Overview of Higher Education in Oklahoma
Oklahoma's 30 public and 21 private higher education institutions collectively offer college credentials at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. These programs typically take 2-5 years of full-time study to complete, though a doctorate can take significantly longer. Students in Oklahoma can also choose to study many different subject areas, with degrees available in business, engineering, communications, and healthcare administration, to name a few.
Despite declining enrollment rates, many students continue to attend college in Oklahoma. In the 2018-2019 academic year, for instance, a total of 225,889 students enrolled in higher education institutions across the state, with a large proportion — roughly 38% — opting to pursue a 2-year credential at a community college. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of Oklahoma's students tend to be in-state residents, reflecting the state government's efforts to improve access to higher education in key sectors, such as STEM and healthcare.
For college options in other locations, view OnlineU's best online college rankings by state or best online colleges by degree level
Online Colleges in Oklahoma
With distance learning becoming increasingly popular, many of Oklahoma's higher education institutions offer online degrees. Some of these programs provide students the opportunity to complete credits asynchronously at their own pace without relocating. Non-traditional students can also take advantage of the FLEX learning model offered at some schools, such as Southwestern Christian University. These programs, which may include synchronous and asynchronous components, are specifically designed for individuals who work and can only take one or two classes per week.
Admission requirements are generally similar for in-person and online degree programs. For instance, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and ACT/SAT scores in the 40th percentile if they are interested in online teaching or business degrees at the baccalaureate level in Oklahoma. Online programs in STEM fields may additionally require that students have taken classes in math and science.
Admission requirements are generally similar for in-person and online degree programs.
Cost of Online Colleges in Oklahoma
The cost of college in Oklahoma tends to be lower when compared to schools and universities nationwide. For instance, the yearly in-state tuition rate was $8,009 at a public 4-year university in 2019, which was lower than the national average of $9,349. At $29,429, the annual in-state tuition at a private 4-year institution in Oklahoma was also lower than the national average of $32,769. Individuals interested in a 2-year degree, however, should note that this credential costs slightly more in Oklahoma than in other parts of the country. Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Students looking to lower their online education costs should consider pursuing an online degree, as they can avoid paying for campus housing, transportation, and relocation. Certain Oklahoma schools may also offer lower fees for distance learners, even if they don't qualify for in-state tuition. Establishing residency in Oklahoma typically requires residing in the state for 12 consecutive months.
Certain online students living outside the state may also be eligible for in-state tuition under reciprocity agreements. For instance, students living in one of the 15 Southern Regional Education Board states participating in the Academic Common Market can qualify for lower tuition at Oklahoma's public universities. Additionally, both in-state and out-of-state residents who have completed college-level coursework in the past may be able to lower the overall cost of their degree by transferring credits from an accredited institution.
Financial Aid for Online Students in Oklahoma
Individuals pursuing an online degree at an Oklahoma college or university are eligible for federal and state financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. While students can apply for loans to pay for their degree, they should first exhaust these free funding options. Students should contact the financial aid departments of their schools to inquire about institutional grants and scholarships. For those considering student loans, federal loans offer the most favorable repayment plans.
Applying for financial assistance involves filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form helps the Oklahoma government and universities across the state determine how much aid an individual is eligible for based on their personal and financial circumstances.
The Oklahoma government offers various resources to students applying for financial aid. For instance, the Oklahoma College Assistance Program has information about state aid, loan repayment, and grant eligibility. In addition to overseeing GEAR-UP, a federally funded program intended to prepare Oklahoma's high school students for college admission, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education also administers several need- and merit-based scholarships. Funding amounts vary based on the specific program, but applicants typically can apply if they meet specific academic requirements and demonstrate in-state residency. Below is a list of scholarship opportunities available to Oklahoma students.
This program offers $3,000 annually to Oklahoma residents pursuing a bachelor's degree at a participating public university. Students also receive a tuition waiver for up to eight semesters. Applicants must have an ACT score of 30 to be eligible. Alternatively, they can show that they’ve received the title of either a National Merit Semifinalist or Commended Student.
This program awards graduating high school seniors who demonstrate academic excellence $2,200-$5,500, covering tuition, room and board, and other fees for up to eight semesters. Oklahoma students qualify by scoring in the 99.5 percentile on the ACT/SAT or being designated a National Merit Scholar, National Merit Finalists, or United States Presidential Scholar.
State residents whose families earn less than $60,000 annually are eligible for the Oklahoma Promise scholarship. This award covers all tuition fees at a public institution for 2-year and 4-year degrees and even part of a private school’s tuition cost. Students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA in grades 9-12 in addition to meeting specific high school requirements, such as maintaining attendance.
This need-based award helps full- and part-time students complete their undergraduate or community college degrees. Individuals enrolled in an Oklahoma public institution may receive $1,000, while those attending a private institution are eligible for $1,300. Students must be in-state residents to apply, and undocumented students who meet certain conditions may also be eligible for this award.
Accreditation for Online Colleges in Oklahoma
Colleges and universities seek accreditation to ensure they meet standards for educational excellence. The accreditation process is voluntary and involves a third party periodically evaluating a school's faculty, curricula, facilities, and program offerings. This means that students who enroll in an accredited school will have access to a quality education and can apply for federal and state aid programs as well as various scholarships. Ensuring that their school has been evaluated by a relevant third party may therefore make it easier to transfer credits between similarly accredited institutions — though students should check whether differences between accrediting bodies affect this process.
Students who enroll in an accredited school will have access to a quality education and can apply for federal and state aid programs as well as various scholarships.
A college or university can receive more than one type of accreditation. For instance, a nationally accredited institution has been evaluated by an organization that assesses schools across the country. Many colleges and universities, however, receive regional accreditation, which is carried out by organizations operating in a limited number of states. In Oklahoma for example, schools and universities are evaluated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSCOC), which accredits higher education institutions in 11 southern states. This level of accreditation is important because it's often the case that students can only transfer credits from one regionally accredited school to another, while a school's national accreditation status may not be sufficient.
Finally, some schools may receive programmatic accreditation for specific subject areas. In this process, a third party — usually a professional organization — determines whether a particular degree program meets educational standards in a given field of study.
Students can search the SACSCOC database to determine if their prospective Oklahoma college or university is regionally accredited. They may also find this information and resources on programmatic accreditation on the Council of Higher Education Accreditation's website.
Oklahoma Employment Outlook
With a recent unemployment rate of 3.0% and an economy that is increasingly catering to business, Oklahoma offers various job opportunities for college graduates. The state has a projected job growth of 4.1% through 2028, with employment set to increase in sectors such as healthcare, education, and professional services. By contrast, the demand for manufacturing jobs is expected to decrease over the next decade. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics , Oklahoma Employment Security Commission
Bachelor's degree holders in the state who secure careers in well-paying areas may have higher earning potential than those with some or no college experience. Graduate degrees, in turn, can further increase an individual's earning potential. Having a college credential may also help graduates land jobs with popular employers in Oklahoma, which include the Department of Defense, University of Oklahoma, and Integris Health, a non-profit organization based in the state.
Careers for Oklahoma College Graduates
The Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development has identified several jobs considered essential for future economic growth in the state. These career openings are spread across multiple industries, including sectors where demand is high — such as healthcare — and other areas, such as transport services, law enforcement, and social work. Oklahoma, therefore, has emerging job opportunities for individuals who hold college credentials, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.
The following is a list of career opportunities for Oklahoma college graduates, with salary and job outlook data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Accountants and auditors
Median Annual Salary: $73,560
Job Growth Rate: 7%
Accountants and auditors
work for businesses and individual clients. Their job involves examining financial documents, maintaining records, and looking for ways to reduce costs. While auditors perform many of the same duties, they also identify fraud and ensure that taxes are paid correctly.
Medical records and health information specialists
Median Annual Salary: $45,240
Job Growth Rate: 9%
Medical records and health information specialists
may hold associate degrees and are responsible for collecting, organizing, and maintaining different kinds of patient data. Their responsibilities vary based on their work setting, but generally, they ensure information is accurate and recorded in a timely fashion. These professionals work closely with other healthcare workers, such as nurses, to support patient care.
Median Annual Salary: $80,560
Job Growth Rate: 12%
typically require an advanced degree, such as a doctorate. They have specialized training in teaching specific disciplines and may advise students on their capstone project or other senior year initiatives. Furthermore, individuals who teach at a 4-year university typically conduct and publish research in their area of expertise.
Median Annual Salary: $80,480
Job Growth Rate: 29%
work with children and adults to help them overcome communication and swallowing disorders. This may involve diagnosing a wide variety of speech impediments and designing appropriate treatment strategies. Speech-language pathologists hold master's degrees and require state certification to work in settings such as schools, outpatient clinics, and hospitals.
Median Annual Salary: $107,680
Job Growth Rate: 8%
work in large and small organizations in a variety of areas, such as operations, finance, marketing, and human resources. This role typically requires many years of prior experience. Their responsibilities include planning long-term goals, identifying departmental priorities, and overseeing a company’s overall functioning and financial health.