Nevada college students seeking flexibility in their educational endeavors can take advantage of online learning opportunities through both public and private institutions. State residents interested in earning an online degree are no longer limited, as they once were, to choosing from a small number of for-profit schools — some without proper accreditation. Today, Nevada’s online education options extend to degree and certificate programs delivered by some of the most well-established and reputable colleges and universities in the state.
First and foremost among public postsecondary online schools is the University of Nevada, which has campuses in Reno and Las Vegas. Each campus offers an extensive selection of full degree programs and individual courses in a distance learning format. There are five other public colleges providing online programs and courses in Nevada, including the state’s only other public four-year institution, Nevada State College, and its largest two-year institution, the College of Southern Nevada. Although there are few private, not-for-profit colleges in Nevada, both the four-year Roseman University of Health Sciences and the Touro University Nevada graduate school offer distance learning options. Both schools are located in Henderson.
Since the Las Vegas metropolitan area is home to most of Nevada’s colleges and universities, the next two sections dive a little deeper and highlight the online learning options offered there.
What happens at college in Vegas doesn’t stay there. Area students take their learning into a wide range of successful professions after completing degrees and professional certificates at local colleges, universities and trade schools. Students have a wide array of options, from environmental research programs at the state’s Desert Research Institute to the graduate hospitality degree program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ William Harrah College of Hotel Administration.
The largest public research university in the state, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) offers students more than 220 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. It hosts the only school of dentistry and school of law in Nevada, the latter of which is ranked 76th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. U.S. News also ranks UNLV 9th overall in diversity among all the nation’s colleges. Prospective graduate students seeking extensive, hands-on opportunities in environmental research should examine the Desert Research Institute, operated by the Nevada System of Higher Education. Through UNLV, the Desert Research Institute offers a water resources management graduate program that leads to a Master of Science degree.
For two-year associate degrees, transfer programs and certificates, the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) provides 190 programs at its three Las Vegas area campuses and online. It has the largest enrollment in Nevada and the third largest community college student body in the country. Other colleges and private schools in Las Vegas include the Art Institute of Las Vegas, ITT Technical Institute, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and University of Phoenix.
For students who lack the time or resources to attend a traditional school, online schools in Las Vegas provide excellent educational options. For example, UNLV’s graduate nursing program was ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. News in 2014. Its online graduate degree programs include a Ph.D. in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Science in Nursing (nurse practitioner and nurse educator tracks). UNLV also offers undergraduate and graduate courses online in major fields such as architecture, accounting, criminal justice, computer science, special education, economics, hotel management, health care administration, informatics, management information systems, marketing and social work.
CSN offers 25 degree and certificate programs available entirely online. Associate degrees include education, communications, psychology, criminal justice, accounting, information technology and a general transfer degree. CSN’s online dental hygiene curriculum leads to a four-year bachelor’s degree. Online certificate programs are available in criminal justice, hotel and casino management and medical transcription.
No matter where they’re headed, college-bound students need a plan to cover the costs of higher education. Tuition, which varies according to each school, is the primary cost to consider. Luckily, Nevada is on the low end when it comes to college tuition — in 2012, state residents paid about $10,400 per year, placing the Silver State 20th on the national scale. Of course, tuition is not the only cost to keep in mind. Colleges and universities also charge a variety of fees each academic year to cover activities, technology, parking and other expenses. It’s important to take fees into account when budgeting for higher education.
Tuition and fees represent a college student’s primary education expenses, but there are additional costs to consider. Students must pay room and board if they plan to sleep and eat on campus or cover their own off-campus housing and food. The overall cost of living in Nevada is about 1 percent higher than the national average. Take a detailed look at the cost of living in Nevada’s metropolitan areas compared to the national average:
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College is an investment. When analyzing any investment, students need to think about the potential return. The colleges below have the highest documented return on investment (average lifetime earnings for graduates minus cost of attendance) in the state:
While accreditation doesn’t top most students’ college checklists, it’s a critical factor in higher education. A college that hasn’t earned the proper accreditation can’t offer financial aid, which can be a deal breaker for most students. When you’re researching colleges in Nevada, make sure your schools of interest have been accredited by an approved regional, national or programmatic accrediting organization. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (www.nwccu.org) is the main regional accrediting body for higher education institutions in Nevada. Schools in Nevada may also hold multiple accreditations through specialized accrediting agencies. For instance, select engineering and mine programs at UNR are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc., while its school of business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Success in any distance learning program begins with matching the right online program with the right student. Factors such as cost, work, family, field of interest and ultimate career goal all play important parts in the selection process, but how these factors are balanced depends on the individual. Fortunately, convenience and flexibility are hallmarks of most online degree programs. The search tool below is designed to let prospective students easily navigate through the numerous program options to find a good fit for them.
How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?
The University of Nevada, Reno has used a strategic approach in the adoption of online learning as a format to help students advance towards degree completion. The option of online learning is offered for many key courses necessary for students to stay on track towards degree completion. The University also offers seven degree and certificate programs entirely online, including the online executive MBA taught by faculty from the University’s part-time MBA program which is ranked by Bloomberg BusinessWeek as one of the nation’s best.
What makes your online programs so valuable to students?
Feedback from our students indicates they appreciate the convenience and flexibility of online courses and programs in helping with the completion of degrees and/or certificate programs. For many students, blending online and face-to-face courses helps them complete their programs in a more timely manner.
Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?
The trend for online programs will continue to increase over the next five years and beyond. As the number of adult learners increases their need for degrees and certificates, all indications lead to greater use of online programs to fulfill these needs. Traditional age students will also place a greater demand on having the flexibility of taking online courses/programs to accelerate their degree process.
Whether students are new to distance learning or not, becoming comfortable with online educational tools and resources is essential to their academic success. In fact, students don’t even have to be enrolled in a distance education program to take advantage of most of the educational resources available online. The number and range of those resources is tremendous, and many of them are free to use. Below is a small sample of some of the most useful resources for students in Nevada.