By 2020, 66 percent of jobs in Missouri are projected to require a postsecondary degree. In response to that estimate, Missouri’s Big Goal for higher education aims to provide 60 percent of adults in the state with postsecondary degrees by 2025. But stats show that only 27.6 percent of Missouri residents held a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2016. In order to fulfill the Big Goal promise, non-traditional students who have put college on hold in favor of work, family and other lifestyle commitments are likely considering online colleges, which offer greater learning flexibility than traditional, on-campus programs. But how are you to tell which are truly the best online colleges in Missouri? And what makes them the best? Find answers to these questions, along with answers to other common queries surrounding online colleges, from how to fund your online education in Missouri, details on college transfers and career potential in the state below.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Must be a not-for-profit institution
Must be regionally or nationally accredited
Must offer at least one online program1
Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
Many of the online schools in Missouri have interesting histories, including St. Louis University, which was founded in 1818, making it the first college west of the Mississippi River. Aside from fun facts, there’s a lot for prospective students to consider before choosing which online program they want to commit to. Think about the basic standards high-quality colleges and universities possess—even if you don’t think you have what it takes to attend a Harvard-quality, you’d be surprised. There are many top-caliber, accredited online colleges right here in Missouri. Take a look at the best of the best for student success and more here:
How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I’m Looking for in Missouri?
Whether you’re interested in becoming a helicopter pilot, business manager or nurse, online colleges and universities in Missouri have many interesting degree program options, some of which can be completed fully online. A quick online search will uncover a listing of online programs on each university’s website, such as this list from Mizzou Online.
As you sort through directories, try to find your niche: Columbia College offers 35 online programs, most of which are in business administration, but with a variety of focus options including healthcare, sports management, marketing and international business. St. Louis University offers a more diverse variety of online degrees, including organizational leadership and technology, security and strategic development, and aviation management.
Which Online Schools in Missouri Will Accept My Transfer Credits or Work/Life Experience?
Most online schools in Missouri accept transfer credits. In fact, about 45 percent of students at Missouri State University transfer from community colleges and other four-year universities.
The University of Missouri also encourages transfer students to enroll by providing scholarships and awards to help transfer students fund their education. The Missouri Community College Scholar Award provides $2,000 per year for a Missouri resident transfer student who has earned an associate degree from an accredited Missouri community college. The Missouri Community College Scholarship offers $1,000 for Missouri resident transfer students who have an associate degree or 45 credits from an accredited Missouri community college.
If you’re questioning whether earning your online degree is worth it, take a look at the salary potential for jobs that require a college education in Missouri. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, on average, careers that require a bachelor’s-level education and doctoral-level education are some of the best-paying in the state. Take a look at the average earnings for careers with each of the following minimum degree requirements in Missouri below:
In Missouri, the manufacturing and construction sectors are projected to continue losing jobs, while biomedical engineers, home health aides and biochemists can expect an increase in open positions, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Careers in these fields likely require a college education, and as jobs become more specialized, the need for workers with advanced degrees, including bachelor’s-level degrees, is on the rise.
The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Missouri
Accreditation indicates that a school has met or exceeded higher education standards overseen by a national, regional or subject-specific education committee. For online college students in Missouri, choosing an accredited school over a non-accredited program means you won’t be sacrificing quality for flexibility in learning. Many online colleges and universities in Missouri are fully accredited.
While accreditation varies by school, and colleges are not restricted in the number of accreditations they hold, most Missouri universities are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Which also provides a searchable database of schools, including online colleges in Missouri.
Paying for Online College in Missouri: Tuition & Financial Aid
Although the cost of tuition is rising, many of Missouri’s fast-growing, high-paying industries require college degrees. Tuition and fees at online schools in Missouri are set by each institution and are reported to the Missouri Department of Higher Education. In Missouri, if a public institution increases tuition and fees too much, the institution must either remit 5 percent of its state funding or request a waiver from the Commission of Higher Education. This rule aims to prevent costs from rising too much between consecutive years.
These figures do not include any fees or costs associated with earning a degree outside of base tuition (like room and board). Cost-per-credit may be the same for in-state and out-of-state online students in Missouri. Schools determine online education pricing individually. Some examples are listed below:
Flat Online Tuition: WGU Missouri charges a flat tuition rate every six months. No matter how many courses you take, tuition is the same, offering an incentive to earn your degree faster.
Same Rate, Online & On-Campus: The University of Missouri charges students the same rate for online classes as on-campus classes, and in-state and out-of-state tuition rates apply for residents and non-residents equally online and on-campus.
Varying Tuition Rates: Some programs charge less for the first few years of courses, then slowly increase the per-credit cost for courses. Missouri State University follows this pattern.
Missouri is also a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which makes it easier for students living in one state to take part in online programs in other states. Missouri participates with 11 other states in SARA’s Midwestern Higher Education Compact, through which students living in participating states can benefit from tuition breaks and a simplified transfer process.
Continue reading to answer more frequently asked questions about paying for online colleges in Missouri:
What Are Missouri’s Requirements to Qualify for In-State University Tuition?
Prospective out-of-state students are considered temporary residents of the state by online schools in Missouri, according to the policy established by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education. To obtain full residency, students must provide proof of full-time employment for the 12 months preceding their education, plus lease agreement or proof of home purchase, income tax forms, a Missouri driver’s license or voter registration, and vehicle registration.
Most importantly: Online students in Missouri always check to see if their online degree program receives in-state tuition rates.
Are Online Credits More Affordable in Missouri Than Other Places?
The cost per credit at online schools in Missouri is in line with average tuition costs, according to the College Board. Check out the following comparison, detailing two of Missouri’s online cost-per-credit rates with other schools in nearby states for undergrads in 2018-2019:
How Can I Get Help Paying for Online College in Missouri?
Students at online colleges in Missouri benefit from state financial aid, along with aid from individual colleges. The Missouri Department of Higher Education provides a variety of grant and scholarship options to students, including children of veterans killed during wartime or because of wartime injuries or illnesses.
Online schools in Missouri also award financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans, based on a students’ Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). About 89 percent of students at St. Louis University receive financial aid from the university and its endowments. Of the $331 million available in aid in 2017, $165 million was awarded to students as either scholarships or grants.
Columbia College awarded $4 million in scholarships in 2017, according to the school’s website. Online tuition at Columbia is $375 per credit hour, with discounts for military service members. Columbia College’s scholarship finder offers an easy way to look for scholarships and grants.
Mizzou offers some financial aid, including scholarships specifically for online students. Mizzou Online provides tuition aid for various groups of distance learners, including community college graduates, veterans, and military service members and their dependents. The Mizzou Online Community College Award is for graduates of community colleges in Missouri, offering a 10% tuition award. In-state transfer students at the University of Missouri also have access to specific scholarships.
At Missouri State, more than 78% of students receive some form of financial aid. Transfer students from community colleges in the United States can receive either institutional or donor-funded scholarships.
The online financial aid guide for Marysville University offers general information and links to a wide variety of scholarship and grant information.
While traditional students enter college in the autumn after high school graduation, many must instead transfer from the classroom to the workforce because of family and financial commitments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the same Missouri residents who would benefit from seeking a postsecondary degree. This is where adult education programs can help non-traditional students get back on track and prepare for college success.
Missouri’s adult education programs can be useful for:
Academic preparations for college. From earning a GED to adult literacy, high school equivalency is a big part of Missouri adult education, providing academic preparation for students taking first steps towards earning a college degree.