Connecticut Online Colleges & Universities – Top Schools for 2015

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Connecticut boasts numerous institutions of higher learning despite its relatively small physical size. The state is home to 108 colleges and universities with nearly 280,000 students working toward certificates and degrees in 2013. When comparing Connecticut to other states, it ranks 26th for number of schools and 32nd for the volume of students choosing to attend college there. Connecticut offers a wide array of opportunities, from career schools to small community colleges to large universities, many with online programs.

College Type Number in Connecticut
Public 20
Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation) 16
Private for-profit 8
Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation) 6

Major Locations in Connecticut for Higher Education

Although Connecticut is not a large state, it includes a mix of environments, including industrial cities, rural areas and small towns. Colleges and universities are located throughout the state in varied geographical areas, offering students exposure to different types of communities. Here is an overview of the urban areas in Connecticut with the most colleges and college students.

Most Popular Communities for College Students (Total)

  • New Haven (28,500)
  • Waterbury (24,500)
  • Storrs (19,100)
  • New Britain (15,400)
  • Bridgeport (13,200)

Connecticut Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)

  • Bridgeport (7)
  • Hartford (7)
  • Waterbury (6)
  • New Haven (5)
  • Hamden (5)

Access to Higher Education in Bridgeport

Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, attracts postsecondary students with its two-year and four-year institutions and flexible study options. The University of Bridgeport (UB) has its main campus in the city, located near the Long Island Sound. This independent university attracts a diverse population of more than 5,000 learners, with a quarter of the student body from other countries. Popular options at UB include opportunities for cooperative education and accelerated learning. Students can pursue academic goals at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including master’s and doctoral degrees from UB's professional and health sciences programs.

Another postsecondary option is Housatonic Community College (HCC), which serves numerous towns in southwestern Connecticut, with its base in Bridgeport. HCC has designed programs to meet the diverse needs of area residents, including short-term, noncredit courses and career-oriented certificate programs. Some associate degree programs target prospective transfer students, while others focus on preparation for various occupational paths.

Studying Online in Bridgeport

University of Bridgeport has provided distance learning courses since 1997, and its offerings appear among U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Programs” for 2014. UB’s web-based information technology program, rated 11th nationwide, awards online and hybrid master’s degrees in computer science and technology management. The university also ranks in the top 30 for online bachelor’s programs and graduate engineering degrees.

To give students added flexibility, UB Online has a rolling application schedule, and courses typically take between 8 and 16 weeks. Although students can access lecture materials when convenient, these classes require regular participation. Web-centered courses could entail on-campus attendance, for example, for exams or orientation. Undergraduate online programs encompass majors such as health care administration, organizational leadership, and general studies. Online graduate students can seek master's degrees in areas such as global development and peace or dental hygiene and human nutrition. UB also offers Internet-based postgraduate continuing education.

At the two-year college level, Housatonic Community College offers self-paced studies such as the iMath program. This computer-based program lets students work at their own pace, learning step by step, and take on-campus tests when they feel ready to do so.

Online Education in Connecticut

With the popularity of online colleges in the U.S., many schools in Connecticut have developed distance-learning programs. Students are reaping the potential benefits and studying at their own pace with flexible class schedules. In 2013, 11 four-year Connecticut colleges and universities offered an online program. For example, Quinnipiac University now has 15 fully online degree programs for students as the two-year, four-year and graduate levels. Its School of Business has three master's degree programs available -- including a 46-credit MBA program -- for advanced students who need both academic quality and flexibility. Also, the University of Connecticut has hundreds of online courses across dozens of departments that any student at the school can take.

All Costs: Looking at Tuition, Fees and Cost of Living

Before making a decision about where to attend college, students need to consider the financial investment. Tuition is one of the most significant costs involved in higher education, displaying a wide range depending on where a school is located. Being an established resident is one way to reduce tuition. In 2012, Connecticut residents paid $15,300 in yearly tuition, making it the 7th highest in the nation for in-state rates.

Living expenses make up another significant portion of the budget for higher education, especially room and board. Living costs are an estimated 30 percent higher in Connecticut than the national average, among the steepest rates in the country. This is an important consideration when setting a college budget, particularly if the student is planning to live off campus. This table lists the different aspects included in the cost of living (COL) in Connecticut’s cities and towns and compares them to the national average (100):

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Hartford 21.8% 37.8% 20.7% 20.7% 9.0% 13.0% 13.5%
New Haven 22.1% 34.9% 17.9% 23.5% 6.3% 12.7% 17.9%
Stamford 46.9% 112.6% 21.8% 21.3% 10.0% 13.3% 22.1%

The role of return on investment (ROI) in selecting a college is on the rise, especially with more and more entities releasing cost and salary information for colleges’ graduates. In Connecticut, a number of colleges and universities have shown tremendous ROI, meaning that graduates tend to earn healthy salaries when compared to the cost of attendance. In 2013, the top colleges for ROI were the following:

  • Yale University
  • University of Connecticut – Main Campus
  • Fairfield University
  • University of Hartford
  • Sacred Heart University

Footing the Bill with Scholarships, Grants and Financial Aid

Connecticut students can balance the high cost of pursuing a degree with financial assistance such as federal aid. Students need to fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine their potential eligibility for benefits, as it is a need-based program. In 2012, 56 percent of undergraduate students in Connecticut received federal financial aid, ranking 48th among the 50 states.

Scholarships are another option for reducing college expenses. Many Connecticut schools award their own scholarships. In addition, nonprofit organizations and local governments offer community scholarships for students attending colleges and universities in the state. The following list includes some of the scholarships and programs providing financial support for students in Connecticut:

  • AV Stout Fund Research Grants
  • Candice’s Sickle Cell Disease Scholarship
  • Carson Scholars Fund
  • CSPJ Foundation Bob Eddy Scholarship Program to Foster Journalism Careers
  • EPOC Environmental Scholarship
  • Live Out Loud Scholarship Program
  • NTA Connecticut Scholarship
  • New England Employee Benefits Council Scholarship
  • New England Regional Student Program
  • Rachel Butterworth Dietz Scholarship
  • Ruth Whitney Scholarship from Glamour Magazine
  • Shaw Worth Scholarship Award
  • Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship
  • The Susan Fund

Accreditation: Regional, National and Specialized

Connecticut students must attend an accredited institution in order to receive financial assistance. Several regional and national accrediting agencies set the standards for colleges and universities in the U.S., and the primary regional accrediting body in Connecticut is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges ( Regional accreditation usually indicates the ultimate peer review of an institution, and most public and private not-for-profit schools seek it. National accreditation works a bit differently, with an agency covering all fifty states. For example, the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) accredits all for-profit online schools in the U.S. that qualify. Another arm of accreditation is specialized, meaning that a law school or business school may receive official approval by an independent organization in that industry. The University of Connecticut's business school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).

Tuition is important and should be considered carefully when choosing a college or university, but the cost of attending a school and the value of that attendance are often very different things. We wanted a closer look at what distance learning in Connecticut is really all about, so we spoke to the online departments from two of the state’s top schools. Here’s what they have to say about their online options:

Online Departments in Connecticut
  • Charter Oak State College +

    How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

    We believe learning is about the activity, not the location. As Connecticut’s only public online college we feel that access, affordability, individual support and value are the hallmarks of what make Charter Oak a premier institution of higher learning. For us, online delivery is not an extension of our institution’s focus, rather it is the core around which we serve our students. Our student’s success is what drives us to provide the very best possible accredited programs for working adults who are seeking a way to complete their degrees quickly and efficiently.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    Our degree programs are created and taught by experts in the field. Plus, we carefully select new programs according to workforce projections so that graduates have the very best chance of advancing or transitioning their careers. Adult students can choose from 5, 8 or 15-week courses which helps them balance their course requirements with their workload and family life.

    Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

    Charter Oak will increase the amount of competency-based credit on our student’s transcripts. Lower cost competencies, such as tests and portfolios, will replace more expensive courses. This will increase speed to degree, lower costs for students and increase retention rates. Additionally, with will expand our programming by increasing the number of workforce programs that serve as direct conduits to jobs. We will stress degrees that result in third party certifications.

  • University of New Haven +

    How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

    The University of New Haven (UNH) is committed to online learning that provides an active, engaging, and rigorous education that equals and often surpasses traditional on-campus learning. Faculty teaching in our online programs know how to create online communities where learners can share and create knowledge, and develop the 21st Century skills that employers seek.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    UNH’s programs are about people and a passion for learning. Students will connect with the university’s research faculty and with instructors who are experienced practitioners in the field as well as with students who may be around the block or across the world. Our online courses provide a real-world education with real people, not just interactions with buttons on a computer screen or cartoon avatars.

    Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

    The University of New Haven plans to introduce two or more new online programs each year going forward. Current plans include the introduction of two new online master degree programs and a bachelor completion program for Fall 2014. Please go to for information on current programs and to watch for more information and details of the new program roll outs as they develop.

Though Connecticut colleges are known for their history and esteem. They are also looking toward the future and keeping ahead of the newest ways to offer education. Online schools in Connecticut provide exceptional choices for students seeking degrees or certifications from prestigious universities with the flexibility inherent in distance learning. These four-year accredited schools in Connecticut recognize the importance of degree choices, accessibility, and tuition value. We’ve compiled the very best Connecticut online colleges, ordered from lowest tuition to the highest, to make value comparison even easier.

Click here to see our methodology.
Charter Oak State College
Tuition and fees: $5,880 Enrollment: 2,637 Accredited: YES Website: Charter Oak State College

Charter Oak State College offers flexible learning options to students interested in distance learning. Coursework is available online in 5-week, 8-week, and 15-week formats, and developed and taught by professionals in the field. Students can take single courses in subjects such as the behavioral sciences, business, history, math, and network security management, and also find certificate programs available fully online.

Southern Connecticut State University
Tuition and fees: $8,570 Enrollment: 9,440 Accredited: YES Website: Southern Connecticut State University

Students at Southern State Connecticut University can take individual online college courses in areas such as business administration, computer science, nursing, psychology, and social work. The school also offers a Master's of Science Library degree that can be completed through e-learning. Accreditation of the university is through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of Connecticut
Tuition and fees: $11,242 Enrollment: 19,140 Accredited: YES Website: University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut helps students to advance their skills through its online Master's of Science degree in Accounting option. The master's degree was ranked 'eighth best' among the 2013 Best Online Graduate Business Programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The online college program allows students to obtain the 150-hour educational requirement needed to be able to take the CPA exam in most states.

University of Bridgeport
Tuition and fees: $28,140 Enrollment: 2,834 Accredited: YES Website: University of Bridgeport

The University of Bridgeport offers online bachelor's and master's degrees options to students wanting to pursue distance learning. Example programs offered through the online college include the Bachelor's of Science degree in General Studies and the Master's of Science degree in Human Nutrition. The school provides the Canvas online learning management system, which allows student access to work and assignments any time of the day or night.

Albertus Magnus College
Tuition and fees: $28,358 Enrollment: 1,974 Accredited: YES Website: Albertus Magnus College

Albertus Magnus College, a Catholic college in the Dominican tradition, offers an online MBA program to students interested in advancing their business knowledge. The program is based on 48 credits and designed specifically for working adults. Students can also find other coursework and degrees offered online or through hybrid-learning programs.

Saint Joseph College
Tuition and fees: $31,826 Enrollment: 1,220 Accredited: YES Website: Saint Joseph College

Saint Joseph's College offers associate, bachelor's and master's degrees available to students who are interested in distance education. The school uses the Angle learning management suite, and additionally offers undergraduate and graduate level certificates via e-learning. Students can choose from online degrees in areas such as accounting, business administration, health administration, theology, and more.

University of Hartford
Tuition and fees: $32,172 Enrollment: 6,155 Accredited: YES Website: University of Hartford

Students at the University of Hartford can choose to complete an MBA on campus, through online college, or through a mixture of both class types. The curriculum in the program comprises 17 courses for a total of 51 credits and includes core, breadth, elective, and capstone coursework. The university's business school is accredited through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

University of New Haven
Tuition and fees: $32,750 Enrollment: 5,247 Accredited: YES Website: University of New Haven

The University of New Haven offers graduate level instruction to students that is available entirely online. Two of its distance-learning degrees are the Master of Science in Criminal Justice and the Master of Science in Sports Management. The school makes use of the Blackboard learning management system and is accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Sacred Heart University
Tuition and fees: $34,030 Enrollment: 4,711 Accredited: YES Website: Sacred Heart University

Students at Sacred Heart University can take undergraduate and graduate degree programs online that are taught by the same staff providing campus-based instruction. Distance-learning options are primarily available in nursing and applied psychology, but students can complete coursework at their own pace, around the clock. The school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Quinnipiac University
Tuition and fees: $38,000 Enrollment: 6,444 Accredited: YES Website: Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University provides many distance-learning options at the undergraduate and graduate levels through its "QU Online" program. Students access coursework through the Blackboard learning management system, and can pursue certificates, and bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through e-learning. Subject offerings include business administration, information technology and nursing, among others. Accreditation is through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Wesleyan University
Tuition and fees: $45,928 Enrollment: 3,083 Accredited: YES Website: Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University provides students online college options from the certificate level through the graduate level. Students take courses in a degree program sequentially, generally completing one course online every eight weeks. Textbooks and course materials are shipped right to the student's home and are typically part of the program cost. Accreditation is through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.