Online Colleges in Iowa

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In today's changing workforce, earning a degree provides you with the boost you need to excel in the career you want. Earning a degree qualifies you for more job opportunities, and for higher paying careers. A bachelor's degree also prepares you to pursue graduate and professional degrees.

In-state residents who pursue their degrees at an online college in Iowa receive discounted tuition, make valuable networking connections in their area, and can attend a school with name recognition for local employers.

Higher Learning Initiatives in Iowa

Iowa Distance Learning Association

The Iowa Distance Learning Association, or IDLA, is a nonprofit education association created to help develop distance learning applications for academic institutions and educators in Iowa. The IDLA's parent organization is the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). The IDLA disseminates information provided by the USDLA to help Iowa distance learning educators and online schools prosper and strengthen their programs. The goal of the IDLA is to support these programs and help guide distance learning initiatives into the future.

IACON Conference

The IACON is an annual conference that was established by a partnership between the Iowa Distance Learning Association and the Iowa Association for Communication Technology (IACT). The conference allows leaders and educators to come together to connect and discuss possibilities on the digital learning front in Iowa. Both students and educators are welcome, and topics include areas like education and technology innovation, changing instructional technology, and communication advancements. The event also sponsors connections to professional development opportunities.

IDLA Points of Presence Award

The Iowa Distance Learning Association Points of Presence Award was established to reward and recognize organizations or individuals who have developed the best distance education programs and initiatives in Iowa. The award is not limited to Iowa and can be extended to national efforts. One award is given to each of the following categories: K-12 education; higher education; corporate training and education; and telemedicine and military training and development. Criteria for awards include direct positive impact on distance learners in Iowa and an emphasis on group and experiential learning methods.

Popular Degree Programs in Iowa

Some of the largest industries in Iowa include agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and finance and insurance. Iowa's strengths in agriculture contribute to a rapidly growing bioscience industry, including the production of corn-based products, such as plastics, fuels, and pharmaceuticals. The trends in degrees conferred in Iowa reflect these industries.

  • Genetics: A subfield of biology, genetics entails the study of organisms down to the molecular level. Students majoring in genetics take courses in biology, organic and general chemistry, and advanced mathematics such as biostatistics and calculus. Iowa's strong bioscience industry provides a wealth of jobs for graduates with this degree.
  • Biochemistry: Biochemistry examines the different chemical processes that take place inside living organisms. Students in this major learn about various chemical substances, how they work within the body, and how introducing new substances affect biological processes. These students can go on to pursue jobs in Iowa's thriving bioscience and manufacturing industries.

Paying for College in Iowa

While considering a degree at an online college in Iowa, be sure to consider costs. Paying for college entails more than just tuition; it also includes fees, technology costs, textbooks, and course materials. As you decide which accredited online college in Iowa best suits your academic goals, keep your budget in mind. Tuition costs for public two-year colleges in Iowa are higher than the national average, while costs for public four-year colleges in the state are a bit lower.

Tuition Prices

The table below features data pulled from College Board, detailing average state tuition costs for two- and four-year colleges. The average price of in-state tuition and fees for two-year colleges in Iowa is above the national average by more than $1,000. As you consider these costs, remember to factor in other costs, like textbooks and fees.

Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18

  Public Two Year Public Four Year
Iowa $5,320 $9,080
U.S. Average $4,234 $9,978

Source: College Board

Employment Outlook in Iowa

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate in Iowa is one of the lowest in the country. The national unemployment rate in August of 2018 was 3.8%, but in Iowa, the rate was just 2.4%. Iowa's thriving manufacturing industry and rapidly growing bioscience industry contributes to this low rate; however, the average mean wage in Iowa falls below the national average of $50,620.

Unemployment rate, August 2018
Iowa 2.4%
United States 3.8%

Source: BLS

Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
Iowa $44,730
United States $50,620

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Colleges in Iowa

While researching online colleges in Iowa, be sure to look for accredited institutions. To gain accreditation, schools must meet or exceed certain standards set by an accrediting body or agency. These standards aim to ensure institutions consistently provide quality education. A school generally has either regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation serving as the more common and popular type. If a school has national accreditation, you may struggle to transfer any earned credits from that institution to a regionally accredited one. Regional accreditation often holds more prestige and is aligned with nonprofit, academically-focused, and state-based institutions.

Accredited online colleges in Iowa typically hold regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency that covers 19 states. The Higher Learning Commission offers a searchable database of accredited institutions. When it comes to accredited online colleges in Iowa, accreditation is the same as it is for on-campus programs. When an institution holds accreditation, it includes both online and on-campus programs. Some programs have programmatic accreditation, as well, separate from the institution's accreditation.

Scholarships for Iowa Online College Students

Although paying for college may seem like a daunting task, funding options like scholarships and grants provide a way to help pay for your education. The list below includes scholarship and grant programs available to students earning their degree at an accredited online college in Iowa.

All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Iowa residents who graduated from an eligible high school in Iowa and attend an eligible college in Iowa can apply for this merit- and need-based award. Priority is given to students who aged out of Iowa foster care, children of public safety workers who have passed, and participants in certain federal assistance programs.
Amount: $4,532

Apply Here

Education and Training Voucher Program

Who Can Apply: Students who have aged out of the Iowa foster care system, lived in the foster care system from at least age 16, and/or became legally adopted out of the system after age 18 may apply for this award. Renewals for this funding take priority over new applicants.
Amount: $5,000

Apply Here

GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students under 22 who were members of the GEAR UP Iowa program and who have enrolled in at least three credit hours at a Title IV eligible institution may apply for this award. Students may attend colleges outside Iowa and still receive aid. GPA and family income do not factor into eligibility.
Amount: $1,200

Apply Here

Gov. Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Graduates of Iowa high schools who have participated in the Iowa State Fair may apply for this non-renewable award. Students must plan to attend an Iowa college. Consideration for the award hinges on high school GPA, financial need, participation and exhibition in the state fair, a personal essay, and other qualifying factors.
Amount: $5,000

Apply Here

Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Grant

Who Can Apply: Iowa residents who join the National Guard or Air National Guard, complete basic training, and maintain guard duty standards may apply. Applicants must earn their degree at an Iowa institution.
Amount: $7,725

Apply Here

Iowa Tuition Grant

Who Can Apply: Iowa residents attending an eligible private undergraduate institution in the state may apply for this grant. Financial need determines the grant recipient's eligibility and priority.
Amount: Varies based on Regent tuition rate

Apply Here

Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant

Who Can Apply: Iowa residents enrolled in vocational or technical education programs at an eligible community college may apply for this grant. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and enroll in at least three credit hours.
Amount: $900

Apply Here

Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant

Who Can Apply: Iowa residents enrolled in at least three credit hours at an Iowa community college in an eligible program of study may apply for this grant. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
Amount: Varies

Apply Here

Robert D. Blue Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Iowa residents who have demonstrated strength in scholastic and literary subject areas may apply. Applicants must submit an application, a 500-word essay, two letters of recommendation, and attend an Iowa college or university.
Amount: $500 – $1,000

Apply Here

Ed Christian Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Graduating seniors from Iowa high schools who plan to pursue careers in a scientific field through a two- or four-year Iowa college or university may apply. Applicants must submit a personal essay and letters of recommendation.
Amount: $100

Apply Here

Resources for Students in Iowa

  • Iowa College Access Network: The Iowa College Access Network offers Iowa students and parents resources for succeeding in high school and college, including advising for students of all levels, college planning programs and workshops, scholarship databases, tips on applying to college, and help for adults looking to return to school.
  • Iowa Board of Regents: The Iowa Board of Regents oversees public state institutions, including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. The board approves and adjusts academic policies and programs, and deals with financial matters for these institutions, including setting tuition rates.
  • Iowa College Aid: The Iowa College Student Aid Commission provides more than $68 million annually towards state-based scholarship, grant, and loan forgiveness programs. Additionally, their website offers tools and resources for students, including resources for returning adults, students with disabilities, and students of color.
  • Iowa Department of Education: The Iowa Department of Education website offers resources for adults seeking higher education through their Division of Community Colleges & Workforce Preparation. Resources include links for adult education, community colleges, and veterans and military education. Users can also learn more about career and vocational training.
  • Iowa Community College Online Consortium: Those looking for Iowa community colleges online can learn more about online learning through the Iowa Community College Online Consortium, a partnership between seven of Iowa's community colleges. The consortium provides an online learning platform for students, as well as information about online learning in Iowa.

Online Schools in Iowa

Briar Cliff University

Sioux City, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Average Net Price: $17,875

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Buena Vista University

Storm Lake, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Average Net Price: $18,905

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Graceland University-Lamoni

Lamoni, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Average Net Price: $17,994

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Grand View University

Des Moines, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Average Net Price: $17,630

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Iowa State University

Ames, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Average Net Price: $13,114

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Iowa Wesleyan University

Mount Pleasant, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 30%
  • Average Net Price: $19,997

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Mount Mercy University

Cedar Rapids, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Average Net Price: $17,613

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Northwestern College

Orange City, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Average Net Price: $20,388

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Saint Ambrose University

Davenport, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Average Net Price: $23,982

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Shiloh University

Kalona, IA


  • Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Average Net Price: N/A

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University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Average Net Price: $13,977

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Upper Iowa University

Fayette, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • Average Net Price: $18,992

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University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Average Net Price: $14,021

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William Penn University

Oskaloosa, IA


  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Average Net Price: $18,954

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