Louisiana Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

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Online Learning Landscape in Louisiana

For years, online education in Louisiana was the focus of private, for-profit institutions. Today, online education is an accepted, mainstream part of higher education. Many traditional schools now offer full programs online, with the weight of their 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 and a variety of undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Continuing education is also a popular aspect of online learning. Many career-minded adults go back to school to earn diplomas or other credentials to accelerate their career development.

Louisiana is known for cultural diversity, and colleges in the Pelican State reflect those strengths, attracting students the world over. Equally diverse are the types of studies offered. To get a glimpse of the exceptional variety in Louisiana online colleges, take a look at the abundance of options in New Orleans.

Higher Education in New Orleans

New Orleans is 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 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 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 Academic Opportunities in New Orleans

Beyond its campus-based offerings, the city of New Orleans has a number of distance learning options for non-traditional students. For instance, private Jesuit institution Loyola University offers several online graduate degree programs, including master’s degrees in criminal justice administration, nursing, pastoral studies and education, plus a Doctor of Nursing Practice credential. Delgado Community College also has both online and hybrid courses, with a flexible course management system that gives students access to course content 24/7. In addition, UNO offers four asynchronous degree programs—BA in Organizational Leadership, BA in Philosophy, MA in Romance Languages, and Executive MS in hospitality and tourism management—with other online programs in the works. Each semester, UNO provides online courses via Moodle, using hybrid, asynchronous and synchronous formats.

Living Expenses and Tuition at Louisiana Colleges

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 percent, 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%

College Accreditation in Louisiana

When narrowing down the list of potential schools in Louisiana, accreditation status should be a key 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. More details on regional accreditation in Louisiana are provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Best Online Colleges in Louisiana for 2015-2016

Louisiana offers a wide variety of opportunities for the online academic experience, including individual courses and complete degree programs at community and junior colleges, religious institutions and four-year universities, both public and private. To help students make sound choices in their online education is the goal of this guide. Considering variables such as tuition, types of degrees and student support services, certain schools tower above the rest. In honor of their proven achievements in online education, the following schools are rated as the Best Online Colleges in Louisiana for 2015-2016.

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCost MORE INFO
1 Southeastern Louisiana University 98.5823:193%

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.

2 University of Louisiana at Lafayette 98.5722:194%

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.

3 University of Louisiana at Monroe 98.5123:196%

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.

4 Northwestern State University of Louisiana 95.9120:195%

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.

5 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 94.3913:173%

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.

6 University of New Orleans 92.9421:190%

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.

7 Louisiana Tech University 92.3323:194%

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.

8 Our Lady of Holy Cross College 89.8711:181%

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.

9 Loyola University New Orleans 86.5910:198%

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.

Choosing the Right Online Program in Louisiana

From the mighty Mississippi to bustling New Orleans, this state is home to 132 colleges, universities and career schools, serving more than 355,000 students at all levels, including undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. A multitude of online educational opportunities are available, but choosing the right one can be daunting. Students need to evaluate all the significant data, including the basics of tuition and fees, accreditation and summaries of academic programs. To make this analysis easier, the search tool below can be customized to filter prospective schools by the factors that count the most.

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Inside Look at Louisiana Online Colleges

Tuition and fees may be among the crucial considerations when choosing a college, but there are myriad other criteria to examine as well. What makes different distance learning programs unique? In the interviews below, officials from online colleges in Louisiana describe what makes their schools stand out from the rest.

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.

Student Resources for Louisiana Online Colleges

Online students depend upon reliable resources for school and personal research at their colleges — and in the larger education community. Students should know where to apply for need-based Go Grants, how to file for federal financial aid and how much money their families must contribute toward tuition. The resources below are 100 percent free to use and include links to pertinent governmental organizations that serve college students.

Major Louisiana Educational Resources: