Online colleges in Wisconsin and increasing overall enrollment continue to be priorities for the state. Several of Wisconsin’s college systems have worked together to develop an educational attainment goal called “60 Forward.”
The plan aims to have 60% of Wisconsin residents aged 25-64 hold some type of postsecondary credential by the year 2027. While Wisconsin’s attainment rate is already above the national average, reaching that 60% will help secure the state’s economic future.
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Goals like 60 Forward demonstrate just how committed the state of Wisconsin is to higher education.
Online Colleges in Wisconsin
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). reports that 16.4% of undergraduate students in Wisconsin were enrolled in fully online degree programs, and another 29.9% were participating in some combination of online and on-campus classes. This also includes online community colleges in Wisconsin.
These numbers continue to rise as universities increase their online offerings to meet the changing needs of college students. Various schools in WI offer more than 150 online degrees and certificates, including online bachelor’s degrees in fields like Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education, Information Technology, Marketing, and many other areas.
Wisconsin online colleges even offer unique programs that are even more flexible than typical online classes. Designed for busy adults, these options allow you to start any month, work at your own pace, and earn credit for knowledge you already have (from prior coursework, military training, on-the-job training, etc.).
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There are also online programs that personalize the lesson plans, which focus on competency rather than class time. Once you have demonstrated mastery in an area, you earn credit and move on to the next assessment, so no time is wasted. With these options, students earn the same recognized and respected degree credentials as traditional students who attend classes on campus.
Online learning opportunities are also available at the state’s private institutions where students have access to an online certificate and undergraduate program. Also available are several online graduate degree programs, including Business Administration, Corporate Communication, Supply Chain Management, Christian Doctrine, and Healthcare Data Analytics.
Common Online Degrees in Wisconsin
Online Wisconsin universities offer a variety of degree programs in different disciplines. Some of the most popular degrees in the state include:
- Accounting: Accounting programs focus on finance, particularly tax documents and financial transactions. Graduates of these programs often become accountants, auditors, or financial consultants.
- Business administration and management: During a business administration program, students learn how to oversee and manage an organization in areas like human resources and contract law. This serves as a solid foundation for a career as a chief executive, manager, or director.
- Nursing: Registered nurses must earn a college degree before becoming licensed. While completing their degrees, they learn how to properly care for patients, maintain confidential records, and conduct diagnostic assessments.
- Psychology: A psychology degree is excellent preparation for a career as a counselor, psychologist, or therapist. Psychology students learn about human behavior, including abnormal behavior and mental health disorders.
- Early child care and education: An early child care and education degree is designed to teach students about child development and teaching strategies. Professionals in this area are often preschool teachers, private tutors, and preschool directors.
Before deciding what degree is best for you, think about your skills, interests, and career goals.
Overview of Higher Education in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, there are 67 degree-granting institutions, including accredited online colleges, according to the NCES. Of these, 31 are public, 32 are private non-profit and 4 are private for-profit.
The cost to attend college in Wisconsin is well below the national average. The NCES states that the average tuition and fees for a 4-year public institution in Wisconsin is around $8,782 for in-state students and $26,970 for out-of-state students.
Students who cannot find their chosen major at an in-state school don’t have to pay sky-high out-of-state tuition rates, though, thanks to Wisconsin’s participation in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP).
The MSEP allows students to enroll at public schools in any of the 9 participating states for no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a large workforce comprised of more than 2.8 million employees, and the state has recently maintained a stable job market.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate in Wisconsin hovers around 3.0%. This is lower than the national average at the time, which was 3.5%. Wages in Wisconsin are also comparable to the rest of the country. The median annual salary for all occupations is $45,660, which is only slightly below the national median annual wage of $45,760.
Some of the state’s strongest fields of employment for college graduates include healthcare, management, and education. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 175,000 people in Wisconsin currently work in healthcare professions.
Careers & Salaries in Wisconsin
Professionals from many different fields can find rewarding careers in Wisconsin. The industries with the highest numbers of employees in the state are office and administrative support, production, and transportation.
While jobs in these areas often do not require a degree, having one may help you negotiate a higher salary or advance into a leadership role. Industries like healthcare, business and financial operations, and education also employ hundreds of thousands of people within the state.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are among the most popular careers for college graduates in Wisconsin.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|General and Operations Managers||$111,950|
|Project Management Specialists||$91,710|
|Accountants and Auditors||$72,220|
|Human Resources Specialists||$61,570|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||$61,190|
|Elementary School Teachers||$60,960|
Most of these roles require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, so enrolling in an online college could be an important first step toward qualifying for an entry-level job, transitioning into a more demanding position, or changing the trajectory of your career.
Should I Study in Wisconsin?
Whether you should attend an online school in Wisconsin depends on your personal circumstances, goals, and preferences. Consider these key points as you make your decision:
- Cost: The average cost of tuition and fees at Wisconsin colleges is slightly lower than the national average, which could translate to several hundred or thousand dollars in savings over the course of your degree.
- Degree programs: Online colleges and universities in Wisconsin offer a wide range of degrees, including highly regarded programs in disciplines like business, healthcare, and finance.
- Flexibility: An online degree program in Wisconsin allows you to build your schedule around your other obligations, which is essential when you are a working professional or a caretaker for a family member
If you decide that studying in the state is the right option, remember that you can attend some of the best colleges in Wisconsin online.
Online Wisconsin Colleges Admissions Requirements
When you apply to online colleges in Wisconsin, each school will have its own set of admissions requirements. The criteria often include:
- Transcripts: Have any schools you previously attended send official transcripts to your prospective college.
- Test scores: If required, submit minimum scores on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.
- Recommendations: Ask previous instructors or supervisors to write letters explaining why you’re a good fit for the school.
- Personal essay: Write a statement describing your past experiences and why you want to attend this particular program.
Many schools also require you to submit an application and pay a fee.
Online WI Colleges Accreditation
When you research different colleges, accreditation should be a top priority. Colleges with regional accreditation have undergone an intense evaluation process that determined that the faculty, curriculum, and outcomes met the highest possible standards.
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Transferring credits between schools is typically easier if they were completed at a regionally accredited institution. This helps you avoid retaking classes if you change schools before graduating. Most graduate schools only accept accredited degrees. Employers also often have a more positive response to job candidates with degrees from regionally accredited programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re interested in attending one of the many online colleges in WI, consider completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As a Wisconsin resident, you have access to tremendous financial aid opportunities.
Here are a few of the programs sponsored by your state:
- Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES): This is for high school seniors with the highest GPA in each public and private school in the state. The award is up to $2,250 per year.
- Hearing & Visually Handicapped Student Grant: This program provides need-based aid for students with severe or profound hearing or visual impairment.
- Minority Undergraduate Retention Grant: This program provides need-based aid for minority undergraduates excluding first-year students. The award ranges between $250 to $2,500.
- Technical Excellence Scholarship (TES): The TES program is for high school seniors who have demonstrated the highest level of proficiency in technical education and will attend a school in the WTCS. The award is up to $2,250 per year
There are also aid programs for students in the teaching and nursing professions. Another way to help pay for college is through scholarships. Private scholarships are awarded for race, religion, gender, athletic or artistic abilities, unique talents, intended major, life experiences, and more.
- Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation Scholarships: Multiple scholarships of varying amounts
- The Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Club (AWSC) Scholarship: Multiple scholarships of varying amounts
- Wisconsin Bakers Association Scholarship: Multiple scholarships of varying amounts
If you need additional financial aid, consider reaching out to the school you have chosen. They may have additional programs available – both need and merit-based – and will work with you to make your education affordable.
Wisconsin Online Education Resources
Applying for a degree program can easily become overwhelming. These online resources can help you navigate the admissions and financial aid process:
- Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB): The HEAB directs you toward possible financial aid opportunities.
- University of Wisconsin System eCampus: This database allows you to search for online courses, certificates, and degree programs in the state.
- Wisconsin Technical College System: If you’re interested in attending a technical college, you can learn about admissions, financial aid, and programs.
Once you have chosen a specific college, it’s also beneficial to speak to the admissions counselors and financial aid department.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Wisconsin?
The cost of a college degree differs significantly depending on the specific school you attend and your residential status. Private universities are typically more expensive than public schools, and students who live in Wisconsin usually pay lower tuition rates.
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For example, an in-state student attending a public college in Wisconsin might pay around $9,500 a year in tuition and fees, while an out-of-state student at the same school might pay more than $28,000. When you calculate your expenses, take into account that attending college online rather than in person allows you to save money in other areas, such as housing and transportation.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Out-of-state students generally pay higher tuition rates, but there are ways to receive discounts so that you can attend the best universities in Wisconsin online without breaking your budget.
Wisconsin and Minnesota have a reciprocity agreement so that students who reside in one state can pay in-state tuition at colleges in the other. The agreement applies specifically to public colleges within either state.
Wisconsin is also part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, which allows students to attend participating colleges within member states at a lower tuition rate. The compact applies to both public and private colleges, but not all schools choose to offer the tuition discounts.
In addition to Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are members of the compact. When you research tuition breaks, it’s important to also determine whether the college charges an extra fee for attending virtual classes.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in Wisconsin?
Choosing a career in a growing industry may make it easier to quickly find a position after graduating. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, these careers will be in high demand for the next several years:
- Business operations specialists
- Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists
- Health diagnosing and treating practitioners
Degrees in psychology, business administration, engineering, and nursing may help you build a career in one of these expanding fields.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Wisconsin?
When planning for your future career, it’s natural to consider how much money you might earn. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, family medicine physicians have the highest earnings in the state, with median annual wages of $234,330.
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Salaries for pediatricians and nurse anesthetists are also very competitive, with median annual wages of $227,570 and $226,600, respectively. Chief executives earn median wages of $174,930 per year. Keep in mind that while some careers usually pay more than others, the job title is not the only factor. Your location, employer, and years of experience play an equally important part.
List of Online Colleges in Wisconsin
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.
Cardinal Stritch University offers evening and online programs leading to degree completion. Current programs are offered for majors such as the arts, business, communication, criminal justice, education, music, nursing, and theater.
Programs are typically in a bachelor’s degree-completion format, though some associate degrees are often offered. General education requirements commonly must be met before applying to the program.
Cardinal Stritch University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Concordia University–Wisconsin offers Christian-centered online education programs. Most are fully online, and some are also available in a hybrid format, with classes offered at regional learning centers. Popular programs include Communication and Leadership, Natural Products Science, and Strategic Marketing. Associate’s through doctoral degrees are offered, along with professional certificates.
Concordia University – Wisconsin is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Edgewood College offers several online master’s and doctoral degree programs online or in a hybrid format. Potential programs include business, education, and nursing. Most courses are taught asynchronously, but some have synchronous components. Classes may be taken in full or half terms, and there are often several yearly start dates.
Edgewood College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lakewood University offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs entirely online. Potential programs include food safety and quality, hospitality management, and creative writing. Courses are typically 7 or 12 weeks long and are usually taught in an asynchronous format. Live online classes may also be available. U.S. News & World Report named Lakeland University one of the best online colleges for social mobility.
Lakeland University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Maranatha Baptist University offers several online pathways to earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees primarily online. Potential programs include Christian ministry, criminal justice, biblical counseling, and intercultural studies. Programs are typically offered during two 15 week sessions each year.
Maranatha is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Marian University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online. Popular programs include healthcare administration, radiologic technology, and industrial organizational psychology. Courses are typically offered in monthly, 7 week, or semester formats, based on the specific program. Classes are commonly offered part- or full-time.
Marian University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
Mount Mary University offers online and hybrid degree programs leading to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fields like exercise science and business administration. Courses are typically taught over 4 or 8 week terms or follow a semester schedule. In addition to online options, Mount Mary offers a study abroad program in places like Rome, Peru, and Nicaragua.
Mount Mary University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Ottawa University–Milwaukee offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online. Typical majors include human resources, business economics, and mathematics. Courses are typically taught in 8 week accelerated terms, and there are commonly several start dates each year. The Online Education Database ranked Ottawa University–Milwaukee in the top 100 online universities in the nation.
Ottawa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Green Bay offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online or in a hybrid format. Potential programs include community health education, sustainable management, and applied biotechnology. Courses may be taught using both synchronous and asynchronous methods, and credit may be awarded for prior learning.
The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse offers a variety of fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as graduate certificates. Potential programs include data science, healthcare administration, business administration, medical dosimetry and political science. The university also offers an online program for a Doctorate of Education in Student Affairs Administration and Leadership.
The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs fully online. Potential programs include human resources, management, marketing, and nursing. Courses are typically offered in half terms during the fall and spring semesters and a full term during the summer. U.S. News & World Report named the University of Wisconsin–Madison number 14 in its list of top public schools.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee offers over 40 fully online degree and certificate programs. Potential majors include applied computing, biomedical sciences, communication, history, and psychology. Courses are commonly taught using an asynchronous model. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in the top 50 online bachelor’s degree programs in the country.
UWM is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online, in a hybrid format, or during evenings and weekends. Potential programs include communication studies, criminal justice, liberal studies, and nursing. Courses are typically offered in 3, 7, and 14 week terms. There are usually several start dates per year.
The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Platteville offers several online degree programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level, along with professional certificates. The university also offers an accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree program. Most courses are taught in an asynchronous format and are typically offered over either 8 week terms or a full semester.
UW-Platteville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs fully online. Potential majors include applied computing, business administration, family and consumer sciences, and natural resources. Courses typically follow a regular semester schedule with start dates commonly offered in the fall, spring, and summer.
UW-Stevens Point is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Stout offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fully online and hybrid formats. Potential programs include hotel, tourism, and restaurant management, manufacturing engineering, and conservation biology. A dedicated student support advisor and program director is typically assigned upon admission to a program, and the same tuition is commonly charged regardless of residency.
The UW – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Superior offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs primarily online, but with some required Saturday seminars. Popular programs include communicating arts, computer science, elementary education, and sustainable management. Courses commonly follow a semester schedule, and there are usually start dates offered in the fall, spring, and summer.
UW – Superior is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Wisconsin–Whitewater offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online. Potential majors include accounting, corporate and health communication, economics, finance, and human performance.
Most courses are taught in an asynchronous format and are typically 4 to 6 weeks long. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater’s online MBA program number 1 in the country.
UW – Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Viterbo University offers an online bachelor’s completion program in business, education, and nursing and master’s degree programs in healthcare leadership and medical diabetes. Applicants with an associate’s degree or some general education credits may enter the undergraduate program. Courses tend to follow a semester schedule.
Viterbo University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Wisconsin Lutheran College offers graduate degree programs either fully online or in a hybrid format. Potential majors include high performance instruction, leadership and innovation, special education leadership, and sport and recreation management. Courses tend to follow a regular semester schedule with typical start dates in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.
Wisconsin Lutheran College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Online Degree in Wisconsin
The northern state offers top-notch schools with unique options to help working adults earn degrees, as well as generous financial aid programs to help make it all possible. Wisconsin is an excellent place to further your education.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your educational journey, you may want to start researching accredited online universities in Wisconsin that offer your chosen degree program.
You can also view our Online Colleges in West Virginia and Online Colleges in Wyoming guides for more options.