Online Schools & Colleges
in Wisconsin

Answering Frequently Asked Questions & Identifying Wisconsin’s Best Online Programs

With more than 280,000 students enrolled in Wisconsin's public schools, and another 70,000+ pursuing degrees from private institutions, the state contains many individuals intent on advancing their education, despite declining enrollment trends since the Great Recession. A part of the state’s master education plan to enroll more students is to create more flexible education and transfer options for Wisconsin’s non-traditional students. One answer may be online education, which can offer the flexibility and affordability Wisconsin’s learners are looking for. We’ll cover which colleges are offering the best online education in Wisconsin and answer students’ frequently asked questions about paying for an online degree in Wisconsin below.

Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin

Best Online Schools
2-Year Colleges

Every college in Wisconsin has unique selling points; the University of Wisconsin-Stout hosts a popular online writing lab and Marian University provides services for veterans. Students interested in pursuing a professional certificate can enroll in online programs through the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while those interested in a faith-based education can consider attending Lakeland University or Maranatha Baptist University. Ultimately, before narrowing down to these niche characteristics, it’s most helpful to know which colleges provide flexible, high-quality online learning options and demonstrate solid student support—our rankings list below highlights the best of the best for online students in Wisconsin.

Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Milwaukee Area Technical College $3,911 25 13% - Yes Yes Yes
2 Fox Valley Technical College $3,911 14 38% 16% Yes Yes Yes
3 Northcentral Technical College $3,911 24 35% - Yes Yes Yes
4 Gateway Technical College $3,911 14 24% 5% Yes Yes Yes
5 Lakeshore Technical College $3,910 14 58% 6% Yes Yes Yes
6 Moraine Park Technical College $3,965 10 46% 12% Yes Yes Yes
7 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College $4,171 11 59% 17% Yes Yes Yes
8 Northeast Wisconsin Technical College $3,911 4 42% 16% Yes Yes Yes
9 Western Technical College $3,476 4 27% 23% Yes Yes Yes
10 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College $4,002 7 51% 21% Yes Yes Yes
11 Chippewa Valley Technical College $3,900 3 36% 9% Yes Yes Yes
12 Nicolet College $4,305 6 32% - Yes Yes Yes
13 Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College $4,560 13 57% - No No Yes
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point $6,698 7 81% 62% 15% Yes Yes Yes

Distance learners studying through the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus can choose from half a dozen undergraduate programs and 9 graduate degree programs. There are also several certificates and non-credit options. Several of the graduate programs offer extra flexibility to allow students to manage their schedules by allowing the option of 1-3 courses per term. Those programs can be completed in as little as 18 months or as many as several years. While graduation requirements vary, several graduate and undergraduate programs require a culminating experience.

2 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater $6,519 7 69% 60% 14% Yes Yes Yes

Graduate students can pursue degrees in 4 subject areas completely online at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, while undergraduate students have half a dozen options. Student services include everything from help with resumes and career searches to counseling, advising and tutoring. Graduation requirements vary by program and degree level, but the school does accept transfer credits, provided the student and school of origin meet the university's requirements. Most of the coursework for distance education is delivered through the Canvas learning management system.

3 University of Wisconsin-Stout $7,014 27 88% 55% 18% Yes Yes Yes

More than 98% of University of Wisconsin-Stout students report finding employment or continuing their education upon graduation. The online student body includes some 2,000 students, representing 49 states and 20 countries, and virtually all of them transferred credits in from other schools. Distance learners can request free online tutoring as little as 24 hours in advance, and online students have access to writing labs and dedicated advisers, just like their on-campus counterparts. Prospective students have the option of 16 graduate and 15 undergraduate degree programs.

4 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire $7,361 6 78% 69% 44% No Yes Yes

All distance learners at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are invited to join a general online orientation in addition to any program-specific orientations. Financial aid is available to distance learners, including some part-time students, and special programs are available to military personnel and veterans. Students can take individual web-based courses, pursue a certificate or certification or complete an entire graduate degree, 100% online. Distance learners enjoy the same career, academic and library services as traditional on-campus students.

5 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse $7,585 6 74% 69% 24% No Yes Yes

The distance learning program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has been recognized and endorsed by the Online Learning Consortium for its quality. More than 10 degrees can be earned completely online, most at the bachelor's and master's levels, as well as one doctoral degree. Each program has its own credit and graduation requirements. Students may participate in the school's online readiness tutorial, and online students receive the same academic support services as their online counterparts. Financial aid is also available to eligible students.

6 Wisconsin Lutheran College $27,734 10 90% 62% 100% Yes Yes Yes

By participating in the adult accelerated degree program, distance learners at Wisconsin Lutheran College can earn a bachelor's degree in as few as 20 months. The structure is designed to cater to working students and some 60% of graduates reported being promoted while enrolled in a program. Students must earn 128 credits to earn the accelerated bachelor's degree and, under certain guidelines, can transfer as many as 80 credits from an approved 4-year institution, or up to 70 credits from a 2-year school.

7 Concordia University-Wisconsin $27,640 39 63% 62% 98% Yes Yes Yes

Concordia University-Wisconsin offers dozens of online programs, including certificates and full degrees ranging from the associate to master's level. Transfer, credit and graduation requirements vary by specific program, but all courses are taught with a Christian worldview. The college has developed an extensive array of library services for online and accelerated learning students that is equivalent to the library enjoyed by on-campus students. Distance learners also have access to services like academic advising, tutoring and the school's writing lab.

8 University of Wisconsin-Madison $9,273 4 53% 85% 35% No Yes Yes

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is part of the UW System eCampus network, giving distance learners access to more than 150 baccalaureate degrees, graduate degrees and certificates offered at more than a dozen campuses. The UW Flexible Option allows students to begin their coursework at the start of any month and to advance at their own pace, all also while offering personalized support throughout the duration of the program. Hybrid options are available for students who wish to combine online learning with some traditional face-to-face education.

9 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay $6,298 8 73% 53% 28% Yes No Yes

More than 1,300 distance learners are enrolled in online classes at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, which is part of the university's statewide eCampus network. Post-graduation prospects are strong, with a 98% placement rate in either employment or further education. There are 7 complete degree programs available online at the undergraduate level, as well as 4 graduate programs leading to master's degrees. Graduation and credit requirements vary by program, but the school offers a step-by-step application tutorial to guide students through the process.

10 Cardinal Stritch University $28,212 9 82% 52% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Students can take individual online courses through the Cardinal Stritch University School of Continuing and Online Education. For those pursuing online degrees, 6 full programs are available, including 4 bachelor's degrees, 2 master's and an RN-to-BSN option. The university allows students to get a feel for the format with a free preview course if they're not sure whether online learning is right for them. The school is an approved institution in the National Council For State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

11 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh $6,422 11 65% 57% 22% No Yes Yes
12 University of Wisconsin-Superior $6,535 12 76% 46% 27% Yes Yes Yes
13 Viterbo University $25,460 13 63% 49% 99% Yes Yes Yes
14 University of Wisconsin-Platteville $6,418 9 80% 54% 33% No Yes Yes
15 Maranatha Baptist University $13,100 8 68% 45% 76% Yes Yes Yes
16 Marian University $27,860 8 77% 58% 98% Yes Yes Yes
17 Lakeland University $25,410 14 55% 53% 85% No Yes Yes
18 University of Wisconsin-Parkside $6,298 5 62% 35% 8% Yes Yes Yes
19 Milwaukee School of Engineering $36,270 4 66% 57% 100% No Yes Yes
20 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee $8,091 8 73% 48% 16% No Yes Yes

Continue reading for more information on ways to find an online program at one of Wisconsin's many colleges and universities.

How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in Wisconsin?

Different schools in Wisconsin offer different online curricula; to find out what's available, students should visit the specific websites of the Wisconsin colleges and universities that interest them. For example, the Madison and Stout campuses of the University of Wisconsin, as well as Viterbo University, host portals dedicated to online learning. These allows students to find degrees listed conveniently in one place. In addition, the University of Wisconsin System provides a site where students can search the entire university system for online programs.

Which online schools in Wisconsin will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?

To try and save money on tuition, students can see if they qualify for credit based on previous work and/or life experiences relevant to their degree. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay awards credit to those with military training. In addition, Lakeland University allows students to submit a portfolio outlining how their prior experiences relate to their area of study. Most schools also accept transfer credits earned at an accredited institution.

How Much More Do College Grads in Wisconsin Make

Individuals who work in Wisconsin can advance their education by earning a postsecondary degree, and typically earn significantly higher paychecks than workers who hold only a high school diploma. The table below shows how much careers requiring each of the following degree level minimums pays, on average, in Wisconsin.

Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in Wisconsin, by Degree Level:

No Formal
High School
$31,578 $42,904 $54,735 $69,720 $72,669 $115,584

According to the Lumina Foundation, about 43 percent of workers in Wisconsin hold at least an associate degree; however, this may be insufficient to meet employers' needs in the coming years. The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University projects that, by 2020, 62 percent of jobs in the state will require an associate degree or higher.

The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Wisconsin

As employers in Wisconsin are projected to hire more workers who have received a quality education, distance learners need to be sure they’re enrolling online degree programs that adhere to high academic standards. The best way to do this is by enrolling in a school that holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC); this commission evaluates schools throughout the central U.S. based on strict educational and ethical standards. Some schools in Wisconsin that hold HLC accreditation include the University of Wisconsin, Lakeland University and Edgewood College.

Just as an entire university can receive accreditation, an individual school or program within a university can hold additional accreditation. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Architecture and Urban Planning holds accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's School of Business holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Paying for Online College in Wisconsin: Tuition and Financial Aid

Attending college in Wisconsin helps many individuals start successful careers; however, prospective students must first find a way to pay for their higher education. With the average personal income in Wisconsin equal to around $47,000 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis), affordability is a definite concern for many residents.

In addition, tuition continues to rise at both public and private colleges around the state. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that, for the 2014-2015 school year, the average annual tuition was $8,441 for public schools and $28,094 for private institutions. One academic year later, costs rose to $8,504 and $29,777 for public and private schools, respectively.

Online Credit Costs in Wisconsin

Depending on the school, students may find differing rate structures between online programs in Wisconsin. Here are some examples:

  • Resident and Non-Resident Rates: The University of Wisconsin's online tuition rate per credit (excluding fees) is $238 for state residents and $285 for those living outside of Wisconsin.

  • Same Rate for All Students: Distance learners at Lakeland University pay $505 for each credit, regardless of where their state of residency is.

  • Differing Rates per Program: At Concordia University Wisconsin, online students pay different amounts per credit depending on their major.

Tuition Reciprocity Programs

Out-of-state students who want to attend a public college in Wisconsin do not necessarily need to pay higher tuition rates. Through the Midwest Student Exchange, students can attend participating colleges for the same rate as in-state students. To qualify, students must hold residency in Minnesota, Illinois, North Dakota, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska or Indiana.

Continue reading below to learn more about tuition and financial aid at Wisconsin colleges.

What are Wisconsin's requirements to qualify for in-state tuition?

By living in the state for one consecutive year, students can establish Wisconsin residency, which makes them eligible for in-state tuition. In addition, individuals serving in the military qualify for the in-state tuition rate while stationed in Wisconsin. Finally, as mentioned above, participants of the Midwest Student Exchange also receive a break on tuition at public colleges in Wisconsin.

Are online credits more affordable in Wisconsin than other places?

Compared to some of its neighboring states, Wisconsin students pay less on undergraduate tuition at public colleges. While distance learners at the University of Wisconsin pay $238 per credit, students at Eastern Michigan University pay $414 per credit and learners at Ohio State University pay $723 per credit; these rates correspond to tuition for the 2018-2019 school year.

How Can I Get Help Paying for Online College in Wisconsin?

Students planning to attend public or private college in Wisconsin may qualify for financial aid reserved especially for state residents, including the awards listed below.

Students should also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to find out the kind of federal aid for which they qualify.

Online Education & Adult Education in Wisconsin

Adult education programs in Wisconsin can also help individuals receive the training they need to kickstart their college education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, adult education programs helped more than 13,000 adults make skill gains in Wisconsin between 2016 and 2017, including people with disabilities, single parents and displaced homemakers.

There are several programs set up to help Wisconsin’s adult learners obtain the skills they need to go on to earn a college degree, including:

  • High school equivalency – The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provides diploma and high school equivalency testing for adults who want to earn their GED as a first-step towards a college education.

  • English language and literacy – Individual and family literacy programs are designed to teach English as a Second Language to adults and their families.

  • Adult academic prep for college – Basic education classes in Wisconsin can help adults brush up on reading, writing and math skills before going on to earn a college degree.

  • College transitions as an adult – Think College Wisconsin provides a directory of college transition assistance programs for both traditional and non-traditional students.