Online Colleges in Texas
Geographically speaking, Texas is huge. And when it comes to online learning, the horizons in Texas are just as spacious. Texas colleges and universities provide degree programs in a vast variety of disciplines and subjects, so use the data we've collected below to find a program and a school that's right for you.
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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board encourages the development of online courses by the state universities and colleges that it oversees, and it works with colleges to ensure that online and distance education classes are high quality. It understands that these kinds of programs provide better access to higher education for thousands of Texans who don't live near a university campus, or who are holding down full-time job. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 135 schools with physical campuses Texas offer more than 300 online degree programs.
Many national online colleges also offer online programs for Texas residents, and the coordinating board works with those schools to ensure that Texas residents get quality courses from these out-of-state institutions. Most national online colleges offer degree programs to students in Texas. Many have been offering fully online degrees for years and have a broader set of programs, courses, and subjects available. Some, including University of Phoenix and ITT Technical Institute, have campuses in Texas where students can attend classes as well.
It's clear that Texas has placed a high premium on quality distance education. One reason might be that despite having a robust economy, many Texans lack the education needed to fill in-demand positions. Although 80 percent of Texans aged 25 years or older have a high school degree or higher, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012, just 26.3 percent of the people in that age group have a Bachelor's degree or higher, and 39 percent have not attended college at all. According to the Lumina Foundation, the percentage of Texans who have a two- or four-year degree is below the national average (based on 2011 Census data).
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that graduation rates vary depending on age: 22.8 percent of Texans who are 25 or older have attended college without earning a degree, 6.4 percent have earned an Associate's degree and 17.5 percent have earned a Bachelor's degree. Nearly 9 percent have a graduate or professional degree. For Texas residents who are 18 to 24 years old, 43.2 percent have attended college or earned an Associate's degree and 7.2 percent have a Bachelor's degree.
There are nearly 13 million working people in Texas, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the annual average wage is $44,400. The Census Bureau looks at median salary numbers (the median is when half of then people make more than that amount and half earn less) and according to the Bureau, Texans with a Bachelor's degree earn a median salary of $50,060, while those with a graduate degree earn $66,109. In Texas, it pays to go to college.
There are 135 schools in Texas that award Bachelor's degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. About a quarter of those offer online degree programs, and many also offer other distance learning options, including off-campus, in-person classes in remote areas, videoconference classes and courses that are a hybrid of onsite and online.
The following list ranks the top 10 schools in Texas offering online classes, starting with the lowest tuition costs. The list provides key information for prospective students, such as the actual degree programs that are taught online, and information on tuition fees, accreditation and notable alumni.
#1 - Texas Tech University
- In-state Tuition: $7,517 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 4 undergraduate, 14 postgraduate, 4 doctoral
- Notable Alumni: Former NFL player Garry Don Anderson, NBA player Tony Battie, baseball player Josh Bard, actor Barry Corbin, singer John Denver, TV newsman Scott Pelley, WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes, NFL player Wes Welker.
Texas Tech offers a wide variety of online, off-campus and hybrid degrees. Some online courses in the TTU Worldwide eLearning program require occasional face-to-face meetings. One distinctive characteristic of TTU is that in addition to undergraduate and graduate online degree programs, it offers three undergraduate online minors in nuclear engineering, wind energy and studies in personal finance. There are four online Bachelor's degrees in General Studies, Architecture, Plant and Soil Science, Multidisciplinary Studies, University Studies and Biology. In addition, Tech offers 14 online Master's degree programs, including Art Education, Technical Communication, Instructional Technology, Special Education, Engineering, Healthcare Engineering, Agricultural Education, Plant and Soil Science, Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Horticulture, Human Development and Family Studies, Multidisciplinary Science, Software Engineering, Systems and Engineering Management, and Science. Finally, Texas Tech offers online doctoral programs, which is also rare in higher education. At TTU, those doctoral programs are in Agricultural Education, Systems and Engineering Management, Technical Communication and Rhetoric, and Higher Education.
#2 - Texas State University-San Marcos
- In-state Tuition: $8,060 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 1 postgraduate program more than 50 percent online.
- Notable Alumni: Former U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, country singer George Strait, actor Powers Boothe, writer Tomas Rivera, NBA player Jeff Foster, NFL player Ricky Sanders
Texas State University's online Master of Social Work program was ranked 7th in the nation recently based on a variety of criteria, including student satisfaction, peer and instructional quality, and overall affordability. Texas State offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees via online learning. Some programs are fully online but many are only partially online, with the remainder of the courses requiring face-to-face classes either at the San Marcos campus or at another meeting site off campus. The graduate programs that are more than 50 percent online include Interdisciplinary Studies, Management of Technical Education, Social Work Administrative Leadership, Secondary Education, Communication Design, Long-Term Care Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner Studies, Technical Communication, Computer Science, Software Engineering and Middle School Math Teaching.
#3 - Tarleton State University
- In-state Tuition: $5,856 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 9 undergraduate and 9 postgraduate
- Notable Alumni: Singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham, NFL quarterback Richard Bartel, MLB player Chad Fox, actor George Kennedy, physicist Matthew Wright.
Tarleton State University prides itself on offering personal, highly interactive online classes taught by faculty experts with experience in teaching and private industry. Tarleton's "small school atmosphere online" includes Bachelor's degree programs in Veterinary Technology, Administrative Systems, Business, Business Administration, Information Technology, Psychology, Criminal Justice Administration, Health Professions Technology, and Manufacturing and Industrial Management. For Master's degrees online, it offers Agricultural and Consumer Resources, Business Administration, Human Resource Management, Information Systems, Management and Leadership, Criminal Justice, English, Music Education, and Quality and Engineering Management.
#4 - Stephen F. Austin State University
- In-state Tuition: $8,412 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 3 undergraduate and 12 postgraduate
- Notable Alumni: Former NFL coach Bum Phillips, NFL player Mark Moseley, former basketball coach Neil Fortner, NFL Hall of Famer Larry Centers, opera singer Yvonne Gonzalez, Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Will Jennings, musician Don Henley, musician Rodney Crowell.
Stephen F. Austin University offers more than 20 online degree programs, from certificate programs to undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Unlike some universities, the online courses at SFA cost the same as their onsite classes, with an additional $25-per-credit fee added. Undergraduate degree programs include Nursing, Interdisciplinary Studies for Special Education Teachers, Early Childhood Teacher Certification, Middle Level Grades Teacher Certification, and Business Administration. Graduate degrees are offered in Public Administration, Human Science, Resource Interpretation, Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership, Education with a Content Emphasis, All-level Professional Reading, Special Education, Music Education, Music Theory and Composition, and Teaching.
#5 - Texas Woman's University
- In-state Tuition: $7,339 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 7 undergraduate, 8 postgraduate, 1 doctoral
- Notable Alumni: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Caro Crawford Brown, NASA astronaut Millie Hughes-Fulford, actress Jill Marie Jones, opera singer Joan Wall.
Texas Woman's University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that are completely taught online. Although primarily for women, Texas Woman's University is a public, co-educational university that opened its doors to male students in 1995. Some graduate-level courses are predominately online but have some on-campus courses. Some of the undergraduate courses offered online include Dental Hygiene, Criminal Justice, General Studies, Health Studies, Human Resource Management, Management, Marketing and Nursing. Master's degree programs offered completely online include Education of the Deaf, Family Studies, Health Studies, Kinesiology (with separate programs for all Sports, Softball Coaching and Sport Management), Library Science, Nursing Education, Nursing Health Systems Management and Nutrition. A doctoral program in Nursing Science is also offered.
#6 - Lamar University
- In-state Tuition: $7,429 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 11 undergraduate and 10 postgraduate
- Notable Alumni: Former MLB player Bruce Aven, PGA golfer Ronnie Black, former NFL player Johnny Fuller, LPGA golfer Jen Wyatt, filmmaker Gordon S. Williams, author and filmmaker Kelly Asbury.
Lamar University offers online courses and online degree programs through its Center for Distance Education and its Center for Academic Partnerships. The school's goal is to make it easier for people who are already in the workforce to get their degree in the evenings and weekends when they are not on the job. LU Online also works closely with active duty servicemembers and veterans. Lamar's undergraduate online degree programs include Applied Arts and Sciences, General Studies, Computer Science, Industrial Technology, Criminal Justice, Nursing, General Business, Management, Entrepreneurship, Communication and Sociology. Its Master's degree programs include Education and Education Administration, Teacher Leadership, Education Technology Leadership, School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Special Education (Generic, Gifted and Autism), Health Promotion, Nursing, Criminal Justice, and Educational Leadership.
#7 - Lubbock Christian University
- Tuition: $18,740 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 2 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate
- Notable Alumni: Southern Methodist University President R. Gerald Turner, retired college baseball coach Larry Hays, "The Lawrence Welk Show" singers The Otwell Twins, former MLB player Randy Velarde, and college basketball coach Rob Evans.
Lubbock Christian University prides itself not only on teaching, it has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a Top 20 Comprehensive College in the Western Region, but on building character among its students, including those learning from a distance through its online programs. LCU was one of only six Texas schools to be named to the Templeton Honor Roll of Character Building Colleges, and prides itself on its above-average placement rate for graduates of its education and pre-med programs. LCU offers two undergraduate degree programs and four graduate online degrees. It also offers hybrid programs, where some of the classes are online and some are face to face, through its graduate Bible department and graduate nursing department. The online undergraduate degrees are offered in Organizational Management and Organizational Leadership, and the online graduate degrees are offered in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Human Services, Leadership and Educational Leadership.
#8 - Virginia College at Austin
- Tuition: $13,701 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 18 undergraduate, 4 postgraduate
- Notable Alumni: Pauline Wright Lucas (honorary degree), Dr. Luis Pineda, computer expert Ty Fauscett
Virginia College, with locations in both Austin and Lubbock, as well as a number of other states, offers a variety of Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degrees online. Virginia, with online degree programs ranging from Business, to Healthcare, Paralegal and Criminal Justice, caters to the needs of working professionals who see a degree as a way to advance their careers or usher themselves into a new career. Online Associate degree programs are offered in Accounting, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Healthcare Reimbursement, Human Resource Management, Medical Office Administration, Network Engineering, Office Administration and Paralegal Studies. Its Bachelor's degree programs include Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Golf Course Management, Health Services Management, Human Resource Management, Management Information Systems, Network Management and Paralegal Studies. Finally, its online Master's degree programs focus on Business Administration, Business Administration Management, Criminal Justice and Cybersecurity.
#9 - Baptist Health System School of Health Professions
- Tuition: $1,420 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 7 Associate's degrees and 2 Bachelor's degrees.
The Baptist Health System School of Health Professions first started as a nursing school in 1903 and has been growing ever since. It granted its first Bachelor's degree in 2013, and today offers degree programs both online and through resident programs. Baptist offers Associate's degrees in Surgical Technology Accelerated Alternate Delivery, Applied Science in Surgical Technology, Health Information Technology, Nursing, Radiological Technology and Surgical Technology. Its online Bachelor's degree program features programs in Nursing and Healthcare Management.
#10 - Texas A&M International University
- In-state Tuition: $4,928 (2013-2014)
- Accredited: Y
- # of online programs: 1 undergraduate and 3 postgraduate
- Notable alumni: Civil rights advocate Esther Buckley, politician Henry Cuellar, industrialist Rodney Lewis, politician Juan Perez and former minor league pitcher Tano Tijerina.
Texas A&M International University is a public, state-supported university in Laredo that is part of the Texas A&M University System. It features a College of Arts and Science, the A.R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business, the College of Education and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Its business school has been highly rated by U.S. News & World Reports as well as The Princeton Review. TAMIU's online degree programs include a Bachelor's degree Nursing and Master's degrees in Criminal Justice, Business Administration with a concentration in International Business, and Curriculum and Instruction.
Almost three-fourths of the population of Texas lives within what's been dubbed the Texas Triangle, or the area of the state that is outlined by Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio. It's an area the size of Georgia and has the population of Florida. Yes, Texas is big, and its economy is robust. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of the major metropolitan areas within the Texas Triangle has among the lowest unemployment rates in the country. In fact, San Antonio, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston are all in the top 10, with unemployment rates at 5 percent or less. Austin, often included in the Triangle discussion, has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4.1 percent.
What follows is a closer look at economic and demographic profile of Texas by the three corners of the triangle. The economic data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2014 Cost of Living Index published by The Council for Community and Economic Research. All demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the latest Labor Force Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All data in the Facts for Online Learners section comes from the region's various tourism websites.
There are about 3.4 million people employed in the metropolitan area that includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas. They made on average about $22.50 per hour, which translates to an annual salary of $46,800. The Cost of Living index for this area is 92.1, with home prices averaging $212,278.
More than 6.5 million people live in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington metro area, making it the largest urban area in Texas by just a few hundred thousand more than Houston. The entire state has a workforce of nearly 13 million people, which means Dallas-Fort Worth provides about 26 percent of the state's workers. The metropolitan area's unemployment rate is just 5 percent.
Fun Facts for Online Learners
There are a wide variety of historic, educational and entertaining things to do in the Dallas area. Sports are big, of course, with the Dallas Cowboys football team and Dallas Mavericks basketball team leading the way in popularity. The Dallas Art District is the cultural mecca for the area; at 68 acres, it's the largest urban arts district in the country. The Dallas Art Museum is often free and open to the public. Those who want to enjoy the outdoors can find trails and more than 21,000 acres of parks within the city.
The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area employs more than 3.1 million people, providing 24 percent of the state's 12.9 million workers. Workers in Houston area earn on average $23.9 per hour, for an average annual wage of $49,830. About one in four employees works for a government agency, and the unemployment rate is just 5 percent. The Cost of Living index for this area is 98.2. Home prices, one of the key categories that comprise the index, average $251,913.
There are just under 6.1 million people living in the Houston area, making it the second-largest point of the Texas Triangle. The city of Houston has a vibrant ethnic diversity, with whites comprising only about 25 percent of the city's population and Hispanics making up 43 percent. When ranking cities -- and not metropolitan areas -- by population, Houston is the fourth-largest city in the nation, behind New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Fun Facts for Online Learners
Houston, known as the Bayou City, has recently revitalized its downtown area, making it a great place for dining, entertainment and the arts. Many visitors make it a point to visit the Space Center in Houston, but there is also the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo and the downtown aquarium. Houston also boasts a great number of parks and nature preserves, including historic areas like Sam Houston Park and the 155-acre Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.
The San Antonio-New Braufels metropolitan area is home to just over 1 million workers, about 7 percent of the state's total workforce. The average hourly wage is $19.88 and the average annual salary is $41,350. The unemployment rate in San Antonio is only 4.7 percent. In the city of San Antonio alone, more than 80 percent of the residents have at least a high school diploma. The cost of living is 92.5, with home prices averaging $224,918.
The city of San Antonio alone is growing. In recent years, the population has grown by 6.1 percent. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 110,000 companies doing business in San Antonio. About 40 percent of those businesses are owned by Hispanics, well above the rate for Texas overall.
Fun Facts for Online Learners
When you think of San Antonio, you may think of the Alamo, the famous fort. That fort is now a historical attraction in downtown San Antonio. In addition, the San Antonio River Walk, a series of cafes, restaurants and shops lining the river through downtown, is a major attraction.
There are several websites dedicated to providing greater access to the growing number of online educational opportunities in the Lonestar State. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Texas Distance Education website is a searchable database of online courses and degrees offered by primarily public institutions. Similarly, Virtual College of Texas (VCT), a service of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, is a collaborative of over 40 community colleges that share online courses. The Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus is yet another great resource, and hosts a directory of online education available in the South. Prospective students can search for courses, degree programs, and participating schools in not only Texas, but its neighboring states as well.
1. Baptist Health System School of Health Professionals, http://www.bshp.edu/future-students/programs/online-programs
2. "Best States for Business," Forbes, September 2013, http://www.forbes.com/places/tx/,
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19100.htm#00-0000
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Civilian labor force and unemployment by state, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm
5. City of Houston: Demographic Data, http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/Demographics/demog_links.html
6. Free Things to Do in Dallas, http://www.visitdallas.com/things-to-do/free-things-to-do/outdoors/
7. Lamar University Notable People, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamar_University
8. Lamar University Online, http://luonline.lamar.edu/
9. List of Texas State University alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Texas_State_University_alumni
10. Lubbock Christian University Online Programs, http://www.lcu.edu/admissions/online-programs
11. National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=TX&l=93
12. QuickFacts: U.S. Census Bureau: San Antonio, Texas, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/4865000.html
13. San Antonio: Deep in the Heart, http://visitsanantonio.com/english/Browse-Book/Attractions
14. SFA Online: Distance Education at Stephen F. Austin University, http://www.sfaonline.info/
15. Tarleton State University, http://www.tarleton.edu/ecampus/
16. Texas A&M International University, http://www.tamiu.edu/online/programs.shtml
17. Texas, A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, June 2013, http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/#texas
18. Texas State University, http://www.distancelearning.txstate.edu/
19. Texas Tech Distance Education, http://www.depts.ttu.edu/elearning/programs/
20. Texas Tech famous alumni, http://www.depts.ttu.edu/communications/media/alumni.php
21. Texas Woman's University online degree programs, http://www.twu.edu/TLT/online-degrees.asp
22. Things to do in Houston, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g56003-Activities-c45-Houston_Texas.html
23. U.S. Census: American Factfinder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_5YR_S1501
24. Virginia College, http://www.vc.edu/online/online-college.cfm
25. Virginia College news releases, http://www.vc.edu/vc-news/huntsville-alumnus-wins-small-business-award.cfm