Online schools in the Jayhawk State offer accessible, convenient education with a streamlined format. Two- and four-year colleges provide degree programs equivalent to those found on campus, allowing students to log on to classes at their chosen time and place. Kansas online colleges boast the same access to respected professors and rigorous admission requirements. Among numerous respected colleges and universities, the following were selected for the Best Online Colleges in Kansas for 2016-2017. These institutions rank high on the list because of their superior record of delivering online instruction and student support.
|Rank||School Name||Score||Tution & fees||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||School Information|
|1||Fort Hays State University||99.76||$$$$$||68||72%||17:1||43%||No||Yes||Yes|
Fort Hays State University (FHSU) enrolls over 13,000 students annually. FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to reward associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in almost 30 academic programs. FHSU hosts a nursing school, business school and school of music, among others. Students interested in living on campus may choose to live in one of FHSU’s seven resident halls and apartments. On-campus employment at FHSU is available to students interested in working while earning a college degree. Grants and scholarships are available for students to apply for at FHSU, and financial aid is offered to qualifying students.
Almost 7,000 students are enrolled at Washburn University in the school’s more than 200 academic programs. Associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees are offered at Washburn. Students may choose to pursue a degree in the school of arts and sciences; school of applied studies; school of business; school of law; or the school of nursing. Washburn has five on-campus residence halls available for students interested in living on campus. Greek life and student media are among the 150 student organizations at Washburn. Washburn offers $7.9 million in scholarships annually, and over $70 million to students who qualify for financial aid.
Sterling College is a Christian, liberal arts school in Sterling, Kansas. At the school that was founded in 1887, students receive an education that prepares them to serve God on campus and in larger society. The school also has a mission to develop future business, community and organizational leaders. Classes are small and focus on disciplines like biblical studies, biology, athletic training, business administration, Christian ministries, math and theater arts. Nearly one out of every five students at Sterling College has completed at least one mission trip.
Located in Wichita, Kansas, Newman University is a Midwestern institution of higher learning. The Catholic university was established in 1933. Its founders are the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Extended campuses are located in Oklahoma, Western Kansas, Colorado and Southeast Kansas. Newman University recently renovated its nursing and health facilities. Paralegal, pastoral ministries, accounting, history, information technology, social work and theology are types of areas that undergraduate and graduate degrees are awarded in. Total academic programs at Newman are above 70. Residence halls, athletics and a public square are student social life offerings. Tours of the campus and information sessions are handled through the Welcome Center.
|5||Manhattan Christian College||97.66||$$$$$||6||100%||17:1||45%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Manhattan Christian College started as Christian Workers University when it was established in 1927. Ministry training attracts many adult learners to the college that has its main campus in Manhattan, Kansas along with online course offerings. Traditional academic programs at the college deepen learning in specializations like Christian ministry, Bible and leadership, education, family students, business administration and agriculture. The adult education program exists so that students with 40 or more credits can complete their degree in biblical leadership or management and ethics.
Tabor College is a Hillsboro, Kansas postsecondary institution that is Christ focused. In addition to a Christian learning environment, the school offers personalized instruction in areas such as Bible, religion, philosophy, arts, business, political science, math and behavioral sciences. The ratio of students to faculty is about 12 to 1. More than 729 students attend Tabor College at the Hillsboro main campus, at the extended campus in Wichita and online. In addition to ministry and biblical studies, the school is known for performing arts, particularly its music program which is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
|7||Wichita State University||97.43||$$$$$||9||65%||18:1||44%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Wichita State University is a four-year, public university that was founded in 1895. Majors and academics cover disciplines that include aerospace engineering, geology, education, art, music theory, philosophy and healthcare. Research opportunities are primarily available in healthcare, aircraft manufacturing and business. Student services are managed through the One Stop Student Services department. Types of services that students get via One Stop include admissions guidance, technical support, records administration and military and veterans academic support. Degree completion options include as a transfer student, part-time, full-time, dual degree or distance education learner.
|8||University of Saint Mary||97.18||$$$$$||3||99%||9:1||35%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
With its main campus located in Leavenworth, Kansas, the University of Saint Mary has a history that dates back to 1923. Traditional day classes are held at its Leavenworth campus, while accelerated evening and graduate classes are held at the Overton campus. Health care education is one of the academic programs that the school specializes in. The university also awards bachelor, master’s and doctorate degrees in areas such as political science, business administration, psychology, education and biology. eSpire bridges the world between the classroom and virtual learning. Students log into the web portal to get details on upcoming class assignments and to upload completed coursework.
|9||Pittsburg State University||97.11||$$$$$||7||56%||19:1||50%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Pittsburg State University has six colleges and schools. There are the Kelce College of Business, college of arts and sciences, education and technology. Graduate degrees are awarded through the graduate and continuing education school. Combined, the schools offer over 150 academic programs. Program guides are filled with academic course details and graduation requirements for each of its majors and minors. Detailed requirements on what's needed to graduate from certificate programs are also provided in the guides. Pittsburgh State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
|10||University of Kansas||97.10||$$$$$||6||60%||17:1||60%||No||Yes||Yes|
Distance learners can pursue undergraduate degrees in both psychology and liberal arts and sciences. Both are degree-completion programs that require applicants to have between 45 and 60 credits. Five start dates — March, June, August, October and January — make it easy for distance learners to begin a program quickly. Students in both programs can log in when they want and complete coursework at their own pace and on their own schedule. They are, however, required to complete assignments by their scheduled due dates and finish all coursework by the end of each semester.
|11||Emporia State University||97.08||$$$$$||3||76%||18:1||39%||No||Yes||Yes|
Students can pursue a bachelor of interdisciplinary studies degree completely online at Emporia State University. There are several graduate degree programs available to distance learners, as well. Students will have access to academic services, including library tools that combine print, multimedia and digital resources. Distance learners also get laboratory and tutoring services, including Smarthinking Online Tutoring, which provides online students up to five hours of web-based tutoring every term. Distance learners also get access to a writing center, a math lab and a reading lab. The GradShare program pairs graduate students together to help each other excel.
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Southwestern College has over 100 years-worth of history and offers bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. The Christian college has almost 50 different majors including elementary education, communication studies and marine biology. International students and non-traditional students may choose to attend Southwestern College. Outside of the classroom, students may participate in one of Southwestern College’s several student activities including college athletics, service learning opportunities and student media. Students interested in applying for scholarships, grants and financial aid may choose to do so at Southwestern College. Residence halls and campus apartments are available for students interested in living on-campus.
Barclay College is an evangelical Christian college accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to reward associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees to graduating students. Online programs, degrees and certifications are also offered at Barclay. Students may choose to major in one of Barclay’s several Christian-centered programs including elementary education, youth ministry and worship arts. Outside of the classroom, students may choose to participate in athletics, service learning, student council or any of the student organizations offered at Barclay. Barclay offers a full tuition scholarship to eligible students, and financial aid is available for qualifying students.
|14||Central Christian College of Kansas||90.42||$$$$$||15||68%||14:1||39%||Yes||No||Yes|
Central Christian College’s mission is to educate the mind, body, heart and soul. The four-year college accepts students from all walks of life and religious backgrounds. Central Christian offers 12 different programs, including education, communications and healthcare studies. Evening programs and online programs are also offered for students interested in taking a non-traditional route toward earning a degree. A writing center and student success center are available for students at Central Christian. Students interested in participating in college athletics may choose to do so at Central Christian. Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available for eligible students.
Five bachelor's degrees and six master's degrees await distance learners at Friends University, which is a Christian university of Quaker heritage. The university's philosophy is to incorporate spiritual development into the academic curriculum. Courses in all programs are self-paced, allowing students to move through assignments at their own schedules. The university, which is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school is home to the Apprentice Institute, which offers a unique and creative approach to spiritual growth in an academic setting.
|16||Ottawa University-Kansas City||86.00||$$$$$||41||N/A||8:1||N/A||Yes||No||Yes|
Online classes at Ottawa University are 100 percent web based and require no on-campus visits or outside study groups. Undergraduate distance learners can choose between four different fields of study, each of which offers the option of between four and 10 individual bachelor degrees. Graduate students can choose between six degrees spread across three different schools. Online students enjoy a 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Each student will be assigned an academic advisor, who will serve as their academic coach throughout the program. All courses are designed specifically for distance learning, and allow students to progress at their own pace.
While Kansas online education was once dominated by private, for-profit institutions, traditional schools have now wholeheartedly entered the arena. Community colleges, public universities and others have gotten into the game, creating more distance learning programs every year. At the two-year level, this allows the career-minded to earn credentials such as diplomas, certificates or associate degrees. Other undergraduate students who need flexibility can work toward a bachelor’s degree while balancing work and family responsibilities.
Kansas State University represents one of the state’s largest institutions making waves in online education. The school’s Global Campus boasts a series of bachelor’s degree completion programs, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees and certificates. It also has a healthy collection of professional development and minor program options. The University of Kansas offers a growing online catalog, as well. KU Online has full online master’s degrees in nursing, education and social work.
To sample the broad scale of higher education in Kansas, let’s take a look at Wichita, the state’s largest city.
Wichita features educational opportunities on campus and online, ranging from high-tech avionics labs to virtual classrooms for health care professions. For example, Wichita Area Technical College offers more than 75 programs of study, including specialized technical courses and general education classes for guaranteed transfer to Kansas public colleges and universities. WATC takes pride in hosting a branch of the National Center for Aviation Training.
Wichita is also home to Wichita State University, which serves more than 14,000 students at its 330-acre campus. WSU describes itself as the only urban public university in Kansas, with the most diverse student body. WSU organizes experience-based opportunities through the state’s largest cooperative education program. Real-world learning meets college credits in initiatives such as a media/communications project involving the Kansas City Symphony’s annual performance on the prairie.
Also in Wichita is the University of Kansas’ Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. Among the many local private institutions is Southwestern College, a Methodist-affiliated university that boasts a partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School.
Wichita Area Technical College is known for its open policies toward nontraditional didactic methods such as home schooling. WATC online students can pursue an associate degree in administrative office technology as well as certificates of completion in various areas such as e-marketing. WATC delivers courses electronically in disciplines ranging from accounting to aerospace technology to sociology. For online courses requiring proctored final exams, students outside the Wichita area can request proctoring near their homes.
Wichita State University students can enroll in a variety of web-based courses, and the school is ramping up bachelor’s degree options for distance education such as an RN to BSN program. WSU’s online courses follow the same semester schedule as on-campus classes. The KU School of Pharmacy in Wichita relies on high-definition video conferencing and two-way classrooms. Local students have access to lectures and lab demonstrations provided at the Lawrence campus or the KU Medical Center in Kansas City.
Higher education comes at a price, wherever it takes place. Prospective students should be aware of the costs associated with earning their degree in Kansas. Tuition varies widely depending upon the school, location and residency status of the student. In 2012, Kansas students who qualified for in-state rates paid an average of $9,658 per year in tuition. The in-state tuition ranks Kansas at 17th nationwide in terms of cheapest tuition rates.
In addition to the costs of tuition, there are fees to consider. Fees can include basic admissions and registration fees or charges for things that students might not initially consider, such as parking, technology resources, recreational facilities, laboratory use and the like. In 2012, the fees for students in Kansas averaged $260 per year. That brings the total cost of tuition and fees for Kansas college students to $9,918 per year.
Tuition and fees usually make up the bulk of education expenses for students, but room and board is also a factor. Finding appropriate housing, whether on campus or not, as well as regular meals, is a must for every student. Kansas has a comparative advantage with a cost of living that is 8 percent lower than the national average. Here’s an in-depth look at the cost of living (COL) for the major metro areas of Kansas, and how that number compares to the national average (100%).
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
In order to receive financial aid, students must choose an accredited school. Accreditation means that a college or university meets certain standards of quality set forth by the accrediting body. Keep in mind that accreditation is required not only for financial aid eligibility, but also for potentially transferring credits from one school to another. In some cases, employers may not consider applicants that graduate from anything but an accredited school.
Accreditation is awarded by regional and national organizations as well as specialized accreditors for specific academic disciplines. The Kansas Board of Regents and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools have information on accreditation for this state.
What makes these noteworthy Kansas colleges so unique? The following interview with representatives of Manhattan Christian College sheds light on distance learning opportunities in the state. College officials describe the sharp focus on online education that sets this school apart.
How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?
Manhattan Christian College has made a commitment to global ministry leadership training. MCC ’s accredited distance education degrees in Biblical Leadership and Management and Ethics are designed to provide busy adults the opportunity and flexibility to complete their degrees with the same regionally accredited biblical education that our on-campus students experience.
These degrees are designed to enhance your current ministries and careers and help you complete your bachelor’s degree. Adult students who have a minimum of 40 transferable hours can start throughout the year to complete their degree.
The primary goal of our programs is to not only provide excellent career training but more importantly to improve your ability to study and understand the Bible, and apply proper principles of interpretation to any biblical text. Our curriculum is designed to provide those sent into a lost world a thorough knowledge of the Bible and a sound understanding of theology necessary for spiritual leadership in the ministry at all levels - regardless of your chosen profession.
Students enrolling for the first time in an online degree program have questions about paying for school, among other concerns. These resources provide information on financial aid and scholarships as well as college accreditation. All the organizations below offer useful information for free.