Best Online Colleges in Missouri

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In 2013, the Missouri Department of Higher Education estimated that only 37.6% of adults in the state held either an associate or bachelor’s degree. This, combined with the fact that high-paying jobs increasingly require a college education, has led Missouri to create an initiative known as the “Big Goal for Higher Education.” The objective is to increase the number of degree holders to 60% of the adult population by 2025.

Online colleges in Missouri have become popular in recent years, due to their flexibility and generally lower tuition. As part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), residents can enroll in courses and programs at over 100 of participating colleges and universities at a reduced cost. Missouri is also a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), an organization that regulates the quality of online courses and programs at its participating institutions, while also facilitating opportunities for students to take select online courses at out-of-state schools. These institutions also agree to tuition reciprocity, resulting in lower tuition across the board.

Residents are taking advantage of these programs. In 2012, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that 71.3% of those participating in Missouri’s online programs lived in the state. This number has increased over the past four years, and experts expect it continue rising going forward.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Washington University in St Louis

 5/594.96%Saint Louis, MO


Washington University in St. Louis offers a number of courses, hybrid degree programs, and certificate programs online through its University College arm. WUSTL’s online offerings are distinguished by their small class sizes and creative, engaging use of technology.

Graduate programs at the school include a human resources management certificate, an international affairs certificate, and a non-profit management certificate. The university’s online courses mimic traditional live classes in that students must meet weekly assignment deadlines and may have access to professors via virtual office hours. Live online discussion sessions are also hallmarks of WUSTL online courses, providing students with a spirit of community missing in many online programs.

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Webster University

 4/563.64%Saint Louis, MO


Webster University has been growing and enhancing its online offerings since 1999, when the school first introduced online courses and programs. Online courses are taught by the same faculty that teach traditional courses at Webster and are limited to just 24 people per course.

Undergraduate programs include a BA in general studies, a BA in management, and a BA in religion and global studies. Graduate programs include a master of business administration (MBA), a master of arts (MA) in international relations, and an MA in special education. Most students complete their degree programs in one to four years, and students can enroll in programs on a part-time or full-time basis.

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Truman State University

 2/570.54%Kirksville, MO


The majority of online courses at Truman State University are offered asynchronously, which allows students to complete courses at their own pace and on their own schedules.

TSU encourages collaboration and interaction in its online courses through threaded discussions in online message boards, so students can ask questions and comment on coursework. TSU’s online undergraduate classes are most abundant during the summer session, and the school offers a limited number of graduate certificates that can be completed fully online, including a data science certificate and a sustainability and environmental studies certificate.

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University of Missouri – Kansas City

 2/552.21%Kansas City, MO


The University of Missouri - Kansas City offers a wide spectrum of online course types: asynchronous, synchronous, blended, and video (where the majority of the course is conducted live online through video conferencing).

Online students at UMKC have access to online tutoring resources in addition to the full suite of resources offered to traditional students, such as library access and disability services. The majority of UMKC’s online undergraduate programs are completion programs, meaning students must have completed a certain number of course credits before they enroll. Undergraduate students can pursue a bachelor of liberal arts or a bachelor of dental hygiene. Certain graduate programs and certificates can be completed fully online, including a master of science in nursing, a PhD in nursing, and a master’s in dental hygiene education.

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Missouri State University

 2/554.74%Springfield, MO


Missouri State University - Springfield’s online programs are ideal for transfer students and non-traditional learners looking for flexible, affordable options for higher education. MSU distinguishes itself by offering a wide variety of graduate courses and certificates that can be completed fully online, without ever stepping foot on campus.

The majority of undergraduate online programs are completion programs. Students can earn an online bachelor of applied science (BAS) in hospitality and restaurant administration, a BAS in technology management, and a bachelor of science (BS) in communication studies. Online graduate programs include a master in business administration (MBA), a master of science (MS) in early education and family development, and an MS in administrative studies. Online students also have access to a bevy of resources like college and career counseling and financial aid.

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Saint Louis University

 5/571.55%Saint Louis, MO

At Saint Louis University, flexible online options are offered through the SLU for busy adults program. Online learners can pursue a BS in aviation management, a BS in computer information systems, and a BA in general studies. Graduate degrees include an MA in leadership & organizational development and an MS in applied analytics.

SLU also offers “bridge” programs that allow students to take online master’s-level courses while they are still completing their bachelor’s degree. Online courses are asynchronous, meaning students can work largely at their own pace, though courses are organized into weekly tasks so that students cannot work too far ahead, or get too far behind.

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Evangel University

 4/547.93%Springfield, MO

Through its adult studies program, Evangel University offers undergraduate degrees that can be completed fully online, including a BS in management and a BS in church studies.

EU provides a robust support system to its online adult learners, matching students in its adult studies programs with advisors who’ll help develop individualized plans for degree completion and take into account each student’s work and family obligations. EU’s individualized approach to adult education distinguishes it among other schools in the state. The programs offered through EU’s adult studies branch typically take 24 months to complete.

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University of Central Missouri

 2/552.94%Warrensburg, MO

Online courses at University of Central Missouri are generally asynchronous, so students can choose to login to and work on courses at their convenience. Students can choose between eight- and 16-week courses.

Distance students can complete undergraduate programs in crisis and disaster management, occupational education, and general studies. Graduate programs are available in aviation safety, criminal justice, and rural family nursing. Online students also belong to the area consortium, Kansas City's Regional Access Consortium for Higher Education, so students have access to a wealth of resources designed specifically for distance learners, such as library and testing services.

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Fontbonne University

 4/548.13%Saint Louis, MO

Fontbonne University offers a number of undergraduate and graduate programs that combine online courses with classroom learning on campus during conveniently scheduled evening and weekend time slots, as well as a select number of fully online programs.

FU does consider prior learning, i.e. what you’ve learned through work experiences, when determining academic credit. Most online and hybrid programs are offered in eight-week terms with four start times throughout the year. These include undergraduate programs in special education, accounting, and management, and graduate programs in education, management and leadership, and supply chain management. FU prides itself on maintaining features of traditional classes in its online programs, such as active discussion and collaborative projects.

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University of Missouri – St Louis

 2/541.65%Saint Louis, MO

Missouri University-St. Louis’s mission for its off campus degree completion program is to provide a smooth pathway for transfer students to complete an undergraduate degree through convenient online, in-person, and hybrid classes.

MUSL offers online undergraduate programs in liberal studies, education, and media studies. Graduate programs are available in nursing, public policy administration, and communication. Students at MUSL have the option to combine online courses with courses taken at the university as well as a network of area community colleges, which provides unparalleled convenience and flexibility. MUSL offers 155 online courses for students to choose from.

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William Woods University

 4/552.72%Fulton, MO

William Woods University provides students with an array of online choices, including undergraduate degrees in business administration, paralegal studies, and liberal arts. Online graduate students can complete an MBA in entrepreneurial leadership, an ME in equestrian education, and an ME in teaching and technology.

WWU’s online courses are eight weeks long and formatted at an accelerated pace to help students complete their degrees more quickly. WWU’s tuition promise is also attractive to online students; the school vows not to increase a student’s tuition for as long as he or she remains enrolled.

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Southeast Missouri State University

 2/551.2%Cape Girardeau, MO

Many of Southeast Missouri State University’s online courses are offered in a 16-week format, though some courses can be taken in a eight-, six-, or even four-week format for maximum flexibility. Undergraduate programs are available in nursing, healthcare management, and criminal justice. Students can pursue graduate programs including an MBA, an MA in elementary education, and an MS in technology management.

SEMSU offers online courses on an asynchronous schedule, so students do not have to be logged into the online course at the same time as the instructor and can complete it at their own pace. Online courses do, however, have definite start and end dates and deadlines to help keep them on track.

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Central Christian College of the Bible

 3/542.25%Moberly, MO

At Central Christian College of the Bible, online students can expect intensive courses that run for eight weeks with 15 to 20 hours of classwork a week. All of CCCB’s online programs focus on Christian theology and practice, including biblical studies. Online students can complete a bachelor of religious studies, a bachelor of science in the bible, and an associate of biblical studies.

Students must meet coursework deadlines, but there are no set times that students are required to be online for class. In addition to several online bachelor’s programs, CCCB also offers online certifications and an associate degree. CCCB offers five different start dates for online courses throughout the year.

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Northwest Missouri State University

 2/549.9%Maryville, MO

Northwest Missouri State University offers online courses in a 15-week format. Courses are offered three times per year, during fall, spring, and summer semesters. Students can complete undergraduate programs in business management and marketing. Graduate programs include an MS in geographic information science, an MS in information technology, an MBA, and an ME in special education.

NMSU estimates that students spend an average of five hours online a week per course, with an additional four to five hours spent offline working on coursework. NMSU’s online students have access to resources like online academic advising, technical support, and the ability to borrow textbooks instead of purchasing them.

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Calvary University

 3/547.5%Kansas City, MO

Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary offers over 30 different online courses in areas like business administration and ministry studies, with each online course counting for three credit hours. Online courses at Calvary are offered in an eight-week format with three separate cycles starting in every spring and fall semester.

Calvary offers a free application for students interested in enrolling in online programs. Calvary also provides an online assessment tool that helps prospective students gauge whether an online education at Calvary is the right fit for them.

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Lindenwood University

 3/549.72%Saint Charles, MO

At Lindenwood University, online programs are designed for maximum flexibility and freedom; students can access courses as well as an online help center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. LU offers some of its online courses in an accelerated format so students can graduate more quickly.

LU offers 15 online degrees and more than 100 online courses for students to choose from. Undergraduate programs are available in business, criminal justice, interdisciplinary studies, and marketing. Graduate programs include an MBA, an MFA in writing, and a master’s in public administration. The school prides itself on its low student-to-teacher ratio for online classes and robust support offerings, including mentoring, online tutorials, and online advising.

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Stephens College

 4/549.1%Columbia, MO

While Stephens College was founded as an undergraduate women’s college, the school offers degree programs that are open to both men and women.

SC’s online master’s program in strategic leadership, which focuses on the theories and concepts surrounding what makes a great leader, is offered fully online and is designed to be completed in 24 to 36 months. SC was the first school in the nation to offer a distance-learning program for health information management professionals.

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Maryville University of Saint Louis

 4/566.04%Saint Louis, MO

Through its School of Adult and Online Education, Maryville University-St. Louis offers students both undergraduate and graduate degree options in fully online and blended programs. Undergraduate students can complete programs in healthcare practice management, and an RN to BSN completion program, among others. Graduate programs include an MS in nursing, a doctor in nursing practice, and more.

Many MU online students graduate in as few as 18 months. MU’s cybersecurity program, which offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, also gets top marks, and online students enrolled in the program can take advantage of the Maryville Virtual Labs experience for interactive, engaged learning.

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Park University

 3/541.67%Parkville, MO

Students at Park University have a range of options when it comes to online learning. The school offers 24 online bachelor’s degree options, including programs in business administration, education studies, and criminal justice, and eight online graduate programs, including an MBA, a master’s in public affairs, and a master’s in healthcare administration. Many of PU’s online courses follow an accelerated eight-week schedule.

Courses are typically offered at five different start dates throughout the year, giving students plenty of scheduling options. Over 45 of PU’s online courses are certified by Quality Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to setting national benchmarks in online education.

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Drury University

 4/562.6%Springfield, MO

Drury University has a long list of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees that can be completed fully online. Undergraduate programs are offered in paralegal studies, law enforcement, psychology, and English, while graduate students can complete an ME in exceptional children & youth, an ME in gifted education, and an ME in human services.

Distance students at Drury have access to online tutoring resources, and they can also access course materials through their mobile phones, which makes learning easy on the go. Drury students are encouraged to form virtual “partnerships” with their classmates and instructors when taking online courses so they can experience engaging, interactive learning.

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Missouri Southern State University

 2/536.73%Joplin, MO

Missouri Southern State University’s online courses were designed specifically for distance learners, so they include robust support and interactive features that off-campus and adult students need. MSSU offers 17 minors, 11 certificates, 1 professional credential, 14 bachelor degrees, and a number of degree completion options through their online programs.

MSSU online students can login to their courses 24/7, and they also have full access to traditional on-campus student resources, like financial aid guidance and library resources. Also, students in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and some parts of Illinois qualify for in-state tuition, making an MSSU’s online education incredibly affordable.

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Avila University

 4/548.63%Kansas City, MO

Avila University has developed its Avila Advantage program to help adult learners earn degrees quickly through flexible course scheduling, and some of the Avila Advantage programs are offered completely online.

AU’s Avila Advantage online courses run eight-weeks in length thanks to an accelerated curriculum, and new classes start frequently for maximum flexibility. Avila offers several online programs, including an MA in management and fundraising offered in partnership with Hartsook Companies, a non profit fundraising consulting firm.

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Hannibal-LaGrange University

 3/535.29%Hannibal, MO

At Hannibal-LaGrange University, online programs are truly accelerated. HLGU’s master’s program courses are offered in a five-week format and entire programs are often completed in just under a year. HLGU’s RN to BSN degree completion program can be completed in as little as one year.

Additionally, many of HLGU’s general courses are offered online, giving traditional students the option to create more flexible schedules and learn at their own pace. HLGU also allows a limited number of transfer credits from other institutions for online students.

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Missouri Valley College

 3/528.2%Marshall, MO

Missouri Valley College offers two fully online bachelor’s degree programs as well as one online associate degree program, in addition to a host of online courses that traditional on-campus students can take to add flexibility to their schedules.

MVC’s online bachelor's degree in business administration stands out for its unique focus on small business development. Students can complete the entire enrollment process for MVC’s online programs over the internet by utilizing resources such as an online application and online bookstore.

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Missouri Baptist University

 4/544.22%Saint Louis, MO

With courses typically beginning every eight weeks, Missouri Baptist University’s online programs are both accessible and flexible. MBU offers complete online programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as individual online courses for traditional students to plan their on-campus schedules around.

Several of MBU’s online program offerings have a unique focus on the world of fitness, including a bachelor’s and master’s degree in sport management. New online students are also assigned a special enrollment specialist to help them get started in their pursuit of online higher education at MBU.

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More About Online Colleges in Missouri

The state of Missouri’s higher education system serves over 450,000 students through 13 public four-year universities, 26 independent colleges and universities and over 150 private career schools. Distance education is gaining traction in the “Show-Me” state, with 54,859 students attending wholly online programs; of this total, 4,499 students attend public, four-year programs and 15,674 are enrolled in private four-year institutions. Missouri’s commitment to furthering distance learning is evidenced by the creation of the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program. This exciting initiative provides online learning to K-12 students, regardless of the type of school they attend. On the postsecondary level, the University of Missouri works to encourage collaboration with other higher learning institutions through its WCET e-Learning Consortia.

Prospective students should explore the financial aid offered through the Missouri Department of Education, which provides a variety of information, services and programs. Between 2013-2014 alone, the MDHE granted $107 million in state-based student financial assistance to over 70,000 students. Distance learners should seize the opportunity for the ever-growing, affordable online education offerings in Missouri.

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

NCES Report

To give interested students a better sense of the current online learning landscape, we pulled numbers from a recent report by the National Council for Education Statistics:

  • Of the nearly 450,000 students enrolled at Missouri institutions, just under 55,000 (12.2%) are exclusively enrolled in online learning courses.
  • The number of students undertaking online classes alongside traditional campus educations totaled 67,085, or a further 15% of the statewide student population.
  • There’s a growing buzz for online learning in the state, and options for study are expected to expand in the coming years.