With 91 institutions serving over 310,000 students, Kansas colleges provide higher educational opportunities at the vocational, certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. Kansas ranks 30th in the nation for the number of colleges and 31st for student volume. Those who plan to attend college in Kansas can take advantage of a variety of institutions, including community and junior colleges, religious institutions, public and private four-year colleges and online colleges. Here's a quick look at how the state's colleges break down by type:
|College Type||Number in Kansas|
|Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation)||19|
|Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)||4|
Top Cities in Kansas for College Education
Kansas offers educational opportunities for college students in small towns and urban areas across the state. From large metro areas like Wichita to small towns like Baxter Springs, where many colleges are an easy drive away, students in Kansas can find the education they want in the atmosphere they desire. Here is a look at where the colleges are in Kansas:
Highest Student Populations (Total)
- Overland Park (36,300)
- Wichita (32,000)
- Manhattan (23,400)
- Lawrence (23,000)
- Great Bend (15,200)
Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)
- Wichita (16)
- Overland Park (7)
- Manhattan (5)
- Lawrence (5)
- Topeka (5)
Focus on Wichita Colleges and Universities
As the largest city in Kansas, Wichita features educational opportunities on the ground 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 and Online Learning
Wichita Area Technical College is known for its open policies toward nontraditional didactic methods such as home schooling. WATC students can pursue an online associate degree in administrative office technology as well as online 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 is ramping up options for distance education. The first online bachelor's degree, an RN to BSN program, launches in 2014, with others planned for 2015-2016. WSU students can enroll in a variety of web-based courses, some of which include proctored exams. Online courses follow the same semester schedule and tuition rates as WSU's 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.
Online Colleges and Learning Options in Kansas
There was a time when Kansas online education was dominated by private, for-profit institutions. Times have changed dramatically, and traditional schools have joined online colleges in the educational landscape in Kansas. Community colleges, public universities and similar institutions 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 (diplomas, certificates or associate degrees) from home. At the undergraduate level, students who need flexibility can work toward a bachelor’s degree while balancing other 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.
Tuition, Fees and Cost of Living
Higher education comes at a price, and 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 everything from the basic admissions and registration fee to 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 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.|
For many families, tuition and fees come first when looking at the investment of college. However, it’s also important to examine the benefits that can come after graduation in the form of career prospects and salary. As with tuition, not all schools are created equal here. The following schools come out on top with respect to return on investment (ROI), measured by subtracting the total cost of attending a school from the average lifetime salaries of its alumni:
- University of Kansas
- Kansas State University
- Wichita State University
- Newman University
- Baker University
Know Your Options: How to Pay for College
There is no doubt about it: College can be expensive. Federal financial aid is one of the most popular routes for making college affordable. Students in Kansas can fill out the required Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This will help determine need and eligibility, and that can lead to funds from the government to help pay for a college education.
Funding might also be available on the state and college level; eligibility for those programs is a question for the admissions and financial aid departments of the chosen schools. Scholarships are another route to funding, and many of them can be used in conjunction with other aid received to attend college. Kansas schools offer scholarships, as do many organizations, private companies and local governments. Major entities that provide scholarships to qualified applicants include:
- Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
- EMU National Scholars Program
- Jellison Benevolent Society
- Kansas Ethnic Minority Program
- Kansas Nursing Service
- Kansas Teacher Service
- Kansas Scholars Program
- J.L. Weigand Jr. Notre Dame Legal Education Trust
- Korean American Foundation
Accreditation for Kansas Schools
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 the possibility of transferring credits from one school to another. In some cases, employers may not consider applicants that graduate from anything but an accredited school. The Kansas Board of Regents (https://www.kansasregents.org) and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org) have information on accreditation for this state.
College is a big decision, and students bound for higher education in Kansas have a great deal of information to sort through. From tuition costs and financial aid, to making the decision between a campus experience and online education, to where to live and which major to pursue -- the choices can seem daunting. The information presented here offers a starting point to help keep the questions from becoming overwhelming. For more details on Kansas colleges, especially on online offerings through a wide variety of schools, check out the profiles below.
While all online colleges share a few basic traits - for example, the ability for students who cannot attend classes on campus to pursue the same degrees as those who can - each program has unique aspects which should be considered. In order to better understand these aspects, we took a closer look at the online programs offered by Manhattan Christian College. Here's what they had to say:
Manhattan Christian College
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.
Ranking: Most Affordable Online Colleges in Kansas
Higher education has been combined with a level of convenience like never before through online schools in Kansas. These four-year colleges are accredited and offer equivalent degree programs to those found on campus. With a streamlined format, Kansas online colleges boast the same access to respected professors, tuition assistance, and rigorous admission requirements. The difference is the convenience enjoyed while earning a quality degree online. We want to assist you in your search the very best four-year online colleges in Kansas so we created a list, organized from lowest tuition to highest. Each of these online colleges offers many benefits to students searching for distance learning in Kansas.Click here to see our methodology.