Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education reports that the state’s universities increased online course offerings by 30% between 2012 and 2014. Demonstrating a commitment to education, Nebraska ranks first among the states in percentage of state and local government general spending for education. Results from the U.S. Census Bureau show 40% of all state and local government direct expenditures went to some form of education. This is a full 6% higher than the U.S. median percentage. With this high level of state devotion to academics, Nebraska’s institutions are able to offer a range of top-notch distance options.
But before we dive into our list of the best online colleges in Nebraska for 2017, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Nebraska today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Nebraska
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Nebraska had 43 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 15 public schools, 18 nonprofits and 10 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 8,449 at public schools, 5,565 at private nonprofits and 105 at private for-profits.
- 15 public
- 18 non-profit
- 10 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $7,610, while the out-of-state average was $19,440.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Nebraska awarded $17.3 million in need-based grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 2.5% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education.
The State of Online Higher Education in Nebraska
The NCES estimates that at least 16.9% of students enrolled in Nebraska’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 66.6% were reported to be undergraduates and 63% were found to be living in Nebraska. This high number of in-state distance learners is most likely due to Nebraska’s unique enterprises that offer support for Nebraska online students.
Several statewide organizations work in support of the state’s distance learners. The Nebraska Distance Learning Association (NDLA) offers resources and networking opportunities for connected learning environments. The Online Worldwide program, offered through University of Nebraska campuses, is an online initiative designed to provide access to over 100 online programs to students across the state and around the world. Network Nebraska is a statewide education network created by the state to provide higher connectivity and lower costs between colleges. With greater participation levels than almost all other statewide networks, Network Nebraska offers a cost-saving platform for online education applications and distance learning exchanges. These initiatives are expanding distance learning to even the remotest parts of the vast prairies of Nebraska.
Nebraska is also one of twelve states to honor the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Through this compact, students enrolled at public colleges in member states can take advantage of non-resident tuition breaks, a greater selection of courses and a simplified transfer process.
The MHEC has further approved Nebraska to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA). Aligning with eight other states, this initiative allows Nebraska to make distance education more accessible for students across state lines and makes it easier for institutions to participate in interstate distance education. These agreements, which open so many doors for its distance students, captures the support for online colleges in NE.
Best Online Colleges in Nebraska
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Nebraska. 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 Nebraska, explore our state resources, like 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||$$$$$||101 S 42nd St|
Omaha, NE 68131-2739
As one of the most respected online schools in Nebraska, Clarkson College prepares students for a variety of careers in the health care services field. The college was founded in 1888 as a school of nursing and has a main campus in Omaha. Its commitment to health care education continues today across several disciplines, including education and leadership, administration, health management information, medical imaging, nursing, and radiologic technology.
Clarkson College's online programs emphasize instructor responsiveness, with an established policy to respond to all questions from distance learners within 48 hours. The online college also has an average student-to-instructor ratio of 25 to one, allowing students to benefit from personalized instruction. Online courses are offered through the Canvas learning management system. The school also maintains a writing lab, student success center, and mentoring program, providing online students with access to the resources they need to complete their degrees.
|2||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Lincoln||$$$$$||14th and R St|
Lincoln, NE 68588
Located in Nebraska's capital city, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been a leader in higher education for nearly 150 years. Its mission is rooted in delivering quality teaching, research, and service to a diverse student body and the surrounding community. UNL also consistently ranks as one of the top online colleges in Nebraska.
The university has two online undergraduate degree-completion programs, including a bachelor’s of science in early childhood education in a mobile society and a bachelor’s of applied science. It also offers more than three dozen online graduate degrees and certificates, including an MS in interior design, an MA in integrated media communications, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and higher education. A small number of these programs feature a short residency, which helps students learn concepts that are best demonstrated face-to-face, but most degrees do not have on-campus requirements. Distance learners have access to a host of services, including comprehensive technical support and reference assistance.
|3||Creighton University||Omaha||$$$$$||2500 California Plaza|
Omaha, NE 68178
Creighton University, located in Nebraska’s largest city of Omaha, has been nationally recognized as one of the nation's top institutions of higher learning. The school also has a strong commitment to Catholic and Jesuit ideals and values. In recent years, its online graduate business program has ranked in the top 15 by U.S. News & World Report. Princeton Review also named it as one of the top colleges and universities in the United States in 2017.
As one of the best online colleges in Nebraska, Creighton University offers over 20 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in disciplines ranging from leadership, public health, and business administration to finance and health care ethics. Online classes are asynchronous and accessible through BlueLine, which is supported by the Canvas learning management system. Distance learners are assigned a designated student services coordinator and have access to technical support 24/7.
|4||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||$$$$$||800 N Columbia Ave|
Seward, NE 68434-1556
Founded in Omaha in 1891, Nebraska Methodist College serves over 1,000 students across 22 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate degree programs. NMC is also one of the best online colleges in Nebraska for health care professionals seeking to advance their careers. The college offers a variety of online health care-related degrees, including bachelor’s degree-completion programs for practicing sonographers and respiratory therapists, RN to BSN programs, and an MBA in healthcare. NMC’s online courses are all five weeks in duration, and students only take one course at a time. Clinical/practicum hours are required for all online nursing programs, but students can fulfill these requirements near their homes.
The college also offers study abroad opportunities and service learning programs that enable students to help underserved populations as they work toward their degrees; more than 80% of NMC’s students take part in these service learning opportunities each year.
|5||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||$$$$$||800 N Columbia Ave|
Seward, NE 68434-1556
Concordia University-Nebraska, located in the close-knit community of Seward, is a private Lutheran postsecondary institution. The school emphasizes the importance of lifelong leadership, learning, and service based on Christian values. CU-Nebraska has received national recognition for its quality, affordable tuition rates, safety, and programming for military veterans.
Students at the university can earn a variety of graduate degrees completely online. Master’s degree programs are available in the fields of accounting, athletics administration, community health, curriculum and instruction, early childhood education, finance, and marketing, among others. Classes are offered in an accelerated, eight-week format. Some programs, such as the master’s of education degree, do not charge out-of-state tuition. Additionally, prospective graduate students are not required to take the GRE or GMAT in order to apply to CU-Nebraska.
|6||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha||$$$$$||6001 Dodge St|
Omaha, NE 68182-0225
The University of Nebraska at Omaha is dedicated to providing top educational experiences to students who are independent thinkers and risk-takers. The school also emphasizes real-world experiences for its students, with 80 percent of all recent graduates having engaged in at least one internship during the course of their academic careers. UNO is a school that is continuing to grow; 2016 was its largest freshman class in school history, and 45 percent of these students are first-generation college students.
The university also maintains one of the more robust online schools in Nebraska. UNO offers 15 undergraduate and seven graduate programs that can be completed entirely online. It also has six undergraduate and four graduate certificate programs. Many of these programs are nationally ranked; U.S. News & World Report recognized UNO’s master's in criminology and criminal justice and bachelor's in general studies as among the best in the country.
|7||Bellevue University||Bellevue||$$$$$||1000 Galvin Rd S|
Bellevue, NE 68005-3098
Bellevue University is a nonprofit institution that was founded in 1966. The school has in-state satellite campuses in Broken Bow, Grand Island, Lincoln, West Omaha, McCook, Norfolk, North Platte, Scottsbluff, and at the Offutt Air Force Base, as well as locations in Iowa and South Dakota. Students seeking to attend this online college in Nebraska have access to a wide variety of bachelor's and master's degree programs across more than 75 disciplines, most of which can be completed online.
Bellevue’s distance education platform allows students to discuss class topics in digital forums and receive additional support and tutoring as needed. Programs are offered in cohort and traditional formats to fit a student’s learning style. Bellevue offers open enrollment and most programs have several starting points throughout the year. The school also has small classes sizes and provides comprehensive tech support 24/7.
|8||University of Nebraska at Kearney||Kearney||$$$$$||905 W 25th St|
Kearney, NE 68849-1212
Part of the state university system, the University of Nebraska at Kearney has a range of online programs, including undergraduate degrees in business administration, criminal justice, early childhood and family advocacy, organization and relational communication, and sociology. It also offers 22 graduate programs, a certificate in professional sales, and various professional development opportunities for students who are looking to further their careers.
Courses and programs are offered in online, videoconference, face-to-face, or blended formats. Distance learners can interact with professors and classmates through email, discussion forums, and chat groups by using the Blackboard course management software. Many courses also employ multimedia presentations, streaming video, and supplemental CDs/DVDs. UNK's online graduate programs in its college of education were recently ranked eighth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
|9||Chadron State College||Chadron||$$$$$||1000 Main St|
Chadron, NE 69337-2690
Chadron State College has been one of the leading online schools in Nebraska for two decades. Located in Dawes County, the campus also has outstanding access to the outdoors and is a short drive from the Black Hills, Rocky Mountains, and cultural centers such as Denver, Rapid City, and Scottsbluff.
CSC's online degree programs are offered in an accelerated eight-week format, and its asynchronous classes are hosted by the Sakai learning management system. Online master’s and bachelor’s degrees are available in a variety of areas, including business, counseling, education, geoscience, technical occupations, family and consumer sciences, and psychology. The school also offers teacher certification courses. CSC has a flat-rate tuition; distance learners from out of state do not pay more than their in-state peers.
|10||Wayne State College||Wayne||$$$$$||1111 Main St|
Wayne, NE 68787
Wayne State College, located in Wayne, Nebraska, has been recognized as one of the top public institutions of higher learning in the Midwest. WSC offers dozens of classes that can be taken by distance learners, but its most popular online offering is its online master's of business. This is a 30-credit-hour program that does not have any on-campus requirements. Distance learners access their course documents, chats, assignments, and exams through the Sakai learning management system. Students can customize their degree by choosing from a wide range of elective courses including ethics in leadership, dispute resolution management, and information systems technology and management. The program's coursework combines theory with practical applications to give students an immersive educational experience. WSC is also known as a military veteran-friendly campus and emphasizes the importance of serving its local and regional communities.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Nebraska
Below you’ll find another list of the top online schools in Nebraska, ranked according to their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Peru State College||Peru||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health||Omaha||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Chadron State College||Chadron||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Bellevue University||Bellevue||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||University of Nebraska at Kearney||Kearney||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Lincoln||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||York College||York||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||Concordia University - Nebraska||Seward||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Clarkson College||Omaha||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Nebraska
Board of Trustees’ Scholarship
This scholarship is open to Nebraska high school graduates with an ACT score of 25+ or SAT score of 1700+. The award may be used at Chadron, Peru, or Wayne State Colleges. Selection is competitive, based on academic merit. The award totals $16,800.
Clifton & Alberta White Memorial Scholarship
Administered by the Phelps County Community Foundation, this scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors in Gosper or Furnas County, Nebraska. Applicant must be enrolled in a Nebraska college, university, technical or trade school; demonstrate financial need; and have a GPA of 2.5+.
Humpert Memorial Scholarship
The Humpert Memorial Scholarship is for graduating high school seniors in Franklin County. Applicants must be enrolling at a Nebraska college, technical, or trade school. Selection is based on financial need. Award amount varies. Funding provided by the Phelps Foundation.
Open to freshmen entering Concordia University – Nebraska. This highly competitive scholarship is awarded based on applicants’ high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores. The award is $18,000, and may be renewed annually if recipient maintains a GPA of 2.0+.
Open to University of Nebraska – Lincoln freshmen who graduated from a Nebraska high school. Selection is based on applicants’ academic merit and personal accomplishments. The award is renewable if recipient maintains a GPA of 3.5 or ranks in upper 25% of their class.
Rodney E. Forsberg Memorial Scholarship
For graduates of a Phelps County high school who will pursue a two-year or four-year degree at University of Nebraska – Kearney. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0+ and demonstrate financial need. Award amounts vary. Funds are administered by the Phelps Foundation.
University of Nebraska Regents Transfer Scholarship
Available to students who graduated from a Nebraska high school and earned 45 credits at a Nebraska community college. A transfer GPA of 3.5 is required. The award covers in-state tuition for 4 semesters at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Vincent & Mildred Abrahamson Memorial Scholarship
For Nebraska high school seniors who will pursue higher education in carpentry, electronics, mechanics, nursing, teaching, or social services. To be eligible, applicants must be residents of Holdrege, Funk, or Axtell school districts, and have a GPA of 2.0+. Funding is provided by the Phelps Foundation.
Walter J. & Elsie E. Stark Memorial Scholarship
For graduates or GED recipients from Loomis School District (#55) who will enroll full-time in a Nebraska postsecondary institution. Students pursuing a two-year, four-year, or advanced degree are eligible. Selection is based on academic performance, extracurricular activities, and work experience. Funding is provided by the Phelps Foundation.
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