Over the past few decades, the presence of online higher education has grown significantly. Prospective distance learners can now choose from multiple institutions that offer thousands of programs and concentrations areas. While program diversity offers perks, many students struggle to identify which programs meet their educational and professional goals. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Nebraskan students can choose from 42 higher education institutions, including 14 two-year programs, 15 public schools, 18 nonprofit schools, and nine for-profit schools.
To assist Nebraskan students with their search, this guide provides general data regarding the state of higher education and online higher education in Nebraska. This guide also includes information regarding tuition breaks for out-of-state students, the best online colleges in Nebraska, the most affordable state programs, job outlook for graduates, and tuition assistance options.
But before we dive into our list of the best online colleges in Nebraska for 2018, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in Nebraska today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Nebraska
According to the NCES, Nebraskan students can choose from 42 higher education institutions. During the 2015-2016 academic school year, 19,841,014 students took classes at degree-granting postsecondary institutions across the U.S. Out of this population, 136,102 students were enrolled at accredited Nebraskan colleges and universities, which includes students attending on campus or online.
- 15 public
- 18 non-profit
- 10 for-profit
While schools in Nebraska often provide affordable education compared to other states, students should understand how residency impacts tuition rates. According to CollegeBoard, average tuition for residents hovers around $8,510 per year at four-year universities and $3,180 at two-year institutions. The presence of online colleges in Nebraska often attracts out-of-state students, who pay tuition that ranges from just under $10,000 to more than $20,000 per year. Even at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the state’s flagship school, residents can attend for $9,154 per year, while out-of-state students pay $24,949.
Students who wish to receive financial assistance and plan to attend an online school in Nebraska should also examine Nebraska’s need and non-need-based grant allowance to gauge assistance availability. According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, Nebraska provided undergraduate students $16,833,918 in need-based grants during the 2015-2016 school year. Additionally, the state allocated $6,451,459 toward special-purpose programs, which include early college access, vocational rehabilitation, military benefits, and Rural Health Opportunities Program.
The State of Online Higher Education in Nebraska
As the best online colleges in Nebraska continue to improve and offer additional specialized program options, more students complete their education from a distance. According to the 2015 Online Learning Survey data, 25% of graduates and 69% of undergraduate students complete at least one distance course, representing 40.4% of all students.
Many distance learners do not take any on-campus courses. In fact, 15,753 undergraduate and 10,728 graduate students in Nebraska choose to complete all coursework online. Of this population, 61.3% live in Nebraska. Furthermore, nearly 110,000 students take a mixture of on-campus and online courses throughout their program.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Since 1994, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact has worked to provide out-of-state students access to affordable programs through modified tuition rates across multiple states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. As the largest multi-state reciprocity initiative, the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) agrees to charge out-of-state students no more than 150% of in-state tuition rates at public institutions, while private schools offer a 10% tuition reduction. While savings vary by institution, students save $500-$5,000 on average.
To apply, students should contact their preferred accredited online colleges in Nebraska and request a copy of the application. Deadline dates and application requirements vary by school. While some schools only require students to apply once, other programs ask students to apply at the beginning of each school year. Additionally, MSEP rules for online schools in Nebraska differ from on-campus programs. Students should contact the school’s MSEP representative to verify availability. To qualify in Nebraska, students must live in another state and enroll as an MSEP campus student. Students should also note that online schools in Nebraska hold discretionary rights to limit admission.
Best Online Colleges in Nebraska
See below for our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Nebraska. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Nebraska, explore our state resources, such as a database of every college and university in Nebraska 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||Clarkson College||Omaha||$$$$$||101 S 42nd St|
Omaha, NE 68131-2739
As one of the most respected online schools in Nebraska, Clarkson College prepares students for a variety of careers in the health care services field. The college was founded in 1888 as a school of nursing and has a main campus in Omaha. Its commitment to health care education continues today across several disciplines, including education and leadership, administration, health management information, medical imaging, nursing, and radiologic technology.
Clarkson College's online programs emphasize instructor responsiveness, with an established policy to respond to all questions from distance learners within 48 hours. The online college also has an average student-to-instructor ratio of 25 to one, allowing students to benefit from personalized instruction. Online courses are offered through the Canvas learning management system. The school also maintains a writing lab, student success center, and mentoring program, providing online students with access to the resources they need to complete their degrees.
|2||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Lincoln||$$$$$||14th and R St|
Lincoln, NE 68588
Located in Nebraska's capital city, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been a leader in higher education for nearly 150 years. Its mission is rooted in delivering quality teaching, research, and service to a diverse student body and the surrounding community. UNL also consistently ranks as one of the top online colleges in Nebraska.
The university has two online undergraduate degree-completion programs, including a bachelor’s of science in early childhood education in a mobile society and a bachelor’s of applied science. It also offers more than three dozen online graduate degrees and certificates, including an MS in interior design, an MA in integrated media communications, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and higher education. A small number of these programs feature a short residency, which helps students learn concepts that are best demonstrated face-to-face, but most degrees do not have on-campus requirements. Distance learners have access to a host of services, including comprehensive technical support and reference assistance.
|3||Creighton University||Omaha||$$$$$||2500 California Plaza|
Omaha, NE 68178
Creighton University, located in Nebraska’s largest city of Omaha, has been nationally recognized as one of the nation's top institutions of higher learning. The school also has a strong commitment to Catholic and Jesuit ideals and values. In recent years, its online graduate business program has ranked in the top 15 by U.S. News & World Report. Princeton Review also named it as one of the top colleges and universities in the United States in 2017.
As one of the best online colleges in Nebraska, Creighton University offers over 20 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in disciplines ranging from leadership, public health, and business administration to finance and health care ethics. Online classes are asynchronous and accessible through BlueLine, which is supported by the Canvas learning management system. Distance learners are assigned a designated student services coordinator and have access to technical support 24/7.
|4||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||$$$$$||800 N Columbia Ave|
Seward, NE 68434-1556
Founded in Omaha in 1891, Nebraska Methodist College serves over 1,000 students across 22 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate degree programs. NMC is also one of the best online colleges in Nebraska for health care professionals seeking to advance their careers. The college offers a variety of online health care-related degrees, including bachelor’s degree-completion programs for practicing sonographers and respiratory therapists, RN to BSN programs, and an MBA in healthcare. NMC’s online courses are all five weeks in duration, and students only take one course at a time. Clinical/practicum hours are required for all online nursing programs, but students can fulfill these requirements near their homes.
The college also offers study abroad opportunities and service learning programs that enable students to help underserved populations as they work toward their degrees; more than 80% of NMC’s students take part in these service learning opportunities each year.
|5||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||$$$$$||800 N Columbia Ave|
Seward, NE 68434-1556
Concordia University-Nebraska, located in the close-knit community of Seward, is a private Lutheran postsecondary institution. The school emphasizes the importance of lifelong leadership, learning, and service based on Christian values. CU-Nebraska has received national recognition for its quality, affordable tuition rates, safety, and programming for military veterans.
Students at the university can earn a variety of graduate degrees completely online. Master’s degree programs are available in the fields of accounting, athletics administration, community health, curriculum and instruction, early childhood education, finance, and marketing, among others. Classes are offered in an accelerated, eight-week format. Some programs, such as the master’s of education degree, do not charge out-of-state tuition. Additionally, prospective graduate students are not required to take the GRE or GMAT in order to apply to CU-Nebraska.
|6||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha||$$$$$||6001 Dodge St|
Omaha, NE 68182-0225
The University of Nebraska at Omaha is dedicated to providing top educational experiences to students who are independent thinkers and risk-takers. The school also emphasizes real-world experiences for its students, with 80 percent of all recent graduates having engaged in at least one internship during the course of their academic careers. UNO is a school that is continuing to grow; 2016 was its largest freshman class in school history, and 45 percent of these students are first-generation college students.
The university also maintains one of the more robust online schools in Nebraska. UNO offers 15 undergraduate and seven graduate programs that can be completed entirely online. It also has six undergraduate and four graduate certificate programs. Many of these programs are nationally ranked; U.S. News & World Report recognized UNO’s master's in criminology and criminal justice and bachelor's in general studies as among the best in the country.
|7||Bellevue University||Bellevue||$$$$$||1000 Galvin Rd S|
Bellevue, NE 68005-3098
Bellevue University is a nonprofit institution that was founded in 1966. The school has in-state satellite campuses in Broken Bow, Grand Island, Lincoln, West Omaha, McCook, Norfolk, North Platte, Scottsbluff, and at the Offutt Air Force Base, as well as locations in Iowa and South Dakota. Students seeking to attend this online college in Nebraska have access to a wide variety of bachelor's and master's degree programs across more than 75 disciplines, most of which can be completed online.
Bellevue’s distance education platform allows students to discuss class topics in digital forums and receive additional support and tutoring as needed. Programs are offered in cohort and traditional formats to fit a student’s learning style. Bellevue offers open enrollment and most programs have several starting points throughout the year. The school also has small classes sizes and provides comprehensive tech support 24/7.
|8||University of Nebraska at Kearney||Kearney||$$$$$||905 W 25th St|
Kearney, NE 68849-1212
Part of the state university system, the University of Nebraska at Kearney has a range of online programs, including undergraduate degrees in business administration, criminal justice, early childhood and family advocacy, organization and relational communication, and sociology. It also offers 22 graduate programs, a certificate in professional sales, and various professional development opportunities for students who are looking to further their careers.
Courses and programs are offered in online, videoconference, face-to-face, or blended formats. Distance learners can interact with professors and classmates through email, discussion forums, and chat groups by using the Blackboard course management software. Many courses also employ multimedia presentations, streaming video, and supplemental CDs/DVDs. UNK's online graduate programs in its college of education were recently ranked eighth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
|9||Chadron State College||Chadron||$$$$$||1000 Main St|
Chadron, NE 69337-2690
Chadron State College has been one of the leading online schools in Nebraska for two decades. Located in Dawes County, the campus also has outstanding access to the outdoors and is a short drive from the Black Hills, Rocky Mountains, and cultural centers such as Denver, Rapid City, and Scottsbluff.
CSC's online degree programs are offered in an accelerated eight-week format, and its asynchronous classes are hosted by the Sakai learning management system. Online master’s and bachelor’s degrees are available in a variety of areas, including business, counseling, education, geoscience, technical occupations, family and consumer sciences, and psychology. The school also offers teacher certification courses. CSC has a flat-rate tuition; distance learners from out of state do not pay more than their in-state peers.
|10||Wayne State College||Wayne||$$$$$||1111 Main St|
Wayne, NE 68787
Wayne State College, located in Wayne, Nebraska, has been recognized as one of the top public institutions of higher learning in the Midwest. WSC offers dozens of classes that can be taken by distance learners, but its most popular online offering is its online master's of business. This is a 30-credit-hour program that does not have any on-campus requirements. Distance learners access their course documents, chats, assignments, and exams through the Sakai learning management system. Students can customize their degree by choosing from a wide range of elective courses including ethics in leadership, dispute resolution management, and information systems technology and management. The program's coursework combines theory with practical applications to give students an immersive educational experience. WSC is also known as a military veteran-friendly campus and emphasizes the importance of serving its local and regional communities.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Nebraska
See below for all of the online schools in Nebraska, sorted by tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Peru State College||Peru||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health||Omaha||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Chadron State College||Chadron||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Bellevue University||Bellevue||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||University of Nebraska at Kearney||Kearney||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Lincoln||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||York College||York||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Clarkson College||Omaha||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Nebraska
While many students think deeply about what degree best suits their career goals, learners should also consider general state job outlook data and specific data regarding their chosen industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nebraska currently holds a 2.8% overall unemployment rate, while the nationwide unemployment rests at 3.7%. This suggests graduates stand a good chance for career opportunities within relevant industries. For instance, Nebraska offers many agricultural programs. As one of the top five ranked states for product disbursements, agriculture remains a key industry in Nebraska. However, other notable industries include healthcare, technology, education and training, manufacturing, production, and management. Nebraskan graduates may also want to consider the state’s regional layout to determine where job opportunities might arise more frequently.
On average, Nebraska employees earn $45,530 per year. Data provided by NEworks, Nebraska’s official government website, estimates that employment opportunities should increase by 100,493 by 2026.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Nebraska
Access College Early Scholarship Program
This scholarship supports low-income Nebraskan high school students enrolling in a Nebraskan university. Students must show proof of hardship. This program accepts enrollment year round.
Lucy Mora Barrientos Scholarship
This scholarship encourages Latin American and Hispanic American students to earn their degree. Students must have a 2.8 GPA or higher to qualify.
Dick & Chris Draper Scholarship
Applicants must have a minimum 3.25 GPA to apply. Students with a proven financial need receive preference.
Black Employee Network Scholarship Program
Applicants must identify as an African-American high school senior or a college student in their freshman or sophomore year. Students must have at least a 2.5 GPA.
Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation Scholarship
Nebraskan residents with a minimum 2.5 GPA may apply. Only first-time freshmen planning to attend a public college in Nebraska may apply.
TEACH Early Childhood Nebraska
Students planning to teach early childhood education in Nebraska may apply. Students must enroll in an accredited bachelor’s or associate program in the state.
A.B. and M.R. Noel Endowed Scholarship
Graduates from Wood River Rural High School or students currently enrolled in specific nursing programs in Nebraska may apply. Student must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
High school graduates from Thayer County enrolling in two- or four-year universities in Nebraska may apply. Students may renew this scholarship.
Charles & Orene Hinds – Odell, Nebraska, High School Scholarships
Odell high school seniors or former graduates may apply. Qualified applicants must have a 2.75 GPA and submit a 500-word essay.
CPCU-Lawrence “Larry” Frazier Memorial Scholarship
Current or former Nebraska high school students may apply. Students must enroll in a Nebraska college or university. Students must submit a 500-word essay.
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