Accredited online colleges in West Virginia offer the knowledge and hands-on training necessary for professional success. By earning a college degree, you can access more job opportunities and better pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that bachelor’s degree holders earn, on average, $24,000 more in annual salary than individuals with only high school diplomas. This guide contains information on degree majors, financial aid, career options, and academic and professional resources.
Higher Learning Initiatives in West Virginia
West Virginia Learning Network
The West Virginia Learning Network (WVVLN) is a major web network of courses, degrees, and online schools in West Virginia. It consists of 11 state colleges and universities and 10 community and technical colleges. The WVVLN’s mission is to provide online programs and courses to West Virginia residents. Any student in West Virginia who wishes to pursue online learning should visit the WVVLN first.
West Virginia Virtual School
The West Virginia Virtual School was established in 2000 by the West Virginia Legislature. It was created as a vehicle for course sharing throughout the K-12 and higher learning institutions in the state. The network promotes efficacy and equity in courses within state schools, regardless of time and distance barriers. College students who complete any course at the virtual school can transfer their credits to their home institutions automatically, as long as the transfer is approved by the West Virginia Department of Education.
Online Readiness Tool
The Online Readiness Tool provided by the West Virginia Department of Education is a resource for students questioning their readiness for online programs. Students can complete a short quiz online to find their readiness score, answering questions about technology access, online communication comfort, research abilities, and learning styles. The tool contains less than 30 questions and takes only a few minutes to complete.
Popular Degree Programs in West Virginia
The best online colleges in West Virginia offer students flexible degree tracks in business administration and education/teaching training, two of the most popular majors in the state according to Business Insider. Business-centered degrees, in particular, benefit distance learners who want to tap into West Virginia’s robust economy. According to the state’s department of commerce, manufacturing, fulfillment distribution, and building products are some of the key industries in the state. Sustainable energy, aerospace engineering, and information services also make the list.
- Business Administration: As one of the most popular majors in the U.S., business administration using empirical analysis to make effective organizational decisions. Students also develop communication and program management skills. Business administration majors benefit from many concentration options, including accounting, healthcare administration, sports management, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship.
- Information Security: In addition to training in key computer programming skills, information security majors learn the techniques and protocols that protect information from disruption, unwanted access, and destruction. They also learn how to combat cyber attacks and retrieve lost data. By pursuing this major, students prepare for some of the fastest-growing careers in the country, including information security analyst, which is projected by the BLS to grow 28% through 2026.
Paying for College in West Virginia
Distance learners enjoy the same institutional aid as their on-campus peers, with the exception of work-study positions requiring in-person attendance. Online students may access low-interest loans, need-based grants, and other government funds by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Undocumented persons and international candidates cannot access FAFSA funding. This guide details private award opportunities in a later section.
When compared to the average U.S. learner, West Virginia students pay slightly more, on average, when attending a public two-year school and significantly less when enrolling at a four-year institution. However, these numbers do not factor in room and board, which, according to College Board, cost students over $11,000 each year. Distance learners save on housing by living at home or pursuing alternative accommodations.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in West Virginia
Using data from the BLS, the first table below shows that unemployment in West Virginia is 5.2%, making it the second highest rate in the nation. Professionals in the state earn approximately $9,000 less in annual wages than the average U.S. worker. However, these numbers do not fully convey how the best online colleges in West Virginia prepare students for lucrative positions. WorkForce West Virginia reports high-need careers in the medical and health services fields, including healthcare social workers, home health aides, and registered nurses. West Virginia’s information services industry houses expanding job options, like market research analyst and software developer.
Accreditation for Colleges in West Virginia
To confer valid certificates and degrees, the best online colleges in West Virginia earn national or regional accreditation to show that they maintain academic standards set by government agencies and professional organizations. Higher education institutions obtain national accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Postsecondary schools become regionally accredited through one of seven organizations, depending on location. West Virginia institutions earn regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Students can find a directory of accredited schools on the HLC website.
In addition to national and regional accreditation, online schools can obtain support from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Furthermore, institutions may earn specialized accreditation for their academic programs to ensure they satisfy field-specific standards. For example, to sit for state license exams, nurses must obtain bachelor’s degrees accredited by the Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing. Business programs apply for specialized accreditation from either the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
By attending accredited online colleges in West Virginia, undergraduate students know that their learning is aligned with what employers require of qualified applicants. Accreditation also factors into professional certification and licensure eligibility and graduate schools only accept candidates with accredited degrees.
Scholarships for West Virginia Online College Students
In addition to institutional funding and awards facilitated through the FAFSA, students can pay for higher education with private scholarships and grants. These opportunities come from community organizations, local businesses, corporations, and professional associations. Common requirements include academic performance, job experience, and identity characteristics. The list below contains 10 external awards for students attending accredited online colleges in West Virginia.
- West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This merit-based award supports state residents who graduated from a private or public high school in West Virginia. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also score at least 22 on the ACT or 1100 on the SAT.
Amount: $4,750 annually for up to four years
- Horatio Alger Association State Scholarships
Who Can Apply: This national award benefits U.S. citizens pursuing degrees at accredited four-year schools. Candidates must demonstrate integrity and perseverance in the face of adversity. They need a minimum 2.0 GPA. The association also offers scholarships for community and technical college students.
- Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to undergraduate juniors and seniors with a minimum 3.25 GPA from a West Virginia college or university. Candidates must plan on pursuing teacher certification and working in the state.
- The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The foundation facilitates more than 100 scholarships for West Virginia students. Criteria vary by award and students can search for opportunities based on such criteria as high school graduates, college or university enrollment, and field of study.
- Create Your Best Work Art Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Funded by Tombow, this award supports high school seniors and college freshman and sophomores pursuing a visual arts education at accredited U.S. postsecondary institutions. Applicants submit an artist’s statement, digital portfolio, recommendation letters, and academic transcripts.
- PGSF Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Sponsored by the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, this award benefits students pursuing careers in print technology, publishing, or graphic communications. Candidates must be high school seniors or graduates with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $1,000-$5,000 per academic year
- Get Education Online College Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to all students in West Virginia taking online college courses or pursuing fully remote degrees. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Application materials include academic transcripts, the most recent FAFSA, and an essay explaining the importance of an online degree.
- West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This award supports nursing students who completed at least half of their RN program at an accredited West Virginia institution. Recipients must teach or practice for at least two years in the state after earning their credentials. The program also offers scholarships to LPN, master’s, and doctoral candidates.
Amount: Up to $7,500 per year
- West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This award is available to students who pursue degrees in the STEM disciplines. The program prioritizes West Virginia residents, and candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA. After graduation, recipients must work for at least one year in the state.
Amount: Up to $3,000 per year
- Higher Education Adult Part-Time Student Grant Program
Who Can Apply: This program supports West Virginia residents earning college degrees part time at a two-year or four-year school in the state. Candidates must demonstrate financial need through the FAFSA.
Amount: $2,000, renewable
Resources for Students in West Virginia
- College Foundation of West Virginia: CFWV provides comprehensive higher education planning services to students as early as the eighth grade. Students can plan for their high school career, optimizing skills and experiences for college preparedness. During their junior and senior years, high school students can explore college options, learn about financial aid, and prepare for standardized testing. CFWV also offers career planning tools.
- Southern Regional Education Board: Created in 1948, SREB bolsters educational competency and accessibility among its 16 member states through research and advocacy programs. Students can access in-state or discounted tuition rates through the Academic Common Market, which houses over 1,900 undergraduate and graduate programs. SREB also facilitates a tuition savings program for students pursuing health professions.
- TheDream.US: In addition to national scholarships, TheDream.US facilitates general academic guides and legal services for undocumented students and their proponents. The organization also operates one of the largest college access programs for DREAMers. Students can find ally schools, receive guidance from educators, and find support among a community of peers.
- West Virginia Community and Technical College System: WVCTCS is a network of two-year schools dedicated to providing affordable and career-relevant training to all individuals. Students benefit from career exploration and financial aid tools, such as learning how to translate work experience into college credits through prior learning assessment methods. WVCTCS also facilitates workforce development programs for in-demand trade occupations.
- WorkForce West Virginia: Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Workforce WV creates and manages unemployment benefits and workforce training programs. State residents can find career opportunities through online listings and in-person job fairs. The organization also offers resources for active military personnel and veterans, including state grants and a job assistance program.
Online Schools in West Virginia
- Graduation Rate: 38%
- Average Net Price: $8,315
- Graduation Rate: 44%
- Average Net Price: $10,033
University of Charleston
- Graduation Rate: 41%
- Average Net Price: $17,794
Wheeling Jesuit University
- Graduation Rate: 61%
- Average Net Price: $17,352
West Virginia State University
- Graduation Rate: 23%
- Average Net Price: $7,844
West Virginia University
- Graduation Rate: 56%
- Average Net Price: $10,403
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
- Graduation Rate: 26%
- Average Net Price: $8,603