Colleges, Universities & Online Colleges in Columbia

Columbia, a town of 113,225 residents in central Missouri, has experienced significant development in recent years, with population growth outpacing that of the state by over 3 percent. Known as a college town, Columbia is home to a well-educated populace, with 93.4 percent of residents having graduated from high school and 54.1 percent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Columbia has a strong cultural infrastructure and offers students access to festivals, art museums and music venues.

Colleges in Columbia, Missouri

Despite the highly educated population, Columbia is somewhat limited in the number of public educational institutions. The two public centers of higher learning in Columbia are Moberly Area Community College and the University of Missouri.

Moberly Area Community College (MACC) has several different locations throughout the state, including one in Columbia. The website reports that more students successfully transfer to the University of Missouri and Columbia College from MACC than from any other school. In addition, 96 percent of the school’s nursing students passed the state board exam, which is one of the highest passing rates in the nation. MACC’s enrollment at its Columbia campus has increased by 111 percent in recent years. MACC offers a number of Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees in subjects ranging from computer information technology and business accounting to teaching and early childhood education.

The University of Missouri, often referred to as Mizzou, has its flagship campus in Columbia. It is both a historic land-grant institution and the largest public research university in the state. MU has more than 300 degree programs across 19 colleges and schools. The university offers degrees in law, medicine, veterinary medicine, and business among other fields. The 35,000 students enrolled in MU come from every state in the country and over 120 nations.

Columbia also hosts several private institutions of higher learning, including Stephen’s College. The college is the second oldest women’s college in the country and promotes a hands-on, experiential approach to learning. While the undergraduate program is exclusively for women, the school offers graduate, online and certificate programs for both men and women. The college’s estimated cost of attendance for its undergraduate students currently exceeds $27,000 a year.

Columbia College shares in the task of educating the city’s growing population. There are 950 daytime and 3,000 evening students enrolled in Columbia College. The school hosts associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The university also has 34 extended campuses nationwide and programs geared toward fulfilling the educational needs of military service members.

Below is a glance at a few of colleges and universities in Columbia, MO, and the types of degrees offered.

Public colleges and universities in Columbia

InstitutionTraining/Degrees Offered
University of MissouriBachelor’s and master’s degrees, PhD, JD, MD, DVM, DNP, MBA
Moberly Area Community CollegeAssociate degrees

Private colleges and universities in Columbia

InstitutionTraining/Degrees Offered
Columbia CollegeAssociate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, MBA
Stephen’s CollegeBachelor’s and master’s degrees, post-baccalaureate certificate

Online Colleges in Columbia

There are many online colleges and educational opportunities in Columbia, Missouri. Moberly Area Community College has developed two online teaching platforms: Virtual and ITV. ITV courses are held in a traditional classroom with multiple classes at different campuses using video conferencing and two-way audio. Virtual programs are much more like conventional online classes, which students can complete on their own time from the convenience of their own laptops.

Stephen’s College and Columbia College both hold regular online programs. Stephen’s College has an online certificate and master’s degree, but not a bachelor’s degree, in fields of study like conservatory training, health information administration and counseling. Columbia College, on the other hand, offers over 800 accredited online classes and 23 online degree programs, with over 24,000 registered online students.

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Top Industries, Careers and Employers

Forbes has declared the Columbia metro area to be the 20th “Best Small Place for Business and Careers” and the city ranked fifth in terms of its average level of educational attainment. The cost of living is 8.1 percent lower than the national average, and both job growth and employment rates are on the rise in this small city. Several large companies are headquartered in the Columbia area including State Farm, Shelter Insurance, MFA Oil and Datastorm Technologies. The city’s major industries are health care, education and insurance, with the University of Missouri being the largest employer.

The research and technological investments that the University of Missouri brings, in tandem with the city’s educated workforce, have allowed for the development of the information technology, life science, and human and animal health sectors in the local economy. The university recently completed a $60 million Life Science Business Incubator on campus, which is open not only to students and faculty, but also to entrepreneurs and scientists within the local community.

Largest employers in the Columbia area

CompanyNumber of Employees
University of Missouri (MU)8,708
University Hospitals & Clinics4,487
Columbia Public Schools2,141
Boone Hospital Center1,623
Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital1,374

Employment in the following common occupations in Columbia ranges from about 3,800 in business and financial operations to 15,940 for office and administrative support professionals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Business and financial operations
  • Production
  • Management
  • Transportation and material moving
  • Education, training and library occupations
  • Health care practitioners and technical
  • Sales and related occupations
  • Food preparation and serving related
  • Office and administrative support

Education and industry shake hands in this part of Missouri. In 2010, IBM opened its Information Technology Service Delivery Center in Columbia, which created approximately 800 new jobs. The city also holds summits of local IT industry officials and educational leaders to make sure that the region’s students are being adequately prepared to meet the ever-growing needs and demands of the IT industry.

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