2021 Best Online Colleges in the Midwest
| Megan Whitenton
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Known as America's Heartland, the Midwest's reputation for farmlands, manufacturing, and some of the top colleges and universities in the nation remains strong. Throughout the 12 states that make up the region, students can find top-rated programs in arts and humanities, agriculture, law, psychology, information technology, engineering, aerospace, and aviation.
As a growing segment of the Midwest's economy, the software sector boasts many of the region's most successful businesses. Other expanding industries include healthcare technology, cybersecurity, and aviation technology. Many schools in the region offer online programs that can help prepare graduates for jobs in these growing fields, most of which require a bachelor's degree.
To help potential student's find the best program for their career goals, we've ranked the 10 best online colleges in the Midwest.
What Are the 2021 Best Online Colleges in the Midwest? Here Are Our Top 10:
Ranking compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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|#1||University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI|
|#2||Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH|
|#3||Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN|
|#4||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL|
|#5||University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN|
|#6||University of Wisconsin-La Crosse La Crosse, WI|
|#7||Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL|
|#8||Michigan State University East Lansing, MI|
|#9||Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses Fort Wayne, IN|
|#10||Bethel University Saint Paul, MN|
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2021 Best Accredited Online Colleges in the Midwest
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UW has earned a place among the best online colleges in the Midwest by offering online degrees and certificates for more than 20 years. The university remains a top producer of Fortune 500 CEOs and a leader in national research.
UW welcomes learners with at least 12 transferable credits of college coursework into its online bachelor's programs. Applicants can contact enrollment coaches directly for advice regarding financial aid, transferring credits, and course selection. Online students can start their program in the fall, spring, or summer terms.
UW offers five fully online bachelor's degrees in management, human resources, marketing, personal finance, and consumer behavior and marketplace studies. Each program requires 120 credits over roughly four years. Online programs do not require campus visits and deliver most coursework asynchronously.
Ohio State emphasizes flexible, affordable online degrees and certificates. Distance learners can choose from more than 40 online programs across 13 academic colleges.
Ohio State offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in coveted fields like nursing, education, and engineering, all with a focus on developing soft skills for emerging professionals and career-switchers.
Prospective students can take Ohio State's online readiness assessment or test-drive an online course for free. Most of Ohio State's online programs deliver coursework asynchronously, though some degrees also include on-campus requirements. Ohio State offers online students the same scholarships and financial aid opportunities as on-campus learners.
As one of the best online colleges in the Midwest, Purdue offers a variety of affordable academic, professional, and continuing education programs. Students can choose from online and hybrid programs delivered through Purdue Global and at multiple physical campuses across Indiana.
Purdue offers hundreds of online degrees and certificates in fields like education, business, and computer science. Some programs receive specialized accreditation through organizations like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Purdue offers multiple start dates for online programs depending on location and format. Online coursework may include both asynchronous and synchronous components. Purdue's various locations offer several benefits for online learners, including banded tuition, experiential learning discounts, military and in-state tuition rates, and a generous transfer credit policy.
The U of I offered its first fully online course in 1995 and its first fully online program the following year. The university now serves more than 3,000 students from over 200 countries through online courses and programs.
Students can choose from more than 120 online degrees and certificates, spanning 12 academic schools. Additionally, U of I offers more than 8,300 for-credit courses and leads online colleges in the Midwest with an enrollment of six million in massive open online courses.
The U of I's programs include a variety of undergraduate and graduate certificates and degrees. The university also offers off-campus programs and continuing education coursework. Full-time students pursuing an online degree or certificate typically pay a set, per-credit tuition rate no matter where they live.
UMN operates its flagship campus in the Twin Cities and maintains four additional specialized campuses throughout Minnesota. The university's Crookston campus offers the majority of UMN's online programs, which may take place entirely, primarily, or partially online.
UMN offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificates through online or hybrid study. The university houses 17 academic schools and colleges in fields like education and human development, nursing, and continuing and professional studies.
Students complete online coursework through the Canvas learning management system. UMN's online programs include both synchronous and asynchronous elements. Online learners can access comprehensive support resources like technical help through live virtual chat.
UW-La Crosse earns a place among the top online colleges in the Midwest in part thanks to recognition by the Online Learning Consortium, which awarded the school a Quality Scorecard Exemplary Endorsement.
UW-La Crosse's online programs include two bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees, and a doctorate in education. Students can also pursue a variety of online professional certificates, education endorsements, and individual courses through the university's Institute for Professional Studies in Education and the Department of Education Studies.
The university delivers most online coursework asynchronously, and most online programs do not require campus visits. Online courses may last for 3-16 weeks.
LCU operates a physical campus and extension site in Lincoln, Illinois, along with a comprehensive online program. Students can choose from a variety of undergraduate degrees and graduate and seminary programs.
LCU offers six fully online degrees: an associate in Bible, a bachelor's in business administration, a bachelor's in Christian ministry, a bachelor's in psychology, a master's in Bible and theology, and a master's in organizational leadership. All degrees incorporate Christian principles and values.
Students may also pursue hybrid programs, which combine primarily online coursework with week-long intensives on campus. Distance learners must take an online orientation course as their first class. Online programs include eight-week courses and charge students the same per-credit rate regardless of residency.
MSU operates a picturesque campus in East Lansing, Michigan, and a multidisciplinary online division. Learners can pursue degrees and certificates in eight academic areas through fully online and hybrid programs. MSU delivers most online courses asynchronously, though some courses may require live sessions.
MSU offers more than 30 fully online master's degrees, two doctorates, and an RN-to-BSN program. Additionally, students can choose from dozens of online certificates. Major and minor options include education, business and leadership, and nursing and medical fields.
In addition to holding institutional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, MSU boasts programmatic accreditation through agencies like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.
Trine ranks among the best online colleges in the Midwest for its affordable tuition rates, free textbooks, and a generous transfer credit policy. Distance learners enjoy start dates every eight weeks, with the option to take their first online course for free.
Students can choose from more than 20 online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs across six major fields of study: business administration, criminal justice and psychology, general studies, engineering and technology, healthcare, and leadership. Additionally, Trine offers a variety of online combined bachelor's/master's programs.
All online Trine students pay a set, per-credit tuition rate. Trine delivers courses asynchronously and does not require students to visit campus to complete their online degrees. Each semester consists of two six-week or eight-week terms.
Bethel ranks among the nation's leading Christian universities and the best online colleges in the Midwest. The university operates a physical campus in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as 12 online undergraduate programs, including associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, and certificates.
Fields of study include accounting, Christian ministries, and special education. Bethel provides dedicated enrollment counselors, five-week elective courses for adults, and a generous transfer credit policy.
Bethel charges a set, per-credit tuition rate to online students regardless of residency. Bethel offers several payment options, including monthly tuition payment plans and employer tuition reimbursement.