Historically, degree attainment in Rhode Island has been higher than the national average. A recent report from the Lumina Foundation, titled A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, highlighted that fact in early 2015 while also revealing a broad range of details on the state's education levels. According to the data, 43.8 percent of Rhode Island adults ages 25-64 held some form of college credential in 2013, compared to 40 percent nationally.
Breaking the percentages down further shows where Rhode Island has room for improvement, however. As of 2013, 25.25 percent of adults had only a high school diploma, and 20.06 percent had some college experience but no degree. That leaves a large percentage of Rhode Island's adults without any formal credentials or higher education to report on a resume. For the sake of comparison, 9.27 percent of adults held an associate degree in 2013, 21.80 percent had a bachelor's degree, and 12.70 percent possessed a graduate or professional degree.
Fortunately, the educational opportunities are there for those who choose to pursue them. Despite the state's small size, Rhode Island is home to 26 institutions of higher education. Included on that list are large, public universities, community colleges, trade schools, and beauty schools. Some colleges in the state even offer online degree programs, which increases accessibility for local students tremendously.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Rhode Island?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Rhode Island's workforce was made up of 463,930 individuals in 2014. Collectively, these workers earned a mean annual wage of $49,570, which works out to $23.93 per hour.
Although industries in the state offer generous wages on average, some careers stand out. The following chart highlights some of the top careers for college graduates in Rhode Island in terms of employment and salary:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||75,640||$39,340|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||50,460||$25,070|
|Sales and Related Occupations||46,090||$45,430|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||33,470||$59,390|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||31,280||$87,340|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||25,460||$75,000|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||24,990||$35,200|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||20,660||$32,010|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||16,000||$51,780|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||15,640||$49,190|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||15,500||$29,980|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||14,270||$85,200|
A New England state known for its charming seaside towns and artsy communities, Rhode Island offers a wide range of industries and careers for future college graduates. Key industries in the state include finance, health services, tourism, and manufacturing, with large employers such as state government, Lifespan Hospital group, the federal government, the Roman Catholic Church, and Care New England providing a significant number of jobs in the area. Rhode Island is also home to the headquarters of many big businesses and even Fortune 500 companies including CVS Caremark, Textron, Citizen's Financial Group, and Hasbro.
Employment projections for Rhode Island show that a number of key jobs and careers could see exceptional growth during the coming decade. According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor Employment Outlook, the following industries should see employment jump by a large percentage from 2012 to 2022:
- Construction: 26.6 percent
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: 25.6 percent
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: 21.1 percent
- Mining: 20.2 percent
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: 19.9 percent
As state data shows, the industry with the most jobs added over that time period will likely be health care. Ambulatory health care services, for example, are expected to see a surge of 4,744 new jobs through 2022. Meanwhile, nursing and residential care facilities are expected to add 4,251, while hospitals and social assistance are projected to grow by 2,470 and 2,387 positions, respectively.
While jobs in Rhode Island are spread out across the entire state, many top industries cluster around its biggest metropolitan areas. Providence, Rhode Island and its metro region host the largest population of citizens within state limits, following closely by cities such as Warwick, Cranston, and Pawtucket.
As one of the original 13 colonies in the United States to declare independence from British rule, Rhode Island boasts a glow of patriotism, along with roots that run deep in our nation's history. Known for its fresh seafood entrees, johnnycakes, hot wieners, and snail salad, Rhode Island has also become a culinary destination, where families and tourists alike hit the streets to try out the many exotic and unique food options readily available in the state.
Despite being small in size, Rhode Island is home to more than its share of colleges and universities. Included on that list are prominent institutions such as Brown University, along with the state's flagship school, the University of Rhode Island.
Many schools in the state have also begun offering online learning options in order to increase educational access and beef up enrollment numbers. Rhode Island colleges that have branched out into online education include the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island, among others.
According to figures from the College Board, average tuition and fees at a public, in-state four-year college were $11,390 for the 2015-16 school year. Tuition at public, two-year schools, on the other hand, worked out to $4,266.
Interesting Facts About Rhode Island
Rhode Island has a strong economy, a fine selection of jobs and careers, and many educational opportunities, but that's not all the state has to offer. Here are five fun facts about Rhode Island that you probably didn't know:
- Want a state you can get to know intimately? Rhode Island covers 1,214 square miles, and is only 48 miles long and 37 miles wide.
- If you want a brew with some history behind it, Rhode Island may be just the place for you. The nation's oldest tavern, the White Horse Tavern, still operates as a restaurant and bar in Newport.
- Rhode Island is home to more historic buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in America than any other state in the nation.
- The state's official drink is ""coffee milk,"" a concoction that mixes milk and coffee syrup.
- Providence, Rhode Island is known for the exciting pulse of its nightlife, which boasts one bar or nighttime hangout for every 500 residents.
What Makes Rhode Island Ideal for Online Education?
Online education has played a huge role in Rhode Island's overall degree attainment. Online degree programs allow students to study at any time or place of their choosing, often bypassing the inconvenient components of a traditional, on-campus education.
Many students who once believed they were too busy to finish college find that online degrees in Rhode Island and other states provide the flexibility they need, says Som Seng, administrator at UMassOnline.
""The best part about online education is that students don't have to live next to a brick-and-mortar school,"" notes Seng. ""As long as students have a computer and internet access, they can take online courses.""
Another bonus that comes with distance learning is diversity in education. ""UMass online students are from all over the country and world, with varying backgrounds,"" Seng adds. Schools that offer online education in Rhode Island offer similar diversity, with students from countries all over the world in attendance.
""Ultimately, a student takes online classes because they want to further their education and the online format works best for them,"" says Seng. Online degrees in Rhode Island and other states in the Northeast have broadened the reach of higher education by helping students avoid long commutes and save time when compared to a traditional program.
At the end of the day, online degree programs are simply more convenient than their on-campus counterparts, which is why they continue to grow in popularity.
Top 10 Degrees in Rhode Island
Although nearly any college degree is a good investment, some show more potential than others due to projected job growth or exceptionally high wages. Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, we created this list of top degree options for Rhode Island college graduates:
Biomedical engineering merges health care and science to create innovative products that improve patient health and comfort. Because of the growth expected in this field, job openings for biomedical engineers could increase by as much as 49 percent in Rhode Island from 2012 to 2022. High wages only add to the value of this degree choice for state students. As of 2014, biomedical engineers in Rhode Island earned a mean annual wage of $82,540, which works out to $39.68 per hour.
A degree in logistics could really pay off for students who want to find work as logisticians. Not only is this career expected to see 36 percent growth through 2022, but the mean annual wage for logisticians in Rhode Island worked out to $78,670 in 2014. T
Since nearly every industry relies on marketing professionals to help sell their products or services, a degree in marketing could lead to a wide range of in-demand positions. According to U.S. Department of Labor data, employment of marketing specialists and market research analysts in Rhode Island could increase by as much as 36 percent between 2012 and 2022. The fact that these workers brought in average wages of $63,970 in 2014 doesn't hurt this field's popularity with students, either.
As the United States becomes more diverse, the need for interpreters and translators is expected to rise. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job openings for these workers will increase 36 percent through 2022. If you want to help bridge the gap between new cultures and people, a degree in foreign language is a great way to get started.
Since tourism is huge in Rhode Island, a degree in hospitality management could really pay off. That's especially true if you want to work as a meeting, convention, or event planner. According to government projections, jobs in this field could increase by as much as 33 percent in Rhode Island from 2012 to 2022. The fact that these workers earned a mean annual wage of $45,970 in 2014 only adds to the value of this degree choice.
Students who love animals should consider a fast-paced career in veterinary technology. With this degree, they'll be in the position of caring for animals and improving their lives, while also working in a field that's expected to see 29 percent growth through 2022. And as of 2014, veterinary technologists and technicians earned a mean annual wage of $34,280 in Rhode Island.
Since Rhode Island's construction industry is expected to boom, a degree in this field could be exceptionally valuable. That's especially true if you hope to work as a cost estimator, since job openings for these professionals are expected to surge 27 percent from 2012 to 2022. As of 2014, cost estimators in Rhode Island earned a mean annual wage of $68,070, which is well above the statewide average for all occupations.
A degree in computer science can lead to a number of careers with strong potential in Rhode Island. Some jobs are expected to see more growth in the state than others through 2022, including software developers of applications (26 percent), computer systems analysts (23 percent), and computer and information systems managers (17 percent).
Physical Therapy Assistant
Individuals who want to enter the workforce quickly and assist others as they recover from injuries and illnesses should consider a degree in physical therapy assisting. Due to exceptional demand in this field, job openings are expected to surge 26 percent in Rhode Island between 2012 and 2022. The fact that these workers earned average wages of $49,920 in 2014 also adds to the return-on-investment of this degree choice.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
With health care being one of Rhode Island's biggest industries, it's no wonder that certain careers in the field are booming. Diagnostic medical sonography, or ultrasound science, is one of those areas. According to U.S. Department of Labor projections, job openings for these professionals could increase by as much as 25 percent through 2022. And for a two-year degree, the average pay is spectacular. As of 2014, diagnostic medical sonographers in Rhode Island earned a mean annual wage of $72,100.
Top Cities for Rhode Island College Students
Providence is the state capital and the most populous city in Rhode Island. Approximately 179,154 residents called the city home in 2014 according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, making it the third-largest city in New England after Boston and Worcester.
Although manufacturing has declined in Providence, the area still serves as a hub for the creation of jewelry and silver design. Other key industries include government, education, health care, and finance. Top employers in Providence include the prestigious Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, and Women & Infants Hospital.
Median household income in Providence was just $37,632 in 2014, which is significantly lower than the statewide average income of $56,361 that year. Local housing prices reflected that disparity, however. Through 2013, the median housing value in Providence was $196,300, compared to $247,400 statewide.
There are seven institutions of higher education in Providence, including these top colleges and universities:
Founded in 1764, Brown University is the seventh-oldest college in the nation. The school offers bachelor's degrees in over 70 concentrations, along with 51 doctoral programs and 28 master's programs. In addition to its on-campus programming, Brown University offers a wide array of online courses. Approximately 9,181 students were enrolled in 2014, paying average tuition of $47,434. Top degree programs at Brown include:
- Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership
- IE Brown Executive MBA
- PhD of Political Science
Johnson & Wales University Online
Johnson & Wales Online is a fully-online university that offers a wide range of career-oriented degree programs. Approximately 239 students were enrolled at the school's online campus in 2014, a year when average tuition worked out to just $18,252. Johnson & Wales offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, including these popular choices:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
- Online Bachelor of Science in Business Studies
- Online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Providence College is a private institution that boasted a total enrollment of 4,533 in 2014. Students enjoy small class sizes with an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 12:1, plus top-notch instruction from academic professors who serve as experts in their fields. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year worked out to $44,323, and the school is known for these programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Accountancy
- Bachelor of Science in Biology
- Bachelor of Science in Political Science
With a population of 81,963 in 2014, Warwick is Rhode Island's second most populous city. It is home to Rhode Island's largest and most prominent airport, and is actually part of the Providence metropolitan area.
Known for its quaint villages and northeastern charm, Warwick boasts both high wages and plenty of industry. Key employers in the area include those in health care, banking, manufacturing, finance, and higher education. The median household income in Warwick was $62,295 in 2013 -- a figure that is considerably higher than the state average. Meanwhile, only 7.2 percent of Warwick's population lived below the poverty level that year.
Warwick is home to the following two institutions of higher education:
Community College of Rhode Island
The Community College of Rhode Island is one of the largest institutions in the state, with a student population of 17,553. The school offers a wide range of associate degrees and certificate programs aimed at preparing students for a career right out of college. Tuition and fees worked out to just $3,950 for in-state students for the 2014-15 school year, and popular programs include:
- Pharmacy Technician
- Veterinary Assistant
- Dental Radiography
Empire Beauty School - Warwick
As a cosmetology school, Empire Beauty school offers programs that prepare students for careers in the field of fashion and beauty. Approximately 63 students were enrolled in 2014, each enjoying intimate class sizes with a student-to-faculty ratio of just 7:1. For the 2014-15 school year, tuition and fees were approximately $17,250. Here are some of the program areas the school is known for:
- Makeup Artistry
Pawtucket is Rhode Island's fourth-largest city. The area was home to 71,499 inhabitants in 2014, and is known for its support of the arts community, its love of minor league sports, and its bustling economy.
The city houses the headquarters of toy-making company Hasbro, along with McCoy Stadium where the Pawtucket Red Sox play. Key industries in Pawtucket include textiles, health care, and manufacturing, although arts and design also play a role in the region's culture and economic output.
Median household income in Pawtucket was $40,379 through 2013, and the median housing value worked out to $185,700. The area is home to two institutions of higher education, which you can read more about below:
New England Tractor Trailer Training School of Rhode Island
Approximately 135 students attended NETTTS in 2014 in order to gain the certification required to drive a tractor trailer and deliver sought-after supplies all over the nation. For the 2014-15 school year, tuition and fees worked out to just $10,195, although an additional $200 was required for books and supplies. Certifications offered include:
- CDL-A Training
- CDL-B Training
Newport School of Hairdressing - Main Campus
Newport School of Hairdressing enrolled 39 area students in 2014. Depending on the program chosen, tuition and fees run from between $2,700 and $16,700 per year. As a beauty school, Newport School of Hairdressing offers credentials that help prepare students for the fast-paced world of fashion and beauty. Program offerings include:
- Instructor Training
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Whether you choose to pursue an on-campus or online degree in Rhode Island, figuring out which type of aid you might qualify for is a smart move. Different types of federal aid may be available to you depending on your income, resident status, and other factors. Your first step towards finding out whether you qualify for financial aid is to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. 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.
State-based aid may also be available to students who meet certain criteria. The Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority lists a number of opportunities on their website, including:
- Academic Promise Program
- Rhode Island Scholar Recognition Program
Additional aid options may be available to students who pursue specific college majors or meet certain income guidelines. Meanwhile, institution-based aid might be available depending on your school. To find out more, students should contact their college's financial aid office.
2022 Industry Outlook, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/pdf/indoutlook.pdf
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, Rhode Island, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#rhode-island
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
Fastest Growing Occupations, CareerOneStop, Rhode Island, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&ShowAll=&stfips=44
Major Employers, Industry Clusters, Experience Pawtucket, http://www.experiencepawtucket.org/bWorkbPawtucket/MajorEmployersIndustryClusters/tabid/193/Default.aspx
Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority, http://www.riheaa.org/
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Providence, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/44/4459000.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Warwick, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/44/4474300.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Cranston, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/44/4419180.html
Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time