Online Degrees In Rhode Island (RI)
Rhode Island is a picturesque place, at just 1,045 square miles and with a rich history and tight-knit community feeling. Yet the smallest state in the country has grappled with some of the country’s biggest economic problems. As one of the states hit hardest by the recession, its jobless rate was the worst in the nation just four years ago. It has consistently earned low marks for its business climate and unemployment rate, and it’s facing a gaping shortage of skilled workers.
In recent years, huge strides have been made in the areas of educating Rhode Island’s workforce and diversifying its economy. Thirty companies have moved to Rhode Island since 2016, including high-tech and advanced manufacturing firms, and a targeted strategy to increase residents’ educational attainment have made earning a degree to obtain high-paying, in-demand jobs in this new economy easier than ever before.
Whether you’ve earned some postsecondary education but never completed your degree, have no postsecondary training or are seeking an advanced degree, Rhode Island colleges that offer online degree programs can help prepare you for this better, brighter economic future. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Rhode Island?
Across New England, 70 percent of jobs require some postsecondary education, yet only 46.4 percent of Rhode Islanders currently have postsecondary credentials. This figure is not only below the national average, but it leaves the largest gap between attainment and workforce needs among all New England states. The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) says that by 2025, the state will have a shortage of 90,000 trained workers to fill demand.
Two-thirds of these needed workers will be working-age adults, ages 25-64. Most of them are employed at full-time. And more than one in six Rhode Islanders (over 128,000 adults) have obtained some college training but haven’t earned degrees.
Online degrees in Rhode Island can help even full-time workers earn needed postsecondary training by enabling students to complete courses at times that work with any employer’s schedule. The state has prioritized expanded online offerings and accelerated programs to help more people return to school. It may be possible to complete your program of interest more rapidly than on-campus programs.
Plus, median lifetime earnings for those with associate degrees are 27 percent higher than for high school graduates. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says every increase in educational attainment lowers individuals’ rate of unemployment.
Featured Online Colleges in Rhode Island
Whether you’ve been concerned about affording college, are worried about balancing school with your career or family demands or simply want to be sure your degree has value in the workplace, the following list of the top Rhode Island colleges that offer online degree programs was developed with you in mind. It factors in data such as number of online programs, tuition rates, student service offerings and more to help your decision-making process.
|Average in-state tuition||$4,148|
|No. of online programs||1|
|% of students in distance education||23|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$3,977|
|Average in-state tuition||$12,248|
|No. of online programs||7|
|% of students in distance education||21|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$10,243|
|Average in-state tuition||$30,931|
|No. of online programs||21|
|% of students in distance education||12|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$15,808|
Top Online Degree Programs in Rhode Island
Drawing on information from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) about the number of online degrees in Rhode Island colleges (including fully online and hybrid programs), we’ve created this list of the top online degree programs in Rhode Island.
Quality of Online Education in Rhode Island
Seven of Rhode Island’s postsecondary institutions are approved members of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which is an agreement among member states and Washington, D.C., that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of online degrees and courses. Joining in this agreement makes it easier for students to take high-quality online courses offered by postsecondary institutions in Rhode Island, or vice versa, and it ensures comparable quality among those programs.
Individual online colleges in Rhode Island have taken steps to ensure quality as well. For example, the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) provides a four-week online course that instructs faculty in best practices for teaching online, and its online courses are subject to a Distance Learning Advisory Committee. And at the University of Rhode Island (URI), new online courses are subject to a review according to Quality Matters, an organization dedicated to ensuring quality in distance learning, with a re-review every four years, and online instructors must take an online pedagogy course.
Check with your prospective school regarding its specific quality-assurance measures.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Rhode Island
In your search for online degree programs in Rhode Island, accreditation should be a top priority for you. Accreditation is a volunteer review of quality and rigor by an independent accrediting agency. It’s so important that federal (and some state and private) financial aid programs are contingent upon it, and it can affect transfer credits and more.
If you need help deciding where to start in your process of selecting and applying to in an online program, one great resource for Rhode Islanders is the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), located on the CCRI campus. The EOC provides free, customized support for students (not just those applying to CCRI) in finding and applying to programs that fit their needs and goals.
Of course, make sure any program you consider:
- Meets your needs in terms of subject matter, degree offered and schedule required
- Is affordable or can be afforded with financial aid
- Provides the student support services you’ll need, from tutoring and writing help to academic advisement, counseling, career guidance and more.
Top Occupations in Rhode Island
The occupations listed below are the top-employing occupations in Rhode Island, according to the BLS. As you consider an online education in Rhode Island, it may help to know what jobs are growing fastest in the state.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||64,260||$41,730|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||49,120||$26,170|
|Sales and Related Occupations||46,180||$31,480|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||33,940||$80,800|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||32,780||$65,260|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||30,880||$33,070|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||30,320||$74,940|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||24,240||$32,210|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||17,090||$51,930|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||16,950||$30,260|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||16,370||$48,450|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||14,510||$85,610|
|Protective Service Occupations||12,950||$46,620|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||11,860||$24,440|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||10,930||$27,710|
Top Metropolitan Areas in Rhode Island
While the state of Rhode Island has historically struggled to grow economically, relative to other states, there are bright spots that signal an increasingly diverse and robust economy in which to work. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training says the state’s employment should grow by roughly 30,500 jobs between 2016 and 2026. This growth will mostly be seen in the health care/social assistance industry, accommodation/food service, retail, and the professional/scientific/technical services sector.
Here’s a look at the top occupations in the state’s major metropolitan areas:
Providence: By far the largest city in Rhode Island, its capital city, Providence, is home to 23 percent of the state’s workers, and yet it’s an area where the gap between educational attainment and worker demand is largest.
An Atlantic coast city, it’s also home to Port of Providence and Port of Davisville, and the ProvPort terminal is one of only two deep-water ports in New England. This combined with the city’s central location between Boston and D.C. make Providence a hub for transportation, logistics, and marine-related industries, such as commercial fishing.
The healthcare and social assistance sector is has seen the most significant employment growth in Providence over the last decade, thanks to the city’s four major hospital systems. As the capital city, Providence’s government/public sector jobs saw the second-highest employment in the city. And as home to 12 institutions of higher learning, its educational sector is third.
Westerly: As part of the Norwich/New London, CT metropolitan area, Westerly, in Rhode Island’s southwest corner, is a popular tourist destination thanks to its well-known beaches. Retail and accommodations/food services are two of the industries employing the largest concentrations of Rhode Islanders, along with health care. General Dynamics Electric Boats, which has been building submarines for the U.S. Navy since 1900, is located here and is a major employer in the area.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Rhode Island
The RIOPC offers plenty of help to students interested in attending Rhode Island colleges that offer online degree programs. This includes help with obtaining financial aid. It offers incentives to students to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), in the form of $25,000 in scholarships to Rhode Island high schools, and it provides a FAFSA access dashboard to area high schools, so teachers and administrators can add information and provide support to students. And the College Planning Center of Rhode Island can provide free, individual help to students in filling out the FAFSA.
Because of the impending worker shortage and the commitment to increase Rhode Island’s college attainment, some training programs for the state’s most in-demand occupations may actually be free or low cost. Real Jobs Rhode Island maintains a list of sponsored training programs in industries such as construction and manufacturing.
Other initiatives in Rhode Island to assist with affording college include:
RI Promise: The Rhode Island Promise Scholarship is a need-based, last-dollar scholarship for CCRI students that fill the gap between a student’s financial aid package and the actual costs of attending college.
New England Regional Student Program: Students who reside in New England may be eligible for tuition reduction for pursuing certain majors not available in their home states.
Tests You May Need to Take
Pay close attention to each prospective school’s admission package requirements. Some schools require that students submit SAT or ACT scores. For example, CCRI and URI require an official SAT or ACT score. However, others may not require test scores at all; Providence College considers SAT and ACT scores but does not require them.
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
Featured Online Colleges in Rhode Island Methodology
Some state pages have a list of featured schools instead of rankings. This happens when not enough schools meet the criteria described in the best schools Rhode Island methodology above — the number of schools is too small for us to do a credible and statistically significant ranking. Because there are still some schools that do meet the criteria, we’ve chosen to highlight them in a featured schools list.
- College Navigator: Rhode Island, Institute for Education Studies, National Center for Education, accessed August 27, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=RI
- “South Dakota,” Rural Health Information Hub, November 9, 2018, https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/states/south-dakota
- May 2018 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm
- “Workers Ahead: Postsecondary Attainment in Rhode Island,” Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC), May 16, 2019, https://www.riopc.edu/static/photos/2019/05/16/Postsecondary_Attainment_in_Rhode_Island.docx.pdf
- “Higher Rhode Island: A Roadmap for Postsecondary Attainment in the Ocean State,” RIOPC, February 2018, https://www.riopc.edu/static/photos/2018/02/22/Higher_Rhode_Island_-_A_Roadmap_to_70_by_25.pdf
- Financial Aid Resources, RIOPC, accessed August 27, 2019, https://www.riopc.edu/page/finaid/
- Adult Learners, RIOPC, accessed August 26, 2019, https://www.riopc.edu/page/returners/
- Rhode Island EOC, Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), accessed August 26, 2019, http://www.ccri.edu/eoc/
- New Student Admissions Checklist, CCRI, accessed August 27, 2019, https://www.ccri.edu/oes/admissions/checklist/
- First-year Student Admission, University of Rhode Island (URI), accessed August 27, 2019, https://web.uri.edu/admission/first-year/
- Online Program Development, URI, accessed August 26, 2019, https://web.uri.edu/online/online-program-development/
- State of the State: A Statistical Profile of Rhode Island’s Cities and Towns, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Labor Market Information Unit, March 2019, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/publications/stateofstate.htm
- RI Labor Market Information infographic, RI Department of Labor and Training, Labor Market Information Unit, January 2019, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/pdf/rifacts.pdf
- Industry Outlook 2026, RI Department of Labor and Training, Labor Market Information Unit, accessed August 26, 2019, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/pdf/indoutlook.pdf
- Ramoa Schindelhelm, “Rhode Island’s economic recovery fueled by workforce training,” Working Nation, July 27, 2018, https://workingnation.com/rhode-island-economic-recovery/
- Real Jobs Training Opportunities for Job Seekers, Real Jobs Rhode Island, accessed August 26, 2019, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/realjobs/TrainingOpps.htm
- Scott Cohn, “Why Rhode Island is the worst state for business in 2019,” CNBC, July 10, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/09/why-rhode-island-is-the-worst-state-for-business-in-2019/
- Online Learning Support for Faculty, CCRI, accessed August 26, 2019, https://www.ccri.edu/distancefaculty/overview/
- RI-SARA, RIOPC, accessed August 26, 2019, https://www.riopc.edu/page/RI-SARA/
- Providence Economic Development website, accessed August 27, 2019, http://www.providenceeconomicdevelopment.net/
- Earn It RI: Rhode Island Occupational Wage Report, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Labor Market Information Unit, April 2019, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/pdf/wagereport.pdf