000 students. Those students can choose from a number of undergraduate and graduate programs, including professional programs in both dentistry and law. In addition to on-campus instruction, the school also offers a number of online degree programs, including an online graduate nursing program ranked #18 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $6,710 for in-state students. Here are a few of their most popular programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration and Policy
- Master of Health Care Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
College of Southern Nevada
At the College of Southern Nevada, students can choose from over 180 degree and certificate programs, 25 of which are available in a fully-online, flexible format. Enrollment as of 2013 included 34,177 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Meanwhile, tuition and fees cost only $2,700 for the 2014-15 school year for in-state students. A few of their most sought-after programs are:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Online Associate of Business
- Online Associate of Applied Science in Accounting
Nevada Career Institute
Nevada Career Institute is a small, privately-owned career training center aimed at preparing students for quick entry into the workforce. With an enrollment of only 272 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of around 18:1, the school is able to personalize the learning experience while also providing hands-on instruction. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year came out to $29,085. All certificates and diplomas offered by the school are in the realm of health care and rehabilitation. Some of their top programs include:
- Medical Assistant
- Surgical Technologist
- Practical Nursing
Henderson, Nevada, which is also part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, is the state's second biggest city, with approximately 270,811 residents as of 2013. Consistently rated as one of the safest and best cities to live in by publications such as Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek, Henderson has a lot to offer young families and young adults who choose to pursue a degree there. As of 2013, 30.7 percent of the city's adult residents held at least a bachelor's degree, while 92.5 percent held a high school diploma. Along with high levels of educational attainment, Henderson also offers a relatively low cost of living. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median housing value in 2013 came out to $213,700. The National Center for Education Statistics lists ten colleges and universities in the Henderson area, including these quality institutions:
Nevada State College
With an average classroom size of only 23 students, Nevada State College aims to bring big city learning down to a personal level. The school currently offers 35 majors and minors in high-demand disciplines, and aims to help students transition out of school and directly into the workforce. In addition to on-campus learning, Nevada State College also offers a number of online and hybrid learning options. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were only $4,482 for in-state students. Here are a few of their most notable programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Roseman University of Health Sciences
Roseman University of Heath Sciences is a private, non-profit institution aimed at preparing students for a career in a number of health care fields. With several campuses across Nevada, including one in Henderson, the school mostly focuses on four-year and graduate degrees. Three of their most popular programs are as follows:
- Doctor of Pharmacy
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Master of Business Administration
Touro University Nevada
Focused on degrees in health care and education, Touro University opened its doors in 2004 with the goal of addressing critical shortages in these areas. As of 2013, enrollment included approximately 1,248 students, the vast majority of which pursued either bachelor's or master's degrees in various health care fields. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year came out to $36,445. Some of their top programs include the following:
- Master of Science in Medical Health Science
- Doctor of Osteopathy
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Much like Las Vegas, Reno is known for its nightlife and gambling scene. However, the city also sits close to the beautiful and scenic Lake Tahoe area, a region known for its dramatic landscapes, watersports, and sparkling clear water. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Reno was 233,294 in 2013. That same year, 28.9 percent of the adult population held at least a bachelor's degree, while 85.7 percent had at least a high school diploma. The National Center for Education Statistics lists seven colleges, universities, and trade school as active in the Reno area, including these top institutions:
University of Nevada - Reno
After opening its doors in 1874, the University of Nevada - Reno grew from humble beginnings to an average enrollment of around 18,000 students each year. Current offerings include undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in a number of popular disciplines. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were only $6,610 for in-state students, which serves as a testament to the school's focus on high quality, affordable education. A few of their most notable degree options:
- Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Truckee Meadows Community College
Truckee Meadows Community College is a two-year community college with a focus on student success, academic excellence, and access to lifelong learning. The school serves more than 28,000 students during any given year in both their credit and non-credit programs. In-state tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $2,700, and students were able to pick from a total of 50 career-oriented programs. Some of their top programs include:
- Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering
- Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Applying for financial aid typically starts with filling out a FAFSA form, or free application for federal student aid. This form, while sometimes considered difficult to navigate, is important because it provides both the state and federal government with the information they need to determine whether or not you qualify for financial aid. A variety of student aid may be available, including unsubsidized Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Pell Grants, and more.
Several colleges in Nevada list resources for student scholarships and financial aid on their websites. Some state-specific scholarship opportunities include the following:
- Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program
- UNLV Scholarships for New Freshman
- Nevada State Access Grant
- Nevada's Health Care Access Program
- Nevada's Women Fund Scholarships
Before you apply, check with your school of choice to see if any school-specific scholarships or grants may be available. If you meet certain criteria and apply for as many different types of aid as you can, the financial aid package you receive could drastically reduce the cost of earning your degree.
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, Nevada, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#nevada
College Navigator, Nevada, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NV
Fastest-Growing Occupations, CareerOneStop.com, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=32&ShowAll=
Key Industries, Nevada's Governor's Office of Economic Development, http://diversifynevada.com/key-industries
May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Nevada, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nv.htm
State & County QuickFacts, Las Vegas, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/32/3240000.html
State & County QuickFacts, Henderson, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/32/3231900.html
State & County QuickFacts, Reno, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/32/3260600.html
Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time