A Guide to Online Colleges in Utah

Get started with your search for top-ranked schools in Utah. Discover which colleges offer programs that fit your needs.

Updated February 1, 2024

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Named after the Ute Tribe "meaning people of the mountains," Utah offers otherworldly natural beauty perhaps unparalleled in the continental United States. Home to the "mighty five" national parks of Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands, Utah offers a vast range of desert, mountain and river vistas. Arches and canyons — petrified Jurassic period sediments sculpted and ground by the elements — are common themes, and lend some artistry to landscapes that at times can seem inhospitable. Hospitable they are, however, with many ruins hinting at settlement back thousands of years by the Pueblo and Fremont people. Settled again by the Spanish in the 1500's, the land of present day Utah was eventually made home by one of the larger cultural movements in the state today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1845, with tensions growing between their neighbors in Illinois, Brigham Young set out west to found a religious settlement that would in the present day comprise 58% of the state's population. Besides a strong Mormon presence and natural beauty, portions of Utah have also grown into agricultural, transportation, artistic, and tech hubs. Perhaps most notable, Provo, Ogden, Orem, and Salt Lake City have in recent years come to be known as Silicon Slopes. Vast outdoor opportunities, low taxes, affordable property, and young talent from Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and Utah State University have further helped to make the region around Salt Lake City a thriving economic destination. For students who have a bent towards the outdoors, or are looking for an affordable and opportunity-rich destination Utah can be a great place to go to school. Need more reasons to consider the "Beehive State?" Check out the top online university programs below!

Featured Online Schools

Top Public Schools

Many of the top public schools in Utah offer online programs of study ranging from an associate to master’s degree. Utah State University, offers 17 online programs in a broad range of fields from the associate to the master's level including a bachelor's in economics, an associate in general studies and, M.S. in agricultural systems technology. University of Utah offers 9 degrees online including a bachelor’s in psychology, and a M.S. in Sports Pedagogy. Weber State offers the most associate degrees out of all of our picks, and Southern Utah University provides an associate in paralegal studies, one bachelor’s degree and 8 fully-online master’s degree programs.

Top Private Schools

The two private schools that made it to our ranking are Western Governor’s University and Westminster College. Western Governors University offers 35 programs completely online including an impressive 17 masters degrees and 18 bachelor’s degrees! All of Western Governors University’s programs are unique in their competency-based curriculum. Westminster College- the only liberal arts school in Utah offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

How to Become a Resident

To qualify as a resident the state of Utah requires a “one year rule” meaning 12 continuous months of physical presence in Utah and declaring financial independence, may be married to a Utah resident, be a dependent child with parent/s domiciled in Utah for at least 12 continuous months, have full-time permanents employment in Utah and this does include the employment of a spouse or parent or those residents who are away from school, a government volunteer service, or ecclesiastical service. Some exceptions according to Utah Definition of Resident Student, 53B-8-102 included anyone who is entitled to benefits, an immediate family member, a military service member who is servicing active duty in the US Armed Forces in Utah or a member of a reserve component of the US Armed Forces, Utah National Guard or someone who has remained domicile in Utah but is assigned outside of the state of Utah, military veterans. Those who have arrived in Utah for the purposes of study must have domiciled for one year, signed a written declaration that releases residency in any other state and has submitted objective evidence that the student has taken the steps to establish residency. Evidence includes a Utah high school transcript, Utah voter registration, Utah driver license, a Utah vehicle registration and others.

In 2015-16 the average published tuition prices for Utah four-year universities was $6,169 for in-state tuition that’s about $3,200 below the national average for public schools. The highest value schools are also our top two picks for online option. The University of Utah is one of the top schools in the nation and the tuition rates are just over $7,000 for in-state tuition. Out-of-Staters will pay nearly $25,057 a year for this top-ranked university. Utah State University's annual tuition is $6,250 and another highly ranked research university. Again, those out of state pay over $18,000 for tuition. Additionally, those studying online, saving $30,000 in room and board costs. There’s something to be said of staying in-state.

The Church of Latter Day Saints or informally known as the Mormon Church has a tremendous cultural impact on the state of Utah and particularly Salt Lake City where the church is headquartered. Though similar to the Christian Faith, the Church of Latter Day Saints adheres to an open canon of four scriptural texts including the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The church impacts the state of Utah in ways that are unique to the religion, it’s particular code of ethics and high moral standards. In many ways, this impacts the practices in education and beyond. Brigham Young University is a private research university located in Provo and owned by the Latter-day Saints and is the largest of any religious university where all students are to follow an honor code that keeps students from engaging in some of the more commonly thought of as recreational and in many cases dangerous activities such as the consumption of drugs and alcohol. Most of these students will take a hiatus to fulfill their 2-year duty and serve as a mormon missionary. Many of the practices of the Latter-day Saints include helping those in need, and strengthening community and homelife. They also have a well-established and well-recognized work ethic knowns as the “Mormon work ethic” that is attractive to tech executives for their reliability and stability. The LDS community is one of the reasons the financial and technical world is growing and stabilizing.

When you think of Utah do you think of the Arches National Park, Zion, or maybe the Great Basin? Perhaps you do, and perhaps now is the time to also think about tech-start ups worth at least a billion dollars on paper (also known as “unicorns”). No, I’m not talking about Palo Alto or San Jose, I’m still talking about Utah. That’s right, Silicon Slopes is a cluster or information technology, software development, and hardware manufacturing and research firms that span the metropolitan areas of Salt Lake City, Provo, Park City and surrounding areas. It’s connected by a mere 2 hour flight from Silicon Valley, CA, and this technology community is home to Disney Interactive Studios, SanDisk, IM Flash Technologies, Adobe Systems, IM Flash, eBay, Overstock, and others. This all came about over time through Utah’s historical partnerships with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Salt Lake City’s groundbreaking work with DoD and the connection with the computer science department at UC Berkley created a perfect mashup of a computer science programs such as the one at the University of Utah. The state's partnership with DoD lead to more partnerships with the US military inducing Hill Air Force Base, and Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal which expanded financial opportunities and they combined forces with corporations dotted across the slopes. This financial stability, the infrastructure of Salt Lake City (considered to be the internet backbone), and hard working highly intelligent community of individuals gave rise to this tech hub culture.

Salt Lake City

Population: 186,440
Cost of Living: 1.05
Top Industries: Trade, Transportation, Government
Local Online Degrees: 3

West Valley City

Population: 129,480
Cost of Living: 0.98
Top Industries: Banking, Transportation, Retail
Local Online Degrees: 3


Population: 112,488
Cost of Living: 1
Top Industries: Education, Health Care, Transportation, Information Technology
Local Online Degrees: 0

West Jordan

Population: 103,712
Cost of Living: 1.06
Top Industries: Retail, Manufacturing, Education, Health Care, Research
Local Online Degrees: 3


Population: 88,328
Cost of Living: 1.02
Top Industries: Education, Health Care, Transportation, Information Technology
Local Online Degrees: 0


Population: 87,461
Cost of Living: 1.13
Top Industries: Education, Health Care, Retail, Finance
Local Online Degrees: 3


Population: 82,825
Cost of Living: 0.92
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Retail, Government
Local Online Degrees: 1

St. George

Population: 72,897
Cost of Living: 0.99
Top Industries: Education, Health Care, Retail, Service
Local Online Degrees: 1

The Best Online Colleges in Utah

1. Utah State University

Online Programs: 17
Type: Public

Utah State University is a public, land-grant, space-grant, research university located in Logan, Utah. The university is home to over 12,000 traditional students, making it the second largest residential university in the state. The total size of the university, however, is much larger, with 40% of students recieving degrees through distance-education centers and online. With seventeen online degrees, including 7 bachelors-level degrees and 9 masters-level degrees, the university can be a great choice for students looking for a well-regarded public university with a breadth of online programming options. A versatile associates-level degree in general studies as well as graduate certificates, educator endorsements, and a wide range of minors enhances the university's offerings even further. Many online offerings may also be paired with some in-person courses made much more possible for Utah residents by the wide range of distance learning centers. For students looking for one of the most well-regarded universities with online offerings in the state, Utah State University is a great choice.

2. University of Utah

Online Programs: 9
Type: Public

The University of Utah is a public, space-grant and flagship university located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Founded in 1892 before the State of Utah even existed, the University is the oldest and largest in the state, with some 31,000+ students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The university is also the largest research university by research expenditure in the state and home to the state's only medical school. For students around the largest metro in the state, the University can be a great choice for its range of practical and flexible online offerings including four bachelors-level degrees, and five masters-level degrees. Other notable features of the university include its rank as the 3rd highest user of green energy of US Universities as ranked by the EPA, and its notable Medical, Architecture, engineering, and political science departments. Besides academic prestige, the university is also a great choice for its location in state's economic heart: Salt Lake City.

3. Western Governors University

Online Programs: 35
Type: Private

Western Governors University is a private nonprofit online university based in Salt Lake City that provides a unique innovative competency-based approach to education. Competency based approach is defined as a system that assesses when you have obtained a skill and thus allows you to move forward. That assessment is made when the student demonstrates that skill in required subject areas that make up their degree. It’s kind of like leveling up in the real world- some will have prerequisites to bring and others will start from scratch meaning that pacing and progress look different from person-to-person. Competency is not measured by time spent in your seat or even on credit hours, it is measured through demonstrated success in that skill. When you have adequately demonstrated or proven that you have fully learned the material, you are deemed “competent” and may advance through your degree. Competency-based education also means that you will learn without time restraints and as it is online, without locations restraints as well- lending itself to the working nontraditional learner. Western Governors core themes are listed as 1.) Competency-based approach, 2,) Affordable academic programs, and 3.) Prepare underserved students for relevant professional careers. Western Governors offers a total of 35 fully-online degree programs.

4. Southern Utah University

Online Programs: 10
Type: Public

Southern Utah University is a public university located in Cedar City, Utah. Originally a normal school, Southern Utah University now enrolls nearly 9,000 students. The Northwest Commission on College and Universities accredits programming from the associate’s to master’s level. According to U.S. News Southern Utah University is ranked as the 68th best university in the region, the 20th top public school and highly ranked both for business and engineering programs and an affordable investment. Additional accolades include “Top School” according to The Princeton Review, “Most Outdoorsy University” according to Outdoor Nation, “America’s 100 Best College Buys” according to Institution Research and Evaluation Inc, and many more! SUU offers a number of unique manors including outdoor & the environment which patenters with the National Parks Service, humanities, aviation, computer science, history and many others. Online, SUU offers 1 associate degree, 1 bachelor’s and 8 master’s degrees.

5. Weber State University

Online Programs: 12
Type: Public

Weber State University is a public coeducational university located in Ogden, Layton, and Salt Lake City as well as online. Weber State was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and enrolls 26,955 students! The student-to-faculty ratio is 20:1. According to U.S. News Weber State University ranks as the 76th best school in the region, 25th top public school, and 69th for engineering programs. The Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities accredits over 225 degree programs ranging from the bachelor’s to master’s degrees. In-state tuition is extremely low at just $5,524 per year. The culture at Weber is environmentally conscious- aiming to become carbon-neutral by 2050, focused on the community- gaining the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification as of 2015, and diverse representing all 50 states and over 47 different countries. For non traditional learners, Weber again gains high marks. In fact, Washington Monthly calls Weber State the number 1 college for adult learners. Online, Weber offers 5 associate degrees and 7 bachelor’s degree programs.

6. Westminster College

Online Programs: 1
Type: Private

Located where Salt Lake City meets the Rocky Mountains, Westminster is a private comprehensive university that enrolls at total of 2,821 students. The Northwest Commission on College and Universities accredits associate to master's level degrees and is the only accredited liberal arts college in the state of Utah. 93% of all faculty hold the highest degree available in their fields, the average class size is 17 and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1 allowing for engaging discussions and close relationships, attention, advising, and mentorships. According to U.S. News Westminster College ranks as the 20th best “regional university in the west”, 14th best value school, and 11th best colleges for veterans. There are 52 undergraduate programs in read like aviation, nursing, and biology and 13 master’s level programs including an MBA. There are four core academic schools: the school of arts and sciences, the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Online, students may take the RN to BSN program.

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 Utah is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

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

Three Steps for Securing Financial Aid

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

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

Great Utah Higher Education Resources

Step Up Utah is an initiative built to keep future higher education students engageed with the possibility of attending college, and includes information on why one would want to attend college in Utah as well as how to get there.

Utah has one of the most impressive arrays of national parks in the nation. Find an overview of amenities and opportunities at the following link.

Silicon Slopes is a resource and database of tech related opportunities in Utah.

The Utah Educational Savings Plan offers 14 investment options that help parents or future students to plan for paying for their education.

A number of LDS/Morman-specific scholarships are available, regardless of where you plan to attend school, at the following link.

As of 2015 the state of Utah passed Utah SB 253 giving equal opportunity to all students who graduate from high school. Educate addresses the needs of students who do not have documentation to prove lawful resisdence in the state.

The Univeristy of Utah offers a comprehensive list of scholarships for their diverse student body.

Utah has a very thourough Alternative Route for Teacher Licensing. For more information on ways you can be certified, go here.

The Utah System of Higher Education is the largest grouping of universities in the state. Check out their site for a wide array of information on attending college in Utah.

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