Iowa K-12 Online Schools

Iowa is slowly moving into online education for grades K-12, with two fully-online schools (as of 2014). At the district level, online opportunities are increasing quickly. Kirkwood High School Distance Learning, a service of Kirkwood Community College, works with school districts across the state to offer credit recovery for high school students. The state currently has a cap of about 900 students who can enroll in fully-online schools.

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Alpha Omega Academy K - 12 Rock Rapids Both Live/On-Demand Private (800) 682-7396
Iowa Learning Online 9 - 12 N/A Both Live/On-Demand Public (515) 238-4765
Iowa Online AP Academy 9 - 12 Iowa City Both Live/On-Demand Public (800) 336-6463

Iowa Online Colleges and Universities

Private career colleges in Iowa were among the first to offer Web-based programs, but older colleges with more traditional programs quickly followed suit to provide distance learning options. The state’s community college system, for instance, launched the Iowa Community College Consortium, a virtual database that links students from all online courses, certificate programs and associate degree programs 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 nonprofit and for-profit institutions round out the extensive list of online schools in Iowa.

Community Colleges 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.

Search School Name
Degree Levels
8 Results
Northwest Iowa Community College 603 W Park St Sheldon +
Western Iowa Tech Community College 4647 Stone Ave Sioux City +
Iowa Central Community College One Triton Circle Fort Dodge +
Ellsworth Community College 1100 College Ave Iowa Falls +
North Iowa Area Community College 500 College Dr Mason City +
Marshalltown Community College 3700 S Center St Marshalltown +
Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar 1625 Hwy 150 Calmar +
Des Moines Area Community College 2006 Ankeny Blvd Ankeny +
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Public Universities in Iowa

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.

Private Colleges in Iowa

There are many different private schools in Iowa, including nonprofit 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.

Iowa Online Colleges Spotlight

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

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

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

Best Online Schools in Iowa for 2015-2016

Score Student/teacher ratio Financial aid Cost more
1 Western Iowa Tech Community College 99.39 21:1 93%

Whether it's a completely online degree or one with a mix of online and traditional instruction, Western Iowa Tech Community College has it. WITCC offers two nursing and one dental assisting degrees in a hybrid format and 10 fully online associate programs. Course length varies, with classes ranging from 8 to 12 to 16 weeks in length depending on the program. Students are encouraged to take a demo course to find out if online learning is a good fit for them. The college offers a number of online learning tips to help students be successful in their educational endeavors.

2 Northwest Iowa Community College 98.98 13:1 88%

As part of the Iowa Community College Iowa Consortium, Northwest Iowa Community College can offer 13 online degrees and many additional online classes. Students who enroll in an online program should be highly motivated and have strong communication skills. Students should plan to spend about 10 hours per week for each 3-credit course, more for 8-week terms. Classes are not self-paced, however they do provide flexibility in scheduling. High school students can also get a jumpstart on their college careers through online programming.

3 Iowa Central Community College 98.14 18:1 90%

Iowa Central Community College's online programs feature small class sizes, and many students have little or no college experience. Most of the school's associate's degree programs begin new sessions and accept new students every month. Classes are held in eight-week sessions, and most students take two classes at a time. With this schedule, students can typically earn an associate's degree in two years. Classes do not have specific requirements for when students should log on or participate. However, communication and participation is an important part of the curriculum, and grades are based in part on contributions to discussions and effort put forth. Students should plan to post at least four days a week, and twice per day.

4 Ellsworth Community College 97.66 23:1 93%

The online liberal arts transfer associate's degree at Ellsworth Community College gives students the opportunity to choose from numerous emphases. These emphases help students select electives that will lead to an easier transfer to a four-year institution with the major of their choice. These programs are held in conjunction with the other schools in the Iowa Valley Community College District. The college also has articulation agreements with several schools in Iowa (including Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa) and across the Midwest. Through this agreement, the associate's degree will transfer completely. Class structure varies for each course. Some require students to complete assignments and view modules by specific due dates throughout the semester. Others are more flexible, with fewer due dates, allowing students to complete the majority of their work whenever they wish during the semester.

5 North Iowa Area Community College 97.27 20:1 87%

In addition to required courses in communications, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, the online associate's degree at North Iowa Area Community College offers electives in a wide variety of subject areas, including insurance, building codes and standards, banking, and pharmacology. Most online courses at the college follow the traditional semester schedule. While there is no set time that students must participate in their courses, they can expect to spend the same amount of time on their coursework as they would for an in-person class. Courses are held through the ANGEL Learning Management System, which supports communication between students and professors, access to course content, and participation in online forums.

6 Des Moines Area Community College 97.23 19:1 72%

Des Moines Area Community College has three online degree options for distance students: an associate of arts, a business administration associate of arts, and a business administration associate of science. These programs contain the same general curriculum and objectives as their on-campus counterparts, but can be completed fully at a distance for working professionals and nontraditional students. Courses are 15 weeks long in the fall and spring semester, and 10 weeks long in the summer semester. Students may need to take proctored tests at the DMACC campus, or with a proctor in their location; other than for proctored exams, the school has a policy that online students cannot be required to come to campus.

7 Marshalltown Community College 96.17 29:1 84%

Marshalltown Community College's online degree programs include a liberal arts associate's degree with many available emphases, and a paralegal degree that leads to an associate of applied science. These programs are held in conjunction with the other schools in the Iowa Valley Community College District. The school uses the Blackboard Learning Management system to deliver courses to its distance students. Features used in classes include discussion forums, chat rooms, an internal email feature, and more. Upon graduation, students in the online degree programs will receive the same diploma and transcript as an on-campus student. There will be no indication that classes were taken online.

8 Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar 95.49 16:1 86%

Students in Northeast Iowa Community College's online associate of arts or science programs will earn 60 credits that can (typically) be transferred towards the first two years of a four-year degree. Participants are encouraged to choose their intended major for the transfer institution as early as possible, so that they can take courses that are required for that major. Online courses, as well as hybrid courses, are taught on the regular semester schedule, with fall, winter, spring and summer sessions. Students can work on their own schedule by completing assignments and reviewing materials at any time that is convenient; however, each course has set deadlines throughout the semester that students must meet.

Score Student/teacher ratio Financial aid Cost more
1 Graceland University 99.1 15:1 100%

At Graceland University, the same professors that teach on-campus classes also teach the school's online programs. It offers three online bachelor's degree programs, 10 master's degrees and an online doctorate. Its programs are designed for the adult learner who needs a flexible schedule and academic support. Students access course materials asynchronously, when it's convenient for them. Sponsored by the Community of Christ, the school prides itself on its ability to help educate students while putting their needs first. Degrees include education, nursing, religion, business administration and organizational leadership.

2 Briar Cliff University 98.31 12:1 97%

Students with an associate's degree or some undergraduate schooling can enter one of five degree completion programs at Briar Cliff University to earn a bachelor's online. Classes are hosted through Brightspace, a course management program where students can set up a personal profile and view materials for all courses. The university also uses Blackboard Collaborate to stream lectures and provide access to previously recorded sessions. Students can view these materials and participate in web conferencing on their desktops or mobile devices. While all courses are online, some programs require a field internship. This can be completed locally while still being supervised from afar by university faculty.

3 Upper Iowa University 98.31 17:1 85%

Online learners who require extreme flexibility in their schedule may find what they need in Upper Iowa University's self-paced degree program. This program allows students to learn through texts, study guides, and similar materials, and complete courses at their own pace (up to six months per course). 14 majors and over 100 courses are available through this program. More traditional students can participate in the school's online associate's, bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs. The university has articulation agreements with local community colleges to assist in the transfer of credits towards a degree program. Through the experiential learning portfolio program, students may also be able to earn up to 30 credits for prior experience.

4 University of Northern Iowa 98.03 16:1 87%

While the University of Northern Iowa does offer two fully online and one partially online undergraduate degree programs, the school's distance offerings are much more comprehensive at the graduate level. 12 master's degrees can be earned completely online, with an additional ten programs that are hybrid. Students can also earn endorsements, certificates, and professional development credentials through online coursework. These are primarily in the education field. The university uses the eLearning course management system for its asynchronous course materials, such as readings, recorded lectures, and discussion forums. Some classes also include live, interactive video conferencing through Adobe Connect.

5 Iowa Wesleyan College 97.9 9:1 100%

Registered nurses can pursue a bachelor's degree through the online RN to BSN program at Iowa Wesleyan College. Designed for practicing nurses, the program can be completed part time and accepts transfer credits: 64 credits from a junior college or community college, and additional credits from a four-year school, for up to 94 total transfer credits. Students in the program will learn to integrate critical thinking and the nursing process to provide care for their clients. Curriculum addresses the diverse needs of communities, families, and individuals, and gives students an understanding of how to best meet those needs in the nursing profession.

6 Shiloh University 87.39 N/A N/A

Shiloh University is an online Christian university with programs at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Topics of study include biblical and pastoral studies, biblical languages, divinity, and ministry practice, among others. Courses are held in 15-week terms, with three trimesters per year. Many students are working professionals who complete one course per term. Each course centers on weekly lessons with content from textbooks, lectures, and supplemental materials. Lessons include helpful hints to assist students in learning materials quickly and comprehensively. There are also weekly discussion forums that students are expected to contribute to in order to foster interactions with peers and professors.

4 Year Online Colleges in Iowa

Search School Name
School Type
Degree Levels
10 Results
University of Northern Iowa Public 1227 W 27th St Cedar Falls +
Morningside College Private not-for-profit 1501 Morningside Ave Sioux City +
Graceland University-Lamoni Private not-for-profit 1 University Place Lamoni +
Iowa Wesleyan College Private not-for-profit 601 N Main Street Mount Pleasant +
Shiloh University Private not-for-profit 100 Shiloh DR Kalona +
Saint Ambrose University Private not-for-profit 518 W Locust St Davenport +
Briar Cliff University Private not-for-profit 3303 Rebecca St Sioux City +
Clarke University Private not-for-profit 1550 Clarke Dr Dubuque +
AIB College of Business Private not-for-profit 2500 Fleur Drive Des Moines +
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Best Online Post-Secondary Schools in Iowa

Best for Future Service Members

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 support services to help service members and veterans get the most from their education benefits and eventually 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 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 for Women in Technology

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.

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 Schools 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 help prepare tomorrow’s social workers. We’ve researched the reputation, academics and internship opportunities available through online schools in Iowa to provide you with this list of exceptional programs.

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
Luther College Decorah 38 30 8 $36,100 2,434
Grinnell College Grinnell 35 30 5 $41,004 1,646
Wartburg College Waverly 32 31 1 $32,740 1,735
Buena Vista University Storm Lake 21 17 4 $28,314 2,112
Central College Pella 21 18 3 $29,540 1,567
Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids 20 19 1 $25,400 1,020
University of Dubuque Dubuque 19 12 7 $24,530 1,705
Loras College Dubuque 19 15 4 $28,141 1,471
Northwestern College Orange City 17 13 4 $25,740 1,163
Simpson College Indianola 16 14 2 $29,529 1,398
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 0 $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