West Virginia’s legislature has proven its commitment to online learning. Recognizing that distance education not only creates additional course options for learners, but also offers economic benefits to the state, the Legislature created the Distance Learning Coordinating Council (DLCC). The mission of this body is to nurture the development of online college degree programs and courses. This council is charged with creating a statewide technology system to link universities, colleges and libraries with the capabilities needed to foster online learning. This state-level effort is guaranteed to further boost the popularity of online learning in West Virginia. As of 2012, West Virginia was the only state in which students taking face-to-face courses made up less than half of the student body, speaking volumes about how established distance learning is in the state.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in West Virginia for 2017, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in West Virginia today.
An Overview of Higher Education in West Virginia
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that West Virginia had 43 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 23 public schools, 8 nonprofits and 12 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 9,082 at public schools, 1,185 at private nonprofits and 4,090 at private for-profits.
- 23 public
- 8 non-profit
- 12 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 $7,170, while the out-of-state average was $19,360.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that West Virginia awarded $45.4 million in need-based grants and $59.6 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 20.4% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education.
Recent initiatives include a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. This grant will increase opportunities for online completion of a Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree. Through application of these funds, West Virginia distance learners will have access to live video classes via a web conferencing system.
With some of the most affordable tuition rates in the country, a host of schools to choose from and an incredibly strong commitment to financial aid, West Virginia’s higher education system continues to earn a great reputation.
The State of Online Higher Education in West Virginia
The NCES estimates that at least 40% of students enrolled in West Virginia’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 76.5% were reported to be undergraduates and 10.2% were found to be living in West Virginia.
Further encouraging online learning throughout the state and beyond are two of West Virginia’s distance learning services, SatNet and EdNet. SatNet is a network of West Virginia public college and universities that are responsible for developing and offering online degree programs and courses. Similarly, the EdNet program is responsible for producing and communicating distance learning for schools that offer online programs.
Another major force driving online colleges in WV is the West Virginia Virtual Learning Network.This is an association of public state colleges and universities with a mission to provide West Virginia citizens access to educational programs by 100% online education technologies.
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has also created the unique West Virginia Remote Online Collaborative Knowledge System, or WVROCKS. A system that helps distance learners pursue courses from institutions that offer regents bachelor of arts degrees. Through WVROCKS, students remain enrolled and receive their degree from a home campus, but take courses through the portal.
WVROCKS was created with assistance from WVNET, the West Virginia Network. This service organization reports to the Higher Education Policy Commission and provides telecommunications, computing and networking services. It links centralized computing resources with systems at educational institutions throughout the state.
West Virginia is also a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, an initiative that lets students sift through an impressive directory of online programs throughout the southeast U.S. SREB also has strong aid initiatives. Services like the Academic Common Market/Electronic Campus and the Regional Contract Program for Health Professions let students fully enroll in a selection of out-of-state programs while paying in-state rates. While the program selection is small and the admissions criteria strict, for qualified students these are incredible opportunities.
Best Online Colleges in West Virginia
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in West Virginia. 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 WV, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in West Virginia 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||Wheeling Jesuit University||Wheeling||$$$$$||316 Washington Ave|
Wheeling, WV 26003
Based in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, Wheeling Jesuit University is the only Catholic university in the state. Its 1,385 students are enrolled in 47 programs of study; online students can take advantage of endorsement, licensure, and certificate programs, as well as bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs.
Students interested in furthering their nursing careers at an online college in West Virginia may be interested in WJU’s two nursing degree programs, which integrate liberal arts and nursing curricula. The clinical components of these programs can be completed near a student’s hometown. Nursing students can also choose to take graduate-level courses while in the bachelor’s program, accelerating their path to a master’s degree.
Online students access coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. There is no application fee to apply to WJU, but students must write an essay describing their career aspirations. The university accepts up to 90 semester hours of transfer credits.
|2||West Virginia University||Morgantown||$$$$$||Stewart Hall, 1500 University Avenue|
Morgantown, WV 26506-6201
West Virginia University, located in Morgantown, offers 30 master’s degrees, 600+ courses, and eight certificate programs online. It also has four online bachelor’s degree programs, including a child development and family studies undergraduate program, which has concentrations in child development and preschool education birth-4. All courses in this program can be taken online, with the exception of the CPR/first aid and field experience classes; however, these requirements can be fulfilled close to a distance learner’s home.
WVU also has a nursing program, which is designed for registered nurses who already possess an associate degree. This requires 28 credit hours of nursing coursework and can be completed in three full-time semesters. Beginning in the fall of 2017, all nursing students will pay in-state tuition rates.
Online courses at this online school in WV are hosted by Blackboard Learn. Distance learners have access to a variety of services, including enrollment coaches, who help match students with the online programs/classes that are best for them, and WVU’s wellness center, which provides students with healthy eating tips and information on sexual health, anxiety, and depression.
|3||University of Charleston||Charleston||$$$$$||2300 MacCorkle Avenue, SE|
Charleston, WV 25304
Nearly 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available at the University of Charleston, which has locations in Charleston, Beckley, and Martinsburg. In addition to on-campus courses, UC offers completely-online and blended learning programs, including undergraduate degrees in accounting, business administration, nursing, organizational leadership, and psychology; a master’s in strategic leadership and forensic accounting; and a doctorate of executive leadership.
Many of these programs follow an eight-week block structure where students take two accelerated courses at a time. Most online courses are taught asynchronously; however, some programs, such as the master’s in forensic accounting and the doctorate in executive leadership, require occasional on-campus attendance. All online undergraduate courses have the same tuition, regardless of a student’s state of residency. Additionally, UC stands out among online colleges in West Virginia due to its generous discounted tuition rate for members of the military and first responders.
|4||Marshall University||Huntington||$$$$$||1 John Marshall Dr|
Huntington, WV 25755
Located in Huntington, over 13,000 students call Marshall University home. The school offers 100+ degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, as well as many certificate programs. Of these, four bachelor’s programs, six master’s programs, and eight certificate programs can be completed entirely online.
Some uncommon distance education programs at this online college in West Virginia include bachelor’s degrees in geography and medical laboratory science. Example classes in the laboratory science program include clinical hematology and advanced immunohematology.
Marshall’s online programs do not require synchronous or face-to-face meetings. Distance learners access coursework through the Blackboard learning platform, and classes follow a traditional semester schedule. All online students pay a discounted tuition rate relative to their on-campus peers. Marshall also has a transfer equivalency tool that helps students determine how many credits they can transfer, up to a maximum of 72 credit hours.
|5||West Virginia University at Parkersburg||Parkersburg||$$$$$||300 Campus Drive|
Parkersburg, WV 26104
West Virginia University at Parkersburg offers several online programs that lead to certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. One of the most popular programs at this online college in West Virginia is the child development track. This program is very flexible and has multiple entry and exit points; students can earn a certificate degree and add to it to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree. WVUP also offers a bachelor’s in nursing, which is a degree-completion program for registered nurses.
WVUP’s online courses are accessible through Blackboard Learn. Fully-online classes are asynchronous and proctored exams can be arranged locally. Alternatively, some courses are offered in a hybrid format, where the majority of a class is offered electronically but some onsite or synchronous class sessions and/or onsite examinations are required. Distance learners have access to a host of services, including technical support, counseling, and career services. Ohio residents can attend WVUP at in-state tuition rates, and West Virginia residents who are 65 or older enjoy reduced tuition.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in West Virginia
Below is a list of the most affordable online schools in West Virginia, ranked and ordered by tuition cost.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in West Virginia
Blue & Gold Level 1 Scholarship
West Virginia University offers the Blue and Gold scholarship to out-of-state freshmen who have a high school GPA of 3.25+, and an ACT of 24+ or SAT of 1100+. Selection is competitive, based on academic merit. The award is $6,000 per year for 4 years of undergraduate study.
The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation provides the Cavalier-Nichols Scholarship for students attending any postsecondary institution in West Virginia. To be eligible, students must have a GPA of 3.5+ and an ACT score of 25+ (or SAT equivalent). Preference is given to students attending West Virginia University’s Institute of Technology.
The Dean’s Scholarship is open to incoming freshmen at Wheeling Jesuit University. Selection is based on academic merit. To be eligible, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and an ACT score of 20+ or SAT of 940+. The award is $8,000 per year for 4 years.
Health Sciences Scholarship
The College Foundation of West Virginia administers this recruitment incentive program. It is open to students enrolled in medical, dental, nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, or clinical psychology programs in West Virginia. Recipients must fulfill a service obligation by practicing medicine in West Virginia for two years following graduation. Maximum award is $20,000.
West Virginia University’s Presidential Scholarship is open to incoming freshmen who are West Virginia residents. Selection is based on academic merit. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.8 and ACT score of 30+ or SAT of 1340+. The award is $4,000 per year for 4 years.
Wheeling Jesuit University’s Presidential Scholarship is open to incoming freshmen. Selection is based on academic merit. To be eligible, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and an ACT score of 23+ or SAT of 1060+. The award is $9,000 per year for 4 years.
R. Ray Singleton Scholarship
The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation provides the R. Ray Singleton scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students who are residents of Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, or Fayette counties. The award may be used at any postsecondary institution in West Virginia. To be eligible, students must demonstrate academic excellence and financial need.
University Merit – Resident Scholarship
West Virginia University provides many merit-based academic scholarships for incoming freshmen. Award amounts vary based on high school GPA, SAT and ACT scores. The maximum award for WV residents covers full tuition plus a $4,500 stipend; the maximum award for out-of-state students is $21,000 per year for 4 years, plus a $3,500 stipend.
West Virginia Higher Education Grant
Administered by the College Foundation of West Virginia, this grant is open to West Virginia high school graduates (GED also accepted) who are enrolling at a postsecondary institution in West Virginia or Pennsylvania. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. Maximum award is $2,600 per year.
West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship
The College Foundation of West Virginia provides the PROMISE Scholarship for West Virginia high school seniors who will enroll in a postsecondary institution after graduation. The award is based on academic achievement, and students who qualify can receive up to $4,750 per year. The award may be used at public or independent colleges in the state.
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