Colleges in Idaho

Why go to College in Idaho?

With a population of only 1.6 million over approximately 83,500 square miles, Idaho has one of the lowest population densities in the country. Even so, Idaho has the sixth fastest-growing population in the nation.
Idaho has both coastal areas, with weather patterns migrating in from the Pacific, and plains areas, with a semi-arid climate. The winter months typically see freezing temperatures, and the summers can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Number of Higher Learning Institutions
Idaho has 33 higher education institutions, including four universities, four community colleges, and five religiously affiliated institutions. The oldest universities in the state are the University of Idaho in Moscow (founded in 1889) and Idaho State University in Pocatello (founded 1901).
Sporting Events
The Boise Hawks is a minor league baseball team and the farm team of the Colorado Rockies. The Idaho Steelheads, a minor league hockey team, is also based in Idaho’s capital city.
Like other states in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho is a center for craft brewing. Craft breweries exist in large and small cities, each brewery offering a unique taste of Idaho. The state’s 30 casinos are also popular destinations.

Whether in Boise, Pocatello, Lewiston, or online, Idaho colleges offer a wide array of certifications and two- and four-year degrees. The state is known for its agriculture, food processing, lumber, and electronics manufacturing industries. For those attending classes in state, Idaho’s outdoor recreation opportunities include hiking, camping, and climbing, as well as winter activities such as skiing and snowmobiling. Most importantly, online schools in Idaho prioritize affordable education.

What Options are Available for Colleges in Idaho?


On-campus students in Idaho learn in social environments cultivated through academics and residence halls. On-campus living promotes an immersive educational environment. All of the state’s four-year universities offer residence halls and, with the exception of Lewis-Clark State College, allow fraternities and sororities. Extracurricular activities such as student clubs and sports teams create opportunities for students to make lifelong friends. Benefits of living in state include access to outdoor sports and natural destinations, with 60% of the state’s territory maintained by the National Forest Service. Many schools offer outdoor adventure activities to foster students’ relationships with nature and to build leadership skills.

Online Programs

Online schools in Idaho offer certifications, continuing education, and two- and four-year degrees. Online schools in Idaho offer flexibility, often with individually paced, asynchronous coursework and flexible enrollment. Unlike traditional, on-campus programs, online schools in Idaho do not require students to maintain full-time status and complete course loads.

Online colleges in Idaho are specifically designed for full-time professionals who want to change or accelerate their career; higher degrees and certifications increase earning power. Flexible online platforms are also great avenues for parents juggling personal and professional lives and for students with medical or environmental requirements.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine the benefits of an on-campus experience with the flexibility of online learning. Students in hybrid programs typically take courses online at their own pace and complete in-person requirements such as meetings with professors, group projects, and intensive short-term seminars. These on-campus requirements increase interpersonal skills and build a sense of community. Like online programs, hybrid programs allow students to work full-time or take care of family or personal needs while pursuing an education.

Popular Degree Programs in Idaho

Given its location in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho is perfectly situated for nature enthusiasts and adventure tourism. With its rising population, Idaho is a growing center of business. As such, the natural resources and business management fields rank among the most popular majors in the state.

  • Natural resources

    Located in one of the most verdant areas of the country, the natural resources field is an ideal focus for students in Idaho. Students focus on areas such as wildlife resources, fire ecology and management, and forestry and gain skills necessary to positively impact the environment.

  • Management

    Management degrees train future business leaders to negotiate and organize people and resources. Managers use strong communication skills, strategic planning, and business acumen to orchestrate complex situations and increase productivity.

Best Online Colleges in Idaho for 2019

Online schools in Idaho offer flexible curricula to help students pursue education on their time. The following is a list of the best online colleges in Idaho. This resource will help you find the best online school to meet your academic and professional needs.


Northwest Nazarene University Nampa, ID


NNU is a private Christian institution that serves approximately 2,000 full-time students through distance learning and on-campus study. NNU Online offers bachelor's degrees in business administration, liberal studies, nursing, and Christian ministry. NNU is one of the top online schools in Idaho and offers an online BS in business administration that is organized in a cohort model and can be completed in just 16 months.

Students must have at least 45-60 credits to enroll in these programs. There is also a BA in Christian ministry that is offered in an accelerated online format that can be completed in as few as 36 months. Students can transfer credits from accredited institutions. Online programs at NNU fulfill the Church of the Nazarene ordination requirements. NNU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


Brigham Young University-Idaho Rexburg, ID


BYU is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and offers educational programs that seek to develop student scholarship, leadership, and spiritual formation. BYU is one of the best online colleges in Idaho and serves 33,000 distance learners each year. The school offers degrees on a variety of topics, such as applied management, business management, healthcare administration, and an RN-to-BSN program.

The school offers a university studies bachelor's degree that allows students to design a curriculum that combines minors, concentrations, and career clusters. Applicants must complete PathwayConnect with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or have earned at least 15 credits at a school operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


Boise State University Boise, ID


Boise State prides itself as an institution that creates the next generation of leaders and innovators of the American West. This university is one of the best online colleges in Idaho thanks to its innovative and affordable distance learning programs that are offered through the school's eCampus. Boise State offers bachelor's degrees on topics like applied science, multidisciplinary studies, management, nursing, imaging sciences, and respiratory care.

There is also a fully online degree completion program that is available for respiratory care professionals. The BS in respiratory care provides the coursework, skill training, and opportunities for professional networking necessary for career advancement in this field. The school also offers a degree completion BS in imaging sciences for professionals in the field who would like to earn a degree online while also working part- or full-time. Boise State is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston, ID


LCSC offers career and technical degrees both online and on-campus in Lewiston, Idaho. The school offers bachelor's degrees on a variety of topics, including business administration, early childhood development, general business, interdisciplinary studies, and nursing and health sciences. One of these programs, the BAS in early childhood development, is ideal for students who have already earned an associate degree in ECE and want to receive the academic training and hands-on experience necessary to work with young children.

Students in this program can choose one of the following specializations: cognitive, social and emotional, and language and literacy development. LCSC is one of the top online schools in Idaho in part because of its small class sizes, with a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio for academics programs and an 8-to-1 ratio for career and technical programs. LCSC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Best Online Community Colleges in Idaho for 2019


College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls, ID


The College of Southern Idaho is located in Twin Falls. CSI offers various online associate degrees in business, education, health sciences, liberal arts, library and information science, and criminal justice. Several professional certificate programs also are offered, making CSI one of the top online community colleges in Idaho. Tuition is based on the student's place of residence and depends on whether they live in the Idaho counties considered in district, in state, or out of state. Online and on-campus tuition is the same.

CSI's online programs use Blackboard to distribute course materials. Classes are taught asynchronously, so students may participate when it is convenient for them. Class discussions take place in threaded forums, where students can post their thoughts and ideas on the topic within a given time frame. CSI library resources, which includes assistance from the reference librarian, are available to online students.


College of Western Idaho Nampa, ID


Based in Nampa, CWI has earned a high rank among online community colleges in Idaho. The school offers associate degrees in business, criminal justice, English, geography, history, liberal arts, philosophy, and political science, each of which can be completed entirely online. CWI's online resources include tutoring, a writing center that offers email consultations, and the library, which has many research tools.

Tuition prices are based on the county where the student lives and whether it is in or out of CWI's district. The price per credit is the same for in-person and online classes. Online course materials are handled through Blackboard, where students can communicate with professors and participate in class activities using threaded discussion forums.

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 Idaho

Full-time students in Idaho pay about $2,000 less per year than the national average. Additionally, the state allocates more tax funding to higher education than the national average. Even so, fewer Idaho residents benefit from higher education; though more locals hold associate degrees than the national average, Idaho falls behind on bachelor’s and graduate-level degrees.

  Idaho United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $4,472 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 7.5% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 9.2% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree 17.7% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 8.2% 11.2%

Paying for College in Idaho

The financial burden of earning a certification or degree is a vital factor when choosing a program. In-state tuition varies by specific location, and there is a wide range of potential fees. Costs also vary based on whether the program is in-person, hybrid, or online college in Idaho. Idaho’s public four-year programs cost less than the national average. However, the state’s two-year programs cost slightly more.

Tuition Prices

Tuition is one of the most significant costs for a student. The table below compares Idaho’s average tuition with national prices. In addition to tuition, students pay for rent, transportation, and supplies such as books, software, and computers.

Financial Aid

Every student, online or on-campus, should take advantage of public and private financial aid opportunities. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to learn which government resources you are eligible for. FAFSA is the gateway to subsidized and unsubsidized loans, work-study opportunities, and some forms of private support. Always choose subsidized loans first because they do not accrue interest while you are enrolled in school. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest as soon as the award is received. Work-study positions are also valuable resources within academic departments, student housing, athletic departments, and community outreach programs.

Cost of Living by Region

Cost of living varies dramatically by region. Beyond tuition, housing tops the list of considerations, but other factors include transportation, food, and educational supplies. The following table details housing costs in cities both in and outside Idaho. Consider the cost of living when comparing on-campus and online learning options. These early decisions will impact the quality of your living environment during school and may affect your earning potential after graduation.

Cost for Online Programs in Idaho

Online students may qualify for government and private funding. Online colleges in Idaho charge tuition rates similar to on-campus rates; however, online students can save money on certain fees, along with housing and transportation costs. For students with full-time positions or families, pursuing distance learning at online colleges in Idaho makes managing professional, personal, and academic responsibilities easier.

Scholarships for Idaho College Students

Anne Veseth Memorial Scholarship
$1,000; for graduating high school seniors and current undergraduates; must attend or plan to attend an accredited two- or four-year college in Idaho, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, and major in fire ecology or auto mechanics or be an active wildland firefighter.

View Scholarship

Kevin Whittier Memorial Scholarships
$2,000; must be a graduate of an Idaho public or private high school who is attending or planning to attend an accredited college or technical school to pursue a degree in an engineering field; must demonstrate academic and community achievement.

View Scholarship

Henry and Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
$5,000; for students pursuing careers in theater arts; must major in the performing arts ( theater, dance, playwriting, etc.), come from the western United States, demonstrate financial need, and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View Scholarship

Pride Foundation Scholarship
$1,000–12,000; must reside in the Pacific Northwest, including Idaho, for at least three months, show potential for leadership in the LGBTQ community, and demonstrate significant financial need.

View Scholarship

Donna Wainwright Memorial Respiratory Scholarship
$500; must be enrolled in an accredited certified respiratory therapist or registered respiratory therapist program in Idaho, have at least a 3.0 GPA, be a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care, and have resided in Idaho for at least 12 months.

View Scholarship

Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?

Most scholarships can be used for on-campus or online colleges in Idaho. When applying for assistance, mention the type of school you plan to attend (in-person, online, or hybrid) and verify that the funding applies. Always read scholarship and grant requirements carefully to ensure you are applying for the best resources to help you meet your academic goals.

Employment Outlook in Idaho

Idaho is ranked sixth in the nation for favorable unemployment rates—just under 3%. However, Idaho’s mean annual wage is almost $8,000 less than the national average. This is due in part to the state’s lower cost of living, but it is also the result of fewer higher degrees being conferred across the state. Some well-paying and popular positions in Idaho include general and operations manager, registered nurse, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver, and sales representative.

  Idaho United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 2.9% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $41,910 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in Idaho

Top Industries in Idaho
  • Office and administrative support: The administrative support industry includes a variety of positions across public and private businesses, comprising telephone operators, accounting clerks, human resources assistants, police and ambulance dispatchers, computer operators, and statistical assistants.
  • Sales occupations: The sales occupations industry includes retail salespersons and cashiers, advertising and insurance sales agents, travel agents, wholesale marketers, real estate brokers, telemarketers, street vendors, and models.
  • Food preparation and serving: Chefs and head cooks, supervisors of food quality, food preparation workers, bartenders, cafeteria and fast food employees, waiters and waitresses, baristas, and dishwashers fall into this category.

Top Employers in Idaho

State Exchange Programs for Idaho College Students

State-to-state exchange programs, such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange, offer students the opportunity to pursue higher education outside their home state, with tuition rates reduced by up to 150%. Interested students should apply as soon as possible; most exchange programs accept applications on a rolling basis, and participating schools limit the number of exchange enrollees.

Western Undergraduate Exchange

Participants in this program pay tuition rates reduced by 150% and receive two years of assistance for an associate degree and four years of assistance for a bachelor’s.

Eligible States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

National Student Exchange

This program is a consortium of more 170 accredited schools. Students pay either in-state tuition rates or their home state’s tuition rate. Participants gain field experience, pursue internships, and study abroad.

Eligible States: All U.S. states except Arkansas and Delaware and all U.S. territories except the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

Accreditation for Colleges in Idaho

Accreditation is extremely important when choosing a higher education institution. The reputation and quality of your chosen school will affect your earning potential after graduation, and regional or national accreditation guarantees recognition of your degree across states and territories. State-to-state exchange programs, for example, are only available for accredited institutions, which ensures the caliber of the degree programs. All six U.S. regional accreditation boards are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Traditionally, accreditation of a college or university also applies to the school’s online programs. The Idaho State Board of Education accredits all Idaho universities and colleges, both public and private, and many associate degree programs. Additionally, online colleges in Idaho receive accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an independent, nonprofit regional accreditation body that is recognized by the National Board of Education. Research potential schools’ credentials to ensure you receive the best education possible.

Resources for Students in Idaho

  • Idaho State Board of Education: This website provides links to public and private institutions across the state, as well as helpful checklists and how-to guides for college and financial aid applications.
  • Idaho State Board of Education, State Scholarships: Also provided by the Idaho State Board of Education, this resource details scholarships available to Idaho residents. Scholarships are based primarily on need and merit.
  • Idaho Community Foundation Scholarships: This website offers a list of privately funded scholarships for students enrolled in or planning to enroll in Idaho universities and colleges. Carefully review the qualifying criteria for each scholarship to find the best opportunities for you.
  • Tourism Cares Academic Scholarships: Designed to assist full- and part-time students pursuing careers in tourism, this list of scholarships is for Pacific Northwest students majoring in hospitality, hotel administration, lodging management, travel, and ASTA-relevant fields.