Students looking for college opportunities in West Virginia have numerous choices. The state was home to 80 vocational schools, 2-year colleges and universities in 2013. Overall, West Virginia was ranked 34th in the U.S. for its number of post-secondary schools and 35th for student appeal. Over the past decade both public and private schools in West Virginia have added distance learning options to suit the needs of non-traditional students. These programs expand the opportunities available to students located around the world.
West Virginia University offers five undergraduate programs online and 29 online or blended graduate degree or certificate programs. Hundreds of undergraduate and graduate stand-alone courses are also available online every semester.
To illustrate the growing scope of higher educational opportunities in West Virginia, we’ve spotlighted schools, colleges and universities in Charleston, along with a look into the state’s online options.
Charleston, West Virginia is home to a satellite campus for Marshall University focusing on extension graduate programs in computer science and public health. The college was named one of America’s Best Buys by U.S. News & World Report and a top 100 “Most Wired” campus by Yahoo. With its main campus just a short distance away in Huntington, students have access to all MU’s traditional resources.
West Virginia Junior College has three campuses throughout the state, one of which is in Charleston. WVJC focuses on training students for in-demand careers such as medical and dental assisting. BridgeValley Community and Technical College is one of nine colleges on 27 campuses throughout the providing associate degrees and certificate completion programs to online students. Its community outreach center works with K-12 institutions to further the STEM fields.
The University of Charleston also calls West Virginia’s capital home. UC has received numerous accolades, including ranking as one of the top regional colleges by U.S. News and was listed by the Princeton Review as one of the best colleges to attend in 2013. In 2011, the institution was recognized for having 100 percent of its BSN and ADN graduates pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on the first try.
BridgeValley has a variety of classes and programs online, enabling those with busy schedules and family responsibilities to continue their education. In 2013, the University of Charleston expanded, opening three new locations for distance learners. UC-Online offers financial aid options to qualifying students so that they can pursue any of the eight online degree programs available. According to the college’s website, UC is currently seeking authorization to provide distance education in states outside of West Virginia.
Students attending college in West Virginia must plan for the various costs that are associated with higher education. Tuition is often the most expensive, but these costs will vary based on location, whether the school is public or private, or if students are residents of West Virginia. In 2012, West Virginia students with residency in the state paid an average annual tuition of $8,580, making West Virginia number 10 on the list of most affordable colleges.
While tuition and fees are a central component of a college budget, other expenditures are a necessity. This includes living expenses, transportation and medical expenses. The cost of living (COL) in West Virginia is approximately 5 percent lower than the national average. The following table provides the COL averages in West Virginia’s urban areas, compared with the national average of 100.
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
Students should look for regionally accredited colleges in West Virginia. Accreditation ensures a college meets quality standards, but is also required for students to qualify for federal loans. In West Virginia, regional accreditation is overseen through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Additionally, West Virginia colleges hold programmatic accreditation for specific colleges, departments or programs within an institution. WVU Institute of Technology, for example, has earned program accreditation from ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission and ABET Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission. WVU Tech’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
A broad range of undergraduate and graduate degrees and programs are available across West Virginia from religious institutions, community and 4-year colleges, universities and online schools. Students can enroll at degree programs located in Charles Town and Huntington and other smaller cities across the state. Eight schools in West Virginia offered some form of distance education in 2013, either through individual classes or fully-online degree programs. The top online schools in West Virginia are highly regarded for their online curriculum, faculty and support services. See who made the list of the Best Online Colleges in West Virginia for 2015-2016.
|RANK||COLLEGE||Score||Student-Teacher Ratio||Financial Aid||Cost||MORE INFO|
|1||West Virginia University at Parkersburg||99.82||17:1||35%|
West Virginia University at Parkersburg is located in Parkersburg, West Virginia was founded in 1961 and is home to more than 4,000 enrolled students. Online College Degree Programs at this university include; Bachelor of Applied Science- Child Development, Associate in Science- Business Administration, Associate in Applied Science-Business Technology- Child Development- Multi-Craft Technology and Certificate in Applied Science- Child Development.
|2||West Liberty University||94.96||14:1||97%|
West Liberty University continues to add to its online degree offerings. The school offers courses that are completely online as well as hybrid courses that involve some pre-scheduled, face-to-face meetings. Otherwise, the online portions of these courses are asynchronous, meaning students have deadlines for work completion without set meeting times for those assignments. Online courses cover a few different programs, though the professional studies courses are also popular. These professional studies courseshave no prerequisites and can fulfill either certain general studies requirements or electives, depending on the degree type, and they teach students valuable skills needed in the workplace.
Founded in 1837 and located in Huntington, West Virginia, Marshall University is home to nearly 14,000 enrolled students. Marshall University Online offers 150 E-courses each semester with online classrooms 24-hours a day. Students communicate and participate electronically through forums, chats, and e-mail for a complete class experience.
|4||West Virginia University||86.83||20:1||89%|
Located in Morgantown, West Virginia, West Virginia University is home to the Mountaineers and more than 29,000 students. This university offers six online college undergrad programs and more than 30 Online Graduate Programs. Degrees include communication, elementary education, health education, social work and nursing.
Students attending online colleges in West Virginia must consider what school to attend, degree costs, scheduling, accreditation and future career options. The custom search tool below helps students filter through West Virginia online colleges and programs, sorting by cost, accreditation and program type.
Find out the inside scoop on the qualities that earned institutions a place on the Best Online Colleges in West Virginia for 2015. The faculty of some of the colleges on our list spoke to us about what makes their programs stand out.
The following links lead to free information and services about accreditation, state student aid (loans, grants and scholarships) and veterans’ educational benefits. Find out more about these resources.