While the early days of online education saw private for-profit institutions taking center stage, today a growing number of traditional colleges in Nebraska have added online learning to their educational offerings. Students are responding positively, with an increasing number taking advantage of the convenience and flexibility offered by online programs.
The prominent provider of online learning in the public college sector is the University of Nebraska. Through its distance education portal, Online Worldwide, the university offers over 100 degrees, certificates, endorsements, and minors originating from four campuses. Three state colleges and eight community colleges also provide online education courses and other services. Over a dozen private not-for-profit colleges offer students further alternatives in online degree programs and courses, including Bellevue University and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Omaha and Lincoln are the two biggest cities within the state and are also home to a majority of the largest colleges and universities. The following two sections offer a spotlight on college happenings in Omaha.
Students in Omaha can take advantage of undergraduate and graduate opportunities at institutions such as Metropolitan Community College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Also located in Omaha is Grace University, a private Christian school encompassing Grace College of the Bible, Grace College of Graduate Studies, and Grace College of Continuing Education.
Omaha’s public postsecondary institutions focus on recruiting diverse groups of students, including personnel at Offutt Air Force Base. The University of Nebraska at Omaha proudly reports that nearly one-third of its students are the first in their families to attend college. At the community college level, MCC provides easy access to education through multiple campuses, including one in Elkhorn near West Omaha. MCC also serves the community through five off-campus centers and provides courses at several local high schools. The college’s broad outreach efforts include the Gateway to College program, a high school diploma completion initiative targeting at-risk students. Part of a nationwide network, the Gateway to College program at MCC is the first of its kind in Nebraska.
The University of Nebraska system boasts numerous online and hybrid offerings in addition to opportunities available for campus-based students. The bachelor’s degree in general studies offers personalized learning in 50 areas of study. U.S. News & World Report ranked this degree among the nation’s 20 top online bachelor’s programs in 2014. UNO has a number of innovative certificates and graduate degrees available, including a master’s program in social gerontology.
Thanks to MCC, Omaha students have access to a variety of online courses and degree programs at the two-year college level. More than 40 web-based options include a variety of associate degrees as well as career certificates and certificates of achievement. MCC students can select from online degrees aimed at professional paths, including database administration or medical office management. Other online offerings focus on preparing students for the transition to four-year institutions, with degrees available in business, computer technology, general studies, and liberal arts.
For students reviewing the logistics of their college education, financial planning often tops the list of considerations. The biggest expense comes in the form of tuition, which varies according to school, location, and resident status. Tuition for Nebraska colleges is lower than in many other states, costing an average of $11,392 per year in 2012.
Prospective students should be aware that many colleges and universities also charge additional fees to cover expenses such as extracurricular activities, health services, parking, and technology. Nebraska college fees averaged approximately $1,300 in 2012, bringing the total cost of educational expenses to $12,700 per year.
Tuition and fees are the primary financial consideration for college students, but living expenses such as room and board can also make a major dent in the budget. In Nebraska, the cost of living is approximately 10 percent lower than the national average, which can make a world of difference for cash-strapped college students. Take a closer look at the cost of living (COL) for Nebraska’s major metropolitan areas compared to the national average (100%):
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
When comparing the financial costs and benefits of a college education, future students often focus on tuition. Yet considering that college is an investment, it’s perhaps more important to think about the potential return on that investment (ROI). The list below includes the colleges in Nebraska with the highest ROI in the state, which has been calculated by averaging a graduate’s lifetime earnings and subtracting the total cost of attendance:
Students in Nebraska hoping to be eligible for any form of financial aid must select a college that is properly accredited. Accreditation means that a school or program has met a specific set of quality and educational standards, making it eligible to receive federal funding. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.northcentralassociation.org) is the regional accrediting organization for Nebraska. Postsecondary institutions can have multiple accreditations, including those for specific departments or programs. In addition to holding regional accreditation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has many programs that maintain programmatic accreditation: the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission accredits the forensic science department.
Nebraska hosts a variety of institutions providing quality online programs benefiting students within and outside its borders. As with many Midwest states, Nebraska’s population is relatively small and spread out across a large geographic area, making it ideal for anyone interested in pursuing an online college degree. Not all distance learning programs are equal, but those listed in this guide exhibit academic excellence that sets them apart. These top achievers are acknowledged below in our list of the Best Online Colleges in Nebraska for 2015-2016.
|RANK||COLLEGE||Score||Student-Teacher Ratio||Financial Aid||Cost||MORE INFO|
|1||Chadron State College||99.65||21:1||87%|
Students seeking an online college in Nebraska can look to Chadron State College for individual courses and degrees available through e-learning. Degrees can be found in areas such as business, criminal justice, education, math, organizational management, and more. Most classes at the college, accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, are available in eight-week terms.
|2||Wayne State College||99.26||20:1||92%|
Wayne State College provides professional development opportunities for educators seeking self-paced and computer-based learning. For students who want to attend an online college in Nebraska, the school does provide solutions through training. These opportunities are available in areas that include advanced classroom management, early childhood education, infant and toddler mental health, working with high achievers, and many others.
|3||Nebraska Methodist College||96.35||12:1||97%|
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health provides online certificates, bachelor's and master's programs in the health professions and nursing. Courses through this online college in Nebraska are available in five-week sessions that provide one week off afterward to refresh and recoup. Among the college's online offerings are an RN-to-MSN degree and a MSN degree for nurse educators.
Creighton University offers a variety of online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels to students who want to pursue distance learning. Offerings through this online college in Nebraska include a Bachelor's of Science in Integrated Leadership Studies, as well as a Master's of Arts in Medical Anthropology and a Master's of Public Health. Several other online options are available to students seeking education at the graduate-degree level.
Bellevue University provides students with an extensive number of degree opportunities, primarily at the undergraduate level, to pursue online learning. Bachelor's degrees offered through distance learning fall into subjects such as criminal justice, information technology, non-profit management, nursing, and many others. Students can also find graduate level degrees and courses available through distance learning at this online college in Nebraska.
|6||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||93.56||21:1||87%|
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln provides numerous online undergraduate and graduate courses for students seeking flexibility in their learning. As an online college in Nebraska, the university offers minors, certificates and bachelor's degrees in undergraduate education. The school's offerings for online graduate education are extensive and include master's of arts, master's of science, and doctoral degrees.
|7||University of Nebraska at Omaha||93.34||17:1||88%|
The University of Nebraska at Omaha provides an online bachelor's degree in general studies to students preferring the flexibility that comes with distance learning. This online college in Nebraska degree offering allows students to pursue one of many different concentrations, such as nonprofit administration, political science, and sociology. The university also provides numerous graduate level degrees and certificates to students interested in online learning.
|8||University of Nebraska Medical Center||87.55||3:1||N/A|
The University of Nebraska Medical Center offers online graduate education through its College of Public Health. Students can find e-learning programs such as a Master's of Science in Emergency Preparedness, and a Master's of Public Health in Biostatistics offered through this online college in Nebraska. Students can also pursue online professional certificates in emergency preparedness and pubic health.
Locating the best online degree program takes time, effort, and a bit of patience. Before starting the search, prospective students should carefully consider both their current situation and ultimate career goals to help determine the course of study they wish to pursue, how to balance family and work commitments, and ways of financing their education. Students can then begin their search to find the right online program to match those goals and needs. The following search tool is designed to help students filter through the numerous academic options to find an online program uniquely matched to their needs.
To succeed in an online college program, students must become accustomed to a new way of interacting with course lectures and materials. They must also adapt to using the Internet and a variety of educational software programs and applications. There are countless are online tools and support services available to students in Nebraska to make distance learning easier and more effective. Below is an introductory look at the types of resources offered online and free of charge.