Online Degrees In Wisconsin (WI)
Wisconsin may be known best as the land of cheese, beer, Packers and motorcycles, residents of America’s Dairyland know that Wisconsin has a strong economy, a highly educated populace, low unemployment and a cost of living that’s well below the national average.
But economists warn that this economic growth can’t continue without an increase in its number of skilled workers. Since the Great Recession, the state has experienced an outmigration of workers and seen the current labor force slowly aging out of the workplace. It’s expected that Wisconsin will have 45,000 job openings by 2024 that it won’t be able to fill. It’s absolutely crucial that the state grow its number of educated workers.
Wisconsin colleges that offer online degree programs could provide a solution by offering this training while addressing many of the barriers to education that often face Wisconsin’s students. This guide can show you how.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin’s rate of postsecondary education attainment of 50.5 percent is higher than most states, but with an aging, shrinking workforce and looming worker shortage, the state’s higher education systems have set a goal of 60 percent attainment among working-age adults by 2027.
Not only do online degrees in Wisconsin help develop more trained workers, but the Lumina Foundation forecasts that 60 percent of all jobs in the U.S. may require high-quality postsecondary credentials by 2025.
An online education in Wisconsin provides needed training more conveniently than traditional, classroom-based programs. Roughly 26 percent of Wisconsinites live in rural areas, so while the state is home to 100 postsecondary institutions, only 11 of them are in those rural areas, meaning that rural residents may not physically have access to the classes and degrees they need. Online degree programs in Wisconsin allow you to complete your studies from anywhere, regardless of location, and coursework usually can be done on your own time, as long as work is submitted by deadline. Adult workers with full-time jobs or family commitments still can complete school work without sacrificing their schedules.
Plus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says incomes increase and unemployment decreases with every level of education beyond high school, meaning it pays to complete online degrees in Wisconsin.
Top 10 Wisconsin Colleges that Offer Online Degree Programs
Recent high school graduates may have different needs in an online college from what returning adults or graduate students may need. To help you weigh your options, we’ve developed this list of the top 10 Wisconsin colleges that offer online degree programs, based on information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) about such factors as tuition, student support services, average financial aid awards and more.
|Average in-state tuition||$4,026|
|No. of online programs||23|
|% of students in distance education||62|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,244|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,026|
|No. of online programs||3|
|% of students in distance education||61|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$3,979|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,065|
|No. of online programs||14|
|% of students in distance education||33|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$3,539|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,066|
|No. of online programs||10|
|% of students in distance education||46|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,334|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,221|
|No. of online programs||60|
|% of students in distance education||49|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$3,938|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,066|
|No. of online programs||10|
|% of students in distance education||34|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,312|
|Average in-state tuition||$6,519|
|No. of online programs||15|
|% of students in distance education||34|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,199|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,294|
|No. of online programs||21|
|% of students in distance education||69|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,282|
|Average in-state tuition||$6,298|
|No. of online programs||9|
|% of students in distance education||51|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,152|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,014|
|No. of online programs||26|
|% of students in distance education||48|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,950|
Top Online Degree Programs in Wisconsin
The NCES’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) tracks the number of distance education programs offered at Wisconsin colleges. We’ve drawn this list of the top online degree programs in Wisconsin from this IPEDS data. Note that even though a program may be listed as “online,” that may include fully online and hybrid programs.
Quality of Online Education in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is one of the 12 members of the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC). This legislatively created collaboration among Midwestern states was formed to provide greater higher education opportunities and services in the region, and this helps to maintain consistent quality among online education programs in Wisconsin and other MHEC member states.
Wisconsin is also a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which is a voluntary agreement among member states to adhere to a prescribed set of quality standards for online education across state lines. So students from nearby states may complete online degree programs in Wisconsin at the same price as their home states, and they can be assured of receiving the same quality as those offered in their home states.
Individual schools in Wisconsin take their own steps to guarantee quality as well. For example, all online instructors at Edgewood College must complete a rigorous seven-week online faculty certification program. And the University of Wisconsin system applies standards set by Quality Matters, a third-party quality assurance organization for distance learning, to all its online courses.
Be sure to check with any school you’re considering about measures it’s taken to ensure quality.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Wisconsin
The first thing you should look for in any online degree program is accreditation, which demonstrates that the school has voluntarily submitted to review by a regional or national third-party accrediting body. This review appraises quality, rigor and financial stability. It’s so important that federal financial aid may only be given to accredited institutions. This should be the first thing you check for any online degree programs in Wisconsin.
Beyond that, here are some other factors you should keep in mind when evaluating prospective colleges:
- Course expectations: Be sure you understand how many hours are expected of you and what type of activities you’ll be required to participate in, then consider whether this can work for your life. Also, consider whether the particular demands inherent in online courses (discussion posts, self-driving learning, etc.) can fit your needs as a learner.
- Course structure: Are there face-to-face or real-time requirements involved in your courses, and will that work for you? How much peer-to-peer or student-to-faculty interactions will there be, and will that suit you?
- Student support: Does the college offer the tools you need to be successful, including career planning, college advisement or tutoring? These can mean the difference between wanting to abandon the program and seeing it through to successful completion.
Top Occupations in Wisconsin
What jobs are hot in Wisconsin? The following list of top occupations in Wisconsin is drawn from BLS data, and it may help inform your decision about what online degree program to pursue.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||365,140||$37,200|
|Sales and Related Occupations||263,380||$29,560|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||250,230||$34,400|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||243,010||$21,510|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||175,730||$67,490|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||166,120||$46,910|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||151,820||$61,980|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||137,810||$28,230|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||112,300||$46,750|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||110,160||$52,540|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||80,640||$27,660|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||78,540||$75,650|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||73,620||$20,030|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||72,060||$24,550|
|Customer Service Representatives||69,460||$36,790|
Top Metropolitan Areas in Wisconsin
Of course, in a state commonly known as America’s Dairyland, it makes sense that agriculture is a staple of Wisconsin’s economy. Its rolling green hills, coastlines on two Great Lakes and plentiful forests and farms make tourism an important component of the economy as well.
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue says that trade, transportation and utilities is the state’s largest employment sector, followed closely by manufacturing. The state’s leaders also are working hard to diversify the economy toward other sectors such as health care, information technology and finance.
Here’s a look at where most of the employment is happening some of the state’s largest metro areas:
Milwaukee: Situated on a picturesque coastline and home to a well-known brewing industry, Milwaukee is experiencing an economic boom, thanks to an influx of new food-and-drink establishments, heightened building activity downtown and a flood of new companies setting up shop. Notably, advanced manufacturing is a critical sector in Milwaukee, especially with the new plant for Foxconn, a Chinese electronics manufacturer that promises to bring 13,000 new jobs to Southern Wisconsin. Production, food preparation and service, health care and transportation/material moving occupations are among the top-employing occupations in Milwaukee.
Madison: In the capital city, anchored by the University of Wisconsin, education is one of the largest sectors for employment. Health care and production occupations also are major employers, thanks the city’s roughly 600 technology businesses, including health management software, medical informatics and other biotech firms.
Green Bay: In Green Bay, the largest city in Wisconsin’s New North region, manufacturing is king. The region is home to more than 2,000 manufacturing businesses that employ more than 140,000 people — a concentration that’s 2.66 times greater than the national average. Production, transportation/moving material and health care occupations are among the top-employing sectors in Green Bay.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Wisconsin
One factor that may lend itself to Wisconsin’s comparatively high rate of college attainment is its high number of need-based financial aid programs. They include the following:
Wisconsin Grant: This grant may be awarded to undergraduate Wisconsin residents who are enrolled at least half time in degree or certificate programs at University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical College or Tribal institutions. The award amount per year ranges from $250-$3,150.
Wisconsin Grant – Private Non-Profit: Similar to the Wisconsin Grant, this award for at least $250 per year may be awarded for undergraduates enrolled at least half time at non-profit independent colleges in Wisconsin.
Talent Incentive Program Grant: The TIP Grant offers grant assistance to Wisconsin students with financial need who are educationally disadvantaged attended colleges or universities in the state. Nominations for freshman come from school financial aid offices or from counselors with Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Programs. Award amounts vary but may not exceed $1,800/year.
Other need-based grants may be available to students who are hearing or visually impaired, minorities or Native Americans. Additionally, Wisconsin offers two merit-based scholarships to high-achieving high school graduates entering technical colleges, UW System schools or independent institutions in the state.
Tests You May Need to Take
Be prepared to submit college entrance exam scores in your application to Wisconsin colleges that offer online degree programs. Though not all require them, many do, and they may accept either SAT or ACT scores. The University of Wisconsin – Madison and Lakeland University, for example, require either SAT or ACT scores, whereas Maranatha Baptist University may consider but 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
- College Navigator: Wisconsin, Institute for Education Studies, National Center for Education, accessed September 26, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=WI&pg=1
- Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sept. 4, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
- 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
- Wisconsin, Rural Health Information Hub, Nov. 27, 2018, https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/states/wisconsin
- Wisconsin’s progress toward the goal, A Stronger Nation, Lumina Foundation, February 2019, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#state/WI
- Paul Solman, “How Wisconsin is trying to head off a major worker shortage,” PBS News Hour, Sept. 6, 2018, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-wisconsin-is-trying-to-head-off-a-major-worker-shortage
- Tom Still, “A look at Wisconsin economy for 2019,” LaCrosse Tribune, Jan. 9, 2019, https://lacrossetribune.com/7rivers/wisconsin/tom-still-a-look-at-wisconsin-economy-for/article_ff7ea351-6094-5199-9df1-c3fc7d8ba2ad/
- Wisconsin Economic Outlook, Wisconsin Department of Revenue, March 2019, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&ved=2ahUKEwjK8_PkkO_kAhUMKKwKHfwsAzAQFjAKegQIABAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.revenue.wi.gov%2FDORReports%2FWI-outlook-March-2019.pdf&usg=AOvVaw3q28AEaxEJFKVaDmd0lpbK
- “Midwest is first region to have all states on board for state authorization reciprocity – Wisconsin approved for participation in SARA,” NC-SARA, Aug. 13, 2019, https://www.nc-sara.org/news-events/midwest-first-region-have-all-states-board-state-authorization-reciprocity-wisconsin
- 60 Forward, “Learning Beyond High School Builds Wisconsin Talent,” 60Forward.org, accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.60forward.org/resources/
- New North, The New North, Inc., accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.thenewnorth.com/
- Manufacturing by the Numbers, The New North, Inc., accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.thenewnorth.com/media/532877/20190925_Mfg.pdf
- Information Technology, Midwestern Higher Education Compact, accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.mhec.org/convening/information-technology
- Edgewood College Online, accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.edgewood.edu/academics/programs/online
- Learning Forum: Using Quality Matters for Course Development, University of Wisconsin System, accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.wisconsin.edu/learning-tech/events-conf/learning-forum-using-quality-matters-for-course-development/
- Kerry Hannon, “Choosing the Best Online Program for You,” The New York Times, Aug. 2, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/education/learning/choosing-best-online-program/
- Christina Perez, “Why Milwaukee is the Midwest’s Coolest (and Most Underrated) City,” Vogue, July 10, 2018, https://www.vogue.com/article/travel-guide-milwaukee-wisconsin-midwest-coolest-city
- City of Madison DPCED Economic Development, City of Madison, accessed Sept. 26, 2019, https://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/economicdevelopment/
- State of Wisconsin Financial Aid Administered by HEAB, State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board, accessed Sept. 26, 2019, http://heab.state.wi.us/programs/