As Utah grows in population, it also expands its higher education programs, particularly when it comes to distance education. Online colleges in Utah host a higher percentage of online students than the national average, with more out-of-state students than those living in state.
Utah’s key industries remain technical in nature and require highly trained professionals. With that in mind, the state pushes for greater education funding in hopes of retaining Utah residents after high school, bringing new people to the state, and enrolling out-of-state students into online schools in Utah. This guide can give you an idea of what Utah offers when it comes to online education, including a ranking of the best online colleges in Utah, the state of higher education, scholarship opportunities, and job outlooks for some of the fastest growing career fields.
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A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Utah
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2015-16 academic year, Utah hosted 36 degree-granting institutions: eight public universities, 11 nonprofit schools, and 17 for-profit institutions. In 2016, 311,500 students attended those schools, which was a 17.8% increase from 2011.
- 8 public
- 11 non-profit
- 17 for-profit
According to CollegeBoard, in the 2017-2018 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees for a public, four-year school in Utah stood at $6,800, making it one of the cheapest states in which to study. In-state tuition for this same year at the University of Utah averaged $8,800, while out-of-state tuition averaged $28,100.
According to the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs, in the 2015-2016 academic year, Utah awarded $2.5 million in student aid though need-based grants and $10.8 million though non-need-based grants.
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The State of Online Higher Education in Utah
As online colleges in Utah grow, more students opt to take classes online every year. According to the Distance Education State Almanac, in 2015, 46.4% of students took online classes, with a total of 259,500 undergraduate students enrolled in all Utah institutions at that time. Of those, 116,500 took at least one course online, and 77,000 of them took all classes online. Out of the 34,000 graduate students at Utah schools in 2015, 19,600 of them took at least one online course, and 18,100 took all their classes online. Of all entirely online students, 80% lived in another state.
These numbers do not mean much out of context, so how do they compare to the rest of the country? In 2015, 30% of college students enrolled in the U.S. took at least one class online. Only 14% of all students enrolled in classes exclusively online. This put Utah a little above the average for students taking online classes and almost twice the average for students taking all their classes online. Nationally, 55% of students studying entirely online attend schools in the state they live, but only 20% of Utah’s distance learners do this.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Public universities generally charge higher tuition rates for nonresident students. This out-of-state tuition occurs mainly due to the fact that those students and their families have not contributed to taxes in that state. There are many options to help reduce the cost of studying in a different state. Many online colleges in Utah charge the same tuition rates to both resident and out-of-state students.
One of those options is the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a program offered by the Western Interstate Commission For Higher Education (WICHE). The WUE allows students from a WICHE state or territory to attend any of over 160 universities in another WICHE state or territory at a nonresident tuition rate of 150% of the resident tuition rate. The average student taking advantage of WUE saves around $9,000.
Utah is one of the 16 participants in WUE. Others include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, the United States Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States (including Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands), Washington, and Wyoming.
Best Online Colleges in Utah
Below, you can find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Utah. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list its services for distance students and its popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Utah, explore our state resources, including a database of every college and university in Utah 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||Independence University||Salt Lake City||$$$$$|
Salt Lake City, UT
One of the most recognized nonprofit online colleges in Utah, IU boasts a 124-year history including 37 years of delivering distance education. The school specializes in providing fast, affordable, career-focused education with no unnecessary electives. In keeping with its commitment to continuous improvement, IU designs coursework in consultation with a program advisory committee comprised of business executives from various industries.
Distance learners in IU's online programs may earn degrees in healthcare, business, technology, and graphic arts. Associate degree options include business management and respiratory therapy. Some students complete associate programs in as few as 20 months. Bachelor's programs include forensic accounting, cybersecurity, and health services management. At the master's level, options include public health, nursing administration, and information systems.
IU provides personalized support services for distance learners, including free tutoring, writing and math labs, and a faculty-hosted small group study forum. The school's student success center provides access to subject matter learning coaches, lab assistants, a financial planner, and an admission consultant to assist with locating transcripts and paying fees.
All online students at IU receive a laptop, tablet, supplies, and textbooks at no additional charge. New classes begin every month, with coursework accessible 24/7 and delivered asynchronously. Graduates of IU may audit additional classes in their field at no cost. Students and alums receive one-on-one assistance with every stage of their career search.
IU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to provide support for veterans' tuition and fees. Military servicemembers and spouses may qualify for tuition discounts. The school's transfer policy permits eligible transfer students to receive college credit for military experience, by exam, and for certifications, such as Cisco Certified Network Associate. IU is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
|2||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||4001 East 700 South, Suite 700|
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Founded in 1997 as an online-only nonprofit school, WGU serves a unique student population. A pioneer in competency-based education, WGU offers bachelor's and master's degrees in IT, business, nursing, and teaching. Dispensing with traditional metrics, WGU awards degrees based on mastery of the material rather than specific timelines.
WGU offers over 30 degrees in the field of education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including several options leading to professional licensure. Undergraduate options include IT management, cloud and systems administration, and healthcare management. Master's options include nursing informatics, data analytics, and science education. WGU designs coursework in consultation with respected employers and industry experts.
Programs begin on the first day of each month, and students complete coursework in six-month terms. Distance learners receive assistance from an assigned faculty mentor and may join optional instructor-led cohorts. Services for online students include an IT helpdesk; counseling; and one-on-one support with budgeting, writing, and math.
WGU boasts a generous transfer policy and recognition as a top military-friendly school, offering tuition assistance and scholarships for servicemembers and veterans. The school's flat-rate tuition provides an incentive for distance learners to complete the maximum number of credits within their capabilities. Intensive study at WGU results in earlier graduation at a lower cost.
Admission requirements include an interview to determine a student's fit with the school's expectations. Applicants do not submit standardized test scores, but may need to complete a collegiate readiness assessment test. State-specific requirements may also apply.
WGU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and recognized among the best online colleges in Utah by the United States Distance Learning Association.
|3||Utah State University||Logan||$$$$$||Old Main Hill|
Logan, UT 84322-1400
Established in 1888 as an agricultural college focused on improving access to higher education, USU cultivates diversity of culture and thought. As a premier land-grant and space-grant public research university, USU boasts respected aerospace and technological research programs. The Logan campus is the flagship for the Utah State University system, which maintains over 25 campuses and learning centers within the state.
Recognized for its emphasis on sustainability, USU ranks among the greenest online colleges in Utah and boasts a commitment to working toward carbon neutrality. The school operates several eco-friendly initiatives, such as shuttle transportation programs and energy-efficient practices.
USU offers over 30 affordable programs entirely online, including bachelor's degrees comprising 120 credits in areas such as family life studies, communicative disorders and deaf education, and agribusiness. Master's degrees require 30-36 credits and cover topics such as aviation science, dietetics administration, and horticulture. Distance learners may also complete certificates in areas such as rehabilitation counseling, women's and gender studies, and geographic information science. Classes span 14-week sessions in a two-semester system.
Services for distance learners include online tutoring, 24/7 IT support, a disability resource center, student software discounts, and a gender resource center. USU also provides a recorded webinar series to help new distance learners develop efficient study skills and navigate the Canvas platform. USU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The school accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers a quick admit option, allowing students to complete up to 12 credits toward a graduate program without formal admission. Course-by-course articulation tables enable transfer students to determine how course equivalents at other institutions may affect their transferable credits; prospective students may search the tables by location, institution, or equivalencies.
|4||University of Utah||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||201 Presidents Circle, ROOM 201|
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9008
Located in Salt Lake City, the U boasts an innovative startup culture in engineering and the entertainment arts, including many student-faculty collaborations. Recognized for its sustainability initiatives, such as campus food gardens and an environmental observatory, the U ranks among the most prominent online colleges in Utah for its ecologically responsible practices.
Online degrees include sustainable tourism and hospitality management, nursing, psychology, and social work, with gerontology available as a minor. The U also offers a unique online general education program focused on global citizenship, and is the only school in Utah offering a tourism program that prepares students for the hospitality operations certificate from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Most programs operate with a selective admissions policy and allow students to customize their degree through elective courses.
Most classes combine asynchronous and interactive synchronous learning; some programs offer optional on-campus components. Students typically complete programs in four-five semesters at 12-15 credits per 16-week semester. Students complete internships during the summer months.
Resources for distance learners include an online course demo, a writing center, counseling and career coaching, and free tutoring. Out-of-state students unable to travel for test proctoring may opt for the school's virtual proctoring service, enabling test-taking at the student's location through web camera observation by a third party. The U is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The U maintains a state authorizations page for distance learners outside of Utah to verify the school's reciprocity agreements with other states. Applicants from other Utah schools should check the transfer articulation guide for information about eligible transfer credits. Eligible military servicemembers and veterans may receive college credit for previous military training. Admission requirements for applicants with fewer than 30 college credits include high school transcripts and standardized test scores.
|5||Weber State University||Ogden||$$$$$||3848 Harrison Blvd|
Ogden, UT 84408
Established in 1889 and based in the northern city of Ogden, WSU boasts highly regarded nursing programs and notable accomplishments in space satellite projects. The school's values emphasize diversity, engaged experiential learning, and freedom of expression. As an open-enrollment public school with two major campuses, WSU ranks among the most affordable higher education institutions in the western United States. Recognized as a green college, WSU earned sustainability awards by reducing its carbon footprint and pledging to become carbon-neutral by 2050, placing it among the most ecologically oriented online colleges in Utah.
Online associate degrees at WSU include health information technology and computer science. Bachelor's degree options include radiologic sciences, nutrition education, and professional sales. Master's options include criminal justice and respiratory therapy. The school's small class sizes permit personalized attention from instructors. Undergraduate distance learners receive resident tuition rates.
WSU offers certificate programs in healthcare coding and healthcare information management. Graduates from the bachelor's program in health information management qualify to take the Registered Health Information Administrator exam for certification.
Students complete many programs fully online through the Canvas platform; some programs require limited on-campus coursework. WSU offers some courses structured around a semester system, and others through asynchronous self-paced learning with a maximum completion time of six months. Remote students register for and complete exams through the school's proctoring system.
Prospective students may complete a short demo course to gauge their aptitude for online learning. The school accepts applications on a rolling basis, and it maintains a transfer guide and state authorization map to help out-of-state and transfer students with admission planning. WSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Admission requirements for graduate programs include a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
|6||Southern Utah University||Cedar City||$$$$$||351 West University Blvd|
Cedar City, UT 84720
Based in Cedar City and founded as a public teacher training school in 1897, SUU boasts world-class learning opportunities to prepare graduates for meaningful careers. Emphasizing an ongoing commitment to quality education in a caring environment, the school promotes personal growth as well as professional excellence and civic responsibility.
Located near a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, such as national parks and water recreation, SUU ranks among the most recognized online colleges in Utah for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Shakespeare enthusiasts flock to SUU each summer for the school's award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival.
SUU offers some of the most widely recognized teacher training options in the state. Undergraduate degree and certificate programs include communication studies, accounting, and online teaching. At the graduate level, degree options include business administration, athletic training, music technology, and music education.
The MBA program features flexible scheduling, an accelerated one-year program option, and a GMAT requirement waiver for students with at least a 3.3 GPA. The master's in arts administration includes a study abroad option and ranks among the most affordable online master's programs in entertainment management. The flexible 30-credit music education master's program requires on-campus attendance for three weeks in June; students complete the remaining coursework online. Utah students may coordinate internships through SUU's partnerships with land management agencies and native tribes.
SUU delivers online coursework through the Canvas platform and offers classes on a two-semester schedule. Admission requirements for most programs include a 3.0 minimum GPA, and some programs require proof of one year of professional work experience for out-of-state distance learners. The school accepts applications on a rolling basis. SUU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Utah
Below, you’ll find the best online colleges in Utah, sorted by affordability.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Weber State University||Ogden||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Southern Utah University||Cedar City||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Utah State University||Logan||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Utah
Utah’s rapid population growth provides an opportunity for the best online colleges in Utah to cater to varying career fields. The unemployment rate in Utah stands at 3%, which is slightly lower than the national average of 4%. Utah’s governor’s office lists aerospace and defense, energy, financial services, lifespaces, software and IT, and outdoor products and recreation as targeted industries, meaning those promoted by the state. These industries can provide numerous opportunities for student internships within the state.
The annual growth rate and projected jobs in 2026 come from national data. If the following careers do not appeal to you, you can find additional information through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Utah
Must be a graduate from a Utah high school, have a minimum 3.3 GPA or higher, and an ACT score of 22 or higher.
New Century Scholarship
Must be a high school student in Utah, have a minimum 3.5 GPA, and must use the scholarship to earn an associate degree before graduating from high school.
T.H. Bell Teaching Incentive Loan
Provides up to four years of tuition; may only be used to study education and related subjects; must be repaid by teaching within Utah’s K-12 school system.
UAIIA Scholarship Program
Applicants must be a high school student set to graduate with a 3.0 GPA or higher and must must also show significant extracurricular activity in their community, church, work, or school.
Revere Health OB/GYN Group Scholarship
Open to college or university students with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher. Applicants must write an essay answering one of five provided questions.
This scholarship is for graduating seniors of Highland, Cottonwood, or Olympus high schools with a minimum 3.0 GPA or higher, and they must be planning to attend or have already applied to a college in Utah.
Willy the Plumber Scholarship
Open to Utah high school graduates with one or more incarcerated parents or guardians; applicants must be planning to attend a Utah college.
This organization offers several scholarships which are available to students in Utah and other western states who are interested in a career within the coal industry.
Utah Jump$tart Scholarship
For graduating Utah high school students who have completed a Jump$tart financial literacy course and plan to attend college. Applicants must submit video entries.
Henry and Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
Open to high school students or college students at the graduate or undergraduate level who are residents of one of several western states, including Utah. Applicants must be studying theatre arts.
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