Rhode Island is one of six partner states in the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). Through this network, students enrolled in public schools in member states can take advantage of non-resident tuition breaks, shared programming and a simplified transfer process. This organization, in part, has incentivized Rhode Island schools to up their online program and course offerings, in the hopes of increasing enrollment both in and out of state ― the end result has been a surprising number of great online opportunities for the smallest state.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in Rhode Island for 2017, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Rhode Island today.
An Overview of Higher Education in Rhode Island
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Rhode Island had 13 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 3 public schools and 10 nonprofits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 4,062 at public schools and 7,017 at private nonprofits.
- 3 public
- 10 non-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 $11,390, while the out-of-state average was $26,790, a 2% decrease over the last five years.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Rhode Island awarded $11.9 million in need-based grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 7.2% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. The Center on Budget and Policies Priorities reported that in the 2013-14 school year there was also a 6.8% increase ($350, inflation adjusted) in state spending per student. For Rhode Island students interested in learning more about their aid options, there is no better place to turn than the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority.
For the smallest state, Rhode Island has a surprisingly robust higher education system. While tuitions run somewhat high, there are clear signs the state invests heavily in its students, especially in terms of need-based grants.
State of Online Higher Education in Rhode Island
The NCES estimates that at least 1.6% of students enrolled in Rhode Island’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 75.5% were reported to be undergraduates and 58.9% were found to be living in Rhode Island.
Also of note is Rhode Island’s pending efforts to joining SARA, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. This agreement makes it easier for students living in one state to participate in distance learning programs offered by universities in another. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.
Best Online Colleges in Rhode Island
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Rhode Island. 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 Rhode Island, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Rhode Island 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||Johnson & Wales University||Providence||$$$$$||8 Abbott Park Pl|
Providence, RI 02903
Providence, Rhode Island, has the highest per capita concentration of college students in the nation, and Johnson & Wales contributes to that with a student body of more than 15,000 students spread across its Providence, North Miami, Denver, and Charlotte campuses.
Its College of Online Education offers 22 bachelor’s and 13 master’s degree programs focusing on business and hospitality. The 186-credit culinary arts and food service management program is designed for students with an associate degree in baking & pastry arts. Pastry chefs can earn a bachelor’s of science in just two years. Four 11-week terms start in September, December, March, and June. Like other online colleges in Rhode Island, online students use Blackboard and participate in courses asynchronously. Undergraduate residency requirements vary by degree. Students seeking a bachelor’s must take at least 45 credits at JWU. Half of these credits must be within the student’s major. JWU emphasizes experiential education through its junior capstone course, career workshops, networking opportunities, on-campus interviews and recruiting fairs, internships, and collaborative projects.
|2||New England Institute of Technology||East Greenwich||$$$$$||One New England Tech Boulevard|
East Greenwich, RI 02818-1205
New England Tech, based in East Greenwich, is a private, nonprofit college. The school’s student body of 3,000 is spread between its East Greenwich and Warwick campuses.
NEIT offers four online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Undergraduate degree programs include an automotive service management program designed for working professionals. The 91-credit program is synchronous and includes weekly assignments. The undergraduate in criminal justice program, a standout among online schools in Rhode Island, utilizes a state-of-the-art forensics lab, crime scene simulation lab, and 75-seat mock courtroom. This 99-credit program offers a mix of online, blended, and face-to-face instruction. The hybrid undergraduate rehabilitation sciences program meets on campus about five times a quarter. All online undergraduate courses are 10 weeks long with four quarters each year. Classes begin in January, March/April, July, and October. Day or night students with an associate degree can earn their bachelor’s degree in 18 months.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Rhode Island
Below you’ll find another list of the top online colleges in RI, sorted by their tuition rate.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Rhode Island
Academic Promise Scholarship
This scholarship is provided by the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority. To be eligible, applicant must be a graduating high school senior; have competitive ACT/SAT scores; be a resident of Rhode Island; and demonstrate financial need. The maximum award is $2,500 per year for 4 years.
Alumni Children Academic Award
Rhode Island College administers the RIC Alumni Children Academic Award, which is open to children or grandchildren of RIC alumni. Awards are given annually to the three applicants with the highest GPAs. The award is $4,000.
Rhode Island College provides the Alumni Scholarship for students who are currently enrolled as freshmen, sophomores, or juniors. To be eligible, students must have a GPA of 2.75+. Selection is based on GPA and application essay. Maximum award is $2,000.
Antonio Cirino Memorial Art Education Fellowship
This scholarship is provided by the Rhode Island Foundation to support Rhode Island residents who are pursuing a teaching career in the arts. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in an arts-related master’s or doctoral program, and must demonstrate financial need. The maximum award is $12,000 per year; recipients may renew the award annually.
Constant Memorial Scholarship For Aquidneck Island Residents
Administered by the Rhode Island Foundation, this scholarship is open to residents of Aquidneck Island who are sophomores, juniors or seniors at a four-year institution. To be eligible, students must be majoring in art or music. The award amount varies from $2,000 to $5,000.
Dominic Gencarelli Family Trust Scholarship
Administered by the Rhode Island Foundation, the Dominic Gencarelli scholarship is open to students who graduated from Westerly High School and are now pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at Providence College. Award amount varies.
Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Scholarship
The Rhode Island Foundation administers this scholarship for Rhode Island residents. The maximum award is $5,000. It may be used to subsidize experiences including travel in the U.S. and abroad, public service programs, and internships. Selection is based on creativity, thoughtfulness, and motivation of the applicants; financial need is also considered.
New England Regional Student Program (RSP)
This program provides a tuition break for New England students who are enrolled at out-of-state New England colleges or universities. To be eligible, student must be enrolled in a major that is not offered in their home state. The award amount varies; on average, a full-time RSP student will receive $7,200.
RDW Group, Inc. Minority Scholarship For Communications
The Rhode Island Foundation provides this scholarship for Rhode Island minority students who are pursuing a degree in communications. The scholarship is open to undergraduates and graduate students. Average award is $2,000; recipients may re-apply annually.
Rhode Island Association of Former Legislators Scholarship
Administered by the Rhode Island Foundation, this scholarship is open to Rhode Island high school seniors who have a record of outstanding public service. The award is $1,500.
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