A Guide to Online Colleges in Idaho

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The 14th largest state in the U.S., Idaho also has the most land held by the United States Forest Service at nearly 40%. No doubt, this can be attributed to the state’s stunning geography and largely unspoiled territory, including Rocky Mountain ranges, whitewater rapids, canyons, 12 different climate zones, 20 lakes, and nearly a dozen rivers, including some of the most scenic in the country: the water at Shoshone Falls drops higher than anywhere at Niagara. The 43rd stated admitted into the Union, Idaho has seen human activity for almost 15,000 years. Nez Percé and Northern and Western Shoshone tribes are among the earliest known inhabitants, and French-Canadian trappers likely reached the area sometime before the Lewis & Clark expedition. The state has long been a significant agricultural producer — most famously for its potatoes, which make up a third of all potatoes grown in the U.S. Food processing, industrials, mining, and tourism are established economies as well. The fields of cience and technology are now the largest industries in the state (Hewlett-Packard, Micron Technology, Sun Microsystems, etc.), accounting for 25% of total revenue and 70% of exports. For its relatively small population — under 2 million — the state has a number of public, private, and community colleges, many of which are keeping up with trends toward affordable, flexible higher education via online degrees.

In-state tuition is often applied to public schools offering online programs. Many online programs require some face-to-face time, or more numerous support services at their brick and mortar locations. Intensive study experiences, often on the weekends or in several week-long bouts, enable many online students to accelerate their time until graduation. And students looking at online education can drastically expand their educational options if they also look to hybrid degrees (degrees where degrees can be taken partially, or mostly online). Finally, one of the most common stipulations in scholarships is that students be from a certain state or region, often more funds are available to students seeking degrees in-state.

There are at least six public schools that offer online degrees in Idaho. For total offered, University of Idaho ranks first, with 17 master’s tracks. For students searching for two-year associate tracks, The College of Southern Idaho offers 16 degrees, while Idaho State University offers the widest variety of degree programs statewide. From there, Lewis-Clark State University offers 11 online degrees, Boise State University offers 10, and College of Western Idaho has seven associates.

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Featured Online Schools

Potential Resident

For a variety of reasons, a student may look to move to the state of their online college program whether specifically required by the program or not — be it for a job, location desirability, school benefits, etc. Different states have different policies, however, and some of them can be rather demanding. Fortunately, Idaho’s rules are relatively straightforward and can be reviewed in full here. In short, students and/or their guardians must have established residency — or a permanent domicile — in Idaho at least 12 months prior to the first day of classes. This may be established via proof of employment, tax returns, an Idaho driver’s license, etc. Note that the following Native American tribes are included in any Idaho residency requirement: Coeur d’Alene, Eastern Shoshone, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Paiute, Shoshone-Bannock, and Northwestern Shoshone.

For 2016-17, the average tuition for a four-year public school in Idaho was $7,010 per year, compared to a $9,142 national average. That represents a 2% increase since 2015-2016, compared to a 3% national average, and a 16% increase over five years, compared to a 13% national average. All this is good news for Idaho residents looking to take advantage of in-state tuition, and students should continue to benefit from relatively low tuition costs: Idaho has historically had been below the national average. For two-year public community colleges, average tuition stands at $4,025. Community college tuition was up 3% year-over-year and 35% over a five-year period.

Three universities offer online degrees in Boise and nearby Nampa: Boise State University, Northwest Nazarene University, College of Western Idaho. The largest of these is Northwest Nazarene, in Nampa, which offers 2 bachelors, 11 masters, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. Masters include an MBA, MEd specializations ( Educational Leadership, Building Administrator, Eds), Master of Divinity tracks (Youth, Children & Family Ministry, Spiritual Formation, Missional Leadership), and several other Pastoral tracks. From there, Boise State, one of Idaho’s largest universities, offers 3 bachelors, 5 masters, and 2 doctorates in Education and Nursing. Undergraduate tracks consist of 2 nursing tracks and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies; masters cover MBAs, MSN, and Master of Educational Technology, among others. For those willing to make a short commute on occasion, College of Southern Idaho offers online degrees in Twin Falls.

Idaho State University offers 13 online degrees in Pocatello (additional campuses are in Meridian, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls). ISU’s selection is among the most diverse in the state, including 2 associates, 3 bachelors, 5 masters, and 3 doctorates across a wide range of fields. Two-year and undergraduate options cover Workplace Training And Leadership, Fire Services Administration, and Emergency Management. Masters include MS’s in Dental Hygiene, Nursing, and Speech Language Pathology, and MEd concentrations in Instructional Technology and Organizational Learning And Performance. With a total enrollment of 13,000, ISU students come from 48 states and nearly 60 countries. For students willing to make occasional short commutes, Brigham Young University-Idaho offers online degrees in Rexburg and College of Southern Idaho offers tracks in Twin Falls.

Idaho Falls resident should consider nearby options in Rexurg and Pocatello for online degree opportunities. Brigham Young University-Idaho is the third-largest online education provider in the state, with 4 associates and 10 bachelors. Two-year tracks include studies in Web Design & Development and Office Management; bachelors are available in Web Design & Development, Health Science, Marriage & Family Studies, Computer Information Technology, Healthcare Administration, Business Management, and Applied Management, among others. Meanwhile, Idaho State University offers 2 associates, 3 bachelors, 5 masters, and 3 doctorate tracks. Off I-84, College of Southern Idaho, in Twin Falls, offers 16 two-year associate tracks in a wide range of fields.

Boise


Population: 216,282
Cost of Living: 92.1%
Top Industries: Retail, Manufacturing, Science and Tech
Local Online Degrees: 4

Nampa


Population: 88,211
Cost of Living: 90.7%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Construction
Local Online Degrees: 4

Meridian


Population: 87,743
Cost of Living: 92.4%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Construction
Local Online Degrees: 4

Pocatello


Population: 54,292
Cost of Living: 87.5%
Top Industries: Education, Manufacturing
Local Online Degrees: 3

Idaho Falls


Population: 58,691
Cost of Living: 88.1%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Science and Tech
Local Online Degrees: 3

Caldwell


Population: 50,224
Cost of Living: 90.1%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Construction
Local Online Degrees: 4

Coeur d'Alene


Population: 47,912
Cost of Living: 92.9%
Top Industries: Construction, Retail
Local Online Degrees: 1

The Best Online Colleges in Idaho

  • 1. University of Idaho

    Online Programs: 17
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1889, The University of Idaho, in Moscow, has a total enrollment of about 11,400. Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, and US News rank Idaho among the best public universities in the country, and it has been recognized by Kiplinger’s for its excellent value. The university’s 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a lively, vibrant learning community, which combines individualized instruction with collaborative education. Over half of classes consist of fewer than 20 students, and less than 10% have 49 or more. All 17 of Idaho’s online degrees are at the master’s level, including an Executive MBA, MS in Adult Organizational Learning & Leadership, and several engineering and teaching specializations. Financial aid opportunities are available in addition to career services, tech assistance, tutoring, and individual academic support.

  • 2. Brigham Young University-Idaho

    Online Programs: 14
    Type: Private
    Website

    BYU Idaho, founded in 1888, is a private liberal arts school with an enrollment of about 17,500, including students from 50 states and nearly 100 countries. Ranked highly by Forbes and US News, which places it among the top ten colleges in the West, the university’s distance education program has expanded in recent years to include four associates, 10 bachelor’s, and more than 210 individual online courses. (Note that eligibility for online courses includes completion of at least 15 on-campus credits at a BYU satellite or Pathway program.) For maximum flexibility, students can complete degrees on accelerated track year-round or on a traditional semester basis; degree completion time is up to you. Additional benefits include academic advising, financial aid opportunities, registration assistance, and tech support.

  • 3. Northwest Nazarene University

    Online Programs: 14
    Type: Private
    Website

    Northwest Nazarene University, founded in 1913, has a total enrollment of about 2,300. In addition to its high regional academic ranking, Northwest Nazarene is considered a top-25 school for veterans and has an excellent overall value ranking. The school’s 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports an intimate, vibrant educational community that combines one-on-one instruction with collaborative learning. Over 65% of classes have less than 20 students, and less than 4% have 49 or more. Online, NNU offers two bachelor’s, 11 masters, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. Other highlights include an RN-BSN, MSN, MBA, and MEd in Educational Leadership. From there, NNU offers several Pastoral and Divinity masters.

  • 4. College of Southern Idaho

    Online Programs: 16
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1965, College of Southern Idaho is a public two-year community college in Twin Falls. CSI’s online opportunities are manifold: 16 associates across a wide range of fields, including Business, Entrepreneurship, Economics, History, Political Science, Library And Information Science, Geography, Criminal Justice, and several Education concentrations. Among Southern Idaho’s primary education goals are to provide: personalized support services, a program of professional-technical education, a lifelong learning platform, and a program to support the social, cultural, and economic development of the region. Through the Canvas learning platform, students can leverage group discussion boards, live chat rooms, and video conferencing services as part of CSI’s collaborative learning model. CSI is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • 5. Idaho State University

    Online Programs: 13
    Type: Public
    Website

    Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral research and teaching institution founded in 1901, has a total enrollment of about 13,600, including students from 42 states and 58 countries, and campuses in Pocatello, Meridian, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls. With a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, classes combine individualized instruction with collaborative learning in an active and dynamic educational setting. Idaho State offers 13 online degrees, including two associates, three bachelor’s, five master’s, and three doctorate tracks. Highlights include a BS in Fire Services Administration, BS in Emergency Management, MS in Nursing, and MEd’s in Instructional Technology and Organizational Learning And Performance, among others. A range of support services are offered, from advising and tutoring, to counseling and tech support.

  • 6. Lewis-Clark State University

    Online Programs: 11
    Type: Public
    Website

    Lewis-Clark State University, founded in 1893, is located in Lewiston and has a total enrollment of over 3,500. Composed of academic programs, career & technical education programs, and community programs, LCSU offers 11 online degrees, including four associates and seven bachelor’s across a wide range of disciplines — Business, Early Childhood, Nursing, Management, and more. (All courses can be completed 100% online.) US News places it in the region’s top 10 public schools and top 25 overall. Thanks to its 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, courses are intimate and collaborative; over 60% of classes have less than 20 students, and just 1% have 49 or more students. Financial aid is available, as well: 75% of full-time undergrads receive some form of aid, and the average need met is about 70%.

Monitoring the accreditation of a university you are interested in attending is incredibly important. Accreditation ensures your credits can transfer that you can receive Federal financial aid, and most importantly that certain standards of educational quality are during your schooling. The highest accreditation standard for most programs in the United States is provided by regional accreditation agencies. The regional accrediting agency for Idaho is the Northwest Accreditation Commission, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

Making sure that a University you’re hoping to attend is regionally accredited — or accredited by a real and respected accrediting agency — is one of the most important choices you can make in ensuring the quality of your education.

Three Steps for Securing Financial Aid

  • Submit your FAFSA.
  • Check to see if additional forms are needed at your university of choice.
  • Search and apply for private scholarships.

Through the previous three steps most students find themselves offered some sort of federal grant, work study, private grant, scholarship, or stipend.

Great Idaho Higher Education Resources

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