Best Online Colleges in Kansas

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As one of 12 states in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), Kansas provides its students with a multitude of resources and support for online and distance education. The state’s membership in MHEC translates to lower tuition rates, more opportunities for postsecondary education, and educational support for military veterans, among other benefits. As more and more jobs in the state require advanced degrees, Kansas has committed to increasing the percentage of higher degree-holding adults in the state to 60 percent by 2020, and MHEC’s resources can help the state reach that goal.

With these initiatives, Kansas aims to make online education more affordable and accessible for all students. Public higher education institutions in Kansas, including the state’s six universities as well as community and technical colleges, can take advantage of the Kan-ed program, a high-speed, statewide network that provides video communication for online and distance learning and telemedicine. Historically, the Kan-ed program has also assisted in procuring grants and other funding for online education programs.

Online colleges in Kansas give students greater opportunities to pursue higher education. While the state has lower-than-average degree completion rates, online learning programs can work to bridge that gap by providing increased flexibility, courses that can be completed at a students’ preferred pace and the convenience of earning a degree from home.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Fort Hays State University 74.22 3/5 41% Hays, KS

Fort Hays State University is located in the heart of Kansas, equidistant between Denver and Kansas City. The Virtual College at Fort Hays offers over 40 online degrees specifically for adult learners covering a variety of topics, including business, education, and nursing. Online education is a focal point at Fort Hays, with roughly 65% of students attending the Virtual College. Their students range from adult learners who want to take a single course, to graduate students pursuing a master’s degree. One reason Fort Hays remains a top choice for online learners is their participation in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). AQIP is an alternative process through which the school can maintain their accredited status with the Higher Learning Commission. The goal of AQIP members is providing a better learning experience for their students.

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2 Newman University 68.75 3/5 43% Wichita, KS

Named after Catholic Cardinal John Henry Cardinal Newman, it should be no surprise that theology studies are Newman University's speciality. Founded in 1933, Newman University now offers over 70 degree programs with a small 15-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. The school's main campus in located in Wichita, with satellite locations in Western and Southeast Kansas, Colorado Springs, and Oklahoma City.

Newman University’s three online degree programs include a BS in business online, a master’s of theological studies, and a master’s of arts in theology.

Newman University’s theology studies are supplemented by the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies. The Gerber Institute’s goal at Newman University is to promote interdisciplinary dialogue exploring Catholic thought and practice in regards to education, philosophy, politics, sociology, and cultural life. The Gerber Institute also provides grants and fellowship opportunities to students whose projects support and further the institute's mission.

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3 Emporia State University 67.03 3/5 42% Emporia, KS

Founded in 1863, Emporia State University has a long tradition of providing a high-quality educational experience for students across eastern Kansas. Emporia offers more than 31 graduate degree programs, as well as an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree and several licensure programs online. Student also have the flexibility to attend classes offered at off-campus locations. Emporia State University offers several online resources to their distance students, including the graduate and distance student guide. The guide provides students with crucial information on the school’s academic resources, financial aid, tuition, scholarships, as well as a comprehensive list of student services and centers. Emporia is also home to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Founded by the school in 1989, this nonprofit organization honors exceptional school teachers from across the country and immortalizes their accomplishments in their rich museum.

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4 Baker University 65.00 3/5 55% Baldwin City, KS

Founded in 1858 in Baldwin City, Baker University has a rich history. In fact, their website boasts that when at the center of their campus, one can see 3 different buildings that appear on the National Register of Historic Places. Baker University strives to provide a similarly rich experience for their distance learners. Baker offers several undergraduate and graduate degrees online, serving the school’s two clear specialties: business and education. The bachelor's of business administration comes in three majors: business leadership, management, and strategic business communication. Baker also offers a master's of science in sports management, several graduate business certificates, and recertification and professional development courses for educators. Baker University is proud to produce students who excel once hitting the workforce. Their website boasts of their alumni network which includes “Fortune 500 CEOs, New York Times best-seller authors, and Super Bowl champions.”

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5 Wichita State University 64.69 3/5 41% Wichita, KS

Wichita State University resides in the epicenter of Kansas’ commerce, medicine, culture, and entertainment scenes. With such close ties to a city that is a major player in the region, Wichita State is not your average college town. WSU offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs in nursing, criminal justice, dental hygiene, education, and more. What truly sets WSU apart from the rest is their Online Badge Programs. Offered through the school’s Office for Workforce, Professional, and Community Education, Wichita State’s badge program makes workforce training accessible and affordable for today’s working professional. Wichita State University provides several online resource to online students through OneStop, a one-stop shop for almost anything a distant learner could want: academic assistance, financial aid, resources for adult learners and distance learners specifically, and military assistance.

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6 Southwestern College 63.75 4/5 51% Winfield, KS

Located in Winfield, Southwestern College boasts an impressive list of online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certification programs. Students can choose from degrees in business, education, healthcare and social sciences, ministry, security and safety, and technology. Southwestern College also offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate certificates and a certification preparation course for students who don't speak English as their first language.

Academic Success Coaches (ASC) are one benefit that Southwestern College provides to their online students. ASCs are academic advisors who follow students throughout their entire academic journey. An ASC strives to go above and beyond other academic advisors by proactively contacting students and ensuring that students achieve their academic goals. Southwestern offers eight enrollment sessions per year, which provides online learners with incredible flexibility to attend either either part- or full-time without disrupting their lives.

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7 Pittsburg State University 62.81 3/5 50% Pittsburg, KS

Pittsburg State University's 46 online degree programs, place a clear emphasis on technology. 18 of PSU's programs specialize in technology and its application in several different disciplines. Students can choose to study education, engineering, business, history, nursing, teaching, and more. The school also offers a master's degree in technology that has eight different majors. PSU is home to the Kansas Technology Center, a modern learning environment stocked with over 13 computer labs and 70 technical laboratories.

One great resource for online students is The Writing Center at PSU, where students can meet with a writing tutor who will help them with any writing-related project. Appointments can be made in-person and online, allowing The Writing Center to serve all of PSU’s students. PSU's Gorilla Advantage Plan provides out-of-state residents in certain counties of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas eligibility for in-state tuition rates.

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8 Central Christian College of Kansas 60.94 3/5 35% McPherson, KS

Central Christian College of Kansas’ main campus is located in McPherson. CCC traces its roots back to 1914, when the school moved to McPherson and began teaching all grade levels through high school. CCC became a community college soon after and remained that way until 1991. The school now offers an associate of arts degree, as well as several undergraduate degrees. Some of the school's most popular majors for undergraduates are education, business, and exercise science. CCC offers evening classes that are friendly to those who must work during the day. The school currently has written articulation agreements with nine other Kansas of higher learning. These articulation agreements explain how credits can be transferred between the two schools, making transfers much easier for students. Tuition rates range from $371 to $425 per credit hour, making Central Christian College of Kansas an affordable option for adults working a full-time job.

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9 Barclay College 60.94 4/5 53% Haviland, KS

Barclay College was founded by Quaker settlers in Haviland, Kansas in 1917. The school has grown much since then, but has managed to keep religion at the core of its identity. This shows in Barclay’s online degrees, including bachelor’s degrees in biblical studies and christian ministry leadership, and certificates in biblical studies, christian ministry, and friends ministry training. Students can also choose to study psychology or business.Barclay College charges a flat rate of $395 per credit hour for all courses, which keeps their programs affordable. Barclay requires students to complete 50-60 credits at another accredited university at a 2.0 average. Therefore, students coming straight out of high school would be best to acquire credits at an institution that will easily transfer credit to Barclay.

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10 University of Kansas 59.53 3/5 64% Lawrence, KS

Based in Lawrence, the University of Kansas is the state’s largest institution of higher learning. KU is able to provide a wide variety of degree programs and resources that smaller schools couldn’t dream of. KU's online KU's schools of nursing and health professions are the best represented through its online program. The vast majority of KU’s 30+ degrees and certificates are graduate programs, with KU’s a few undergraduate programs acting primarily as a starting point for nursing students. There are also certificates in professional communication, world business culture, and military transition. The Military Transition certificate is designed to smoothly transition military personnel back into the civilian workforce. Online students at the University of Kansas can take full advantage of the Academic Achievement and Access Center, as well as academic advising and library services, and the KU Writing Center.

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11 MidAmerica Nazarene University 58.75 3/5 50% Olathe, KS

MidAmerica Nazarene University is a young institution, founded in 1966. MidAmerica has a robust online degree program that offers a bachelor’s in business administration, RN-BSN, RN-MSN, and an accelerated associate of arts in business for undergraduate students. There are also master’s programs in business administration, education, and nursing in addition to certificates on similar subjects. MidAmerica’s online degree authorization is not standard across every state. There is no online degree authorization in Alabama, Maryland, Utah, and Wisconsin, and variation of availability in the remaining states. Prospective students should check to ensure that their online program will be available in their state. MidAmerica’s library is a great resource for online students. The library provides library database access, internet resources, research guides, and a Kansas library catalog.

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12 University of Saint Mary 58.28 3/5 37% Leavenworth, KS

Based out of Leavenworth, University of Saint Mary started in 1923 as a two-year institution for young women to supplement the growing need to educate women past high school. Since then, the school has evolved into a full-fledged university with undergraduate and graduate degrees available on-campus and online. University of Saint Mary’s four online degree programs include an RN-BSN, an MBA, a master’s of science in nursing, and a bachelor’s of science in health information management.

The master's in nursing degree offers two specializations: nurse educator and nurse administration. The MBA program is flexible, with seven different specializations to choose from. University of Saint Mary caters directly to their online students with their online student support team. This team is dedicated to working with the school’s online students, ready to provide assistance at any stage of the online education process.

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13 Washburn University 48.44 3/5 34% Topeka, KS

Washburn University's goal is to make their distance learners feel connected to the school without ever having to set foot on campus. Washburn offers bachelor's degrees in health science, integrated studies, applied sciences in human services, applied science in technology administration, and criminal justice through their PLAN online degree completion program. The PLAN program allows Washburn students to study at qualifying community colleges in several states and to take classes online.

Washburn has created an online education support page, which provides online students with resources on using D2L, discusses if online education is right for you, and provides resources related to course scheduling and registration. Through Washburn’s Interstate Tuition Waiver program, residents of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas can all pay Kansas resident tuition as long as they maintain a 3.0 GPA.

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14 Tabor College 41.72 4/5 50% Hillsboro, KS

Tabor College offers 17 online degree programs from associate to master’s levels. Their most popular programs are business, nursing, and ministry. All of Tabor’s bachelor’s degrees offer classes both on-campus and online, providing students the flexibility to switch between the two styles if they need a change of pace. Tabor’s student-to-teacher ratio is 12-to-1, small enough that students don’t have to worry about getting proper attention from their professors. This interaction can be crucial for online students, who lack a face-to-face relationship with their professors. Tabor helps students find financial aid and claims that 100% of students on the school’s main campus in Hillsboro receive some level of financial assistance. Tabor’s online student resources page contains a robust list of resources, including links to several academic catalogs and resource lists.

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15 Sterling College 40.16 3/5 34% Sterling, KS

Sterling College's young online school is only 10 years old. The online school's youth is actually a boon, as their technology is up-to-date and curricula are designed with modern lives and careers in mind. Sterling offers online degrees in criminal justice management, organizational management, education, history, Christian ministries, and theological studies. The school also has K-6, 6-12, and PreK-12 licensure programs and a special education add-on endorsement for education students.

Sterling College is a part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) network, a collective of universities from around the country that agree to comparable standards for interstate postsecondary education. Schools in the SARA network do not offer courses in all states, which makes residents of Maryland, California, Massachusetts, and Florida ineligible. Sterling College has six different start dates during the year and standardized tuition of $350 per credit hour.

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More About Online Colleges in Kansas

As of 2012, 33,339 students attended distance learning programs exclusively in Kansas. The state offers 46 accredited online programs in higher education, which often have similar if not identical curriculums and access to the same campus faculty and staff. In 2013, the state expanded the use of broadband technology video communication for distance learning at its schools, libraries and hospitals through its Kan-ed program.

In addition to its in-state online programs, Kansas is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which allows students access to approved distance education courses and programs in other states. Students concerned about tuition should note that from 2012-2013, the average in-state tuition at public institutions was $6,970, well below the national average of $8,070. The state of Kansas values the proliferation of online education while providing it at an affordable rate.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Kansas for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

Recent NCES reports indicate that 13.8% (26,519) of undergraduate students enrolled in Kansas’ Title IV institutions were in exclusively online programs.

  • 13.2% of students at public four-year institutions studied entirely online
  • 16.1% of students at public two-year institutions studied entirely online
  • 65.8% were living in Kansas
  • 19.3% were living elsewhere in the United States
Best Online Colleges in Kansas of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
2 Manhattan Christian College Manhattan, KS
3 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
4 Emporia State University Emporia, KS
5 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
6 Newman University Wichita, KS
7 Sterling College Sterling, KS
8 Pittsburg State University Pittsburg, KS
9 Friends University Wichita, KS
10 MidAmerica Nazarene University Olathe, KS
11 University of Saint Mary Leavenworth, KS
12 Wichita State University Wichita, KS
13 Southwestern College - Kansas Winfield, KS
14 Tabor College Hillsboro, KS
15 Ottawa University - Ottawa Ottawa, KS
16 Washburn University Topeka, KS