A Guide to Online Colleges in Oklahoma

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The “Sooner State” is a place of rich American and Native American history, diverse wildlife and seemingly endless forests, and also wildly successful metropolises. Oklahoma’s motto, “Labor conquers all” denotes the statewide standard of a strong work ethic. This work ethic has clearly made its impact over the years. Oklahoma’s riches can be traced to the manual labor of its citizens, specifically to the locating and drilling of oil in the early 19th century. The state’s oil supply then fueled the economy for nearly one hundred years, but in the early 2000’s, profits from the natural gas industry surpassed even those of the oil industry and by 2007 Oklahoma had one of the strongest economies in the country, ranking among the top three states in per capita income growth and gross domestic product growth.

Top Public Offerings in Oklahoma

The majority of Oklahoma’s online colleges are public institutions, which is largely due to the state’s commitment to creating more options for adult-learners and students who may live in the more remote areas of the state. The state’s K-12 public school system has consistently ranked as one of the best in the country, if not the world. This may explain the phenomenon that though the state’s expenditure per student is one of the lowest in the country, nearly 90% of adults held high school diplomas, much higher than the national average. This has also driven up the enrollment and student success outcomes in Oklahoma’s higher education institutions. Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Northeastern State University are the largest public institutions of higher education in Oklahoma, mainly using one primary campus in combination with satellite campuses throughout the state. These numerous campus locations mean that students can attend hybrid degree program events all over the state. Oklahoma State University and Northeastern State University also consistently rank among the nation’s top undergraduate business programs.

Top Private Offerings in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s top four private universities are Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oral Roberts University, University of Tulsa, and Oklahoma Baptist University. According to calculations to determine the overall return on investment (ROI) on online undergraduate degrees, the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma Baptist University offer the best return on the investment of tuition in the state — Tulsa ranking 1st and Oklahoma Baptist 5th. In terms of online education, Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Oral Roberts University offer the most diversity in types of online degrees offered such as at the associate, undergraduate, or graduate level. These Universities also offer an impressive number of concentrations and specializations, so students can add complexity and marketability to their degree. The state’s investment in online programs for adult learners at public institutions has created competition for the private universities, consequentially driving up the funding and quality of these programs. This market competition has created a unique environment of higher education in Oklahoma, making it an excellent choice for residency for online students.

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Featured Online Schools

When looking at the educational costs of Oklahoma it’s best to contextualize the numbers with national averages. The 2016 national average for the annual cost of college — based on the average of family income ($51,939) — was $26,725. While this number may seem intimidating, this number incorporates the average impact of financial aid, housing costs, and other common costs of the college experience. In 2016-17 the average published tuition and fee costs for in-state students at public four-year institutions ranged from $5,060 in Wyoming, $6,360 in Florida, to $15,450 in Vermont, and $15,650 in New Hampshire (CollegeBoard.org). Also according to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. An important note to make here that private universities offer static tuition regardless of state residency, although some small extra fees may apply.

The financial environment in Oklahoma is largely positive for students across a number of a areas. Firstly, the average cost of living per year in Oklahoma is about 16% lower than the national average. Also, many of Oklahoma’s cities offer pricing on housing markets at anywhere from 10% to 30% lower than national averages — an incredible perk for online students living off-campus. Oklahoma’s average cost of yearly public in-state college tuition is $4,858, nearly half of the nation’s average, making Oklahoma even more financially appealing to students. Similarly, even out-of-state students will see savings with the state’s average at $10,968 — also nearly half of the national average. The state’s average yearly cost of private universities is $18,521, which isn’t quite as low as public tuition costs but is still far below the national average.

Oklahoma City: With nearly 1.5 million residents, Oklahoma City is the country’s 27th most populous city and 8th largest city by landmass. The city is bisected by the North Canadian River, which near the time of the city’s founding split the area into two separate cities. Today, Oklahoma City employs one of the largest and fastest growing livestock markets in the world. Agriculture, oil, and natural gases are industries with scale in close succession. The city is also home to several famous sports teams, offers numerous science, culture, art, and history museums, and hosts one of the largest parks and recreation services in the state. These factors combined with low cost of living averages make Oklahoma City an excellent place of residency for students. Nearby colleges include the Oklahoma City University, University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City Community College.

Tulsa: Tulsa, Oklahoma is a city of pleasant weather and rollings hills in the heart of the “Green Country,” located in the northeastern quadrant of the state. Tulsa is known for its phenomenal weather, which consists of 227 days of sunshine a year and an average daily temperature of 61 degrees. Students in the area can look for a variety of career and research opportunities among the city’s impressive array of thriving industries, including aerospace, telecommunications, manufacturing, construction, high technology, healthcare, education, transportation and energy. The city is also well-known for its dedication to the arts. Called one of “America’s Most Liveable Cities,” downtown Tulsa is riddled with Art Deco masterpieces with sculptures and other works of art adding the natural splendor of the city. Tulsa’s housing market costs are 33% below that of the national average, making it an incredibly affordable place to live for students.

Lawton: The City of Lawton was founded on lands that were originally dominated by the Native American tribes of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache. Today the Native American culture is strong with more Native Americans in higher education that anywhere else in the country. The city’s landscape is defined mainly by the Great Plains, which roll into the Wichita Mountains to the north. The Fort Sill Military Reservation has historically been the city’s main economic impetus, however, in recent years several other industries have begun to take prominent standing in the city’s economy such as manufacturing, higher education, health care, and retail. Lawton’s average housing market costs, utilities, and cost of groceries are also well below the national average. Colleges in Lawton include Cameron University and the Comanche Nation College.

Oklahoma City


Population: 620,602
Cost of Living: 0.859
Top Industries (Male): Construction; Manufacturing; Retail Trade (12%)
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance; Retail Trade; Educational Services
Local Online Degrees: 2

Tulsa


Population: 399,682
Cost of Living: 0.869
Top Industries (Male): Manufacturing; Construction;
Retail Trade
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance;Educational Services; Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 28

Norman


Population: 118,040
Cost of Living: 0.864
Top Industries (Male): Educational Services;Accommodation and Food Services;Retail Trade
Top Industries (Female): Educational Services;
Healthcare and Social Assistance; Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 10

Broken Arrow


Population: 104,726
Cost of Living: 0.878
Top Industries (Male): Manufacturing; Retail Trade; Transportation and Warehousing
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance; Retail Trade; Educational Services
Local Online Degrees: 0

Lawton


Population: 97,017
Cost of Living: 0.85
Top Industries (Male): Public Administration; Retail Trade;Construction
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance; Retail Trade; Educational Services
Local Online Degrees: 7

Edmond


Population: 88,605
Cost of Living: 0.86
Top Industries (Male): Retail Trade; Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Accommodation and Food Services
Top Industries (Female): Educational Services;
Healthcare and Social Assistance; Retail Trade
Local Online Degrees: 0

The Best Online Colleges in Oklahoma

  • 1. University of Oklahoma Extended Campus

    Online Programs: 10
    Type: Public
    Website

    The University of Oklahoma Extended Campus is a regionally accredited leader in online learning, offering a variety of online degrees, including criminal justice, administrative leadership, and health/human services. OU Extended Campus also offers online certificates like corrections management and restorative justice. The online programs are geared toward working adults to prepare them for leadership roles in today’s most critical fields. The programs are flexible and affordable, making them a smart investment for busy students. The University has also received numerous accolades recognizing the academic excellence of both its online and on-campus undergraduate programs. The University of Oklahoma, Extended Campus has been ranked as a top public university in the country, a topic online undergraduate business school, and a nation’s top pick by high school counselors.

  • 2. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

    Online Programs: 7
    Type: Public
    Website

    As a state land-grant institution, Oklahoma State University, Main Campus offers enrollment to all who seek higher education. As such the university prides itself on delivering challenging, career-oriented undergraduate curriculum designed to mirror the real world challenges of the job market. This career-oriented focus is particularly beneficial for the entrepreneurial student, and online programs encourage the creative thinking that is central to the entrepreneur’s spirit. Evidencing the effectiveness of these school’s values is the fact that the university’s Entrepreneur Club is ranked 9th in the world.

  • 3. Oklahoma Wesleyan University

    Online Programs: 13
    Type: Private
    Website

    Oklahoma Wesleyan University offers a robust online degree program for working professionals and mature learners. The University is unique in that it delivers online learning from a faith and scripture based perspective. Thus online degree programs emphasize elements of spiritual development in curriculums, so that students can simultaneously develop academically and individually. The University has ranked as one of the best online degree programs in the region, and boasts highly impressive student success and satisfaction outcomes, showing that students get a nice return on their investment of tuition while also enjoying high levels of satisfaction.

  • 4. Oral Roberts University

    Online Programs: 9
    Type: Private
    Website

    Oral Roberts University is another reputable institution that melds spiritual development with online education. At Oral Roberts University a student’s choice of career is more than just an interest in specific job types, it is a life mission that requires one’s mental and spiritual commitment. Degree programs incorporate christian tenets and principles throughout coursework, so that students perceive the spiritual component of their specific major or career interest. Flexible learning formats, affordable costs, and various course pacing options empower students to create healthier work-life balances.

  • 5. University of Tulsa

    Online Programs: 4
    Type: Private
    Website

    Founded in 1894, the University of Tulsa has an incredibly rich history that parallels the development of the state of Oklahoma. And in recent years progressive leadership has taken the university to new levels of success, ranking as one of the nation’s top 100 private universities. US News & World Report also ranked Tulsa’s petroleum engineering school as the 4th best in the country. For students interested in careers in Oklahoma’s oil industry, Tulsa University is likely impossible to beat. 94% of students receive financial aid, making it one of the financially supportive universities in the region.

  • 5. Tulsa Community College

    Online Programs: 15
    Type: Public
    Website

    Tulsa Community College is one the state’s premier community colleges, offering a wide-array of undergraduate and professional certification programs. The College prides itself on its passionate and engaging teachers, who strive to inspire creativity and innovation in their students. Further distinguishing the University is the Workforce Development Program, which emphasizes the importance of guidance and advisement after graduation. Online students can thus look forward to professional help in finding internships and employment after graduation, so that they can more effectively leverage their education for career momentum and progression.

  • 7. Cameron University

    Online Programs: 7
    Type: Public
    Website

    Cameron University originated as one of the state’s original agriculture universities, but today has grown to offer over 50 two-year and four-year degree options and the associate, undergraduate, and graduate level. Cameron University distinguishes itself through its highly modernized online degree programs which incorporate three main learning options. Students can choose to earn their degree entirely online through flexible coursework formats and schedules. They can also choose the hybrid option where students progress through the bulk of coursework online but attend on-campus events, professional development seminars, and expert speakers. The third and most unique option is the university’s Interactive Television (ITV) program where faculty members live-stream to TVs or computers, allowing students to interact with instructors in real-time.

  • 7. Rogers State University

    Online Programs: 7
    Type: Public
    Website

    Rogers State University (RSU) sets itself apart through its student-centered philosophies, enacted through small class sizes, attentive teachers, and highly affordable degree options. 50% of students graduate from RSU completely debt-free, placing it among the most affordable colleges in the country. RSU’s online nursing and health degree programs boast of impressive student career success rates — with many graduates taking top positions in Oklahoma’s healthcare industry. The RSU online degree department was the first in the state to offer online and distance learning options to students. As such faculty members are specially trained in online instructorship.

  • 9. Oklahoma Baptist University

    Online Programs: 2
    Type: Private
    Website

    Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) is a faith-based institution, employing Christian principles throughout its degree programs. The University has received national acclaim from numerous higher education ranking institutions. US News & World Report has ranked OBU as a top 10 university in the region for 25 consecutive years. Online degree programs have received attention as some of the best and most affordable programs in the nation. OBU also employs a Lifelong Learning Program where students benefit from continued guidance and a highly active and engaging alumni network.

  • 9. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

    Online Programs: 6
    Type: Public
    Website

    Southeastern Oklahoma State University was founded in 1909, and was built around the philosophy of creating engaging, impactful graduates. Today the University offers numerous degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level. The University’s online learning department offers flexible learning formats, asynchronous course schedules, and cutting-edge virtual learning technology. Among the online degrees are nationally ranked business programs, and a fast-paced and affordable MBA program as well. Other online degrees are offered through four academic schools: Arts and Sciences, Education and Behavioral Sciences, John Massey School of Business, and the school of Graduate Studies.

  • 9. Langston University

    Online Programs: 6
    Type: Public
    Website

    Langston University is a rapidly growing university with a stellar academic reputation. LU offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, among which are healthcare and business programs that have ranked among the nation’s best according to the Princeton Review for 14 consecutive years. With over 20,000 active alumni, students can take advantage of a massive professional network in order to line up internship and career opportunities. Student studies are divided into six colleges: Agriculture and Applied Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Behavioral Sciences, Nursing and Health Professions, and Physical Therapy

  • 12. Southern Nazarene University

    Online Programs: 4
    Type: Private
    Website

    Founded in 1899, Southern Nazarene University (SNU) is a private, christian liberal arts institution working in the service of the Church of Nazarene. Regardless of the degree subject matter, students can expect faith-based curriculums and teaching philosophies based on christian principles. SNU’s degree programs offer rigorous academics combined with student-focused support features such as math and writing tutors, student health services, and career guidance professionals. As such SNU’s hybrid degree programs are particularly valuable as they allow online students the benefits of distance learning combined with the support services of on-campus divisions.

  • 12. Northwestern Oklahoma State University

    Online Programs: 4
    Type: Public
    Website

    Located in the Northwest of the state in Alva, Oklahoma — a city of just over 9,000 residents — is Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s main campus. Students can choose from more than 40 areas of study to earn their Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees, and offers complete master’s degree programs in education, counseling psychology, and American Studies. The University offers a total of six online bachelor’s programs across areas in education, business, and psychology. The online programs are designed to accommodate working professionals and adults with demanding schedules, and thus the program employ highly flexible learning formats and schedules.

  • 14. Oklahoma City University

    Online Programs: 1
    Type: Private
    Website

    Oklahoma City University is a private institution located in the urban area of uptown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The University works closely with the Methodist Church and implements christian philosophies in all facets of its institution. Students can earn online faith-based degrees in the liberal arts, fine arts, sciences, and business. The University’s most popular online program is the Bachelor of Arts in Business degree. Students can expect this program to be challenging, rewarding, and a highly marketable achievement upon graduation, as the program is ranked in the top 4.5% of business programs in the country. With fiercely competitive tuition costs and fast-paced course progression, students can earn one the country’s best business degrees with a relatively low investment of time and money while enjoying the freedom that distance-learning provides — making this an option that’s very hard to beat.

  • 15. Southwestern Oklahoma State University

    Online Programs: 3
    Type: Public
    Website

    With two campuses located in Weatherford and Sayre, Southwestern Oklahoma State University is well-equipped to offer distance learning students opportunities for on-campus events. Online students may complete associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees while attending either fully-online programs through state-of-the-art virtual learning technology, or through hybrid programs which supplements online programs with on-campus learning programs, career-building sessions, and in-person group projects that facilitate leadership and team building skills. The University makes clever use of its two campuses in order to reach the most online students, planning events by the number of students in proximity to each campus. This is especially helpful for the University’s many online nursing students, who can benefit greatly from hands-on learning experiences offered on-campus.

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 Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma Higher Education Resources

  • Oklahoma Higher Education Resources This website displays the various state-based programs and resources for Oklahoma students pursuing higher education. This website is an excellent resource for new or prospective students seeking specific state-level resources. There is also a wide-array of helpful and independent resource-providers linked throughout site.
  • Oklahoma: Reach Higher This organization is designed to help working adults with partial college credit hours earn associate and undergraduate degrees. 14 public and community college and 8 private colleges contribute to this organization, so that working adults can get a second chance at education. Programs are offered in personalized formats to meet the needs of the individual.
  • The Great Plains: Cyberinfrastructure The Great Plains is an organization that was developed in Oklahoma but has since built a network of influence to eight other states. This organization provides an infrastructure for hosting, sharing, and developing data, educational resources, and research initiatives. This is an excellent resource for students pursuing degrees related to the data sciences.
  • Oklahoma’s Promise For low-income family residents of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Promise offers tuition scholarship opportunities to qualified youth. This is an excellent resource for Oklahoma students looking for financial assistance in the form of scholarships.
  • Oklahoma Gear Up Oklahoma Gear Up is an organization dedicated to helping students and their families prepare for college. Check out the various links, guides, and resources — they span an impressive array of services and topics.
  • Oklahoma College Start Oklahoma College Start is an organization that provides guidance, advisement, and preparatory resources for success in high school, and tools for leveraging that success for better options in college. The organization also helps you build a professional portfolio so that you can hit the ground running upon graduation.
  • Plan 4 College Offered through the Gear Up organization, the Plan 4 College organization consists of 28 locations where students and families can gain free one-on-one college advisement and counseling. This is an incredibly value resource that any prospective college student in Oklahoma should take advantage of.
  • Oklahoma College Assistance Programs The Oklahoma College Assistance Program is dedicated to empowering students to make the best choices between high school and college. This organization provides educational tools, loan management resources, and guides to instill financial literacy in students so that they can maximize their financial options during college and beyond.
  • Ready Set Repay This organization is designed to help Oklahoma students avoid the pitfalls of poor student loan decisions. This site holds a wealth of information for making informed decisions about student loans, how to manage them, and how to avoid them at all.
  • Oklahoma Distance Learning Alliance This organization is a phenomenal organization in support of online higher education in Oklahoma. This organization works to advance the standards of distance learning in the state while also providing excellent resources for online students such as learning technology and apps to supplement your current degree programs..
  • The Cooperative Agreements Program This program is too great not to mention. It allows students to simultaneously attend high school while earning an Associate of Applied Science degree. Students simply have to register and participate in several progress assessments. This can allow students to vastly increase their career momentum by allowing them to graduate high school with a highly marketable associate’s degree.
  • You Can Go Too This Oklahoma-based organization is dedicated to helping students make educated plans and decisions about funding college. This organization is also unique in that it actually counsels students on whether college is the best choice for them in the first place, so students won’t feel pushed towards anything they’re not ready for.
  • R is for Thursday Hosted by Oklahoma State University, ‘R is for Thursday’ is a remarkable statewide initiative dedicated to helping former foster children achieve success in higher education. The initiative conducts research and implements strategies based on the findings in order to better serve students who experienced foster care at or above the age of 13 (regardless of residency).
  • Oklahoma AHEAD Oklahoma AHEAD is an organization dedicated to helping students with disabilities achieve greater levels of success in higher education. Through advocacy, support, and educational resources, students suffering from any disabilities during college will find this site and organization an extraordinary support system.
  • Oklahoma City Community Foundation This nonprofit, charitable institution offers students over 120 scholarship options. Many of these scholarships are atypical and provide scholarship opportunities to students, who may have thought themselves to be unlikely recipients of a scholarship. You’ll be surprised just how many options there really are.

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