Online Colleges in Iowa

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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

Between 2010 and 2025, the state of Iowa is expected to add 612,000 jobs to its economy, with 68% of the state’s jobs requiring postsecondary education or training.

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To meet the increasing demands, 70% of Iowans in the workforce will need to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. This initiative, called “Future Ready Iowa,” will work to increase program completion rates and improve how degree and certificate programs prepare students for in-demand jobs. Indeed, Iowa is a state that recognizes and appreciates the value education has on its overall economy.

Overview of Higher Education in Iowa

students taking online college degree in Iowa

In Iowa, there are 61 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of those, 24 are public, 34 are private non-profit and 3 are for-profit.

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To attend one of Iowa’s public 4-year schools, the NCES reports that tuition and fees will run residents an average of $9,966, while non-residents will pay around $24,521.

About Online Colleges in Iowa

two college students attending online class

Nearly all of Iowa’s post-secondary institutions offer online degree programs or courses, including the state’s largest public universities, University of Iowa and Iowa State University, and top private institutions like  Buena Vista University and Graceland University. And students are taking advantage of the programs!

According to NCES, students in Iowa were enrolled in programs at accredited online colleges, and another 17.9% were enrolled in one or more online courses. Those numbers continue to rise as students recognize the value and flexibility that distance learning affords. Iowa’s online degree programs are supported by several essential distance education organizations.

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 provide comprehensive online educational opportunities and support across Iowa schools.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Iowa

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Iowa

If you are interested in pursuing a degree from a college or university in Iowa, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will give you access to federal, state and private financial aid. The application becomes available each year on October 1st, and the sooner you fill it out, the more funds you will have access to.

Filling out the FAFSA is fairly simple. You will need to include your financial information as well as the financial information for your parents (unless you are considered independent). The information you provide will be used to determine how much and what types of financial aid you are offered. The best types of financial aid are grants and scholarships because they do not have to be paid back.

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

  • All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship – Need-based; Renewable; Amount varies; Priority to students who have been in foster care, children of deceased public safety workers, those who attended alternative high school programs, and other criteria
  • Education & Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Must have been in the foster care system or been adopted after age 16; Up to $5000 per year
  • GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship – Must be a GEAR UP program participant; Amount varies each year
  • Iowa State Fair Scholarship – For high school seniors who have actively participated in the Iowa State Fair; Up to 10 awards; Up to $5000
  • Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Program – Must be a member of an Iowa Army or Air National Guard unit; 100% of the average tuition rate
  • Iowa Tuition Grant – Need-based; Amount varies
  • Iowa Vocational-Technical Grant – For community college students; Need-based; Up to $900 per year for up to 2 years
  • Kibbie Grant – For community college students in certain areas of study; Need-based; Up to ½ of the average tuition and fees per year, up to 2 years
  • Robert D. Blue Scholarship – For high school seniors who demonstrate literary and scholastic ability and moral character; $500-1000

Scholarships are also ideal forms of financial aid that do not have to be repaid. Scholarships may be awarded based on academic success, geographic location, the field of study, unique hobbies or skills, and so on.

Here are a few scholarships available to Iowa residents:

Scholarship Name Scholarship amount
Iowa Scholarship for the Arts $1500
Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Midwest Section Scholarships $2500
Telegraph Herald Scholastic Journalist Award $1000
The Iowa Funeral Directors Association (IFDA) Scholarships $500-1000 (multiple scholarships available)
The Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship $2000 (30)

These are just a few examples. To find more, check out scholarship search sites such as Fastweb.com where you can enter basic demographic information and be matched with dozens of scholarship opportunities!

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Also, be sure to reach out to the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. Often they have access to financial aid resources you cannot find anywhere else.

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 can get their bachelor’s degrees online once finishing their master’s degrees. The programs can be attended online or in hybrid formats. Each class is 8 weeks long, and there are six start dates 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 degrees designed for students who are working or cannot attend classes on campus. The programs are offered completely online.

Most 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

Students at Des Moines University can choose between two online degree programs: a Master of Health Care Administration or 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.

DMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Drake University

Drake University

Drake University offers online learning opportunities 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. Students may also choose from 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 can 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 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 is accredited through the HLC. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in completely online or low-residency programs. Fields of study offered include Ayurveda wellness and integrative health and regenerative organic agriculture.

MIU 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. Students can earn an RN to BSN in Nursing or a BS in Elementary Education. Students can also earn their master’s degree in nursing or education.

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. Students earning their Master of Education can choose from 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 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.

Students can choose from 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.

Conclusion

group of students from University of Iowa

With numerous support organizations and grants and scholarships abound, it’s clear that Iowa supports 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!

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

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.