#1 Ottawa University-Milwaukee
Ottawa University is a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the American Baptist church. Through the Milwaukee campus, students can earn one of nearly 50 online bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and graduate certificates. Some of the specific options include bachelor's in finance, history, and nursing and master's in counseling and education. All online courses are delivered through the Blackboard system.
Online learners are eligible for one of four scholarship programs sponsored by the school, as well as other financial aid. They can also take advantage of career development resources.
#2 University of Wisconsin - Madison
The University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW - Madison), a large, public university with over 30,000 undergraduate students, is a branch of the University of Wisconsin system. Online students have several options for when to begin their programs and can choose from a variety of 8- and 16-week course formats. The school offers six online bachelor's degrees through the Wisconsin School of Business and the School of Human Ecology. Additionally, UW - Madison features 20 online master's degrees covering business, management, engineering, education, and more.
Online learners are eligible to apply for government-sponsored financial aid as well as private scholarships. The school provides academic advising and career coaching for all enrollees.
#3 University of Wisconsin - Platteville
The University of Wisconsin - Platteville (UW - Platteville) is a public institution that offers a wide range of online educational opportunities. Some of the options include accelerated bachelor's to master's pathways, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees. UW - Platteville also offers several certificates, non-credit, and credential programs, as well as individual online courses. Some examples of UW - Platteville's bachelor's degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Integrated Supply Chain Management.
Courses within these programs are delivered through the Canvas LMS. The certificates feature areas of study such as engineering design and project management. They even have 100% online certificates in business, agriculture, and healthcare within the field of cannabis. The offerings continue through the school's continuing education institute, which features various online classes, seminars, and conferences. Online students receive professional advising, academic advising, and counseling.
#4 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh (UW - Oshkosh) is a public institution offering highly flexible online programs. Students can choose to take classes in the evenings, on weekends, or through a hybrid delivery format with online learning and on-campus visits. There are 26 programs to choose from that include study areas such as criminal justice, nursing, and leadership. The majority of programs are at the undergraduate level with the following degree titles: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Applied Studies, and Bachelor of Professional Studies. Specific examples of degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Science in Human Services Leadership, and Bachelor of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies.
All online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management system (LMS). Additionally, UW - Oshkosh offers learning assistance services for remote students, such as a reading and study skills center; a development math lab; tutoring in English, math, and chemistry; and one-on-one individual tutoring services.
#5 University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire (UW - Eau Claire) is a four-year, public university offering online degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels through the UW System eCampus. Through UW - Eau Claire, prospective undergraduates can only pursue two degree options: an online Associate of Arts and Sciences or an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While the associate degree is 100% online, the bachelor's degree is delivered in a hybrid format, with synchronous and asynchronous coursework. In terms of graduate degrees online, UW - Eau Claire has more options, including master's programs in data science, business administration, and communications. The Eau Claire division of UW has a 77% acceptance rate and almost two-thirds of students — 65% — end up earning their degrees.
UW - Eau Claire relies on the learning management system Canvas, which is software that delivers coursework to students online. It also provides a space for students to network, take exams, turn in assignments, and see their grades. Additionally, in terms of online resources, students can download all Microsoft Office products for free. At UW - Eau Claire, 93% of students maintain full-time schedules.
#6 University of Wisconsin - Stout
The University of Wisconsin - Stout (UW - Stout) is a public institution and the first Wisconsin university to become certified by the United States Distance Learning Association for excellence in distance education practices. The school offers fully online and hybrid learning programs, where students can customize their schedules to fit their busy lifestyles. UW - Stout also features Prior Learning Credit for experiences that students have had outside of the classroom, such as military service, AP classes, or professional development.
There are 14 undergraduate degrees to choose from, all delivered through Canvas LMS, including a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management; a Bachelor of Science in Psychology; and a Bachelor of Science in Career, Technical Education and Training. Additionally, there are 15 graduate degrees and 21 certificate options. Regardless of the type of program, online students across the board have access to tutors, writing labs, and advisors.
#7 University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
The University of Wisconsin - Whitewater (UW - Whitewater) is a public university that serves self-paced degrees for working individuals. There are 15 fully online bachelor's degrees in accounting, healthcare, finance, business, and operations. Some degree examples include a Bachelor of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management, Bachelor of Science in Human Performance, and Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics. Additionally, there are over a dozen online master's degrees and certificates at UW - Whitewater. Each degree includes transparent tuition pricing per credit, which makes this university ideal for students on a budget.
Before enrolling in an online program, students may take the school's LMS Canvas for a test drive. Online learners can also seek assistance from the many resources offered by UW, including academic advising, career counseling, as well as research and technology support.
#8 University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
University of Wisconsin - Green Bay (UW - Green Bay) is a public university with dozens of fully online or partially online degree programs. Like many UW system schools, the majority of its offerings are at the bachelor's level, with examples such as a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership. UW - Green Bay also offers online accelerated degrees in business administration and organizational leadership, each at the bachelor's level.
There are 10 master's level degrees and 21 certificates — all of which can be completed entirely online through the Canvas LMS. Of the more unique offerings from UW - Green Bay are the Boot Camps in the fields of data analytics and coding. These part-time, 24-week programs include live classes that are designed to develop hands-on experience. Distance learners are also offered mental health counseling through the Phoenix Cares program.
#9 University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
The University of Wisconsin - La Crosse (UW - La Crosse) is a public institution that has been recognized for the quality of its online education programs by the Online Learning Consortium. UW - La Crosse offers graduate certificates, master’s degree programs, and a Doctor of Education in Student Affairs Administration and Leadership. Several K12 Educational Certificates are also available. These programs offer the flexibility of no on-campus meetings or requirements, small class sizes, and individualized advising.
There are 10 postgraduate programs offered online via the Canvas Learning Management System. Students can choose from tech programs like a Master of Science in Information Technology Management, education programs like a Master of Science in School Psychology, or health programs like a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. Classes may be offered in synchronous or asynchronous formats.
#10 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
The University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point (UW - Stevens Point) is a public institution offering online accredited programs, individual courses, and continuing education options. UW - Stevens Point has a dozen diverse postgraduate programs available, including a Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology, Master of Science in Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems, and Master of Music Education. Several undergraduate degrees are also available, as well as online certificates, teacher certifications, and even a Forestry Education and Development Initiative online training.
Online programs are delivered through the Canvas Learning Management System, which is supported 24/7 via email, chat, or phone. UW - Stevens Point offers a Tutoring-Learning Center that provides virtual tutoring and writing assistance to online students. Tuition is among the lowest in the Midwest, and students can also take advantage of a Text Rental program to save money on books.
#11 Concordia University - Wisconsin
Concordia University is a private, nonprofit university associated with the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod). Its Wisconsin campus offers an extensive selection of online degrees. These include four associate degrees in business management, healthcare management, HR management, and theological studies. Heavily focused on education and nursing, Concordia also offers seven accelerated bachelor's degrees, 22 additional bachelor's degrees, 46 master's degrees, and six doctorates.
Online students use the Blackboard learning management system to access their online courses. The school provides scholarships of up to $500 per course for online students.
#12 University of Wisconsin - Superior
University of Wisconsin - Superior (UW - Superior) is a four-year, public university that has online degree programs for students seeking a bachelor's or master's degree. Students can choose from one of the online undergraduate options the school offers, which includes a Bachelor of Arts in subjects like writing, history, or psychology; or a Bachelor of Science in majors that range from public leadership and innovation to computer science. Alternatively, students also have the opportunity to design their own online bachelor's degree. UW - Superior has 100% online graduate programs in data science, education, and various management specialties, to name a few options. Since the school has an above-average acceptance rate of 76%, it makes sense that the graduation rate is below average at 47%.
Online courses at UW - Superior are submitted asynchronously and synchronously through the software Canvas. The 974 students at UW - Superior who are currently studying online are treated the same as traditional, in-person learners. They can apply for financial aid and receive services, such as tutoring, writing, and career support. Also, the same degrees are conferred to both types of students. And despite having a medium-sized student population, UW - Superior has a 16:1 student-to-faculty ration, allowing for smaller classes and more personalized instruction, regardless of whether students are online or on-campus.
#13 University of Wisconsin-Parkside
The University of Wisconsin - Parkside (UW - Parkside) is a public institution that offers 10 fully online graduate programs available in an array of disciplines, including a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology, and Master of Science in Cybersecurity. UW - Parkside also offers more than a dozen graduate certificates, several degree completion programs, an Associate of Arts and Sciences, and non-credit courses for professional development and personal enrichment.
Students access online courses using the Canvas LMS. For nontraditional students, UW - Parkside offers the UW Flexible Option as a high-quality, reasonably priced, self-paced alternative. Students can start studies in any month and work at their own pace towards a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration or a Project Management Certificate. In addition, credit can be earned by passing assessments that draw on existing knowledge gained through prior course work, military training, on-the-job training, and other learning experiences.
#14 Viterbo University
Viterbo University is a Roman Catholic institution located in the city of La Crosse. This private, nonprofit university hosts seven online degree programs for distance learners, including three bachelor completion degrees in business, education, and nursing; two graduate education licensure and certificate programs aimed at either students in the state of Wisconsin or Iowa; and two master's degrees in the healthcare field. Viterbo accepts 77% of applicants into their chosen program while maintaining a 66% graduation rate, which is above the national average.
Viterbo utilizes the popular digital platform Moodle to deliver coursework virtually in either synchronous or asynchronous formats, depending on the class. It also offers a range of resources to support its online students through the Academic Resource Center. Even though a student is studying 100% online, they can still schedule online tutoring sessions and receive writing assistance through the school. The school is known for its small size. With only 1,639 undergraduates in attendance, the student-to-faculty ratio is only 11:1, allowing for more individualized instruction.
#15 University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
At the public University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), students can finish all of their General Education Requirements entirely online. The school has over 850 courses that are delivered in a 100% virtual format. Additionally, UWM boasts 46 fully online degree programs at various levels and across a wide array of subjects — from biomedical sciences to community engagement and education. Some of these online degrees are hybrid, however, and may have some in-person requirements, depending on the program. Overall, UWM has a 50% graduation rate among its 18,322 undergraduate students. On the other hand, 89% of prospective students who apply are accepted into the program of their choice, making it fairly easy to enroll.
Canvas is the school's chosen learning management system that distributes coursework to distance learners. Through Flexible Option at UWM, students participate in online certificate, associate, and bachelor's programs that are self-paced and competency-based. This format encourages students to excel at their own rate. To further encourage student success, UWM has a 18:1 student-to-faculty ration.
Higher Education in Wisconsin
Between 2006 and 2020, over 80% of undergraduate students at UW rated their experiences as "good" or "excellent." As a whole, the UW system hosts nearly 130,000 distance education students, the majority of whom are studying at the undergraduate level.
Although Wisconsin is famous for its dairy farms, the state's primary industry is manufacturing. Some of the best-known manufacturers in Wisconsin include Harley Davidson, Kohler, and Oshkosh Truck. Some of the top employers include Kohl's Corp., Johnson Controls, Aurora Health Care, Ashley Furniture, Manpower Group, and Baird. With such a diversified economy, college graduates with degrees in many fields of study are likely to find employment here.
Wisconsin residents certainly have a wide array of colleges to choose from. Among the public schools in the state are the 13 universities within the University of Wisconsin system. The state also operates 16 technical colleges in locations such as Madison, Kenosha, Janesville, and Wausau. Private schools include Marquette University in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Carroll University in Waukesha, and Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon.
Most of these schools offer online courses, and many feature fully online degree programs. For example, the University of Wisconsin offers online degrees at every level, from associate degrees through doctorates. Residents can also earn career and vocational degrees at online technical colleges in Wisconsin. Through these online Wisconsin colleges, learners can pursue degrees in all of the most in-demand subjects, such as business administration degrees, computer science degrees, and programs in the health sciences.
In addition to cost and available programs, an important factor to consider when choosing an online college in Wisconsin is accreditation. Enrollment in an accredited online college is generally required to qualify for financial aid and to transfer credits from one school to another. A degree from an accredited school may also be a requirement for acceptance into a graduate program or to obtain a state-issued license or credential to practice a specific profession.
All of the schools that appear on our list of the best online colleges in Wisconsin are accredited, usually by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC).
FAQs About Online Colleges in Wisconsin
How Many Colleges Are in Wisconsin?
College Navigator, which uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), lists 92 postsecondary educational institutions in Wisconsin. Approximately one-third of these are public schools operated by the state and the other two-thirds are privately run colleges.
What Are the Best Colleges in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin is home to many highly regarded colleges and universities, such as the University of Wisconsin campuses in Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse, and Eau Claire. Well-known private schools include Lawrence University in Appleton, Marquette University in Milwaukee, and Beloit College in Beloit. Many of these schools offer online college courses in Wisconsin.
How Much Is College in Wisconsin?
NCES data from the 2020-21 school year shows that college tuition and fees for two-year and four-year schools in Wisconsin are often slightly higher than national averages. Some options for reducing the cost of earning a degree in Wisconsin include:
- Enrolling in an online degree program. Some Wisconsin online colleges charge lower tuition rates to their distance learning students than they do to their on-campus students.
- Completing some of your preliminary coursework at an accredited online community college in Wisconsin. You can take your general education courses at one of these less expensive schools and then transfer those credits to a four-year university where you can complete your bachelor's degree.
- Applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After submitting this form, you'll be considered for federal aid, college-provided aid, and state-funded aid programs such as the Wisconsin Grant, the Talent Incentive Program Grant, and the Academic Excellence Scholarship.
What Colleges Have Reciprocity With Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has established several reciprocity agreements with a number of other states that allow Wisconsin residents to attend some colleges in these other states while paying in-state tuition rates and vice versa. The Midwest Student Exchange Program, for example, is an agreement among colleges in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas.
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