Accredited online colleges in Iowa are a great choice for adults who have busy lives, whether they are up at dawn working the fields or commuting to a 9-to-5 job in the city. Iowa online schools offer the flexibility for students to complete assignments at the time that is best for them, whether that is in the morning before work or in the evening after the kids have been tucked into bed.
Single mothers, young adults working multiple jobs to pay for school, and working adult students often find that attending an Iowa online college allows them access to an education that would otherwise be unavailable. For students who work long hours or want to be home for their kids, eliminating the commute to and from school by attending an Iowa online college can make the difference between able to go back to school or not.
For many students in rural Iowa, the commute is too far even without a heavy workload. Iowa online schools offer college students a chance to avoid the hour-plus commute they would face in many parts of the state. That means more time for studying at one of the accredited online colleges in Iowa.
Ranking the Best Online Colleges in Iowa
For the College Consensus ranking of the best online colleges in Iowa, editors started with the Consensus ranking of the best colleges and universities in Iowa. From the initial list – which includes only colleges with a Consensus Score based on published rankings and students reviews – we narrowed down institutions offering at least 3 fully online bachelor’s programs.
Schools are presented in order of Consensus Score.
Saint Ambrose UniversityDavenport, IA
At Saint Ambrose University students take advantage of the five online undergraduate programs that are offered. These programs allow students the flexibility and affordability to pursue their education while maintaining their daily commitments. Whether they are pursuing an online option in business administration or nursing, they have the ability to prepare themselves for the professional world at their own pace. Because of this, Saint Ambrose University is named as one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
At Saint Ambrose University, students receive an education that is accredited nationally through the Higher Learning Commission. The mission of Saint Ambrose University is to provide their students with the appropriate education to meet their goals, all while maintaining an affordable education and a faculty that is leading in their disciplines. Students in the online programs are provided the same opportunities to interact with their classmates and instructors through the digital classroom.
University of IowaIowa City, IA
At the University of Iowa students look to their seven online programs to give them the education they need to advance their careers in several disciplines. Whether these students are considering a career in leadership, nursing, or political science, there is a degree program available to get them on the path to their career and provide the same quality education as they would receive if they were in the classroom. Because of this accommodation and flexibility, the University of Iowa is one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
At the University of Iowa, the mission of the institution has been to provide an environment that is welcoming to students of diverse backgrounds, with an all-inclusive atmosphere for their students. For nearly 30 years, they have been one of the leading institutions as one of America’s Best Hospitals per the U.S. News and World Report.
University of Northern IowaCedar Falls, IA
At the University of Northern Iowa students who want to pursue an undergraduate online degree in Elementary Education, Bachelor of Liberal Studies, or BAS in Criminal Justice, find this institution to be one of the best online colleges in Iowa for these programs. The demand for these programs keeps their admissions full, and sometimes waiting lists are required for those attempting to get into this institution.
At the University of Northern Iowa, their mission has been to provide only the best in academic excellence for their students and they value the ability to provide education in a variety of format options. This institution is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. They were ranked in the top 40 for Top Online College 2018 by Best Value Schools and by Online U as the Best Online College in Iowa in 2017.
Mount Mercy UniversityCedar Rapids, IA
The students pursuing online programs at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids IA find these programs to be adaptable in their delivery format. Students are able to maintain communication among their peers and classmates, while also maintaining a channel of communication with their instructor. Students can study in a number of disciplines that range from religious studies to business. Because of the program flexibility and the availability of the programs, students are listing Mount Mercy University as one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
At Mount Mercy University, over 95 percent of students who have graduated have found gainful employment six months after graduation or received a promotion in their current position. They have been ranked by MONEY magazine as Iowa’s top college, and nationally recognized for 2018-2019 as a college of distinction. Mount Mercy University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Graceland University-LamoniLamoni, IA
At Graceland University, students who desire to receive a high return on investment on their education look to the five online programs found at this institution. Whether a student is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN – BSN), or Bachelor of Arts in Online Dual Major Program, there is a degree to fit their career needs. Because of this program diversity and online flexibility, Graceland University is one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
At Graceland University, students receive an education that is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission. Also, the Bachelor in Nursing program is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Their mission has been to provide the best and most adequate education available to their students.
Simpson CollegeIndianola, IA
At Simpson College students looking to pursue online Bachelor programs have the options of Management, Management Information Systems, and Marketing Communication. These programs are designed to give students a thorough and accredited education that is both flexible and affordable for students in Iowa and surrounding states. These programs are designed for students who have daytime responsibilities that are work related or commitments to their families. Because of this flexibility and adaptability of these programs, Simpson College is listed as one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
The mission at Simpson College is to provide education to fit all of their students’ needs, which include both online and evening courses. Simpson College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Simpson Promise ensures that students receive the same quality education that is reputable in their fields no matter what format they receive their education in.
Grand View UniversityDes Moines, IA
At Grand View University online students are considering and taking advantage of the diverse online programs that are offered at the Bachelor level. These programs come out of the most highly sought after disciplines; marketing, business, political studies, psychology, nursing and theology among others. Because of the diverse and flexible education for the students enrolled at Grand View University, it is one of the fastest-growing in online colleges and one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
At Grand View University, students can expect to receive an accredited education through the Higher Learning Commission. They are also able to receive transfer credit for any previously completed work that assists with their affordability in their program. Grand View University has a history of offering a variety of programs to fit the needs of their students and the needs of the economy in Iowa.
Iowa Wesleyan UniversityMount Pleasant, IA
The Iowa Wesleyan University has begun spreading their wings into online programs, offering students four different online Bachelor degree programs. With the Business Administration program, students can choose a concentration in accounting, applied science, criminal justice, health care management, human resources management, human services, logistics and supply chain management, and management. In the Criminal Justice degree, students can choose a general concentration or one in either cybersecurity or homeland security. The Bachelors in Human Services and the RN to BSN only offer one track of each program. Because of the program diversity at Iowa Wesleyan University, they are one of the best online colleges in Iowa.
At Iowa Wesleyan University, these programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. They have also received awards for being one of the most military-friendly institutions by being a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
What Kinds of Degrees Can I Earn Online in Iowa?
In Iowa, online degrees are available for programs at every level from associate to doctoral. There are dozens of certificate programs available as well. Iowa students can study anything from plant breeding to aerospace engineering online.
Online associate degree programs are a good choice for students who want to be able to spruce up their resumes fairly quickly. When applying for a new job, having an online associate degree is better than not having any degree at all. However, students who wish to continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree later should check to make sure the credits will transfer if they will be attending a different school for the online bachelor’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for many jobs, and there are plenty of majors to choose from in Iowa. Online degrees available at the bachelor’s level include creative writing, enterprise leadership, business administration, health care management, criminal justice, technology, accounting, graphic design, sociology, and much more.
There are a surprising number of online graduate programs in Iowa as well. Iowa State University alone offers 30 online master’s degrees in the education, engineering, family and consumer sciences, and science fields. Other online graduate programs in Iowa include doctoral degrees in nursing and other health professions, as well as certificate programs for just about anything you can imagine.
How Can I Save Money on an Online Degree in Iowa?
The cost of college keeps many prospective students from pursuing their educational goals, but it shouldn’t. There are many ways to save on the cost of a college degree, starting with choosing an inexpensive school. There are many online community colleges in Iowa. These small public colleges are almost always cheaper than attending a 4-year institution.
While online community colleges in Iowa are a great option for students with limited funds, there are drawbacks. The biggest is that they only offer 2-year associate degrees. To earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, you need to attend a 4-year college or university.
Still, there are other ways to save money on school. Start by applying for financial aid. There is a standard form (the FAFSA) to apply for government grants. Most low-income students qualify for at least a partial Pell Grant, which is free money from the government that never has to be repaid (unlike student loans).
Next, check with the schools that interest you to see if there are any scholarships available and apply for everything you think you might qualify for. Students who are fresh out of high school can often get an automatic scholarship based on their GPA if they did well in school.
If you have already entered the workforce, check to see if your employer offers tuition reimbursement and make sure you know what the requirements are to receive reimbursement. You may have to have your classes approved by the HR department in advance or earn a certain minimum grade in each course to qualify.
As a last resort, if you can’t cover the cost of your education any other way, consider a student loan. These loans should be avoided if possible since you likely don’t want to start your new life deeply in debt, but they are available to students who need them.
Are There Online Public Universities in Iowa?
Public universities provide an important service by making education more affordable for students who live in the state. They are able to do this because they are partially funded through taxes. The University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and Iowa State University all offer online degrees, as do some public online community colleges in Iowa.
At the University of Iowa, online bachelor’s degrees include applied studies, political science, and sport and recreation management. There are 28 University of Iowa online degrees available, which includes bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, a doctor of nursing practice degree, and graduate and undergraduate certificate programs.
Iowa State University offers only three undergraduate degree programs, but has dozens of master’s degree and certificate programs available.
At the University of Northern Iowa, online degrees are mostly available for master’s and certificate programs as well. There are three bachelor’s level University of Northern Iowa online degrees, 23 online master’s degrees, and nine certificate programs.