As the 20th-most populous state, Wisconsin serves as a center of education in the Midwest, hosting a full complement of major research universities, midsize schools, and smaller colleges. Many schools in the state host a variety of distance programs, offering online education to Wisconsin residents and students around the country.
Top 10 Online Colleges in Wisconsin
- University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, WI
- Maranatha Baptist University - Watertown, WI
- University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, WI
- University of Wisconsin-Stout - Menomonie, WI
- Viterbo University - La Crosse, WI
- University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, WI
- Concordia University-Wisconsin - Mequon, WI
- University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, WI
- University of Wisconsin-Parkside - Kenosha, WI
- University of Wisconsin - Platteville, WI
2020 Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin
Choosing the right school from such a wide selection can be challenging. This list compiles 15 of the best online colleges in Wisconsin, offering a starting point for your research. Our selections offer a combination of affordability, academic prestige, and flexibility in their online programs.
For each school, you can find information related to topics like course delivery modes, special enrollment options, degree offerings, on-campus requirements, and resources for distance learners.
Distance education offers several benefits for students. Many degree programs have no on-campus requirements, and students can usually complete coursework on their own schedules. Many schools also offer in-state tuition rates for online learners.
At the same time, online courses require a higher level of independence. Without being held to the structure of regular class meetings, you must have strong self-motivation and time management skills.
Wisconsin boasts an unemployment rate and cost of living that are both below the national average, creating an attractive setting for newly degreed job-seekers. The state also features a diverse economy driven by manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and other industries. The dairy industry alone contributes over $45 billion annually to Wisconsin's economy.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
|La Crosse, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Frequently ranked among the top members of the University of Wisconsin System, UW-La Cross offers three online bachelor's degrees: health and wellness management, health information management and technology, and political science. Both health degrees follow a consortium model, combining resources from several UW campuses and giving online learners access to the expertise of faculty members around the state.
The health and wellness management track is a completion program, which requires applicants to hold at least 60 undergraduate credits, including prerequisite coursework in biology, psychology, composition, and public speaking.
For graduate learners, the college provides online master's programs in areas like business administration, data science, and recreation management. The school also oversees a doctoral program in education.
UW-La Crosse enrolls students from around the country, and all online learners pay the same in-state tuition rate, regardless of their location.
Maranatha Baptist University
|Watertown, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
One of the best online colleges in Wisconsin, MBU offers liberal arts education centered on a Christian educational philosophy. The school enrolls around 1,100 students annually. Primarily serving undergraduates, the university hosts four online bachelor's degrees, including options in Bible studies, business, education studies, and interdisciplinary studies.
Students majoring in business or Bible studies can take advantage of MBU's dual-enrollment programs and earn credits toward their bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously. The bachelor's program in business progresses to a master of organizational leadership, while the Bible studies major can lead to a master of arts in Bible with a foreign language option.
Both of these programs allow students to complete a master's degree in less time, saving on tuition expenses. MBU's flexible online programs serve learners of all backgrounds, and the school maintains a generous transfer policy for those with existing college credits.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
|Whitewater, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
One of the larger members of the University of Wisconsin System, UWW enrolls more than 13,000 students annually through on-campus and distance education courses. The school offers online bachelor's degrees in several academic and professional subjects, including liberal studies, general business, political science, law enforcement, and early childhood education.
UWW's online programs primarily use an asynchronous delivery mode, though some courses and degrees hold live class meetings using the WebEx video conferencing platform. Online students can access academic advising, services for veterans, career counseling, research and library support, and technology resources.
The school's Career and Leadership Development office provides professional guidance to students of all levels, with services related to interview preparation and practice, resume writing, and job search strategies. The office can also help connect students to internship opportunities, job fairs, and employer recruiting services.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
|Menomonie, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Known as Wisconsin's public polytechnic college, UW-Stout emphasizes professional education in fields like healthcare, science and technology, business, and education. Located 60 miles east of the Twin Cities, the school offers 12 online undergraduate programs, with options including digital marketing technology, golf enterprise management, human development and family studies, and marketing and business education.
The university also maintains 12 online master's degree options in subjects like career and technical education, sustainable management, healthcare administration, and conservation management. For professionals seeking additional skills, UW-Stout offers several online certificates in areas such as Six Sigma, autism spectrum disorder specialist, cybersecurity, and gender studies.
Many of UW-Stout's distance programs can be completed entirely online. Programs requiring in-person components (such as technical training or supervised teaching experiences) often enable learners to complete these requirements within their own community.
|La Crosse, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
A Roman Catholic college associated with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Viterbo serves about 2,600 students annually from its campus in La Crosse. Ranked among the best online colleges in Wisconsin, Viterbo also maintains a reputation as one of the top regional universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The college's distance education program focuses on professional training, offering five bachelor's completion degrees in accounting, education, healthcare management, nursing, and organizational management. Viterbo's online programs require students to take their lower-division credits at another institution before transferring to Viterbo to complete the final two years of their studies.
The school maintains a flexible transfer credit policy, generally accepting credits earned with a "C" or better from any accredited college. Viterbo's online courses use an accelerated, eight-week format and typically offer fully asynchronous course content.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
|Milwaukee, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
The second-largest member of the University of Wisconsin System, UWM serves more than 26,000 students through on-campus and distance education programs. The school offers 12 fully online bachelor's degrees in professional and academic fields, including applied computing, community engagement and education, information science and technology, Jewish studies, and political science.
Online courses generally use an asynchronous format, though some courses may include synchronous elements. Several UWM programs offer the UW Flexible Option: a self-paced, competency-based format that enables students to earn their degree by demonstrating mastery of specific competencies, rather than completing a designated set of courses.
Well-suited for degree candidates who already possess experience in their major field, the UW Flexible Option allows students to work at their own pace and skip over program content they already know. Participants often complete their degree faster than they would in a traditional program, saving on tuition.
|Mequon, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
A Christian university operated in affiliation with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, CUW enrolls more than 8,000 students from its campus in Mequon. Known as one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin for Christian students, CUW also offers several career-focused bachelor's degrees online, including options in business management, criminal justice management, accounting, and nursing.
CUW offers a variety of program formats to suit students' scheduling needs. Some degrees use a cohort model, in which students move together as a cohesive group through a set course sequence. Others offer a self-paced format, enabling students to work through course content with increased flexibility.
Most online courses are delivered primarily asynchronously, though some classes may also include synchronous elements, such as virtual simulations and live group discussions. CUW pairs all online learners with a personal student success advisor who offers assistance from enrollment through graduation.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
|Stevens Point, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Ranked among the top regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, UWSP is also one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin. The school operates three campuses in Stevens Point, Marshfield, and Wausau. It also hosts four online bachelor's degrees in applied computing, health information management and technology, health and wellness management, and nursing.
Most online programs feature an asynchronous format that requires no set meeting times for courses. Online learners at UWSP can participate in a variety of experiential activities outside the classroom, and multiple online programs offer capstone projects that include significant field experiences.
For example, students in the health and wellness program have helped devise and implement wellness and health maintenance programs for organizations of all types. Additionally, students in the applied computing program are encouraged to participate in internships, and learners must also complete a field experience capstone at the end of their program.
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
|Kenosha, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
A public school based in Somers, UWP enrolls more than 4,300 students annually through its campus-based and distance education programs. The university offers six undergraduate degree completion programs online, including options in business management, health information management and technology, liberal studies, sociology, and sustainable management.
Intended for students who have already completed an associate degree or general education courses, UWP's online programs enable students to complete their remaining credits entirely from a distance. In addition, the school offers the UW Flexible Option -- a self-paced online program that serves working adult students.
Flex courses enable online learners to start at any time of year, working through assignments entirely on their own schedule. Students complete assessments to demonstrate their understanding of course material. Two flex options are available: a bachelor of science in business administration and a certificate in project management.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
|Platteville, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
In addition to campuses in Platteville, Richland, and Baraboo Sauk County, UW-Platteville also maintains a robust distance education program, ranking among the best online colleges in Wisconsin. Offering the resources of a major state university, the school also boasts some of the lowest tuition rates in the University of Wisconsin System.
UW-Platteville hosts four bachelor's degrees online, including applied computing, applied arts and sciences, business administration, and criminal justice. The bachelor of applied arts and sciences option offers a concentration in management or an individualized focus area based on a student's academic and career goals. The business administration degree offers several focus areas, like finance and supply chain management.
The criminal justice program offers credit for prior learning opportunities. This may be especially attractive for students with experience in law enforcement settings or those who hold related training and/or certifications.
|Plymouth, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
A liberal arts college affiliated with the United Churches of Christ, LU enrolls around 3,500 students annually through a main campus in Plymouth, a distance education program, and satellite campuses in cities including Milkaukee, Madison, and Green Bay. Ranked among the best online colleges in Wisconsin, LU offers 12 fully online bachelor's degrees.
All online degree programs are professionally focused and include options like computer science, criminal justice, industrial systems analytics, psychology, and an RN-to-BSN completion program.
LU offers significant flexibility for students through its BlendEd program, which enables students to complete courses in a fully online or blended learning format. Students can mix online and campus-based courses as their schedules allow, attending synchronous online sessions or viewing recordings of live classes at any time.
University of Wisconsin-Superior
|Superior, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
One of the smaller members of the University of Wisconsin System, UW-Superior serves approximately 2,600 students, with more than 33% enrolling in distance education programs. The school offers 10 fully online majors, including public health promotion, exercise science, sustainable management, writing, and education.
Online students can also create their own major or minor through the university's individually designed studies program, which combines courses from multiple fields to match a student's professional goals. UW-Superior's smaller size allows for more individualized attention for students, with an average class size of 18 pupils and a student-to-faculty ratio of 14-to-1.
Despite its small enrollment, the college offers a comprehensive selection of resources for online students, including career services and tutoring. Students receive online writing support from the school's writing center, while the Brainfuse tutoring platform offers 24/7 support in many other academic subjects.
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
|Oshkosh, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Ranked among the most affordable colleges in the Midwest, UW-Oshkosh is also one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin. The school offers onine online bachelor's degrees that focus primarily on career training, with available majors that include aviation management, criminal justice, fire and emergency response management, human services leadership, and nursing.
All of the school's online courses are asynchronous, with no live meetings and no scheduled class times. Most classes are delivered through accelerated, seven-week terms. Transfer students can apply up to 90 credits toward their bachelor's degree, and students entering with an associate degree can complete their bachelor's in two years.
Certain programs, such as the aviation management track, enable skilled students to earn credit for professional experience, such as military training or FAA certifications. Advisors can evaluate student transcripts to determine credit equivalencies for individual experiences.
|Fond Du Lac, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
A Catholic liberal arts college associated with the Congregation of Sisters of Saint Agnes, Marian operates a main campus in Fond du Lac, along with several extension centers and a popular distance education program. Marian hosts more than a dozen online bachelor's programs, including dental hygiene, criminal justice, homeland security, radiologic technology, and respiratory therapy.
In addition, the college offers two online graduate degrees in education and two K-12 licensure programs.
Students can complete online undergraduate programs through a standard, 15-week semester or an accelerated, seven-week course track with six start dates available throughout the year. These concentrated courses enable students to focus on fewer subjects at a time and master content faster. All course content is available entirely online, and no campus visits are required.
|Milwaukee, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
A Jesuit university based in Milwaukee, MU enrolls more than 11,000 students annually, ranking as the largest private school in the state. MU also offers one online bachelor's degree in strategic communication.
Intended for working adults who have been out of high school for at least five years, this program explores modern communication strategies for corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits. Most applicants hold at least 24 college-level credits completed with a GPA of at least 2.5.
Students in the program gain general skills in public relations, with a focus on internal and external communication strategies. The curriculum broadly examines the role of communication in shaping corporate identity and vision, with courses like media and society, emerging and social media, and crisis communication and reputation management.
MU offers several complementary minors in subjects like advertising, corporate communication, digital media, and public relations.