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.
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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.
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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||$$$$$||623 S. University Blvd.|
Nampa, ID 83686-5897
A private liberal arts school in Nampa, Idaho, NNU consists of two schools focused on the arts and sciences and professional education. NNU originally opened in 1913 as a Bible and grade school, eventually making the leap to higher education. Along with seven other Nazarene-affiliated liberal arts schools, NNU receives funding from the Nazarene Church and agrees not to infringe on other member schools' recruiting areas. As a result, many of NNU's on-campus students come from the immediate Northwest region.
However, NNU caters to students across the nation through distance learning. NNU's online programs are part of the university's College of Adult and Graduate Studies. NNU currently offers online programs from the associate to the doctoral level. Courses offered include liberal studies, theology, education, business, and nursing. This variety makes NNU a top online choice.
NNU's Ph.D. and Ed.D. in educational leadership is unique among online programs. The 22-month program runs on a cohort model, allowing students the structure of a course sequence and the support of a peer group. The program includes a two-week, on-campus intensive that takes place as students prepare for their dissertation. Students who want to earn a Ph.D. must complete an additional five credits of research-related courses beyond the Ed.D. curriculum. The program accepts students into a new cohort each spring.
Most of NNU's online programs deliver all coursework asynchronously and do not require students to visit campus. As a private university, NNU charges all online students the same tuition. Admission requirements vary by program.
|2||Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||$$$$$||525 S Center|
Rexburg, ID 83460-1690
The preeminent university affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Brigham Young University earns nationwide recognition for its flagship campus in Provo, Utah. However, BYU also operates a university in Rexburg, Idaho that focuses on undergraduates. BYUI harbors 30 departments in six different colleges. The school lists a strict honor code that includes academic integrity, a dress code, and abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex.
BYUI is one of the top accredited online colleges in Idaho. The university's distance learning offerings include certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. The school offers courses in programming, sales, social media marketing, family history research, web design, and nursing, among others.
All online students at BYUI must first complete the school's Pathway Connect program before advancing to the field of their choice. Pathway Connect is a one-year/three-semester program BYUI created as a low-cost introduction to distance learning. Students must be members of the LDS Church, commit to BYU's honor code, and submit evidence of a high school diploma to earn admission. The program consists of once-weekly, synchronous online courses. Students who complete Pathway Connect with a 3.0 GPA can earn admission to the BYUI online program of their choice. Students can also earn admission to these programs by completing 15 credits of in-person coursework at any of BYU's campuses.
|3||Lewis-Clark State College||Lewiston||$$$$$||500 8th Ave|
Lewiston, ID 83501-2698
Founded at the turn of the 20th century and named for the two famous pioneers, Lewis-Clark State College originally opened in Lewiston, Idaho as a school for future teachers. LCSC expanded and now offers over 80 degrees in fields such as nursing, criminal justice, education, and professional and technical education.
LCSC also offers distance learning and is among the best universities to take online college courses in Idaho. The school's distance learning programs include certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. LCSC allows students to complete its online programs without ever visiting campus. The school delivers its online coursework asynchronously through Blackboard, allowing working professionals to fit school into their schedules. LCSC currently offers 13 different online programs, including in business, early childhood development, nursing, pre-law, general studies, and web design and development. LCSC ensures quality in its online programs by requiring all faculty members to complete a Universal Design for Learning course. This course also ensures that all of LCSC's online programs meet the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
LCSC uses the same admissions standards for its online programs as its on-campus programs. LCSC's admissions office prides itself on its flexibility for transfer students. Students with at least 14 previously-earned college credits may apply to LCSC's online programs as transfer students.
|4||Boise State University||Boise||$$$$$||1910 University Dr|
Boise, ID 83725
Boise State University is one of Idaho's flagship universities. Originally founded as a part of the Episcopal Church in the 1930s, the university evolved and now offers over 100 graduate programs and a comparable number of undergraduate offerings -- demonstrating strength in fields such as public service, education, engineering, and business.
Boise State is also one of the best online colleges in Idaho. The school's online programs include 43 different certificates, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees. Boise State offers online programs in specialized areas including respiratory care, educational games and simulation, online teaching, applied leadership, design ethnography, and imaging sciences, among others.
Boise State allows online students to pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live. BSU also prides itself on its military-friendly online presence, offering credit for previous military experience, honoring the GI Bill®, and maintaining a veteran services department. The school maintains transfer-friendly policies, too, accepting most transfer credits. Finally, Boise State keeps working professionals in mind, as most online programs deliver coursework asynchronously and do not require campus visits.
|5||Stevens-Henager College - Boise||Boise||$$$$$||1444 Entertainment Avenue|
Boise, ID 83709-6733
A private school based out of Ogden, Utah, Stevens-Henager College opened a branch campus in Boise, Idaho in 2004. Stevens-Henager also operates a campus in Idaho Falls. The National Center for Education Statistics currently lists Stevens-Henager as a nonprofit institution.
Stevens-Henager offers its distance learning programs through Independence University, a partner school. Online offerings include associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in nursing, healthcare administration, business, graphic arts, accounting, web design and development, and various medical specialties. Some online programs at Stevens-Henager/Independence deliver coursework asynchronously and eliminate in-person and on-campus requirements. Others run on a blended learning model.
Independence University -- Stevens-Henager's partner/subsidiary school for distance learning -- is an accredited, online school based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The university became an official branch of Stevens-Henager College in 2010. Independence primarily exists to make higher education accessible to working professionals and students in remote areas.
Many of Independence/Stevens-Henager's online programs offer monthly start dates, allowing students to jump in whenever their schedules allow. The schools also pride themselves on the individualized help and counseling they provide to distance learners.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Idaho
Below you’ll find another ranking of the online schools in Idaho, listed by the tuition rate offered at each school.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Lewis-Clark State College||Lewiston||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Boise State University||Boise||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Northwest Nazarene University||Nampa||School profile||$$$$$|
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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