In 2010, Forbes ranked Las Vegas as the fastest-growing city in the country. It makes sense that colleges and universities — and students — would choose to share the neon lights of Nevada’s largest city. Out of the eight institutions making up the state’s public system of higher education, three are found in Las Vegas. Graduates of Las Vegas colleges can seek employment in a range of industries, many of which require postsecondary training, such as professional/scientific tech services or health care.
Colleges in Las Vegas
The Nevada System of Higher Education oversees all state-supported schools in the Nevada higher education system, which comprises two research universities, one research institute, one state college and four community colleges. For students who want to earn a two-year degree, Las Vegas has only one option – the College of Southern Nevada (CSN). The next closest would be Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, more than six hours away.
Luckily, CSN, established in 1971, is a large school with many degree options. Creative writing, political science, chemistry, pre-engineering, culinary arts and medical coding are just a few of the choices for CSN students. Unusual for many community colleges, CSN offers bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, cardiorespiratory sciences and medical laboratory sciences. To serve the local population, CSN has two main campuses and three extension sites in Las Vegas, in addition to one main campus and four extension sites elsewhere in the state.
CSN resident tuition is $84.50 per credit for lower division courses and $138.25 per credit for upper division courses, although rates can change. Nonresidents pay $177.50 for lower division courses and $290.25 per credit hour for upper division courses. Additional course fees, such as a technology fee, may also apply. CSN does have a financial aid program for eligible students.
After a two-year degree, students generally take one of two paths: they explore opportunities in the workforce, or they pursue another degree at a four-year college.
Though lacking in two-year options for students, Las Vegas is home to several four-year universities. The largest with 27,848 students is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). U.S. News and World Report says UNLV is one of the most diverse campuses for undergraduates. UNLV has degrees for both undergraduate and graduate students. A few of UNLV's programs include athletic training, Chinese, geoscience, family studies and nonprofit management.
Here are a few Las Vegas colleges at a glance, both public and private, with the types of degrees that are their primary focus.
Las Vegas Colleges and Universities
|College of Southern Nevada||Public||Certificates of achievement and completion, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees in three health science areas|
|University of Nevada-Las Vegas||Public||Bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees including PhD, continuing education|
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Online Colleges in Las Vegas
Students who want more flexibility than on-campus classes provide have the option of taking online classes. CSN and UNLV both have online options.
CSN offers more than 20 degrees or certificates online, including small business management, history and hotel management. The college also provides online tutoring for students. CSN’s website reports that whether or not a student has to visit campus during a course is up to the instructor; some instructors might require event attendance throughout the course.
UNLV has online courses, certificates and degree programs for both graduate and undergraduate students. Online courses include counselor education, film and journalism. The website offers tips for success online and a tour of an online course, so students can see if distance learning is what they really want.Find Online Programs Now »
Top Industries, Careers and Employers
As one might expect, tourism is big business for casino-crazy Las Vegas. Forbes describes the top two industries in the city as tourism and gambling. However, a variety of employees are needed for many other jobs, just like any other U.S. city. According to the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, the top seven industries in southern Nevada are as follows:
- Food service
- Administrative/support services
- Professional/scientific tech services
- Specialty trade contractors
- General merchandise retailers
As of May 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the following as the top six areas of employment in Las Vegas:
- Food preparation and serving related occupations
- Office and administrative support occupations
- Sales and related occupations
- Transportation and material moving occupations
- Personal care and service occupations
- Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations
According to Vegas Inc., the top 10 employers in Las Vegas include commercial and health care entities as well as tourism-related companies:
- MGM Resorts International
- Caesars Entertainment Corp.
- Station Casinos LLC
- Wynn Resorts
- Boyd Gaming Corp.
- Las Vegas Sands Corp.
- Walmart Stores
- Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
- The Valley Health System
The biggest Las Vegas employers have tens of thousands of workers, and the city and its environs are home to a large part of the Nevada populace. The U.S. Census Bureau counts almost 600,000 Nevadans in Las Vegas and more than 2 million in Clark County, creating a major metropolitan area and economic hub.