Why go to College in Mississippi?
Mississippi offers opportunities to earn affordable degrees from highly reputed institutions. The state’s colleges maintain rigorous standards of research and teaching to ensure graduates are prepared to enter the workforce or continue their studies. The state’s southern charm, understated sophistication, and low cost of living make attending school in Mississippi a wonderful experience.
With about 3 million residents, Mississippi is highly diverse. Its population is the 32nd largest in the country and blends city, suburban, and rural dwellers. In fact, Mississippi’s population increased by nearly 10% from 2010 to 2015.
Mississippi has long, hot summers and short, mild winters, which means plenty of outdoors time in summer and occasional snow in winter.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
Choose from 69 public and private colleges and universities in Mississippi, including two- and four-year institutions and specialty schools that help students gain specific vocational skills.
- Sporting Events
Mississippi boasts stellar athletic teams at both the college and professional levels. The Biloxi Shuckers and Mississippi Braves are Double-A Minor League Baseball teams, and the Mississippi Brilla soccer team is a member of the USL Premier Development League.
After-dark entertainment in Mississippi includes dancing, live music, bars, and restaurants. Have fun any night of the week.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Mississippi?
On-campus students have access to resources such as libraries and career services and have opportunities to watch and participate in sports, pledge fraternities or sororities, and get involved with student associations. On-campus learning fully immerses students in the academic setting and is ideal for helping recent high school graduates transition to living on their own in a safe, structured environment.
Online schools in Mississippi offer a convenient and flexible way to earn a degree on your own schedule. While online students must be self-disciplined, tech-savvy, and comfortable working in a virtual environment, distance learning offers tremendous benefits. Adult online learners can work full-time while raising a family and studying in the evenings, and online schools in Mississippi offer more part-time options than on-campus degree programs. In addition, earning a degree to advance your career opens opportunities for your employer to cover some costs. Online colleges in Mississippi help adults balance life and school while offering online resources to ensure academic success.
Many institutions of higher education offer at least some course content online, including individual classes, homework assignments, and project work. While students may take part in these hybrid elements, all required course content may not be available online.
In a hybrid online degree program, however, students complete credits primarily online and attend a few classes or special practicums on campus. Students in these programs may enroll in the majority of their required coursework without attending class in person.
Popular Degree Programs in Mississippi
Mississippi’s top industry is agriculture, and nearly a third of the population works in farming. The state is home to more than 40,000 farms, which generate more than six billion dollars annually. Many students earn degrees that prepare them for this industry. They also pursue degrees that prepare them for work in the energy sector, given the large number of available careers related to natural gas and oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
This degree prepares students to operate businesses and to assume leadership positions in organizations across industries. Students learn about financial, operations, and human resource management, all of which are necessary for a career in agriculture.
Students specialize in various areas of engineering, including geological, chemical, civil, and mechanical engineering. Engineers are critical to the energy sector, which contributes to the state, national, and global economies. Moreover, a career in the energy sector requires a deep understanding of science, technology, and mathematics, which engineering degrees provide.
Best Online Colleges in Mississippi for 2017
Online schools in Mississippi offer some of the best degree programs in the country. Whether you’re pursuing a two- or four-year degree, the list below will help you decide where to enroll. Online colleges in Mississippi are respected nationwide and provide students with the skills to be successful in the workforce, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pursue your passion after graduation.
Reference the list below to decide which online colleges in Mississippi meet your educational needs.
Belhaven UniversityJackson, MS
Admissions Rate 51%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 47%
Online Enrollment 32%
Located in Jackson, Mississippi, Belhaven enrolls 1,200 students at its main campus. The university serves an additional 3,300 students through associate, bachelor's, and graduate programs in Memphis, Houston, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, as well as online. As one of the top online colleges in Mississippi, Belhaven offers students of its online programs small class sizes and asynchronous course delivery. Students complete weekly class assignments over eight-week terms.
Online students pay per-credit tuition, and Mississippi residents receive a tuition discount for some online programs. Most online students are able to complete bachelor's degrees in fewer than four years, but completion time depends on the number of previous credits the student applies toward their degree.
Mississippi State UniversityMississippi State, MS
Admissions Rate 65%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 60%
Online Enrollment 9%
MSU's online programs follow the same academic calendar as programs at its Starkville campus. Each online student is assigned a distance education coordinator, who serves as a liaison between the student and MSU. Online orientation familiarizes students with the online library and departmental resources. MSU is one of the most accessible online schools in Mississippi, with videos to guide students through the application, proctoring, and financial aid processes.
Distance learners have access to online tutoring in math and writing and technical support for the Blackboard platform. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of state residency, and this affordable online college in Mississippi offers scholarships specifically for distance learners.
Mississippi University for WomenColumbus, MS
Admissions Rate 96%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 47%
Online Enrollment 29%
Founded in 1884, MUW was the first state-supported colleges for women, but has been coeducational since 1982. One of the most progressive online colleges in Mississippi, MUW offers a wide variety of bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs online. Online degree completion programs require students to have completed two years of coursework, and transfer applicants should have a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas platform, and online students have access to a student success center, tutoring, a writing center, career services, and disability services. In-state students pay discounted tuition rates, but out-of-state fee waivers may be available for qualified students. Institutional and departmental scholarships are available.
University of Southern MississippiHattiesburg, MS
Admissions Rate 58%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 50%
Online Enrollment 11%
In addition to offering some of the most affordable tuition rates among online colleges in Mississippi, Southern Miss waives out-of-state tuition for students in online programs. Additionally, undergraduate students pay the same rate for 12 to 18 credits per semester, so students can take more credits without incurring additional costs. Southern Miss offers fully online bachelor's and master's degrees, along with hybrid and certificate programs.
Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas platform, and online academic resources include student success services, disability accommodations, a writing center, library services, and a speaking center. Southern Miss serves online students in all 50 states and multiple countries.
Mississippi CollegeClinton, MS
Admissions Rate 82%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 54%
Online Enrollment 5%
Founded in 1826, MC is the oldest college in Mississippi and the largest private college in the state, and in 1831, it was the first coeducational college in the country to grant a degree to a woman. MC is one of the most established online colleges in Mississippi, offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, along with multiple certificate programs.
MC offers some of the lowest tuition rates among U.S. private universities, and online undergraduate students taking fewer than 12 credits pay per-credit tuition rates. Students in MC's accelerated online programs, which include degrees in business administration and communication, pay discounted tuition.
Jackson State UniversityJackson, MS
Admissions Rate 68%
Default Rate 16%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 40%
Online Enrollment 13%
JSU offers online programs, with coursework delivered through the Canvas platform. As one of the most affordable online colleges in Mississippi, JSU offers scholarships and financial aid for online students, and the per-credit online tuition rate is comparable to the tuition rate for in-state, on-campus students.
One of the leading online schools in Mississippi, JSU offers a fully online bachelor's of science in professional interdisciplinary studies. Students may customize the degree to meet their professional goals, and transfer students may bring credits from previous studies — up to 62 credits earned at a community college or up to 93 credits earned at a four-year institution.
Blue Mountain CollegeBlue Mountain, MS
Admissions Rate 99%
Default Rate 16%
Retention Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 55%
Online Enrollment 11%
BMU is one of the most respected online colleges in Mississippi. The institution offers both core curriculum courses and bachelor's of science degrees in business, psychology, and criminal justice. Online courses last eight weeks and are delivered through the Blackboard platform. Online students pay per-credit tuition rates, and financial aid is available.
Online BMU students have access to the Guyton Library, the learning center, and technology services. Since courses are only eight weeks long, students who miss a week of class may not pass the course. Online students are assigned academic advisors, who help them find career and academic resources.
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 Mississippi
Mississippi invests in higher education to ensure the state’s population is prepared to meet the demands of a global economy. As the table below illustrates, Mississippi allocates a significant percentage of tax revenue to higher education. In addition, the percentage of state residents over age 25 who hold an associate degree exceeds the national average. Online colleges in Mississippi offer students high-quality learning experiences to prepare them for successful careers.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$6,896||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||9.5%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||8.6%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||12.9%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||7.7%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Mississippi
Consider the cost of attending online colleges in Mississippi when deciding where to enroll and what program to pursue. Determine whether a two- or four-year degree is the best pathway to fulfilling your academic and professional goals. Financial aid and scholarships are available to defray the cost of education; both may typically be applied toward online and on-campus degree programs.
Online schools in Mississippi provide outstanding educational experiences at an affordable cost. Earning a two-year degree at a public institution in Mississippi costs 20% less than the U.S. average, and earning a four-year degree at a public online college in Mississippi costs 23% less than average.
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether you qualify for federal financial support, such as grants, loans, and work-study funds. If possible, opt for grants to cover costs for online colleges in Mississippi, since those funds do not have to be repaid. A work-study program is also a good choice; these programs allow students to earn a modest income and job experience while in college.
Cost for Online Programs in Mississippi
Financial aid is available to both on-campus students and those in online colleges in Mississippi. Be sure to complete your FAFSA if enrolling in an online school in Mississippi, and check with your school’s financial aid department to learn whether you meet the criteria for available scholarships and fellowships. Active duty military members and veterans often qualify for reduced tuition rates. Online tuition is generally the same as on-campus tuition, but distance learners save on expenses such as transportation and housing.
Cost of Living by Region
Where you live after graduation affects career opportunities, and the location of your school affects tuition and living costs. The cost of living varies throughout the country, so the expense involved in attending online schools in Mississippi differs from other states. The table below compares average housing pricing in Mississippi cities to those in other states.
Scholarships for Mississippi College Students
- Nissan Scholarship
Full tuition, fees, and a book allowance; must be a Mississippi high school graduate with at least a 2.5 GPA and a score of 20 on the ACT.
- Capers Scholarships
TBD; must be a college student from Mississippi pursuing a liberal arts degree.
- Mae Meriwether Zifcak Girl Scout Scholarship
$1,000; must be a graduating senior registered with the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi Council.
- Miriam Scarborough Scholarship
Varies; must be a female Mississippi high school graduate with a 2.5 GPA and either a 24 ACT score or a 1,100 SAT score.
- Mississippi Council of the Blind James Doyle Case Memorial Scholarship
$1,500 each year for four years; must be either legally blind or have a legally blind guardian and must have a 3.0 GPA.
- Mississippi Municipal League Scholarships
$2,000; must be the child or the grandchild of an employee or elected official of state municipalities or a high school senior who works part-time for a municipality.
- Young Farmer Scholarship Foundation
$3,000; must be a Farm Bureau member who is pursuing a degree in agriculture.
- Magnolia Bar Foundation Scholarship Fund - Leonard McClellan Scholarship
$1,000; must be a Mississippi high school graduate with an interest in jurisprudence.
- American Public Works Association Scholarship Fund (Mississippi Chapter)
TBD; must be a full-time junior or senior enrolled in a public university with an interest in public works.
- Bill Hunsberger Scholarship Fund
$1,700; rotates among a journalism major at the University of Southern Mississippi, a journalism major at the University of Mississippi, and a political science major involved with student media at Mississippi State University.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
Most scholarships are applicable to studies at online colleges in Mississippi; students are not generally required to attend on-campus programs in order to benefit from these awards, which allows students to pursue the type of degree program that supports their lifestyle. However, verify this by checking each scholarship’s requirements.
Employment Outlook in Mississippi
Mississippi’s greatest employment opportunities are in the state’s key industries, including agriculture, trade, transportation and utilities, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. While Mississippi’s unemployment rate is a bit higher than the national average and its wages are slightly less than average, the low cost of living means residents live comfortably for less money. The low cost of living makes attending school and working in Mississippi an attractive option.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||5.3%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$38,300||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Mississippi
- Office and administrative support occupations: This industry includes administrative assistants, financial clerks, statistical assistants, and legal secretaries. These professionals use clerical skills to lead office functions and support the ongoing operations of an organization.
- Sales and related occupations: This industry includes professionals in advertising, insurance, and real estate brokerage, along with investment and travel experts. Sales professionals meet customer demand, needs, and expectations.
- Production operations: Production operations professionals have expertise in manufacturing and work in areas such as assembly, baking, butchery, food and tobacco processing, and precious stone and metal working.
Top Employers in Mississippi
Accreditation for Colleges in Mississippi
The only online schools in Mississippi to consider attending are accredited institutions. Employers look favorably upon graduates of accredited degree programs; an authority such as the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has evaluated each school’s academic rigor. The ED and CHEA recognize six regional accreditation bodies that accredit schools across the country. Most institutions are regionally accredited, but CHEA also approves some agencies to award national accreditation, which is typically reserved for vocational and distance learning.
Both the ED and CHEA accredit schools that offer online degree programs and monitor institutions to assess the continued quality of their offerings. The ED reviews accrediting agencies and ensures they enforce accreditation standards. CHEA comprises 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. The ED and CHEA each maintain a list of accredited institutions on their respective websites.
Resources for Students in Mississippi
- Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning This website offers information about Mississippi’s eight public universities, including information on financial aid and academic and student affairs. It also disseminates findings of the University Research Center, which collects data regarding local and state issues.
- College Countdown MS This resource provides practical guidance about the admission and financial aid application processes, to support high school seniors as they prepare for college.
- Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool This website provides information for those who plan to transfer to a Mississippi public institution, and it explains educational options for adult learners.
- Southern Regional Education Board This organization reports on critical issues in education to inform policy and improve teaching and learning at every level. It allows data sharing among organizations so they can benefit from one another’s knowledge.
- Get2College This website connects students to counseling and additional resources that prepare them to pursue higher education. The organization works closely with guidance counselors across the state and provides coaching through its Get2College Centers.