Online Colleges in Iowa

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Online colleges in Iowa offer students the opportunity to learn from anywhere with a reliable internet connection. Iowa may be known for corn and cattle, but agriculture is just a small part of the state’s economy. The state is also known for manufacturing, technology, finance, and insurance, among other things.

Online Colleges in Iowa

If you are looking to go back to school while working or attend a school out of state without relocating, you may be able to take advantage of online colleges in IA.

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Whether you’re looking for business administration, engineering, marketing, or some other field of study, Iowa online colleges may help you achieve your goals from the comfort of your own home state.

Online Colleges in Iowa

Woman taking Online College in Iowa

Nearly all of Iowa’s post-secondary institutions offer online degree programs or courses, including the state’s largest public universities and top private institutions.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), approximately 18% of students in Iowa are enrolled in programs at accredited online colleges, and about 31% are enrolled in one or more online courses. Those numbers continue to rise as students recognize the value and flexibility that distance learning can offer.

Iowa’s online degree programs are supported by several essential distance education organizations.

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The Iowa Distance Learning Association (IDLA) is a group of Iowa distance educators and administrators sharing course materials, professional training, technical support, and more.

The state’s community colleges have a support network of their own. The Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC) connects six of Iowa’s community colleges, helping establish quality standards and providing comprehensive online educational opportunities and support across Iowa schools.

Common Online Degrees in Iowa

Business managers working in Iowa

Some of the most common and popular degrees offered by Iowa colleges and universities online include:

  • Business Administration and Management: This degree typically focuses on fundamental business principles and management practices and can help you develop leadership and business strategy skills for careers in marketing, finance, or related fields.
  • Communication and Media Studies: This program can introduce you to digital media writing and design and mass communication, which can help prepare you for a variety of media and communications careers, such as journalism, public relations, radio, or television.
  • Engineering: Several types of engineering programs may be offered online, such as mechanical, civil, aerospace, and computer. Taking one of these programs can give you the opportunity to learn how to design, develop, build, and test various systems or machinery using innovative methods.
  • Social Science: This field of study is typically offered in an interdisciplinary program that may explore several areas of study, such as political science, education, history, and sociology, with major coursework concentrating on anthropology, communications, economics, or public relations.
  • Marketing: The curriculum of a marketing degree usually includes coursework on brand management, marketing management, promotional strategies, and marketing analytics.

These are just some examples of the online degree programs that may be offered through various Iowa institutions.

Overview of Higher Education in Iowa

student taking online college degree in Iowa

When obtaining online degrees in IA,  there are many options to choose from. There are 56 degree-granting institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and many of them have online options.

Of these 56 schools, 19 are public, 34 are non-profit, and 3 are for-profit. These numbers include 2 year schools, Iowa community colleges, and 4 year schools.

To attend one of Iowa’s 4 year public schools, the NCES reports that tuition and fees will run in-state students an average of $9,373 a year, while out-of-state students pay on average $27,684 a year.

To meet the increasing demands for trained and educated employees, an initiative called “Future Ready Iowa” has made a goal of making it so that 70% of Iowans have education or training beyond high school by 2025.

This initiative is working to increase program completion rates and improve how degree and certificate programs prepare students for in-demand jobs.

This is just one way Iowa shows that recognizes and appreciates the value education has on its overall economy.

Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Iowa

administrative and support services employees in Iowa

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are about 1.5 million professionals employed in Iowa.

Occupational groups that have some of the highest numbers of employment include office and administrative support, transportation and material moving, sales and related occupations, and production occupations.

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According to the Iowa Workforce Development, the following industries are expected to have some of the highest positive employment percentage changes over the next five years:

  • Educational services
  • Healthcare
  • Administrative and support services.

The unemployment rate for Iowa hovers around 3%, which is a little lower than the national unemployment rate. The annual median salary is $44,350 for all occupations in the state, which is slightly lower than the national median annual salary for all occupations.

Careers & Salaries in Iowa

Careers & Salaries in Iowa

Agriculture is one of the leading industries that supports Iowa’s economy, along with manufacturing, finance, and insurance. Outside of these industries, there are many other career opportunities available to explore.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the annual median salaries of some careers in Iowa:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Mechanical Engineers $84,800
General and Operations Managers $76,320
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists $61,110
Social and Community Service Managers $60,490
Human Resources Specialists $60,300
Public Relations Specialists $59,550
Agricultural Technicians $50,560
Forest and Conservation Technicians $49,190
Graphic Designers $45,610
Psychiatric Technicians $30,830

Even if you don’t see your desired career in this list, you may find additional job and salary information in the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Salaries and job availability can depend on several factors, such as level of education, work experience, and geographic location. Earning an online degree may help you advance in your current field or provide you with educational experience in a new field and open up more job opportunities.

How to Know If an Online Degree Is Right for Me

Woman pursuing College Online in Iowa

When considering Iowa online degrees, you might be wondering if an online learning environment is a good fit for you.

There are several considerations to think about when deciding whether to attend an online or on-campus program. These are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Do you have self-motivation and time management skills?
  • What is your preferred learning format?
  • Do you need a degree to enter or advance in your desired career?

Online degrees are often very flexible and convenient and may be especially beneficial if you have a busy schedule to work around. If you’re able to stay focused and not succumb to distractions, learning online might work for you. One of the biggest differences between on-campus and online programs is the learning format.

Online degrees lack face-to-face instruction, which can be a con if you prefer in-person learning and guidance.

Pros and Cons of Online Degrees

If you’re still stuck figuring out if an online degree is the right path for you, considering these pros and cons of online degrees may help you.

Pros Cons
  • Access to top programs and colleges without having to move
  • Flexible and convenient scheduling
  • Little to no extra cost for commuting and room and board
  • May require additional distance learning and technology fees
  • Lack of face-to-face instruction and networking opportunities
  • Access to certain majors may be limited
  • More likely to get distracted

If you choose to earn your degree remotely, it may give you better access to the best colleges in Iowa online. It may also cancel out additional costs that on-campus students face, such as commuting and room and board.

Many online programs offer asynchronous or synchronous learning formats, which will give you even more control over how you receive your education.

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On-campus learning allows students to collaborate and network with professors and peers, which can be more difficult with online degrees. Some majors may not be available in an online format, which can potentially limit your choices in programs depending on your career interests.

How to Choose an Iowa Online College Program

Friends Choosing an Iowa Online College Program

Colleges and universities can differ in tuition costs, specializations, and resources offered. If you’re looking into universities in Iowa online, these are some things you can consider when comparing programs:

  • Cost of tuition
  • Educational and career resources offered
  • Accreditation status
  • Reputation of the college or university and its faculty

If the cost of tuition is an important factor to you, researching and comparing tuition rates between colleges you’re interested in can help you narrow down your options.

Educational and career resources can help you succeed in your program and offer opportunities to prepare for a career in your desired field. Some examples of resources a college may offer include academic advising, tutoring, health services, and career services.

Colleges and universities may have some programs that they’re known for. If you want to pursue a top program in your desired field, you can research institutions that are well-known for your desired program.

The accreditation status of a postsecondary institution is also important to consider because it may affect your access to financial aid and future educational and career opportunities.

Should I Study in Iowa?

University students in Iowa

Whether you should study at a college or university in Iowa ultimately depends on your own personal goals and career aspirations. Some examples of why students may choose to study in Iowa include:

  • An Iowa college or university has a top program of interest
  • Iowa colleges and universities may offer resources not provided by institutions in other states
  • May be more affordable than attending college in one’s home state

Iowa colleges and universities may give you better access to career opportunities in the state’s top industries.

Many postsecondary institutions in the state are known for their agricultural programs. If you’re interested in a career in agricultural science, attending an Iowa college that’s known to specialize in this area may be beneficial.

If you’re an out-of-state student, you may have more options for programs and educational resources that aren’t offered at institutions in your home state. It may also be more affordable if you live in a state that participates in a state reciprocity program with Iowa, which can potentially make tuition rates lower.

Online Iowa Colleges Admissions Requirements

students preparing Online Iowa College requirements

The materials required to apply for admission vary from school to school, but these are some common materials that are requested:

  • High school and undergraduate official transcripts
  • SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Statement of purpose

Official transcripts give the admissions office insight into what coursework you’ve completed in high school or in prior educational programs. SAT or ACT scores may be required by some institutions to determine admissions eligibility or placement.

A statement of purpose is typically incorporated into the application form and may ask you to explain your academic and career interests.

IA Online Colleges Accreditation

University offering Online Colleges in Iowa

Colleges and universities can request to be evaluated by a regional accrediting organization to receive accreditation.

Third-party accrediting organizations review an institution’s programs, curricula, resources, and more to determine accreditation eligibility. Although institutions aren’t required to seek accreditation, many do because it assures students that the institutions meet or exceed quality educational standards.

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The accreditation status of an institution is important to consider when exploring prospective schools. Accreditation may be considered when determining a student’s eligibility for financial aid, graduate program admission, or employment.

You can find a list of accredited postsecondary institutions on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Iowa

If you are interested in pursuing a degree from a college or university in Iowa, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be a good place to start. The FAFSA can determine how much you can receive in federal, state, and even some forms of private financial aid.

The state of Iowa funds the following grant and scholarship programs for residents:

  • All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship: This is a need-based, renewable scholarship that is given with priority to qualifying students who have been in foster care, children of deceased public safety workers, those who attended alternative high school programs, and those who meet other criteria. The amount awarded varies.
  • Education & Training Voucher (ETV) Program: Applicants must have been in the foster care system or adopted after age 16 to qualify. It awards up to $5,000 per year.
  • GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship: Only GEAR UP program participants are awarded this scholarship. The amount awarded varies each year.
  • Iowa State Fair Scholarship: This scholarship is for qualifying high school seniors who have actively participated in the Iowa State Fair. Up to 10 awards are given each year, and each award is for up to $5,000.
  • Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Program: You must be a member of an Iowa Army or Air National Guard unit to qualify to apply. This program awards 100% of the average tuition rate.
  • Iowa Tuition Grant: This is a need-based grant. The amount given varies.
  • Iowa Vocational-Technical Grant: This is a need-based grant for qualifying community college students. It provides up to $900 per year for up to 2 years.
  • Kibbie Grant: This need-based grant is for qualifying community college students in certain areas of study. It funds up to half of the average cost of tuition and fees per year for up to 2 years.
  • Robert D. Blue Scholarship: This scholarship awards $500-1,000 to high school seniors who demonstrate literary and scholastic ability and moral character.

Scholarships and grants are ideal forms of financial aid because they do not have to be repaid as long as they are used appropriately.

Scholarships may be awarded based on academic success, geographic location, field of study, unique hobbies or skills, and life experiences.

Here are a few scholarships available to Iowa residents:

  • Iowa Scholarship for the Arts: $1,500
  • Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Midwest Section Scholarship: $2,500
  • Telegraph Herald Scholastic Journalist Award: $1,000
  • The Iowa Funeral Directors Association (IFDA) Scholarships: $500-1,000
  • The Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship: $2,000

The financial aid office at the school you plan to attend can also help you discover forms of aid. Schools often have access to financial aid resources that cannot be found elsewhere.

Iowa Online Education Resources

Students in Iowa checking their Online Education Resources

You can find helpful information on Iowa colleges, career planning, financial aid, and more from these organizations:

  • Future Ready Iowa: This organization provides resources on grants, scholarships, career planning, and information on college programs and high-demand jobs.
  • Iowa College Access Network: This site provides access to college and career planning resources, salary and career growth data, and scholarship and financial aid opportunities.
  • Iowa College Aid: This website offers resources on financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, and career and college readiness resources.

These college resources can provide a wealth of helpful information that can make college and career planning easier.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Iowa?

Man taking Online College in Iowa

The cost of college can widely vary depending on the type of institution you attend and your enrollment status. Private colleges and universities typically have higher tuition rates than public institutions. Out-of-state students may be subject to higher tuition rates than in-state students.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition for public Iowa institutions is $9,373 a year for in-state students. The average tuition rate for out-of-state students is $27,684 a year for public institutions. Private four-year institutions have an average tuition rate of $35,224 a year.

These tuition rates are close to the national average tuition rates.

Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students

Out-of-State Students attending university in Iowa

Although out-of-state tuition rates are typically higher, there are ways that you may be able to cut down tuition costs if you’re an out-of-state student.

Iowa is a member of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) and participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP). The MSEP is a state reciprocity program that allows qualifying students living in participating midwestern states to attend a participating institution at a lower out-of-state tuition rate.

The rate can differ between colleges, but eligible students can expect to pay no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate. Private colleges and universities that participate in the program agree to reduce their tuition costs by 10% for out-of-state students.

There are eight active states in the MSEP program, all of which are located in the midwestern region.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelors Degree in Iowa?

Woman pursuing Online Bachelors Degree in Iowa

If you enroll in a traditional, 16 week semester program as a full-time student, it will likely take 4 years to complete your bachelor’s degree. If you follow an 8 week semester program as a full-time student and study during the summer, you can potentially finish in less time.

To be considered a full-time student, most colleges and universities require at least 15 credit hours per semester. It can take longer to complete your degree if you study part-time. If you complete more than 15 credit hours each semester in a traditional bachelor’s program, you may finish in less time.

What Jobs Are in High Demand in Iowa?

Agricultural Manager discussing with the farm's manager

Service-providing occupations are in high demand in Iowa. According to the Iowa Workforce Development, these are some of the occupations expected to have high annual openings over the next seven years:

  • Farmers and agricultural managers
  • Cashiers
  • Fast food and counter workers
  • Retail salespersons

Some of the jobs that are expected to have the largest percentage of employment over the next seven years include wind turbine service technicians, ushers and lobby attendants, and nurse practitioners.

Occupational groups expected to grow as fast as the state annual average or faster include business and financial, computer mathematical, architecture engineering, and life, physical, and social science.

What Are the High Paying Jobs in Iowa?

High Paying Jobs in Iowa

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the highest paying jobs in Iowa and their annual median salaries:

  • Psychiatrists: $239,200+
  • Neurologists: $239,200+
  • Nurse Anesthetists: $208,150
  • Chief Executives: $147,950

A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum education requirement for a chief executive position, along with work experience. The other occupations listed require at least a master’s degree. Additional qualifications may include a medical degree or certification and licensure to practice.

Salaries can be dependent on a number of factors, such as work experience, level of education, and where you live.

List of Online Colleges in Iowa

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff University is dedicated to providing its students with a rigorous academic curriculum rooted in the Franciscan Catholic faith. The school offers online programs for nontraditional students and adults looking to further their careers.

It offers 19 online programs for certificates or bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. Fields of study offered include gerontology and criminal justice.

Briar Cliff University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Buena Vista University

Buena Vista University

Buena Vista University offers online programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees. The school also works with community colleges in Iowa so that students may get their bachelor’s degrees online while finishing their master’s degrees.

The programs may be attended online or in hybrid formats. Each class is 8 weeks long, and there are six start dates offered a year. Fields of study offered include agricultural science and agency administration.

Buena Vista University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Clarke University

Clarke University

Clarke University offers a limited number of online degree programs designed for students who are working or cannot attend classes on campus. The programs are offered completely online.

Most of the school’s online programs have six start dates throughout the year. Online classes are typically 8 weeks long during regular semesters and 6 weeks long during the summer. The school offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields like education and business.

Clarke University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Des Moines University

Des Moines University

Des Moines University offers two online degrees: a Master of Health Care Administration and a Master of Public Health. Both degrees can be earned fully online. Both programs can potentially be completed in just 2 years. Working students may opt to take one course per semester until completion.

Des Moines University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Drake University

Drake University

Drake University offers online learning opportunities designed for nontraditional students and adults seeking continuing education opportunities. All programs are entirely online.

Drake offers a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication that can potentially be completed in just 2 years. It also offers eight online master’s degree programs in fields such as clinical psychopharmacology, public administration, and business analytics.

Drake University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Graceland University

Graceland University

Graceland University is over 100 years old and strives to provide students with a liberal arts education that will prepare them for their careers and society.

The school offers 12 online programs for undergraduate or graduate degrees or professional certificates. Fields of study offered include religion, peace and social transformation, business management, and nursing.

Graceland University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Iowa State University’s online learning programs allow students to get quality degrees from anywhere in the world that has internet access.

Students may take a complete bachelor’s degree program or finish their credits to earn their degree. Fields of study offered in the school’s bachelor’s programs include liberal studies and business administration.

Iowa State also offers over 50 graduate programs in fields such as aerospace engineering, agronomy, and family financial planning.

Iowa State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Iowa Wesleyan University

Iowa Wesleyan University

Iowa Wesleyan University seeks to make it easy for working students to earn a degree. It offers 8 week classes and six start dates a year. Courses are fully online and asynchronous. Military members and employees of partner organizations may be eligible for tuition discounts.

The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields like cyber security and athletic administration.

Iowa Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Maharishi International University

Maharishi International University

Maharishi International University offers an innovative, consciousness-based education. Students attend classes in 1 month blocks, taking only one class at a time.

MIU offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in completely online or low-residency programs. Fields of study offered include Ayurveda wellness and integrative health and regenerative organic agriculture.

Maharishi International University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Morningside University

Morningside University

Morningside University offers a limited number of undergraduate and graduate degrees that can be earned online. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree will need an associate degree or core credits before applying.

Morningside offers an RN to BSN in Nursing, a BS in Elementary Education, and master’s degrees in nursing and education that can be earned online.

Morningside University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Mount Mercy University

Mount Mercy University

Mount Mercy University designed its online bachelor’s degree programs with working adults in mind. Students can choose to earn their degrees in an accelerated format. Courses take place online or in evening classes on campus. Students can choose one format or both.

Classes are taken one at a time in 5, 10, or 15 week blocks. Fields of study offered include finance, marketing, religious studies, and nursing.

Mount Mercy University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwestern College

Northwestern College

Northwestern College offers two online graduate programs: a Master of Education and an MA in Counseling. The Master of Education offers eight different tracks. There are start dates every 8 weeks, and it typically takes 2 years to finish the program.

The MA in Counseling features two concentrations: Mental Health and School Counseling. Classes for either concentration are 8 weeks long.

Northwestern College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

St Ambrose University

St Ambrose University

St Ambrose University welcomes nontraditional students into its Christian-based learning environment through online courses. Most programs are fully online although some do require a field experience practicum.

St. Ambrose offers a limited number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and micro-credentials that are offered online. Areas of study offered include digital marketing, social work, organizational leadership, lifestyle medicine, and nursing.

St. Ambrose University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

St. Luke’s College

St Lukes College

St. Luke’s College specializes in healthcare degrees in training. The program offers online courses that are offered fully online or in a hybrid format.

St. Luke’s offers two fully online programs: a BS in Nursing (RN to BSN) and a Bachelor of Health Science. Both programs allow students to choose between part-time and full-time courses.

St. Luke’s College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Dubuque

University of Dubuque

The University of Dubuque is a Christian-based university. The school currently offers one online degree program: a Master in Management—Aviation Leadership. The degree requires 30 credit hours.

The program is delivered through online courses that are 8 weeks long and can potentially be completed in just 1 year. Field experience is required.

The University of Dubuque is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Iowa

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa offers an online learning program that aims to give students the same quality of education as their on-campus counterparts. The school offers fully online programs, but some do require field experience.

Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees or complete bachelor’s degrees they’ve already started. Fields of study offered include nursing and strategic communication.

The University of Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa was named the best online college in Iowa by College Choice. UNI offers online degree completion programs and undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students have the option of entirely online or hybrid classes.

Undergraduate programs are offered in technology management and criminal justice. Master’s programs are offered in art education and public policy.

The University of Northern Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University offers several types of distance learning to help students fit an education into their already busy lives. Students can take self-paced online or mail programs. Classes start every month or every other month depending on the program and are 6 to 8 weeks long.

Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in fields such as biology and sport administration.

Upper Iowa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Waldorf University

Waldorf University

Waldorf University aims to educate the whole student and encourages students to include service to God in their career goals. The school’s online programs are designed to help nontraditional learners achieve these goals.

Waldorf offers a variety of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees to its online students. Areas of study offered include fire science, organizational leadership, and cybersecurity.

Waldorf University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

William Penn University

William Penn University

William Penn University offers a limited number of online degree programs for students with busy schedules. Courses are 8 weeks long, and some are asynchronous. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in entrepreneurship and small business management and psychology. Students can also complete a teaching degree online.

The school also offers master’s degrees in organizational leadership and sport management.

William Penn University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Online Degree in Iowa

Student taking online college degree in Iowa

The numerous support organizations and grants and scholarships offered demonstrate Iowa’s commitment to supporting education. The state is working hard to provide the postsecondary education and training necessary for Iowans to secure quality, lucrative careers and succeed in tomorrow’s economy.

To get started on your journey, you can research accredited online schools in Iowa that offer your chosen degree program.

You can also view our Online Colleges in Indiana and Online Colleges in Kansas guides for more options.

Ready to start your journey?
Amy Hayes

Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Old Dominion University, with a minor in English. She previously worked as an educator before starting her career as a writer. Amy spends much of her time researching and writing, with the goal of sharing valuable information with readers.