Distance learners can find online programs at all Kansas state schools. Widespread and growing, distance education has become common throughout the state. In fact, the Kansas Board of Regents reports that more than 45% of students enrolled at Kansas colleges and universities are taking at least one online class. Support from local, regional and statewide initiatives continue to strengthen and expand these distance learning programs. With increasing opportunities at many institutions, online students have a host of distance-based education options waiting for them in the Sunflower State.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in Kansas, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Kansas today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Kansas
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Kansas had 67 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 32 public schools, 24 nonprofits and 11 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 15,396 at public schools, 4,146 at private nonprofits and 80 at private for-profits.
- 32 public
- 24 non-profit
- 11 for-profit
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 $8,530, while the out-of-state average was $20,970.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Kansas awarded $18.1 million in need-based grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 2.4% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education.
A recent budget bill overhauled Kansas’s financial aid program, shifting funds from the public to the private sector. The strategy includes cutting $5.3 million in aid from schools overseen by the Board of Regents and then designating the funds for independent colleges in the state. This could mean a large reduction in scholarships at public universities and a significant boost in aid for private university students.
The State of Online Higher Education in Kansas
The NCES estimates that at least 15.3% of students enrolled in Kansas’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 79.5% were reported to be undergraduates and 64.8% were found to be living in Kansas. It is no surprise to see this high number of in-state distance learners, due to the strong support online education receives from multiple local, regional and statewide initiatives.
Statewide, the Kansas Association for Interactive Distance Education (KAIDE) provides support for distance learning. The organization is comprised of schools, state agencies, networks and education service centers that participate in or offer support to interactive distance education. It advocates, promotes and recognizes achievements in distance education and hosts conferences relating to distance education.
A second statewide organization, Kan-Ed, was created by the state legislature to facilitate technological connections between colleges, universities and online schools in Kansas. Kan-Ed assists schools in applying for federal grants to fund distance learning projects. This administration is a leader in promoting higher education technology throughout the state.
Some Kansas higher education institutions are also part of the regional Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. This partnership of 20 public universities delivers online programs through collaborative development. It offers fully-online graduate and undergraduate coursework.
On a more local level, the Kansas City Regional Access Consortium for Higher Education (KC REACHE) aligns Kansas City Public Television and the Kansas City region’s best colleges and universities. Together they provide students easy access to distance education opportunities in the KC area. KC REACHE members offer 40 online degree programs and over 700 online courses.
Kansas is also one of twelve states to honor the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Through this Compact, students enrolled at public colleges in member states can take advantage of non-resident tuition breaks, a greater selection of courses and a simplified transfer processes.
The MHEC has further approved Kansas to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA). Aligning with 15 other states, this initiative makes online colleges in KS more accessible for students across state lines and makes it easier for institutions to participate in interstate distance education. These agreements, which open so many doors for its distance students, captures Kansas’s support of online education.
Best Online Colleges in Kansas
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Kansas. 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 Kansas, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Kansas 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|
|1||Fort Hays State University||Hays||$$$$$||600 Park St|
Hays, KS 67601-4099
Fort Hays State, one of the best online schools in Kansas, was founded in 1902. The university now serves more than 13,000 students through its on-campus and online programs. Through its Virtual College, FHSU offers more than 40 degrees that are tailored to the needs of adult learners. Undergraduate programs include agricultural business, criminal justice, health studies, and management information systems. Certificate, associate, master’s, and doctorate programs are also available online. Over 6,000 students are enrolled in the school’s online programs. Fort Hays’ tuition is in the lowest 2% in the nation. Students interested in online colleges in Kansas will appreciate FHSU’s dedication to supporting its online students. Students can contact instructors through the Blackboard “online classroom,” email, phone, Skype, and even text. The school offers an online bachelor’s of general studies degree that lets students customize their own course of study.
|2||Newman University||Wichita||$$$$$||3100 McCormick Ave|
Wichita, KS 67213-2097
Newman, located in Wichita, is a Catholic university with a mission to empower its graduates to transform society. The school was named for John Henry Cardinal Newman, a 19th century Catholic theologian and proponent of the liberal arts. NU offers two undergraduate programs that can be completed fully online: an RN to BSN program and a bachelor’s of science in business. The school also offers two master’s degrees that students can earn online: a master’s of theological study and a master’s of arts in theology. Newman is among online schools in Kansas to use Blackboard for online learning. NU is one of the best online colleges in Kansas. Online students may also be eligible for NU’s reduced adult re-entry rate, offered to adult learners who have been out of school for four years or longer and are returning to finish their degree. Newman offers online learning tutorials.
|3||Southwestern College||Winfield||$$$$$||100 College Street|
Winfield, KS 67156-6224
Southwestern College, located in Winfield, is affiliated with the United Methodist church and was founded in 1885. The school boasts small class sizes, with a student-to-instructor ratio of 12:1, and 100 percent of the school’s students receive some form of financial aid. Through its Professional Studies branch, the school offers fully online programs that give students the opportunity to earn certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Online programs include RN to BSN, operations management, and elementary education. Southwestern is among online colleges in Kansas to offer an RN to BSN degree that can be completed in 14 months. These online courses were designed specifically with adult learners and military personnel in mind. Popular online programs include security management, education, Christian ministries, and accounting. Southwestern is among online colleges in Kansas to teach their online programs in an accelerated six-week format. As a military-friendly college, SC also accepts prior learning credit for former military training, including work experience and testing.
|4||Baker University||Baldwin City||$$$$$|
Baldwin City, KS
Baker, located in Baldwin City, is a private university with claims to one of the highest average salaries for graduates among Kansas grads. The school was founded in 1858 as Kansas’ first university. The school boasts a job and graduate school placement rate of 98.6 percent. For students looking to earn a degree from one of the many online colleges in Kansas, BU stands out for its focus on business education. Through its School of Professional and Graduate Studies, BU offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, with unique majors that allow students to focus their studies. The school’s online business programs run on a cohort model, meaning all students enroll at the same time and move through the program together. BU’s other online programs focus on education, nursing, and liberal arts. Online courses are offered year round, providing students more opportunities to quickly earn credits.
Barclay, located in Haviland, was founded by Quakers in 1917. Students from all evangelical faith traditions are welcomed at Barclay to pursue an education with a biblical foundation. The school is dedicated to cultivating a Bible-centered environment for students, preparing them for a life of Christian service and leadership. Students looking for a rigorous program through online colleges in Kansas should consider Barclay’s online programs. The school offers certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees in areas like Biblical studies, business management, and psychology. Applicants must have completed at least 50-60 credit hours at an accredited higher education institution. Barclay also prides itself on its affordability compared to other private Christian colleges; each online credit hour is just $395. Students are encouraged to explore enriching on-campus opportunities in athletics, music, drama, and Christian service. Barclay accepts transfer credits that were obtained with a grade of “C” or higher.
|6||MidAmerica Nazarene University||Olathe||$$$$$||2030 E College Way|
Olathe, KS 66062-1899
MidAmerica Nazarene, one of 11 Nazarene institutions of higher learning in the U.S., aims to nurture a Christ-like community of academic excellence. The school serves over 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students from 35 states and five countries. MNU’s main campus in Olathe was founded in 1966, and the school has another campus in Liberty, Missouri, that’s dedicated to professional and graduate studies. The school offers online certificates, degree completion programs, and master’s degrees in a number of subject areas, mainly business, education, and nursing. Programs include RN to BSN, an accelerated associate in business, and teaching English as a foreign language. MNU’s online courses allow students to set their own study schedules. Evening and weekend classes are also available. MNU is one of just a handful of online colleges in Kansas to offer a fully online MBA, which can be completed in two years.
|7||Emporia State University||Emporia||$$$$$||1 Kellogg Circle|
Emporia, KS 66801-5415
ESU, located in Emporia, has been serving the Kansas community since 1863. Originally a teacher’s college, the school was the first institution of higher learning in the state. Emporia State offers more than 65 majors, minors, and concentrations to a student body of approximately 6,000. The campus is also home to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Students interested in pursuing higher education through one of the online schools in Kansas may be interested in ESU’s online bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies. This unique undergraduate degree allows students to design their own major. The school also offers a number of fully online graduate programs and certificates for professionals looking to continue their educations. Programs include accounting, elementary education, and business administration. Student services include tutoring, test preparation, technology assistance, and a distance learning library. ESU’s online courses are provided through the Canvas platform.
|8||Pittsburg State University||Pittsburg||$$$$$||1701 S Broadway|
Pittsburg, KS 66762
PSU, located in Pittsburg, Kansas, serves more than 7,000 students through its more than 100 academic programs. The school is proud that more than 90 percent of graduates are employed or pursuing graduate studies within six months of graduation. The school is also focused on providing a reasonable price for education, offering flat-rate tuition and reduced rates for students from some neighboring states. Pitt State offers 46 different online programs for students to choose from, representing a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and pre-professional courses. Programs include elementary education, business administration, engineering technology, and human resource development. Non-resident, part-time students seeking an online degree at Pitt State will be offered in-state tuition, making it one of the more affordable online colleges in Kansas for out-of-state students. The majority of the school’s online programs are administered through the Canvas platform.
|9||Wichita State University||Wichita||$$$$$||1845 N. Fairmount|
Wichita, KS 67260-0124
Wichita State was founded in 1895 as a private Christian college. The university serves nearly 15,000 students. The school is also known for its competitive athletics programs and has 15 NCAA Division I teams. Students can choose from fully online degree completion, associate, certificate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs in a wide range of subjects. Programs include business administration, criminal justice, engineering technology management, and women’s studies. Wichita State provides its online students with 24/7 online support and dedicated online academic advisors. To make a flexible education more affordable, WSU offers an exclusive online tuition rate. The rate is available to out-of-state students. Wichita state is among online schools in Kansas to offer special scholarships for online students. Online programs have start dates in the spring, summer, and fall. Online courses are taught through Blackboard.
|10||University of Saint Mary||Leavenworth||$$$$$||4100 S 4th St Trafficway|
Leavenworth, KS 66048-5082
Saint Mary, established in 1923, is a four-year Catholic liberal arts university founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. The school prepares its students for value-driven lives and careers. Saint Mary offers four programs entirely online, which include an RN to BSN degree, a bachelor’s of science in health information management, a master’s of science in nursing, and an MBA. The MBA program has six specializations: finance, general management, healthcare management, human resource management, leadership and organizational health, and marketing and advertising management. The university boasts small class sizes for its online courses, allowing for more one-on-one interaction between professors and students. Online students have 24/7 access to the Personal Support Center, and each student is also assigned an admissions advisor and a student services coordinator. Saint Mary estimates that its students spend 15 to 20 hours per week on coursework for an online class.
|11||University of Kansas||Lawrence||$$$$$||Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 230|
Lawrence, KS 66045
The University of Kansas is one of the largest universities in the state, serving nearly 30,000 students across five campuses and online. The public research and teaching institution was founded in 1854 by abolitionists who settled near the Kaw River. KU has 13 schools, including the only schools of pharmacy and medicine in Kansas. Through KU Online, the school offers completely online undergraduate programs in nursing and the liberal arts. Online graduate programs are also offered in nursing, education, business, health, journalism, and more. Students can choose from a number of hybrid programs, which combine online learning with coursework completed on campus. KU online courses cost the same as regular classes. Students access their online classes through the Blackboard platform. Some exams may require students to find a proctor. The KU Center for Online and Distance Learning provides academic advising and access to the writing center and library.
|12||Central Christian College of Kansas||McPherson||$$$$$|
Central Christian, located in McPherson, seeks to fulfill its mission of providing a Christ-centered education for character. The Free Methodist-affiliated college welcomes students of all faith backgrounds who are interested in a comprehensive spiritual education for the heart, body, mind, and soul. Central Christian offers seven different bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed online. An online associate of arts degree is also available. Programs include criminal justice, healthcare administration, business administration, and organizational leadership. All online courses are taught through a Christian worldview. To make its online programs more affordable, Central Christian includes e-textbooks in the price of online tuition, and financial and military aid is available to students who qualify. The school emphasizes the collaborative nature of its online programs, where every student is encouraged to share their life experiences. Central Christian’s blog offers insight on many careers.
|13||Washburn University||Topeka||$$$$$||1700 SW College Avenue|
Topeka, KS 66621-0001
Washburn, located in Topeka, is one of the best online colleges in Kansas. The school offers over 100 degree programs to its 7,500 students. Founded in 1864, the school is dedicated to making higher education affordable in the midwest region. To help support this mission, Washburn provides in-state tuition to students from Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Washburn has developed special degree completion programs in partnership with several community colleges throughout the state called the Partnership for Learning and Development (PLAN). The program has students complete an associate degree at a partner community or technical college and then complete a bachelor’s degree entirely online through Washburn. Students in the PLAN program can pick from five different bachelor’s degrees, including criminal justice, health science, human services, technology information, and integrated studies. Many other courses outside of the PLAN program are also offered online, though students may have to take some courses on campus to complete their degree.
|14||Tabor College||Hillsboro||$$$$$||400 S Jefferson|
Hillsboro, KS 67063-1799
At Tabor, students are encouraged to explore their faith in a Christian environment. Founded in 1908 by followers of the Mennonite brethren, the school began with just three instructors and 39 students. Tabor serves students from 32 states and 12 countries. The school strives to preserve an intimate, personal approach to faith-grounded higher education. Tabor is among online colleges in Kansas to offer a variety of associate, degree completion, bachelor’s, and master’s programs entirely online, including several Christian ministry programs. Programs include business administration, operations management, human resources, and professional sales. Online coursework can take six to 12 hours per week. Courses are administered online through the Moodle platform. Online students are also eligible for financial aid. Students who want to get involved at Tabor’s Hillsboro or Wichita campuses may be interested in the school’s intramural sports teams, music programs, and mission and service trips.
|15||Sterling College - Kansas||Sterling||$$$$$||125 W. Cooper|
Sterling, KS 67579
Sterling, founded in 1887, is one of the best online colleges in Kansas. The school aims to mature students in their Christian faith and prepare them for thoughtful, creative careers. The school is a non-sectarian Christian college that seeks to create partnerships with churches and organizations of various denominations. Through Sterling College Online, a variety of educational and professional online programs are offered, including a secondary education licensure program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. Other programs include criminal justice, organizational management, elementary education, and theological studies. Students seeking to study at an online school in Kansas can take advantage of Sterling’s Guaranteed Admission Advantage, which makes it easy to transfer credits from an associate degree. The school also offers a 60% discount on some of its online courses when taken during the summer semester. Sterling's reciprocity agreements allow students from almost every state in the U.S. to enroll in their online programs.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Kansas
Below you’ll find another list of the online colleges in Kansas, sorted by their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Fort Hays State University||Hays||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Emporia State University||Emporia||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Washburn University||Topeka||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Pittsburg State University||Pittsburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Wichita State University||Wichita||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||Central Christian College of Kansas||McPherson||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||Baker University||Baldwin City||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||University of Kansas||Lawrence||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||Manhattan Christian College||Manhattan||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Barclay College||Haviland||School profile||$$$$$|
|11||Sterling College - Kansas||Sterling||School profile||$$$$$|
|12||Tabor College||Hillsboro||School profile||$$$$$|
|13||University of Saint Mary||Leavenworth||School profile||$$$$$|
|14||Friends University||Wichita||School profile||$$$$$|
|15||Newman University||Wichita||School profile||$$$$$|
|16||Southwestern College||Winfield||School profile||$$$$$|
|17||Ottawa University - Online||Ottawa||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Kansas
Benedictine College’s Academic Scholarships are awarded to freshmen based on a student’s ACT or SAT scores, high school GPA, and class rank. Award amounts vary; the scholarship can be renewed yearly.
This award covers 3/4 of tuition for four years at Benedictine College. Applicants must have an ACT score of 27+ or SAT of 1210+, and a GPA of 3.5+. Recipient is chosen through a competitive process by the Honors Committee.
Hansen Leaders of Tomorrow
This scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors in Kansas who will attend a public college or university within the state. Applicants must demonstrate leadership qualities via community services and extra-curricular activities. A GPA of 3.5+ is required. Funds are provided by the Hansen Foundation.
Hansen Scholar Award
The Hansen Foundation provides this award to graduating high school seniors in Kansas who will attend a public college or university within the state. A GPA of 3.5+ is required. The award amount is $1,300, distributed over 2 years.
Hixon Opportunity Award
The Hixon Opportunity Award is for first-generation college students entering the University of Kansas as freshmen. To be eligible, applicants must be graduates of a Kansas high school; must demonstrate financial need; and must have faced personal challenges or financial hardship.
Jayhawk Generations Scholarship
The Jayhawk Scholarship is for in-state students entering the University of Kansas as freshmen. To be eligible, applicants must have a GPA of 3.75+, and an ACT of 24+ or SAT of 1090+. The award is $4,000, distributed over 4 years.
National Merit, Achievement, & Hispanic Scholarships for Kansas Residents
For National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, or National Hispanic Scholars who indicate University of Kansas as their first choice institution. Must be a Kansas resident and a freshman. Award amount is $40,000, distributed over 4 years.
Out-Of-State National Merit, Hispanic & Achievement Scholarships
For National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, or National Hispanic Scholars who indicate University of Kansas as their first choice institution. Must be a non-Kansas resident; must be a freshman. Award amount is $42,032, distributed over 4 years.
The Presidential Scholarship covers full tuition for four years at Benedictine College. Applicants must have a 27+ ACT/ 1210+ SAT and a GPA of 3.5+. To maintain the scholarship, recipient must maintain outstanding academic performance and college involvement.
For transfer students entering Benedictine College. Selection is competitive and is based on a student’s cumulative transfer GPA (minimum GPA of 2.0 required). Award amounts vary; scholarship may be renewed yearly.
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