Idaho is home to several colleges, many of them offering 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 western branch of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, 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.
Before we dive into our list of best online colleges in Idaho for 2018, 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
Higher education in Idaho is offered by 19 degree-granting institutions, eight of which are funded by Idaho tax dollars. The eight publicly funded institutions are split evenly between four-year and two-year institutions. Six of the other 11 institutions operate as private, nonprofit colleges, and the remaining five are for-profit colleges. Total fall enrollment at these 19 colleges and universities grew 37.3% from 2011 to 2016 — the second greatest fall enrollment growth in the nation. In sharp contrast, the national total fall enrollment rate declined 5.6% in the same time period. Idaho’s tremendous growth reflects the successful efforts of that state’s educational leaders and legislators to boost the educational achievements of its citizens. Two strategies, a direct admissions program and Idaho’s Gear Up program have driven some of this growth. The other significant driving factor, however, is enrollment through accredited online colleges in Idaho.
- 8 public
- 6 non-profit
- 5 for-profit
Idaho’s public four-year institutions charge an average of $7,590 for in-state tuition and fees. By way of example, the University of Idaho charges $7,864 for in-state students and $25,500 in out-of-state tuition. According to the National State Student Grant and Aid Programs, Idaho awarded $5,091,848 in need-based grants to 1,771 recipients for an average benefit of $2,875 per student. State aid funneled to merit and non-need grants averaged $6,942 per student.
As indicated earlier, Idaho participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which makes it much easier for non-residents to pursue online college courses and degrees through online colleges in Idaho. See the tuition breaks section below for more information.
The State of Online Higher Education in Idaho
According to the Distance Education State Almanac 2017, 60,704 of the 121,108 students (50.1%) enrolled in Idaho colleges and universities take at least one distance education course, which exceeds the national average of 29.7%. Just over one in five (21.9%) students take a mix of on-campus and online courses. This reflects the convenience offered by online colleges in Idaho to its citizens. Of those who take at least one online course, 34,129 (56.2%) complete their entire program online. Undergraduate students comprise 93% of that total. Interestingly, Idaho residents make up only 9,114, or 29.7% of those taking all their coursework online.
Idaho public colleges and universities comprise seven of the top ten institutions enrolling students in distance learning programs. However, the private, nonprofit Brigham Young University-Idaho clearly leads the rest with 33,551 undergraduates enrolled in online programs. Boise State University and Idaho State University boast the highest online enrollments among Idaho’s public institutions.
Online education in Idaho benefits from the Idaho Regional Optical Network which serves education, healthcare, and government entities with a high-speed fiber optic infrastructure. This network links with similar networks in other states.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Out-of-state students attending accredited online colleges in Idaho benefit from the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. As part of that agreement, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been created to help students residing in any of the 16 western states and territories to affordably access Idaho online degrees. More than 40,000 students participate in a tuition reduction program through WICHE’s Western Undergraduate Exchange. In 2017-2018, undergraduate students saved an average of $9,000 in out-of-state tuition at more than 160 colleges in the participating states. Graduate students also fared well through the Western Regional Graduate Program with tuition savings of nearly $16,000 each at 60 participating colleges and universities.
Non-resident tuition may exceed in-state tuition by 300% or more; these programs can save out-of-state students nearly $14,000 each year. WICHE’s website publishes a College Savings Finder tool to help you research each institution to determine the applicable tuition reduction rate. To capitalize on this tuition reduction, you must specifically request the tuition reduction when you apply to the college.
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 their services for distance students and they’re most 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|
|1||Northwest Nazarene University||Nampa||$$$$$||623 S. University Blvd.|
Nampa, ID 83686-5897
Northwest Nazarene, located in Nampa, Idaho, is a nonprofit, Christian university of the liberal arts. The university is one of the best online colleges in Idaho. NNU serves more than 10,000 students, with at least 60% of them taking online courses. NNU offers undergraduate majors in 42 fields of study, and fully online bachelor's in liberal studies, business administration, and RN to BSN. Each online program has its own schedule and benefits. With the online liberal Studies degree, start dates are every eight-weeks. In the business administration bachelor's degree, students can take up to six courses per 15-week semester. Students can complete the program in 16-months. The RN to BSN can be finished in five-semesters. Students enrolled in online courses have access to all the same resources and facilities as on-campus students, including library services, workout facilities, and chapel services.
|2||Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||$$$$$||525 S Center|
Rexburg, ID 83460-1690
Throughout its almost 130-year history, BYU-Idaho has undergone several name changes and many campus renovations and expansions, but it has always maintained its affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The campus is located in Rexburg, Idaho. More than 50% of the school's 65,000 students are enrolled in online programs, making Brigham Young one of the leading online schools in Idaho. BYU offers more than 300 courses and 11 bachelor's degrees online, including degrees in business management, healthcare administration, and software engineering. The online degrees at Brigham Young are structured by semesters. Distance learners have access to the online support center, full e-library privileges, and an active online community that engages students in campus events. BYU is the largest private school in Idaho. About 26,000 students enroll online each semester. Summer sessions last seven-weeks.
|3||Lewis-Clark State College||Lewiston||$$$$$||500 8th Ave|
Lewiston, ID 83501-2698
Lewis-Clark is located near the state border of Idaho and Washington and the city border of Lewiston and Clarkston. The college offers more than 370 courses and seven bachelor's degrees that can be completed fully online. Online degrees include business administration, early childhood development, general studies: humanities, and more. The school is among online colleges in Idaho to offer accelerated programs; the RN to BSN can be completed in nine-months. Online students at Lewis-Clark receive e-library access, technical support, and access to Read & Write, a software tool that helps students become more proficient users of the English language. Community involvement is central to Lewis-Clark’s mission; online students are encouraged to engage with the student organizations available online and get involved with their local communities. The student body represents 25 states and 34 countries, and over 76% over students receive some form of financial aid.
|4||Boise State University||Boise||$$$$$||1910 University Dr|
Boise, ID 83725
Boise State draws more than 20,000 students each year, and more than 6,500 students take online courses, making it one of the leading online schools in Idaho. The university has 27 online programs. BSU offers fully online bachelor's degrees in applied science, imaging sciences, nursing (RN to BS), and more. Online student services include academic advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and numerous computer and technology resources. Online programs follow the traditional 16-week semester schedule, but certain courses do offer condensed schedules. The eCampus Center works with the school's faculty and administrators to create an innovative and uncompromising online experience. BSU's online programs each go through a design process, ensuring that online students receive the best education possible. Online programs are taught through Blackboard. The school’s most popular undergraduate program is in health science studies.
|5||Stevens-Henager College - Boise||Boise||$$$$$||1444 Entertainment Avenue|
Boise, ID 83709-6733
For over 125 years, Stevens-Henager has focused on delivering career-specific education. SHC has grown from a business-only school to offering courses in the fields of healthcare, business, technology, and graphic arts, including a number of bachelor's degree programs that are available online. Stevens-Henager is one of the top online colleges in Idaho, allowing students to complete bachelor's degrees in 36 months. The school provides all bachelor's degree students with laptops, tablets, textbooks, and resources required for study. Stevens-Henager provides personalized support services to students. The college’s Better Life Blog provides students with study tips, career guidance, and facts about the school. The college constantly updates the blog with new information. Stevens-Henager is a nonprofit school. Undergraduate business degrees are offered in a hybrid format. Programs include accounting, forensic accounting, and multiple business administration degrees.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Idaho
Below you’ll find another ranking of the online schools in Idaho, listed by the tuition rate offered at each school.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Lewis-Clark State College||Lewiston||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Boise State University||Boise||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Northwest Nazarene University||Nampa||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Idaho
College graduates in Idaho do not need to look far for desirable employment options. Unemployment rates in Idaho have averaged about 2.8% through 2018, well below the rest of the nation, indicating strong employment prospects. Currently, the $42,240 mean annual wage for all occupations runs about 25% below the national average. However, as the third fastest-growing state in the nation, according to USA Today, Idaho’s newcomers find the overall living and employment advantages to outweigh the lower mean annual wage.
What key industries draw people to live and work in the Gem State? Given Idaho’s numerous outdoor recreation options, the recreation technology and testing industry shows a rapid growth rate of 30% over the next 10 years with average annual salaries of $50,000. Idaho’s aerospace industry should grow at 35% over the next 10 years with salaries averaging $63,000 per year. Advanced manufacturing and computer technology industries demonstrate strong growth with average salaries of $77,000 and $100,000 respectively. As the nation’s leader in nuclear energy research, this field shows strong growth with salaries averaging $92,000 per year.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Idaho
Idaho Governor’s Cup Scholarship
Renewable for four years; Idaho high school seniors with at least a 2.8 GPA and a record of community service may apply for this merit-based scholarship.
Armed Forces/Public Safety Officer Dependent Scholarship
Idaho undergraduate dependents of fallen or permanently disabled members of the armed forces or public safety officers may apply.
Community Council of Idaho Hispanic Scholarship
Idaho residents of Hispanic origin with a 2.5 GPA or higher may apply for this need-based scholarship if they are enrolling for college for the first time.
Community Council of Idaho’s Agriculture Scholarship
First-generation Idaho college students with an agriculture background may apply for this need-based scholarship.
Idaho Opportunity Scholarship
Renewable for four years; Idaho high school seniors with at least a 2.7 GPA may apply for this need-based scholarship.
Horatio Alger Boise State University Scholarship
Idaho residents entering their sophomore year at Boise State University with a minimum GPA of 2.0 who have overcome adversity may apply.
Idaho Opportunity Scholarship for Adult Learners
Renewable for four years; Idaho adults returning to college for their first undergraduate degree after an absence of at least two years from college may apply if their GPA is 2.7 or higher and they have earned at least 24 college credits prior to their gap from college.
Gear Up Idaho Scholarship 2
High school graduates from one of 27 specified school districts who have participated in an Idaho Gear Up program may apply.
Riley Academic Scholarship at Northwest Nazarene University
Incoming freshman who display academic achievement with a GPA of at least 3.0 may apply.
Idaho Postsecondary Scholarship
This merit-based, matching scholarship supports high school students who graduate with 10 or more post-secondary credits and have earned a qualifying industry scholarship.
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