The heart of the heartland, Kansas has played a major role in the history of the United States since the Louisiana Purchase, most notably during the lead up to the Civil War. Its plain-dominated landscape is also quintessentially American, even if much of that is a myth. (Scientists note that the state is only perhaps the twentieth flattest in the Union.) With a per capita GDP last measured at $46k in 2014, Kansas’s economy is primarily based on agriculture and industrials: It ranks 8th in both oil and natural gas production, and agricultural output ranks 7th, making an economic impact of nearly $20 billion per year. There are 37 public institutions of higher education, plus 19 private schools in the state. Following recent trends toward flexible and affordable online delivery, more than 30 colleges and universities now offer distance education programs, from two-year associate tracks all the way through doctoral programs.
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 17 public schools in Kansas offering online degrees. The largest of these, Washburn University, offers the most tracks in the state (41) across a wide range of fields, including 11 associates, 19 bachelors, 10 masters, and a doctoral degree. The second-largest distance education provider is Kansas State, with 11 bachelors — covering Food and Food Services, Education, and Business — and 25 masters, placing it first for online graduate degree opportunities. These cover: Education specializations, Engineering specializations, Business, Family and Community Services, Agribusiness, and Agricultural Education and Communication, among other unique disciplines. For students looking for two-year associate tracks, Butler Community College offers 19 and Cowley Community College has 13. Other notable schools include University of Kansas, Pittsburg State University, Emporia State University, Wichita State University, and Henderson State University.
There are at least 17 private schools in Kansas that offer online degrees, including Ottawa University (29 tracks), Southwestern College (23), Baker University (17), and Tabor College (10). Ottawa’s 17 bachelors and 12 masters cover a diverse range of studies: most undergraduate tracks are Business specializations like Accounting, Finance, Health Care Management, Leadership Management, Entrepreneurship, and Global Operations; graduate degrees are offered primarily in MEd and MBA concentrations. From there, Southwestern offers studies in Psychology, Criminal Justice, Christian Ministries, Healthcare, Information Systems, Nursing, Education, Accounting, and others. For students pursuing associate options MidAmerica Nazarene University has AA’s in Business, Liberal Arts, and the Arts.
Featured Online Schools
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. Nonetheless, Kansas’s residency requirements are fairly straightforward: if you or your legal guardian’s have lived in the state for 12 consecutive months — and can demonstrate an intention to establish permanent residence — you qualify for in-state tuition. Additional qualifiers may include employment in Kansas, payment of Kansas state individual income taxes, reliance on Kansas sources for financial support, and other factors. For a full breakdown, visit the Kansas Board of Regents.
For 2015-16, the average tuition per-year for a four-year public school in Kansas was $8,530, or about $600 less than the national average. That represents a year-over-year increase of 3% and an 18% increase over five years. Overall, these are good numbers for residents looking to take advantage of in-state tuitions. While the five-year percent increase is slightly higher than the national average, many other states have suffered much steeper increases. Most important, over the last decade, no year-over-year tuition hike has been more than a few hundred dollars, allowing students to plan ahead; nor has tuition appeared to suffer aftershcoks from the Great Recession. If current trends hold, Kansans should continue to enjoy highly stable and affordable in-state tuition.
Newman University, a private Catholic liberal arts school, is the main provider of online degrees within Wichita’s city limits, offering bachelor’s degrees in Business Studies and Nursing (RN-BSN) and master’s in Theology and Theological Studies. South of Wichita, Cowley County Community College is one the largest public community schools in the state to offer online options, including 13 two-year associate degrees and a bachelor’s in Liberal Arts. Up Interstate 35, Butler Community College offers 21 associates — the most in the state — including studies in Accounting, Marketing & Management, Business Administration, Economics, Philosophy & Religion, History, Social Work, and Pre-Law. Tabor College, in Hillsboro, offers 10 degrees: an associate in Urban Ministry; 6 bachelors in Business, Nursing, and Ministry; and two MBAs and an MA in Entrepreneurial Ministry Leadership. From there, Hutchinson Community College, Central Christian College of Kansas, Bethany College, and Neosho County Community College are all within reasonable distance for occasional commuting.
On the Kansas side, Johnson County Community College, Ottawa University-Kansas City, University of Saint Mary, and MidAmerica Nazarene University offer online degrees within reach of Kansas City. The largest of these is Ottawa, a private Christian liberal arts school, which offers 17 bachelors and 12 masters across a range of disciplines, from Business, to Education, to Healthcare and Counseling. On the Missouri side, the University of Missouri—KC offers 2 bachelors (Rn to Bsn and Liberal Arts), 3 masters (MS in Dental Hygiene, MSN in Family Psychiatric Mental Health, and an Eds), and three doctorate tracks in Nursing and Pharmacy; Nazarene Theological Seminary offers 3 masters concentrations in Theological Studies. Baker University, in Baldwin, offers 17 online degrees.
Topeka’s Washburn University offers 41 online degrees — 11 associates, 19 bachelors, 10 masters, and a doctoral degree — making it the largest provider in the state. Predictably, it’s also the most wide-ranging, covering Criminal Justice, Music, Education, Public Administration, Medicine and Nursing, Information Science, and the Humanities. To the south, Emporia State University, Ottawa University, and Baker University offer online degrees; and MidAmerica Nazarene University and Johnson County Community College are options in nearby Kansas City. The University of Saint Mary offer 6 online tracks — 2 bachelors and 4 masters — and Highland Community College offers 9 associates in Accounting, Business Administration, Risk Management, Criminal Justice, and Medical Coding, among other subjects.
Cost of Living: 82.9%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Healthcare
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 88%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Professional Services
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 86.4%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Business
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 81.9%
Top Industries: Education, Healthcare
Local Online Degrees: 7
Cost of Living: 86.9%
Top Industries: Industrials, Insurance
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 86.9%
Top Industries: Education, Industrials
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 87.1%
Top Industries: Education, Agricultural
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 83%
Top Industries: Education, Healthcare
Local Online Degrees: 2
Cost of Living: 87.6%
Top Industries: Logistics, Retail
Local Online Degrees: 8
The Best Online Colleges in Kansas
1. Kansas State University
Online Programs: 36
Founded in 1863, KSU is the state’s oldest university and first among public universities in the country for its 124 total Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall scholars. KSU also offers the second most online degrees in the state (36), including 11 bachelors and 25 masters. Undergraduate offerings cover a range of Food & Food Services disciplines, Technology Management, Business, Social Science, and more. Graduate offerings include studies in Agribusiness, Business, Engineering (Civil, Chemical, Nuclear, Mechanical, Software, etc.), Education (Early Childhood, Leadership, Adult and Continuing, Curriculum and Instruction), Psychology, and more. With a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio, classes are intimate and collaborative; over 40% consist of fewer than 20 students. Financial aid is also available: half of full-time undergrads receive some form of aid, and the average need met is 75%. In addition to high marks from US News, Washington Monthly, Forbes, and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings rank KSU highly.
2. University of Kansas
Online Programs: 21
Founded in 1865, The University of Kansas has a total enrollment of about 28,000 and offers 21 online degrees: 5 bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, Psychology, Health Information Management, Respiratory Care, and an RN-BSN; 15 master’s ranging from Education specializations, to Social Work, to and an MBA; and a doctoral track in Nursing. Ranked among the best universities in the country by US News, Kansas also has a top-ranked honors program. The school’s 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a vibrant, collaborative learning experience which also delivers individualized instruction. Nearly half of classes consist of fewer than 20 students, and just 10% have more than 50. All online course work is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate adult learners, working professionals, and other non-traditional students. Additional resources include tutoring, academic advising, library services, a writing center, and tech support.
3. Ottawa University-Ottawa
Online Programs: 29
Ottawa University, founded in 1865, is a small private school with an enrollment under 1,000. It’s online offerings, however, are among the largest in Kansas, including 17 bachelors and 12 masters. Nearly all undergraduate options are Business Administration specializations, like Entrepreneurship, Finance, Human Resources, Leadership, Actuarial Science, Management, and more. Master’s degrees include MEd concentrations (Educational Leadership, Education Technology, Education Intervention, Curriculum And Instruction) and MBA concentrations (Marketing, Management, Healthcare Management, etc.). (These programs are accredited by the CAEP and ACBSP, respectively.) Ranked as one of the top 50 colleges in the region by US News, Ottawa’s student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1 to promote a collaborative, dynamic educational setting, while also supporting individualized learning; nearly 70% of classes have less than 20 students, and just 1% have over 50. Financial aid is another boon: 87% of undergraduates receive some form of aid, and the average need met is 60%.
4. Washburn University
Online Programs: 41
Founded in 1865, Washburn offers the most online degrees in Kansas (41). Undergraduate tracks cover a wide range of disciplines, including Music, Education, Public Administration, Medicine and Nursing, and across the Liberal Arts. Master’s degrees include MEd and Social Work specializations, Nursing, Human Services, Mass Media, and Accountancy. A Doctor of Nursing Practice is also available with online delivery options. Ranked among the top 25 public schools in the region by US News, the school’s 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio promotes intimate, collaborative learning and individualized instruction. Half of classes consist of less than 20 students, and less than 2% have over 50. More than $70 million in financial aid is available annually, and residents of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas pay in-state tuition.
5. Baker University
Online Programs: 17
Founded in 1858, Baker is ranked among the top 50 schools in the region and has an enrollment of less than 1,000 students. Its online offerings, nevertheless, remain extensive: 17 degrees, including 13 masters, 3 bachelors, and an AA in Business. Master’s degrees cover a range of MEd specializations (Curriculum And Instruction, Technology, Multicultural Classrooms And Student Diversity), Organizational Leadership, and MLM’s in Gender Studies, Creative Arts, History and Ideas, and Natural And Social Sciences. Bachelor’s are available in Business and Criminal Justice. The school’s 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports an intimate educational environment, and online courses follow a cohort model to promote collaborative learning. Further, with asynchronous options, students have the flexibility to complete course work when their schedule permits. Additional resources include academic advising, the Moodle learning platform, tech support, and financial aid opportunities.
6. Southwestern College
Online Programs: 23
Southwestern College, founded in 1885, offers 23 online degrees to 1,500 students: 16 bachelors in Business Administration, Operations Management, Healthcare Administration, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Computer Programming, Nursing, and Information Systems Management, among others; plus 6 masters in Leadership Management, Business, Curriculum and Instruction, Security Administration, and Special Education, and a Doctorate of Education. (Online courses deliver in accelerated 6-week blocks.) Ranked among the best colleges in the region, Southwest’s 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a highly intimate learning community; over 80% of classes consist of fewer than 20 students, with no classes over 50 students. Financial aid is also available: 78% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of aid, and the average need met is 75%. For those interested, a number of undergraduate and graduate certificates are available online as well.
7. Pittsburg State University
Online Programs: 18
Founded in 1903, Pittsburg State University has a total enrollment of 7,300 and ranks among the top 25 public schools in the region. There 18 degrees available online, including bachelors in Workforce Development and Nursing and masters in Educational Leadership, Engineering Technology, Teaching, Educational Technology, and Health, Human Performance And Recreation, among others. With a 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, nearly half of classes consist of fewer than 20 students to support a tight-knit learning community and individualized instruction. Just 6% of classes have more than 50 students. All online course work is designed for maximum flexibility, and all online students pay in-state tuition, regardless of residency. Additional resources include tech support, a student success center, career services, library services, and more.
8. Tabor College
Online Programs: 10
Tabor College, founded in 1908, offers 10 online degrees, including an AA in Urban Ministry; bachelor’s in Nursing (RN-BSN), Christian Ministry, and Business specializations (Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Operations Management, HR Management); and two MBAs and an MA in Entrepreneurial Ministry Leadership. Ranked as one the top colleges in the region, Tabor’s 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports an intimate, collaborative learning environment that prioritizes personalized instruction. 70% of classes have fewer than 20 students; just 1% have over 50. Financial aid opportunities are available, as well: 80% of full-time undergrads receive some form of aid, and the average need met is 70%. Courses are designed to accommodate students with demanding schedules and deliver through the Moodle learning platform, which includes group discussion boards, live chat rooms, and other multimedia.
9. Butler Community College
Online Programs: 21
Established in 1927 in El Dorado, Butler Community College offers 21 associate degrees online, by far the most in the state. Tracks are available across a wide spectrum, including: Accounting, Economics, Business Administration, Pre-Law, Philosophy & Religion, History, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, and Liberal Studies, among others. All programs are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate working professionals and adult learners, and some courses include blended delivery options. Classes sizes are kept between 18-25 students, and Butler’s learning management system includes a variety of multimedia tools to create a dynamic learning environment. Butler is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
10. Henderson State University
Online Programs: 14
Founded in 1890, Henderson State has an enrollment of 3,500 and offers 14 online degrees, including master’s degrees in Business Administration and several Education specializations, like Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction, Advanced Instructional Studies, and more. (These are respectively accredited by the AACSB and CAEP.) An online Educational Specialist BS is available, as well. Recognized as one of the most affordable small colleges in the country, US News ranks HSU among the tpo 40 public schools in the region. Henderson’s 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio promotes a highly intimate learning community that promotes personalized instruction. Over 60% of classes have less than 20 students; less than 1% of have 50. Financial aid opportunities are available, too: 83% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of aid, and the average need met is over half. HSU has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission for 75 years.
11. Emporia State University
Online Programs: 16
Emporia State University, founded in 1863, offers 16 online degrees, nearly all of which are master’s tracks. These include an MBA, MS in Mathematics, MA in History, Master of Accountancy, and several Education specializations, like Curriculum & Instruction, Elementary Content, Teaching, Educational Administration, and Special Education. Emporia’s sole bachelor’s degree is in Interdisciplinary Studies. As one of the best public schools in the region, ESU fosters a collaborative, vibrant learning atmosphere through an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Nearly half of classes consist of fewer than 20 students, and less than 7% have 50. Emporia’s distance education program emphasizes flexibility and affordability, and over 60% of undergrads receive some form of financial aid. Other online resources include tutoring, advising, tech support, and library services. Emporia is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and holds additional accreditations from the AACSB and NCATE.
12. Cowley County Community College
Online Programs: 14
Cowley Community College operates campuses in Arkansas City, Winfield, Mulvane, and Wichita. Online, CCC offers 13 associate degrees, including in: Accounting, Business Administrative Technology, Agribusiness, Health Services Management, Equine Management, Leadership, Creative Writing, and Instructional Technology, among others. With a 23:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Cowley’s educational setting is collaborative and vibrant, and all course work is designed to accommodate adult learners, working professionals, and other non-traditional students (45% of students are part-time). Further, through the Blackboard learning platform, students utilize group discussion boards, live chat rooms, video conferencing, and other multimedia. CCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
13. Wichita State University
Online Programs: 12
Founded in 1895, Wichita State University has an enrollment of 15,000 and offers 12 online degrees, most of which are at the bachelor and master level. Bachelor’s include Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Engineering Technology Management, Dental Hygiene, and RN-BSN; master’s include an MPA, MEd’s in Special Education and Learning and Instructional Design, and an MA in Aging Studies. Wichita State also offers an online MSN to DNP. With an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Wichita promotes a collaborative, vibrant learning community with an emphasis on personalized instruction. Half of classes consist of fewer than 20 students, and just 10% have over 50. All courses are highly flexible, and three entry dates are available throughout the year to accommodate students’ unique schedules. Additional benefits include 24/7 tech support, academic advising, financial aid, tutoring, an online readiness assessment, and more.
14. Highland Community College
Online Programs: 9
Founded in 1858 in Doniphan County, Highland Community College offers 9 online associate degrees, including in: Accounting, Business Administration, Risk Management, Criminal Justice, Medical Coding, and Personal Fitness, among others. All online course work is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate adult learners, working professionals, and/or transfer students. Through the Moodle learning platform, students are encouraged to collaborate with peers using group discussion boards, live chat rooms, video conferencing, and other multimedia technologies. Student services include tech support, enrollment assistance, counseling, and more. Regional centers are in Atchison, Holton, Perry, and Wamego. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
15. Hutchinson Community College
Online Programs: 9
Hutchinson Community College, established in 1928, has an enrollment of 5,800 and offers 9 associate degrees online, including in: Accounting, Personal Fitness Training, Business Administration, General Studies, Criminal Justice, Risk Management, and Medical Coding, among others. All online programs are designed to flexible and affordable, and new classes begin every month to fit the schedules of adult learners, full-working professionals, and non-traditional students. Hutchinson’s values are teaching and learning; integrity and social responsibility; service and collaboration; diversity; leadership; and responsiveness. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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 Kansas is the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
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 Kansas Higher Education Resources
- Kansas State Department of Education The state's Department of Education site includes info on policy and funding, programs and services, financial aid, and more.
- Kansas Board of Regents The Kansas Board of Regents governs six state universities, one municipal university, nineteen community colleges, and six technical colleges.
- Kansas National Education Association KNEA advocates for public school improvement on behalf of students and teachers.
- Kansas Association of Community College Trustees KACCT's website includes information on individual schools, programs, and news updates.
- Kansas Independent College Association The official site of Kansas's 19 private colleges and universities.
- Kansas MHEC Kansas's Midwestern Higher Education Compact page includes the latest research and state reports on education.
- Kansas Learning First A coalition of teachers, parents, and administrators dedicated to public education improvement, founded in 1999.
- Kansas State Treasury The state's treasury includes helpful financial aid links and 529 options.
- Greater Salina Community Foundation Founded in 1999, the Salina Community Foundation includes funding for scholarships; it is the the largest in the state.
- Thomas County Community Foundation Founded in 2001, the TCCF includes the Colby Community College Fund, Cory R. Wang Memorial Scholarship, Terry Strutt Memorial Scholarship, and others.
- Golden Belt Community Foundation Established in 1996, the GBCF offers a range of scholarship and grant opportunities.
- Manhattan Community Foundation Manhattan's foundation offered over $100k in 2016.
- Wichita Community Foundation The WCF offers a long list of scholarships for two- and four-year schools.
- Emporia Community Foundation The ECF offers several $1k scholarships for graduating high school seniors.
- Topeka Community Foundation Founded in 1983, Topeka's fund awards over $100k in scholarships per year.
- McPherson County Community Foundation The MCCF, founded in 2001, offers several scholarship opportunities.
- Western Kansas Community Foundation Western Kansas's foundation offers over a dozen scholarships to graduating high school seniors.
- Central Kansas Community Foundation The CKCF, founded in 1995, offers scholarships for residents of eight counties.
- Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas Scholarships through the CFSK are available for full-time students enrolled in accredited institution.