New Jersey is home to some of the country's most prestigious schools. Recently these institutions have begun making way for evolving learning options; the U.S. Department of Education reports that more than 45,000 students enrolled in New Jersey’s colleges and universities are pursuing their degree online. With online course catalogs growing, both residents and students from out-of-state are considering New Jersey colleges as a viable option. Read on to learn about the colleges that provide the best online education in New Jersey, and get answers to questions on transfer credits, paying for an online degree and more.
According to New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the state has more than 80 schools, many of which offer online degree programs. Making a choice among them may seem intimidating, but prospective students can simplify this process by looking at a few key standards. Tuition rates, graduation rates, and financial aid are a few examples of standards that students should pay close attention to. We’ve used these standards and other quantitative and qualitative measures to rank New Jersey online programs for you; take a look to see which stand out.
While many schools in New Jersey offer online bachelor's programs, most restrict their web-based offerings to a handful of majors. Finding a program that aligns with your academic and career goals requires a great deal of careful research. Applicants can check out the Inventory of Program Offerings through the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. The New Jersey Council of County Colleges offers a program guide for online community college courses and programs.
Online students can also find program information and class schedules for distance learning through individual institutions’ web sites and course catalogs. Thomas Edison State University, for example, is home to a wide variety of online bachelor's degrees. Candidates have their choice of more than 30 fully online majors, including entrepreneurship, homeland security and emergency management, marketing communications and criminal justice.
Rutgers University, New Jersey's flagship university, is the state's largest postsecondary institution. Thanks to a recent partnership with Coursera, the university has begun offering a plethora of open online courses.
If you’re one of many New Jersey students who have already taken college courses, or are coming into college with years of working knowledge, getting to know transfer credit policies in New Jersey is important. Transfer rules and regulations vary by school; some examples include:
Centenary University celebrates returning and first-time adult students by providing college credit for life and professional experience. Students who complete a prior learning assessment may translate their out-of-classroom learning into course credit and finish their degrees in less time.
Thomas Edison University employs prior learning assessments to grant credit for military training, professional certification and other experience.
At Rutgers University, transfer students' transcripts are evaluated to determine credit equivalence. The university accepts up to 60 credits earned at two-year institutions and 96 credits from four-year schools.
Saint Peter's University has "Transfer Thursdays," on which prospective students can visit the campus and ask questions. In addition, Saint Peter's also participates in the NJ Transfer Program, which helps New Jersey community college students transfer to one of the state's participating four-year institutions.
New Jersey residents who earn a bachelor's degree can potentially earn nearly $42,000 more per year than individuals who immediately enter the workforce after high school. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who publish average incomes and minimum degree requirements for all occupations across the nation yearly. In contrast, those with a two-year associate degree bring in around $24,000 less per year than workers with a four-year degree, making an online bachelor's degree a valuable investment in New Jersey.
Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in New Jersey, by Minimum Degree Level Required:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Some industries are growing faster than others in New Jersey. The professional and business services sectors are expected to add 81,750 jobs by 2024. These industries encompass many positions that require bachelor's degrees and beyond, such as accountant, financial planner, lawyer, and engineer. With New Jersey's unemployment rate hovering at a higher-than-average 4.6 percent, workers interested in advancing or changing careers face prime opportunities to do so by earning a bachelor's degree at an online school in New Jersey.
A surefire way to know if the online degree you’re interested in pursuing will be well-respected when you go to advance your career is to earn it from an accredited online university. Accreditation is the standard by which online schools in New Jersey are evaluated. A peer-group from other colleges judges each program against a set of standards to assure quality measures are being met.
There are many different accrediting bodies around the country, including those that are regional and those that are industry- and field- specific.
Most online colleges in New Jersey, including Rutgers University, Farleigh Dickinson, Rider University, Thomas Edison State University and Centenary University, receive regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Individual programs that uphold industry standards often receive specialized programmatic accreditation. For example, Rutgers University's business administration program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and the school's nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
According to the College Board, New Jersey's tuition rates are among the highest in the nation. Online costs are no different, ranging from $396 per credit hour at Thomas Edison State University to $963 at Rutgers University. Distance learners at some online schools in New Jersey pay in-state tuition, while other institutions charge higher rates for online students from out-of-state.
The state's Department of Higher Education dashboard offers online tools to help prospective students explore their program options and financial aid opportunities. More answers to frequently asked college cost questions are included below.
Prospective students are considered non-residents in New Jersey until they have lived in the state for 12 months prior to enrollment. This assumes that the student did not move to the state for tuition purposes. Documents needed to prove residency include a certified New Jersey income tax return from the previous year, a New Jersey driver's license, a state motor vehicle registration, and the deed or lease to a New Jersey residence.
Online and traditional courses often cost the same, but there are some programs that have lower costs for online education. That said, education in New Jersey is generally more expensive than other states.
Thomas Edison State University is among the more affordable institutions in New Jersey, charging residents $396 per credit and $499 for non-residents enrolled in the school's payment plan.
Online learners at Rutgers pay $963 per course, plus a $300 distance learning fee and around $695 for books. This does seem pricey, but when comparing these rates to a traditional, on-campus Rutgers education, which costs $11,999 in tuition, $2,971 in fees, and $1,350 for books, one can find the added benefit of learning online.
Some online schools in New Jersey charge the same rates for on-campus and distance education. At Rowan University, tuition varies according to program, although most bachelor's degrees cost $470 per semester hour.
Online tuition at William Paterson includes a $120 per-course distance learning fee.
In summary, when researching costs for online programs in New Jersey, one should keep in mind a few factors: in- or out-of-state residency, online class-specific fees, and special programs that discount or mitigate online learning.
New Jersey’s online-degree program costs may seem high, but help is available. The state's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority guides students to grants, scholarships and loans. Some examples include the state’s Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) that is available for full- or part-time students and the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Grant.
In addition, many colleges and universities offer institutional financial aid. The overwhelming majority of students at Saint Peter's University receive grants or scholarships directly from the school. Most online schools in New Jersey also provide substantial discounts for veterans, military personnel and their spouses.
Many people aren’t able to make college a priority right after high school. Whether they start work right away, have kids young, or hit legal speed bumps along the way, there are always paths that adults can take to further their skills and put them on a path to a college degree.
New Jersey’s State Department and numerous federal and non-profit organizations provide programs to set learners on the path to developing skills, rehabilitation and even eventual college degree completion.
New Jersey Career Connections can help tie adult education students to college education opportunities.
The State of New Jersey site has information for continuing education for those seeking training, English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, and financial aid.
The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) brings adult literacy to the forefront of adult education.
As data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, even a two-year degree can mean a big difference in wage potential and career opportunities. Online schools in New Jersey, plus adult education and continuing education programs, make it easy to take the first step toward higher earning power.