Mississippi colleges offer numerous levels of online study to accommodate individual academic goals. Whether students are seeking vocational or technical training, a four-year undergraduate degree or post-graduate studies, there is a program in Mississippi to meet those needs. Distance learning is particularly appealing to students seeking to complete a degree or take courses in a major subject not available on a campus convenient to their geographic location.
At the forefront of public postsecondary online education is the Mississippi Public Universities system, which includes the University of Mississippi. All eight MPU campuses offer online degree programs and/or courses in a distance learning format. Several of Mississippi’s two-year public community colleges offer courses online. Among these schools are Meridian Community College, Mississippi Delta Community College, and East Central Community College.
Online programs can additionally be found at many private, non-profit colleges, such as Mississippi College, Blue Mountain College, and William Carey University.
One of the best ways to approach Mississippi’s current online college environment is to take a look at its major educational centers. In most cases, these are located in or near the state’s largest metropolitan areas. A good example of such an area in Mississippi is Jackson. The following two segments focus on the Hospitality State’s capital city its vibrant postsecondary community.
Mississippi’s capital and largest city is home to numerous colleges, including Jackson State University, the fourth largest institution of higher education in the state. Jackson area students can also choose from options such as Mississippi College, the state’s oldest university and the country’s second oldest Baptist school. Jackson is also home to Belhaven University, a four-year Christian liberal arts college that has the honor of hosting the International Ballet Competition.
Millsaps College, which has historical ties to the Methodist Church, attracts more than half of its undergraduates from outside Mississippi. Academic offerings include the option to undertake a self-designed major or complete field study at the college’s biocultural reserve in the Yucatan region of Mexico. Another educational pioneer in Jackson is Tougaloo College, known for its support of the Civil Rights movement. A historically black, private liberal arts institution, Tougaloo features 29 bachelor’s degrees and three associate degrees. Situated on 500 acres at the northern edge of the city, this religious college welcomes applicants of all backgrounds.
Jackson’s universities provide flexible learning options. Tougaloo uses web-based modules in hybrid programs for continuing education certificates, while Millsaps incorporates online components in its accelerated MBA program. Belhaven’s online offerings span associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as certificate programs. Mississippi College serves working adults through accelerated online degree and certificate programs. Among its online majors are business administration, paralegal studies, and loss prevention. Online graduate programs include specialized degrees such as a master’s in applied communication with an emphasis in health services administration. Some online degrees such as nursing and athletic administration require practical or clinical experience in addition to academic courses.
Jackson State University, another option for distance learning, requires online faculty to study distance learning methodology and advises e-learners to undertake Blackboard orientation training. JSU delivers individual courses electronically in subjects such as biology, criminal justice, and psychology. Graduate students can enroll in programs such as an online MBA or a master’s in sport science. JSU also awards a hybrid bachelor’s degree in professional interdisciplinary studies with the option of specializing in faith-based leadership or human resource development. This adult learners program incorporates cooperative learning groups, weekend courses, interactive video classes, and online instruction.
Aspiring students should calculate the various costs associated with prospective Mississippi colleges before enrolling. First and foremost, a budget should allocate funds for tuition, which can vary according to the type of school and a student’s eligibility for resident status. Mississippi colleges offer a comparative cost advantage: in-state tuition rates rank fifth in the nation for affordability. In 2012, yearly tuition averaged $7,151 for students who qualified as state residents.
Budgeting for Mississippi students extends beyond tuition to related costs, including college fees. Schools may charge for services such as registration, orientation, and late schedule changes. College websites generally outline additional costs, which could fund campus government, student legal services, intramural sports, or recreation facilities. In 2012, Mississippi college students paid an average of $813 in fees, bringing their total costs to $7,964 for each academic year.
Collegiate financial planning should also take into account the prices for books, supplies, and a trustworthy internet connection. Room and board can represent a significant portion of the total budget as well. The good news for cash-conscious students is that Mississippi ranks as one of the least expensive states in the nation, with living costs estimated at eight percent below the national average. This table compares the cost of living (COL) of Mississippi metropolitan areas with the national average (100%):
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
Tuition, fees, and cost of living comprise three of the most important financial factors when vetting colleges. Students should also consider job prospects and salary expectations after graduation. In other words, what value does a degree from a particular school offer after graduation? The following list shows the top schools in Mississippi for return on investment (ROI), which is factored by taking the total cost of attendance at each school and subtracting the average lifetime earnings of its graduates:
In addition to monetary factors and academic offerings, individuals conducting a college search need to examine accreditation status Financial aid programs typically require colleges to be accredited by an official association that outlines quality standards for educational institutions. The most prestigious form of accreditation is regional; Mississippi colleges seeking this distinction apply to the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools( www.sacscoc.org ).
Distance education is new and exciting but to ensure they are getting the best educational experience, students should educate themselves about the differences between traditional classroom and online learning environments. The best online colleges offer plenty of support services to make students’ experiences at the institution fulfilling. There are also many Mississippi-specific websites providing free tools and resources encompassing many of the needs an online student might have. Below is a short list of some of those online resources currently available at no charge to the user.
More and more often, students are demanding the convenience and flexibility only an online degree or course can provide. Many colleges in Mississippi have met this demand, not only with additional online programs and classes, but also with faculty and resources to complement them. The problem for prospective distance learners, however, is locating online learning options whose quality sets them apart from the rest. The following list ranks the top online colleges in Mississippi based on factors such as academic quality, student services and graduate success. See which schools made our list of the Best Online Colleges in Mississippi for 2016-2017.
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||University of Southern Mississippi||Hattiesburg, MS||99.78||$$$$$||25||74%||17:1||48%||No||Yes||Yes|
Southern Miss Online offers more than 10 online undergraduate programs, including BS, BA, BSBA and BLS degrees. There are also nearly two dozen graduate programs available to distance learners, including MS degrees, MES degrees and an MBA. For students interested in blending online learning with some on-campus instruction, more than a dozen programs are available in the hybrid format. There are also several online certificate programs. Students from more than 44 states and across the world take online classes at Southern Miss. The flexible format allows distance learners to work at their own pace.
|2||Mississippi University for Women||Columbus, MS||99.64||$$$$$||18||74%||14:1||39%||No||Yes||Yes|
The online 2 + 2 program is designed for students who have completed two years of study at a community college. The program allows them to complete their full bachelor's degree with two extra years of coursework online in one of a dozen fields of study. There are also two graduate degree programs and several graduate certificate programs. Coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management system, and students can take advantage of a preview tour of the system. Academic support services include tutoring services, the Writing Center, career services and access to the online library.
|3||Mississippi College||Clinton, MS||99.20||$$$$$||9||99%||15:1||54%||No||Yes||Yes|
Mississippi College offers two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree in an accelerated format. There are six other undergraduate programs and 15 graduate programs that do not follow an accelerated schedule. An online readiness questionnaire is available to students who are uncertain if distance learning is right for them. The school's learning management system is Moodle, which students will use to receive course information and access discussions while communicating with instructors and completing assignments. Students have access to several academic and personal services, including tutoring, counseling, library resources, study groups and career services.
|4||University of Mississippi||University, MS||99.11||$$$$$||18||61%||18:1||61%||No||Yes||Yes|
The online program at University of Mississippi allows students the flexibility to pursue online master’s, bachelor’s and education specialist degrees. The online program is run though the online platform, Blackboard, to help students keep their classes and classwork organized. Students are able to use Blackboard as a virtual classroom to interact with professors and other students. The classes are semester-based and have specified start and end dates, but the University of Mississippi also offers self-paced online courses through “iStudy.” The University of Mississippi is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
|5||Jackson State University||Jackson, MS||98.64||$$$$$||3||55%||15:1||43%||No||Yes||Yes|
At Jackson State University, students can pursue an online degree at the bachelor’s or master’s level, as well as a specialist in education. All online courses utilize the Blackboard course management system to facilitate online learning in a virtual classroom. Online courses are either offered entirely online, with no face-to-face contact, or as hybrid courses with at least half of the classes meeting in person. During their coursework, students have the opportunity to take tests proctored by a certified proctor in their area, or at any convenient location with a remote proctor software on the student’s computer.
|6||Delta State University||Cleveland, MS||98.50||$$$$$||3||42%||13:1||32%||No||Yes||Yes|
Students who participate in the Delta State University online distance learning program will be able to pursue multiple online degrees from educational specialist, to doctor of nursing practice and degrees at the master’s level. All of the courses are delivered through the online platform, Canvas, which allows students and teachers to participate in a virtual classroom. Classes are offered either completely online, or as a hybrid that includes online class time, as well as face-to-face learning. Delta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|7||Mississippi State University||Mississippi State, MS||98.40||$$$$$||3||68%||19:1||60%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The distance learning program at Mississippi State University offers online programs at the certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate level. During their studies, students can take advantage of online distance tutoring via scheduled appointments and live chat. There is also a non-credit orientation class “Distance@State Orientation” so that students can become familiar with the online learning format. At the beginning of their studies, students are assigned a program coordinator to assist them in pursuing their online degree. Mississippi State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|8||Belhaven University||Jackson, MS||94.40||$$$$$||21||98%||12:1||50%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
At Belhaven University, students who participate in the online program can pursue degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level. As a Christian university, Belhaven incorporates Christian teachings and worldviews into their online classes. All of the online degree programs can be completed entirely online without visiting the campus. The university also keeps the class sizes small to promote participation, discussions, and group projects. Students will use the online Canvas virtual classroom and course management system to complete their studies. Belhaven University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.
|9||Blue Mountain College||Blue Mountain, MS||86.00||$$$$$||6||91%||12:1||46%||No||No||Yes|
Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration or psychology through the online program at Blue Mountain College. While pursuing either of these degrees, students will take classes that incorporate an emphasis on a Christian worldview. The BMC distance learning program uses Blackboard as an online virtual classroom for students to complete their coursework and find course related materials. Distance learning students will also have access to online resources like the library’s online public access catalog, online databases, and personalized online tutoring through the Teaching and Learning Center. Accreditation for Blue Mountain College comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||East Mississippi Community College||Scooba, MS||99.83||$$$$$||193||78%||12:1||27%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
East Mississippi Community College serves the eastern part of the state. It provides instructional lessons, community events, online learning and leadership opportunities primarily for adults living in six counties in East Central Mississippi. Canvas and the EMCC portal push out syllabus, course catalogs, class assignments and exams to students enrolled in distance education programs. The ratio of student to instructor is generally set at 20 to 1. Articulation agreements that the college has with accredited four-year schools in Mississippi make it possible for most, if not all, credits earned at East Mississippi Community College to transfer into advanced degrees programs.
|2||Holmes Community College||Goodman, MS||97.94||$$$$$||134||37%||18:1||25%||No||Yes||Yes|
Semester classes at Holmes Community College run on an eight week cycle. Business and administrative offices at Holmes are located on the school's main campus which is in Goodman, Mississippi. Arts and lectures complement the school's technical, career, science and arts degree and certificate programs. Adults working in Goodman can enroll in continuing education classes to meet professional and state certification training requirements. There is enough campus housing at the Goodman location for about 564 students. Smaller campuses house between 50 and 160 students. Tours of the college's Attala Center, Yazaoo Center and Goodman, Grenada and Ridgeland campuses take place alongside an assigned Holmes Ambassador.
|3||Northwest Mississippi Community College||Senatobia, MS||96.17||$$$$$||51||26%||23:1||18%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Northwest Mississippi Community College is a public technical and community institution. Part of its mission is to provide ongoing education for residents of Northwest Mississippi’s 11 counties. Diplomas, certificates and associate degrees are awarded by the school. The credentials roll into eight divisions, among which are business, education and natural sciences. Northwestern abides by an open door admissions policy. Transcripts from a previous college and high school, college entrance exam scores and an application are general admissions documents required of all adults seeking to take classes at the college. To get into specific academic programs, applicants may have to supply additional documentation.
|4||Hinds Community College||Raymond, MS||95.17||$$$$$||15||22%||18:1||13%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Hinds Community College is part of a multi-campus district in the Raymond, Mississippi region. The school started offering college-level courses in 1921, when the institution was still known as Hinds County Agricultural High School. More than 16,000 students have been taught in subjects like agriculture, biology, English, music and physical sciences at the community college. Hinds has articulation agreements with Mississippi’s four-year colleges and universities, through which Hinds’ graduates can transfer credits into bachelor degree programs at other state schools. Vicksburg-Warren, Utica, Rankin and Raymond are among the school’s more than seven different locations.
|5||Meridian Community College||Meridian, MS||94.90||$$$$$||12||34%||21:1||35%||No||Yes||Yes|
Meridian Community College is home of the Eagles. The school is located along Highway 19 in Meridian, Mississippi. One year credentials awarded at the college are diplomas and certificates. Among the associate degree programs at Meridian are business, health education, nursing, industrial technology and emergency services. Help transferring Meridian Community College credits to a four-year state school are available through the Mississippi articulation and transfer tool. Local community classes at Meridian aim to strengthen the local workforce by providing non-degree training in adult basic education, career development and business assistance.
|6||Itawamba Community College||Fulton, MS||94.65||$$$$$||6||52%||19:1||26%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Fulton, Mississippi’s Itawamba Community College operates on an open admission policy. Dozens of majors are taught at Itawamba, including African American studies, chemistry, automotive technology, theater and surgical technology. Because of resources like MyTribe, Canvas and a technology helpdesk, the college is able to offer flexibility and convenience to adult learners through distance education. Accelerated eight-week classes are open for students who have the commitment and academic performance to learn at a faster pace. All high school seniors must attend a basic orientation. To attend honors orientation, students must earn a 24 or higher on the ACT.
|7||Southwest Mississippi Community College||Summit, MS||94.22||$$$$$||12||42%||24:1||27%||No||Yes||Yes|
About 2,100 students a year enroll at Southwest Mississippi Community College. Location for the college is Summit, Mississippi. The college’s earliest history dates back to 1908. The campus still exists at its original location, a place that covers 60 acres. Classes on topics such as nursing, cosmetology, heating and air conditioning and accounting are held in the school’s twenty-eight buildings. Accreditation to award associate degrees is approved by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The registrar’s office is the main point of contact for admissions documents.
|8||Pearl River Community College||Poplarville, MS||93.91||$$$$$||6||28%||16:1||32%||No||Yes||Yes|
When Pearl River Community College was founded in 1924 in Poplarville, Mississippi, it became Mississippi’s first public higher education institution that offered two-year degrees. Technical certificates and associate degrees provide concise learning that shortens the time it takes for adults to enter traditional and newly developed jobs. General education and career associate degrees and certificates give students a balanced academic background. In addition to supplying adults with the skills to enter rewarding careers, Pearl River prepares students to earn bachelor’s degrees. To increase students’ chances of securing employment after they graduate, Pearl River host on campus career fairs.
|9||Mississippi Delta Community College||Moorhead, MS||92.83||$$$$$||3||36%||18:1||21%||No||Yes||Yes|
Conception for Mississippi Delta Community College dates back to 1926. Main service areas for the college that is located in Moorhead, Mississippi are Bolivar, Washington, Sunflower, Humphreys, Leflore and Sharkey counties. Through its online and, main and extended campuses, the college also educates adults in other parts of the state and world. Extended campus centers are located in Greenville, Indianola and Greenwood. An undergraduate education at the school leads to one year certificates or a two-year degree. Courses from the school are guaranteed to transfer to other Mississippi higher education institutions due to Mississippi Delta Community College’s statewide articulation agreement.
|10||Jones County Junior College||Ellisville, MS||92.60||$$$$$||3||35%||25:1||27%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Jones County Junior College is located on 390 acres in Ellisville, Mississippi. As with several of Mississippi’s community colleges, the school began as an agricultural high school. The college is dedicated to instilling a sense of community, leadership and academic excellence in its students. Adults can apply for admission into one of the school’s associate degree or certificate programs year round. Jones County Junior College awards more than 1,000 degrees a year. A growing number of students enroll in online classes. Many of the college’s instructors have graduate degrees in a diverse range of subjects.
|11||Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College||Perkinston, MS||91.69||$$$$$||12||1%||22:1||25%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Finding the best online degree or course to meet specific needs can require a great deal of time and effort. Students must first determine exactly what those needs are and then decide how important each is in the overall educational context. Once this is done, research can truly begin. The following search tool is designed to help students find online colleges in Mississippi by allowing them to tailor searches to their unique preferences.
|RANK||COLLEGE||Score||Student-Teacher Ratio||Financial Aid||Cost||MORE INFO|
|1||University of Southern Mississippi||98.85||17:1||96%|
The University of Southern Mississippi offers a variety of online college options through its distance-learning program, "Online at Southern Miss." Students can find workforce training, bachelor's, and master's degrees in subjects ranging from elementary education to library information science. Students can also find certificate programs, supplemental endorsements, single courses, and hybrid and executive programs available through distance learning.
Belhaven University provides online college programs to students who want to advance their education through distance learning. The university's distance options include a bachelor's in business administration, a master's in reading literacy, Mississippi teacher certification, and many others. As part of its online programming, the school offers personal attention, flexibility and a Christian perspective.
Mississippi College awards bachelor's and master's degrees as well as post-baccalaureate and graduate level certificates to students pursuing online college learning. Example degrees include a Bachelor's of Science in Paralegal Studies and a Master's of Science in Athletic Administration. The school, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, makes accelerated learning an important part of its distance-education program.
|4||Mississippi State University||94.78||19:1||93%|
Mississippi State University provides students with numerous opportunities to advance their education through distance learning. Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees can be completed online through the university, which is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Subject areas include business, education, engineering, information systems and more, and the university also offers online college certificate programs.
|5||Blue Mountain College||94.34||13:1||97%|
Blue Mountain College, a Christian institution, offers online course options to students wanting to advance their education through distance learning. Classes are available through e-learning in areas such as biology, history, macroeconomics, music appreciation and the Old Testament. As with the college's campus-based learning, academic excellence, intellectual integrity, and Christian character are a part of its online programs.
|6||University of Mississippi||94.28||19:1||83%|
The University of Mississippi offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees through its distance-learning program, "OlemissOnline." Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees are among the various options online college students can choose from. Ed specialists, certificates, and individual courses are also found online. More than 200 classes are available to students who need core subjects and electives to complete their high-school diploma.
|7||University of Mississippi Medical Center||86.86||4:1||N/A|
The University of Mississippi Medical Center offers online bachelor's degree completion programs to students through distance learning. Students who already have an associate degree in fields like dental hygiene, medical laboratory science, and radiologic science can complete the last two years of a bachelor's degree through the university's "2+U" online college program.