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.
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.
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||$$$$$||4021 S 700 E Ste 400|
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
The online degree programs at Independence University are varied and include offerings in healthcare, business, technology, and graphic arts. Students can earn associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees at this online college in Utah. IU is a private, nonprofit institution that established its distance learning program in 1978. It became affiliated with Utah's Stevens-Henager College in 2010 and has a main campus in West Haven. Many of IU’s online undergraduate programs require fewer elective credits than other schools, allowing students to graduate with their bachelor’s degrees in just three years.
Distance learners have access to free tutoring and academic mentoring. They also receive a tablet in their first course module and a laptop in their fourth module; these devices are included in the tuition and students are free to keep them after graduation.
|2||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||4001 East 700 South, Suite 700|
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Western Governors University is a nonprofit, online university that was founded by 19 U.S. governors in 1997. One of the best online colleges in Utah, WGU Online offers bachelor's and master's degrees in business, healthcare, accounting, and information technology. Many of these programs focus on credentialing teachers, nurses, and business professionals. Students can also enroll in four post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs. WGU Online also offers master's degrees in teaching for elementary and secondary education in English, mathematics, and science.
WGU’s distance learners are paired with a student mentor who is highly knowledgeable in their area of expertise and offers one-on-one instruction and guidance. This online school in Utah has a more rigorous admissions procedure than other online schools; prospective students are required to have interviews with an enrollment counselor, and their prior college and work experience is reviewed. Students may also be required to take a collegiate readiness assessment test.
|3||Utah State University||Logan||$$$$$||Old Main Hill|
Logan, UT 84322-1400
Utah State University offers more than 30 degrees online through its main campus in Logan, UT. One of the best online colleges in Utah for distance learners, USU has seven online bachelor's degrees, nine online master's degrees, an associate degree in general studies, and nine endorsement/certificate programs. Bachelor’s degrees, such as a BS in communicative disorders & deaf education, require a minimum of 120 semester credits, while graduate degrees, such as a master’s of natural resources, require between 30 and 36 credits.
Distance learners at USU have full access to a variety of online student resources, including online tutoring, the campus library, IT help, academic advising, and career services. Other online resources include testing services and access to the disability resource center. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked USU among the 10 best online bachelor's programs for veterans.
|4||University of Utah||Salt Lake City||$$$$$||201 Presidents Circle, ROOM 201|
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9008
The University of Utah offers online courses through its UOnline system, including undergraduate degree programs in economics, nursing, parks recreation & tourism, sociology, and social work. Utah also offers online graduate programs for master's of science degrees in electrical and computer engineering, gerontology, information systems, and sport pedagogy, as well as a master's in business administration. The only doctoral program offered through this online school in Utah is a post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy.
Online courses are taught asynchronously and follow the same 16-week long semester schedule that is used for on-campus classes. Class media, readings, discussions, and assignments are hosted through the Canvas learning management system and are accessible over the internet. Students interested in enrolling can take the Utah's online readiness questionnaire and view an example of an online class.
|5||Weber State University||Ogden||$$$$$||3848 Harrison Blvd|
Ogden, UT 84408
Weber State University, located in Ogden, offers several complete online programs and many individual online classes. WSU is unique compared to many other online colleges in Utah in that it offers two types of online study programs: semester-based classes, which meet during regular semester dates, and independent study classes, which have flexible start dates and are completed within six months.
Students can select from six online bachelor’s of science degree programs as well as associate degree programs in computer science, general studies, health information technology, and medical laboratory technician. Two certificate programs in healthcare coding & classification and health information management are also available. Some programs may require students to occasionally attend classes on campus. Online courses are hosted by the Canvas LMS and the majority of tests are administered through Chi Tester.
|6||Southern Utah University||Cedar City||$$$$$||351 West University Blvd|
Cedar City, UT 84720
Southern Utah University specializes in the liberal arts and sciences and offers 140 graduate and undergraduate courses online throughout the academic year. SUU has associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs that are available to distance learners. The largest number of online undergraduate courses are offered between May and the end of summer, but students may enroll in most online programs throughout the year.
This online school in Utah offers bachelor’s degrees in accountancy, communication, general studies, and management. General education courses, an associate of arts degree in science, and an associate degree in paralegal studies are also available. SUU also offers a prior learning assessment course, where students put together an e-portfolio to highlight their prior work experiences; this can provide up to 15 credits towards a bachelor's degree. SUU’s online curriculum is accessible through the Canvas LMS.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Utah
Below, you’ll find the best online colleges in Utah, sorted by affordability.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Weber State University||Ogden||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Southern Utah University||Cedar City||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Utah State University||Logan||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City||School profile||$$$$$|
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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