Iowa Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2015

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Quick Facts:
  • 30 Colleges

    in Iowa offer
    full online programs

  • 755 online programs

    were available
    in 2014

  • 210 online graduate degrees

    were offered by Iowa
    schools in 2014

Best Online Colleges in Iowa for 2015

Accessible education is a mainstay in Iowa, and so it’s no surprise that many exceptional, fully online four-year colleges call the state home. Online Iowa colleges offer enhanced flexibility and convenience for Internet-based studies. Such programs generally utilize the same curriculum as on-campus coursework, with additional options like accelerated formats. Among the numerous schools expanding their distance learning departments, certain ones lead the pack with their unsurpassed achievements in delivering online degree and certificate programs. Discover which schools made the list of the Best Online Colleges in Iowa for 2015.

RANK COLLEGE Tuition And Fees Enrollment Accredited MORE INFO
1 University of Northern Iowa$7,63512,935YES
University of Northern Iowa offers a wide variety of online undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs through its Continuing Education and Special Programs instructional development teach, which earned the Iowa Distance Learning Association (IDLA) Innovators Award in 2013. The school is military-friendly, and some degree programs can be completed entirely online.
2 Iowa State University$7,72626,523YES
Online students at Iowa State University can choose from a bachelor's degree program in liberal studies, 25 master’s degree programs, two undergraduate certificate programs and 21 graduate certificate programs through seven different colleges. Additionally, the university offers more than 900 online courses each year. The online courses and programs utilize Blackboard Learning, CyMail and Access Plus.
3 Mercy College of Health Sciences$14,4601,097YES
Mercy College is an option for aspiring health care students looking for online colleges in Iowa. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration program that can be completed entirely online. Students may decide to participate in an optional practicum that allows them to gain real world experience.
4 Allen College$18,103530YES
Allen College is one of the online colleges in Iowa that is offering online programs for nursing students. The school's RN to MSN program is designed for working registered nurses to complete a Master of Science in Nursing degree. All required coursework is available online. Clinical requirements can be completed locally.
5 Graceland University-Lamoni$22,6801,889YES
Graceland University offers a variety of online graduate and undergraduate degree programs in fields such as nursing, religion and healthcare management. Some online programs may require students to complete field work or residency programs. The university's Master of Arts in Religion program can be completed mostly online but requires students to complete two week-long focus sessions.
6 William Penn University$23,2102,360YES
William Penn University is one of the online colleges in Iowa offering distance learning programs for nontraditional students. Students can choose from three different distance learning programs: an Associate of Arts in Leadership Studies degree program, A Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education degree program or an English as a Second Language Endorsement Program.
7 Iowa Wesleyan College$24,300880YES
Iowa Wesleyan College offers an RN to BSN program that can be completed entirely online as well as a variety of online courses from other departments. The online RN to BSN program is designed for practicing registered nurses to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Coursework can be completed on a part-time schedule.
8 Upper Iowa University$24,4009,227YES
Upper Iowa University (UIU) is one of the online colleges in Iowa that is offering self-paced online degree programs. The school offers 17 post-secondary degree programs, five certificate programs and three master's degree programs. Online classes are taught through a web-based format. All of UIU's flexible online programs are military-friendly.
9 Mount Mercy University$25,4001,787YES
Mount Mercer University offers two different online bachelor's degree programs in business and human resource management. Both programs are designed to be be flexible and affordable. Online courses that are not part of a complete online degree program are also available to Mount Mercer University students.
10 Briar Cliff University$25,6421,169YES
Students considering online colleges in Iowa may want to research the online programs available through Briar Cliff University. The university specializes in affordable online completion programs that quickly prepare students for the job market. Students can choose from programs in accounting, business administration, human resource management, operations management and professional studies.
11 Northwestern College$25,7401,290YES
Northwestern College offers a variety of online courses and programs designed to help students enter the work force. The school's online programs include an analytics certificate program, three education endorsement programs and an RN to BSN nursing program. All online courses are web-based and utilize the Blackboard Learning system. Some programs can be completed entirely online.
12 Maharishi University of Management$26,430435YES
Maharishi University of Management (MUM) Online offers a range of online degree programs and credit and non-credit courses. Online students can choose from three degree programs: Master of Science in Computer Science, Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Maharishi Vedic Science programs.
13 Buena Vista University$28,3143,659YES
Buena Vista University offers a variety of online degree completion programs. All programs are fully accredited and can be completed entirely online. Beuna Vista University has a cooperative agreement with the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC), so that Iowa community college students may complete their bachelor's degree programs entirely online.

Search Accredited Iowa Online Colleges

The sheer number of online programs in Iowa can be daunting to a student searching for the right degree. Choices include public and private institutions, for-profit schools, colleges with a spiritual or religious focus, major state universities, vocational schools and community colleges. Jump-start your research: This custom search tool sorts online colleges by key factors such as cost of tuition, school accreditation, and types of degree or certificate programs.

Degree Level:
Tuition:
Student Population:
School Type:
30 results TUITION ACCEPTANCE RATE STUDENT POPULATION SCHOOL TYPE
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny, Iowa 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 20,167 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Associate of Arts (Aa)
University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, Iowa Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 83% STUDENT POPULATION 12,159 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Bachelor of Arts in Technology Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
  • Bachelor of Liberal Studies
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Music Education (Mm)
  • Educational Leadership - Principalship (Mae/Asc)
  • Master of Arts in Philanthropy And Nonprofit Development
  • Master of Arts in Education (Mae) - For Teacher Leaders in American International Schools
  • Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education
  • Master of Arts in Education in Elementary Education
  • Master of Arts in Education in Literacy Education
  • Master of Arts in Education in Professional Development For Teachers
  • Master of Arts in Instructional Technology
  • Master of Arts in Mathematics: Community College Teaching Emphasis
  • Master of Arts in Mathematics: Secondary Teaching Emphasis
  • Master of Arts in Physical Education: Teaching/Coaching
  • Master of Arts in Science Education
  • Master of Arts in Social Science For Teachers Grades 6-12
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English in Secondary Schools (Tess)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages (Tesol)
  • Music
Western Iowa Tech Community College Sioux City, Iowa 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 6,331 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Applied Science in Agribusiness Technology
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Associate of Arts in Education
  • Associate of Arts in English
  • Associate of Arts in Agriculture
  • Associate of Science in Mathematics
  • Associate of Arts in History
  • Associate of Arts in Political Science
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Sociology
Iowa Central Community College Fort Dodge, Iowa 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 5,697 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Applied Science in Logistics And Transportation Management
  • Associate of Professional Studies in Health Care Administration
  • Associate of Professional Studies Criminal Justice
  • Associate in Applied Science in Computer Networking Technology
  • Associate of Professional Studies in Human Services
  • Associate in Arts Degree (Gen. Ed.)
Upper Iowa University Fayette, Iowa Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 58% STUDENT POPULATION 5,304 SCHOOL
TYPE
Private
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate in General Business
  • Associate in Liberal Arts
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Financial Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Administration - Emergency Management Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Administration - Law Enforcement Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Rn To Bsn Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Administration - Fire Science Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication - Communication Studies Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication - Journalism Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Services
  • Bachelor of Science in Psycholog
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration in Corporate Financial Management
  • Master of Business Administration in General Business
  • Master of Business Administration in Human Resources Management
  • Master of Business Administration in Organizational Development
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Higher Education Administration in Leadership
  • Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Organizational Management
  • Master of Public Administration in Public Personnel Management
  • Master of Public Administration in Emergency Management And Homeland Security
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Higher Education Administration (Mhea)
  • Master of Higher Education Administration in Student Affairs
  • Master of Public Administration in Health A
Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar Calmar, Iowa 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 5,201 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Applied Science in Agriculture Business
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Specialist
  • Associate of Applied Science in Entrepreneurial Cosmetology
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Associate of Arts in Management Information Systems
  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts in Law Enforcement
  • Associate of Arts in Education
  • Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology
  • Associate of Arts in Communication
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Applied Science in Enology Specialist
  • Associate of Applied Science in Viticulture Technology
  • Associate of Arts
  • Associate of Science
Saint Ambrose University Davenport, Iowa Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 96% STUDENT POPULATION 3,607 SCHOOL
TYPE
Private
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master of Education in Teaching
North Iowa Area Community College Mason City, Iowa 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 3,207 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate in Arts (Aa) Degree
Morningside College Sioux City, Iowa Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 53% STUDENT POPULATION 2,542 SCHOOL
TYPE
Private
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Professional Educator
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
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Focus on Iowa Online Colleges

The distance learning option in Iowa has risen in popularity to the point where many traditional institutions now offer coursework via an online platform. Major universities offer courses and programs in line with their face-to-face classes, leveraging technology such as Blackboard and video lectures to deliver instruction, engage with students and more.

One of the Iowa online colleges making strides is Iowa State University. ISU’s Online & Distance Learning section provides nearly 30 fully online degree programs, 27 of which are at the master’s level. The university also offers just short of 30 online certificates, 25 for graduate students. These degree and certificate opportunities exist within agriculture and life sciences, business, design, engineering, human sciences, liberal arts and veterinary medicine. To put the abundant educational possibilities in Iowa in perspective, let’s examine the breadth of institutions in one city alone: Des Moines.

College Opportunities in Des Moines

The academic scene in Des Moines offers an array of options, from multiple community college campuses to private schools with religious affiliations. Grand View University, a not-for-profit liberal arts institution founded in 1896, is linked to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. About 2,300 Grand View students pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees at two locations in the greater Des Moines area. Another private school, Mercy College of Health Sciences, is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church. Mercy College’s associate and bachelor’s degree programs center on building a liberal arts and science foundation for medical or nursing careers.

At Des Moines Area Community College, students can find more than 150 programs, including associate degrees and technical training for in-demand occupations. Individuals aiming for a four-year education can join DMACC’s University-College Transfer Program, while those seeking a boost their current careers can look into short-term certificate programs.

Focus on Des Moines: Online Courses and Degrees

Flexible study options for adult learners abound in Des Moines. For instance, AIB College of Business is a nonprofit institution that provides blended learning opportunities, combining evening class schedules with online and independent studies. AIB’s hybrid associate and bachelor’s degree programs cover several business-focused subjects. Des Moines University, an independent health science and medical school, features three online graduate degree programs. Mercy College of Health Sciences describes many of its courses as 50-75 percent online, with certain others available fully online.

Des Moines Area Community College students can explore credit and noncredit courses delivered via the Iowa Communication Network and cable TV broadcasts. DMACC also has a growing list of its own Signature Series web-based classes. In addition to individual Internet-based courses, students can select online associate degree and certificate programs in various disciplines, including the arts, business and management. The business administration program is offered in blended and fully online formats. Thanks to distance learning, student-centered schedules and numerous college campuses, higher education is never far away for residents of Des Moines.

The Cost of Higher Education in Iowa

The value of a college degree can be priceless when searching for a path to a profession, but college costs must be taken into consideration, and tuition is by far the costliest part of the equation. In 2012, Iowa students paid $15,394 on average for tuition. This figure will vary depending on the school of choice, residency and degree level.

In addition to tuition, most colleges charge minor fees to their attendees to help maintain the highest level of college experience possible. These fees can include things like laboratory materials, technology, recreation facilities and parking. Iowa students were charged an average of $990 in fees in 2012 to bring the total college cost to $16,384 per school year.

Beyond tuition and fees, prospective students need to consider the cost of living (COL) in the state of Iowa. On-campus students often take advantage of room and board charges to live in dorms and eat in dining halls, but online learners must consider costs like housing, food, utilities and transportation. Fortunately for those on a budget, Iowa’s COL index is about 6 percent lower than the U.S. average. Check below to see how the COL indexes for Iowa’s major cities stack up against the national average (100%):

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Mason City -10.9% -26.9% -10.6% 5.6% -0.5% -5.2% -5.8%
Des Moines -9.1% -10.4% -9.1% -9.8% -4.1% -9.2% -9.1%
Waterloo-Cedar Falls -8.3% -10.4% -10.5% -11.8% -0.6% -4.1% -7.2%
Cedar Rapids -8.0% -20.9% -5.2% 1.6% -2.9% -5.6% -2.5%
Dubuque -4.1% -13.5% -1.9% 5.2% -0.5% -3.5% -0.5%
Iowa City -3.8% -2.7% -5.1% -19.9% 2.8% -4.6% -1.0%
Ames -3.2% 4.8% -6.3% -17.7% 1.8% -1.6% -6.3%
Burlington -3.0% -5.4% -6.2% 8.6% -1.4% -10.1% -2.9%

Accreditation Standards in Iowa

When planning to attend a college or university in Iowa, potential students should consider its accreditation status. Qualifying for federal financial aid depends on it. Organizations such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools or NCACS make sure that the colleges in Iowa comply with quality standards for degree offerings, professor pedigree and on-site facilities. In addition to this regional accreditation, universities in Iowa seek accreditation for their individual colleges, schools or programs. The University of Iowa’s College of Public Health, for example, has been accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, a national organization with a mission to ensure quality education in this specialized sector.

Resources for Iowa Colleges Online

Every online student depends on digital resources to thrive in an academic setting. The following free websites have important information about college financial aid, military education benefits, Iowa grants and more.

Major Iowa Educational Resources: