Rhode Island claims its unique place as the country's smallest state in terms of land mass. Nevertheless, the state boasts 13 degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Only one of these colleges designates itself as a two-year institution. Three schools are state-supported public entities, while 10 institutions exist as private nonprofit colleges or universities.
The following guide provides prospective students who may pursue Rhode Island colleges' online degrees with information on the state's student population, average tuition at public universities, how out-of-state students can pay in-state tuition, and a list of the best online colleges in Rhode Island. The guide also lists the state's top-growing job fields to help individuals choose the right major. The final portion of the guide includes a list of 10 scholarships and other financial aid opportunities for students attending online schools in Rhode Island.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in Rhode Island for 2019, let's start with the state of higher education and online education in Rhode Island today.
An Overview of Higher Education in Rhode Island
Although a small state in both square miles and population, Rhode Island claimed more than 83,000 students enrolled at postsecondary institutions in 2016. That’s just shy of 10% of the state’s total population. Rhode Island is home to a variety of higher education institutions, including an Ivy League school, numerous public universities, and several private colleges.
Costs vary widely among these schools. One year’s tuition at a public university in Rhode Island, for instance, stands at about $12,530. At public two-year schools, tuition runs about $4,560. Students learning at the best online colleges in Rhode Island may expect to pay even more in tuition and fees. For example, at the University of Rhode Island, which stands out as the state’s flagship university, out-of-state students should budget about $30,862 for one year of school. In-state learners, though, typically pay about $14,138. Students attending a pricey private school may well exceed those costs.
- 3 public
- 10 non-profit
Fortunately, students at online schools in Rhode Island can take advantage of financial aid packages. Need-based grants, merit scholarships, work-study, student loans, and other forms of financial assistance can bridge the gap between a student’s tuition bill and a family’s budget. During the 2015-2016 academic year, Rhode Island donors released more than $7.7 million in the form of need- and non-need-based grants to 7,149 recipients. Rhode Island’s Council on Postsecondary Education continues to make the state a friendlier place for private online colleges to provide programs to the state’s residents.
State of Online Higher Education in Rhode Island
Rhode Island boasts a tiny population of a little more than one million people, about 0.3% of the nation’s population. However, the state’s tiny size doesn’t inhibit its students from aggressively enrolling in Rhode Island’s college online classes. About 10,539 students, or roughly 12.8% of the state’s student population, take at least one online course, and most supplement their education with on-campus courses. Just more than 1,700 students take all their courses by distance education, a number split roughly in half between graduate and undergraduate students. About 51% of online students hail from outside the state and 47% come from Rhode Island.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
At some accredited online colleges in Rhode Island, qualifying out-of-state students can enjoy tuition breaks that allow them to pay the same cost per credit hour as Rhode Island residents. The New England Board of Higher Education serves as a resource organization that promotes higher education opportunities across all six of the New England states. One of its oldest programs, the Regional Student Program (RSP) “Tuition Break,” helps colleges share resources and student families save money. This program saves participating students an average of $7,900 per year.
The RSP Tuition Break applies to students who enroll in an approved major not offered at a college in their state. For example, a student from New Hampshire could take Rhode Island college online courses not offered in their home state. Students benefiting from this program typically pay in-state tuition costs though they reside in another state. This program applies to more than 800 graduate and undergraduate degrees at 82 public universities and colleges scattered across New England. Private higher education institutions do not participate in the RSP Tuition Break. To qualify, students must legally claim residence in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut.
Best Online Colleges in Rhode Island
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Rhode Island. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list their services for distance students along with their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Rhode Island, explore our state resources, including a database of every college and university in Rhode Island 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||Johnson & Wales University||Providence||$$$$$||8 Abbott Park Pl|
Providence, RI 02903
Johnson & Wales University Online stands apart from other online colleges in Rhode Island for its career-focused curricula and experiential learning across its programs. Located in Providence, JWU Online provides a comprehensive set of online bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as graduate certificate options and one doctorate in business administration.
Students can choose from 20 bachelor of science degrees in areas like culinary arts or computer science. The school's seven business administration concentrations include entrepreneurship and international business. Bachelor's programs typically take four years to complete, with courses structured in 11-week sessions. Some of JWU Online's bachelor's programs require students to have a minimum of two years professional experience before applying.
At the graduate level, students can complete JWU Online's master's degrees in less than two years, with courses lasting eight weeks each. Master's programs follow a semester-based schedule. The master of business administration (MBA) features 10 concentration options, including sports leadership and finance. Students can also choose one of three master of public administration (MPA) degrees, or from nine master of science degrees in areas like criminal justice and nonprofit management.
Students still trying to decide on a career path can use JWU Online's digital career coach, a tool that allows students to take quizzes that match their strengths and interests with optimal career paths. The career coach tool also provides up-to-date information on job demand and salary.
WU Online's transfer evaluation system makes it easy for transfer students to submit courses for consideration. Learners with professional experience can also benefit from prior learning assessment credits, which grant credit for knowledge and skills gained in the workplace. JWU awards credits for military service and experience as well. The number of credits required to complete a degree varies by program, but most bachelor's programs require 180 credits and most master's programs require 30 credits. The MBA and MPA programs require 36 credits.
|2||New England Institute of Technology||East Greenwich||$$$$$||One New England Tech Boulevard|
East Greenwich, RI 02818-1205
With main campuses in Warwick and East Greenwich, New England Institute of Technology designs its online and hybrid degrees for working professionals. The school offers online and hybrid bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, rehabilitation science, and nursing. Students may also choose from six master's degrees, including cybersecurity defense, occupational therapy, and construction management. Hybrid programs, such as the master's degree in engineering management, feature in-person classes in the evenings. NEIT also offers one online doctorate degree in occupational therapy, which takes as few as 12 months to complete. This degree provides advanced study for occupational therapists already certified and working in the field.
In addition to accreditation by New England Association Commission of Higher Education, several NEIT programs hold specialized accreditation. For example, the graduate curriculum in construction management aligns with the Construction Management Association of America's (CMAA) certified construction manager (CCM) credential, one of the industry's top certifications.
This Rhode Island college's online classes follow an accelerated format. Each course is structured in 10-week terms with a total of four academic terms throughout the year. Online learners have access to advising, career, and tutoring services.
Bachelor's degree applicants should have an associate degree or at least 60 college credits combined with professional experience in the appropriate field. Programs may also consider students with less than 60 credits but with significant professional experience. To gain admission to the master's programs, students must submit proof of an accredited bachelor's degree with at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Some master's programs prefer students that have a bachelor's degree or some professional experience in a particular field of study.
NEIT offers a competitive per-credit tuition rate for both bachelor's and master's programs, with a transparent fee schedule. Textbook and other material costs vary by course. Students may access courses 24/7, and must regularly interact with peers and faculty members throughout the term.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Rhode Island
See below for another list of the top online colleges in Rhode Island, sorted by tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Johnson & Wales University||Providence||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Roger Williams University||Bristol||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is home to fewer adults with college degrees than any other New England state. Consequently, graduates from online colleges in Rhode Island possess a distinct opportunity to snag leadership roles, specialized technology jobs, and healthcare positions in the state. Rhode Island’s overall unemployment rate stands at 3.9%, a slight edge up against the national average. The rate has fallen steadily throughout 2018, though, meaning more and more job hunters in Rhode Island find employment.
The annual mean wage in Rhode Island comes in at $53,110, a bit higher than the national average. Students earning degrees from online schools in Rhode Island can expect to earn salaries that exceed their counterparts in many other parts of the country. Rhode Island’s natural beauty, coastline, and proximity to major cities such as Boston coupled with its above-average salaries make it a prime location for many college graduates, young professionals, and new families.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Rhode Island
New England Employee Benefits Council Scholarship
Residents of New England states enrolled in higher education institutions in New England and demonstrating an interest in the employee benefits field can apply. The scholarship committee considers work experience, academic performance, and school activities when deciding.
Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship
High school seniors from localities receiving Comcast service and who hold at least a 2.8 GPA can apply. Principals or guidance counselors must nominate applicants for this scholarship.
New England Area Future Leadership Award
Applicants must be full-time graduate students or college juniors pursuing an occupational safety and health degree or any other related course. They need a 3.0 or higher GPA to apply.
Greater Boston Chapter Leadership Award
Funded by the American Society of Safety Professionals' Boston Chapter, this award goes to graduates and college juniors pursuing occupational safety and health degrees or a related course. Students must be enrolled full time and hold at least a 3.0 GPA.
Unigo Education Matters $5K Scholarship
To apply, prospects must reach at least 13 years of age and write creative and original responses to a quiz on Unigo scholarships. A panel judges entries according to writing ability, creativity, originality, and overall excellence.
AGC Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship
A student seeking a major in construction management and who plans to transfer from a two-year course of study to a four-year program may apply. Students must be college sophomores or beginning seniors from a five-year program.
Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship
Successful applicants hail from an institution of higher learning and must be at least 13 years old. Prospective recipients must submit essays about a zombie apocalypse for consideration.
Voice of Democracy Scholarship Program
Applicants must be in grades 9-12 and no older than age 19. They must write, record, and submit an essay on a theme from the Veterans of Foreign Wars website for consideration.
Horatio Alger Rhode Island Scholarship
Applicants must be high school seniors with unmet financial needs and at least a 2.0 GPA to apply. This scholarship receives funding from Horatio Alger members who overcame challenges to succeed in business and civic life.
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