Wisconsin Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2015

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Students interested in higher education in Wisconsin have many options for advancing their education at either the undergraduate or graduate level. As of 2013, the state had 126 vocational schools, community colleges and universities available, making it 23rd in the country for total number of post-secondary schools and 22nd for students who selected this state to attend college. One of Wisconsin's distinguishing features is its variety of choices through vo-tech schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, universities and distance education:

College Type Number in Wisconsin
Public 33
Private for-profit 32
Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation) 20
Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation) 11

Top Wisconsin Cities for Higher Education

Students can find a rich landscape in Wisconsin when selecting the state for higher education. Whether students want a program located closer to the Great Lakes or further inland, they are likely to find choices to suit their diverse needs. Take a look at student distribution and college prospects in Wisconsin:

Most Popular Cities for College Students (Total)

  • Madison (84,800)
  • Milwaukee (82,200)
  • Green Bay (26,000)
  • Kenosha (23,600)
  • Eau Claire (21,000)

Cities in Wisconsin with the Most Colleges (Total)

  • Milwaukee (25)
  • Madison (14)
  • Green Bay (8)
  • Kenosha (5)
  • Appleton (5)

City in Focus: Milwaukee Colleges

Aside from the brewing culture, one of the main focuses of the city of Milwaukee is higher education. In fact, the city was said to have the 6th highest per capita student population in North America, according to a 2000 study from McGill University. The city hosts 12 separate colleges and universities, with more in outlying areas. These colleges cover a variety of degree programs and specializations, including medical schools, art & design schools, engineering schools, and technical schools. The largest of these is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, located on the East side of the city. UWM offers 188 academic programs and serves more than 27,800 students, including a portion of international learners. Their Division I NCAA Panthers team is also a notable rallying point for Milwaukee locals. Nearby, the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) also features impressive educational opportunities. This state-funded school, which educates more students than any other Wisconsin college, offers 87 associate degree programs, 45 technical diploma programs, 33 certificate programs, and 25 apprenticeship programs. For students interested in visual arts, Milwaukee is also home to the Art Institute of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design.

Online Learning in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee college with the most off-campus offerings is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee—approximately 25 percent of UWM students are enrolled in at least one online course. More than 500 online and blended courses are offered by the school, in addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates in a range of fields such as communication, administrative leadership, sociology, occupational therapy, history and computer science. Online students have access to a number of services and resources for support and guidance throughout their program.

Wisconsin Online Colleges and Universities

Private for-profit schools have long been the key players in distance education, but over the past decade traditional schools in Wisconsin have built up their online offerings. These help create more diverse and robust courses in academia, but also keep college access from being such a significant roadblock in educational attainment. In 2013, 22 four-year schools in Wisconsin offered online learning, whether through individual classes, hybrid offerings or completely web-based programs. The University of Wisconsin system provides students with the option of earning an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, or doctorate degree online through its eCampus. Non-degree certificate programs are also available.

The Cost of College and Cost of Living in Wisconsin

Students planning to attend college in Wisconsin may encounter unexpected, as well as expected, costs that come with an education. The most common of these is tuition, which can vary based on location and type of school, undergraduate or graduate level, and whether or not a student holds out-of-state resident status. As of 2012, students with Wisconsin residency paid an average tuition of $13,511 per year, making the state 14th in the nation in terms of most expensive in-state tuition costs.

Tuition and fees are only one slice of the financial pie when it comes to college education. Also hefty can be costs for room and board, true whether students are looking to stay on campus or seeking off-campus housing. In Wisconsin, the cost of living (COL) is 4 percent lower than the national average, which students may want to keep in mind when doing their college planning. The subsequent table provides details about the COL in the state's metropolitan areas as compared with the national average index of 100:

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Appleton -6.7% -18.2% -7.0% 2.3% 4.4% 4.7% -4.0%
Eau Claire -6.3% -9.5% -2.4% -15.2% 3.1% 5.5% -6.5%
Marshfield -5.8% -7.8% -4.7% -0.1% -3.2% 3.6% -8.3%
Green Bay -4.9% -16.5% -11.2% 18.6% 0.2% 5.9% -2.3%
Janesville -3.8% -8.7% -5.0% -0.7% -0.7% 3.1% -1.8%
Wausau -3.5% -10.4% 0.0% -1.6% -2.5% 1.3% -0.3%
Sheboygan 1.4% -2.5% -5.7% 17.3% 5.9% 5.5% 0.8%
Milwaukee-Waukesha 1.9% 12.7% -1.9% -1.4% -0.8% 8.1% -5.2%

Financial Assistance to Pay for College

There are many options at hand to help students pay for college and keep financial stress at bay. Federal financial aid is available to students who qualify and may provide loans to cover tuition and fees. Students can inquire about the repayment schedule for loans. To begin the process of determining eligibility and loan amount, a student simply needs to fill out the FAFSA form. In Wisconsin, 67 percent of undergraduate students received financial aid.

Scholarships are another route in helping cover college costs. They may require up-front effort in terms of research and filling out applications, but can provide money that is free of the stipulation of repayment. Coupled with federal financial aid, a scholarship may be the icing on the cake when it comes to increased college affordability. Students in Wisconsin can seek scholarships through nonprofits, regional organizations, foundations, businesses and schools. Scholarships are available to college students in Wisconsin through different types of entities, including the following:

  • Altrusa International
  • American Business Woman's Association
  • American Family Insurance
  • American Foods
  • American Legion, Department of Wisconsin
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield/United Wisconsin
  • Capital Credit Union
  • Central Wisconsin Home Builders Association
  • Chippewa Falls Rotary Club
  • Dairyman's State Bank
  • Engineers Foundation of Wisconsin
  • Golden Sands Ruffed Grouse Society
  • Grandmothers for Peace - Wisconsin
  • Medical Group Management Association
  • Wisconsin Broadcasters Association
  • Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers

Accreditation for Colleges in Wisconsin

Students choosing a college in Wisconsin typically check on the accreditation of the school they plan to attend. Accreditation is important in confirming that certain educational standards are met, and it allows students to be eligible for federal loans. In Wisconsin, accreditation is carried out through the regional association of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, known as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Institutions in Wisconsin can also hold programmatic or specialized accreditation for individual colleges, departments, or programs. For example, at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, individual programs have been accredited by the American Chemical Society, the Council on Social Work Education, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


When planning to attend school in Wisconsin, students need to evaluate many different factors. First, they need to find a program at the undergraduate or graduate level that suits their needs. Second, they should make sure it fits with their financial plans in terms of cost and affordability. The information provided here offers a jump-start in that planning, but the list of Wisconsin schools below can paint a broader picture of what is available, particularly as related to distance learning.

We at AC Online certainly believe that affordability is important for anyone who wants to attend college online, but it's only part of the equation. We spoke with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to get a better sense of the online education landscape in the state.

Online Departments in Wisconsin
  • University of Wisconsin-Green Bay -

    How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

    UW-Green Bay offers the Interdisciplinary Studies major completely online. In addition, all UW-Green Bay students have access to approximately 75 different sections of courses online each semester, of which the majority are taught by UW-Green Bay faculty and lecturers. Online is used to provide access to place-bound and adult learners, but is also offered as an alternative learning experience for on-campus, traditional students. Our online courses provide the same academic rigor and a commitment to having full-time university faculty teach in the program.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    Many of the students who attend UW-Green Bay are working adults who need the flexibility and convenience of an online degree program. These students are not able to attend classes in a traditional face-to-face environment. Our students earn a nationally-recognized University of Wisconsin degree, advance their personal and professional lives and do so in the most flexible and affordable way possible. In addition, access to online classes allows traditional students to enroll in classes that may otherwise be in conflict with their schedules.

    Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

    Online programs will continue to be a part of higher education, adapting to meet new technologies. Online education will continue to grow as more traditional students continue to incorporate at least one online course into their schedules.

Wisconsin, the “Dairy land,” is also the land of superior online degree programs. These programs are through four-year fully accredited colleges and therefore commonly grant identical degrees to those issued to on-campus students. Fully online colleges in Wisconsin are unsurpassed in convenience, curriculum, and professors. Online schools in Wisconsin commonly offer assistance with tuition, making distance learning a cost-effective way to continue your education. With value a priority, we’ve listed all of the best Wisconsin online colleges, based on tuition costs. Beginning with the lowest tuition program and continuing to the highest, this catalog of programs showcases the very best online programs in Wisconsin.

Click here to see our methodology.
Madison Area Technical College
Tuition and fees: $3,815 Enrollment: 23,031 Accredited: YES Website: Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College has more than 17,000 enrolled students and was founded in 1912. The college is a technical, community college located in Madison, Wisconsin. Administrative Professional Online Associate's Degree, Associate Degree in Arts or Sciences – Online, Business Software Applications Specialist, Dental Assistant Online Program, Marketing Online Associate's Degree, Medical Administrative Specialist, Meeting and Event Management Online Associate's Degree, Optometric Technician Online Technical Diploma and Supervisory Management Online Associate's Degree.

University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Tuition and fees: $7,287 Enrollment: 5,508 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Parkside

University of Wisconsin-Parkside is located in Kenosha, Wisconsin. UWP offers online college classes to obtain Bachelor and Master's Degrees. The classes are set so that the student can complete them in their own time from home. Choose the classes that will assist you in obtaining a Bachelor Degree in Sustainable Management or Health Information Management & Technology or a Master Degree in Business Administration or Sustainable Management.

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Tuition and fees: $7,351 Enrollment: 13,663 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Founded in 1871 and located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh campus is a public university offering Online Master’s and Bachelor’s programs. Bachelor’s Applied Science- Fire and Emergency Response Management and Leadership and Organizational Studies, Bachelors of Liberal Studies- Leadership Development and Organizational Administration and Bachelors of science- Human Services Leadership.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Tuition and fees: $7,457 Enrollment: 8,274 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Platteville

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers Bachelor and Master Degrees online. It is an accredited state university and the online classes are offered in all states. UW-Platteville has served on-campus students for over 150 years and have offered distance education for over 35 years. UW-Platteville offers Master Degrees in Criminal Justice, Distance Education Leadership, Engineering, Integrated Supply Chain Management, Organizational Change Leadership, and Project Management,as well as Bachelor Degrees in Business Administration and Criminal Justice.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Tuition and fees: $7,505 Enrollment: 10,047 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

The eCampus of Wisconsin includes the all of the University of Wisconsin colleges which are UW, UW-Eau Claire, UW- Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW Oshkosh, UW_Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater. With all these universities to choose from they offer any program you could want and all are offered through online college.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Tuition and fees: $7,528 Enrollment: 11,322 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin Whitewater online programs consist of graduate and undergraduate programs. Financial aid is available for a variety of online college programs. You can choose from MS Education, Library Media, Alternative Education in the graduate programs or Business, Early Childhood Education, Political Science or Liberal Studies in the undergraduate program. With advisors available in all programs getting your degree could not be easier.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Tuition and fees: $7,648 Enrollment: 7,561 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin offers over 13 online sites that are connected to the different campuses. They have Bachelor Degree in all of the most wanted subjects. With financial assistance, class advisors, and assistants in the selecting the studies that will help toward the Bachelor Degree anyone wants. With over 125 years of experience in education it is easy to see why they have online students in every state. All campus and online college classes are accredited.

University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Tuition and fees: $7,700 Enrollment: 6,960 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-River Falls

ECampus is the online college programs offered by the University of Wisconsin. All of the online degrees are accepted throughout the United States as easily as the degrees earned at the campus. You have the ability to stay at home, hold down a job, and still get your education. The eCampus program offers Bachelor and Master Degrees as well as Associates, Undergraduate and Graduate degrees.

University of Wisconsin-Superior
Tuition and fees: $7,898 Enrollment: 3,157 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Superior

University of Wisconsin-Superior is located in Superior Wisconsin and associated with the University of Wisconsin. UWS offers online college classes to get a Bachelor Degree, Associate Degree, Graduate Degree Certificates, and Minor Degrees. All classes can be completed online or at one of the 14 campus of UW located in all areas of Wisconsin. You will be able to get assistance in acquiring financial aid and will be appointed a student and profession advisor so that you will have the greatest chance of success.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Tuition and fees: $8,685 Enrollment: 11,046 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

At the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair Bachelor Degrees, Master Degrees, and over 300 non-credit courses are offered. WEC is one of the highest rated universities in Wisconsin. Eau Clair has a very wide variety of programs, financial aid assistance, online college classes, and advisors.

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Tuition and fees: $8,761 Enrollment: 9,986 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse offers Bachelor and Master Degrees online. With full accreditation you can study at your leisure. With a variety of courses to assist you in getting any of six master's degrees through online college. UW-La Crosse sponsors the only Medical Dosimetry Program offered online.

University of Wisconsin-Stout
Tuition and fees: $8,944 Enrollment: 9,407 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Stout

The University of Wisconsin Stout's main campus in located in Menomonie, Wisconsin. They also offer online college class which includes 40 Bachelor Degrees and 19 Master Degree. Stout is mainly offers classes in education, business and construction. They offer student and facility advisors to assist you in your online experience. Stout online college classes are available in almost all states.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Tuition and fees: $9,181 Enrollment: 28,496 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee campus is home to “Pounce the Panther” and more than 29,000 enrolled students. The university claims to “provide statewide access to university resources and research so the people of Wisconsin can learn, grow and succeed at all stages of life.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Tuition and fees: $10,378 Enrollment: 32,962 Accredited: YES Website: University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin- Madison campus is located in Madison, Wisconsin and is home to more than 42,000 enrolled students. The university was founded in 1848 and today the University of Wisconsin-Extension is on all 26 UW campuses through continuing education programs and small business development centers.

Ottawa University-Milwaukee
Tuition and fees: $10,480 Enrollment: 610 Accredited: YES Website: Ottawa University-Milwaukee

Ottawa University-Milwaukee was founded in 1865 and adheres to the following mission statement; “to provide the highest quality liberal arts and professional education in a caring, Christ-centered community of grace which integrates faith, learning and life.” This university offers Online Degree Programs in both Undergraduate and Graduate Studies.

Maranatha Baptist Bible College
Tuition and fees: $12,860 Enrollment: 1,067 Accredited: YES Website: Maranatha Baptist Bible College

Maranatha Baptist Bible College is located in Watertown, Wisconsin and is a Baptist college offering a variety of online college courses including; Business Management, accounting, office management, sport management, elementary and secondary teacher education, nursing, humanities, English, biology, music and church ministries. The university was founded in 1968 and has more than 1,200 students.

Viterbo University
Tuition and fees: $22,670 Enrollment: 2,491 Accredited: YES Website: Viterbo University

Viterbo University is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin. They offer Associate Degrees and eight Bachelor Degrees. Viterbo was originally a school for religious sisters to become elementary school teachers. The online college courses include Bachelor Degrees in Health Care, Business Management, Information Systems, Science, Accounting and Criminal Justice. Financial aid and advisors are available.

Edgewood College
Tuition and fees: $23,740 Enrollment: 2,279 Accredited: YES Website: Edgewood College

Edgewood College is located in Madison, Wisconsin and offers a Graduate Program online. You will be able to work toward Master in Business, Master in Science, Master in Arts or go for a Doctorate in Education. As well as getting a Master in Marriage and Family Therapy and get all the lasted up dated classes to keep you in the know for the rest of you working life. EC has an extended available of online college studies.

Concordia University-Wisconsin
Tuition and fees: $24,180 Enrollment: 4,595 Accredited: YES Website: Concordia University-Wisconsin

Concordia University of Wisconsin specializes in Master of Science and Master of Business Degrees. CUW is located in Mequon, Wisconsin and has 125 years of experience in helping students. CUW is affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and has over 2,400 online college students at any time. CUW offers Associate, Undergraduate, Graduate and Doctoral Degree online as well as the main campus. CUW also offer self-help programs for non-credit courses.

Cardinal Stritch University
Tuition and fees: $24,330 Enrollment: 3,704 Accredited: YES Website: Cardinal Stritch University

Cardinal Stritch University is a Roman Catholic university located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. CSU has campuses in Madison, Eden Prairie, and Rochester Minnesota. They also offer online college classes. They offer Business Certificate Programs, Business Degree Programs, Education Degrees and Certification Programs, Personal and Professional Development Degrees and Graduate Credit Courses for Educator License Renewal.

Northland College
Tuition and fees: $28,568 Enrollment: 577 Accredited: YES Website: Northland College

Northland College is located in Ashland, Wisconsin and was founded in 1906. Today, the college has more than 6 enrolled students. Online Degree Programs offered by the university include; Early Childhood and Paraprofessional, Health and Fitness Specialist, Health Science Board Field, Medical Administrative Assistant, Medical Office Specialist, Medical Transcriptionist, Medical Coding and Practical Nursing.

Lawrence University
Tuition and fees: $40,023 Enrollment: 1,542 Accredited: YES Website: Lawrence University

Lawrence University was founded in 1847 in Appleton, Wisconsin. The university has more than 1,500 students and offers the following Online Degree Programs; Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Master of Architecture, Master of Business Administration, Master of Educational Technology in Training Performance Improvement, Master of Engineering Management, Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Master of Science in Information Systems.