Louisiana Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2015

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From the mighty Mississippi to the fun of New Orleans, Louisiana has a wealth of cultural experiences and educational options. The state was home to 132 colleges, universities and career schools in 2013, serving more than 355,000 students at all levels, including undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Louisiana is pretty popular among those who are seeking a degree – one of every 82 college students in the United States chose to head to the Pelican State to get their education. Louisiana ranks 21st in the nation for the number of colleges available to those students, and 28th for student volume.

Louisiana is known for diversity, and higher education is no exception. Besides the diversity in the student population, colleges offer a wide variety of opportunities for the academic experience, including community and junior colleges, religious institutions, online colleges and traditional four-year colleges, both public and private. Here’s a list of what students can discover when they begin looking into post-secondary education in Louisiana.

College Type Number in Louisiana
Public 37
Private for-profit 16
Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation) 10
Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation) 4

Where to Get a College Education in Louisiana

Louisiana is a lovely mix of small towns and large urban areas. Colleges and universities in the state may be located either within those urban areas, or a short drive away from the smaller towns many residents call home. Here’s what to expect from the college landscape in Louisiana:

Highest Student Populations (Total)

  • New Orleans (66,500)
  • Baton Rouge (61,000)
  • Lafayette (30,800)
  • Hammond (17,100)
  • Lake Charles (14,000)

Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)

  • Baton Rouge (29)
  • New Orleans (17)
  • Shreveport (13)
  • Lafayette (9)
  • Lake Charles (6)

Higher Learning in New Orleans

New Orleans has a rich tapestry of music, cuisine, and festivities, making the city a cultural hub. Like most other world-class cities, New Orleans is also home to an array of higher education institutions. Among them is the renowned Tulane University, a private research university that counts itself among the exclusive Association of American Universities. Tulane educates both undergraduate and graduate students in liberal arts, science, engineering, architecture, business, law, social work, medicine, and public health and tropical medicine. Located close to the famous French Quarter is the University of New Orleans (UNO). UNO prides itself on its knowledgeable faculty, approximately 64 percent of whom hold doctorates. New Orleans is also home to a number of historically black colleges and universities, including Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, and Xavier University, which is the only historically black Catholic university in the U.S. The largest and oldest higher education institution in New Orleans is Delgado Community College. This two year-college has articulation agreements with most of the four-year colleges in Louisiana, allowing students to transfer credits to a baccalaureate program. However, that doesn’t mean that students can’t complete a degree at Delgado—the school offers 35 programs for associate degrees and 73 programs for certificates or technical diplomas.

Online Colleges and Schools in New Orleans

In addition to its campus-based offerings, the city of New Orleans also has a number of distance learning options for non-traditional students. For instance, private Jesuit institution Loyola University offers several quality online graduate degree programs: Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Pastoral Studies, Master of Religious Education, and Doctor of Nursing Practice. Delgado Community College also offers both online and hybrid courses, with a flexible course management system that gives students access to course content 24/7. UNO offers four asynchronous degree programs—BA in Organizational Leadership, BA in Philosophy, MA in Romance Languages, and Executive MS in hospitality & tourism management—with additional online programs in the works. Each semester, UNO also offers online courses via Moodle. These courses are offered in hybrid, asynchronous and synchronous formats.

Online Education in Louisiana

For many years, online education in Louisiana and other states was the focus of private, for-profit institutions. Today, online education is an accepted, mainstream part of the higher education landscape. In addition to numerous accredited online colleges, many traditional schools are now offering full programs online, with the weight of the school’s impressive history and educational prowess behind the degree. In 2013, 16 four-year colleges and universities in the state offered some type of online courses, while most of them offered a variety of undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Continuing education is also a popular aspect of online learning. Many career-minded adult go back to school to earn diplomas or other credentials to accelerate their career paths.

The True Cost of Higher Education in Louisiana

No matter what state a student chooses for their higher education experience, there is little doubt that college can be costly. In fact, it might be one of the most expensive undertakings a student can walk into. This means that it pays to do serious homework as to the costs of higher education.

The most basic cost for a college education is tuition. Tuition in Louisiana varies widely depending upon the school, the location, the residency requirements, and in some cases, the chosen program. Students who were full-time residents of the state of Louisiana paid tuition of $8,550, on average, in 2012.

In addition to tuition, there are several fees associated with attending a college or university. From parking to technology fees to the costs of recreational facilities, specialized supplies or laboratory equipment, these fees can add up quickly. In Louisiana, students paid an average of $750 in fees per year in 2012, bringing the total of in-state tuition and fees for Louisiana students to $9,300 per year.

One other very important financial aspect of Louisiana higher education is room and board, as well as other necessary living expenses. The state of Louisiana has a cost of living that is approximately 4 percent lower than the national average. In the table below, the national average cost of living (COL) is shown as 100%, and the cost of living in Louisiana’s major metro areas is listed in comparison.

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Monroe -7.3% -17.0% -4.2% -10.9% -2.5% -4.0% -0.7%
Alexandria -4.9% -7.3% -4.0% -10.1% -2.8% -7.1% -1.8%
Shreveport-Bossier City -4.7% -6.5% -4.8% -10.6% -6.6% -6.9% -0.4%
Hammond -4.1% -4.2% -1.0% -15.2% -7.0% -2.6% -1.1%
Baton Rouge -3.9% 2.2% 0.4% -21.8% -9.6% -2.3% -4.2%
Slidell-St. Tammany Parish -3.0% 1.0% -4.9% -17.8% -3.8% -6.6% -0.6%
Lake Charles -2.6% 3.4% -0.2% -10.5% -2.9% -15.6% -4.6%
Lafayette -0.8% 10.1% -6.5% -18.8% 4.0% -11.2% -2.7%

Students looking at various colleges should consider not only tuition and fees, but the prospect of a healthy career and salary after graduation. The following list shows the best colleges in Louisiana for return on investment (ROI). This data point uses average graduate salaries (lifetime) and total cost of attendance to see which colleges have degrees with the most value:

  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Louisiana State University and A&M College
  • McNeese State University
  • University of New Orleans
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

How to Pay for College

College might be expensive, but there are many ways to make it more affordable. One of the most common is federal funds, given on basis of eligibility. Students can fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine how much money they might get from Uncle Sam. Many students do have access to at least some federal aid; in fact, 69 percent of undergraduate students in Louisiana received federal funds in 2012, making the state 20th in the nation for federal assistance.

Students can also find assistance through a variety of other means, such as through the college itself, financial aid from local and state sources, and grants or scholarships available through many organizations. In Louisiana, sources for assistance could include local governments, civic organizations, nonprofits, private businesses and other groups. Here is a short list of some of the major entities in Louisiana that offer funds to hopeful students:

  • Dixie Youth Baseball
  • Louisiana Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership
  • American Quarter Horse Association
  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
  • National Association of Junior Auxiliaries
  • Rockefeller State Wildlife
  • Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation
  • American Society of Travel Agents
  • Almar Foundation

Why Accreditation Matters

When narrowing down the list of potential schools in Louisiana, accreditation status should be a definite consideration. Accreditation means that a college or university has met the standards of academic excellence expected from the educational institutions in the state, region or nation. Accreditation is also necessary for other reasons: Students who might want to transfer credits could find that only accredited college credits will transfer. In addition, financial aid is only awarded to schools that have earned accreditation, and employers might not consider someone who has graduated from a school that does not have accreditation in good standing. To learn more about accreditation in Louisiana, visit the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (http://www.sacs.org/).

Accreditation matters for students who want to receive financial assistance; federal funds are only released to schools that have current accreditation. In addition, most colleges only accept transfer credits from accredited schools, and some employers rarely consider applicants who graduate from programs that are not accredited. These are all excellent reasons to verify that the chosen school holds accreditation in good standing. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the primary accrediting body for educational institutions in Kentucky (http://www.sacscoc.org/).

More About Schools in Louisiana

Schools in Louisiana can offer a multitude of educational opportunities, but choosing the right one can be daunting. This guide is meant to help students learn about Louisiana colleges, covering factors such as the basics of tuition and fees, scholarships, where the best and most popular colleges are, and whether to choose online learning, traditional classroom education or both. For more specific points on colleges in Louisiana, especially those that offer online programs, refer to the profiles below.

We wanted to better understand the finer points of online learning in Louisiana, so we spoke to the online departments from three of the state's best colleges. They explained how their offerings different from other online programs and what students can expect from online education in the coming years. Here's what the schools had to say:

Online Departments in Louisiana
  • Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College +

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

    Our approach is to utilize our LSU teaching faculty and, working together, become the premier provider of online education delivery in the state of Louisiana by offering the highest quality programs. By leveraging the LSU brand and our highly qualified faculty, we are proud to provide distance-learning opportunities to students all around the globe.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    LSU Online extends access to higher education by offering the highest quality online programs, taught by highly qualified LSU faculty. LSU Online seeks to provide distance-learning opportunities to students regardless of geographic location. Extending the opportunity to earn a LSU degree is invaluable to the marketplace.

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

    I believe in the next five years, and beyond, LSU will be offering many more online degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level. We will also see growth in hybrid programs and the ability to take our highly rated LSU programs to all corners of the world with multiple delivery methods.

  • Louisiana State University-Shreveport +

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

    We recognize the importance of online learning that's why we have a designated department for two years. "Center for Online Learning& Faculty Development" under LSUS Continuing Education. My role is to prepare faculty to teach online courses and degree programs. I teach How to Teach Online Course each semester and certify faculty so they can offer online courses for LSUS. We use MOODLE online course learning management software. I train faculty on MOODLE if they lack technical skills. I offer brown bag lunch sessions and offer a variety of training and development programs to faculty. We increased our online course offerings and 100% online degree programs tremendously. I work closely with the departments and help them transition their face-to-face classes into 100 % online courses. Faculty members are eager to take on this task and develop their online courses. During 2012 and 2013, our number of online courses grew from 147 to 299. I add all our online course offerings into Electronic Campus website so, students can find us all over the world because we offer a very high quality of online courses and degree programs with a very affordable price.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    Our experienced faculty are now offering their courses in online format with a very reasonable price that our students can afford and register anywhere anytime. We constantly evaluate the needs of our students and offer degree programs to meet their needs. Currently we are offering eight week accelerated on campus and 100% online courses and degree programs to our online students. This way, our students can complete their degree programs lot shorter time period and attain a profession in their field of study. We have a partnership with Academic Partnerships Inc. and currently have two accelerated Masters Degrees offered and students can graduate within a year with a very affordable price. These degrees are in Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Masters in MBA.

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

    I see our online degree programs grow in numbers of students and new degree programs to meet the demand in our region. We do not want to duplicate programs, but offer very competitive degree programs to meet the economic needs of our region so our students can get a high paying jobs and be part of the economic growth. We know that online learning starts way before higher education, therefore, we will continue to offer variety of degree programs that are innovative and in demand occupations.

  • Nicholls State University +

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

    The Nicholls approach to online learning is to offer students an accelerated, affordable and accessible alternative to a traditional education—one that allows them to adapt their educational experience to their life, not the other way around.

    Our accredited online degree programs offer students the same high-quality education and personal attention for which our university is so well known. All faculty members who teach online courses must first complete training so that they can better understand and are better prepared for the unique challenges and teaching practices of the online classroom.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    At Nicholls, we understand that students have obligations and challenges to meet in their daily lives, so we’ve developed flexible online degree programs that help them achieve their education goals while living life. Five, 8-week sessions are offered each year and students can start and stop classes as life allows. The 8-week format allows students to see the "light at the end of the session tunnel" as they make progress toward course completion and, ultimately, their degree.

    By taking just two classes each 8-week session, a student can complete a 120-hour bachelor’s degree in four years. Students taking three classes per session can earn the same degree in less than three years!

    To help relieve student anxiety in the enrollment, scheduling and payment process, Nicholls Online provides a "one stop shop" for advising, registration and financial aid. There are no hidden fees, as the cost is set per credit hour ($250/credit hour for undergraduate courses and $350/credit hour for graduate courses for the 2013-14 year). Textbook and class material costs vary, depending on course.

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

    With technology and higher ed changing so rapidly, it's difficult to predict exactly where online programs will be in the future, but providing accessible, accredited education with a personal touch will always be Nicholls number one priority. The university’s online programs will continue to develop to meet the needs of our students.

Louisiana combines southern hospitality with convenient distance learning through its numerous fully online four-year colleges. The state takes pride in its accredited schools that boast curriculum matching what is offered at on-campus universities. These flexible programs sacrifice none of the esteemed professors or admissions requirements, and therefore grant equivalent degrees and certifications. Most even offer similar tuition assistance. To assist you in your online college search in Louisiana, we’ve compiled a list of the very best online schools in the state. We know that affordability is often a primary concern, so we’ve ordered the programs from lowest tuition to highest. All of these ranked schools are an excellent choice when pursuing an online education in Louisiana.

Click here to see our methodology.
Southern University at New Orleans
Tuition and fees: $3,906 Enrollment: 3,375 Accredited: YES Website: Southern University at New Orleans

The Southern University at New Orleans Online, or SUNO Online, offers a Bachelor of General Studies with a concentration on the humanities and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies. Online college classes are run with Blackboard software and MyCampus. The University has an E-Learning Department to help those interested in online and distance learning.

McNeese State University
Tuition and fees: $4,383 Enrollment: 8,859 Accredited: YES Website: McNeese State University

McNeese State University has online programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level in addition to certificates. There are accelerated online college courses for adult learners through the Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana Program. The University offers a SmarterMeasure test for those interested in finding out if distance learning is right for them. Some on-campus meetings or tests may be required.

Louisiana State University-Shreveport
Tuition and fees: $4,494 Enrollment: 5,252 Accredited: YES Website: Louisiana State University-Shreveport

Louisiana State University-Shreveport's eCampus provides online college courses and master's degree programs. On-campus test proctoring is available for students in the area, though distance learners can use ProctorU for a fee and be monitored with a webcam. Students can access class material with smartphones and tablets. Courses are run with Moodle software.

Southeastern Louisiana University
Tuition and fees: $4,604 Enrollment: 16,849 Accredited: YES Website: Southeastern Louisiana University

Students at Southeastern Louisiana University can complete a bachelor's of science degree in nursing completely online when they already have registered nurse credentials. The university, accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, allows students to complete the online college program in as little as three semesters.

Nicholls State University
Tuition and fees: $4,737 Enrollment: 7,109 Accredited: YES Website: Nicholls State University

Nicholls State University Online has accredited undergraduate and graduate level programs. The University also offers certificates. Courses are eight weeks in length, and students can obtain a bachelor's degree in as few as three years. All online college course work is available online with no required visits to campus. Virtual advising is available through Google Hangout.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Tuition and fees: $4,864 Enrollment: 17,081 Accredited: YES Website: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette's -- ULearn -- online college program has online nursing, health, and education programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Courses are taught using the Moodle platform. The University offers a SmarterMeasure test for those interested in finding out if distance learning with ULearn is right for them.

Grambling State University
Tuition and fees: $4,886 Enrollment: 5,018 Accredited: YES Website: Grambling State University

Grambling State University has entirely online as well as blended programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Online college classes are run with the Moodle Learning System and many instructors utilize video conferencing. The University offers a free Student Online Readiness Tool, or SORT, through their website to help students understand how distance-learning programs work.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Tuition and fees: $4,972 Enrollment: 9,903 Accredited: YES Website: Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Northwestern State University of Louisiana's distance learning program, known as eNSU, offers 34 accredited online college degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can also obtain certificates and specialist degrees through eNSU. There are also five degree programs specifically for mature adults that can be taken at an accelerated pace. Some classes require students to come to campus for midterm or final exams.

Southern University and A & M College
Tuition and fees: $5,074 Enrollment: 6,635 Accredited: YES Website: Southern University and A & M College

Southern University, a historically black college, offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and executive master's programs taught completely online. The University's library, bookstore, and other student services can be accessed through an online portal. Students can also access course materials at any time. Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Louisiana-Monroe
Tuition and fees: $5,101 Enrollment: 8,665 Accredited: YES Website: University of Louisiana-Monroe

University of Louisiana at Monroe's online program, eULM, offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs online. Courses are taught in four, eight, or 16-week formats and students are expected to participate five to seven days per week. Some degrees can be obtained on accelerated track. Classes are run using the Moodle platform.

University of New Orleans
Tuition and fees: $5,214 Enrollment: 10,144 Accredited: YES Website: University of New Orleans

The University of New Orleans offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy program online with more programs coming soon. The University also offers individual online courses. Online college classes may include web conferencing or a virtual campus with Second Life. Students can also participate in compressed videos, meaning that students at remote classroom sites can interact live with students at other classrooms and the instructor via television. The majority of classes utilize the Moodle platform.

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Tuition and fees: $5,733 Enrollment: 1,711 Accredited: YES Website: New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The New Orleans Baptist Theological Online Seminary provides students with accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificates. Students can get their degree completely online or can choose to take some in-person courses. No enrollment is required and students can take online college courses on a non-credit or credit basis. The Seminary also offers Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, for free.

Louisiana Tech University
Tuition and fees: $5,896 Enrollment: 10,768 Accredited: YES Website: Louisiana Tech University

Louisiana Tech University offers undergraduate and graduate level education to students who want to advance their knowledge through online college learning. Bachelor's and master's degrees can be found in subjects such as English, general studies, and organizational leadership. The school, which is accredited through the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, also provides various e-learning certificates.

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
Tuition and fees: $6,354 Enrollment: 25,654 Accredited: YES Website: Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College offers an online graduate education leading to master’s degrees in Education, Business Administration, Human Resource Education, Construction Management, and Educational Leadership with most programs taking 24 months to complete. These online college programs are designed to serve the needs of professionals who require a flexible learning schedule.

Our Lady of Holy Cross College
Tuition and fees: $9,222 Enrollment: 1,065 Accredited: YES Website: Our Lady of Holy Cross College

Our Lady of Holy Cross College offers an online R.N. to B.S.N. degree program in addition to a variety of individual online college courses from different departments. Courses are run using Blackboard software. Our Lady of Holy Cross College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Loyola University-New Orleans
Tuition and fees: $33,302 Enrollment: 3,540 Accredited: YES Website: Loyola University-New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans Online provides regionally accredited bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. The school also offers a BLEND, or Bridge to Leadership Education for Nurses at a Distance, an online college program for students who plan to pursue a graduate degree at Loyola in the Health Care Systems Management program.