Missouri Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

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Online Missouri Colleges Guide

Missouri colleges are doing their part to meet a nationwide increase in demand for e-learning, with options ranging from purely online schools to hybrid programs blending on-campus and web-based components. Online students pursuing their degrees at Missouri institutions have options ranging from certificates to graduate programs in almost every major offered on a college’s physical campus. Public online college education programs are available through the state’s two major postsecondary systems: the University of Missouri system and the Missouri State Universities system. The University of Missouri is comprised of four locations including its flagship campus in Columbia. The MSU system currently consists of nine campuses throughout the state. All schools within these systems have some level of online learning presence. There are also a wide range of private non-profit colleges offering quality online degree and course programs including Saint Louis University, Lindenwood University, and Columbia College.

To the uninitiated, Missouri can seem like two major metropolitan areas with nothing but farms and open land in between. While there is much farmland in the Show Me State, other notable cities exist outside of Kansas City and St. Louis. However, it is true that these cities are home to a wide range of postsecondary institutions. The following two sections present a brief look at one of those centers: Kansas City.

Postsecondary Education in Kansas City

Sprawled across the Kansas-Missouri border, Kansas City, MO, has a rich history involving the Civil War, the creation of the Kansas City blues, and a distinctive cuisine – all of which make this a great location for higher education. Students interested in pursuing a medical or medical-science career can do so at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCUMB), which is the largest medical school in Missouri and among the oldest osteopathic medical schools in the country. Composed of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Biosciences, KCUMB teaches and trains future physicians, researchers, bioethicists, and surgeons. For a more traditional education, the University of Missouri has one of its four campuses in Kansas City. UMKC is comprised of 12 schools—college of arts and sciences, school of law, school of medicine, and school of graduate studies to name a few. Another option, Missouri’s Metropolitan Community College has five campuses in the Kansas City area. MMC’s transfer programs allow students to take the first two years of a four-year degree at a lower tuition. Those who do not plan to transfer to a four-year university can take advantage of the 80 career programs available to enter the workforce directly after graduation. Finally, Kansas City is also an ideal place for those looking for a religious education. The city is home to a number of faith-based institutions such as Rockhurst University, Avila University, and four theological seminaries, including one for Southern Baptist Convention and one of Methodists.

Online Education Options in Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City offers a lush distance learning education that covers an array of fields. With 11 of their 12 schools offering an online component, students can choose from more than 80 bachelor’s or master’s degree programs and more than 550 online courses. Online programs include dental hygienist, RN to BSN, nursing practice, pharmacy, and education. Kansas City Kansas Community College also offers a number of synchronous online courses and web enhanced courses, which are campus-based classes that have certain elements available online.

Tuition, Fees & Cost of Living in Missouri

The first assignment for aspiring Missouri college students is to evaluate their finances, calculating both likely costs and available funds. One key item to consider is tuition, which can vary for resident and out-of-state students. In terms of tuition, students who qualified for resident rates spent an average of $12,247 for a year’s tuition in 2012.

Students can refer to college websites to view other potential costs, including fees pertaining to registration and parking. Colleges may have additional charges to cover the cost of student government, computing resources, use of recreation facilities, and other services. The average fees for a Missouri college student totaled about $900 in 2012, with the combination of tuition and fees reaching $13,119 for the school year.

Beyond tuition and fees, college students have expenditures for textbooks, supplies, a reliable Internet connection, and room and board. Missouri residents enjoy lower living costs than those in many states, although urban areas such as Kansas City may be more on par with the national average. The overall cost of living in Missouri is approximately 9 percent below the national average, allowing some relief for cash-strapped students. The following table indicates cost of living (COL) estimates for various metropolitan areas in the state, compared to the national rate of 100%.

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Springfield -12.00% -23.20% -6.80% -16.80% -3.20% -4.70% -6.20%
Joplin -11.20% -24.10% -7.80% 8.10% -8.20% -10.50% -8.00%
Columbia -8.20% -18.60% -7.40% -9.60% -3.70% -3.60% -0.90%
St. Joseph -7.70% -13.50% -4.60% -6.30% -9.90% -5.10% -4.00%
Jefferson City -7.10% -21.50% -6.10% -2.40% -6.70% -5.00% 3.40%

When examining potential colleges, students routinely focus on tuition, and rightly so. Tuition and associated fees comprise the bulk of academic-related college expenses. Students should also look at the potential return on investment (ROI) for a degree at each prospective school. An institution with a high ROI means its graduates leave school, enter solid careers and earn healthy paychecks throughout their working lives. The following Missouri colleges have the highest documented ROIs of any post-secondary institutions in the state:

  1. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  2. Washington University in St. Louis
  3. Park University
  4. University of Missouri Columbia
  5. Rockhurst University

Accreditation Standards for Missouri’s Online Colleges

Students interested in Missouri colleges also need to examine accreditation status. Financial aid and scholarship programs typically require that a college maintain accreditation from a recognized organization. To demonstrate compliance with quality standards, postsecondary institutions in Missouri rely on accrediting bodies such as The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.northcentralassociation.org).

Great Resources for Online Students in Missouri

Whether a well-seasoned veteran or a true rookie, all distance education students need to become familiar with the full spectrum of tools and resources available to support their online studies. There are many helpful guides for students undertaking study in Missouri, including sites for financial aid and other monetary support, personal and academic counseling, development of study and time management skills, and subject-specific information. The following is just a small sampling of tools and resources currently available.

Best Online Colleges in Missouri for 2015-2016

Colleges and universities in Missouri offer more than 100 fully online programs. Finding schools and programs that truly stand out requires a deeper look at the institutions themselves and what they provide. To start the process, we’ve collected and analyzed data from dozens of state colleges and universities, not only to gauge cost and quality, but also to see how they compare when it comes to student support, acceptance rate, and other elements that drive academic success. See who earned a place on our list of the Best Online Colleges in Missouri for 2015-2016.

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCost MORE INFO
1 Missouri Southern State University 99.4319:193%

Missouri Southern State University provides online learning options to students seeking distance learning in their education. Minors, bachelor's and completion degrees are among the options available through this online college in Missouri. Students can also pursue degrees, such as the Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration, that offer concentrations and the development of niche understanding.

2 Missouri Valley College 96.8514:1100%

Students attending Missouri Valley College will find a variety of courses offered online to help provide flexibility and convenience in scheduling. Accounting, music appreciation, sociology, statistics and world religion are among the courses offered through this online college in Missouri. Enrolled and visiting students alike should be able to register for the college's online course offerings.

3 Washington University in St Louis 96.458:155%

Students looking for an online college in Missouri can look to Washington University at St. Louis for several e-learning options. The school provides online courses in areas such as English, history, journalism, math, and political science. Several classes are also available at the graduate level. Additionally, the school offers a Master's of Science in Biology for science teachers, but a 3-week summer session on campus is also a requirement.

4 University of Missouri-St Louis 96.3116:195%

Students wanting to attend an online college in Missouri can look to the University of Missouri at St. Louis for numerous distance-learning options. Online degrees are available in areas such as business administration, criminology, history, nursing and philosophy. The school, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, provides certificates as well as undergraduate and graduate degree options online.

5 William Woods University 96.1310:1100%

William Woods University, one of the online colleges in Missouri, provides online courses and degrees to students who seek distance learning. Students can pursue associate, bachelor's and master's degrees available through e-learning. A Bachelor's of Science in Paralegal Studies, and a Master's of Education in Equine Education are among several of the university's online degree choices.

6 Culver-Stockton College 96.0513:1100%

Culver-Stockton College is an online college in Missouri that provides undergraduate and graduate level programs to students through distance learning. The college, accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, provides many of its online courses using an eight-week accelerated format. Among the opportunities available to students at the college is an MBA program offered online.

7 Fontbonne University 96.0110:192%

Fontbonne University is among the online colleges in Missouri providing distance education to students seeking flexibility. Students can pursue a Bachelor's of Arts in Applied Behavior Sciences, or an undergraduate online minor in marketing. The university's online graduate level options are extensive and include online programs in areas such as education, learning technologies and management.

8 Lindenwood University 95.6617:195%

Lindenwood University offers a variety of online learning options to students who prefer instruction through a Web-based format. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered through "Lindenwood Online. Additionally, students who are seeking online college in Missouri for flexibility and convenience will find more than 100 single courses offered online every semester.

9 Evangel University 95.6015:198%

Evangel University provides a bachelor's degree in management to students who prefer distance learning. Program outcomes are geared toward career promotions and other advancements that might come with attainment of a college degree. Students enrolled in this online college in Missouri degree will take coursework in areas that include marketing in a global economy and managerial economics.

10 Maryville University 95.6012:199%

Maryville University of Saint Louis is just one of the online colleges in Missouri providing learning options to students who prefer distance education. Its MBA program is offered entirely online, but students can also register for a variety of one-credit courses, such as Accounting Fundamentals or Introduction to Dreamweaver, offered online. Non-credit instructor-led courses are also available through distance learning.

11 Webster University 95.5715:197%

Students wanting to attend online college in Missouri can look to Webster University for degree options. Programs are available to students in areas such as education, information technology, management, and media communications. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as graduate-level certificates can be found at the school, which is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission.

12 Southeast Missouri State University 95.4324:193%

Southeast Missouri State University provides certificates, minors, and undergraduate and graduate degrees to students interested in e-learning. Its "Southeast Online" program allows students to pursue study in areas such as business administration, education, nursing, organizational management. Students wanting to attend online college is Missouri can find several other online degree options offered through the university.

13 Saint Louis Christian College 94.8814:1100%

St. Louis Christian College offers individual classes and two complete degrees online. Online studentsmay earn an Associate of Arts degree in religious studies or a Bachelor of Science in Christian ministry. These online offerings have been organized in an effort to provide more students access to furthering their education. The online programs at St. Louis are designed for adult learners, age 21 and older, who may not otherwise be able to attend college because of scheduling conflicts. Online courses are held in 8-week blocks and students may take up to two courses at a time.

14 Lincoln University 94.8615:194%

Lincoln University is among the online colleges in Missouri that provide career training opportunities to students through distance learning. The university provides self-paced non-credit certificates in the areas of business, healthcare, and information technology and design. Students will have lessons and activities to do, and receive a certificate from Lincoln University upon successful completion of their program.

15 University of Missouri-Kansas City 94.8613:192%

The University of Missouri at Kansas City provides more than 90 degree and certificate options to students seeking distance learning. Its online courses provide additional opportunities to students wanting to attend an online college in Missouri. Programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and quality is a priority through the university's "MizzouOnline."

16 Drury University 94.5919:184%

Drury University offers a vast number of online degree options to students wanting to attend online college in Missouri. Associate, bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates are among the e-learning options. Non-degree students can also register for online classes at the school, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

17 Missouri Baptist University 94.5120:1100%

Missouri Baptist University is one of the online colleges in Missouri providing distance-learning options to students. Degrees are primarily available at the graduate level in areas such as counseling, criminal justice, education, fitness management, and sports management. An online MBA provides yet another option. Distance-learning courses at the university are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system.

18 Columbia College 94.4835:184%

Students seeking an online college in Missouri can look to Columbia College to find a variety of distance-learning programs. The school provides 27 degrees and 800 courses to students who prefer the online format. Courses are available in eight-week courses with sessions starting five times a year at the college, which has accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.

19 Stephens College 94.3210:1100%

Students wanting to attend an online college in Missouri can look to Stephens College for a number of distance-learning alternatives. This includes the school's online Bachelor's of Science degree in Health Information Administration, which U.S. News & World Report ranked on its list of best online bachelor's programs for 2013. Students can also fine post-baccalaureate and post-graduate certificates available through distance learning.

20 Missouri State University 94.1120:189%

Missouri State University at Springfield provides undergraduate and graduates degrees to students seeking online college in Missouri. The e-degrees are available to students who are just starting their education or who want to transfer in from another institution. Communications, finance, general business, and nursing are among the degree subjects available through the school, which also offers online certificates.

21 Hannibal-LaGrange University 93.4512:193%

Students seeking an online college in Missouri can find individual course and degree options through Hannibal-LaGrange University. Most online courses are offered in eight-week terms and available for many general education classes. Entire degrees offered online by the school include an RN-to-BSN, a Bachelor's of Science in Child Development and a Master's of Science in Education.

22 Central Methodist University 87.8125:1 N/A

Central Methodist University's College of Graduate and Extended Studies provides online education options to students who seek flexibility in their learning. Courses are generally offered in eight-week sessions. Students wanting to attend an online college in Missouri may find the options they seek through the hybrid and online courses offered through this university.

Search Accredited Missouri Online Colleges

Students seeking an exceptional online education experience in Missouri have their own unique set of academic requirements and preferences, the most common being the need for convenience and flexibility when scheduling their studies. Other important factors include financial concerns, available fields of study, and career goals. The following search tool is designed to help prospective students locate an online college program in Missouri that best suits their individual needs.

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Online Colleges in Missouri: Two Programs Spotlight

We asked two of our top online colleges in Missouri to share the secrets of what makes their programs stand out among the competition. Read on for what they had to say.


Southeast Missouri State University

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

Southeast Missouri State University took an organic approach to the development of online programs. We offered our first online courses in 1999, and the first fully online degree program in 2003. Since then, we have grown steadily, now offering 16 graduate and undergraduate degree programs online, and over 250 online course sections each semester. Our philosophy has always been that our online courses and programs are wholly based in the academic departments. The vast majority of faculty who teach our online courses also teach face-to-face, and decisions about course content, design, and scheduling rest ultimately with the faculty on campus. At the same time, we recognize the need for special support services for online faculty, and our office of Online Learning provides them with professional development, technical support, and design services. Online students also have distinctive needs, and Southeast Online Programs takes pride in providing personal contact and service to online students from first contact through graduation.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Online programs serve students who have multiple demands on their time and energy. While delivering high quality, accredited degree programs, we make it possible for students to fit college education into schedules that include work, family responsibilities, and other time constraints. All of our online courses are fully asynchronous; they allow students to access course materials and assignments at any time of day. We want our online students to focus their energy on the coursework itself, so our online advisors help students navigate course requirements, financial aid, and registration processes. We also provide 24/7 tech support by phone or email.

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

There is considerable interest across the campus in developing new online programs. We added three new degree programs this fall, and others are in development. While Southeast will always be a face-to-face regional university, we are planning for online programs to be a growing component in the services we provide. We’re adding advisors, instructional designers, and technical staff to allow us to keep up with that ongoing growth.

I can hardly speculate beyond five years. We know that the higher education landscape is changing rapidly, and we want to continue to serve students in the most effective ways we can. Whatever happens in the future, we’ll continue to keep quality, affordability, and convenience as our guiding principles for online education.

University of Central Missouri

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

We at the University of Central Missouri provide learning to a greater degree for both online and on-campus learning. The cornerstones of UCM are innovative academics, engaging programs, servant-leadership opportunities and global perspective. These building blocks allow students to flourish at UCM, and, most importantly, these elements prepare them for a life of continuous learning which extends outside the classroom. Our online offerings have grown steadily from a smattering of classes offered in the 1990’s, to the 29 programs offered at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate levels. Each semester the online course offerings grow, and our academic departments are always exploring ways to get new programs offered online. The online instructors are the same professors teaching on campus, so they bring the same high-quality instruction to students online as they do to students in the classroom. UCM faculty and staff are also dedicated to providing the support needed by online students. We provide online advising and enrollment help, access to the writing lab and library services, and responsive professors.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Our online programs are valuable to students for several reasons. Firstly, our high-quality, accredited online programs conform to the high standard of excellence that UCM students are used to getting at our on-campus locations. Therefore, online students enjoy the same education as on-campus students with the convenience their lifestyles demand. Affordability is another important quality that students value. UCM students always qualify for the online tuition rate and do not have to pay out-of-state fees. Our online programs allow our students to experience learning to a greater degree across the globe. Whether they are deployed in the armed forces or busy working adults, UCM’s online students get the quality education they need for a price they can afford.

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

Every semester UCM’s academic departments across campus expand their online course offerings. In the last year we have added two new online programs and three new online certificates. We know that the demand for online programs is constantly growing. Our goal for the next five years and beyond is to add more quality programs while continuing to provide the UCM experience which transforms students into lifelong learners, dedicated to service, with the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed and lead in the region, state, nation and world.

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