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Best Online STEM Degrees

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science. -- Albert Einstein

We've come a long way from the telegraph with four billion people on the planet using mobile phones according to the Smithsonian Science Education Center. Virtual reality, space probes on Mars, cloud computing and even video conferencing were all figments of science fiction until fairly recently. This progress would not have been possible without advances in the STEM fields.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM, majors can help individuals learn to think creatively and use science and technology to solve problems, not to mention earn wages above average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the national average wage for all STEM occupations was double the national average wage for non-STEM occupations with 93 percent of STEM occupations having wages significantly above the national average wage for all occupations.

With wages higher than the national average, it is easy to assume that jobs within the STEM field are hard to come by. Not so, reports Missouri-based technology and engineering firm Emerson stating that two out of five Americans believe that the shortage of STEM workers has reached a crisis level. Emerson also points out that a survey carried out by the National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte shows that two million jobs in the manufacturing sector alone are likely to go unfilled due to the lack of qualified personnel by 2025.

The versatile applications to various STEM subjects means there can be a number of careers you may be eligible to pursue after graduating from an online STEM degree program. The table below uses data from the BLS to list the top STEM occupations along with their projected employment numbers and average wages. Have a look and see which of them align with your interests.

Career
Employment
Average Salary
Projected Job Growth
Mathematicians2,630$107,28026%
Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers148,340$82,37013%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health84,290$77,9408.2%
Civil Engineers310,850$94,3606.3%
Biological Scientists, All Other40,100$87,5905.6%
Computer Network Architects152,420$115,1105.3%
Electrical and Electronics Drafters24,140$65,7203.2%
Computer Programmers199,540$92,610-7.2%
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Individuals with STEM degrees are needed in virtually every industry with a wide variety of career opportunities potentially available to them - from engineering careers to those in medicine or even in the video game industry. The sections below explain what STEM degrees are out there, how they can cater to a number of different interests and what careers you can have with them.

While looking at the sections below make sure that you:

  • Click on the buttons under each of the sections to explore the variety of online STEM degrees in more detail.
  • Explore the best colleges for STEM majors to help you make that all important choice.

No matter how far technology advances, there will always be a need for individuals who understand pure sciences to conduct research and ask the right questions to further our understanding of the world - whether it is in biology, physics or geology. If research is not your cup of tea, scientists are needed in areas beyond just research, STEM careers in pure sciences can be had in academia, education, and in both private and public sectors - finding innovative solutions to problems and developing new products. For example, biologists may find work in sectors like agriculture, forensics, environmental conservation or healthcare.

Click on the buttons below to explore the field of science that interests you the most to learn about different online degree options, career outlook, projected wages, and more.

There's no debating the fact that technology now plays an important role in nearly every aspect of our lives. This is reflected in the fact that computer and technology related occupations are expected to grow at 13 percent which is much faster than the average for other occupations according to the BLS.

The field of technology is vast with many specialized applications so many employers are now looking for individuals with specific technical skillsets. Choosing a concentration can help you develop such skills.

Click on the buttons below to explore technology degrees in more detail including specializations, coursework, and careers you may have along with their associated wages.

Engineers and architects are needed across diverse industries in order to design and build products and buildings that fulfill specific requirements. You may find many online engineering degree programs that are dedicated to a core area of the field like electrical and mechanical engineering, for example.

The BLS predicts that the employment of individuals in engineering occupations is expected to grow due to their demand in the rebuilding of infrastructure, renewable energy, oil and gas extraction, and robotics while the demand for architects is likely to be for those with knowledge of "green design" in order to design buildings that use resources like energy and water efficiently and sustainably and reduce waste.

Click on the buttons below to learn more about the coursework involved, different degree levels, along with careers you may have and their associated wages.

Choosing the college and online STEM major that best suits your needs is not an easy task. Apart from the careers you can have with a particular STEM degree, you may need to consider factors that are important to the online academic experience like tuition, financial aid programs, placement services and graduation rates. We've compiled a list of the best colleges for STEM majors online using these factors and more to try and make this task easier for you. Do check out our detailed methodology at the bottom of the page to learn how these 10 colleges can present you with the best options for online STEM degrees.


Online Associate Degree Programs in STEM

Online associate STEM degree programs can take you around two years of full-time study to complete. Careers with a STEM degree at the associate level include entry-level occupations as web developers, drafters, and engineering technicians. Data from the BLS shows that even associate degree holders in engineering and technology can earn wages well above the average for all occupations ($38,640) with electrical and electronics engineering technicians earning median annual wages of $64,330, aerospace engineering and operations technicians earning $67,010, and web developers earning $69,430 in 2018.

Average in-state tuition
$2,600
No. of online programs
95
% of students in distance education
51%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,040
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$1,920
No. of online programs
81
% of students in distance education
74%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,251
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$4,218
No. of online programs
59
% of students in distance education
54%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,441
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$9,552
No. of online programs
134
% of students in distance education
99%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,809
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
17%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$6,480
No. of online programs
160
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$1,705
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
42%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$2,963
No. of online programs
48
% of students in distance education
83%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,129
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
36%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$3,150
No. of online programs
58
% of students in distance education
76%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,066
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$2,136
No. of online programs
45
% of students in distance education
53%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,093
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$3,390
No. of online programs
57
% of students in distance education
57%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,629
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$14,498
No. of online programs
41
% of students in distance education
97%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,838
Admissions Rate
94%
Graduation Rate
26%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in STEM

Online STEM programs at the bachelor's level can take up to four years of full-time study to complete. The BLS states that most occupations within the fields of architecture and engineering, computers and information technology, science occupations like environmental scientists and specialists, and biological technicians need at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs in the field. Furthermore,the BLS reports average annual wages way higher than the average for people with STEM careers like aerospace engineers($115, 220), biomedical engineers($88, 550), computer hardware engineers($114, 600), and information security analysts($98, 350).
Average in-state tuition
$7,997
No. of online programs
15
% of students in distance education
34%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,505
Admissions Rate
67%
Graduation Rate
70%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$6,480
No. of online programs
160
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$1,705
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
42%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$9,552
No. of online programs
134
% of students in distance education
99%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,809
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
17%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$4,477
No. of online programs
65
% of students in distance education
50%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,169
Admissions Rate
39%
Graduation Rate
90%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$5,400
No. of online programs
50
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$1,903
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
24%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$7,152
No. of online programs
79
% of students in distance education
85%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,604
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$20,268
No. of online programs
74
% of students in distance education
98%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,531
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
31%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$4,721
No. of online programs
72
% of students in distance education
65%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,872
Admissions Rate
59%
Graduation Rate
58%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$7,056
No. of online programs
86
% of students in distance education
90%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,315
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
15%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$7,901
No. of online programs
54
% of students in distance education
77%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,203
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
33%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Online Master's Degree Programs in STEM

Online master's STEM degrees usually take around two years of full-time study to finish. STEM majors with a master's degree may be employed in supervisory positions or conduct research in areas of their interest. Some STEM master's degree programs are geared toward individuals who want to go on to complete a doctorate while Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree programs are geared toward individuals who want to work outside academia. Rest assured, you may be able to find STEM careers outside of academia even with a pure science degree. For example, mathematicians and statisticians are needed in industries like finance and healthcare.

Average in-state tuition
$7,997
No. of online programs
15
% of students in distance education
34%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,505
Admissions Rate
67%
Graduation Rate
70%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$6,380
No. of online programs
63
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$2,635
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
29%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$7,056
No. of online programs
86
% of students in distance education
90%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,315
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
15%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$6,535
No. of online programs
39
% of students in distance education
41%
Avg. amount of Aid
$10,097
Admissions Rate
47%
Graduation Rate
81%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$6,840
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
53%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,578
Admissions Rate
69%
Graduation Rate
41%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$9,360
No. of online programs
43
% of students in distance education
97%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,981
Admissions Rate
63%
Graduation Rate
19%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$5,400
No. of online programs
50
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$1,903
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
24%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
Average in-state tuition
$7,537
No. of online programs
52
% of students in distance education
8%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,570
Admissions Rate
68%
Graduation Rate
82%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$23,900
No. of online programs
5
% of students in distance education
80%
Avg. amount of Aid
$25,564
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
43%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Average in-state tuition
$8,080
No. of online programs
18
% of students in distance education
52%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,611
Admissions Rate
80%
Graduation Rate
49%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Online Doctoral Degree Programs in STEM

According to data from the NSF, science and engineering doctorates accounted for 76 percent of all doctorates awarded in 2017.

Doctoral STEM degrees can take between three to seven years of full - time study.Holders of doctorates are often considered to be experts in their field and may be involved in cutting - edge research in their fields.PhDs can help professionals expand their knowledge and advance their careers or enter academia.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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The United States Government has recognized the need for STEM majors to cover this gap and supports research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and medical research and education through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In fact, in 2018 the Department of Education (DoE) announced that it surpassed President Trump's directive to invest $200 million by making $279 million worth of discretionary grants to support STEM education. Some programs along with their funding include:

There are various state-level initiatives too that have been put in place to expand the interest in STEM degrees. The New Jersey Governor's STEM Scholars Program which helps students develop their STEM learning from high school through PhD programs and Washington's STEM Education Innovation Alliance which helps the workforce develop STEM skills are two examples of such initiatives.

Online STEM degrees are available right from the associate degree level to more advanced doctoral degrees. So whether you are a recent high school graduate, a working professional or a career changer, an online STEM degree program can help you gain the knowledge you need while giving the flexibility you need to adhere to work, family and other commitments. An interesting fact to note is that according to a 2019 Learning House survey of online students, there was an increase of 5 percent in students enrolling in online STEM programs in 2019 (up 11 percent in 2019 from six percent in 2014).

Methodology and Sources
Methodology and Sources

Methodology

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in healthcare by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

  • Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  • Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  • Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
  • Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for associate/bachelor’s and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)

We then ranked colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. The final totals were:

  • 212 colleges for online associate degree in healthcare
  • 426 colleges for online bachelor’s degree in healthcare
  • 365 colleges for online master’s degree in healthcare

We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

Associate/Bachelor’s

  1. Associate’s/Bachelor’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in Distance Education to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Student-to-faculty ratio
  8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  10. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Prepaid, Other)
  11. Services (Academic/Career Counseling, Placement for Completers)
  12. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)

Master’s

    1. Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
    2. Ratio of graduate students participating fully or partially in Distance Education to Total Enrollment
    3. Average in-state tuition for graduates
    4. Credit offerings (Life, Military)
    5. Services (Academic/Career Counseling, Placement for Completers)
    6. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Other)
    7. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media

Methodology Sources

        • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  • Architects, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/architects.htm, accessed July 2019
  • Architecture and Engineering Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/home.htm
  • Computer and Information Technology Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
  • Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2017, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES, National Science Foundation, 2018, https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19301/report/about-this-report
  • Emerson Survey: 2 in 5 Americans Believe the STEM Worker Shortage is at Crisis Levels, Emerson, 2018, https://www.emerson.com/en-us/news/corporate/2018-stem-survey
  • Employment outlook for bachelor's-level occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/article/bachelors-degree-outlook.htm
  • Employment outlook for graduate-level occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/article/graduate-degree-outlook.htm
  • Fayer, S., Lacey, A. and Watson, A., BLS spotlight on statistics: STEM occupations-past, present, and future, 2017, https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2017/science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-occupations-past-present-and-future/home.htm
  • Graduate STEM education for the 21st century, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, National Academies Press, 2018, https://www.nap.edu/login.php?record_id=25038
  • Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/home.htm
  • Mathematicians and Statisticians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians-and-statisticians.htm
  • STEM Education in the U.S.: Where We Are and What We Can Do., ACT, 2017, https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/STEM/2017/STEM-Education-in-the-US-2017.pdf
  • STEM Majors: How to Choose the Right Degree, ThoughtCo., 2018, https://www.thoughtco.com/stem-majors-degrees-careers-4174455
  • The STEM Imperative, Smithsonian Science Education Center, https://ssec.si.edu/stem-imperative, accessed July 2019
  • U.S. Department of Education Fulfills Administration Promise to Invest $200 Million in STEM Education, U.S. Department of Education, 2018, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-fulfills-administration-promise-invest-200-million-stem-education
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