Why go to College in Louisiana?
With schools ranging from small liberal arts colleges to world-renowned research universities, Louisiana offers academic opportunities for everyone. Students can pursue their education at public or private four-year institutions and two-year community or technical colleges. The state also welcomes distance learners, with a variety of degree programs available at both on-campus and online schools in Louisiana. Dozens of scholarships are available to make college more affordable for both Louisiana residents and out-of-state applicants. With an economy that continues to improve, graduates face brighter job prospects than in years past.
More than 4.6 million people live in Louisiana, with nearly half in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. These two cities are home to several of the state’s top colleges, including Louisiana State, Tulane, Loyola, and Xavier.
Northerners can leave their winter gear behind. Louisiana has a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and short, mild winters. Because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the state averages 60 inches of rainfall a year — second only to Hawaii.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
Louisiana’s 173 public and private schools produce students who are competitive in their respective job markets. Among these are state schools, for-profit colleges, and religious seminaries.
- Sporting Events
Louisiana gives professional and college sports fans plenty to cheer for. New Orleans is home to the NFL’s Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans, and boasts 12 collegiate NCAA Division I programs. The LSU Tigers football team claims 11 Southeastern Conference titles and three national championships.
Nightlife: When it comes to nightlife, few cities can top New Orleans, whose motto is “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” (“Let the good times roll.”) The city is legendary for its food, jazz, Bourbon Street, and, of course, Mardi Gras. New Orleans truly is one of the most unique places to live and learn.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Louisiana?
A traditional, on-campus education is ideal for students who desire face-to-face learning, can take day or evening classes, and want to experience all that campus life offers. Louisiana hosts 64 public and private institutions, and its Board of Regents oversees public schools in four separate systems: the University of Louisiana System is the largest, with 90,000 students and more than 700 degree programs; the Louisiana State University System operates nine schools statewide; the Southern University and A&M College System is the country’s only historically black university system; and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System manages the state’s two-year institutions.
Online colleges in Louisiana are a great option for working professionals and those with family commitments. Distance learning gives students maximum flexibility to tailor classes to their schedule; they can log in anywhere and complete coursework when it’s convenient.
Online learning is ideal for students who are self-disciplined. The best distance learners set up a quiet, designated study area and dedicate time every week to completing coursework. They are comfortable working independently without face-to-face communication with professors or classmates. Students attending online schools in Louisiana can expect courses to feature recorded lectures, video chats, and discussion boards.
Hybrid, or blended, learning combines in-person and online coursework, giving students the best of both worlds. The format varies by curriculum, but typically a hybrid course requires students to complete assignments online and meet weekly on campus for lectures, lab work, or group projects. Many Louisiana public and private schools offer hybrid courses and programs. Louisiana Online lists 144 hybrid programs at 26 public colleges and universities across the state.
Popular Degree Programs in Louisiana
Louisiana’s most popular degree programs reflect its most visible industries: oil and natural gas production, tourism, and business services. Traditional and online colleges in Louisiana offer curricula that prepare students for high-demand jobs in these fields.
A popular major in the state, many undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the field combine academic learning with on-site experience. Students prepare for technical and management positions by learning about the drilling, production, service, and supply operations of the industry.
Business management and administration
Another popular major, this gives students practical knowledge they can apply in any industry. Students complete courses such as business administration, accounting, marketing, and human resources to develop skills that small and large companies find valuable.
BEST ONLINE COLLEGES IN LOUISIANA FOR 2017
The demand continues to grow for distance learning, and traditional and online colleges in Louisiana are meeting the need. Nearly all private and public institutions in the state offer online or hybrid courses, and many deliver undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online. A recent NCES report reveals that 41,316 Louisiana students take some or all of their courses online.
The Louisiana Board of Regents hosts Louisiana Online, a resource which enables distance learners to research information about online programs at the state’s public colleges and universities.
Searching for an online program that’s perfect for you? Review our latest ranking of the best online colleges in Louisiana.
Louisiana Tech UniversityRuston, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 64%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 52%
Online Enrollment 9%
Founded in 1894, LA Tech is a public co-educational research university located in Ruston. The university is one of only two public schools in Louisiana to be included in the top 230 national college rankings in U.S. News and World Report. The school also holds membership in the Southeastern Universities Research Association and boasts an R3 Doctoral University designation. Like other online colleges in Louisiana with top-notch engineering and science departments, LA tech has developed online educational programming that includes undergraduate and graduate degrees in diverse areas such as engineering and technology management, business administration, history, and health informatics. Its research activities include study affiliations with various government agencies including NASA and the National Institutes of Health. LA Tech is the only university in Louisiana to be considered a National Center of Academic Excellence by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.
University of Louisiana at LafayetteLafayette, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 55%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 7%
Unlike many online colleges in Louisiana, UL Lafeyette offers a small but highly specialized selection of online undergraduate health sciences degrees, including an online RN-to-BSN program. An R2 Doctoral University, UL Lafayette currently serves its 18,000 students with over 100 different programs. The online undergraduate offerings include bachelor of science programs in kinesiology and health services administration, with concentrations available in health promotion and wellness. A bachelor of science in general studies program is also available along with graduate certificates in professional writing and business administration. In addition, UL Lafeyette offers graduate degrees in nursing practice, educational leadership, and systems technology. The school's notable alumni include writer John Kennedy Toole and musician Frank Ocean.
Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 84%
Default Rate 14%
Retention Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 38%
Online Enrollment 36%
Northwestern State is a public university in Natchitoches, with additional campus locations in Shreveport, Leesville, and Alexandria. Founded in 1884, it was one of the the first online schools in Louisiana to confer nursing and business degrees. It was also one of six colleges to form NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia research program. The university currently offers a wide selection of online associate, bachelor's, and master's programs. Master's programs in teaching, library studies, nursing, and radiologic sciences form the core of graduate degree offerings, with doctorates available in adult learning and development. In addition, online specialist degree programs in educational leadership allow students to choose one of three concentrations: educational technology, special education, and educational leadership. The university also offers competency-based certificates in computer information systems.
University of Louisiana at MonroeMonroe, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 88%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 13%
The University of Louisiana at Monroe is an important part of the network of online schools in Louisiana, having served undergraduate and graduate students in the northern part of the state since 1931. ULM currently offers online associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs in a variety of areas, including modern languages, business administration, criminal justice, elementary education, and health sciences. Master's degrees are also offered in teaching, psychology, and a number of health sciences disciplines including gerontology, counseling, exercise science, nursing, and occupational therapy. The university's online education and business graduate programs have been nationally-recognized by U.S. News and World Report. Notable alumni of ULM include entertainer Tim McGraw and professional MLB player Ben Sheets.
Nicholls State UniversityThibodaux, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 90%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 12%
Nicholls State University is a public university in Thibodaux and is part of the University of Louisiana system. Nicholls State sports teams participate in NCAA Division I, and 66% of its student body consists of first-generation college students. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1, the university offers over 100 online courses and 11 online degrees. Undergraduate degrees are available in areas such as English, history, sociology, and business administration. Nicholls State also offers a master's degree in reading education and a post-baccalaureate certification in applied business. Depending on the area of study, students can complete classes in asynchronous online format or according to an accelerated eight-week schedule. Applicants must have a minimum 3.2 GPA in all previous coursework.
University of New OrleansNew Orleans, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 58%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 62%
Graduation Rate 35%
Online Enrollment 6%
The University of New Orleans is a public research university and an important member of the total network of online colleges in Louisiana. Online learners who live close to campus can participate in some of UNO's 120 registered student clubs and organizations. The online course offerings at the university were initiated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The university currently confers online undergraduate programs in urban studies, philosophy, and interdisciplinary studies. Graduate degree programs include master's degrees in romance languages, engineering management, English, and hospitality management. All online students at UNO are offered high-priority access to academic advising, counseling, and career services, with additional resources available for language, math, and writing tutoring. Notable alumni include comedian Ellen DeGeneres and writer Tom Fitzmorris. The university currently has 14 varsity-level sports teams and is a Division I member of the NCAA.
Louisiana State University-AlexandriaAlexandria, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 68%
Default Rate 15%
Retention Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 26%
Online Enrollment 12%
Louisiana State, located in Alexandria, is a publicly assisted university conferring online associate and bachelor's degrees. Bachelor's degree programs are available in English, psychology, business administration, disaster management, criminal justice, and elder care administration. LSU also offers an RN to BSN program for registered nurses who want to further their education. Interdisciplinary associate degree programs are available in the liberal arts and sciences to facilitate students' transition into four-year programs. Online students at the university have access to thousands of articles, books, and journals for use on assignments and student-driven research initiatives. Like many online colleges in Louisiana, LSU uses Moodle for all of its online instruction and offers technical support and online tutoring to all distance learners.
McNeese State UniversityLake Charles, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 82%
Default Rate 16%
Retention Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 9%
McNeese State, located in Lake Charles, is a public university founded in 1939. The school is part of the University of Louisiana system and holds a Division I NCAA designation. Online degree programs include master's programs in business administration, psychology, criminal justice, nursing, and educational leadership. Students can obtain bachelor's degrees in subjects such as sociology and management, and registered nurses can enter the school's RN to BSN program. McNeese State also offers an associate degree in paralegal studies. Like many online schools in Louisiana, the university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the business program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Notable alumni of McNeese State include novelist Adam Johnson and professional NBA player Joe Dumars.
Southeastern Louisiana UniversityHammond, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 88%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 38%
Online Enrollment 3%
Southeastern Louisiana University is a state-funded public university founded in 1925. Currently serving over 14,000 students, SLU is the third-largest university in the state. It also holds a Division I NCAA designation and accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Online classes at the school are offered in hybrid, synchronous, or asynchronous formats. Bachelor's degrees are available in general studies and consumer science. A small selection of SLU's online programs are offered through Moodle, including the RN-to-BSN degree and both the master's and doctoral programs in nursing. In addition, the school offers certification programs in family and psychiatric nurse practice. All distance learners have access to online tutoring services. Notable SLU alumni include pianist Bill Evans and former governor John McKeithen.
Southern University and A & M CollegeBaton Rouge, Louisiana
Admissions Rate 79%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 34%
Online Enrollment 2%
A historically black university and a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge is the largest university of its kind in the state. The university is also home to one of only two public law schools in Louisiana. Notable online programs at SU include associate programs in business management and health information technology, along with bachelor's programs in criminal justice, general studies, psychology, and interdisciplinary studies. In addition, master's degree programs are available in public administration and criminal justice. SU is the only historically black land-grant university in the United States. All online classes at the school are conducted asynchronously.
How We Ranked the Schools
To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master’s in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.
Education Trends in Louisiana
Downturns in the U.S. economy since 2010 forced 37 states, including Louisiana, to cut funding for public higher education. According to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, higher education funding per full-time student in the U.S. dropped 2.4% from 2010-2015 to $6,966. By comparison, higher education funding in Louisiana declined 28.5% to $5,564 per student during the same period — the largest drop in the country. U.S. Census figures show that the percentage of Louisiana adults who have earned undergraduate and graduate degrees trails the national average.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$5,564||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||6.6%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||5.5%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||14.8%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||7.7%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Louisiana
Cost is an important factor for students to consider when choosing a college. They should budget for tuition and fees, books and supplies, and personal expenses. On-campus students need to factor in room and board; off-campus students need to plan for rent, utilities, food, transportation, and parking. Those considering online colleges in Louisiana may find distance learning to be a more affordable option. Whether they plan to complete a program online or on campus, students should investigate financial aid, scholarship, and grant opportunities to help defray costs.
Tuition and fees vary by type of institution and program. Typically, private schools are considerably more expensive than public schools, and four-year institutions usually cost more than two-year colleges. The following table shows how Louisiana’s in-state tuition and fees for public schools compare to the national average. These prices do not include additional costs, such as books, housing, food, and transportation.
While the price of a college education may seem out of reach at first glance, there are lots of options available to help students reduce their costs.
Students should explore all financial aid options and pursue every opportunity for which they meet the eligibility requirements. Ask schools if they offer semester or term payment plans. Research and apply early for scholarships. Veterans, their spouses, and their dependents can seek military benefits. Working professionals should determine whether they qualify for their employer’s tuition reimbursement plan.
Federal financial aid is also available in the form of grants and loans. The first step to determining your eligibility is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In-state students can check with the Louisiana Office for Student Financial Assistance for additional opportunities.
Cost for Online Programs in Louisiana
Distance learners attending online schools in Louisiana are eligible for the same federal and private financial aid opportunities available to on-campus students. In many instances, online learning can be less expensive overall than a traditional college program. The cost for tuition, fees, and books are generally the same for on-campus and online courses. Since most online students can complete schoolwork at home, they avoid the fees for room and board associated with living on campus as well as the transportation expenses incurred by commuter students. Most programs recommend that distance learners invest in a high-speed internet connection and a reliable computer to help them complete coursework efficiently.
Cost of Living by Region
Cost of living is the amount of money required to live comfortably in a given area, and it varies widely from place to place. Costs include necessities — like housing, food, transportation, and healthcare — and personal expenditures, like entertainment. Students interested in a traditional campus-based education should account for the area’s cost of living in their budget before finalizing their college selection.
The following table compares median housing costs for Louisiana’s two largest college towns to other cities in the region.
Scholarships for Louisiana College Students
- TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students)
$2,081-$3,214 (two-year schools) and $4,236-$7,673 (four-year schools); must be a graduate from a Louisiana high school with a minimum 2.5 GPA and enroll as a full-time freshman at a Louisiana institution.
- Louisiana Go Grant
$300-$3,000; must be a Louisiana resident, a Federal Pell Grant recipient, and be enrolled in an eligible Louisiana institution on at least a half-time basis.
- Dr. Gordon P. Boutwell, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund
$1,000; must be a high school graduate or undergraduate entering college in the fall to apply.
- Louisiana Bar Foundation Kids’ Chance Scholarship Program
$500-$3,000; must be a Louisiana resident ages 16 to 25, a dependent of a worker killed or permanently disabled in an accident, demonstrate substantial financial need, have a minimum C average, and attend a state-approved Louisiana institution.
- Society of Louisiana CPAs Scholarships
$500-$2,000; must be a graduate of a Louisiana high school with a minimum 2.5 GPA overall and a student member of the Society of Louisiana CPAs.
- Shell Associate and Technology Scholarships
Up to $2,200; must be a full- or part-time student in a two-year associate or technical degree program who plans a career in industries using mechanical, physical, or chemical processes.
- Baton Rouge Area Foundation
$500-$3,000; students complete a single application for 13 scholarships and the Foundation will determine their eligibility based on the criteria for each individual program.
- Patrick F. Taylor Foundation
$500-$2,500; must be a graduate from a Louisiana high school with a minimum 2.5 GPA who plans to enroll as a full-time freshman in a Louisiana college or university.
- Southern Automotive Women’s Forum Scholarship
$500-$5,000; must be a female high school graduate with at least a 2.5 GPA overall who is pursuing a degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or automotive field.
- Ark-La-Tex Agricultural Council Scholarship
$500-$2,000; must be a graduate from a Louisiana high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an incoming freshman studying agriculture, home economics, or life sciences at a Louisiana college or university.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
Most scholarships apply to programs regardless of whether they’re taught on campuses or at online colleges in Louisiana. However, every scholarship is different and may only be valid for a specific program or school. Applicants may need to meet requirements for financial need, GPA, and state residency. Research scholarships carefully and submit all required documentation with the application. Students who aren’t sure whether online schools in Louisiana accept a particular scholarship should contact the scholarship program coordinator.
Employment Outlook in Louisiana
There’s reason to be optimistic about Louisiana’s economic outlook. The Louisiana Workforce Commission reports the state’s job market continues to improve. Companies added 24,000 new jobs from August 2016 to August 2017, and Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that Louisiana’s unemployment rate stands at a nine-year low. The leisure and hospitality industry, along with professional and business services, show the biggest job growth. Mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas sector, shows the largest job loss. Graduates may want to begin their job search in Louisiana’s two largest cities, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which lead the state in new job creation.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||5.2%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$41,260||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Louisiana
- Office and administrative support occupations: Jobs include office supervisors and administrative support workers, customer service representatives, mail carriers, accounting and payroll clerks, and bank tellers. The median annual wage is $32,200.
- Sales and related occupations: Employees in this field include retail sales workers and supervisors, cashiers, insurance sales agents, financial services sales representatives, real estate brokers, telemarketers, and door-to-door sales representatives. The median annual wage is $32,170.
- Food preparation and serving-related occupations: Louisianans working in these occupations serve as chefs and cooks, food preparation workers and supervisors, hosts and hostesses, bartenders, waiters and waitresses, and dishwashers. The median annual wage is $20,160.
Top Employers in Louisiana
Accreditation for Colleges in Louisiana
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body that approves accreditation for higher education institutions in Louisiana.
Institutional accreditation demonstrates that colleges and universities meet minimum education quality standards. Following rigorous reviews and evaluations, institutions may receive regional or national accreditation by organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA, a nongovernmental association, serves as a national advocate for accreditation and recognizes 60 accrediting bodies. Only recognized accreditors can monitor federal student aid programs in institutions. Both the Department of Education and CHEA maintain online databases that display an institution’s current accreditation status.
Regionally accredited institutions are generally degree-oriented, state-owned, or nonprofit. It’s easier for students to transfer credits between institutions that are regionally accredited. Nationally accredited institutions generally offer vocational or technical programs, or may have a religious affiliation. Online colleges in Louisiana must meet the same strict criteria as their on-campus counterparts to earn regional or national accreditation.
Specific degree programs, departments, or schools within an accredited institution can seek programmatic or specialized accreditation. Programmatic accreditation demonstrates to certifying boards and employers that the curriculum meets high industry standards, and is open to both traditional schools and online colleges in Louisiana.
Resources for Students in Louisiana
- Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance: The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) is the state’s primary source of financial assistance programs for Louisiana students. LOSFA administers the state’s scholarship and grant programs, manages its 529 college savings plans, and assists students from low-income families and first-generation college attendees.
- TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students): The TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) offers scholarships to Louisiana residents who attend a public college or technical school in one of the state’s four higher education systems. TOPS offers four scholarships, each with different requirements: the TOPS Opportunity Award, TOPS Performance Award, TOPS Honors Award, and TOPS Tech Award.
- START Saving Program: The START Saving Program is the state’s 529 college savings plan that helps make education affordable and accessible to Louisiana residents. Launched in 1995, START offers federal and state tax incentives to anyone who deposits funds in an Education Savings Account to help a student attend college in Louisiana.
- State institution tuition and fees: State institution tuition and fees are published annually by the state Board of Regents and enable students to compare costs for undergraduate and graduate programs at colleges and universities in the state’s four higher education systems.
- Transfer Degree Guarantee (TDG): The Transfer Degree Guarantee (TDG) program helps qualified students transfer seamlessly from Louisiana’s two-year community colleges to its four-year public universities. TDG saves students time and money, and takes the guesswork out of the transfer process.
- SmarterMeasure: SmarterMeasure is an online tool that helps students determine if online learning is right for them. The tool analyzes their skills and assesses whether they would succeed as a distance learner, then provides an overview of what students should do before and during their online courses.
- Louisiana Board of Regents: The Louisiana Board of Regents sets the statewide standards for Louisiana’s degree-granting public colleges and universities. The site provides detailed information about the colleges and universities that the Board oversees, including reports on admission standards, enrollment, tuition and fees, and current degree programs.