With the increase of online colleges in West Virginia, it is clear that the state that is known for its beautiful scenery is also focused on its higher education opportunities.
In 2018, West Virginia’s Climb was introduced, which is an information and outreach campaign with the goal of ensuring that at least 60% of the state’s workforce has a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2030.
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While the state already offers competitive schools, generous financial aid packages, and plenty of online learning opportunities, it is especially focused on reaching students of all ages to help them recognize the value of higher education and training in long-term careers.
Online Colleges in West Virginia
In West Virginia, students are really taking advantage of learning opportunities at accredited online colleges. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 48.7% of students in the state were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, while another 23.7% were participating in a hybrid of on-campus and online courses at WV online colleges.
This means that more students were enrolled in online learning programs than not, and the numbers have continued to rise in years since, as colleges have increased their online offerings.Today, various West Virginia universities offer more than 600 courses online each.
Students can choose from degrees and certificate programs, taught by award-winning professors and supported by tech support, enrollment coaches, and academic advisors. Students have various options, including associate degree options or bachelors in accounting, management, cyber security, nursing, and more. Master’s degree programs and a doctorate are also available in an online format.
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Adults returning to school in West Virginia may want to consider the Regents Bachelor of Arts, an undergraduate program designed for working adults and available through many of the state’s institutions. This degree packages together previously earned credits, online classes, and credit for real-world experience.
Choosing to attend one of West Virginia’s online schools can help you achieve your educational and career goals while still maintaining your daily responsibilities, whether it be as a caretaker, parent, or employee.
Common Online Degrees in WV
West Virginia online colleges offer a broad selection of degrees, but these popular majors tend to attract many students:
- Accounting: This major focuses on foundational accounting principles and theories. Students learn how to oversee financial accounts for individuals and organizations. They can gain skills like budgeting, generating financial reports, and finding tax deductions.
- Business Administration: This degree explores various aspects of business operations and workflows. Courses prepare students for daily business administration tasks, such as communicating with shareholders, recruiting new employees, and marketing products.
- General Studies: This major enables students to develop a broad skill set as they explore a range of disciplines. Students typically take a wide selection of classes in the arts and humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
- Information Security: This degree teaches students strategies to protect devices and networks from cyberattacks. Courses include topics like digital forensics, computer science, programming languages, and system defense.
- Registered Nurse: This major prepares students for entry-level careers as registered nurses. Students gain clinical experience and study subjects like anatomy and nursing ethics.
If you’re still deciding on a major, consider starting your research with these common degrees.
Overview of Higher Education in West Virginia
West Virginia is home to 42 degree-granting institutions, according to the NCES. Of the 42, 22 are public, 10 are private non-profit and 10 are private for-profit.
To attend one of the 4-year public institutions residents will pay around $8,195, while non-residents will pay around $22,475, according to the NCES. Both are well below the national averages. For West Virginia residents who are unable to find their degree programs at in-state schools, the state partners with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
The program allows students to enroll at public schools in the other 15 participating states while paying in-state tuition rates.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in West Virginia
West Virginia has a relatively poor job outlook for college graduates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state’s unemployment rate was 3.9%, which is slightly higher than the national average of 3.4%.
While this unemployment rate may seem somewhat promising, the total number of nonfarm jobs only increased by 0.5%. The mining and logging industry has witnessed growth by 8.9%. Other areas that expanded include information (2.7%), education and health services (2.2%), and leisure and hospitality (1.1%).
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However, many occupations have diminishing job opportunities in West Virginia. For instance, the number of construction jobs decreased by 5.7% during this period, and trade, transportation, and utility jobs fell by 1.0%. As a result, college graduates may have limited career opportunities in some fields.
Careers & Salaries in West Virginia
Online schools in West Virginia can prepare students for careers in numerous industries. According to the West Virginia of Economic Development, the state’s largest sectors include:
- Building products: Many companies harvest, prepare, and ship wood from the state’s lush forests.
- Food and agriculture: West Virginia farmers raise various livestock and crops, including beef cattle, chickens, apples, and corn.
- Information technology: The federal government and major tech companies have created data and information technology hubs in West Virginia.
- Manufacturing: Factories in West Virginia produce a wide range of products, like chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
- Metals: West Virginia has many resources for mining raw metals and transforming them into products.
- Mining: West Virginia has plentiful coal deposits, natural gas reserves, and other energy resources.
Each industry offers numerous career paths. For instance, students interested in the mining industry could pursue jobs as geotechnical engineers, material planners, and site surveyors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for 10 careers in West Virginia.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$155,210|
|Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Science Products||$106,290|
|Industrial Production Managers||$105,580|
|Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers||$98,470|
Many factors can influence salary, such as your degree, extra certifications, and work experience.
How to Choose a West Virginia Online College Program
Choosing a college is a personal decision, but here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you compare online schools in WV:
- Available degrees: Many students change their major at least once during their undergraduate studies. Selecting a college that offers a wide range of online degrees can give you the flexibility to explore new fields and transition to a different major.
- Course format: You may encounter several types of online courses during your studies. Asynchronous classes allow you to complete work at your own pace but lack interaction with your instructors and peers. Synchronous classes typically use video-conferencing technology for live courses. And some online programs have hybrid formats that require you to travel to campus for some sessions. Depending on your schedule and desire for interaction, you may prefer a specific course delivery method.
- Financial aid: Cost is a significant consideration for many students. Some West Virginia online colleges offer grants and scholarships for eligible learners. This financial assistance can make your degree more affordable.
- Support services: Students can encounter many challenges while completing an online degree. Flexible support services may help you succeed when you experience difficulties. For example, some schools offer free counseling, legal services, and tutoring.
It may be helpful to create a chart to compare the factors that matter most for you at each school.
Should I Study in West Virginia?
Deciding where to get your degree can be just as challenging as picking a major. This decision is highly subjective, but here are a few reasons you may choose a West Virginia college:
- Affordability: Many online schools in WV offer low tuition, especially for in-state residents. If you’re concerned about paying for your degree, you may find that public universities and community colleges in West Virginia fit your budget.
- A broad range of programs: Online schools in West Virginia have approximately 50 available degrees, so students have plenty of options.
- Career opportunities: While West Virginia has a sluggish economy, the state does offer career opportunities in growing industries like mining and logging. Students interested in these sectors may increase their job prospects by earning a degree in West Virginia.
If you find these benefits appealing, you may consider pursuing an online degree in West Virginia.
Online West Virginia Colleges Admissions Requirements
All West Virginia online colleges have slightly different admissions processes, but a few standard criteria are listed below:
- ACT or SAT scores (if required)
- Official transcripts from all previous colleges and high schools
- Letters of recommendation from teachers, athletic coaches, or employers
- Personal statement describing your career goals and ways you’d contribute to the college
Also, some schools may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English, math, and other subjects through placement exams or prior coursework.
Online WV Colleges Accreditation
Accreditation status is another factor that can help you choose between online schools in West Virginia. Postsecondary institutions can earn accreditation if they prove that they meet educational requirements established by external accrediting bodies.
These organizations evaluate schools based on curricula, extracurricular activities, libraries, student support services, and other criteria. Students who attend accredited schools may get preferential treatment from potential employers because these programs provide a top-tier education. Additionally, you must have an accredited degree to sit for certain licensing exams.
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You can visit the Department of Education’s website to view a database of accredited programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
In order to receive financial aid to attend one of the various West Virginia colleges and universities online, you may want to consider completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
When filling out the FAFSA, you will be required to provide financial information for yourself and your parents (unless you are considered “independent”). The data that you include will be used to determine how much and what type of financial aid you qualify for.
When you’re looking to attend online colleges in WV, you have a lot of financial aid resources available to you. The state sponsors the following programs for residents:
- Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship: This scholarship is for students interested in pursuing a career as a West Virginia math, science, elementary education, or special education teacher.
- Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program: This is a loan program for students interested in pursuing a career in teaching or counseling in critical need subjects (as defined) and geographic locations.
- West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship: This program is for students interested in pursuing an education in engineering, science, or technology. The award is for up to $3,000 per year.
- West Virginia Health Sciences Service Program: This is a service-obligation loan repayment program for health professions students interested in practicing in underserved communities.
- West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program: A range of scholarship/loan opportunities to assist current and future West Virginia nursing professionals with their education.
- West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship: This is a merit-based scholarship for high school graduates who meet course and GPA requirements. The award is up to $4,750.
There are also private scholarships available for all sorts of things, including a student’s race, religion, gender, athletic or artistic abilities, unusual talents, intended major, and so on.
Here are a few examples of scholarships open to West Virginia residents:
- Allegheny Mountain Section Air & Waste Management Scholarship: Varies
- Gustavus B. Capito Scholarship: (3) $2,000
- James T. and Rose M. Perryman Family Foundation Scholarship: Up to $25,000
- Kanawha Valley Mining Institute, Inc: (3) $2,000
If you still need more financial aid, try reaching out to the financial aid office at the school you have chosen. They may have additional programs available and may help work with you to make your education affordable.
West Virginia Online Education Resources
Researching colleges can feel stressful, but these online education resources can improve your search.
- College for West Virginia: This non-profit foundation provides resources to help first-generation students, returning learners, and veterans earn college degrees.
- West Virginia Department of Education: This government agency has data about colleges in West Virginia, resources for adult learners, career training, and more.
- West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission: This board regulates higher education policies in West Virginia and has an informative blog about the state’s colleges.
These websites can help you pick a school and find financial assistance opportunities.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in West Virginia?
Many online schools in West Virginia have affordable tuition, though out-of-state residents typically pay more. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, here are the average cost of tuition and fees for West Virginia online schools:
- Public 4-year: $8,252 for in-state students and $22,475 for out-of-state
- Private 4-year: $12,413
- Public 2-year: $4,470 for in-state and $9,781 for out-of-state
Students who want to maximize their savings may consider starting their educational journey at community colleges in WV.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Out-of-state students often pay higher tuition at public colleges and universities, but people from neighboring states may be eligible for tuition reciprocity. This agreement allows students from certain regions to attend online schools in West Virginia at in-state tuition rates.
West Virginia is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which allows interstate tuition reciprocity exchanges. Sixteen states participate in this agreement, including Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. However, out-of-state students may need to pay an administrative fee to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
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Additionally, some West Virginia online colleges have individual state reciprocity agreements with Ohio, Washington D.C., and other states. It can be beneficial to reach out to the financial aid office for each program of interest to explore your tuition reciprocity options.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in West Virginia?
Based on data from WorkForce West Virginia, the fastest-growing careers in the state include:
- Nurse practitioners (5.68% annual growth)
- Molders, shapers, and casters, except metal and plastic (4.96%)
- Physical therapist assistants (4.54%)
- Occupational therapy assistants (4.45%)
- Cooks, restaurant (4.04%)
Students interested in healthcare, food, and manufacturing industries may consider pursuing these in-demand career paths. Other rapidly expanding areas include information technology, finance, and leisure and recreation.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in West Virginia?
Many careers in West Virginia have high earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are 5 jobs with the highest median salaries in West Virginia:
- Physicians, all other: $234,166.4
- Nurse anesthetists: $214,364.8
- Anesthesiologists: $212,409.6
- Dentists, all other specialties: $211,806.4
- Family medicine physicians: $206,648.0
Students passionate about healthcare may find these high-paying careers financially and personally rewarding. However, these positions require advanced education and training. For instance, physicians typically earn a medical degree and complete a 3- to 9-year residency. Additionally, no degree or internship can guarantee a high salary.
List of Online Colleges in West Virginia
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.
Alderson Broaddus University offers 3 online degree programs, an RN to BSN, School Health Nurse, and Master of Education. Courses may be taught in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Some courses are taught in 8 week terms, while others mainly follow a semester schedule. Full and part time options are offered.
Alderson Broaddus University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
American Public University offers exclusively online degree programs, from an associate’s through doctorates. Potential programs include transportation and logistics management, entrepreneurship, and strategic intelligence. Classes tend to be 8 or 16 weeks long, and there are typically start dates every month. Courses are usually taught in an asynchronous format with set due dates.
APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Concord University offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs primarily online, some courses may have hybrid options. Popular programs include Elementary Education and Health Promotion. Many courses are taught in an 8 week accelerated format, while others follow a regular semester schedule. There are commonly several start dates throughout the year.
Concord University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Glenville State University offers online programs for associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Potential programs include business administration, criminal justice, and general studies. Courses are typically taught in both asynchronous and synchronous formats. Hybrid options are also commonly available. An online advisor is often available to help with questions.
Glenville State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Marshall University offers online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs along with professional certificates. Some courses may be taught in a hybrid format. Popular programs include Professional Writing and Nursing. Courses tend to be 7 or 14 weeks long with several start dates each year.
Marshall University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Potomac State College of West Virginia University offers online programs such as associate’s degrees in business administration and general studies and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Courses are usually taught in an asynchronous format. Most courses are 8 weeks long, and many of the programs may be completed in 18 months.
Potomac State College of West Virginia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Salem University offers programs entirely online leading to associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Popular programs include Administration of Justice and Enterprise Network Management. Usually 1 course per month is taken, and courses are often taught in an asynchronous format.
Salem University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Shepherd University currently offers 4 online degrees, including an MBA, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Data Analytics and Information Systems, and an RN to BSN degree program. Courses tend to follow a semester schedule and are usually offered in the fall, spring, and summer.
Shepherd University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Charleston offers fully online programs along with blended learning options for associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Programs include cybersecurity, family nurse practitioner, and executive leadership. Courses commonly either follow a semester schedule or are taught in a 7 week accelerated format.
UC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
West Liberty University offers online programs for 2 undergraduate degrees and 5 graduate degrees, including RN to BSN, criminology, dental hygiene, and biology. Most programs are fully online. Courses follow a regular semester schedule with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
West Liberty University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
West Virginia State University offers 6 undergraduate programs and 2 graduate programs online, such as English and technical writing, criminal justice administration, and health science. Courses tend to be either 8 weeks long or follow a regular semester schedule. Technical support for WVSU’ Moodle system is offered by the university’s Help Desk.
West Virginia State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
West Virginia University offers online degree programs designed to center around work schedules. Associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, and undergraduate and graduate certificates, are offered. Potential programs include business administration, integrated marketing communications, and clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. Access to academic advising and other resources is typically available online.
West Virginia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
West Virginia University at Parkersburg offers 1 fully online program, for an RN to BSN degree. The program is designed for registered nurses who have an associate’s degree in nursing. The completion of 120 credit hours is required and many courses are taught in an asynchronous learning format.
West Virginia University – Parkersburg is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Wheeling University offers online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Popular programs include psychology, accountancy, and general science. Courses are commonly offered in 7 week blocks, while some follow a 16 week semester schedule. There are typically start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
Wheeling University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Online Degree in West Virginia
West Virginia students have access to top-notch schools, excellent financial assistance, and tremendous online learning opportunities.
Policymakers in the state are committed to helping residents recognize the value of higher education, ensuring a brighter future for individuals as well as the entire state’s economy. If you’re interested in taking your education to the next level, you may want to consider researching accredited online colleges and universities in West Virginia that offer your chosen degree program.