Iowa’s agricultural legacy may have earned it a reputation as “America’s Breadbasket,” but its rapidly evolving economy makes it a hotspot of technology and innovation. The state needs professionals trained in areas like finance, green energy and biotechnology, and its high caliber colleges and universities are poised to provide them.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education lists 60 different public and private schools in Iowa, including two research schools, 11 specialty campuses and numerous undergraduate institutions, all of which help thousands of students work toward certificates and degrees in a multitude of disciplines each year. Now, thanks to the growing popularity of online learning, these schools can reach more students than ever before.
Online schools in Iowa range in size and scope, but all tend to be flexible. For rural students, parents, full-time workers and others, that flexibility can make all the difference in obtaining a college education. Iowa colleges and universities were quick to climb aboard the online learning trend. Today, even long-standing traditional schools offer Web-based classes and degrees.
The number and diversity of these online programs continues to climb, as do student enrollments. According to the Board of Regents, 30 percent of all students attending public Iowa institutions in 2013 were enrolled in a fully online degree programs. Even so, traditional and online schools in Iowa vary widely. The following guide outlines several higher education options in Iowa.
Iowa’s higher education system can only be described as diverse. Students can choose from public and private institutions of all shapes and sizes, including a number of fully online programs. Here is a summary of their options.
Online schools in Iowa are growing in number and scope. Private career colleges were among the first to offer these Web-based programs, but these days even the oldest and most traditional programs offer distance learning options. The state’s community college system, for instance, launched the Iowa Community College Consortium, a virtual database linking students from all online courses, certificates and associate degrees throughout the entire multi-campus system. Iowa Central College, Upper Iowa University and Iowa State University all offer extensive online undergraduate and graduate programs. Dozens of private non-profit and for-profit institutions round out this extensive list of online schools in Iowa.
Iowa hosts 15 community colleges, scattered throughout the state for easy access. These programs offer three different types of instruction: adult education, which includes diploma equivalency programs; career-targeted education designed for quick workforce-entry; and college-geared education, for students who intend to transfer to four-year universities. Students can earn professional development credits, certificates and associate degrees in dozens of content areas. Weekend, evening and online programs make this training more accessible for working professionals, families and other busy students. Prospective students can log onto the Iowa Community College Consortium to review all online learning options.
Iowa’s two largest public institutions are Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Each serves more than 25,000 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in a myriad of disciplines. Many publicly funded schools offer targeted professional schools, such as the University of Iowa and Drake University, which both have accredited law schools. Other specialty schools in Iowa include the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Both of these medical schools are accredited with several different programs, including the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National League of Nursing.
Iowa’s public universities serve students through a statewide network of campuses, but online schools in Iowa expand their reach and convenience.
There are many different private schools in Iowa, including non-profit and for-profit institutions. Each school is distinct in size and focus: some offer a broad liberal arts education, while others provide more targeted career training. Schools with religious affiliations are also common. Private institutions can be more expensive than Iowa’s public universities, but financial aid and other programs can help. They can also fill in the gaps for students seeking programs or learning experiences not provided through the state’s public systems. There are also a number of private online schools in Iowa that may appeal to busy, remote and other students with limited local options.
Upper Iowa University
Online students at Upper Iowa University have a number of learning options to choose from, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For instance, students might take classes through the university’s online program, which offers asynchronous courses that allow students to view materials and lectures at any time. These courses are offered in six eight-week terms every year. Students who need more flexibility may want to consider UIU’s self-paced online program, which allows them to take courses throughout the year, at their own convenience. Self-paced students can pursue certificates and degrees in several different fields, such as business, financial management, human services and marketing. Those enrolled in the more traditional online program can earn degrees in education, business and public administration.
Learn more about UIU’s distance learning options at the Center for Distance Education.
Iowa State University
Iowa State University’s distance learning options include primarily master’s degrees, but they also offer an online bachelor’s degree program in liberal studies and two online PhD programs. Students can pursue more than two dozen online master’s degrees in areas such as engineering management, family and consumer science, and statistics. ISU also offers undergraduate certificates in occupational safety and swine science, and online graduate certificates in areas like advanced manufacturing, environmental systems, food and safety defense, literacy coaching and software systems. A number of short-term, non-degree courses are also available online for those interested in professional or personal development.
Iowa State University is a member of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), a collaboration between 20 public universities. GPIDEA offers fully online courses, degrees and certificates in high demand professional fields through the colleges of agriculture and life sciences, design and human sciences.
Students access ISU’s online courses through the Blackboard learning management system, but some courses may require additional software for streaming media delivery.
For a full list of online programs and additional information, visit http://www.distance.iastate.edu.
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa’s Department of Continuing Education grants five bachelor’s degrees, including business administration, liberal studies and social work, as well as four master’s degrees in such academic disciplines as educational leadership, strategic communication and nursing. Each program has its own particular admission requirements. For example, the Bachelor of Business Administration program requires a minimum of 60 semester hours, completion of six prerequisite courses, a GPA of 2.75, and a C or better average in all prerequisite courses.
Online courses are either instructor- or self-paced. Some may have a virtual classroom or conference component. The university also offers Guided Independent Study (GIS) courses, where students utilize Iowa Courses Online (ICON), the university’s course management system.
For more information about the University of Iowa’s online programs, visit http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu.
University of Northern Iowa
The University of Northern Iowa offers one of the state’s widest selections of online learning options. Online learners have access to three bachelor’s degree programs in the areas of elementary education, liberal studies and technology management. Students can pursue nearly 20 online master’s programs, mostly within the discipline of education. Each program is designed to prepare certified education professionals for specialized classroom instruction.
These online schools in Iowa typically deliver materials via the university’s course management system and an interactive videoconferencing component.
To learn more about the University of Northern Iowa’s distance learning programs, visit https://www.uni.edu/continuinged/distance/programs.
Best Online Schools in Iowa for Military Servicemembers
Iowa has a rich military history, and many of its colleges and universities pay tribute to this tradition through special programs. Online schools in Iowa are no exception. Web-based learning is often a natural fit for military personnel and their families, as they allow students to continue studies that would have otherwise been interrupted by deployments or relocations. Many programs also offer additional services to help active service members and veterans get the most from their education benefits, earn credit for military experience through CLEP and other exams, or even transition into the civilian workforce. The following online schools in Iowa offer high quality services and programs to the men and women of the Armed Forces.
|Tuition||City||ROTC - Army||ROTC - Navy||ROTC - Air Force|
|Iowa State University||$6,648||Ames||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|University of Iowa||$6,678||Iowa City||Yes||No||Yes|
Best Online Schools in Iowa for Personal Attention
Students attending online schools in Iowa don’t have to sacrifice a blue-ribbon college experience for the convenience of Web-based learning. Many schools go above and beyond to help students feel connected, despite their distance. In addition to discussion boards, chat rooms and email, they may integrate carefully planned collaborative technologies, like Skype, virtual conferencing or live streaming lectures. Some online programs also limit class sizes and carve out virtual office hours so professors have more time to answer questions and provide personal feedback. The following online schools in Iowa earn top marks for personalizing distance learning.
|AIB College of Business||18 to 1||1,090||$13,800||Private not-for-profit||Des Moines|
|Iowa State University||18 to 1||26,523||$6,648||Public||Ames|
|University of Northern Iowa||16 to 1||12,935||$6,648||Public||Cedar Falls|
|University of Iowa||16 to 1||23,157||$6,678||Public||Iowa City|
|Dordt College||15 to 1||1,412||$25,100||Private not-for-profit||Sioux Center|
|University of Dubuque||15 to 1||1,758||$23,540||Private not-for-profit||Dubuque|
|Graceland University-Lamoni||15 to 1||1,889||$22,330||Private not-for-profit||Lamoni|
|Briar Cliff University||14 to 1||1,169||$24,520||Private not-for-profit||Sioux City|
|Grand View University||14 to 1||2,210||$21,436||Private not-for-profit||Des Moines|
|Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary||13 to 1||318||$14,560||Private not-for-profit||Ankeny|
|Cornell College||13 to 1||1,209||$34,480||Private not-for-profit||Mount Vernon|
|Northwestern College||13 to 1||1,290||$25,590||Private not-for-profit||Orange City|
|Morningside College||13 to 1||1,402||$23,780||Private not-for-profit||Sioux City|
|Central College||13 to 1||1,713||$29,060||Private not-for-profit||Pella|
|Buena Vista University||13 to 1||3,659||$28,314||Private not-for-profit||Storm Lake|
|Maharishi University of Management||12 to 1||435||$26,000||Private not-for-profit||Fairfield|
|Iowa Wesleyan College||12 to 1||880||$24,300||Private not-for-profit||Mount Pleasant|
|Loras College||12 to 1||1,575||$26,813||Private not-for-profit||Dubuque|
|Wartburg College||12 to 1||1,898||$31,890||Private not-for-profit||Waverly|
|Simpson College||12 to 1||2,062||$28,974||Private not-for-profit||Indianola|
|Luther College||12 to 1||2,528||$35,950||Private not-for-profit||Decorah|
|Drake University||12 to 1||3,862||$29,410||Private not-for-profit||Des Moines|
|Coe College||11 to 1||1,508||$33,900||Private not-for-profit||Cedar Rapids|
|Mount Mercy University||11 to 1||1,787||$25,400||Private not-for-profit||Cedar Rapids|
|Saint Ambrose University||11 to 1||2,944||$25,730||Private not-for-profit||Davenport|
|Emmaus Bible College||10 to 1||260||$13,750||Private not-for-profit||Dubuque|
|Allen College||10 to 1||530||$16,236||Private not-for-profit||Waterloo|
|Grinnell College||9 to 1||1,744||$40,628||Private not-for-profit||Grinnell|
|Clarke University||8 to 1||1,098||$26,100||Private not-for-profit||Dubuque|
|Mercy College of Health Sciences||7 to 1||1,097||$14,460||Private not-for-profit||Des Moines|
|Palmer College of Chiropractic-Davenport||3 to 1||78||$8,040||Private not-for-profit||Davenport|
|Divine Word College||3 to 1||143||$12,000||Private not-for-profit||Epworth|
Best Online Schools in Iowa for Women in Tech
Research shows women tend to be underrepresented in tech degree programs, and even more so in the field. Many online schools in Iowa can help women break these gender barriers and feel more supported, in and out of school. Approaches include ensuring students have plenty of female instructors to mentor and guide them, as well as female-only residences, student organization and tech networking events. The following online schools in Iowa are known for offering stellar degree and certificate programs, higher-than-average shares of female instructors and graduates, and other targeted support programs for women students.
|TUITION + FEES||CITY||WOMEN IN TECH DEGREES AWARDED||TOTAL ENROLLMENT||TYPE|
|Iowa State University||$7,726||Ames||208||26,194||Public|
|University of Iowa||$8,057||Iowa City||128||24,369||Public|
|University of Northern Iowa||$7,635||Cedar Falls||19||10,951||Public|
|Briar Cliff University||$25,642||Sioux City||11||857||Private Not for Profit|
|Allen College||$18,103||Waterloo||10||292||Private Not for Profit|
|Simpson College||$29,529||Indianola||5||1,398||Private Not for Profit|
Best Online Schools in Iowa Fighting for Families
For students looking to make a big impact on the lives of others, a degree in social work is a good first step. Online schools in Iowa have worked hard to create top-notch programs that will ensure success in school and beyond. Whether you’re looking to work for a government agency, with children in schools, or in a clinical setting, these colleges have exceptional staff and resources to provide a high quality education for tomorrow’s social workers, with little to no classroom work required. We’ve researched the reputation, academics and internship opportunities available through online schools in Iowa to provide you with this list of exceptional programs.
|CITY||SOCIAL DEGREES AWARDED||WOMEN||MEN||TUITION & FEES||TOTAL ENROLLMENT|
|University of Iowa||Iowa City||171||131||40||$8,057||24,369|
|University of Northern Iowa||Cedar Falls||124||105||19||$7,635||10,951|
|Iowa State University||Ames||78||46||32||$7,726||26,194|
|Saint Ambrose University||Davenport||43||37||6||$25,970||2,718|
|Buena Vista University||Storm Lake||21||17||4||$28,314||2,112|
|Mount Mercy University||Cedar Rapids||20||19||1||$25,400||1,020|
|University of Dubuque||Dubuque||19||12||7||$24,530||1,705|
|Northwestern College||Orange City||17||13||4||$25,740||1,163|
|Dordt College||Sioux Center||12||11||1||$25,520||1,363|
|Drake University||Des Moines||12||7||5||$29,556||4,242|
|Briar Cliff University||Sioux City||11||10||1||$25,642||857|
|Coe College||Cedar Rapids||9||9||$34,220||1,312|
|William Penn University||Oskaloosa||9||7||2||$23,210||1,788|
|Cornell College||Mount Vernon||8||7||1||$34,705||1,185|