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||$$$$$||8 Abbott Park Pl|
Providence, RI 02903
Providence, Rhode Island, has the highest per capita concentration of college students in the nation, and Johnson & Wales contributes to that with a student body of more than 15,000 students spread across its Providence, North Miami, Denver, and Charlotte campuses.
Its College of Online Education offers 22 bachelor’s and 13 master’s degree programs focusing on business and hospitality. The 186-credit culinary arts and food service management program is designed for students with an associate degree in baking & pastry arts. Pastry chefs can earn a bachelor’s of science in just two years. Four 11-week terms start in September, December, March, and June. Like other online colleges in Rhode Island, online students use Blackboard and participate in courses asynchronously. Undergraduate residency requirements vary by degree. Students seeking a bachelor’s must take at least 45 credits at JWU. Half of these credits must be within the student’s major. JWU emphasizes experiential education through its junior capstone course, career workshops, networking opportunities, on-campus interviews and recruiting fairs, internships, and collaborative projects.
|2||New England Institute of Technology||East Greenwich||$$$$$||One New England Tech Boulevard|
East Greenwich, RI 02818-1205
New England Tech, based in East Greenwich, is a private, nonprofit college. The school’s student body of 3,000 is spread between its East Greenwich and Warwick campuses.
NEIT offers four online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Undergraduate degree programs include an automotive service management program designed for working professionals. The 91-credit program is synchronous and includes weekly assignments. The undergraduate in criminal justice program, a standout among online schools in Rhode Island, utilizes a state-of-the-art forensics lab, crime scene simulation lab, and 75-seat mock courtroom. This 99-credit program offers a mix of online, blended, and face-to-face instruction. The hybrid undergraduate rehabilitation sciences program meets on campus about five times a quarter. All online undergraduate courses are 10 weeks long with four quarters each year. Classes begin in January, March/April, July, and October. Day or night students with an associate degree can earn their bachelor’s degree in 18 months.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Rhode Island
See below for another list of the top online colleges in Rhode Island, sorted by tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Johnson & Wales University||Providence||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Roger Williams University||Bristol||School profile||$$$$$|
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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