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Colleges in Wisconsin

Why go to College in Wisconsin?

When you imagine the typical college town, you’re probably picturing somewhere like Madison, Wisconsin. This lakeside city consistently ranks high on lists of the nation’s best college towns and is home to the University of Wisconsin, one of the largest schools in the country. The school encapsulates everything that is great about going to school in Wisconsin: it’s 930-acre campus sits on the shores of Lake Mendota and boasts many historic buildings, an impressive football stadium, and plentiful restaurants, shops, clubs, and bookstores in Madison.


Wisconsin is the nation’s 20th most populous state in the country with 5.7 million residents. Milwaukee is the largest city with a population of more than 500,000, followed by the state capitol, Madison with about 250,000 residents.


Wisconsin is a four-season state, with snowy winters, hot summers, colorful autumns, and a green spring. The average temperature is 81 degrees Fahrenheit in July and 28 degrees Fahrenheit in January. The state gets less than the national average in rain, but almost twice that amount in snow.

Number of Higher Learning Institutions

Wisconsin is home to 132 public and private colleges and universities. This includes a variety of large state institutions, small liberal arts schools, specialized technical institutes, and community colleges.

Sporting Events

Wisconsin is home to the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. The University of Wisconsin Badgers play in the Big Ten Conference and consistently draw big crowds.

Sporting Events

Great food and microbrews are plentiful in Wisconsin, especially in Madison, Milwaukee, and Appleton. In fact, Milwaukee was once known as the beer capital of the world. Common attractions in Madison include the nightclub Liquid and the Comedy Club on State. The Pabst Theater and Riverside in Milwaukee and the Orpheum in Madison consistently bring in popular bands and other attractions.

What Options are Available for Colleges in Wisconsin?


Wisconsin is an attractive option for students who want to receive the traditional college experience. The University of Wisconsin is known for its vibrant campus life, Big Ten sports, strong academics, and prime location in Madison. Those who prefer a smaller, more intimate college experience with smaller class sizes may wish to study at Carroll University or Beloit College. Wisconsin also includes many specialty schools like the Madison Media Institute and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Online Programs

Online education has become a staple in higher education over the past decade, with many colleges and universities recognizing the potential of virtual classrooms. Online courses are just as rigorous as their on-campus alternative and offer a great deal of flexibility for students. Most online colleges in Wisconsin typically deliver courses asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. This can make it much easier to enroll in a distance learning program while working full-time, serving in the military, or running a family. Since online students aren’t limited to the schools in their immediate area, they have a much wider selection of programs that they can enroll in. Best of all, online education is typically cheaper than on-campus study because distance learners ignore key expenses like transportation and room and board.

Hybrid Programs

Some online schools in Wisconsin offer hybrid programs, which include a mixture of distance learning and on-campus study. These programs allow students to complete the bulk of their coursework online, but requires them to visit campus for the occasional residency, lab, or seminar. In a hybrid program, online students can actually receive face-to-face time with their instructors during their on-campus visits. Sometimes hybrid programs are a necessity, especially in fields that require a lot of hands-on experience. For example, students in medical classes can practice different techniques in person after learning about them during an online course. Many online schools in Wisconsin find that hybrid study is ideal for certain programs.

Popular Degree Programs in Wisconsin

Agriculture is one of the most important industries in Wisconsin. In fact, the state is first in the nation in the production of many dairy products, which represents more than 10% of the state’s economic output. Wisconsin also ranks second in the nation for its number of small businesses, and as a result business administration programs are quite popular.

  • Agriculture

    Agriculture programs explore modern farming, including the best methods for growing, processing, and selling dairy, produce, and meat. The modern agriculture curriculum includes a fair amount of technological study and microeconomics. A degree in agriculture is ideal for those who want to run one of the state’s 77,000 farms.

  • Business Management

    Business administration is one of the more popular majors in the country. These programs include the study of more than just economics and financial fitness, covering topics like communication and management that are attractive to businesses, nonprofits, and government sector employers.

What are the Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin?

Thanks to the University of Wisconsin System’s eCampus, online education is blossoming in the state. As a member of the Midwest Student Exchange Program, Wisconsin provides its students with access to additional opportunities in ten nearby states. There are many factors that go into decide which of the online colleges in Wisconsin is best for you, including the availability of programs, cost, reputation, accreditation status, student services offered, and how long it takes to earn your degree. The following resource can help you narrow down your options and select the right online school for you.


Maranatha Baptist UniversityWatertown, WI

Admissions Rate 69%
Default Rate 1%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 34%

Maranatha Baptist University is a private Christian university located in Watertown that is associated with the Fundamentalist Baptist Church. It is one of the best online schools in Wisconsin and offers a variety of distance learning programs on subjects like theology, education, and business. MBU is also known for its prestigious music programs. The school features a symphonic band, symphonic orchestra, and three choirs on campus and offers degrees in church music.

These online programs are ideal for transfer students and allow students to access coursework through the MyMarantha portal. MBU uses a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous courses, depending of faculty preference. Classes are delivered in six-, eight- and 12-week terms. MBU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Concordia University-WisconsinMequon, WI

Admissions Rate 67%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 58%
Online Enrollment 26%

Concordia University Wisconsin is one of the 10 Concordia University System schools. The school serves more than 7,000 students each year and is associated with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. CUW has grown rapidly over the past few decades, adding many programs in science, medicine, and business. It is now one of only two online colleges in Wisconsin to offers a Pharm.D. program. Distance learners can enroll in programs on a variety of subjects, such as criminal justice, education, and nursing.

Transfer students can apply up to 90 credits earned at another accredited institution towards their degree, while high school students can earn college credit from dual enrollment courses. Online courses are delivered in the following formats: asynchronous, cohort-based, and collaborative. CUW is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-StoutMenomonie, WI

Admissions Rate 93%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 57%
Online Enrollment 18%

UW-Stout is well known as the state's polytechnic university. The school is named for its founder, 19th century lumber businessman James Stout, and offers several degrees on industrial, technological, and applied disciplines. UW-Stout's distance learning programs emphasize career preparation, including a bachelor's in golf enterprise management and a master's in manufacturing engineering. In total, the school offers 15 undergraduate, 16 graduate, and 27 certificate programs online.

Online students have access to Brainfuse tutoring and writing help, as well as several other resources provided directly by UW-Stout. Most distance learners transfer at least some credits from another accredited institution, and many are working professionals who are seeking professional development. UW-Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Viterbo UniversityLa Crosse, WI

Admissions Rate 66%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 51%
Online Enrollment 12%

Viterbo is one of the only online schools in Wisconsin that allows students to earn a degree in nursing, accounting, or healthcare management remotely. This private Catholic university is located in La Crosse and serves more than 2,500 students each year. Online courses are delivered through the school's adult education wing and boast small class sizes that cap at 16 students.

The school is friendly to transfer students, accepting most credits earned with a "C" grade or better. Students can also earn credit through prior learning assessments. Viterbo offers its online students a variety of resources, including the Center for Student Success, an academic resource center, and online tutoring through Smarthinking. Notable alumni include Sister Thea Bowman. Viterbo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeMilwaukee, WI

Admissions Rate 92%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 62%
Online Enrollment 12%

Wisconsin Lutheran College is a private liberal arts college that is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The school offers a variety of accelerated adult learning programs online. These programs are ideal for students who work full time and already have some college experience. They can be completed in about 20 months. The business management and leadership degree is one of the most popular accelerated programs.

WLC consistently ranks as one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin and allows distance learners to receive credit from prior learning assessments, previous work experience, and transfer courses from other accredited institutions. All online students at WLC pay the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. WLC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-Green BayGreen Bay, WI

Admissions Rate 85%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 46%
Online Enrollment 19%

UW-Green Bay is a public university in the UW system that serves more than 6,000 students each year. The school was founded in the 1960s and initially emphasized environmental science, but has since broadened its academic catalog. UW-Green Bay is one of the top-ranking online colleges in Wisconsin, offering a wide variety of bachelor's and master's distance learning programs.

Students can earn a bachelor's in business administration or master's in sustainable management online at UW-Green Bay. UW-Green Bay takes part in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, allowing Wisconsin students to study in seven other regional states. All online students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency. UW-Green Bay is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-La CrosseLa Crosse, WI

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 2%
Retention Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 68%
Online Enrollment 2%

UW-La Crosse is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and serves more than 10,000 students each year. This school is a comprehensive institution and a member of the UW system. The school offers more than 100 undergraduate degrees online, as well as a variety of graduate programs. These programs cover several topics, including student affairs administration, data science, and education.

UW-La Crosse is part of a local consortium that includes Viterbo College, Western Technical College, and Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center. Classes are delivered asynchronously through Desire2Learn, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. UW-La Crosse is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-Eau ClaireEau Claire, WI

Admissions Rate 85%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 65%
Online Enrollment 5%

UW-Eau Claire, located in Northwest Wisconsin, is a public liberal arts university that serves more than 11,000 students each year. On-campus students are required to fulfill a service learning requirement and work in the Eau Claire community. Part of UW-Eau Claire’s campus is 168 acres of forest used for environmental research. The school is also well-known for its jazz band and special musical collections.

UW-Eau Claire has also emerged as one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin, featuring a nursing bachelor’s program and six graduate degrees including one in data science. Distance learners at UW-Eau Claire can take advantage of the school’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for academic help. Courses are delivered through Desire2Learn. UW-Eau Claire is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-PlattevillePlatteville, WI

Admissions Rate 94%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 54%
Online Enrollment 15%

UW Platteville, located in southwest Wisconsin, serves over 11,000 students each year, 3,000 of whom are distance learners. The school has been offering distance learning programs since the 1970s, long before online courses. These print-based courses were adapted to online programs in the 1990s and designed for working adult students. UW-Platteville is one of the best online schools in Wisconsin and offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate distance learning programs.

There are five master’s degrees and two bachelor’s programs online at UW-Platteville that cover subjects like business administration, criminal justice, and engineering. UW-Platteville's online programs emphasize professional development and allow students to receive experiential credit from their past relevant experiences. Applicants can apply online through UW's system, which does not include any exam requirements. UW-Platteville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-WhitewaterWhitewater, WI

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 60%
Online Enrollment 6%

UW-Whitewater is a public state school that was founded in the 1860s as a college for teachers. Today, the school serves more than 12,000 students each year and offers a wide range of programs both on-campus and online. The school offers seven online undergraduate degrees on subjects such as law enforcement, political science, and marketing. Students can also pursue one of four online graduate degrees.

The cost of textbook rental is included in undergraduate tuition rates, and students have access to financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans. Each online program has its own admission requirements, though many of them use a weighted formula to combine GPA and standardized test scores. UW-Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-OshkoshOshkosh, WI

Admissions Rate 81%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 51%
Online Enrollment 6%

UW-Oshkosh is one of the best online schools in Wisconsin. This state university serves more than 14,000 students each year online and on its scenic campus, which is best known for its Gothic architecture. The school offers nine undergraduate and three graduate degrees online on subjects like public administration, sustainable management, and aviation management. These programs are taught asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. UW-Oshkosh is friendly to transfer students, allowing them to transfer up to 90 credits from other accredited institutions. All online students pay the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. UW-Oshkosh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-Stevens PointStevens Point, WI

Admissions Rate 90%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 3%

Located in central Wisconsin, UW-Stevens Point is surrounded by a pleasant college town instead of major cities. UW-Stevens Point began as a teaching school and expanded following World War II to become a liberal arts state college. The school offers a variety of associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees that can be completed entirely online. There are also several non-credit courses available.

UW-Stevens Point is consistently rated as one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin, offering distance learning programs in a number of fields. For example, the school offers a bachelor's degree in applied computing, a master's degree in natural resources, and a variety of teaching certificates. UW-Stevens Point is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Marian UniversityFond Du Lac, WI

Admissions Rate 84%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 19%

Marian is a private university located in Fond du Lac that serves more than 2,000 students each year. Marian changed its name from college to university in 2008 to reflect its larger academic offerings. This Roman Catholic university only offers a small number of major on-campus, with the majority of its programs delivered online. Students can choose from nine undergraduate and eight graduate degrees online on subjects such as psychology, homeland security, and religious education.

These programs are ideal for adult learners and include an admission process that allows students to transfer credit earned at other accredited institutions as long as it was earned with a "C" grade or higher. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Marian is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Cardinal Stritch UniversityMilwaukee, WI

Admissions Rate 77%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 37%
Online Enrollment 24%

Stritch is a private Catholic university that was started by nuns to improve literacy in the Milwaukee area. The school has several satellite locations throughout the state and offers several online degrees. Stritch offers bachelor's programs in business, nursing, management, and respiratory therapy, as well as a variety of graduate degrees.

All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. However, these base rates may vary from program to program. Admissions requirements also change depending on the program. The school boasts that its online courses allow faculty to provide each student with more individual attention than they would receive in an on-campus class. Stritch is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-River FallsRiver Falls, WI

Admissions Rate 90%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 57%
Online Enrollment 2%

UW-River Falls is a mid-sized public university located in western Wisconsin on the Kinnickinnic RIver. The school offers more than 40 majors and confers both bachelor's and master's degrees. It is widely known for its environmental activities and has two farms on campus that are used to conduct research. The university is also home to the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development.

UW-River Falls is considered one of the top online schools in Wisconsin in part because it offers degree completion programs for bachelor's degrees and professional development options. These degree completion programs are ideal for adult students who already have some college experience who want to learn more about applied computing, wellness management, or sustainable management. UW-River Falls is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-SuperiorSuperior, WI

Admissions Rate 94%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 40%
Online Enrollment 22%

UW-Superior is a public state university that serves more than 2,500 students each year. The school offers a variety of bachelor's degrees online, on subjects such as community health, exercise science, and business. Unlike other online colleges in Wisconsin, UW-Superior offers its online classes during traditional academic terms. Some of these programs include courses taught on campus in Superior. Distance learners at UW-Superior are taught using the same course materials as on-campus students.

The school boasts a number of notable alumni, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. The action star and former governor studied in UW-Superior's online programs during the 1970s. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all previous institutions and have completed at least 12 credits of prior college coursework with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered. UW-Superior is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Lakeland CollegePlymouth, WI

Admissions Rate 96%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 51%
Online Enrollment 3%

Lakeland, located in Plymouth, is one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin that offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees remotely. The school was formerly known as Lakeland College until 2016 and is associated with the United Church of Christ. Lakeland features a number of satellite campuses throughout the state and boasts an expansive Evening, Weekend, and Online program that allows adult students to earn degrees on a flexible schedule.

The school lets students transfer up to 72 credits from another accredited institution towards their degree, allowing them to begin their studies with junior status. Freshman and transfer applications must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered. Lakeland is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Northland CollegeAshland, WI

Admissions Rate 57% Default Rate 6% Retention Rate 70% Graduation Rate 52%

Northland is a private liberal arts college that is located in Ashland and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. It is one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin emphasizing environmental issues and sustainability. In fact, Northland is part of the Eco League with four other schools, including Green Mountain College. Eco League schools expand sustainability causes through faculty collaboration, student exchanges, and shared academic programs.

Online students at Northland can earn a degree on a variety of subjects, such as digital marketing, machine technology, and medical office specialization. These courses are taught through Desire2Learn, allowing students to access course materials 24/7. Northland is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukee, WI

Admissions Rate 86%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 7%

UW-Milwaukee is the second largest university of the UW system and the only other research university, except for Madison. This R1 research university offers nearly 200 degree programs, including 33 doctoral options. Like many online schools in Wisconsin, UW-Milwaukee began as a teacher college. UW-Milwaukee has more than a dozen online class options for distance learners including undergraduate degrees in history, nursing, or biomedical studies.

Distance learners have access to several resources, including academic advising, online tutoring, and librarians who are specifically trained to assist online students. Online tuition is the same for all students, regardless of residency. However, the overall costs will vary from program to program. UW-Milwaukee is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


University of Wisconsin-ParksideKenosha, WI

Admissions Rate 82%
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 33%
Online Enrollment 4%

UW-Parkside is a four-year public university that was founded in 1968 in Somers. The school offers 33 undergraduate and three graduate programs to over 4,800 students each year both on-campus and online. UW-Parkside offers courses in both online and hybrid formats. Students can enroll in degree completion programs covering business management, health information management and technology, sociology, and sustainable management. The school recommends that students speak with an advisor regarding entry requirements. The UW Flexible Option program is also available, and allows students to earn credit based on competency instead of time spent in the classroom. Students can also complete a variety of noncredit courses online. UW-Parkside is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

What are the Best Online Community Colleges in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin was one of the first states to devote significant resources into vocational schools and adult education. Today, Wisconsin is home to more than 50 community college campuses, many of which offer online programs. These two-year schools are truly vocational, providing the most direct route between education and career. Students learn practical, on-the-job skills in fields like nursing, emergency medicine, trades, cooking, and business that make them very attractive to employers right out of school.

Many online colleges in Wisconsin also offer liberal arts or general studies programs, which serve as the perfect stepping stone between high school and college study. In these programs, students can complete two years of general education coursework and then transfer these credits into a bachelor’s program at a four-year university. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best online two-year programs in the state.


Moraine Park Technical CollegeFond du Lac, WI

Default Rate 12% Retention Rate 75% Graduation Rate 46% Online Enrollment 23%

A member of the 16-school Wisconsin technical college system, Moraine Park Technical College operates campuses in Fond du Lac, West Bend, and Beaver Dam. The school maintains one of the most extensive distance learning presences out of all online community colleges in Wisconsin, offering 18 online associate degree and certificate programs. Students can complete many of these programs without ever visiting any of MPTC’s campuses.

Since much of MPTC’s online student body consists of working professionals, adults with families, or military members, the college delivers coursework asynchronously for flexible scheduling. MPTC maintains transfer agreements with most Wisconsin state schools and several private universities throughout the Midwest.


Southwest Wisconsin Technical CollegeFennimore, WI

Default Rate 14% Retention Rate 74% Graduation Rate 51% Online Enrollment 13%

With a central campus on U.S. Highway 18 in rural Fennimore, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College primarily caters to remote students. Distance education is a logical extension of Southwest Tech’s mission, since it allows more students in rural areas to access college education. Southwest Tech currently offers nine online programs, including studies in supply chain management, business management, cancer information management, health information technology, and early childhood education. Distance learners can complete several of the school’s online programs without ever having to visit campus.

Like most other online community colleges in Wisconsin, Southwest Tech offers a wide slate of individual courses online. The college delivers online coursework asynchronously. Once distance learners finish their associate education, they may transfer to one of several four-year universities that hold transfer agreements with Southwest Tech.


Wisconsin Indianhead Technical CollegeShell Lake, WI

Default Rate 16% Retention Rate 66% Graduation Rate 59% Online Enrollment 16%

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College primarily serves the northwest corner of Wisconsin. The school operates campuses in New Richmond, Superior, Rice Lake, Ashland, Ladysmith, and Hayward, as well as offices in Shell Lake. Students nationwide can enroll in WITC’s slate of distance education offerings, including 17 online or hybrid programs. Notable programs include accounting, billing and posting clerk, broadband installer, C# programming, and nonprofit leadership.

All online students gain access to online tutoring and academic advising once they enroll. Prospective students benefit from the school’s dedicated admissions counselors. Like many other online community colleges in Wisconsin, WITC delivers all online coursework asynchronously. WITC also offers free webinars for online students or prospective students, including sessions on admission and career goals.


Northcentral Technical CollegeWausau, WI

Default Rate 14% Retention Rate 59% Graduation Rate 35% Online Enrollment 41%

Located in Wassau, Northcentral Technical College serves 10 counties in central Wisconsin. The school has operated for over a century, beginning as an industrial school and eventually evolving into a vocational school. Today, NTC is one of Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges.

Out of all online community colleges in Wisconsin, NTC offers one of the most extensive distance learning programs. The school offers around 50 programs that students can complete without ever visiting campus. These programs include accelerated offerings in human resource management, leadership, and supervision. NTC delivers all online coursework asynchronously.


Western Technical CollegeLa Crosse, WI

Default Rate 13% Retention Rate 61% Graduation Rate 27% Online Enrollment 30%

A member of Wisconsin’s 16-school technical college system, Western Technical College currently serves approximately 5,000 students, most of whom live within WTC’s 11-county service area. WTC also caters to distance learners, offering seven different online associate programs. The college’s eLearning options include hospitality management, business, and leadership development. None of WTC’s online programs require students to visit campus in La Crosse for any reason. All online courses follow an asynchronous format.

The college offers a bachelor’s pathway program and maintains transfer agreements with seven four-year universities, including Capella University, Upper Iowa University, and Milwaukee School of Engineering. As such, WTC is one of the best online community colleges in Wisconsin for students who plan to transfer into a four-year program.


Chippewa Valley Technical CollegeEau Claire, WI

Default Rate 13% Retention Rate 66% Graduation Rate 36% Online Enrollment 11%

Based in the city of Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley Technical College primarily serves an 11-county area. The school operates three satellite campuses and four regional centers, as well as an extensive distance learning presence. CVTC offers programs in fields such as business management, human resources, liberal arts, early childhood education, and library and information services. Primarily catering to working professionals with significant obligations outside of academics, CVTC delivers all online coursework asynchronously. The school does not require online students to visit campus for any reason.

CVTC prides itself on its services for distance learners. The college provides technical support, credit for prior learning, and one-on-one counseling for students who return to school after a long time off.


Northeast Wisconsin Technical CollegeGreen Bay, WI

Default Rate 15% Retention Rate 54% Graduation Rate 42% Online Enrollment 13%

When the state of Wisconsin encouraged cities to create vocational schools in the early 20th century, individual campuses appeared in Green Bay, Marinette, and Sturgeon Bay. Eventually, those three schools united under the banner of the Wisconsin technical college system to become Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Today, NWTC serves nine counties in the northeast portion of the state.

NWTC maintains one of the most extensive distance learning programs out of all online community colleges in Wisconsin. The school offers associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. Online students can earn degrees in fields such as accounting, business management, gerontology, health information technology, and human resources. Distance learners never have to visit campus, although many programs require an in-person practicum or internship. NWTC delivers all online coursework asynchronously.


Gateway Technical CollegeKenosha, WI

Default Rate 23% Retention Rate 67% Graduation Rate 24% Online Enrollment 8%

With more than 21,000 students, Gateway Technical College is one of the largest online community colleges in Wisconsin by enrollment. In addition to operating physical campuses in Racine, Kenosha, and Elkhorn, GTC maintains six regional learning centers and a distance learning arm. GTC offers online programs in fields such as accounting, information technology, hospitality management, and marketing.

GTC allows students to complete all of their coursework online without any on-campus requirements. Classes follow an asynchronous format. GTC is also particularly transfer-friendly, maintaining articulation agreements with 37 different four-year universities. The school maintains a particularly strong bond with University of Wisconsin - Parkside, which accepts students from many of GTC’s online programs, including accounting, IT, and marketing.


Milwaukee Area Technical CollegeMilwaukee, WI

Default Rate 20% Retention Rate 51% Graduation Rate 13% Online Enrollment 8%

Unlike many other online community colleges in Wisconsin, MATC operates an urban campus in downtown Milwaukee. The college also maintains campuses in Mequon, West Allis, and Oak Creek. MATC serves Milwaukee county, Washington county, and the southern portion of Ozaukee county. Distance learners do not ever need to visit any of MATC’s campuses to earn an online degree.

The college currently offers online programs in fields such as accounting, business, entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, and social media strategy. These programs include associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. Certain program may require some on-campus testing. MATC delivers coursework in an asynchronous format.

Education Trends in Wisconsin

When it comes to education trends, Wisconsin bucks the conventional wisdom that you get what you pay for. The state spends significantly less on higher education per full-time student than the national average, yet it produces significantly more graduates with an associate or bachelor’s degree. However, Wisconsin falls behind the rest of the country when it comes to graduates with a master’s degree.

  Wisconsin United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $5,991 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 5.9% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 10.1% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree 18.4% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 9.4% 11.2%

Paying for College in Wisconsin

Cost is undeniably one of the most important factors during the college selection process. Since no student wants to take on massive debt through loans, it becomes even more important to find a school that offers an affordable tuition rate. You must also remember the other costs associated with attending college, such as rent, food, textbooks, transportation, and other necessary expenses. Luckily, students have access to a wide variety of financial aid options to help offset these costs.

Tuition Prices

Tuition costs greatly overshadow all other necessary expenses for funding your education and choosing a school with tuition costs that are in-line with your budget is a must. However, those smaller expenses can still add up. According to the College Board, in-state students at a public school pay an average of $4,520 on expenses beyond tuition and room and board. Four-year undergrads pay less for tuition and fees at Wisconsin’s public universities than their counterparts across the country.

Financial Aid

Finding financial aid is a necessary reality for all college students. The first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will qualify you for a variety of financial aid opportunities through the federal government. Students can receive financial aid in the form of student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Grants and scholarships are the most attractive type of financial aid because they do not need to be paid back. Work-study programs allow students to work while earning their degree to help offset the costs of their education. Student loans must be paid back in a set amount of time that is agreed to beforehand. Federal student loans are preferable to private student loans because they offer payment deferral options and have much lower interest rates.

Cost for Online Programs in Wisconsin

Thanks to the proliferation of distance learning programs, students at online schools in Wisconsin have just as many financial aid opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. Distance learners enjoy generally lower tuition rates and do not have to pay for room and board, transportation, and other fees that they normally would with on-campus study. With lower overall costs and equal access to financial aid, online programs are a convenient and cost-efficient alternative to traditional on-campus study.

Cost of Living by Region

Cost of living varies greatly within the state of Wisconsin. For example, a two-bedroom rental in Madison is almost 25% more expensive than a similar place in Eau Claire. However, all of these costs are smaller than you’d find in a large metropolitan area. In fact, rentals in Madison are 30% cheaper than a similar space in Chicago. Most of the best schools in Wisconsin are in more populated cities, which means that room and board costs will be high. This shouldn’t discourage you from attending a popular school like the University of Wisconsin, but you should consider the cost of living in your decision-making process.

Scholarships for Wisconsin College Students

Archie C. Towle Aviation Scholarship

$1,500; students must live within 50 miles of Wausau, WI, and plan on studying aviation.
View Scholarship

EMPOWER Scholarship

$1,500; administered by the Courage Kenny Foundation, the EMPOWER scholarship is available to minority students from western Wisconsin interested in pursuing careers in medicine at a university in western Wisconsin or Minnesota.
View Scholarship

Horatio Alger Scholarship

up to $10,000; available to Wisconsin students who participate in community service and demonstrate a critical financial need.
View Scholarship

Upper Midwest Emmy Chapter/Foundation Scholarships

$3,000; The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards students from western Wisconsin a grant to use toward tuition and books; applicants must submit transcripts, an essay, and DVD of their best work.
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Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation Scholarship

$5,000; available to students from several Midwestern states who demonstrate a commitment to peace and social justice.
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Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship

$2,250; awarded to high school seniors with the highest grade point average at each public and private school in Wisconsin who plan on attending a university or tech institution in the state.
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Wisconsin Bakers Association Scholarship

$1,000; students must be Wisconsin resident bakers with 500 hours of bakery experience.
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Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grant

up to $1,100; must be at least 25% Native American and attending a Wisconsin university or technical college.
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Wisconsin Minority Undergraduate Retention Grant

$2,500; undergrads must be from a minority group and past their first year of school at a Wisconsin institution.
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Wisconsin Tuition Grants

$3,000; this need-based grant is awarded to Wisconsin-resident undergraduates enrolled at least part-time at a university in the state.
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Employment Outlook in Wisconsin

When compared to the rest of the nation, Wisconsin’s economy is booming. The state’s unemployment rate is one percent lower than the national average and is ranked 11th in overall job opportunities. Wisconsin’s main industries involve manufacturing and agriculture, with dominant papermaking and cheese production sectors. The state is also modernizing and has made huge investments in healthcare, bioscience, and water technology that attract new businesses and employees. Computer development is also on the rise, with employment opportunities in software engineering rising 23% in May of 2016.

  Wisconsin United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, August 2017 3.4% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $45,240 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in Wisconsin

Top Industries in Wisconsin

  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing is strong in Wisconsin, which boasts the second largest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the nation. The state is home to companies like Briggs and Stratton, Osh Kosh, Harley Davidson, and several aeronautics firms.
  • Agriculture: Wisconsin produces more cheese than any other state, and is currently home to more than 77,000 farms.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare has grown rapidly in Wisconsin and is now the largest employer in more than 56% of the state.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Top Employers in Wisconsin

  • University of Wisconsin – Madison: 21,000 employees
  • Menard, Inc.: 10,000 employees
  • University of Wisconsin Hospital: 7,447 employees

Source: Careerinfonet.org

Accreditation for Colleges in Wisconsin

When choosing the right online college in Wisconsin for you, be sure to choose one that is accredited. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation and is typically earned by public nonprofit universities. On the other hand, national accreditation is typically pursued by for-profit colleges and trade or vocational schools. In Wisconsin, you’ll want to look for schools that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

There is also programmatic accreditation, a discipline-specific recognition which is awarded to a particular department or program. For example, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education recognizes education programs at seven schools in Wisconsin. Accrediting agencies are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). You can view complete lists of all accredited universities in the country by visiting the ED or CHEA websites.

Resources for Students in Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin Higher Educational Aid Board: This organization provides oversight of post-secondary schools in Wisconsin. It administers financial aid and student loans, advocates for students, works to create reciprocity agreements for online education.
  • University of Wisconsin System: The 26-member public university system of Wisconsin hosts a site that has many resources for prospective students. On this site, students can compare and contrast campuses, find transfer information, and read about e-Campus, the system’s home for online college in Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin Technical College System: Wisconsin became the first state to support vocational and technical education in 1911 and today is home to 16 colleges and 54 campuses. On this website, students can research careers and online programs, find information about college campuses, and pick up a copy of the system’s college guide.
  • Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities: This website includes information on the state’s private schools, an overview of the college selection process, and an informative guide on financial aid.
  • Wisconsin’s Private Colleges: The WPC is a consortium of 24 independent schools. Their website includes information for transfer students, financial aid tips, recommended courses, and other relevant information for students who are interested in attending a private college or university.
  • Distance Learning Authorization Board: This organization represents Wisconsin to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity (SARA), which makes it a useful tool for students interested in online education. SARA works to ensure that Wisconsin residents can attend online programs in other SARA member states.
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