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Online Colleges in Iowa

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On this page, we’ve collected resources that will help you approach the online higher education opportunities in Iowa. We begin by providing fact-driven surveys on postsecondary and online education in Iowa today, which will give you a good idea of things like funding and enrollment trends.

Following these surveys are our rankings of four-year online colleges in Iowa that offer distance-based degree programs, ranked by affordability. You can find state-specific scholarship information, as well ― keep in mind that most funding opportunities are open to both online and on-campus students. Following rankings and aid info is our list of resources, which consists of trusted sites designed to help you with your higher education research. Finally, you can explore our database of virtually all online colleges offered across the country.


Postsecondary Education in Iowa

Between 2008 and 2014, the average tuition inflation-adjusted rate at four-year public schools in Iowa rose 12.2%.

Iowa raised its local and state grant spending per college student by over 17.7% between 2010-12, over five times the average spending rate increase average of all states during the same period.

At just under $8,000, the average tuition rate at four-year public universities in Iowa today is significantly lower than the $9,139 national average.

Iowa enrollment rates climbed 13% across all public higher education institutions between 2002 and 2012, the national enrollment rate grew by 19% during this period.


Online Education in Iowa

NCES Report

According to a recent NCES report, in fall 2012, 39.7% of students enrolled in Title IV institutions in Iowa (144,223 students) were in exclusively online programs.

  • 83.1% of those students were undergraduates
  • 1.9% were in public 4-year institutions
  • 4% were in private not-for-profit 4-year institutions
  • 85.9% were in private for-profit 4-year institutions
  • 13.1% were living in Iowa
  • 85% were living elsewhere in the United States

Seven of Iowa’s community colleges form the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC), a network dedicated to connecting online students in and out of the state with distance learning opportunities in Iowa.


Most Affordable Online Colleges in Iowa

Below you’ll find the very best online colleges in Iowa, sorted by affordability. These rankings identify the fully online programs in a school’s catalogue, explain how the school’s online interface works and spotlight the recognition a school has received for its online initiatives.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Iowa State University

1
Iowa State University
Ames
$277
$6,648

An Online Education at Iowa State University

ISU’s Online and Distance Learning department offers online courses for its seven colleges entirely through the Blackboard Learn management system. This web-based course delivery portal provides access to all course materials and is where students check announcements, submit assignments, take part in ongoing discussion forums, chat with classmates, work on projects, take quizzes, review grades and more. Online exams are most often conducted within an online testing center. Most course communication takes place via email, blogs, chat rooms, video conferencing, wikis and social media. Helpful tutorial videos for Blackboard are accessible for future students not yet comfortable with the LMS.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Liberal Studies (Degree Completion)

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Science in Statistics
  • Master of Engineering in Aerospace Engineering
  • Master of Science in Human Computer Interaction
  • Master of School Mathematics
  • Master of Science in Plant Breeding
  • Master of Science in Agronomy
  • Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering

A large number of resources and services are available to eLearners, including administrative help, academic aid and technology support. Additionally, stand-alone online courses can be taken by non-degree seeking students who enroll.

Contact Information

3410 Beardshear Hall
Ames, IA 50011-2030
(515) 294-5836


Acclaim for online programs

  • #27 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs
  • #53 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs

University of Northern Iowa

2
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls
$278
$6,672

An Online Education at University of Northern Iowa

UNI uses eLearning platform Blackboard as its online learning management system of choice. Although the majority of online courses are delivered asynchronously to allow students the maximum amount of flexibility, software tools such as Adobe Connect allow for occasional synchronous elements like web-conferencing. Communication between students and instructors is primarily conducted through email and chat.

Most online programs are scheduled with two courses per semester, enabling busy adult students to continue working while they earn their degree.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Liberal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Technology Management

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Art in Art Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Master of Music Education
  • Master of Arts in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development
  • Master of Arts in Physical Education: Teaching/Coaching
  • Master of Elementary Education
  • Master of Arts in Instructional Technology

Aside from the degrees listed above, distance students have the option to earn certificates or endorsements in the field of education. Courses and workshops are available through distance education as well.

In addition to classic online learning, UNI offers a variety of distance education delivery methods, from optional on-campus learning to minimally guided independent study options, allowing students to design the program format that works best for them.

Contact Information

1227 W 27th St
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0005
(319) 273-2311


Acclaim for online programs

  • #1 on Affordable Colleges Online’s "Online Colleges in Iowa That Win on Affordability”

Buena Vista University

3
Buena Vista University
Storm Lake
$390
$9,360

An Online Education at Buena Vista University

Buena vista uses the Blackboard-owned learning management system called ANGEL to host online courses. Web-conferencing is conducted on Blackboard Collaborate, adding “live” and interactive components to online courses. Students use several additional software suites to interact:

  • TurningPoint ResponseWare to respond to live lectures and PowerPoint presentations
  • Video Dashboard to create and send video messages through school email
  • PhotoShop, Dreamweaver and Illustrator for preparing presentations and portfolios

IT support, tutorials and guides are available for all of these to help those unfamiliar with them learn to use them with ease.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Accounting
  • Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Human Services
  • Bachelor of Psychology
  • Bachelor of Finance and Banking
  • Bachelor of General Studies

Undergraduates with 60 credit hours will be able to earn their full degree in as little as two years.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Education in Curriculum Instruction
  • Master of Education in Special Education

For those looking to promote their careers, Professional Development Studies offer the chance to enhance one’s skills while continuing in the workforce.

Contact Information

610 W 4th St
Storm Lake, IA 50588
(712) 749-2400

Upper Iowa University

4
Upper Iowa University
Fayette
$405
$9,720

An Online Education at Upper Iowa University

IUI’s online learning programs are run by Pearson LearningStudio (PLS), which delivers courses through the University’s eCollege. An online demo course shows how the web-based platform functions as a virtual classroom and all online students are required to complete a PLS orientation tutorial prior to the start of their course or program. 24/7 support accompanies the system.

For those non-traditional and adult students who are eligible, scholarships and financial aid are available. Veterans and active military personnel may also apply Yellow Ribbon and Principles of Excellence benefits toward their UIU degree.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency and Disaster Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Services
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Up to 90 transfer credit hours may be applied towards a bachelor program. By compiling an Experiential Learning Portfolio, or by taking CLEP or DSST assessments, students can earn up to 30 credits from prior learning experience.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Higher Education Administration
  • Master of Public Administration

Post graduate certificates, undergraduate certificates and associate degrees are available online in addition to the above listed programs.

A dual enrollment option for high school students enables juniors, seniors and gifted and talented freshmen and sophomores to earn college credit online through IUI.

Contact Information

605 Washington St
Fayette, IA 52142-1857
(563) 425-5200


Acclaim for online programs

  • #87 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #123 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs

University of Iowa

5
University of Iowa
Iowa City
$558
$13,392

An Online Education at University of Iowa

The University of Iowa offers online education via its own learning management system, Iowa Courses Online (ICON). Since ICON courses are customizable, each online class is unique in its components. Most, however, will incorporate tools for asynchronous learning. Student can access lectures, assignments and discussion boards at any time of day on this dashboard. Of course, help with ICON courses for students is easily accessible 24/7, even before the start of the semester, so that students have the ability to navigate the ICON dashboard and manage their account settings before their course even begins.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Work
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Liberal Studies
  • Bachelor of Nursing (RN to BSN)

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Science in Nursing (primarily online)

Several certificate programs that allow students to narrowly focus their studies are available online as well. The University has also partnered with a number of Iowa community colleges to further encourage students to finish their four-year degree at U of I.

Contact Information

101 Jessup Hall
Iowa City, IA 52242-1316
(319) 335-3500


Acclaim for online programs

  • #65 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs
  • #78 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs

Mercy College of Health Sciences

6
Mercy College of Health Sciences
Des Moines
N/A
$15,642

An Online Education at Mercy College of Health Sciences

ELEOS (which in Greek means “spirit of mercy”) is the name Mercy College has given to its online course management system which is provided through both the ANGEL and Desire2Learn interfaces. All materials for web-based courses can be found on this platform. Support for the ELEOS system in the form of self-help, tutorial guides and emergency contact request forms.

Students at Mercy can expect to spend approximately nine hours of study per course per week and although courses are primarily asynchronous, students should check in regularly to see if their teachers have posted new materials, assignments or announcements. Tests for online courses must be proctored, either in a center or by an official proctor. Coursework may include group projects, research papers, written assignments and reflective journals or blogs.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

Any required clinical experience can be obtained through a preceptorship organized by Mercy College faculty in the student’s locale.

Contact Information

928 Sixth Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309-1239
(515) 643-3180


Acclaim for online programs

  • #207 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #138 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs

AIB College of Business

7
AIB College of Business
Des Moines
N/A
$17,700

An Online Education at AIB College of Business

AIB’s online students will conduct their online courses and programs through the popular Blackboard Learning Management System. A three-part “readiness” course is provided to help future students determine if they are fully prepared for working on Blackboard. This entirely web-based platform is where students will actively participate in discussion forums, collaborate on group work, submit assignments, check their grades and take tests and quizzes.

Any prospective students residing outside the state of Iowa should note that at this time, AIB is not authorized to deliver distance education in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Accounting
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Contemporary Business Communications
  • Bachelor of General Studies
  • Bachelor Marketing
  • Bachelor of Science in Sports and Event Management (Degree Completion)
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Degree Completion)

While AIB does not offer any graduate level programs, several associate programs in the field of business may be earned online.

Thanks to a cooperative agreement with the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC), AIB makes it easy to transfer credits from Iowa community colleges. Students can transfer in as many credits as they can, as long as a minimum of ten classes are taken at AIB. Another unique aspect of AIB is that course registration is not necessary; a personal schedule of courses will be arranged by AIB’s registrar.

Contact Information

2500 Fleur Drive
Des Moines, IA 50321-1799
(515) 244-4221

William Penn University

8
William Penn University
Oskaloosa
N/A
$22,750

An Online Education at William Penn University

WPU delivers its Distance Learning in the College for Working Adults via the Moodle learning management system. Students take one 5-week long class at a time with synchronous, weekly cohort team meetings. This single course immersion format allows full-time students to completed their program within two years. A demo course, a tutorial and an assessment are provided to help students learn to navigate their way around the Moodle platform so they feel totally prepared come the first day of class.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor Arts in Human Resources Management

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Business Leadership

In addition to the bachelor program, an associate program in leadership studies and an English as a second language (ESL) K-12 endorsement are also offered via Distance Learning.

Students may earn college credit for previous life and work experience if they successfully complete a CLEP or DSST exam. A testing center is accessible to online students in the Des Moines area, while the Wilcox Library, bookstore and advising are accessible to all online WPU students.

Contact Information

201 Trueblood Ave
Oskaloosa, IA 52577
(641) 673-1001

Graceland University – Lamoni

9
Graceland University – Lamoni
Lamoni
N/A
$24,570

An Online Education at Graceland University – Lamoni

Graceland provides its online learning through the eCollege Learning Management System. A help desk is available around the clock to ensure students avoid any potential snares in the virtual learning environment. Prospective students can take a readiness quiz to help determine if online is the best path for them.

Students should plan on spending 12-15 hours per week working on each of their courses. This includes both logged-in class time and outside study. Instructors and students communicate mostly through email, chat and on the rare occasion, by phone.

Financial aid is available for those online students who qualify.

At this time, Graceland is unable to accept online students residing in the state of Maryland, and while the University does accept students from Texas, it is not regulated under the Texas Higher Education Code.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Business Administration and Organizational Leadership (Dual Major)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership

Undergraduate students are expected to visit campus once for a 4-day Focus Session, while graduate students have to attend two Focus Sessions (education programs are excluded from this requirement).

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Business in Instructional Leadership
  • Master of Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Master of Arts in Religion
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master of Nursing: Family Care Practitioner
  • Master of Nursing: Nurse Educator

Graceland accepts transfer credits acquired through CLEP and DANTE exams.

Contact Information

1 University Place
Lamoni, IA 50140
(641) 784-5000


Acclaim for online programs

  • #148 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #5 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs
  • #9 on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs


Scholarships and Financial Aid in Iowa

Carver Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $7,600 See Scholarship

For Iowa residents entering their junior year of college. A GPA of 2.8+ and a demonstration of financial need is required. Average award is $5,200 at public universities and $7,600 at private colleges. Funding is provided by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.

Helen Boyack Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $2,000 See Scholarship

For freshmen entering Iowa State University with a GPA of 3.0+. Selection is based on financial need. Award is for Iowa residents only.

Helen Boyack Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $2,000 See Scholarship

The Helen Boyack Memorial Scholarship is for incoming freshmen at Iowa State University who graduated from an Iowa high school. Selection is based on financial need; preference is given to students with a GPA of 3.0+. This is a one-time award of $2,000.

Iowa Grant

Deadline: rolling
Scholarship Amount $1,000 See Scholarship

The state-funded Iowa Grant is open to Iowa undergraduate students attending Regent universities, independent colleges, and community colleges within the state. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. The maximum award is $1,000 per year for four years.

Iowa Tuition Grant

Deadline: July 1, 2015
Scholarship Amount $20,000 See Scholarship

For Iowa residents enrolled in an eligible Iowa private college or university. The award is for undergraduates only, and preference is given to applicants with the greatest financial need. Funding is provided by Iowa College Aid.

Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant

Deadline: July 1, 2015
Scholarship Amount $1,200 See Scholarship

For Iowa residents enrolled in an Iowa community or technical college. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, and must be enrolled in at least 3 credit hours per quarter. Award amount is $1,200 per year for two years. Funds are provided by Iowa College Aid.

Jane and Clem Werner Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $5,000 See Scholarship

Administered by the Iowa Community Foundation, this $5,000 scholarship is awarded yearly to one student from each of the following schools: Davenport Central, Davenport North, Davenport West, Bettendorf, and Rivermont Collegiate. GPA of 3.0+ is required, and financial need is considered.

Norman V. Peale Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $17,500 See Scholarship

The Peale Scholarship is open to freshmen entering Northwestern College with an ACT score of 29+. Finalists in the National Merit Competition are automatically considered. The total amount is $17,500, distributed over 4 years; An additional grant of $1,000 per year is available.

Northwestern Grant

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount Amount varies See Scholarship

Northwestern College provides this grant program to students who have demonstrated financial need and show evidence of academic potential. The award amount is determined by Northwestern College based on applicants’ FAFSA information; award is renewable for 4 years.

Presidential Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $13,000 See Scholarship

The Presidential Scholarship is available to freshmen entering Northwestern College with an ACT score of 25+. Award amount is $13,000, distributed over 4 years. An additional grant of $1,000 per year is available based on high school GPA and SAT scores.


Higher Education Resources in Iowa