Mississippi is nothing if not fertile, from its land to its culture. Among its writers include Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Shelby Foote, Barry Hannah, Tennnessee Williams (name notwithstanding), John Grisham, and William Faulker. Brett Farve, Jerry Rice, Archie Manning, and Walter Payton learned football in the state. And Morgan Freeman, Jim Henson, James Earl Jones, Parker Posey, and Oprah Winfrey all have called Mississippi home. Still, its greatest export must be the Blues, and a brief survey of its progenitors (and offspring) should speak for itself: Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Albert King, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Denise LaSalle, Muddy Waters, and Elvis Presley, among others. Of course, Mississippi has always been tied to agriculture, with tourism and entertainment being additional major economic forces today. Education, too, has played a part in the state’s history, with many of its public universities among the oldest in the country. Nor have those schools loitered about the past: today, following trends across the country, many colleges and universities in Mississippi are offering online degrees to accommodate new demands in education.
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 9 public schools in Mississippi that offer online degrees, including the University of Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi Valley State University, Delta State University, and University of Mississippi Medical Center. The largest of these is the University of Southern Mississippi, which offers 25 degrees online: 7 bachelors, 17 masters, and a PhD in Human Capital Development. From there, Ole Miss comes in second place with 19 online degrees — 5 bachelors, 13 masters, and one doctorate — and Mississippi State comes in third with 18, including 4 bachelors, 13 masters, and one doctorate. Northwest Mississippi Community College offers 11 online bachelors in a variety of disciplines, plus an associate in Business Administration. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College also offers 7 bachelors online, most of which are in Education.
Three private schools offer online degrees in Mississippi: Belhaven University, Mississippi College, and Blue Mountain College. Belhaven University is the largest provider, totaling 21 tracks, which makes it the second-largest provider in the state, behind only Southern Miss. Degrees include associates in Business and Biblical studies; 8 bachelors in Business, Accounting, Biblical Studies, Criminal Justice, Health Administration, and Interdisciplinary Studies, among others; and 11 masters, including MBA concentrations, MEd concentrations, an MHA, MPA, MS in Sports Management, and more. Mississippi College offers 4 bachelors — in Business Administration, Paralegal Studies, Nursing, and Communication — and 4 masters — in Higher Education Administration, Teaching Arts, Health Services Administration, and Athletic Administration. Blue Mountain has online bachelors in Business and Psychology.
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. In Mississippi, all responsibilities for proof of in-state status lie with the student, who must be able to prove a permanent residency in the state (be it under a dependent or otherwise). Other factors/proofs schools may take into account include length of permanent residency, voter registration, motor vehicle registration, driver’s license, income taxes, income sources, and location of bank, savings and other accounts.
The average tuition per-year for a four-year public school in Mississippi for 2015-2016 was $7,147, or nearly two-thousand dollars less than the national average. That number represents a 4% increase year-over-year, about average, but a 23% increase over a five-year period, or twice the national average. Still, as troubling as the five-year window is, residents should continue to put costs into perspective. First, several states saw larger increases than even 23%, and the modest increase from 2014-2015 hopefully signals a tapering. Most important, the sticker price remains significantly lower than the national average, and in-state students are paying less than half of some public universities elsewhere.
There are two schools within the Greater Jackson Area that offer online degrees — Mississippi College and Belhaven University. Belhaven University is the largest, with 21 tracks, makeing it the second-largest online education provider in the state, behind only Southern Miss. Degrees include 2 associates in Business and Biblical Studies; 8 bachelors in Business, Accounting, Biblical Studies, Criminal Justice, Health Administration, Interdisciplinary Studies, and more; and 11 masters, including MBA concentrations, MEd concentrations, an MHA, MPA, and an MS in Sports Management, among others. Mississippi College offers 4 bachelors — in Business Administration, Paralegal Studies, Nursing, and Communication — and 4 masters — in Higher Education Administration, Teaching Arts, Health Services Administration, and Athletic Administration. Alcorn State University in Port Gibson, just an hour-and-a-half away, offers three MBA concentrations.
There are several options for Gulfport students interested in online degrees. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, with satellite campuses in Gautier, Gulfport, Lucedale, Long Beach, and Biloxi, has 7 online degrees in Business Education, Elementary Education K-8, American Studies, Preparatory Curriculum, and General Studies, among others. For those willing to travel across state lines, Louisana and Alabama have options. In New Orleans, the University of New Orleans, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Loyola University, Tulane University, and Our Lady of Holy Cross College all offer online degrees. To the east in Mobile, the United States Sports Academy, Remington College, and the University of South Alabama offer online degrees, as well.
The University of Southern Mississippi is the main online education provider in Hattiesburg and the largest in the state, with 25 online degrees: 7 bachelors, 17 masters, and a PhD in Human Capital Development. Undergraduate offerings are diverse: Elementary Education, Special Education, Construction Engineering Technology, Industrial Engineering Technology, Nursing, and Library And Information Science, among others. Masters include MEds in Educational Administration and Special Education, MSN concentrations (Family, Psychiatric Mental Health, Adult Gerontological), an MS in Library Information Science, and more. Less than an hour-commute away, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers 7 online degrees in Business Education, Elementary Education K-8, American Studies, Preparatory Curriculum, and more.
Southaven’s in-state options for online learning include Northwest Mississippi Community College, Blue Mountain College, and the University of Mississippi. Ole Miss is the largest of these and the third most in the state, with 19 online degrees, 5 bachelors, 13 masters, and a Doctor of Health Administration. Undergraduate tracks are largely in Health Sciences, including Health Informatics And Information Management, Laboratory Sciences, Dental Hygiene, and Radiologic Sciences. Graduate degrees include an MHA, MSN, Professional MBA, MEd concentrations, and several nursing concentrations like Mental Health, Adult-Gerontology, Family, and more. From there, Blue Mountain offers 2 associates, and NMCC has 11 bachelors and 1 associate. In Memphis, Remington College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and University of Memphis each offer online opportunities.
Cost of Living: 84.5%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 3
Cost of Living: 87.9%
Top Industries: Tourism, Defense
Local Online Degrees: 9
Cost of Living: 86.7%
Top Industries: Shipping, Logistics and Transportation
Local Online Degrees: 6
Cost of Living: 82%
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Defense
Local Online Degrees: 2
Cost of Living: 88.4%
Top Industries: Tourism
Local Online Degrees: 4
Cost of Living: 82.1%
Top Industries: Defense, Healthcare, Manufacturing
Local Online Degrees: 4
Cost of Living: 81.8%
Top Industries: Tourism, Healthcare
Local Online Degrees: 2
Cost of Living: 88%
Top Industries: Retail
Local Online Degrees: 6
The Best Online Colleges in Mississippi
1. University of Mississippi
Online Programs: 19
The University of Mississippi, better known as Ole Miss, is a public research university with a total enrollment of approximately 24,000. With 19 total online degrees, Ole Miss’s offerings are the third most in the state, including 5 bachelors, 13 masters, and a Doctor of Health Administration. Undergraduate studies are primarily in the Health Sciences, including Health Informatics And Information Management, Laboratory Sciences, Dental Hygiene, and Radiologic Sciences; and graduate offerings include an MHA, MSN, Professional MBA, MEd concentrations, and several nursing concentrations like Mental Health, Adult-Gerontology, Family, and more. Even with a large student body, the school maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1, and almost 50% of classes have 20 or fewer students. Several publications have highlighted the university. Forbes ranked Ole Miss 18th in the country for best value, and the Chronicle of Higher Education named it in its list of “Great Colleges to Work For.” Half of full-time undergrads receive some form of financial aid, and the average percent of need met is 72%.
2. University of Southern Mississippi
Online Programs: 25
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, has a total enrollment of 14,500. With 25 online degrees, Southern Miss is the largest provider of online tracks in the state, including 7 bachelors, 17 masters, and a PhD in Human Capital Development. Undergraduate offerings are diverse: Elementary Education (Teacher Assistants), Special Education, Construction Engineering Technology, Industrial Engineering Technology, Nursing, Library And Information Science, and Applied Technology. Masters include MEds in Educational Administration and Special Education, MSN concentrations (Family, Psychiatric Mental Health, Adult Gerontological), an MS in Library Information Science, and MS in Sport Management, among others. With a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, courses are intimate and collaborative; nearly half have less than 20 students. Financial aid opportunities are available, as well: 74% of full-time undergrads receive some form of financial aid, and the average need met is 66%. Admission is rolling.
3. Mississippi State University
Online Programs: 18
Founded in 1878, Mississippi State University has a total enrollment of about 20,900, most of which is undergraduate. Ranked among the top 100 public schools in the country, Mississippi State offers 18 online degrees, making it the fourth-largest online education center in the state. Degrees include bachelors in Elementary Education (with concentrations in Early Childhood Or Middle School), Technology Teacher Education, Geosciences, and Interdisciplinary Studies; masters in Business Administration (with a possible concentration in Project Management), Workforce Educational Leadership, Information Systems, Forestry, Food Sciences, and Geosciences, among others (13 total). A doctorate in Community College Leadership is also available. The school’s 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a collaborative and dynamic educational environment, and 40% of classes consist of less than 20 students. Additional resources include tech support, a writing center, career services, financial aid, tutoring, and library services.
4. Belhaven University
Online Programs: 21
Founded in 1883, Belhaven University is a private Christian liberal arts school in Jackson, Mississippi, with satellite campuses in Atlanta, Houston, Memphis and Orlando. Total enrollment stands at 4,500. Belhaven’s 21 online degrees make it the second-largest provider in the state.
5. Mississippi College
Online Programs: 8
Founded in 1826, Mississippi College has a total enrollment of about 5,000; there are 3,000 undergraduates. Mississippi College ranks among the top 25 for both value and veterans according to US News, and offers 4 bachelors and masters each. Bachelors include studies in Business Administration, Paralegal Studies, Nursing, and Communication; masters are available in Higher Education Administration, Teaching Arts, Health Services Administration, and Athletic Administration. The school’s 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports an intimate and vibrant learning environment, and nearly 60% of classes consist of less than 20 students. Finacial aid opportunities are also available: half of full-time undergrads receive some form of financial aid, and the average need met is 67%. Admission is rolling. As a Christian university, Mississippi College’s curriculum incorporates religious values and concepts. Admission is rolling.
6. Northwest Mississippi Community College
Online Programs: 12
Northwest Mississippi Community College, founded in 1927, is located in Senatobia, with a student enrollment of over 7,000. The school’s 11 online bachelors are the most in the state; the wide range of tracks include Outdoor Recreation And Management, Business & Computer Teacher Education, Office Administration, Accounting, Marketing Communications, Criminal Justice, Social Work, Psychology, and Elementary Education, among others. NMCC also offers an online Associate of Business Administration. Through the Canvas learning platform, students have access to live chat, group discussion boards, and more, supporting a dynamic and collaborative learning experience. Additional resources include a student development center, disability services, a writng center, tutoring, and library services.
7. Delta State University
Online Programs: 8
Founded in 1924, Delta State University is located in Cleveland, two hours north of Jackson and south of Memphis. DSU offers 8 online masters in Social Justice & Criminology, Elementary Education, Special Education, Nursing, Geospatial Information Technologies, Community Development, Commercial Aviation (the only such degree in Mississippi), and an Integrated Master of Business Administration. Despite its small size, with a total enrollment just over 4,000, Delta State students represent all 50 states and more than 20 countries around the world. Further, the 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows for small, intimate classes and a collaborative learning environment. Additional resources include academic support, tech support, career services, and more.
8. Blue Mountain College
Online Programs: 2
Founded in 1873, the private Blue Mountain College has a total enrollment of under 500 undergraduates. US News ranks it in the top ten regional colleges and second overall in the South for value; 78% of full-time students receive some form of financial aid, and the average need met is 70%. BMC offers online bachelors in Business Administration and Psychology, both of which are among the most popular on-campus majors, along with Biblical Studies, Elementary Education and Teaching, and Biological Sciences. The school’s low 11:1 studen-to-faculty ratio supports a highly collaborative, intimate learning environment wiht individualized instruction; 86% of classes have less than 20 students, and just .7% have more than 50. Through the Blackboard learning platform, students have access to course material 24/7, live chat rooms, group discussion boards, and more.
9. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Online Programs: 7
Established in 1912, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is located in Perkinston, with satellite campuses in Gautier, Gulfport, Lucedale, Long Beach, and Biloxi. MGCC offers 7 online bachelors in Business Education, Elementary Education K-8, American Studies, Preparatory Curriculum, and General Studies, among others. For maximum flexibility, students use the Canvas learning platform, which includes access to course material 24/7, live chat rooms, and group discussion threads to support a collaborative, dynamic educational experience. Additional resources include service learning, veterans services, library services, and round-the-clock technology support.
10. Alcorn State University
Online Programs: 3
Alcorn State University, founded in 1871, has a total enrollment of 3,500 students, with campuses in Lorman, Natches, and Vicksburg. US News ranks ASU among the top 35 colleges in the region and 24th among Historically Black Colleges and Universities. (ACU is the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the United States.) Online, Alcorn State offers an excellent suite of graduate business tracks, including an Executive MBA, MBA with a concentration in Nurse Educator, and a general MBA. With a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students benefit from an intimate, collaborative learning environment; more than half of classes have less than 20 students, and just 4% are more than 50. Financial aid opportunities are also available: half of full-time undergrads receive some form of financial aid, and the average need met is 50%.
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 Mississippi is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, as well as schools for US students in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
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 Mississippi Higher Education Resources
- Mississippi Department of Education For K-12 students. Site includes college planning, preparedness, and more.
- Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning A consortium of the state's public schools, the site includes info on financial aid, online learining opportunities, and more.
- Mississippi Board for Community Colleges The main site of the state's community colleges, with news, events, and general information.
- Mississippi Association of Colleges and Employers (MACE) MACE helps graduates of two- and four-year universities find fulfilling career opportunities.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges The SACSCOC is the regional accrediting body for the state of Mississippi. Check here to read more about accreditation requirements.
- Southern Regional Education Board The SREB works with 16 states across the South to improve education. Click here for in-depth reports, data, and insights on Mississippi.
- RiseUp! Mississippi RiseUp! Mississippi is the state's one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about financial aid.
- Mississippi Community College Foundation Founded in 1986, the Mississippi Community College Foundation assists all 15 community and junior colleges in the state.
- Community Foundation of East Mississippi The CFEM is based in Meridian; the total grant amount is just under $400k.
- Community Foundation of Greater Memphis Not limited to Memphis, the CFGM also serves parts of Northern Mississippi, as well, with grant and scholarships available.
- Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi The CFNM manages 233 donor-established funds and has distributed $18.3 million, serving Coahoma, DeSoto, Lafayette, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Tunica counties.
- Community Foundation of Washington County The CFWC was founded in 2012, offering scholarships for specific colleges and/or fields of study.
- Greater PineBelt Community Foundation The Greater PineBelt Community Foundation offers a variety of funding and scholarship opportunities.
- Northeast Mississippi Community Foundation Founded in 1972, CREATE is based in Tupelo and serves the Northeast Mississippi region.