Why go to College in Utah?
A bustling economy is just one of the many benefits that awaits a prospective Utah college student. The state boasts competitive industries such as aerospace engineering and digital media. Residents are well educated, and many study at traditional colleges and universities or online schools in Utah. A survey, conducted by WalletHub, rated Salt Lake City one of the best cities for job seekers in the U.S.
Utah’s population continues to grow as more people move into the region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state has a population of 3,051,217.
Utah has a relatively dry climate. The summers are warm, with temperatures consistently being recorded above 90 degrees fahrenheit. This is followed by cold winters with below freezing temperatures. Annual precipitation is moderate, with nearly 18 inches of rainfall.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
Approximately 60 universities and colleges populate Utah. Most public colleges and universities are located in the state capital, Salt Lake City. The state’s private institutions specialize in beauty, medicine, court reporting, education, applied technology, and radiology.
- Sporting Events
Utah has sports teams in national, local, and collegiate leagues. The Utah Jazz are the state’s official NBA team. The Utah Grizzlies, part of the ECHL, are part of a local hockey league. For bicyclists, Utah hosts the Tour of Utah, a multistage bicycle competition. Collegiate teams include the Utah State University Utes and the BYU Cougars.
Salt Lake City is the nightlife hub of Utah. Hundreds of clubs, bars, and restaurants are found in the city. Certain bars cater to specific musical tastes, such as piano, jazz, and country music. There are many local vineyards around the city.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Utah?
A traditional on-campus college experience offers students the opportunity to interact with peers and professors on a regular basis. Students either live on-campus or commute to a local college or university. Traditional higher education institutions include residence halls, cafeterias, sports facilities, and academic buildings. Learners attend on-site classes and interact directly with instructors. Traditional universities are involved in many activities and events organized by local and national social groups.
Online programs enable students to complete courses and earn their degree from a distance. Many universities have a department that handles online programs and affairs. Some schools have a faculty that only teaches online courses. Online schools in Utah are the best option for most busy professionals. Students with full-time jobs can maintain their work-life balance with asynchronous courses and flexible, synchronous programs. Online learners communicate with instructors through email and internet applications. Some online programs have required campus residencies or in-person requirements for projects and exams.
A hybrid program features characteristics of traditional, on-campus and online courses. Students meet in class at specific times designated by the instructor; an in-class schedule is usually part of the syllabus. Students are required to attend class meetings to receive full credit. Reputable online colleges in Utah list the format of their degree and certification programs on their website. Hybrid programs are a good option for students who are more hands-on learners that need a schedule to stay on track. It’s also a good option for commuters and working professionals who need flexibility, as many programs schedule their in-person requirements on weekends or in the evening.
Popular Degree Programs in Utah
The most popular majors in a state are usually related to the economically prosperous industries. Many students pick majors based on jobs that will be in abundance after graduation. Listed below, are the top two majors in Utah.
Community and Public Health
A community and public health program emphasizes solving public health issues on the local, national, and global-level. Students learn how to educate the general public about health issues and prevent the spread of diseases. Utah data centers that specialize in disaster recovery employ many public health workers.
The elementary education major prepares students to instruct children in grades 1-8. Programs are research based and include on-site training requirements. Graduates commonly apply for teacher certification at local Utah educational facilities. Elementary education programs usually offer students the opportunity to choose specializations, like special education.
Best Online Colleges for Utah in 2017
The best online colleges in Utah section is a resource that highlights the online and hybrid programs offered by Utah institutions. The Utah System of Higher Education created many initiatives, including StepUp Utah, to increase state college enrollment. We examine tuition, admission requirements, and coursework to calculate each school’s ranking. This guide focuses on reputable programs throughout the state. All of the featured colleges and universities are regionally or nationally accredited. We listed the top online colleges in Utah below.
University of Utah
Admissions Rate 81%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 4%
At Utah, industrious thinking and innovation permeate every program, and student and faculty research in areas such as technology and engineering has sparked many startup companies. Along with more than 80 traditional majors, Utah offers several online degrees for students who are unable to attend classes on campus. Online bachelor's degree programs include economics, nursing, psychology, and social work. Some programs are available in a hybrid format, which combines online and on-campus courses. One of the top online colleges in Utah, the university's intensive gen-ed experience allows online students to complete credit requirements while immersing themselves in the study of global citizenship.
Utah State University
Admissions Rate 97%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 49%
Online Enrollment 19%
Since 1888, Utah State has morphed from a small-town college in the Utah mountains to an institution recognized for research, technology, and intellectual leadership. With several bachelor's degrees available online, distance learners can be part of the Utah State community without leaving home. Online programs include agribusiness, communicative disorders and deaf education, economics, family life studies, liberal arts, and psychology. Of all online colleges in Utah, Utah State is the only one to offer a degree in agribusiness, in which students study aspects of food production, such as marketing, financing, and management. Online student resources include tutoring, academic advising, and software discounts.
|Default Rate N/A||Retention Rate 84%||Graduation Rate 63%||Online Enrollment 100%||
Founded in 1891, IU has provided career-focused distance education since 1978. IU offers online bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration, graphic arts, nursing, respiratory care, software development, and website development. Some of IU's online programs offer areas of emphasis. For example, students earning their BS in business administration may specialize in human resources, new media marketing, or technology. The BS in accounting offers a specialization in forensics accounting, which involves studies in financial crimes such as embezzlement and securities fraud. One of the top online colleges in Utah, IU's services for online learners include personalized student support, success coaches, and a live tutoring center.
Western Governors University
|Default Rate 7%||Retention Rate 75%||Graduation Rate 14%||Online Enrollment 100%||
Established in 1997 by governors seeking to reinvent higher education, WGU is a virtual college offering degrees across disciplines. This entirely online college in Utah offers affordable, competency-based education, with virtual classrooms utilizing state-of-the-art technology. One of the top online schools in Utah, WGU offers baccalaureate degrees in the fields of education, business, information technology, and healthcare. The Teachers College at WGU offers the largest selection of degree programs, including BA licensure programs in interdisciplinary studies, special education, math, and science. BS degrees in business include concentrations in management, healthcare management, and IT management. The programs are designed for working professionals, and online resources include mentors, an online bookstore, and library services.
Southern Utah University
Admissions Rate 72%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 47%
Online Enrollment 5%
SUU's online programs incorporate project-based learning to promote student engagement. Students gain academic knowledge, skills, and training necessary to succeed in the workplace. Located in Cedar City, SUU offers online bachelor’s degree programs in accountancy, communication, general studies, and management. SUU’s AACSB-accredited bachelor's in business management is customizable and provides internship opportunities to facilitate real-world learning. One of the top online schools in Utah, SUU offers fully online BA and BS degrees in communication, which produce leaders who can engage audiences and build global relationships. Students in all of SUU's online programs complete rigorous curricula and gain hands-on experience.
Weber State University
|Default Rate 8%||Retention Rate 60%||Graduation Rate 34%||Online Enrollment 9%||
With opportunities to take classes at multiple locations, in the evenings, and in distance education formats, WSU provides students options to balance work, life, and education. WSU offers fully online bachelor’s degrees in health information, health services administration, integrated studies, medical laboratory, sales, and radiological science. Among WSU's notable online programs is the BS in professional sales, which immerses students in the art and science of selling. The program covers sales channels, advanced selling techniques, proposal development, team leadership, and sales presentation strategies. WSU is also one of the top online schools in Utah for interior design; its program boasts a 99% job placement rate, with more than 60 companies recruiting graduates.
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 Utah
Over 40% of Utah’s state residents received an associate degree or higher within the last five years. Utah boasts a highly educated population that pursues jobs in information technology and other skilled disciplines. Utah allocates over 7% of its annual tax revenue to higher education institutions, which is more than the national average.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$6,062||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||7.3%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||9.6%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||20.8%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||10.4%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Utah
Schools vary in price, and public institutions tend to be less expensive than private schools. Choosing to live on-campus adds a room and board charge to annual college expenses. Online schools in Utah provide information about tuition on their websites and through the financial aid department, and they are sometimes less expensive than on-campus programs. Students are eligible for financial aid whether they take courses online or on-campus.
Room, board, and transportation all factor into a student’s total expenses. This table provides information regarding standard public higher-education tuition in Utah. Projected data was gathered from College Board to complete an accurate comparison.
Most college students need some form of financial aid assistance to pay for school. Loans, grants, scholarships, and waivers are the most common forms of financial aid. Banks and lending institutions disburse loans. Students must repay the full loan amount plus interest after graduation. Social organizations and institutions issue scholarships. Students do not have to repay scholarship monies, and some renew each semester. Grants are given based on a student’s financial status and need. Federal and state governments distribute grants through the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
Cost of Living by Region
Larger cities, especially ones located along the coast, are more expensive to live in than interior states and cities. Utah’s cost of living is relatively low and affordable for most college students. Cedar City and St. George offer affordable apartments and homes. Students attending online schools in Utah save on commuting expenses. You should consider the cost of living for the state your college is located in. A region’s cost of living greatly affects college tuition and fees.
Cost for Online Programs in Utah
Students enrolled at online schools in Utah qualify for financial aid assistance in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans. When applying for the FAFSA, you provide information about your school and tax filings. After completing the form, you are given independent or dependent student status. Independent students are 24 or older and financially support themselves. Typically, online program tuition costs the same as on-campus tuition. Your financial aid award reflects the projected cost of tuition, books, and fees as a dependent or independent student. Online students save on transportation, housing, and other fees associated with on-campus residency.
Scholarships for Utah College Students
- Horatio Alger Association Utah Scholarship
$10,000; must be a high school senior in Utah with a gross family income of $55,000 or less. Students must also demonstrate community service involvement and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA
- Utah Occupational Therapy Association
$500; student must be an associate or master’s degree-candidate with active membership in the Utah Occupational Therapy Association
- Utah New Century Scholarship
$1,250; must be a high school graduate with a minimum 3.5 GPA enrolled in an associate or bachelor’s program at a Utah higher education institution.
- Utah Jumpstart Coalition Financial Literacy Scholarship
$1,250; must be a Utah high school senior that demonstrates knowledge about financial literacy
- Henry & Joyce W Sumid Scholarship
$5,000; must be a high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student majoring in theatre arts.
- The American Radio Relay League Rocky Mountain Division (ARRL)
$500; must be a high school senior graduate or undergraduate student with a letter of recommendation from an ARRL member
- Marian R. Delano Memorial Scholarship
$1,500; applicant must be a female with a private pilot license or membership in the 99s southwest section.
- Regents’ Scholarship
$1,000; must be a high school student with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Must be enrolled in advanced math, biology, chemistry, or physics courses.
- Utah Regents’ Scholarship Exemplary Academic Achievement Award
$1,250; must be a Utah high school student with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5. Must have at least a “B” average in all required courses.
- Dr. F Craig Sudbury Memorial Scholarship
$500-1,000; applicant must be a graduate of the Job Corps program with a high evaluation score and community service involvement.
- Equality Leadership Fund Scholarship
$1,000-3,000; applicant must be a Utah resident with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and proven community service for the LGBT community.
- National History Museum of Utah Youth Teaching Youth Scholarship
$500-2,000; applicant must be a graduate of the National History Museum of Utah Youth Teaching Youth Program with a minimum 3.0 GPA
- Home Education Leadership Scholarship
$500-3,000; applicant must show proof of five years of home-school education, be college bound, have earned acceptance into a four-year college or university, and demonstrate financial need. Preference is given to students with a minimum GPA of 3.25.
- The COG Scholarship
$500-1,500; Applicant must be a student from Highland, Cottonwood, or Olympus High School in Utah and have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also show intention to study math, science, or finance at a four-year institution.
Employment Outlook in Utah
This table provides information regarding the future employment outlook for Utah. We used projected data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to create a table highlighting the state’s unemployment rate and annual mean wage. Utah’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average. The state’s economy continues to expand with college graduates seeking jobs in energy and natural resources, aerospace, and information technology. Government and transportation jobs contribute to the state’s diversified job market.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||3.5%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$45,490||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Utah
- Advanced Composites: Utah leads the nation in advanced composite production. Advanced composite materials are vital to the aerospace industry. Many Utah composite factories produce materials used in airplanes and aerospace engineering.
- Aerospace: Utah is home to nearly 1,000 aerospace companies that employ over 30,000 local residents. Many state universities and colleges offer specialized aerospace courses to prepare graduates for roles in this industry.
- Data Centers: The National Security Agency, Adobe, and eBay have all built their main data centers in Utah. The state’s location near technological hotspots like Silicon Valley and Seattle makes it a popular choice for major companies.
Top Employers in Utah
- University Health Care: 10,000 employees
- University of Utah Health Care: 7,866 employees
- Brigham Young University: 4,000 employees
State Exchange Program for Utah College Students
A State-to-state exchange program differs from an international student exchange program. State-to-state programs are exclusively for residents within the continental United States and its territories. These programs offer incentives to out-of-state students with limited higher education options within their region or state. Students receive reduced tuition rates, grants, and scholarships to attend out-of-state schools. The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), National Student Exchange, and WICHE and T.H. Bell programs are popular options for Utah residents.
Western Undergraduate Exchange
Eligible States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming
National Student Exchange
Eligible States: All 50 states including US territories, US Virgin Islands, and Guam
WICHE & T.H. Bell Programs
Eligible States: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Accreditation for Colleges in Utah
Regional and national accreditation are the two most common forms for higher-education institutions. Accreditation agencies evaluate a school’s academic programs to determine if they meet standards of academic rigor. In the United States, there are six regional accreditation agencies. The Northwest Accreditation Commission oversees regional accreditation for Utah colleges and universities. All public state colleges and Universities in Utah are regionally accredited.
Most vocational, trade, and career-based schools receive national accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation regulates national accreditation agencies. These agencies oversee the certification and programs that trade and vocational schools offer. There is no standardization for nationally accredited agencies, because each agency evaluates a unique program specialization. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is a national agency that oversees many online degree and certification programs.
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious and widely recognized form of endorsement. Credits from these institutions are easily transferable, and school diplomas are widely accepted. Nationally accredited schools are less expensive than regionally accredited institutions, but credits are not easily transferable. Online colleges in Utah reserve the right to deny credits from nationally accredited schools. Online programs offered through public institutions accept credits from other public schools.
Resources for Students in Utah
- Utah Navajo Trust Fund: The Utah state government receives a percentage of royalties from oil settlements in the Montezuma creek region of the the state. Funds collected from the Trust are distributed to Utah’s Navajo communities. Trust money is used to provide higher education financial aid for tribe members.
- Utah System of Higher Education (USHE): All of the public colleges and universities in Utah are members of the USHE. The state’s board of regents governs the USHE and provides administrative input. The organization’s website presents statistical information about Utah’s higher education institutions to the general public.
- Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP): The UESP is a 529-savings plan intended to cover higher education expenses for Utah residents. Donors receive tax credits and deductions for contributing to a beneficiary’s UESP account. Applicants can open accounts for more than one beneficiary with a maximum balance of $430,000.
- Utah Education Network (UEN): The UEN connects all local and statewide school districts within Utah. Through UEN, instructors gain access to specialized computer software and programs that help students. The website provides information about Utah’s continuing education programs and online colleges in Utah.
- The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA): The UHEAA disburses loans to Utah residents through the CornerStone Education Loan Services Program. The UHEAA oversees the Repay Centsibly program to improve financial literacy, prevent loan default, and assist with loan repayment.