Mississippi is home to 62 accredited colleges and universities. As of 2015, over 18,000 students were enrolled in private colleges in Mississippi and over 153,000 students were enrolled in public colleges. But rising college costs are a major concern for Mississippi and many other states nationwide, leaving students considering low-cost online college options to save money on room and board, meal plans and other on-campus student fees. So how do Mississippi schools stack up in terms of online education? Should can students in Mississippi count on in-state schools to provide the most high-quality, affordable education? We answer these questions and help students identify the best online colleges available in Mississippi below.
Online schools in Mississippi offer a wide array of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The state hosts several historic institutions, including the University of Mississippi, affectionately known as "Ole Miss." Students interested in fully online programs may be interested in The University of Southern Mississippi. while students who want a hybrid approach with both online and on-campus classes might prefer the degrees at Mississippi College. But which online colleges provide the best mix of quality, heritage and student success? Check out our rankings below to see our picks and standards for choosing the Best Online Colleges in Mississippi.
Most online schools in Mississippi list all available programs on their website. The website for the Mississippi university system includes a list of all eight public universities, links to school websites, tuition data and enrollment information.
Some schools, such as the University of Southern Mississippi and Belhaven University, offer online programs in many different disciplines. Others, such as Mississippi College and Blue Mountain College, only offer a few online options. Ultimately, students should contact an admissions adviser for the most up-to-date information.
Most online schools in Mississippi accept transfer credits. Several also allow students to earn college credit by taking standardized tests such as CLEP (College Level Examination Program). Public colleges in Mississippi participate in a statewide articulation agreement that helps community college students successfully transfer credits to four-year institutions.
Some colleges, including Belhaven University, also grant credits for military training, work history, life experience, training and certifications. Check your college picks for specific rules and regulations regarding transfer credits.
Holding a bachelor's degree in Mississippi may increase your wages by nearly $30,000 per year compared to just a high school diploma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides minimum degree level requirements and wage information for jobs throughout the state—see how much, on average, careers requiring each of the following degrees pay in Mississippi.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning projects that Mississippi will experience slightly lower growth in personal income than the U.S. overall in coming years. However, the state's economy is expected to grow, especially in the business services industry. Many of these positions require a bachelor's degree or special license, including accountant, IT manager, architect and financial adviser.
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest-growing careers in Mississippi include surgical technicians, licensed nurses and ophthalmic medical conditions–all careers that require higher education.
Accreditation has become even more important as the number of online colleges continues to grow and government regulations become more lax. Accreditation demonstrates that a school meets or exceeds quality in education standards. Students should attend regionally accredited schools, since these colleges offer federal financial aid, better academic programs, and accredited credits are often the only types of transfer credits Mississippi colleges allow.
Students can check whether their school holds accreditation by visiting the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Most online universities in Mississippi hold accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Out-of-state students should ensure that their school participates in the State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreement. This agreement allows learners to take online courses from schools in other states.
In addition to institutional accreditation, schools may also receive accreditation for certain programs or departments. For example, many online schools in Mississippi host nursing programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Although Mississippi has increased funding for public colleges in recent years in order to keep tuition costs low, the cost of attending college in Mississippi is still increasing. However, Mississippi’s fast-growing, high-paying industries require college degrees, indicating that earning a college degree is important for future career success.
To be considered a resident of Mississippi for higher education purposes, prospective students must show proof they have lived in the state for the 12 months before enrolling in school. Additionally, prospective students must provide evidence that they have abandoned their former domicile in another state with the intention of living in Mississippi permanently.
Most importantly: Online students in Mississippi should learn whether or not their school of choice requires residency to receive in-state tuition rates for online programs.
Mississippi colleges charge some of the lowest tuition rates in the U.S., according to the College Board. In 2018, in-state tuition costs about $8,000 per year, compared to the national average of nearly $10,000. In recent years, the state has increased funding for public colleges, including online schools in Mississippi. This funding has helped keep down tuition costs. Comparing with schools in neighboring states, here are how some of Mississippi’s public and private colleges and universities stack up when it comes to online costs per undergraduate credit hour this year:
Gordon State University (Georgia)
Athens State University (Alabama)
Loyola University New Orleans (Louisiana)
Faulkner University (Alabama)
$315 per credit hour
Most importantly: Students should research and contact each school they are interested in attending to understand the complete view of the cost of attending school in Mississippi.
Students may receive financial aid through the federal government, the school, foundations, nonprofits, the state government, and other sources. This aid may come in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, work-study, fellowships or loan forgiveness. All prospective students should start by filling out a form for federal financial aid through FAFSA. Certain online schools in Mississippi do not offer scholarships or other forms of aid to online students. Be sure to discuss options with an admissions adviser and the financial aid office.
The Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid aims to provide all qualified college students in the state with financial assistance. The agency's website provides a list of state grants, scholarships, and forgivable loans. Below is a sampling of the types of scholarships available to students in Mississippi:
Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant - Awarding up to $2,500 to Mississippi residents attending college for the first time.
Ishqbaaz Scholarship - This scholarship is awarded to students in high school or college planning to major in communications, media or business. Students must have a GPA of 3.0 to be eligible.
Mississippi Farm Bureau Scholarships - The Mississippi Farm Bureau helps support college students in the state by providing more than a half-dozen scholarships.
Many people do not enter college straight out of high school. Some start work immediately, take time off for personal or financial reasons, or dedicate time to raising children. For those who want to return to school later in life, advance or change careers to get a promotion or increase their salary potential, adult education programs may be an essential stepping stone to preparing to go to college for non-traditional students in Mississippi.
Here are some ways adult learning programs prepare aspiring online college students in Mississippi:
Workshops and counseling for underserved populations. Delta State University hosts the Delta Educational Opportunity Center designed to help bridge the gap for low-income and economically-disadvantaged students.
Basic Education and High School Equivalency: Students who want to earn their high school diploma or could use some time to brush up on basic classroom skills before college can take advantage of corresponding adult education programs.
Internships and work experience to prepare for graduation. The Mississippi Works program helps adults looking for internships and entry-level job experience in their degree field, which can accelerate their job prospects after graduation.
English Language & Literacy assistance programs. Mississippi’s adult education programs often include English Language & Literacy classes for non-native English speakers to prepare to attend college in the U.S.
Adult and continuing education programs in Mississippi can also help with additional professional development for students after college, especially those who are looking to earn extra certifications.