13 Online Technical Colleges That May Surprise You
When creating a list of reputable online technical colleges, it’s only natural to look at schools like Colorado Tech, Florida Tech, and Virginia Tech.
But there are some other more surprising technical universities offering top-notch degrees online like the University of Minnesota. And let’s not forget about Embry-Riddle.
But rather than call any one of these programs the best, I’m going to let you weigh the pros and cons of each as I take a look at each school’s strengths and weaknesses.
Each school has some particular strength that got it on this list. That’s not to say these are the “best” schools or that these schools even compete with each other for the same students. This list is to get you thinking about your options so you can choose the university that best matches your goals and interests.
Online Technical Schools That May Surprise You
So, with all that in mind, here are 13 online technical colleges that are accredited and respected programs, each with certain strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other comparable options.
The strength of University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is a high rate of graduation and retention. Graduation rates are around 73% and retention rates are 92%. Those are astronomical numbers for an online degree program and show how committed UMTC is to making sure their students cross the finish line. UMTC is also a top-ranked national university.
It’s a selective program that is regionally accredited and costs around $22,000 per year. It’s a very good choice for those who want an online program with many of the traditional elements of a university, including research production, remedial courses and academic counseling.
Indian River State College is, by far, the most affordable college on the list, only costing around $2,000 per year, nearly 25% of the cost of other degree programs on the list. Still, it is accredited and has physical facilities befitting a public college.
The college has won numerous awards for its affordable online technical programs and offers real “bang for the buck” for those admitted to its programs. This is the one school that is on this list for its affordability, which could be, obviously, a major consideration for any student.
Most of the other programs offer financial aid, so they are similar to “traditional” schools in the debt burden students can expect to rack up. How much you are willing to “invest” in your education is a whole different discussion, but IRSC proves you can get a “real” degree without leaving in debt in the 5 or 6 figure range.
Regent University will definitely be a surprise to some readers. Started in 1977 by Reverend Pat Robertson, Regent is a private Christian college. As such, it might not be for every student, however in its 40 years of operation, Regent has developed strong academic credentials, a history of research and most importantly a very strong online degree program with over 110 offerings.
Some students may want a Christian education and Regent is a place where that is a part of their mission, but it’s fully accredited and generally respected by many people who don’t know it’s origins as an evangelical Christian university.
Arizona State University is one of the traditional state universities that has been one of the earliest adopters of online degree programs and continues to be an excellent choice for online technical education. It has 150+ online programs and is ranked 4th in online degree granting.
Again, you get the reputation of a degree from an institution known as a place of scholarship and education from well before its days going online. ASU has online tutoring, research assistance and career counseling. Full time online students are also exempt from out-of-state tuition costs. ASU, as well as Minnesota, is a place where real resources have been spent to make sure that online learning is studied and improved so it can be most effective for students.
Strayer’s roots go back to 1892, but it has in recent decades shifted to online education.
Its retention and graduation rates make it a good choice for many students who don’t need the research or physical presence of some of the other programs attached to major universities and colleges. It’s also known for high minority student enrollment and a focus on working adults.
Western Governors University was founded in 1997 by the governors of 19 states seeking to create a model that was based on courses that allowed students to pass based on competency. As such, it was able to offer enrolling students some ability to get credit for previous education or work experience. No minimum GPA or standardized test scores are required.
Each student at WGU is assigned a mentor, as well. For students who wish to take advantage of previous experience and work at their own pace, especially those who are organized and independent, WGU is a school to consider. If you want to have a different model of learning and are self-motivated, WGU can get students to degree completion faster than almost any other program.
Oregon Tech is one of the most technology-focused schools on this list with substantial online offerings. Its residential campus is in Klamath Falls, Oregon and it has several other campus branches. It’s the only public polytechnic school in the Northwest.
As a campus with a polytechnic university past, its online programs are highly respected and well taught. You can expect the faculty and curriculum here to be very high quality, indeed.
George Mason University began as part of the University of Virginia but became independent in 1972. It’s probably the most prestigious school on the list here and tuition isn’t cheap, at over $17,000 per year. For many students, however, the opportunities that come with a GMU degree will make it worth the expense over the long haul.
It should be at the top of the list for students looking for a selective program with a tremendous reputation and top-notch faculty for whom the cost is less of a consideration. GMU is an example of how even very selective schools that normally have to turn away a huge number of the applicants for their traditional programs are branching out into online education.
The Nebraska system as a whole has also been one of the most progressive state universities going into the online degree field. UNO is home to the Peter Kiewit Institute, a $70,000,000 facility dedicated to computer science and engineering making it arguably the strongest technical education program to offer full online degrees.
Online costs are approximately $11,000 per year, putting it in the middle of the pack in terms of tuition. As such, it’s probably only eclipsed by Indian River in terms of bang for the buck. This is a program that is going to give online learners access to faculty and resources right on the cutting edge of technology fields.
The American Public University System was founded as the American Military University in 1991. However, despite its name it is neither a public university or specifically affiliated with the United States military.
The university has a very high number of students who have served in the military and offers good coordination with those receiving GI Bill benefits, so it may be one of particular consideration for students with a military or public service background.
Murray State, which is based out of Kentucky, is a reasonably affordable online program that runs about $10,000 per year in annual tuition. They are another program that has a strong online presence with a smaller student population than some of the other options.
Murray State offers a streamlined 42 credit hour program intended to get people through the program quickly and efficiently. So, this makes Murray State a bit of a “goldilocks” program for some students with just the right mix of having a connection to a traditional university, but still offering innovative ways to speed up degree completion and incorporate non-traditional elements, like Western Governors University.
New Mexico State University offers a program that is interdisciplinary and focuses on having students work through practical applications like hardware construction, website development and other hands-on problem solving.
For students who are active learners and prefer project based education over more classroom theory, this could be the most appealing program in the list.
You wanted to be surprised—how about a degree from the “Harvard of the Sky?” It’s certainly not the easiest school on the list to get into, but for those students who say, “The Sky is the Limit” this could be the school for you.
A school with the prestige of Embry-Riddle offering an online degree through their “Worldwide” online designation is something we would be remiss not to make note of. If you’re a top-flight student who is still set on doing an online education, this could be worth your time to investigate. The education you’ll get here is second to none, online or otherwise.
Some Final Thoughts
This isn’t an exhaustive list and these schools are not being “ranked” by their positions on the list. Prospective students are advised to thoroughly research these or any other schools they may be considering.
One of the goals of this article in contrast to other similar takes on the subject is to offer several universities that are more in contrast to each other than they are alike. So if one of the programs here is attractive, then you might want to take the next step and see what programs are in competition with that school.
Do you want a school that specializes in online education like Strayer? Or do you want a degree from a university with prestige like George Mason? How much help are you going to need? Can you pace yourself at a school like Western Governors University or do you want the kind of support that Arizona State or Minnesota Twin Cities provides? Or perhaps even more. Additionally, some colleges offer college credit for prior learning, something that wasn’t addressed here, but may be of interest to returning students.
Many schools have helpful websites or can be reached by phone for personal consultation. Pursue your dreams and best of luck!
We’d love to hear your thoughts! What’s your favorite tech university offering online programs?