As of 2014, 28% of Utah’s adult, working population held a bachelor’s degree, as reported by HigherEdUtah.org. The state’s primary higher education goal is, by 2020, to have 66% of its working age population, with an emphasis on 25-35 year olds, hold a postsecondary degree or credential. It will take considerable work to achieve such a goal, namely a steady, annual increase in the number of degrees awarded.
Due to their flexibility and affordability, fully online degrees are considered one of the best measure to achieve what the state has dubbed the “Big Goal.” In fact, researchers have praised the state’s proactive emphasis on distance learning. A number of Utah’s institutions have responded in kind, upping their online offerings with a mix of fully online programs and dozens of one-off online courses.
But before we dive into our list of the best online colleges in Utah for 2017, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Utah today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Utah
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Utah had 42 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 8 public schools, 4 nonprofits and 30 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 15,237 at public schools, 12,728 at private nonprofits and 632 at private for-profits.
- 8 public
- 4 non-profit
- 30 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 $6,360, the fifth lowest average amongst states, while the out-of-state average was $19,330.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Utah awarded $2.77 million in need-based grants and $7.45 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 1.3% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. Over the same year, Utah awarded $81.8 million in tuition waivers and $1.7 million in loan assumptions/forgiveness. Utah students interested in learning more about financial support in the state should turn to StepUpUtah.com and the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA), the state’s premier sources for aid support.
With particularly low in and out-of-state tuition and copious aid services, beyond somewhat limited grant support, Utah remains a premier state for higher education in the western U.S.
The State of Online Higher Education in Utah
The NCES estimates that at least 22% of students enrolled in Utah’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 81.6% were reported to be undergraduates and 24.8% were found to be living in Utah.
A report on the Utah System of Higher Education’s (USHE) distance learning efforts suggests the sizable presence of distance learning in the state continues to grow at a rapid clip. As of fall 2014, the system offered 81 degrees and certificates entirely online. More than one in four students were reported to be “enrolled in at least one online course.”
In 2015, the USHE kicked off its “UOnline Initiative,” which is committed to bringing more courses and programs online and making a concerted effort to help students finish online degrees once they’ve been started. New, fully online programs being offered in conjunction with the launch of UOnline include bachelor’s in business admin, economics, nursing, psychology and social work, with more to follow over the next two years. This sort of effort demonstrates the state’s investment in its online offerings and its commitment to its distance students.
Utah 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.
Best Online Colleges in Utah
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Utah. 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 Utah, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Utah 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||Independence University||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||4021 S 700 E Ste 400|
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
The online degree programs at Independence University are varied and include offerings in healthcare, business, technology, and graphic arts. Students can earn associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees at this online college in Utah. IU is a private, nonprofit institution that established its distance learning program in 1978. It became affiliated with Utah's Stevens-Henager College in 2010 and has a main campus in West Haven. Many of IU’s online undergraduate programs require fewer elective credits than other schools, allowing students to graduate with their bachelor’s degrees in just three years.
Distance learners have access to free tutoring and academic mentoring. They also receive a tablet in their first course module and a laptop in their fourth module; these devices are included in the tuition and students are free to keep them after graduation.
|2||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||4001 East 700 South, Suite 700|
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Western Governors University is a nonprofit, online university that was founded by 19 U.S. governors in 1997. One of the best online colleges in Utah, WGU Online offers bachelor's and master's degrees in business, healthcare, accounting, and information technology. Many of these programs focus on credentialing teachers, nurses, and business professionals. Students can also enroll in four post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs. WGU Online also offers master's degrees in teaching for elementary and secondary education in English, mathematics, and science.
WGU’s distance learners are paired with a student mentor who is highly knowledgeable in their area of expertise and offers one-on-one instruction and guidance. This online school in Utah has a more rigorous admissions procedure than other online schools; prospective students are required to have interviews with an enrollment counselor, and their prior college and work experience is reviewed. Students may also be required to take a collegiate readiness assessment test.
|3||Utah State University||Logan||$$$$$||Old Main Hill|
Logan, UT 84322-1400
Utah State University offers more than 30 degrees online through its main campus in Logan, UT. One of the best online colleges in Utah for distance learners, USU has seven online bachelor's degrees, nine online master's degrees, an associate degree in general studies, and nine endorsement/certificate programs. Bachelor’s degrees, such as a BS in communicative disorders & deaf education, require a minimum of 120 semester credits, while graduate degrees, such as a master’s of natural resources, require between 30 and 36 credits.
Distance learners at USU have full access to a variety of online student resources, including online tutoring, the campus library, IT help, academic advising, and career services. Other online resources include testing services and access to the disability resource center. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked USU among the 10 best online bachelor's programs for veterans.
|4||University of Utah||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||201 Presidents Circle, ROOM 201|
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9008
The University of Utah offers online courses through its UOnline system, including undergraduate degree programs in economics, nursing, parks recreation & tourism, sociology, and social work. Utah also offers online graduate programs for master's of science degrees in electrical and computer engineering, gerontology, information systems, and sport pedagogy, as well as a master's in business administration. The only doctoral program offered through this online school in Utah is a post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy.
Online courses are taught asynchronously and follow the same 16-week long semester schedule that is used for on-campus classes. Class media, readings, discussions, and assignments are hosted through the Canvas learning management system and are accessible over the internet. Students interested in enrolling can take the Utah's online readiness questionnaire and view an example of an online class.
|5||Weber State University||Ogden||$$$$$||3848 Harrison Blvd|
Ogden, UT 84408
Weber State University, located in Ogden, offers several complete online programs and many individual online classes. WSU is unique compared to many other online colleges in Utah in that it offers two types of online study programs: semester-based classes, which meet during regular semester dates, and independent study classes, which have flexible start dates and are completed within six months.
Students can select from six online bachelor’s of science degree programs as well as associate degree programs in computer science, general studies, health information technology, and medical laboratory technician. Two certificate programs in healthcare coding & classification and health information management are also available. Some programs may require students to occasionally attend classes on campus. Online courses are hosted by the Canvas LMS and the majority of tests are administered through Chi Tester.
|6||Southern Utah University||Cedar City||$$$$$||351 West University Blvd|
Cedar City, UT 84720
Southern Utah University specializes in the liberal arts and sciences and offers 140 graduate and undergraduate courses online throughout the academic year. SUU has associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs that are available to distance learners. The largest number of online undergraduate courses are offered between May and the end of summer, but students may enroll in most online programs throughout the year.
This online school in Utah offers bachelor’s degrees in accountancy, communication, general studies, and management. General education courses, an associate of arts degree in science, and an associate degree in paralegal studies are also available. SUU also offers a prior learning assessment course, where students put together an e-portfolio to highlight their prior work experiences; this can provide up to 15 credits towards a bachelor's degree. SUU’s online curriculum is accessible through the Canvas LMS.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Utah
Below you’ll find the best online colleges in UT, sorted by affordability.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Utah
Alumni Association Achievement Scholarship
Provided by the University of Utah Alumni Association, the Achievement Scholarship is offered in conjunction with the Founders Day Scholarship. It is open to current undergraduate students who have overcome challenging circumstances and have served the University of Utah and the community. Multiple awards of $5,000 are available.
Alumni Association Non-Resident Scholarship for Incoming Freshmen
This scholarship is available to out-of-state freshmen entering the University of Utah. To be eligible, students must be the child or grandchild of a University of Utah alumnus/alumna. Selection is based on academic merit and financial need. The award totals $5,900 per year for 4 years.
Alumni Legacy Scholarship
This scholarship is provided by the University of Utah’s Alumni Association. It is available to entering freshmen and currently enrolled students whose parent or grandparent graduated from the university and is a dues-paying member of the Alumni Association.
Beehive Honor Legacy Scholarship
The Beehive Honor Society Legacy Scholarship is available to current students at the University of Utah. Applicants may be A) a Beehive Honor Society member; or B) the child or grandchild of a Beehive Honor Society member.
Beehive Honor Society Undergraduate Scholarship
This scholarship is available to current undergraduates at the University of Utah. Students of any class standing may apply. Selection is based on academic merit and financial need. The award is $2,000 per year.
Josephine Beam Scholarship
Provided by the University of Utah for engineering students enrolled in the College of Engineering and the College of Mines. Priority is given to applicant with highest financial need and competitive GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students of any class standing may apply. The maximum award is $2,000.
Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP)
This grant is available to undergraduate students attending a college or university in Utah. The grant is administered by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority. However, individual universities are in charge of setting award amounts and distributing funds. Interested students should check with their school’s financial aid office for application details.
Weber State University Presidential Scholarship
Weber State University offers the Presidential-Aletheia Scholarship to incoming freshmen who are residents of Utah. Recipients are selected based on academic excellence, which is measured by high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores. The scholarship covers full tuition and fees for 4 years.
Youth Activist Scholarship
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah offers multiple scholarships to high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to civil liberties through activism that addresses issues including equality, racial justice, free speech, and religious freedom. Applicants must be Utah residents. Other requirements include a GPA of 3.0+, and financial need.
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