Rising enrollment rates at online colleges in Louisiana are driving significant growth in distance education. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of online students rose from 11,281 to 18,972. In 2015, 69,687 out of 247,531 Louisiana students were enrolled in at least one online course. Of those online students, 93% attended public schools, 6% attended private, non-profit institutions, and 1% of online students were enrolled in for-profit institutions. As web-based education grows in popularity, so do the resources and programs available to distance learners. To satisfy the increased demand for online college courses, Louisiana schools continue to expand their program offerings, including many subjects at multiple degree levels.
In this guide, we take a look at what the best online colleges in Louisiana have to offer, from tuition costs and available majors to financial aid opportunities such as scholarships and grants. Read on to learn how distance education can open up new career opportunities, and what Louisiana graduates can expect when they enter the workforce.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Louisiana
In 2016, online colleges in Louisiana experienced some of the nation’s highest enrollment rates, with 239,287 students pursuing web-based degrees, certificates, or individual courses. Prospective distance learners seeking accredited online colleges in Louisiana also have plenty of options to choose from. Between 2015 and 2016, the state was home to 17 public four-year schools, 16 public two-year institutions, 12 non-profit four-year institutions, and 17 for-profit schools, many of which offer comprehensive online programs.
- 33 public
- 12 non-profit
- 17 for-profit
As a rule, colleges and universities nationwide charge out-of-state students significantly higher tuition rates than in-state residents. Unlike tuition for most traditional, on-campus programs, many schools charge online students one flat rate, regardless of residency status. On average, Louisiana residents attending in-state schools pay roughly $9,550 a year in tuition. The state’s flagship university, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, costs residents $11,950 each year, charging out-of-state students $28,627 in annual tuition. While price differences discourage many prospective out-of-state candidates from attending online communities colleges in Louisiana, there are many financial aid opportunities available to distance learners studying in their home state and beyond. According to the NASSGAP annual survey, Louisiana awarded students $255,229,776 in non-need based aid and $26,466,455 of need-based funding during the 2015-2016 school year.
The State of Online Higher Education in Louisiana
Enrollment rates at online colleges in Louisiana are skyrocketing: 2015 saw 60,410 Louisiana undergraduate students and 9,277 graduate students enrolled in at least one online course. In the same year, 12,811 undergraduate and 6,231 graduate students across the state were enrolled exclusively in online courses, with web-based education proving particularly popular among master’s degree candidates. Graduate students have often already started families and careers, remaining committed to full-time roles outside of education. Offering flexible schedules and convenient content delivery, online degrees make it easier to balance school, work, and personal obligations. Distance education is also affordable for in- and out-of-state students alike: In 2015, 15,353 — 81% — of online students were Louisiana residents, 3,518 resided out-of-state, and 101 were from outside the United States.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana saw the highest online enrollment in 2015, with 6,731 online learners, while Delgado Community College experienced the highest enrollment growth between 2012 and 2015, growing by 4,496 students.
Individuals interested in pursuing online coursework enjoy a variety of state resources. Louisiana Online serves as a gateway to public institutions in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the University of Louisiana System, Southern University System, and the Louisiana State University System that offer hybrid and online programs. The Louisiana Distance Learning Association is a non-profit advocacy and policymaking organization that strives to gain recognition for online education and serve as a primary information source for prospective distance learners.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Out-of-state students typically pay much higher tuition rates than in-state students, with many nonresidents paying triple that of Louisiana residents. Formed with the goal of improving public education at every level, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) helps policymakers make informed decisions by providing independent, accurate data and recommendations. The organization also strives to improve student learning outcomes with improved curricula, instructor professional development programs, and evidence-based practices. SREB member states include Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Delaware, and Kentucky.
SREB’s Academic Common Market and Electronic Campus (ACM/EC) allows students enrolled in online programs to pay in-state tuition rates at out-of-state institutions located in member states. Learners may choose from hundreds of undergraduate and graduate programs offered through out-of-state schools. ACM/EC is not merit-based or competitive, although students are required to meet individual program and home state residency requirements. Some programs, however, such as law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and optometry are not available in the ACM, and students cannot request them. In addition, students applying to some institutions may require to meet additional acceptance guidelines beyond those defined in SREB policies.
Best Online Colleges in Louisiana
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Louisiana. 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 Louisiana, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Louisiana 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||Louisiana Tech University||Ruston||$$$$$||305 Wisteria|
Ruston, LA 71272
Louisiana Tech University started as a response to Louisiana's industrial economy push in the late 19th century. Today, the school stands as a local leader of both higher education and academic research. Founded in 1894, Tech offers more than 100 programs of study, including over 60 majors. The university operates on a quarter system and enrolls some 12,500 students a year. For the 2014-15 academic year, Tech boasted a 10% higher freshman retention rate than the University of Louisiana and Louisiana State University systems.
Tech joined the online colleges in Louisiana in 1998 and has grown steadily since. Within five years of the school's addition of distance education, enrollment in online courses rose to more than 600 students. The school continues to invest in online learning, aiming to make earning a college degree a viable option for all aspiring students. The university's bachelor's in health informatics, for example, brings a decades' old program to the virtual classroom, using the same advanced technology that forms the underpinnings of the program: health data collection, use, and dissemination. The school also delivers a 45-credit master's in health informatics completely online.
In an effort to rank among the best online colleges in Louisiana, Tech also makes available a variety of students services to all online learners. From academic advising and library services to the Tech campus computer network, students in distance education benefit from the same resources as their on-campus counterparts. What's more, out-of-state online students pay no additional costs for the first six credits.
Tech's importance to the close-knit Ruston community and the state at large is evident; the school's original mission to develop the area's industry continues to this day. In the area of research and development, for example, Tech filed 85 reports of invention and 58 U.S. patent applications between the 2012-16 fiscal years. The school's students also represent an entrepreneurial spirit with the creation of six new startups.
|2||University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Lafayette||$$$$$||104 University Circle|
Lafayette, LA 70503
Based in the "Heart of Acadiana," the University of Lafayette serves over 19,000 students each year, making it the largest among all nine campuses in the University of Louisiana (UL) System. For the entire state of Louisiana, the public university boasts the second-largest enrollment, trailing only Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
UL Lafayette's reach extends beyond the state, thanks in part to distance education through UL Online. Each year, online learners at UL Lafayette complete courses in nursing, kinesiology, health services administration, and general studies -- all without stepping foot on campus.
Students who attend campus on site may also enroll in online learning. Consider UL Lafayette's bachelor's in general studies, which the school makes available exclusively to students 25 years or older looking to either advance or transition their careers. Enrolled students may choose from three concentrations: arts and humanities, behavioral science, and applied sciences. Eight graduate programs in education, nursing, and technology cater to the scheduling demands of working professionals.
UL Lafayette first offered online college courses in Louisiana in 2011, a move that falls in line with the university's overall master plan. Unveiled in 2013, this master plan singled out distance learning as a top priority going forward. UL Lafayette's expanding roster of online and hybrid course offerings and programs make clear the school plans to follow through and stand with the online colleges in Louisiana.
Founded in 1898 as the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, UL Lafayette operates an academic year that runs in the fall, spring, and summer. While the main campus sits on 145 acres, the entire university covers 1,500 acres. The school holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|3||Nicholls State University||Thibodaux||$$$$$||University Station La Hwy 1|
Thibodaux, LA 70310
Conferring over 50,000 degrees since the school's founding in 1948, Nicholls University today serves approximately 6,500 students a year. The student body breakdown between undergraduates and graduate students is 9:1. Located in Thibodaux, Nicholls welcomes learners from around the world, though the majority hails from Louisiana.
An estimated 5% of students at Nicholls reside out of state, and 2% are international learners. As for programs of study, Nicholls offers a robust catalog of 105 programs and majors, including over 75 four-year degrees. Nursing leads the way when it comes to popular majors, followed by business administration, biology, and education.
Nicholls Online offers 11 undergraduate degrees, including two associate degrees in the areas of petroleum services and safety technology. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree online can choose from a bachelor of arts in history, English, or political science. As one of the accredited online colleges in Louisiana, Nicholls strives to provide a comparable learning experience for its online learners. The main difference is the learning format. As with many online colleges in Louisiana, Nicholls opts for asynchronous courses, with students participating at a time that fits their schedule best.
Nicholls Online follows an eight-week schedule, and students can start and stop classes at any time. Multiple start dates also allow students to begin matriculation when ready, rather than waiting for a fall or spring. Terms begin every January, March, June, August, and October.
A diverse, comprehensive university, Nicholls first opened its doors in 1948, as the Francis T. Nicholls Junior College of Louisiana State University. The school separated eight years later after gaining authorization to develop four-year curricula. Ten years after its founding, Nicholls granted the school's first degrees in May of 1958.
|4||University of New Orleans||New Orleans||$$$$$||2000 Lakeshore Drive|
New Orleans, LA 70148
Established in 1956 by the Louisiana Legislature, the University of New Orleans quickly grew into a center of higher education. By 1961, enrollment exceeded 3,000, and today, alumni represent all 64 Louisiana parishes, every state, and more than 100 countries. The pioneering southern university continues to bring motivated students together, and as one of the online colleges in Louisiana, its academic reach only continues to grow. Yearly enrollment tops out at around 6,000 students.
The nine online degrees at UNO include one hybrid master's program in transportation. The degree completion programs include philosophy, interdisciplinary studies (IDS), and urban studies and planning. IDS students can choose from three tracks: behavioral studies, business in urban society, and cultural and environmental studies. UNO students can also earn online certificates in areas like the performing arts and community development finance.
UNO delivers online learning through the school's Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE), with advisers available for every online program of study through email, phone, and video conference. UNO online courses feature asynchronous participation, accessed through the open-source learning management system Moodle. For exams, UNO partners with Proctor U, which allows students to take exams from anywhere. Further, out-of-state online students may count UNO among the best online colleges in Louisiana when it comes to cost, as the school forgoes any resident fees.
Located about 15 minutes from the famed French Quarter, UNO combines metropolitan appeal with a small-town setting. The school's 195-acre central campus resides in the Gentilly section of New Orleans. Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, UNO is one of fewer than 100 public U.S. universities to hold the designator of an institution of high research activity. The university's Research and Technology Park generated a $472 million economic impact in 2016.
|5||University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe||$$$$$||700 University Avenue|
Monroe, LA 71209-0000
Nineteen years after the University of Louisiana at Monroe opened as a junior college in Monroe, Louisiana, the school became an autonomous four-year college. Another 19 years after that, the school gained university status and conferred its first doctoral degrees. Today, ULM enrolls more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year, with approximately 12% reported as out of state.
Overall, ULM maintains a relatively low student-to-teacher ratio of 18-to-1 and offers a number of specialized majors, like atmospheric sciences and risk management and insurance. All told, the university offers 96 majors and minors. ULM Online boasts over 30 programs for distance learners, making ULM a leader among the online colleges in Louisiana.
From an associate in general studies to a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy, online students at ULM enjoy a variety of academic paths. Majors include history, psychology, and modern languages (with a concentration in French). The learning format of ULM Online centers on self-paced courses, with learners typically taking two, eight-week courses per session. The spring and fall semesters split into two sessions: A and B. ULM Online also offers summer courses, which further allow students to accelerate through the material.
As noted, students pursuing a two-year degree can choose ULM. The associate of general studies remains a popular degree for those looking to advance their careers or preparing for a four-year program down the road. Given this, ULM Online presents one more option for distance learners considering the number of online community colleges in Louisiana. Note that online learners at ULM do not pay additional tuition, regardless of where they live.
|6||Northwestern State University of Louisiana||Natchitoches||$$$$$||University Parkway|
Natchitoches, LA 71497-0002
Established in 1884 as a two-year school for teachers, Northwestern State University of Louisiana serves as one of the 14 publicly funded, four-year schools; it harbors more than 11,000 students a year. Part of the University of Louisiana System, the largest of the state's four public university systems, NSU formally gained university status in 1970.
At NSU, distance learners can choose from more than 30 programs, including an associate in general studies and over 20 master's degrees. Students can pursue graduate degrees in art, English, professional studies, teaching, or education. As one of the online colleges in Louisiana, NSU accepts credit hours earned at fellow regionally accredited institutions of higher learning. A participant in the Louisiana Transfer Degree Program, NSU aims to simplify for all students -- especially online learners -- the transition from a two- to a four-year degree.
Students can complete the majority of NSU's online college courses in Louisiana from a distance, though certain hybrid courses may list an in-person component. Distance learners, particularly those from another state, can work with NSU's academic advisers to determine a path that works best for them and their schedules. For students unable to visit NSU, the school allows for alternative arrangements like taking proctored exams at a local university or testing center.
NSU also offers competency-based degrees. For example, the bachelor of science in computer information systems allows students to progress through lessons without structure. After students master a particular skill or piece of knowledge, they can advance to the next lesson or course. With such a learning model, students set their own pace.
As for cost, all NSU online learners pay the same tuition, regardless of a student's residency. NSU does not charge out-of-state fees for students who learn from a distance. NSU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|7||McNeese State University||Lake Charles||$$$$$||4205 Ryan St|
Lake Charles, LA 70605
Eleven years after McNeese State University opened in 1939 as the Lake Charles Junior College, the school joined the senior circuit as a four-year college. In 1970, McNeese gained its current university status. Today, the school enrolls over 7,500 students each year, with approximately 77.5% attending full time. The student body represents all of Louisiana, much of the U.S., and some 50 countries.
Students at McNeese can choose from over 60 degrees across diverse disciplines, including business, education, liberal arts, nursing, and education. The main campus spans 121 acres in Lake Charles, and the school also makes use of 800 acres of donated property for farming and research.
For distance learners, McNeese offers 17 programs of study, including associate degrees in paralegal studies and general studies. Undergraduate majors include criminal justice, management, and nursing, while graduate degrees explore psychology, education, and instructional technology. As part of the state university system and one of the accredited online colleges in Louisiana, McNeese aims to serve as many student needs as possible. For example, the school accepts several sources of prior credit, including Advanced Placement credit, College Level Examination Program credit, and Prior Learning Assessment portfolios.
McNeese offers hybrid programs, but students who wish to attend entirely online may do so for most distance education programs. Further, the school offers a somewhat different academic calendar than most online colleges in Louisiana. Offering seven-week sessions in the spring and fall, and then six-week sessions during the summer, McNeese accommodates most student schedules, in particular that of working professionals. Most courses also allow asynchronous participation.
With its name, McNeese State University honors John McNeese, a pioneering educator who served as Imperial Calcasieu Parish's first superintendent of schools in 1888. McNeese holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|8||Southeastern Louisiana University||Hammond||$$$$$||548 Ned McGehee Ave.|
Hammond, LA 70402
Resulting from a 1920s grassroots movement by local Hammond residents, Southeastern Louisiana University opened in 1925 as a junior college supported by local taxes. The school eventually evolved into a four-year institution and today continues to adjust program offerings according to the needs of students. Though the university still primarily serves southeast Louisiana, Southeastern reaches beyond its immediate borders. In the 2017 fall semester, for example, Southeastern offered more than 300 course sections entirely online, along with several online or hybrid programs and postgraduate certificates.
Southeastern joined the online colleges of Louisiana in earnest in 2008, when it offered an online family and nurse practitioner program. A first for the region, this program resulted from a partnership between three University of Louisiana System campuses: Southeastern, University of Louisiana Lafayette, and McNeese State University. Today, the school also offers a fully online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree, as well as a master of nursing and doctor of nursing practice.
Southeastern's bachelor of science in family and consumer sciences offers four dynamic concentrations, each designed to improve employment opportunities in the area. Learners can choose to focus on family studies, fashion merchandising, nutrition, or child life. Certain concentrations, like family studies, require students to complete an internship locally.
Hybrid courses at Southeastern require some in-person meetings but only when needed (e.g., a lab). Courses considered hybrid must deliver at least 50% of content and learner engagement online. As for the majority of Southeastern's online courses, students should find any face-to-face meetings to be the exception, not the rule.
Southeastern recognizes the Associate of Arts/Science Louisiana Transfer degree from accredited two-year schools, including online community colleges in Louisiana. With this degree, transfer students admitted to Southeastern begin their matriculation with junior status.
|9||Louisiana State University-Alexandria||Alexandria||$$$$$||8100 Hwy 71 South|
Alexandria, LA 71302-9121
Established in 1959, Louisiana State University-Alexandria serves an annual enrollment of more than 3,375 students and continues to grow. The school remains committed to small average class sizes and a student-to-faculty ratio below 20:1. The school's diverse student body represents most of Louisiana, 30 states, and 27 countries.
LSUA only recently joined the online colleges in Louisiana (2015), but it aims to stand among the best online colleges in Louisiana. Currently, the school offers 10 programs of study, including a choice between an associate of arts or an associate of science. By offering two-year degrees, LSUA can also meet the educational needs of students considering one of the online community colleges in Louisiana. On average, students take 2-3 years to complete an associate degree at LSUA and four years for a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science.
LSUA supports accelerated learning with six start dates every year. All accelerated courses at LSUA last for seven weeks, with a one-week break in between. Among the student services online learners benefit from at LSUA is academic advising, which covers everything from auditing a degree plan to reviewing transfer credit. LSUA awards both transfer credit from military experience and credits earned from another regionally accredited, approved testing agency. LSUA reviews all such credit through transcripts as part of the admissions process.
As noted, LSUA continues to make strides in its enrollment numbers. In 2017, the school reported a third straight year of record enrollment numbers. Year over year, LSUA increased its number of enrolled students by 3%. Since the fall of 2013, these numbers represent a 51.3% jump in attendance.
Enrollment in the school's online offerings continues to grow at an impressive pace as well. The same 2017 report found that the number of students pursuing an online degree at LSUA increased by 55% from the previous year.
|10||Southern University and A&M College||Baton Rouge||$$$$$||3rd Floor, J.S. Clark Adm. Building, P.O. Box 9374|
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
A comprehensive public university located in northern Baton Rouge, Southern University and A & M College (Southern University) serves an enrollment of more than 6,000 students a year. Program offerings cover 54 areas of study. Southern University currently offers eight undergraduate degrees online, including associate of applied science degrees in business management and health information technology.
As with other online colleges in Louisiana, Southern University's distance education reach includes individual online courses as well. Online college courses in Louisiana, like those at Southern University, allow for students to add a bit more flexibility to their schedules should they need it.
Distance education plays a critical role in the strategic plans of the five-campus Southern University System (SU System). In 2014, the system identified online learning as a top priority in Act 1465, a five-year plan running through 2019. In it, SU System lists the promotion of electronic activities as key.
In direct response to Act 1465, Southern University today offers over 10 hybrid and online programs in such areas as nursing, computer science, psychology, and criminal justice. Degrees like the bachelor of general studies and the bachelor of interdisciplinary studies help students develop broad competencies across various disciplines, building a skill set that can prove particularly useful in today's ever-evolving job market.
In addition to two- and four-year online degrees, Southern University offers graduate degrees from a distance. In addition to hybrid master's and doctoral degrees in nursing, online learners can earn an master of science in criminal justice or an advanced degree in public administration (EMPA). Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, the online EMPA at Southern University caters to professionals with years of experience in the public sector looking to bolster their portfolios and open doors to more opportunities.
Southern University opened its doors on March 7, 1881. Twelve students comprised the school's inaugural enrollment. Southern University serves as the flagship of the SU System, the nation's only historically black college system.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Louisiana
Below you’ll find a second listing of the online schools in Louisiana, sorted by the schools with the lowest tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Southern University at New Orleans||New Orleans||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Lafayette||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Louisiana Tech University||Ruston||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||McNeese State University||Lake Charles||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||Southeastern Louisiana University||Hammond||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||Northwestern State University of Louisiana||Natchitoches||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||Nicholls State University||Thibodaux||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||Southern University and A&M College||Baton Rouge||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Louisiana
Online colleges in Louisiana prepare students for a variety of career opportunities. Louisiana’s 5% unemployment rate offers qualified graduates plentiful opportunities to find jobs. The mean annual wage for all occupations combined in the state of Louisiana is $41,590. Key industries in Louisiana include advanced manufacturing, aerospace, agribusiness, automotive, energy, entertainment, process industries, software development, and water management. The state features low taxes, highly productive and motivated workers, unrivaled logistics and infrastructure, and a pro-business climate with the best workforce recruitment and training programs available.
With Louisiana’s variety of industries, there are a variety of rapidly growing jobs with as high as a 158.8% growth rate each year. Software engineers are the fastest growing career in Louisiana with a 158.8% growth rate and an annual mean wage of $72,270. Software developers are the second fastest growing job with a 154.6% annual growth rate and an annual mean wage of $74,000.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Louisiana
Louisiana Bar Foundation Kids’ Chance Scholarship
This scholarship is available to the legal dependents of Louisiana residents who were killed or injured in work-related incidents or accidents.
Society of Louisiana CPAS Scholarships
Eligible applicants must be pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in accounting and hold a 3.0 GPA or better.
Tulane University Valedictorian Scholarship
Tulane University’s valedictorian scholarship is open to Louisiana public or private high school graduates who demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Stephen W. Cavanaugh Scholarship Fund
Awarded to students majoring in an insurance-related field who demonstrate strong leadership abilities and hold a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship
Eligible applicants must live in Louisiana for at least one year, hold a 2.5 GPA or better, and should be accepted at an accredited college or university.
LSU Stamps Scholarship
Applicants must complete a rigorous college prep curriculum, maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5, and demonstrate intellectual distinction, initiative, and strong leadership skills.
Louisiana Tech Outstanding Student Scholarships
Applicants must be Louisiana residents with a 3.0 GPA or higher and an ACT score between 23 and 31.
Ark-La-Tex Agricultural Council Scholarship
This award is open to Louisiana high school seniors accepted as full-time students at an accredited, in-state undergraduate program who maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Scholarship
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation awards this scholarship to students enrolled or accepted at an accredited Louisiana college or university. Applicants must hold a GPA of 2.5 or better.
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