Why go to College in Wyoming?
Wyoming may be the least populous state in the country, but it still has plenty to offer potential residents and students. The University of Wyoming reports that a 2016 study of state support for higher education ranks Wyoming as the best state in the country for its low tuition costs and amount spent per student. If you’re interested in attending online colleges in Wyoming, this page will help you make a decision.
Wyoming’s population of around 586,000 is the lowest in the country, and the state’s size makes it the second least densely populated state after Alaska. Cheyenne is the state’s largest city, with an estimated population of around 63,000.
Wyoming’s climate is semiarid, with many areas receiving fewer than 10 inches of rainfall per year. Summer days are hot, with temperatures reaching 80 to 90 degrees fahrenheit, but it cools down during the night, with temperatures dropping below 50 degrees. Winters are generally cold, with more mild temperatures in some regions.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
The state is home to 17 colleges and universities. The University of Wyoming, located in Laramie, is the state’s only public four-year university, and Wyoming Catholic College, located in Lander, is the only private four-year college.
- Sporting Events
There are no professional sports teams in the state, but UW’s college teams are a popular attraction, particularly for basketball and football. Rodeo events are also popular, and the city of Casper hosts the College National Finals Rodeo each year.
The state’s sparse population leads to a lack of nightlife in smaller towns, but Cheyenne is home to many bars, restaurants, music venues, and other attractions. Laramie is also host to many cultural events due to its proximity to UW, like art showings and lectures.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Wyoming?
Online schools in Wyoming are a popular choice due to the state’s rural population, but there are still many options when it comes to campus programs, including community colleges, technical schools, and four-year colleges. Campus courses give you a deeper sense of community since you see your classmates and teachers every week. Many students find it easier to complete assignments and stay focused with regular class meetings. You also have easy access to all campus resources, such as the library, the computer center, the tutoring center, and academic advising.
If you live far from a major city or have a busy schedule, attending one of the many online colleges in Wyoming might be your best option. Online courses give you much greater freedom to complete coursework at your own pace and on your own schedule. Some courses contain synchronous components that require you to log on at specific times, but in general, you’re responsible for completing work independently.
Juggling work and family duties might make online learning an ideal solution to gain your degree, but it’s important to realize that the format brings its own unique challenges. There is much less handholding in online courses. You’re responsible for making sure that you’re current on assignments and that they are completed on time.
A hybrid program combines online and campus courses, providing the flexibility of online education with the support of classroom learning. Hybrid programs may offer certain courses on campus and others online, or they may allow you to choose the format for each course you take. In many cases, the in-person courses only require you to be on campus once or twice a week, and usually in the evenings. If your schedule ever becomes too hectic, some online schools in Wyoming may allow you to switch over to fully online courses either temporarily or permanently.
Popular Degree Programs in Wyoming
Two of the most popular majors in Wyoming are anthropology/archaeology and elementary education, which reflect the state’s Native American history and its focus on public education. Students pursue degrees in anthropology/archaeology at a higher proportion than anywhere else in the country, while elementary education is the most commonly earned degree in the state.
This degree concentrates on the study of human societies, both past and present, using scientific processes, lab work, and tools of cultural interpretation to examine cultural evolution throughout history. Wyoming has a history with many Native American tribes, such as the Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone.
Elementary education majors focus on the fundamental processes of learning and cognition, giving young students basic subject knowledge and helping them develop social skills. Wyoming’s dedication to education is indicated in its strong public funding for college and K-12 education programs.
BEST ONLINE COLLEGES IN WYOMING FOR 2017
As a ranking of the best online colleges in Wyoming, this list is intended to help you find the school that best suits your needs. The schools on this list offer affordable tuitions and flexible learning formats. Whether it’s a two-year degree, a bachelor’s, or a graduate degree, these schools offer some of the best education opportunities in Wyoming.
University of WyomingLaramie, WY
Admissions Rate 96%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 55%
Online Enrollment 12%
The University of Wyoming, located in laramie, is home to about 14,000 students. As the top online college in Wyoming, UW Distance offers three online bachelor’s degrees, including business administration, family and consumer sciences, and nursing, all of which are degree completion programs. Students must complete all prerequisite requirements through an accredited community college to be eligible for any of the degree completion programs, which may include an associate degree or general education courses.
Wyoming also offers hybrid baccalaureate programs, including degrees in applied science-organizational leadership, psychology, and criminal justice. The bachelor of science in nursing is a program for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The 15-month, hybrid program includes online and on-campus study, in addition to hands-on clinical experiences. Online resources include etutoring and an IT help desk.
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 Wyoming
Wyoming allocates a large percentage of tax revenue to postsecondary education and spending, more than doubling the national average. Despite elevated spending, educational attainment rates in Wyoming are slightly below average for bachelor’s and graduate degrees, though the state does boast a high rate of associate degree completion that’s above the national average.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$17,300||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||12.4%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||10.3%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||17.1%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||8.6%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Wyoming
Tuition at public two-year colleges in Wyoming is slightly lower than the national average, while four-year tuition is almost half that of the national average, making it easier to afford an education in the state. However, it’s still a good idea to compare different schools, as tuition rates will vary.
The following table compares public tuition in Wyoming to national averages. While this gives you some idea of the price of education at online schools in Wyoming, it’s important to remember that these figures don’t include other related costs, such as textbooks or living expenses.
Attending on campus or online colleges in Wyoming can alleviate the cost of college, but students should still fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA gives you access to several funding sources, including scholarships, grants, and loans. When funding your education, grants and scholarships should always be your first choice, since this money doesn’t have to be repaid. If you must take out student loans, federal loans are preferable to private loans, because they typically offer more lenient repayment policies.
Cost for Online Programs in Wyoming
Online schools in Wyoming function similarly to campus programs, and any financial aid opportunities can be applied to online programs in the same way. Online courses are typically the same price as campus courses; some schools offer discounted tuition rates to online students. Taking an online program may also allow you to save on many of the secondary costs associated with education, such as transportation, child care, meals, and school supplies. Many schools and textbook websites allow you to rent online textbooks for a discounted price if you’re taking distance education classes.
Cost of Living by Region
Cost of living can vary immensely between different states and cities, which may have an impact on the decisions you make about your education. Most cities in Wyoming boast an extremely low cost of living, making it easier to afford the costs associated with school, but the state’s low population does mean fewer options for higher education. Conversely, larger urban areas in neighboring states, like Colorado or Washington, have more options for education but a much higher cost of living.
Scholarships for Wyoming College Students
- Hathaway Scholarship
$840-$1,680/semester; available to students attending UW or any Wyoming Community College. Must graduate from a Wyoming high school with a minimum 2.5 GPA and an ACT score of at least 19. Higher award amounts require higher GPA and ACT scores.
- Douvas Scholarship
$500; must demonstrate financial need and be a first-generation American student planning to attend UW or any Wyoming Community College.
- Wyoming Scholars Award
$1,000; must be a Wyoming resident applying to UW with at least a 3.5 GPA and an ACT score of 25.
- Trustees' Scholars Award
Amount varies; must be a Wyoming resident applying to UW who demonstrates academic excellence through GPA, test scores, and rigor of high school curriculum. Students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA once admitted to UW.
- UW Alumni Association Scholarships
$1,500/year; available to children of UWAA members, this scholarship is selected on the basis of academic achievement, leadership, and extracurricular activities.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
In general, scholarship funds can be applied to on-campus or online colleges in Wyoming. However, it’s important to check with individual schools or scholarship agencies to ensure that their awards apply to online students.
Employment Outlook in Wyoming
While Wyoming’s population is small, the state offers unique opportunities for employment that reflect its varied economy. Mean annual wages in Wyoming are below the national average, but so is the cost of living, and the unemployment rate is slightly lower than the national average. Mining and government work rank among the top industries in the state. Many government workers are employed by national parks or other state agencies, and UW ranks as the state’s largest employer.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||4.0%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$44,030||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Wyoming
- Mining: Mining is the largest industry in Wyoming, accounting for 20% of the state’s total GDP in 2016. Mineral extraction and energy production account for much of the revenue in the state.
- Government: The U.S. government owns about 50% of the landmass of Wyoming, and another major source of revenue is tourism from national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
- Finance: Finance, insurance, and real estate makes up the third-largest industry in Wyoming. With no corporate income tax, the state is known for its business-friendly policies, which attract many companies.
Top Employers in Wyoming
State Exchange Programs for Wyoming College Students
While there are several options for online colleges in Wyoming, the state also maintains exchange programs with several neighboring states, allowing you to attend out-of-state schools at a reduced in-state tuition rate. Unlike international exchange programs, these state-to-state arrangements are often permanent, allowing you to essentially enroll as a full-time or part-time student at an out-of-state school and take advantage of increased options for education.
Western Undergraduate Exchange
Eligible States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
National Student Exchange
Eligible States: All U.S. states, Canada, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands
Accreditation for Colleges in Wyoming
Accreditation means that an institution is academically reputable. When a school is accredited, it means that a governing body has examined its education practices and determined that they meet certain professional standards. This is particularly important when you’re looking at online schools, because accreditation lets you know that you’re not being scammed. Most online colleges receive similar accreditation, though there are some bodies, such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, who only accredit distance learning programs.
National and regional accreditation are the most common. National accreditation is typically for trade and vocational programs, while regional accreditation is for academically-oriented education. While both accreditations are valid, many regional colleges may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools. When looking at online schools, it’s a good idea to check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which keeps a database of reputable accrediting organizations.
Resources for Students in Wyoming
- Wyoming Department of Education: The state Department of Education offers general information on education policies in the state along with resources for college students, including learning opportunities, college preparation, and career readiness.
- Wyoming School-University Partnership: A statewide conglomeration of public schools, community colleges, and education organizations. The Wyoming School-University Partnership works alongside UW to improve education through initiatives such as Start Strong, which prepares high school students for the challenges of college.
- Wyoming Community College Commission: Bringing together all the community colleges in the state, WCCC offers information on college admissions, campus locations, distance education, and financial aid opportunities.
- Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education: The WICHE is a regional organization that organizes educational opportunities for students in Wyoming and neighboring states. Their site offers information on programs, including student exchange agreements, distance education, and workforce development.
- Wyoming Adult Education: Part of the Community College Commission, the WAE offers several resources to help continuing-education students to transition into academic life, including college and career preparation, ESL training, and basic academic skills refreshers.