A Guide to Online Colleges in Missouri

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The original Gateway to the West, Missouri’s first European settlers were French and French Canadians, eager to utilize the Mississippi River for the lucrative fur trading business in present-day St. Louis. (St. Louis itself was founded by successful French fur traders who came up from New Orleans.) The state has maintained its identity as a major hub for transportation, trade, and business throughout its history, evolving from its frontier status to central axis as the country expanded westward. Today, in addition to its agricultural and beer industries (the state has the second-most farms in the country, behind only Texas), the economy has significant works in aerospace, chemicals, manufacturing, and limestone, lead, and crushed stone mining. (It’s thanks in part to such a diversified economy that Missouri has one the lowest unemployment rates in the country.) Missouri is also an under-appreciated home of some of America’s most renowned artists, from Charlie Parker, Chuck Berry, and Tina Turner, to Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, and Tennessee Williams. Its colleges and universities are some of the finest in the country, including the University of Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis, and Saint Louis University, many of which now offer online degrees that are increasingly popular, especially among in-state students.

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 12 public schools in Missouri that offer online degrees, including Missouri State University-Springfield, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-St Louis, Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, Lincoln University, Missouri Southern State University, and Missouri University of Science and Technology. MSU Springfield is the largest of these (and the largest in the state), with 23 degrees available online, including bachelors, masters, and doctoral tracks in a wide range of fields, including Business, Information Tech/Services/Management, Healthcare, Communications, Education, and Nursing. Southeast Missouri State University (21 degrees) and Missouri University of Science and Technology (17 degrees) are the second and the third largest, respectively. Missouri also has several community colleges that offer distance education options: Ozarks Technical Community College, Moberly Area Community College, and Three Rivers Community College, which have a total of 13 pre-professional associate tracks to choose from.

There are 20 private schools in Missouri that offer online degrees, including Webster University, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri Baptist University, Fontbonne University, Drury University, Columbia College, Missouri Valley College, Lindenwood University, Nazarene Theological Seminary, and Maryville University of Saint Louis, among others. At 21 online degrees each, Columbia College (15 bachelors, 6 masters) and Drury University (8 associates, 11 bachelors, 2 masters) are the largest of these. Webster offers a BA in Religion and Global Society and 19 masters, the most online graduate degrees in the state; tracks include EdS concentrations, MBA concentrations, MEd concentrations, and masters of Public Relations, Space System Operations Management, Management and Leadership, Procurement and Acquisitions Management, Finance, and more. A.T. Still offers 13 health sciences degrees, including 8 doctoral degrees in Health Administration, Physical Therapy, Health Education, Athletic Training, Occupational Therapy, and more.

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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, Missouri’s requirements are relatively simple: the student (or parent/guardian) must have proof of full-time employment or retirement for a minimum of 12 consecutive months, plus proof of intent to make Missouri a permanent home for an indefinite period of time. Click here for more information. In general, proof can consist of a state driver’s license, pay stub, utilities bill, etc. For information about exceptions — as a result of military service; personal, income, or property taxes; or automobile registration — see here for the complete guidelines.

The four-year public university tuition is $8,564 for 2015-16, over $500 less than the national average. The percent change is also below the national average, up just 2% from the year before (compared to 3% nationally) and 8% over the last 5 years (compared to 13% nationally); the latter is especially nice when we consider that some states saw increases of over 20% over the last 5 years. Considered over a ten-year period, the trend holds: tuition has only increased more than $100 year-over-year on a few occasions, and in some cases fell. All said, in-state Missouri students benefit both from extremely affordable and stable, predictable costs — plus some of the top public universities in the country, according to top publications like US News and the Princeton Review.

Both Nazarene Theological Seminary and the University of Missouri KC offer online degrees within the city limits. UMKC is the largest, with 2 bachelors (Rn to Bsn and Liberal Arts), 3 masters (MS in Dental Hygiene, MSN in Family Psychiatric Mental Health, and an Eds), and a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Pharmacy, and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. Nazarene, a private divinity school, offers 3 masters concentrations in Theological Studies. The next-closest option is Missouri Valley College, which offers an applied associate in Health Information Systems and 3 bachelors in Business Administration (with a concentration in Small Business Development), Criminal Justice, and Psychology. In Columbia and central Missouri, Stephens College (1 bachelor, 2 masters), Moberley Area Community College (2 associates), Williams Wood University (1 associate, 3 bachelors, 4 masters), and Lincoln University (1 bachelor, 3 masters) all provide online opportunities.

There are 7 universities in St. Louis offering online degrees: Webster University, UM St. Louis, Washington University, Maryville, Fontbonne, and Covenant Theological Seminary. Several of these represent some of the largest distance education programs in the state. Webster offers 20 total online degrees, all of which are masters, save a lone bachelors in Religion and Global Society. The graduate programs consist of several EdS concentrations, an MBA, and MA/MS’s in a wide range of disicplines, from Information Technology Management and Science Management and Leadership, to Education and Innovation and Management and Leadership. The largest public provider, University of Missouri-St.Louis has 14 bachelors available online, the second most in the state, with studies in Business Administration, Political Science, Sociology, Nursing, Film, Criminology And Criminal Justice, Advertising, and more. Washington Univeristy, the state’s top-ranked private school, offers 9 bachelors in a range of liberal arts and business field, plus graduate tracks in Human Resources Management, Nonprofit Management, International Affairs, and Biology For Science Teachers.

Four colleges and universities offer online degrees in Springfield: Missouri State, Ozarks Technical Community College, Drury University, and Evangel University. With 23 degrees available online, Missouri State-Springfield is the largest distance education program in the state: 9 bachelors in business, law enforcement, tech, and professional fields; 13 masters, including MBA options, an MSN, and several education emphases; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Drury is the second-largest distance education provider, with 8 associates, 11 bachelors, MEds in Instructional Mathematics (K-8) and Instructional Technology. Ozarks ties Drury for the most associate tracks, offered in Accounting, Business And Marketing, Business Technology, Business, Teaching, Health Information Technology, Arts, and Interdepartmental Studies. Other southern Missouri schools offering online degrees include Missouri Southern State, MSU West Plains, and Three Rivers Community College.

Kansas City


Population: 475,378
Cost of Living: 87%
Top Industries: Federal Government, Manufacturing, Agriculture
Local Online Degrees: 2

St. Louis


Population: 315,685
Cost of Living: 90.1%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Manufactuing, Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 7

Springfield


Population: 159,498
Cost of Living: 83.8%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Manufactuing
Local Online Degrees: 4

Independence


Population: 116,830
Cost of Living: 86.5%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Government
Local Online Degrees: 0

Columbia


Population: 119,108
Cost of Living: 87.6%
Top Industries: Education, Healthcare, Insurance
Local Online Degrees: 5

Lee's Summit


Population: 91,364
Cost of Living: 87.7%
Top Industries: Government, Education
Local Online Degrees: 2

O'fallon


Population: 79,329
Cost of Living: 89.8%
Top Industries: Manufacturing
Local Online Degrees: 7

The Best Online Colleges in Missouri

  • 1. Southeast Missouri State University

    Online Programs: 21
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1873, Southeast Missouri State University has an enrollment of 11,000. Ranked among the topic public colleges in the country by US News and the Princeton Review, offers 21 degrees online, including 11 bachelors and 10 masters, making it the second-largest provider in the state. Bachelor tracks include in Healthcare Management and Administration, Computer Information Systems, Nursing, Emergency Preparednes, and Technology Management, among others; masters tracks include an MBA, MEds (in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Exceptional Child Education), MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and more. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1, classes are small, engaging, and collaborative to encourage an vibrant learning environment. (Under 5% of classes have more than 50 students in them; nearly half have less than 20.) For those interested, SMSU also has 40 study abroad programs.

  • 2. Washington University in St Louis

    Online Programs: 13
    Type: Private
    Website

    Washington University, founded in 1853, has a total enrollment just under 15,000 and has been ranked among the top universities in the country by US News, Forbes, the Princeton Review, and BusinessWeek, among others. (It has also received recognition for overall value and veterans services.) Wash U offers 13 online degrees, 9 bachelors and 4 masters. Studies range from Global Leadership And Management, English Lit, Communications, Journalism, International Studies and Affairs, Human Resources Management, and Nonprofit Management. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 8:1, classes are designed to encourage a highly intimate, collaborative educational setting in which over 60% of classes have less than 20 students. Additional resources include the Blackboard learning platform for dynamic delivery, library services, career services, tech support, and more.

  • 3. Missouri University of Science and Technology

    Online Programs: 17
    Type: Public
    Website

    The Missouri University of Science and Technology, founded in 1870, has just under 9,000 students. Ranked highly by both US News and USA Today, MUST offers 16 masters degrees and one doctoral track in Systems Engineering (which is nationally ranked). Other degrees include an MBA, Master of Engineering concentrations (in Geotechnics, Manufacturing Engineering, Mining Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, and more), Information Science And Technology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, and Technical Communication. MUST’s student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1, and nearly a third of classes have less than students; further the Canvas learning platform leverages dynamic delivery to promote engaging, peer-to-peer education. Additional resources include library services, tech support, disability services, and more.

  • 4. Drury University

    Online Programs: 21
    Type: Private
    Website

    Founded in 1873, Drury University has a student enrollment of approximately 1,600. Recognized as one of the top schools in the region, in addition to a top value, Drury offers 21 online degrees, tied for the second most in the state, including 8 associates, 11 bachelors, and 2 masters. Undergraduate studies are available in Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, Instructional Technology, Health Services, Organizational Communication And Development, and Sociology, among others. Drury offers MEd tracks in Instructional Mathematics K-8 and Instructional Technology. The school’s 8 online associates are the most offered in Missouri. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 10:1, 70% of classes have less than students, and less than 1% have more than 50. Student services include tutoring, tech support, and more.

  • 5. University of Missouri-St Louis

    Online Programs: 16
    Type: Public
    Website

    The University of Missouri-St Louis, founded in 1963, has a student enrollment of about 16,800. Its online offerings include 14 bachelors and 2 MEd concentrations in Adult Education and Elementary Education — Early Childhood. Bachelor of Liberal Studies are available in Advertising, Criminology And Criminal Justice, Nursing (Rn To Bsn), Communication, Gender Studies, Media Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Film Studies, among others. UM St. Louis’s student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1 encourages a collaborative, engaging learning environment, and over half of classes have less than 20 students. For students’ convenience, the Gateway for Online and Adult Learners (GOAL) provides direction and tips for excelling online classes. Additional student resources include library services, a writing center, career services, counseling, tech support, and a student affairs center.

  • 6. Missouri State University-Springfield

    Online Programs: 23
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1906, Missouri State University in Springfield has a student enrollment of about 23,000. Missouri State has the largest selection of online degrees in the state, at 23, including 9 bachelors, 13 masters, and one DNP. Undergraduate studies are available in Finance, Business, Criminology And Criminal Justice, Information Technology Service Management, Health Services, Nursing, Professional Writing, Communication Studies, and Technology Management. Online masters are offered in Project Management, Education (concentrations in Elementary Education, Literacy, and Special Education/Blindness & Low Vision), Computer Information Systems, Nursing, Administrative Studies, and Business Administration, among others. On campus, MSU’s unique public affairs emphasis has attracted a wide variety of accomplished world leaders to speak, from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, to Frances Hesselbein, to Nawal El Saadawi.

  • 7. Webster University

    Online Programs: 20
    Type: Private
    Website

    Webster University was founded in 1915 and today has an enrollment of just over 15,500. Among the topic schools in the region, Webster has also been recognized for its top veteran services. All but one of its 20 online programs are masters tracks, with the exception of a BA in Religion and Global Society. Graduate degrees include an MBA, EdS concentrations, and MS and MA’s in Finance, Science Management and Leadership, Space System Operations Management, Information Technology Management, Business and Organizational Security Management, Communications Management, Public Relations, Procurement and Acquisitions Management, and more. Thanks to a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, nearly 90% of classes have less than 20 students, and courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ schedules. One of the earliest distance education providers, Webster has been offering online course work since 1999.

  • 8. University of Missouri-Kansas City

    Online Programs: 8
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1929, The University of Missouri-Kansas City has a total enrollment of around 16,700. Both US News and the Princeton Review have ranked UM Kansas City among the top schools in the region, and the latter has also routinely ranked the school among the best values. Online, the university offers 2 bachelors in Dental Hygiene (Rn to Bsn) and Liberal Arts; 3 masters in Dental Hygiene, an MSN in Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and a EDs in District-Level Education Administration; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Pharmacy, and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1, more than half of classes have less than 20 students to support a highly collaborative, intimate learning environment. Student resources include tutoring, advising, library services, and tech support.

  • 9. Columbia College

    Online Programs: 21
    Type: Private
    Website

    Columbia College, founded in 1851, has a student population of about 14,800, nearly all of which are enrolled in online courses full- or part-time. Of the 21 online degrees available, the second most in the state, 15 are bachelors and 6 are masters. Bachelors tracks include studies in Business Administration, Management Information Systems, Criminal Justice Administration, Computer Information Systems, Nursing, Human Services, History, Psychology, Public Administration, and American Studies, among others. Graduate degrees include an MBA, MEd in Educational Leadership, MA in Teaching, and MA in Military Studies. A student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 allows for small class sizes and collaborative learning, and online course work is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ busy schedules. Several degrees are offered in accelerated formats, plus all students receive academic advising, career services, orientation, and more.

  • 10. Maryville University of Saint Louis

    Online Programs: 4
    Type: Private
    Website

    Maryville University of Saint Louis, founded in 1972, has a student enrollment of near 6,500. Online offerings are smaller but include an RN to BSN, two MBA concentrations, and an MS in Nursing. Thanks to a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, courses are intimate, engaging, and highly collaborative, with 3 out of 4 consisting of fewer than 20 students. Among the publications that have recognized Maryville, Kiplinger’s Finance and Forbes both rank it among the best values in the country, and the Chronicle of Higher Education rates it as one of the top 20 fastest-growing universities. All online courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students and working professionals. The school also offers generous financial aid opportunities: $51 million in financial aid was distributed last year, and 92% of full-time students receive some form of aid.

  • 11. A T Still University of Health Sciences

    Online Programs: 13
    Type: Private
    Website

    The A.T. Still University of Health Sciences was established in 1892 and today has a student enrollment of about 3,300; it is the oldest osteopathic institution in the world. Offering 13 online degrees, all graduate: 5 masters and 8 doctoral tracks in the health sciences. Masters degrees are available in Health Administration, Public Health (with a Dental Emphasis option), Kinesiology, and an Advanced Physician Assistant Post Professional Program. The school’s 8 online doctoral tracks are the most in the state and include a Doctor of Health Education, Doctor of Health Administration, Dhsc, Doctor of Physical Therapy Post Professional, Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate, Doctor of Athletic Training Degree, and Doctor of Audiology, among others. Students resources include career services, counseling, tutoring, workshops, and disability services.

  • 12. Fontbonne University

    Online Programs: 11
    Type: Private
    Website

    Fontbonne University, founded in 1923 as a liberal arts Catholic school, has a total enrollment of about 1,700. Fontbonne offers 11 online degrees, including 3 bachelors and 8 masters. Bachelor offerings include studies in Finance, Management, and in Special Education. Graduate tracks include MBA concentrations, MEd concentrations (in Reading and Teaching: Special Education) and masters in Management, Supply Chain Management, Instructional Design And Technology, and Learning Technology. An 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio encourages a collaborative, engaging learning environment, and more than 80% of classes have less than 20 students. (There are zero classes with more than 50 students.) All online courses are designed for maximum flexibility, and students have access library services, test proctoring, and the Blackboard educational platform.

  • 13. Missouri Southern State University

    Online Programs: 12
    Type: Public
    Website

    Missouri Southern State University, founded in 1937, has an enrollment of about 5,800. Its 12 bachelors are the second most in the state, behind Columbia College; they include studies in BSBAs in Accounting, Economics, Finance, General Business, Human Resource Management, International Business, Management, and BSs in Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, and Health Science. A student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1 allows for an intimate, engaging educational environment, and 50% of classes have less than 20 students. All online courses are designed for maximum flexibility with asynchronous options to accommodate students’ schedules. Further, by utilizing the Blackboard learning platform, students have access to group discussion boards, live chat rooms, and dynamic delivery methods. Students services include personalized academic advising, counseling, and testing services.

  • 14. Culver-Stockton College

    Online Programs: 6
    Type: Private
    Website

    Founded in 1853, Culver-Stockton College is a private Christian university with a student enrollment of about 1,000. Ranked among the top schools in region, online degrees include 4 bachelors in Business (Accounting & Finance or Management), Criminal Justice, and a BAAS in Criminal Justice. Culver-Stockton offers 2 online MBAs in Accounting & Finance and Management. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1, classes are highly collaborative, engaging, and interactive; 60% consist of less than 20 students. Further, 8-week accelerated blocks provide students the opportunity to fast-track degree plans and create flexible schedules. Student services include academic advising, career and internship services, tutoring, a first-year experience, and more. Admission is rolling.

  • 15. William Woods University

    Online Programs: 8
    Type: Private
    Website

    Founded in 1870, William Woods University is a private university with an enrollment of 2,200. Ranked among the best schools in the region, William Woods offers 8 degrees online, including an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts; bachelors in Management, Paralegal Studies, and Interpretation Studies in Asl-English; and two MBA concentrations, an MEd in Teaching & Technology, and a Master’s in Equestrian Education. The school’s 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio creates an intimate, collaborative learning environment, with 80% of classes consisting of less than 20 students. Courses are designed for maximum flexibility, and accelerated 8-week delivery blocks provide an opportunity to fast-track the degree. (For students with previously earned credits, WWU’s generous transfer policy may also accelerate course work.) Admission is rolling. Student resources include the Moodle learning platform, tech support, academic advising, and more.

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 Missouri 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 Missouri Higher Education Resources

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