Why go to College in Kansas?
Kansas blends the small-town feel of America’s heartland with the innovative culture of urban centers like Wichita, Manhattan, and Kansas City. Its higher education options range from major research centers like Kansas State University to community-oriented colleges such as Mid-America Nazarene University. The Kansas City Royals and the Wichita Thunder offer high-value sporting events while Massachusetts Street in Lawrence and the hotspots of Aggieville in Manhattan give students plenty to do during their free time.
Kansas’ population of 2.9 million people is spread out over thousands of square miles of wheat, soybean, and corn fields. With around 390,000 people, Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and is home to many of the state’s colleges and universities.
Kansans know that blazing hot summers give way to frigid winters. The average annual temperature is 53.4°F. In the spring and early summer, Kansas is known for its severe weather.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
Of Kansas’ 99 institutions of higher education, 32 are public schools. These include the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. Private schools include Bethel College in North Newton and Baker University in Baldwin City.
- Sporting Events
Kansas hosts a number of professional sports teams, including the Wichita Wingnuts, an independent baseball team that plays in the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the U.S. In addition, the NCAA voted the University of Kansas’ arena “the most intimidating” in basketball.
Featuring plenty of hip urban centers near its state university campuses, Kansas offers a vibrant nightlife scene. In Manhattan and Lawrence, for instance, college students can hang out in various pubs on game day or find an assortment of nightclubs on the weekends.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Kansas?
Attending on-campus programs offers students the traditional collegiate experience. Besides friendships and instructor interactions, Kansas’ higher education institutions also offer on-site labs for future scientists, conservatories for budding musicians, and student farms to give tomorrow’s agriculturalists hands-on experience. Traditional students also have access to on-campus events, student clubs, ROTC, libraries, and college resource centers. The ideal student for this type of program is usually fresh out of high school and has few commitments outside school.
Online schools in Kansas are designed for working professionals, distance learners, and those raising families. The courses and academic rigor are the same as on-campus courses, but digital learners typically enjoy the flexibility to study when it is convenient for them. These students choose online colleges in Kansas for a variety of reasons. Some want to avoid the hassle of a commute, while others may want to spend more time with family or save money by living at home. Shy or reticent students may also find class participation easier and more natural in a digital space.
Hybrid academic programs blend an online degree’s flexibility with a traditional face-to-face learning experience. Many hybrid programs offer in-person residential courses on weekends or during abbreviated summer terms in order to minimize the disruption to a student’s schedule. Other schools incorporate an internship, practicum, or lab component into their program’s face-to-face classes while permitting students to complete more theory-based courses online. Hybrid programs are especially popular in the hard sciences and at the graduate level.
Popular Degree Programs in Kansas
Kansas relies on agriculture, energy, and natural resource production for its economic backbone. The state’s higher education institutions, including online colleges in Kansas, reflect its commitment to operating effective businesses in these areas. According to Business Insider, the most popular major in Kansas is business management and administration, and a disproportionately large percentage of students choose architectural engineering.
Business Management and Administration
This major is ideal for students seeking careers in finance, accounting, human resources, supply chain management, or marketing. From initial product development through the final phases of delivery and customer service, Kansas’ diverse economy gives students opportunities to gain practical experience with business management and administration in areas like agriculture, energy, and natural resources.
Learning everything from planning to construction, architectural engineering students are taught the full work cycle of engineered systems at large industrial and residential facilities. These systems include electric power, communications, acoustics, lighting, HVAC, fire safety, and sustainability. With this major, future engineers can take advantage of the swelling number of architectural engineering firms in Kansas City.
Best Online Colleges in Kansas for 2018
The following ranking of the best online colleges in Kansas offers a glimpse of the state’s top higher education institutions. Since programs differ in length, emphasis, cost, and reputation, you need to research online schools in Kansas to determine the ones that best suit your needs and interests. Applicants will want to consider a broad range of characteristics such as the school’s reputation, its academic programs, and its overall cost when selecting their top choices.
Baker UniversityBaldwin City, KS
Admissions Rate 82%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 60%
Online Enrollment 19%
BU is a private university with alumni who have become successful Fortune 500 CEOs, politicians, and best-selling authors. This online college in Kansas offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students can earn a bachelor's degree in business administration with several concentration options, including business leadership, management, or strategic business communication. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice and an associate degree in business are also available.
Distance learners at the graduate level can enroll in programs like education, business administration, and healthcare management. All online classes and course materials are fully web-based and can be taken asynchronously, though upon acceptance to a program, students begin taking classes as a cohort. Programs run throughout the year and applications are accepted year-round.
University of Saint MaryLeavenworth, KS
Admissions Rate 49%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 26%
Distance learners at USM can enroll in four fully online degree programs: an RN to BSN, an MS in nursing, a BS in health information management, or an MBA. Fully web-based programs are available asynchronously without any residency requirements, and applicants are accepted from across the country.
This online school in Kansas also offers a number of hybrid programs that are administered in a synchronous format. Online programs have several start dates throughout the year, and applications are accepted at any time. All online degrees earned through USM are the same as those earned by traditional students.
MidAmerica Nazarene UniversityOlathe, KS
Admissions Rate 61%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 55%
Online Enrollment 14%
MANU was established in 1966 as an evangelical Christian university. All students at this online college in Kansas must take several foundational courses that emphasize faith and biblical values. MANU offers a number of fully online degree programs from the associate through the graduate level. Available programs include an accelerated associate degree in business and a bachelor's degree in business administration.
Distance learners with an associate degree can enroll in one of the school's bachelor's degree completion programs. MANU also offers a number of certification programs in teaching, nursing, and counseling. At this time, MANU does not accept distance learners from all states. Online students pay the same rate as in-state residents.
Friends UniversityWichita, KS
Admissions Rate 58%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 21%
Friends University is a Christian university with a Quaker heritage. The university's values include respect, inclusion, service, and excellence (RISE), and it teaches students to apply these values to their studies and everyday lives. Distance learners at Friends can earn degrees at the bachelor's and master's levels. Undergraduate options include programs in business management, human resource management, and computer information systems management.
Master's degrees are also available in business administration, global business administration, cybersecurity, education, and healthcare leadership. All programs listed are fully online with no on-campus requirements. This online college in Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Friends University's online programs are not available to students from all U.S. states at this time.
Fort Hays State UniversityHays, KS
Admissions Rate 86%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 43%
Online Enrollment 66%
Online classes at FHSU are taught by the same instructors and follow the same curricula as on-campus classes. This online school in Kansas offers more than 50 fully online degree programs and certificate options to distance learners. Degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Undergraduates can earn degrees in organizational leadership, information networking and telecommunications, sociology, nursing, and more.
Aside from its undergraduate offerings, graduate programs are available in a variety of disciplines, including history, business administration, and special education. Academic sessions begin in fall, spring, and summer, though prospective students are welcome to apply at any time. Online students are accepted from across the country and internationally.
Emporia State UniversityEmporia, KS
Admissions Rate 87%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 42%
Online Enrollment 30%
ESU offers several online degree programs that can be taken without setting foot on campus. Like many other online schools in Kansas, ESU offers programs that can be taken through a combination of on-campus and web-based classes. Undergraduate students can earn bachelor's degrees in interdisciplinary studies, accounting, elementary education, or business administration.
Master's degrees are also available in clinical counseling, business education, and forensic science. Sessions begin in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Full-time students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits per term. Out-of-state distance learners pay a higher tuition than in-state residents.
University of KansasLawrence, KS
Admissions Rate 93%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 61%
Online Enrollment 4%
UK offers a number of fully online and hybrid degree programs along with several certificate options. Students can earn bachelor's degrees in disciplines such as communication studies, psychology, and liberal arts. Health-related degrees are also available in health information management, respiratory care, and nursing. Online courses at UK follow the semester system with terms beginning in the summer and fall.
Distance learners enrolled in online classes can take tests at one of many approved testing centers throughout Kansas. Out-of-state students can complete all assignments and testing through the school's online learning platform. Because all bachelor's degrees at UK are completion programs, undergraduate students at this online school in Kansas must apply as transfer students. A minimum of 60 credit hours must be transferred from another accredited institution.
Southwestern CollegeWinfield, KS
Admissions Rate 91%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 57%
SC seeks to provide high-quality education to working adults, military service members, and individuals seeking to improve their career opportunities. One of the many online schools in Kansas, SC offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields such as accounting, pastoral studies, education, and security management. Distance learners can also earn certification in cybercrime investigation, homeland security, and emergency planning.
The fully web-based courses at SC are taught in accelerated, six-week terms and are delivered asynchronously. Students at SC are able to access all course materials through the school's online learning platform. Out-of-state distance learners are responsible for the same tuition as in-state students.
Newman UniversityWichita, KS
Admissions Rate 56%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 50%
Online Enrollment 5%
NU is a Catholic university that applies biblical teachings to coursework in all degree programs. Undergraduate distance learners can complete their degree in business studies, but must have already earned a minimum of 60 credit hours of relevant coursework from another accredited institution. Students in this program take courses in marketing, managerial finance, and business ethics.
Aside from its one online undergraduate program, NU offers graduate degrees in theology, business administration, and education. All the school's online degree programs are web-based, but some classes require on-campus visits. Because of these requirements, only residents of Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma are able to enroll in distance learning programs since each of these states has approved NU centers.
Tabor CollegeHillsboro, KS
Admissions Rate 55%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 14%
Tabor offers a number of online degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Aside from its programs in Christian ministry, criminology, and nursing, Tabor offers bachelor's degrees in several business disciplines including entrepreneurship, accounting, and human resources. At the associate level, students can earn degrees in urban ministry, Christian studies, and business administration. Online courses at Tabor are delivered asynchronously and without any on-campus requirements.
This online school in Kansas also allows students to view lectures in real-time through virtual streaming. Distance learners are expected to devote a minimum of 10 hours per week to their studies. Tabor allows students to transfer up to 84 credits from another accredited institution. Distance learners pay the same tuition rate as in-state students.
Pittsburg State UniversityPittsburg, KS
Admissions Rate 81%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 48%
Online Enrollment 9%
PSU allows students to enroll in several fully online, asynchronous programs. Distance learners are welcome to apply from throughout the U.S. and internationally. Online students can choose from more than 45 fully web-based programs, including bachelor's degrees in workforce development and nursing. Master's degrees are also available in subjects such as engineering technology, health and human performance, reading, and special education.
Academic sessions begin in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Transfer students must have earned at least 24 credits from another accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Online students pay the same tuition rate as Kansas residents.
Barclay CollegeHaviland, KS
Admissions Rate 75%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 36%
Barclay was founded by Quaker settlers in 1917. Online classes at the school accommodate undergraduate students with a variety of needs and interests. Since classes run in six-week sessions, students are encouraged to apply throughout the year. Bachelor's degrees are offered in subjects such as biblical studies, business management, and psychology. Each week, distance learners must submit reading responses on student discussion boards.
Aside from bachelor's degrees, students can earn certificates in biblical studies, psychology, or ministry training. An associate degree in general studies is another option for students who want to transfer into a bachelor's degree program. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Barclay is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
Central Christian College of KansasMcPherson, KS
|Default Rate 9%||Retention Rate 56%||Graduation Rate 40%||Online Enrollment 59%||
CCCK allows you to earn a Christian education from anywhere in the world through their fully online, asynchronous learning platform. For Kansas residents who can take courses in the evening, a number of classes are offered in a hybrid format. Students seeking bachelor's degrees can take advantage of the school's programs in healthcare administration, criminal justice, and ministry leadership.
Distance learners at this online school in Kansas can also earn associate degrees in the arts or criminal justice. Online students pay the same tuition rate as in-state students. Transfer students who have earned degrees from accredited institutions are welcome to apply. To facilitate the transfer process, CCCK has articulation agreements with several schools throughout Kansas.
Wichita State UniversityWichita, KS
Admissions Rate 95%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 43%
Online Enrollment 5%
Wichita State is one of the top online colleges in Kansas and offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs to distance learners. Students seeking bachelor's degrees can take advantage of programs in criminal justice, dental hygiene, early childhood education, and nursing. The school also offers master's degrees in aging studies, business administration, and instructional design.
Online degree programs can be completed part-time or in an accelerated format. Transfer students from other regionally accredited, four-year institutions are welcome to apply. Web-based classes are available asynchronously through the school's online learning platform. Academic counselors are assigned to students to ensure they complete their degrees on time. Distance learners pay the same tuition rate as in-state students.
Sterling CollegeSterling, KS
Admissions Rate 41%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 62%
Graduation Rate 42%
Online Enrollment 6%
In addition to being one of the best online schools in Kansas, Sterling is a Christian school that seeks to transform students through innovative academic opportunities. The college offers fully web-based bachelor's degree programs in areas such as criminal justice administration, organizational management, and Christian ministries. The secondary education licensure degree program is designed for students who have already earned a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
Courses offered through Sterling's College of Education require students to attend on-campus sessions up to three Saturdays per term. Distance learners pay the same tuition as in-state students. At this time, students from all states but California, Maryland, and Massachusetts are welcome to enroll in Sterling's online programs.
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 Kansas
Kansas spends slightly less money per full-time college student than the national average. Yet, the state allocates a substantially larger percentage of its tax revenue to higher education than the average U.S. state. This expenditure reveals Kansas’ commitment to higher education. In addition, a larger percentage of people in Kansas possess a bachelor’s degree than the national average, while the numbers of associate degree holders and graduate degree holders fall only marginally beneath the national mean.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$6,898||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||7.5%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||8%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||20%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||11%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Kansas
Nearly all higher education opportunities come with a price tag attached. While scholarships, grants, and personal funds can help cover a student’s expenses, paying for a two- to four-year education remains a challenge. Fortunately, the cost of a public institution in Kansas falls below the national average for in-state tuition. Some students choose one of the online schools in Kansas to have the flexibility to earn income while attending school.
Public colleges and universities often provide discounted tuition rates for in-state residents. Two-year institutions sometimes offer even deeper price cuts for in-state learners. In Kansas, the tuition is below the national average. When budgeting for college, however, prospective students should not forget the costs of books, transportation, room, board, and related personal expenses.
Students in the U.S. can take advantage of public and private aid to help alleviate the financial burden of higher education. All students, no matter whether they plan to enroll in online colleges in Kansas or traditional programs, should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is required in order to be eligible for federal grants, loans, and work-study funds.
Grants and scholarships are free and help cover the costs of higher education. Students who receive loans, however, must pay them back in full with interest. For some loans, the federal government will cover part of the interest. To limit post-graduation debt, students should accept scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities before loans, particularly if the loans are from private lending institutions that charge higher interest rates.
Cost for Online Programs in Kansas
Applicants to online colleges in Kansas are eligible for financial aid from the state and federal government, universities, and private organizations. Like traditional students, online learners begin the aid process by completing the FAFSA. Attending one of the many online schools in Kansas can help students lower their education costs. While most online programs carry tuition costs equal to those of their on-campus counterparts, other fees may not apply. For example, digital learners can save on on transportation costs, books, child care, and room and board.
Cost of Living by Region
Effective budgeting for higher education requires you to consider more than just tuition. You must also take into account the cost of living, which is determined by a school’s location. By choosing a city with a low cost of living, students can reduce the overall expense of their education and limit their student loan debt. Graduates with a low debt-to-income ratios have more choices about what jobs they can accept, where they can live, and what kind of lifestyle they can maintain.
Scholarships for Kansas College Students
- Nolan Moore Memorial Education Foundation Scholarship
$500-$2,500; must be a resident of Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, or Missouri and enroll in a printing management or technology program
- Gloria Scammahorn Memorial Endowed Scholarship
TBD; recipients must be members of the Kansas Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association and studying to be an occupational therapist or an occupational therapist assistant.
- Kansas Nursing Service Scholarship
$2,500-$3,500 each school year; must study toward an LPN or RN and commit to working for a sponsoring partner in Kansas.
- The Kansas Comprehensive Grant
$100-$3,500; provided by the State of Kansas to needy families who are Kansas residents, who complete the FAFSA, and who attend an eligible college.
- Horatio Alger State Scholarship
$10,000; must be a high school senior who demonstrates critical financial need and who has overcome great obstacles.
- The Kansas Ethnic Minority Scholarship
$1,850; must be African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic and meet established academic criteria.
- What's In Outdoors Scholarship
$1,000; must choose a wildlife or nature major at a Kansas college or university and show an interest in Kansas-based work.
- Kansas State Scholarship
$1,000; must be a Designated State Scholar who demonstrates financial need through the FAFSA.
- Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship
$4,000-$50,000 over four years; must be a current high school senior, fill out an application, and interview with a panel of judges.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
Most scholarships apply to both traditional and online colleges in Kansas. Scholarship recipients should examine their award letter to understand any restrictions that come with the funds, or inquire with the scholarship organization. Some scholarships may not apply to an applicant’s chosen school. Others may have extra programmatic or residency requirements. The only way to be certain an award will cover a particular program is to check with the scholarship-granting organization.
Employment Outlook in Kansas
Kansas residents enjoy a higher rate of employment than the national average, although wages in Kansas dip just below the mean. The state historically relied on agriculture as its economic engine, and experts believe farming jobs will continue to expand at a rapid pace. Kansas’ economy, however, continues to diversify. The booming health care and education industries are leading Kansas’ job growth trends just as they are in many states across the country. As a state with a growing population, Kansas has also witnessed considerable job growth in the construction sector.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||3.9%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$43,950||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Kansas
Top Industries in Kansas
- Trade, Transportation, and Utilities: These industries include wholesale trade, retail commerce, the transportation of goods and services, and the provision of electrical power and water. Most workers in this sector find employment with private companies.
- Government: This sector includes employment at the federal, state, and local levels. Fort Riley, an Army installation in Kansas, is a major government employer in the state.
- Education and Health Services: Education and health services in Kansas are a single supersector. Educational employers include higher education institutions that provide training and instruction. Health services include hospitals and other health care providers.
Top Employers in Kansas
- Spirit Aerosystems:15,000 employees
- Fort Riley:12,500 employees
- Sprint Corp:12,500 employees
Accreditation for Colleges in Kansas
With the accelerating growth of online schools, students must determine what program gives them the most value for their money. The best indicator of a quality education is a school’s accreditation. Accredited schools undergo a rigorous review process, although not all forms of accreditation are made alike. The two main types are national and regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the gold standard. A regionally accredited school holds recognition with one of six regional accrediting bodies.
The best indicator of a quality education is a school’s accreditation.
For Kansas, that body is the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
National accreditation typically applies to career-based programs. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees both accreditation processes. CHEA is a private organization composed of more than 60 accrediting bodies that count 3,000 academic institutions among their members. Between it and the U.S. Department of Education, these two groups help standardize accreditation bodies and systems for U.S. institutions. To see a list of accredited online schools in Kansas, visit the CHEA website.
Resources for Students in Kansas
- Kansas Board of Regents: The Kansas Board of Regents governs all 32 of the state’s higher education institutions, including its six universities. The website contains plenty of helpful information on Kansas public college programs and statewide education initiatives.
- Kansas Association of Technical Colleges: Seven career and technical colleges form this association of schools that work together to provide businesses with skilled technicians in transportation, construction, manufacturing, and other industries.
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools: This regional accrediting body’s higher learning commission grants membership to colleges and universities in Kansas and nearby states. Its website includes a searchable database of its accredited institutions.
- Kansas Independent College Association: Nineteen of Kansas’ independent, accredited, degree-granting colleges form this association whose goal is to promote the flourishing of small colleges, their faculties, and their students. This association also provides scholarship opportunities for students attending its member institutions.
- Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC): KCAC promotes intercollegiate competitive sports among 10 of Kansas’ top independent or private higher education institutions. Students at participating colleges can compete in a wide variety of men’s and women’s sports.
- Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference: Community college students across Kansas have the opportunity to compete in a variety of team sports, including baseball, basketball, football, tennis, and soccer. This conference includes all 19 of the state’s community colleges.
- Kansas Association of Community College Trustees: This association links Kansas’ 19 community colleges together to create a cooperative learning system that promotes collaboration across the state. The website includes a list of participating colleges and a program search tool.