Many online colleges in Kansas provide opportunities for working professionals and busy students to earn a degree. According to a report by the Digital Learning Compass, online enrollment is steadily increasing. Of the 220,222 students enrolled in Kansas institutions in 2015, 79,683 students were enrolled in online learning courses. Of these online learners, 75% studied at public institutions, 16% at private, for-profit schools, and 9% at private, nonprofit institutions. Of the state’s students enrolled only in online programs, 47% were Kansas residents, 45% were out-of-state students, and 8% were from outside the United States.
Many students take online college courses in Kansas to study while dedicating time to personal and professional commitments. This guide provides information for students considering online colleges in Kansas, including enrollment rates, tuition costs, job opportunities, and scholarship options. This guide also identifies the state’s largest industries to help prospective students determine whether an online education from a Kansas institution is right for them.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Kansas
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the 2015-2016 academic year, Kansas was home to 75 four-year, degree-granting institutions, 26 private schools, and 16 for-profit institutions. Also according to NCES data, 214,301 students were enrolled in postsecondary institutions in Kansas in 2016, which was the highest enrollment of any state. Many online colleges in Kansas offer discounted tuition rates for in-state students, and some charge all online learners in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency. According to the College Board, tuition and fees for in-state students at the state’s four-year, public institutions averaged $9,100 during the 2017-2018 academic year. Tuition and fees at the University of Kansas, the state’s flagship university, averaged $11,148 for in-state students and $27,358 for out-of-state students during the 2017-2018 school year.
- 33 public
- 26 non-profit
- 16 for-profit
According to the NASSGAP annual survey, $17,247,581 was awarded in need-based financial aid during the 2015-2016 school year. Both residents and nonresidents pursuing an education in Kansas have many opportunities to earn financial aid based on need. Because of such opportunities, students should not be discouraged by higher out-of-state tuition rates. Learners should consider both cost and available financial aid before determining whether a school fits their budget.
The State of Online Higher Education in Kansas
According to the Digital Learning Compass, 12,961 graduate students and 66,722 undergraduate students were taking at least one online course in 2015. During the same year, 9,535 graduate students and 35,786 undergraduate students took only online courses. Of those online students, 19,504 were from a different state, while 20,351 were Kansas residents. Additionally, 3,344 online students were from outside the United States. Grantham University is the leading university in Kansas for total online enrollment and for online enrollment growth, with 9,463 students enrolled in online courses in 2012 and 11,721 online students in 2015.
Students can access the Kansas Association for Interactive Distance Education (KAIDE), a nonprofit association comprising schools, education service centers, IDL networks, and state agencies. KAIDE promotes and advocates for distance education, recognizes related achievements, and organizes forums and conferences. Kansas legislature created the Kan-Ed project to encourage the use of broadband technology-based video communication for online learning and telemedicine. Kan-Ed also helps libraries, schools, and hospitals apply for federal grants related to video communication for telemedicine and online learning. Students can also benefit from the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, which offers affordable, flexible online programs.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Out-of-state students at online colleges in Kansas may receive tuition breaks through the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC), which works to increase postsecondary enrollment through the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP). Since 1994, the MSEP has provided affordable opportunities for out-of-state students. Through the MSEP, more than 100 colleges offer more affordable rates for out-of-state learners. MHEC comprises the schools of 12 midwestern states, with 10 of those states participating in the voluntary exchange program. MHEC includes schools in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Through the MSEP, public higher learning institutions agree to charge out-of-state students no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate. Private institutions offer a 10% discount on tuition rates. To take advantage of the program, students must enroll as nonresidents at a participating MSEP campus. Each institution makes final enrollment decisions and may limit participation or set specific admission requirements for students taking advantage of the MSEP. Candidates must be residents of a participating state who are applying to an institution in a different participating state.
Best Online Colleges in Kansas
Below are rankings of the best online four-year programs in Kansas. The profiles describe each school’s approach to online education and list services for distance students, along with the school’s most popular fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Kansas, explore our state resources, including a database of every college and university in Kansas and an 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||$$$$$||600 Park St|
Hays, KS 67601-4099
Fort Hays State, one of the best online schools in Kansas, was founded in 1902. The university now serves more than 13,000 students through its on-campus and online programs. Through its Virtual College, FHSU offers more than 40 degrees that are tailored to the needs of adult learners. Undergraduate programs include agricultural business, criminal justice, health studies, and management information systems. Certificate, associate, master’s, and doctorate programs are also available online. Over 6,000 students are enrolled in the school’s online programs. Fort Hays’ tuition is in the lowest 2% in the nation. Students interested in online colleges in Kansas will appreciate FHSU’s dedication to supporting its online students. Students can contact instructors through the Blackboard “online classroom,” email, phone, Skype, and even text. The school offers an online bachelor’s of general studies degree that lets students customize their own course of study.
|2||Newman University||Wichita||$$$$$||3100 McCormick Ave|
Wichita, KS 67213-2097
Newman, located in Wichita, is a Catholic university with a mission to empower its graduates to transform society. The school was named for John Henry Cardinal Newman, a 19th century Catholic theologian and proponent of the liberal arts. NU offers two undergraduate programs that can be completed fully online: an RN to BSN program and a bachelor’s of science in business. The school also offers two master’s degrees that students can earn online: a master’s of theological study and a master’s of arts in theology. Newman is among online schools in Kansas to use Blackboard for online learning. NU is one of the best online colleges in Kansas. Online students may also be eligible for NU’s reduced adult re-entry rate, offered to adult learners who have been out of school for four years or longer and are returning to finish their degree. Newman offers online learning tutorials.
|3||Southwestern College||Winfield||$$$$$||100 College Street|
Winfield, KS 67156-6224
Southwestern College, located in Winfield, is affiliated with the United Methodist church and was founded in 1885. The school boasts small class sizes, with a student-to-instructor ratio of 12:1, and 100 percent of the school’s students receive some form of financial aid. Through its Professional Studies branch, the school offers fully online programs that give students the opportunity to earn certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Online programs include RN to BSN, operations management, and elementary education. Southwestern is among online colleges in Kansas to offer an RN to BSN degree that can be completed in 14 months. These online courses were designed specifically with adult learners and military personnel in mind. Popular online programs include security management, education, Christian ministries, and accounting. Southwestern is among online colleges in Kansas to teach their online programs in an accelerated six-week format. As a military-friendly college, SC also accepts prior learning credit for former military training, including work experience and testing.
|4||Baker University||Baldwin City||$$$$$||618 Eighth Street|
Baldwin City, KS 66006-0065
Baker, located in Baldwin City, is a private university with claims to one of the highest average salaries for graduates among Kansas grads. The school was founded in 1858 as Kansas’ first university. The school boasts a job and graduate school placement rate of 98.6 percent. For students looking to earn a degree from one of the many online colleges in Kansas, BU stands out for its focus on business education. Through its School of Professional and Graduate Studies, BU offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, with unique majors that allow students to focus their studies. The school’s online business programs run on a cohort model, meaning all students enroll at the same time and move through the program together. BU’s other online programs focus on education, nursing, and liberal arts. Online courses are offered year round, providing students more opportunities to quickly earn credits.
|5||Barclay College||Haviland||$$$$$||607 N Kingman|
Haviland, KS 67059-0288
Barclay, located in Haviland, was founded by Quakers in 1917. Students from all evangelical faith traditions are welcomed at Barclay to pursue an education with a biblical foundation. The school is dedicated to cultivating a Bible-centered environment for students, preparing them for a life of Christian service and leadership. Students looking for a rigorous program through online colleges in Kansas should consider Barclay’s online programs. The school offers certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees in areas like Biblical studies, business management, and psychology. Applicants must have completed at least 50-60 credit hours at an accredited higher education institution. Barclay also prides itself on its affordability compared to other private Christian colleges; each online credit hour is just $395. Students are encouraged to explore enriching on-campus opportunities in athletics, music, drama, and Christian service. Barclay accepts transfer credits that were obtained with a grade of “C” or higher.
|6||MidAmerica Nazarene University||Olathe||$$$$$||2030 E College Way|
Olathe, KS 66062-1899
MidAmerica Nazarene, one of 11 Nazarene institutions of higher learning in the U.S., aims to nurture a Christ-like community of academic excellence. The school serves over 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students from 35 states and five countries. MNU’s main campus in Olathe was founded in 1966, and the school has another campus in Liberty, Missouri, that’s dedicated to professional and graduate studies. The school offers online certificates, degree completion programs, and master’s degrees in a number of subject areas, mainly business, education, and nursing. Programs include RN to BSN, an accelerated associate in business, and teaching English as a foreign language. MNU’s online courses allow students to set their own study schedules. Evening and weekend classes are also available. MNU is one of just a handful of online colleges in Kansas to offer a fully online MBA, which can be completed in two years.
|7||Emporia State University||Emporia||$$$$$||1 Kellogg Circle|
Emporia, KS 66801-5415
ESU, located in Emporia, has been serving the Kansas community since 1863. Originally a teacher’s college, the school was the first institution of higher learning in the state. Emporia State offers more than 65 majors, minors, and concentrations to a student body of approximately 6,000. The campus is also home to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Students interested in pursuing higher education through one of the online schools in Kansas may be interested in ESU’s online bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies. This unique undergraduate degree allows students to design their own major. The school also offers a number of fully online graduate programs and certificates for professionals looking to continue their educations. Programs include accounting, elementary education, and business administration. Student services include tutoring, test preparation, technology assistance, and a distance learning library. ESU’s online courses are provided through the Canvas platform.
|8||Pittsburg State University||Pittsburg||$$$$$||1701 S Broadway|
Pittsburg, KS 66762
PSU, located in Pittsburg, Kansas, serves more than 7,000 students through its more than 100 academic programs. The school is proud that more than 90 percent of graduates are employed or pursuing graduate studies within six months of graduation. The school is also focused on providing a reasonable price for education, offering flat-rate tuition and reduced rates for students from some neighboring states. Pitt State offers 46 different online programs for students to choose from, representing a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and pre-professional courses. Programs include elementary education, business administration, engineering technology, and human resource development. Non-resident, part-time students seeking an online degree at Pitt State will be offered in-state tuition, making it one of the more affordable online colleges in Kansas for out-of-state students. The majority of the school’s online programs are administered through the Canvas platform.
|9||Wichita State University||Wichita||$$$$$||1845 N. Fairmount|
Wichita, KS 67260-0124
Wichita State was founded in 1895 as a private Christian college. The university serves nearly 15,000 students. The school is also known for its competitive athletics programs and has 15 NCAA Division I teams. Students can choose from fully online degree completion, associate, certificate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs in a wide range of subjects. Programs include business administration, criminal justice, engineering technology management, and women’s studies. Wichita State provides its online students with 24/7 online support and dedicated online academic advisors. To make a flexible education more affordable, WSU offers an exclusive online tuition rate. The rate is available to out-of-state students. Wichita state is among online schools in Kansas to offer special scholarships for online students. Online programs have start dates in the spring, summer, and fall. Online courses are taught through Blackboard.
|10||University of Saint Mary||Leavenworth||$$$$$||4100 S 4th St Trafficway|
Leavenworth, KS 66048-5082
Saint Mary, established in 1923, is a four-year Catholic liberal arts university founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. The school prepares its students for value-driven lives and careers. Saint Mary offers four programs entirely online, which include an RN to BSN degree, a bachelor’s of science in health information management, a master’s of science in nursing, and an MBA. The MBA program has six specializations: finance, general management, healthcare management, human resource management, leadership and organizational health, and marketing and advertising management. The university boasts small class sizes for its online courses, allowing for more one-on-one interaction between professors and students. Online students have 24/7 access to the Personal Support Center, and each student is also assigned an admissions advisor and a student services coordinator. Saint Mary estimates that its students spend 15 to 20 hours per week on coursework for an online class.
|11||University of Kansas||Lawrence||$$$$$||Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 230|
Lawrence, KS 66045
The University of Kansas is one of the largest universities in the state, serving nearly 30,000 students across five campuses and online. The public research and teaching institution was founded in 1854 by abolitionists who settled near the Kaw River. KU has 13 schools, including the only schools of pharmacy and medicine in Kansas. Through KU Online, the school offers completely online undergraduate programs in nursing and the liberal arts. Online graduate programs are also offered in nursing, education, business, health, journalism, and more. Students can choose from a number of hybrid programs, which combine online learning with coursework completed on campus. KU online courses cost the same as regular classes. Students access their online classes through the Blackboard platform. Some exams may require students to find a proctor. The KU Center for Online and Distance Learning provides academic advising and access to the writing center and library.
|12||Central Christian College of Kansas||McPherson||$$$$$||1200 S Main|
McPherson, KS 67460-5740
Central Christian, located in McPherson, seeks to fulfill its mission of providing a Christ-centered education for character. The Free Methodist-affiliated college welcomes students of all faith backgrounds who are interested in a comprehensive spiritual education for the heart, body, mind, and soul. Central Christian offers seven different bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed online. An online associate of arts degree is also available. Programs include criminal justice, healthcare administration, business administration, and organizational leadership. All online courses are taught through a Christian worldview. To make its online programs more affordable, Central Christian includes e-textbooks in the price of online tuition, and financial and military aid is available to students who qualify. The school emphasizes the collaborative nature of its online programs, where every student is encouraged to share their life experiences. Central Christian’s blog offers insight on many careers.
|13||Washburn University||Topeka||$$$$$||1700 SW College Avenue|
Topeka, KS 66621-0001
Washburn, located in Topeka, is one of the best online colleges in Kansas. The school offers over 100 degree programs to its 7,500 students. Founded in 1864, the school is dedicated to making higher education affordable in the midwest region. To help support this mission, Washburn provides in-state tuition to students from Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Washburn has developed special degree completion programs in partnership with several community colleges throughout the state called the Partnership for Learning and Development (PLAN). The program has students complete an associate degree at a partner community or technical college and then complete a bachelor’s degree entirely online through Washburn. Students in the PLAN program can pick from five different bachelor’s degrees, including criminal justice, health science, human services, technology information, and integrated studies. Many other courses outside of the PLAN program are also offered online, though students may have to take some courses on campus to complete their degree.
|14||Tabor College||Hillsboro||$$$$$||400 S Jefferson|
Hillsboro, KS 67063-1799
At Tabor, students are encouraged to explore their faith in a Christian environment. Founded in 1908 by followers of the Mennonite brethren, the school began with just three instructors and 39 students. Tabor serves students from 32 states and 12 countries. The school strives to preserve an intimate, personal approach to faith-grounded higher education. Tabor is among online colleges in Kansas to offer a variety of associate, degree completion, bachelor’s, and master’s programs entirely online, including several Christian ministry programs. Programs include business administration, operations management, human resources, and professional sales. Online coursework can take six to 12 hours per week. Courses are administered online through the Moodle platform. Online students are also eligible for financial aid. Students who want to get involved at Tabor’s Hillsboro or Wichita campuses may be interested in the school’s intramural sports teams, music programs, and mission and service trips.
|15||Sterling College - Kansas||Sterling||$$$$$||125 W. Cooper|
Sterling, KS 67579
Sterling, founded in 1887, is one of the best online colleges in Kansas. The school aims to mature students in their Christian faith and prepare them for thoughtful, creative careers. The school is a non-sectarian Christian college that seeks to create partnerships with churches and organizations of various denominations. Through Sterling College Online, a variety of educational and professional online programs are offered, including a secondary education licensure program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. Other programs include criminal justice, organizational management, elementary education, and theological studies. Students seeking to study at an online school in Kansas can take advantage of Sterling’s Guaranteed Admission Advantage, which makes it easy to transfer credits from an associate degree. The school also offers a 60% discount on some of its online courses when taken during the summer semester. Sterling's reciprocity agreements allow students from almost every state in the U.S. to enroll in their online programs.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Kansas
Below is another list of online colleges in Kansas, sorted by tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Ottawa University - Online||Ottawa||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Fort Hays State University||Hays||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Emporia State University||Emporia||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Washburn University||Topeka||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Pittsburg State University||Pittsburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||Wichita State University||Wichita||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||Central Christian College of Kansas||McPherson||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||Baker University||Baldwin City||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||University of Kansas||Lawrence||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Manhattan Christian College||Manhattan||School profile||$$$$$|
|11||Sterling College - Kansas||Sterling||School profile||$$$$$|
|12||University of Saint Mary||Leavenworth||School profile||$$$$$|
|13||Newman University||Wichita||School profile||$$$$$|
|14||Barclay College||Haviland||School profile||$$$$$|
|15||Tabor College||Hillsboro||School profile||$$$$$|
|16||Friends University||Wichita||School profile||$$$$$|
|17||Southwestern College||Winfield||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Kansas
Graduates of online colleges in Kansas have several potential career paths. There are many fast-growing occupations in the state, including positions as marketing managers, who earn an average of $125,740 per year. Graduates may also become physician assistants, who average $97,420 each year, or business analysts who earn an average salary of $77,880 in Kansas. The table below includes the top jobs in the state.
Many graduates work in the state’s key industries: advanced manufacturing, animal health, food processing, logistics and distribution, bioscience, aerospace, and alternative energy. About 70% of the world’s embedded aviation fleet is manufactured in Kansas, with more than a quarter million aircrafts produced since 1919; advanced manufacturing is the leading industry in the state and offers many job opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for all jobs in Iowa is $44,570 and the unemployment rate is 3.3%, with many jobs available to recent graduates.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Kansas
Capitol Federal Education Scholarships
The Capitol Federal Education Scholarships are open to high school graduates from Capitol Federal market areas. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a business program and have a minimum 3.35 high school GPA.
The University of Kansas Scholarships
Featuring one application for seven scholarship opportunities, the University of Kansas scholarships are renewable, merit-based awards that require students to have a GPA of at least 3.25-3.85.
Dan L. Meisinger Sr. Memorial Learn to Fly Scholarship
Open to Kansas, Illinois, or Missouri residents enrolled in an aviation program, applicants for this scholarship must have at least a 3.0 GPA.
The Elberta Harris Scholarship
Emporia State University’s largest single-endowed scholarship, this renewable award is open to graduates of a Johnson County high school who have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a background in community service.
Kansas State Scholarships
Kansas State University awards about $29 million each year based on financial need, academics, leadership, activities, and service. Many scholarships are renewable.
Gregory Fleming Memorial Scholarship
Open to graduating seniors at Mulvane High School, this scholarship supports students who have overcome a significant obstacle during their elementary, middle, or high school years.
Kansas Nursing Service Scholarship
Open to students who are enrolled in, or accepted to, a nursing program in Kansas, this scholarship promotes enrollment in the state’s nursing programs.
Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship
Open to Kansas residents enrolled in a college or university, the Kansas Teacher Service scholarship requires students to pursue a program leading to teacher certification.
ARRL The Irving W. Cook Scholarship
This scholarship is open to Kansas students who hold an active amateur radio license. Students must have their bachelor’s degree in communications, electronics, or a related area and must plan to pursue higher education.
Tortoise Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship
This scholarship is available to Kansas and Missouri students seeking an undergraduate education. The scholarship awards a first prize of $3,000, a second prize of $2,000, and a third prize of $1,000.
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