Iowa Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2014

AC Online: Ranking the Most Affordable Online Colleges in Iowa

Accessible education is a mainstay in Iowa, and so it’s no surprise that so many exceptional, fully online four-year colleges are found in this state. Higher education from online and accredited colleges has never had more flexibility. Students of Iowa's online schools earn equivalent certifications and degrees as earned by on-campus students. Though most of these programs utilize the same curriculum as on-campus coursework, online colleges in Iowa boast unsurpassed convenience. To aid in your search of online colleges in Iowa, we’ve ranked them from lowest tuition to highest. Just as earning your degree online has simplified higher education, our list should simplify your search for online programs in Iowa.

Click here to see our methodology.

University of Northern Iowa

1222 W 27th St, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0005

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.


Iowa State University

3410 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011-2030

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.


Mercy College of Health Sciences

928 Sixth Ave, Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1239

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.


Allen College

1990 Heath St, Waterloo, Iowa 50703-1999

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.


Graceland University-Lamoni

1 University Place, Lamoni, Iowa 50140

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.


William Penn University

201 Trueblood Ave, Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577

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.


Iowa Wesleyan College

601 N Main Street, Mount Pleasant, Iowa 52641

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.


Upper Iowa University

605 Washington St, Fayette, Iowa 52142-1857

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.


Mount Mercy University

1330 Elmhurst Dr NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402-4797

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.


Briar Cliff University

3303 Rebecca St, Sioux City, Iowa 51104

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.


Northwestern College

101 Seventh St SW, Orange City, Iowa 51041

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.


Maharishi University of Management

1000 N 4th St, Fairfield, Iowa 52557

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.


Buena Vista University

610 W 4th St, Storm Lake, Iowa 50588

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.


Coe College

1220 First Ave NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402-5092

University of Florida (UF) offers eight online college degree programs and three online certificate programs through its College of Education (COE). UF's COE offers flexible online programs that are designed for working teachers and administrators. The COE offers

Finding an Affordable Higher Education in Iowa

Located in the American Heartland, Iowa is a state that takes pride in its history, agricultural prowess, and students. Education is very important in the state, which you can see from the percentage of people in the state who have a high school diploma. 90.5% of the residents have a high school diploma and 25.1% of them have a bachelor’s degree or higher. 7.4% of the residents have an advanced degree. The state has many traditional schools, but quite a number of students are now starting to look at the benefits that affordable online schools in Iowa can offer. Everyone understands that getting a good education is important, and they understand that they now have choices when it comes to how they receive that education.

Pursuing a Degree in Iowa

The state of Iowa features many schools for higher learning, which is something that you would expect in a state that values education as highly as Iowa does. In Iowa, you will find 44 two-year or more schools, as well as 48 four-year or more schools. In addition, it is possible to find some private schools, but those are generally very costly. Many students find that affordable Iowa online colleges are the best solution. They are able to offer the same level of education that you will find in those traditional schools, and you can receive the same types of degrees. You will be able to go to online colleges and still receive an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate that you can put to use.

Benefits of Choosing Online Classes in Iowa

Of course, you might not realize all of the benefits that the affordable online colleges can offer quite yet. You might still think that a traditional school is your only option for the career that you want. However, the best of the online schools out there today are offering a wide range of classes, just as you would find through brick and mortar schools. You are going to be able to get a quality education in many different fields including psychology, criminal justice, computer science, business, and art. Students also like the fact that the online schools have a schedule that is more malleable. They do not have to stick to the rigid timelines of a regular school with lectures given at a certain time. Instead, they can take their courses when they have the time. This allows them to keep their jobs and still be with the family.

Saving Money with Online Education

One of the biggest reasons that you might want to consider online colleges is the fact that the cost is going to be quite a bit less most of the time. The public schools and private schools in the state could be too much. The current cost of a two-year public school in Iowa is going to be $4,237, and the cost of a four-year school averages $7,830. Private schools are more expensive, as you can imagine, and it does not include room and board. For most, affordable online schools in Iowa will be the best choice.

You already know that having a good education is going to be one of the most important parts of getting a better job and making a better living. Online colleges and online classes are one of the best ways to get the schooling you need as conveniently as possible. Take some time to search for a great online school in Iowa that has a good reputation and accreditation, so you know it is going to be worth your time.

Previous Rankings
AC Online: Ranking the Highest ROI Colleges in Iowa
AC Online: Ranking the Highest ROI Colleges in Iowa

A college education doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee.The positive return on a college investment shows up as a competitive edge in the hiring line and a sustained career. To help you find a cost-effective education, we’ve rounded out a list of the top colleges in Iowa based on tuition and fees and a 30-year wage history that went into's 2013 College Earnings Report. Key classification data comes from prominent resources including the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and the Carnegie Foundation.

Click here to see our methodology.
Iowa Colleges Analyzed: 95
Iowa Colleges Ranked: 22
# College Name City ROI Tuition Type Photo
1 Drake University Des Moines $758,800 $29,556 Private not-for-profit
2 Iowa State University Ames $745,000 $7,726 Public (In-State)
3 University of Iowa (UI) Iowa City $678,200 $8,057 Public (In-State)
4 Loras College Dubuque $540,700 $28,141 Private not-for-profit
5 Morningside College Sioux City $509,100 $25,000 Private not-for-profit
6 Graceland University Lamoni $471,400 $22,680 Private not-for-profit
7 Grinnell College Grinnell $438,900 $41,004 Private not-for-profit
8 St. Ambrose University Davenport $413,200 $25,970 Private not-for-profit
9 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls $377,900 $7,635 Public (In-State)
10 Simpson College - Indianola, IA Indianola $372,100 $29,529 Private not-for-profit
11 Upper Iowa University Fayette $346,000 $24,400 Private not-for-profit
12 Dordt College Sioux Center $333,700 $25,520 Private not-for-profit
13 Central College Pella $327,100 $29,540 Private not-for-profit
14 Cornell College - Mount Vernon, IA Mount Vernon $305,200 $34,705 Private not-for-profit
15 Luther College Decorah $259,500 $36,100 Private not-for-profit
16 Coe College Cedar Rapids $245,100 $34,220 Private not-for-profit
17 Buena Vista University Storm Lake $226,500 $28,314 Private not-for-profit
18 Grand View University (GVU) Des Moines $179,400 $21,826 Private not-for-profit
19 Wartburg College Waverly $163,300 $32,740 Private not-for-profit
20 Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids $156,400 $25,400 Private not-for-profit
21 Briar Cliff University Sioux City $129,100 $25,642 Private not-for-profit
22 Clarke College - Dubuque, IA Dubuque $125,100 $26,950 Private not-for-profit