Idaho is home to several colleges, and many of them offer some form of online instruction. Schools with an online presence, including Northwest Nazarene and Boise State University, offer both bachelor’s and graduate degrees entirely online. Additionally, Idaho is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement’s (SARA) western branch, which makes distance education programs more accessible and affordable for students in that part of the country. We’ll explore that institution, along with other major proponents of distance learning in Idaho, below.
So, before we dive into our list of best online colleges in Idaho for 2016, let’s look at the state of higher education and online education in particular in Idaho today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Idaho
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Idaho had 19 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 8 public schools, 4 nonprofits and 7 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 6,313 at public schools, 3,911 at private nonprofits and 112 at private for-profits.
- 8 public
- 4 non-profit
- 7 for-profit
Over a decade, starting in 2002, total full-time enrollment at Idaho’s public schools rose 30%, indicating the state’s major institutions are steadily drawing in more students.
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $6,820, while the out-of-state average was $20,470.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Idaho awarded $1.42 million in need-based grants and $3.55 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up only 1.3% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. Idaho also awarded $1.18 million in work study over the same period.
An Idaho study, with data released by Georgetown University, projects that by 2018 68% of Idaho’s jobs will require some form of postsecondary credential. Today, only 35% of Idaho’s adult residents hold such a credential. The good news is that online colleges in ID have relatively low tuition and indications that momentum is on the state’s side, with more students, generally speaking, enrolling and earning degrees every year.
The State of Online Higher Education in Idaho
The NCES estimates that at least 12.6% of students enrolled in Idaho’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 85.2% were reported to be undergraduates and 42.4% were found to be living in Idaho. Overall, it’s reported that over 23% of students currently enrolled in Idaho engage in some form of distance learning, whether that be a course or a component of a course ― compare that to an estimated 13.3% online engagement nationwide.
Idaho is also part of the SARA regional education compact known as the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The WICHE Internet Course Exchange (ICE) offers opportunities for state residents, through their local college or university, to access high quality distance programs offered at out-of-state WICHE institutions, often at greatly reduced rates.
Lastly, the state maintains the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON), an organization that operates “a dedicated high-speed fiber optic network infrastructure to support Idaho’s unique research, health care, education and government needs.” Such an organization benefits Idaho’s distance students immensely, ensuring that for years to come they will have first-rate tech powering their research efforts, regardless of where in the state they live.
Best Online Colleges in Idaho
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Idaho. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Idaho, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Idaho or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
Brigham Young University - Idaho
|Rexburg||$$$$$||525 S Center|
Rexburg, ID 83460-1690
The online associate, bachelor's and certificate programs offered online at BYU are designed for students who have already completed the blended Pathways program or 15 credits through traditional, on-campus courses. Once prospective students meet these on-campus study prerequisites, they will be qualified to explore 15 potential degrees and 210 courses offered online. The degree programs are self-paced, allowing enrolled students to dictate their pace of completion. This means that students can take entire semesters off, then return to complete their online degree or certificate. The maximum amount of time students have to complete individual courses is a single semester.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
BYU does not offer graduate programs online.
Every aspect of student life is woven into the online experience through community networks, which include gospel devotionals, student council events, professional networking and new student orientation. The virtual classroom environment is driven by the I-Learn platform which gives students access to video tutorials, class calendars, discussion boards and grades.
Northwest Nazarene University
|Nampa||$$$$$||623 S. University Blvd.|
Nampa, ID 83686-5897
Earn an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree completely online at this private Christian academic institution. All online courses at NNU are delivered through the Canvas platform, a robust virtual classroom environment that can be accessed from a wide range of platforms, including Mac, PC, iOS and Android. Canvas provides students and instructors with a variety of interactive communication tools, such as discussion boards, shared classroom multimedia and quizzes. NNU also uses Google Drive for the creating and sharing of documents, along with Google Hangouts to facilitate video-based web conferences.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
This university also offers a significant range of master's degrees, particularly within the fields of education, theology and Christian ministries. Graduate students are expected to attend online classes at least five days a week, however students have the flexibility of signing on at any time of the day or night.
Online Graduate Degrees
In 2013, this university was granted $2.25 million to be used for online student services, including pilot degree programs and increased tech accessibility. Students can reach the NNU Help Desk for technical assistance by calling (208) 467-8111.
Boise State University
|Boise||$$$$$||1910 University Dr|
Boise, ID 83725
BSU provides prospective distance learners with a breadth of 100% online degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels of study. Prospective students who are residents in Arkansas, Iowa, Maryland, Texas or Washington should take note of BSU's state authorizations. Online classes are driven by the Blackboard course management system, allowing students and teachers to engage through discussion boards, chat sessions, and webmail.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
Some graduate programs at Boise State do require pre-admissions exams such as the GRE or GMAT. Prospective master's or doctoral students should check the requirements for their respective online programs to learn more about possible score requirements.
Online Graduate Degrees
This academic institution strives to provide online learners with ample student services. The eCampus Center is a portal that gives prospective and current scholars access to registration advising, distance learning readiness and academic success.
Lewis-Clark State College
|Lewiston||$$$$$||500 8th Ave|
Lewiston, ID 83501-2698
This private college offers undergraduate programs that can be completed exclusively online. Distance learners are also welcome to take individual courses without pursuing a degree. Within the timeline of online education, LCSC has a long-established history of digital courses that can be traced back to 1997. Within a single year, e-Learning enrollment has reached up to 6,512 students, with about 1,072 students taking all of their courses online. In total, LCSC provides students with 372 fully online courses.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
Since LCSC is an undergraduate college, they do not deliver graduate-level programs in an online format.
Blackboard is the virtual classroom platform of choice at LCSC, providing students with interactive tools such as collaborative wiki pages, discussion forums and chat rooms. This college has filmed a Blackboard Orientation to help new online students become familiar with this academic system.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Idaho
Below you’ll find another ranking of the online schools in Idaho, listed by the tuition rate offered at each school.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Idaho
The University of Idaho provides scholarships based on academic merit to incoming freshmen and transfer students. Selection and award amount is based on academic record and financial need. Incoming students are automatically evaluated for eligibility based on their application to the university, so no separate application is required. Explore the university’s financial aid website for details.
Idaho State University provides this scholarship to freshmen who are Idaho residents, and graduated high school in the state. Selection is based on students’ rank within the pool of applicants. Rank is primarily determined by high school GPA. Leadership, subject-area talent, extracurricular involvement, and financial need will also be considered in some cases. The maximum award is full tuition for 4 years.
National Merit Scholarship
The University of Idaho provides this scholarship to incoming freshmen who are National Merit finalists and selected University of Idaho as their first-choice school. The award covers tuition, room and board for up to 4 years of undergraduate study.
Out-of-State Tuition Assistance Scholarship
The University of Idaho provides tuition assistance scholarships for out-of-state students. The amount of the awards vary based on high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Students with a GPA of 3.0+ qualify for the minimum award of $2,000 per year. Students with a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0 qualify for the maximum award of $8,000 per year. No separate application is required.
Idaho State University provides this scholarship to incoming transfer students. To be eligible, students must have earned between 24 and 100 transferable credits with a GPA of 3.5+. Selection is based on financial need and academic merit. Award amounts vary.