In the earliest days of the Internet, distance learning was almost entirely the domain of for-profit, fully online providers, many with questionable credentials. Now that distance learning has become a fixture of higher education, college students have many more quality online degree programs and courses to choose from, the vast majority of which are offered by well-established and fully accredited public and private colleges and universities. This is the case both across the country and in New Hampshire specifically.
The leading source of public postsecondary online education in the state is the University of New Hampshire, which has its main campus in Durham. Through its distance learning department, UNH offers a large variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs and courses. New Hampshire is also home to Southern New Hampshire University, one of the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit online colleges. On the community college level, the seven campuses of the Community College System of New Hampshire offer hundreds of affordable online courses in a wide range of subjects.
The largest city in New Hampshire is Manchester with a population of approximately 110,000 people. Though small by national standards, Manchester is an important center of higher education in New Hampshire, as is discussed in the following two sections.
New Hampshire’s largest city has a variety of colleges, making it easy for students to pursue higher education. The University of New Hampshire at Manchester provides many undergraduate and graduate programs, including accelerated five-year tracks leading to master’s degrees. Manchester Community College serves students who plan to transfer as well as those seeking professional training. Beyond the numerous degree and certificate programs, the college has opportunities for local service learning, internships, practical experience and clinical placements. State residents can take a few MCC courses without applying for admission, and students in New England states pay lower tuition than other out-of-state students.
On a hilltop above Manchester is historic Saint Anselm College, a Catholic Benedictine liberal arts school designated by The Princeton Review as among the nation’s “Colleges with a Conscience.” Saint Anselm offers varied undergraduate majors and minors along with pre-professional programs for medicine and theology. The 300-acre main campus of Southern New Hampshire University, a private nonprofit institution, is in Manchester. Massachusetts-based Springfield College opened its School of Human Services in Manchester, which offers weekend schedules for working students.
UNH-Manchester serves busy nontraditional students through evening and Saturday class schedules as well as blended or online courses. Hybrid courses delve into business, economics and technology, including in-demand areas such as mobile computing, web authoring and data structures. At Manchester Community College, students can sign up for fully online associate degree programs in accounting, liberal arts or management, as well as for two online business certificates. The 2014-15 class schedule boasts approximately 250 individual online courses.
Southern New Hampshire University emphasizes accessibility, allowing students to work on-site or remotely with the help of services such as online library access and 24/7 technical support. SNHU students can select from a vast range of Web-based degree and certificate programs, including undergraduate majors in business and liberal arts and graduate studies in more than 40 specialized MBA concentrations. Applicants for some graduate programs may not need a GMAT or GRE score.
When choosing a school, it’s important to consider the complete cost of a college education. Tuition is usually the principal expense, though the amount varies according to the college selected. In 2012, students at New Hampshire colleges paid an in-state tuition rate of about $15,500 per year, making education in the state the 5th most expensive in the country. In addition, students need to factor in the fees associated with college attendance, including activities, health and parking fees. These add-ons do add up, so don’t make the mistake of looking at a school’s tuition without also considering its fees.
Students must also plan for living costs, which include housing, food and other expenses. The cost of living in New Hampshire is about 17 percent higher than the national average, though certain areas are less expensive than others. Here’s an in-depth look at the cost of living for New Hampshire’s primary urban area, Manchester, compared to the national average:
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
New Hampshire students seeking college opportunities need to consider numerous factors, including tuition, fees, faculty and academics. However, it’s important to also factor in potential return on investment, i.e., the value of the degree. As with tuition, degree value varies from school to school. The following colleges in New Hampshire stand out when it comes to return on investment:
Whichever New Hampshire college comes under consideration, it’s important that the school be accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation is mandatory for colleges that wish to receive state and federal funding and provide student financial assistance. New Hampshire colleges and universities may pursue regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges ( www.neasc.org). Specific colleges, departments or programs within an institution may also be accredited by specialized accrediting agencies or professional organizations. Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire, for example, maintains programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The university’s hospitality management programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration.
New Hampshire may be small in size, but it is home to a surprising number of well-established and prestigious colleges and universities, many of which offer distance learning. Not all programs pack the same educational punch, however, and determining which ones are the best is difficult. To make things easier, we’ve put together this list of 2015-2016’s Best Online Colleges in New Hampshire.
|RANK||COLLEGE||Score||Student-Teacher Ratio||Financial Aid||Cost||MORE INFO|
|1||Granite State College||99.53||11:1||70%|
Granite State College provides flexibility, value and a liberal transfer policy to students pursuing online education through its certificates and degree programs. This online college in New Hampshire offers minors, associate, bachelor's and master's degrees as well as post-baccalaureate programs via e-learning. All of the college's online degrees are accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
|2||Franklin Pierce University||91.30||12:1||100%|
Adult learners seeking an online college in New Hampshire can find a variety of degrees and certificates available at the undergraduate and graduate levels through Franklin Pierce University. From business to education and marketing to information technology, full degrees are offered to students through e-learning. An MBA with several concentrations is also available through online format to students.
|3||New England College||91.26||14:1||95%|
Online bachelor's and associate degrees at New England College make it easy for busy students to earn degrees on their own schedules. Associate and bachelor's degrees are offered online in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, healthcare administration, human services, liberal studies,psychology and sociology. NEC offers all the support a traditional student receives but with classes that are completed 100 percent online. Students learn leadership and collaborative skills through group projects, communicating with peers and faculty members through the school's course management system. They log in to complete coursework at a time that's convenient for them - there's no need to log on for a scheduled class meeting.
|4||Plymouth State University||90.02||16:1||89%|
Plymouth State University offers online bachelor's and master's degrees to students who seek distance learning. Among the offerings are a Bachelor's of Arts in Communication and Media Studies, an RN-to-BSN, and a Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. As an online college in New Hampshire, the university provides online programs that feature time management, cooperative learning, and peer communication.
Rivier College offers several fully online degrees to students who prefer distance education. Options available at this online college in New Hampshire include a Bachelor's of Arts in Nursing, an MBA in Healthcare Administration, and others. Online courses are administered through the Canvas learning manage systems, and available in eight-week sessions.
|6||Southern New Hampshire University||87.47||26:1||94%|
Students looking for an online college in New Hampshire can look to Southern New Hampshire University for certificates and undergraduate and graduate-level degrees available through distance learning. The university, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, provides online degrees in areas such as accounting, business, creative writing, healthcare management, nursing and many others.
Finding the right online college involves starting with several options and then seeing which ones meet your criteria. Important factors include individual career objectives, program costs, flexibility in class attendance and study time, and methods of course delivery. The search tool below is designed to make this process easier by allowing prospective students to filter out colleges that don’t match their criteria.
The Internet is not only a great place to take an online class or complete a full degree program, but also a tremendous source of tools, applications and other resources geared to support college students studying online or in the classroom. The range of resources includes time management programs, knowledge databases, virtual libraries, efficiency apps and subject-specific tutorial sites. Below is just a small sample of the online resources offered to students anywhere 100% free of charge.