College students who want to take online courses or even earn a complete certificate or degree online have plenty of opportunities in the Garden State. Whether students prefer a fully online or hybrid course of study, want to attend a public or private school, or plan on pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, they are likely to find a New Jersey online college with a program that fits the bill.
Leading the way in public postsecondary online education in New Jersey is Rutgers University, whose main campus is in Newark. In addition, there are approximately 10 other four-year and nearly 20 two-year public postsecondary schools offering some level of online education services to New Jersey residents. Over a dozen private, not-for-profit online colleges offer courses and degree programs, among them Seton Hall University in South Orange, Princeton University in Princeton and Fairleigh Dickenson University, which has three New Jersey campus locations.
With over a quarter of a million residents, Newark is New Jersey’s largest city, as well as a major center for higher education in the state. The next two segments take a look at the current higher education climate in Newark, particularly as it relates to online learning.
Newark is home to thousands of students pursuing their academic and professional goals, whether full time or part time, on campus or online. The New Jersey Institute of Technology, encompassing the Newark College of Engineering, is based in the University Heights district of downtown Newark. Essex County College, which is also located in Newark, focuses on increasing access through initiatives such as Sunday classes. The college’s emphasis on diversity is reflected in its range of disciplines, including associate degrees in liberal arts with options for Spanish bilingual studies or Africana studies. Individuals in search of career skills can find ECC programs for certificates of completion. Broad-ranging courses explore subjects such as entrepreneurship, hip hop business, geographic information systems, hospitality management, Italian, medical terminology and meteorology.
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, has a large presence in the city, including the Rutgers University, Newark (RU-N) campus, the Rutgers Health Sciences campus and the honors programs offered at the Newark College of Arts and Sciences. RU-N boasts a 38-acre campus housing 33 buildings and four libraries, where students choose from more than 40 undergraduate majors and 50 graduate programs. In line with Rutgers’ reputation as a public research university, RU-N researchers investigate challenges ranging from medicine to information technology.
Essex County College offers flexible education alternatives for students seeking credits toward an associate degree, certificate or personal development. ECC’s online courses use the Moodle learning management platform and follow the school’s standard academic calendar. ECC also offers hybrid courses, which blend traditional on-campus meeting times with online studies.
The Rutgers Online initiative allows students at Newark and other Rutgers campuses to pursue a high school diploma, baccalaureate, graduate degree or professional certification. In addition to individual online courses, Web-based offerings span undergraduate degrees in business administration or labor and employment relations, as well as numerous graduate degrees, including a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
The biggest college expense students in New Jersey incur is tuition. The tuition sticker price can vary according to the school and a student’s residency status. In 2012, resident tuition for New Jersey students was about $13,200 per year, making New Jersey the 18th most expensive state for college tuition.
In addition, New Jersey students are usually charged fees by their individual colleges and universities. These costs, which are typically not part of the tuition figure, may include fees for labs, health and activities. In 2012, the total annual charge for New Jersey students averaged $14,630 for tuition and fees.
Tuition and fees may be the main educational expenses, but students must also consider living expenses such as room and board. The average cost of living in New Jersey is 29 percent higher than the national average, likely due to the state’s proximity to New York City. Take a closer look at how the cost of living in the major metropolitan areas of New Jersey compares to the national average:
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In addition to tuition, fees and cost of living, students also need to be mindful of return on investment. College is an investment in both time and money, meaning that the end result should be as positive and lucrative as possible. A handful of New Jersey colleges offer a very respectable return on investment based on the difference between lifetime earnings and cost of attendance. Here’s how the top New Jersey colleges stack up:
For students researching colleges and universities in New Jersey, it’s important to check that schools are accredited by a recognized regional or national accrediting organization. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (www.msche.org) is the regional accrediting association for colleges in New Jersey. Many colleges and universities also hold programmatic or specialized accreditation for specific programs, colleges or departments. For example, dozens of programs at Rutgers hold programmatic accreditation from agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the American Psychological Association, the American Physical Therapy Association and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. If colleges or programs lack the proper accreditation, students typically cannot apply for financial assistance.
Because it offers a convenient and flexible way to pursue postsecondary education, an increasing number of New Jersey students are taking advantage of the state’s expanding online degree program options. Over 50 higher education institutions in New Jersey provide distance learning, but the following schools have earned the status of the Best Online Colleges in New Jersey for 2015-2016. Discover the best of the best online degree programs in New Jersey below.
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The online programs offered by Rowan University are a collection of the courses that are in highest demand at the school. Both graduate and undergraduate courses incorporate multimedia technologies such as digital slideshows, audio, video, chat rooms and discussion boards to engage students and provide different avenues of communication with instructors. High school students may be able to take online courses at Rowan to receive academic credit from both the university and their high school. Students may also take a wide range of online courses that are not in direct pursuit of a degree.
Caldwell University offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees completely online. The university is a nonprofit member of the United States Distance Learning Association, and all courses and programs are accredited by the Commission on Higher Education. All programs and courses, which are available only to students who live in New Jersey, are comparable to their counterparts that are taught at the physical university. Online courses, however, are offered in an accelerated format. Classes run in either 7- or 8-week sessions that begin throughout the year. This concentrated format allows most applicants to register as full-time students.
|3||Saint Peter’s University||95.54||13:1||100%|
St. Peter's University has developed its online education curriculum in accordance with Jesuit values. The program focuses on evidence-based practice, community health and leadership in an effort to steer students toward a philosophy based on care for the whole person, or "cura personalis," which is a central Jesuit principle. Although scheduling is designed to accommodate the lifestyle of each individual student, the courses and programs are based on the foundation of students interacting with each other to provide mutual support through the learning process. Students are not required to be online at a specific time, but are instead given assignments with deadlines.
|4||Seton Hall University||91.98||14:1||98%|
Seton Hall offers graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs completely online. Coursework is diverse and varied, requiring students to participate in both synchronous and asynchronous classes. This means that some courses require students to be online at a specific time of day and specific day of the week, while other courses allow students to self-pace. There is one faculty member for every 10 students, and instructors spend twice as much time with distance learners. Online students receive the exact same diploma as their on-campus counterparts, and all students will have full access to career services.
|5||Thomas Edison State College||90.31||20:1||N/A|
Thomas Edison State College is one of the oldest schools in the country designed exclusively for adults. The college offers dozens of associate degree, bachelor's degree and graduate degree programs, as well as a wide range of graduate certificate programs. Students earn degrees through a variety of rigorous academic methods, including completing independent study courses; documenting college-level knowledge they already have through prior learning assessment (PLA), military and professional training, licensure and certifications, and credit-by-examination programs; and by transferring credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities.
|6||Fairleigh Dickinson University||87.94||11:1||99%|
Adult learners can further their education with a Bachelor of Arts in individualized studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Courses begin four times each school year, in September, January, April and July and run for 10 to 12 weeks. Students can enter the program at any time. Online students receive a single point of contact for student services, helping to streamline communication. Up to 90 credit hours may be transferred from other institutions and students can receive credit for standardized exams, military or professional training or prior learning outside the classroom. Associate and graduate-level online degrees are also available and Fairleigh also has partnerships with several community colleges.
The process of finding the right online college in New Jersey can be time consuming, especially given the sheer number of schools and online programs to choose from. Before beginning the search, students must first determine which factors are most important to their personal academic success. Online students in particular are looking to fit their studies into schedules that often include family obligations and full-time or part-time jobs. The search tool below is designed to make finding the right online program easier by taking into account each student’s unique wants and needs.
How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?
New Jersey Institute of Technology’s approach to online learning started when the university pioneered distance learning. Working in the late 1970s, two NJIT professors created the software, and the teaching methods, used to support some of the first distance-learning classes. In fact, the phrase, Virtual Classroom® was coined and registered as a trademark at NJIT. Since then, NJIT has continued to lead the nation in online learning – both in terms of the technologies used to support the classes and the best ways to teach online.
What makes your online programs so valuable to students?
NJIT’s online programs are student centered. Optimally, online classes turn into virtual-learning communities, in which students interact and learn from each other, and their professors, more than they could in face-to-face classes. Many online classes are taught by professors who are also leading researchers in their fields. Having research professors teach your class assures that you’ll learn the most advanced subject matter in whatever field you chose to study.
Additionally, NJIT’s online tuition rate will reduce the out-of-state graduate student’s tuition, bringing it closer to the in-state rate if all courses in a given semester are online. Because of the online tuition, adults living anywhere in the country, as well as abroad, can afford to earn a certificate or a degree from NJIT. For international students this means that no Visa is required. Out-of-state residents who choose to attend NJIT enjoy not only world-class degree programs but also significant cost and financial advantages over similar universities.
Where do you see your online programs in the next five years?
NJIT will be adding 10 new online Master Degree programs in a suite of Engineering and Technological Disciplines. Corresponding Online Graduate Certificates in high demand areas which are expected to dominate the world of work in the rapidly emerging global economy will also be developed to permit professionals whose only need is to learn the latest and greatest in the fields vs studying towards a full academic degree.
Beginning an online education program can be challenging. Time and effort are required to acclimate to the virtual environment and become familiar with the new methods of coursework delivery. Fortunately, these students are not alone. The Internet has an abundance of websites and apps supplying a host of supplementary educational tools and resources. The following list provides a small taste of the resources students can take advantage of online for free.