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Online Colleges in Texas

Most Affordable Online Colleges
   Page Contents

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board encourages the development of online courses by the 45 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 jobs.

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 ITT Technical Institute, have campuses in Texas where students can attend classes as well.

Despite the state's 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 2014, just 27 percent of the people in that age group have a bachelor's degree or higher. 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: 22.7 percent of Texans who are 25 or older have attended college without earning a degree, 6.6 percent have earned an associate degree and 17.9 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, 44.2 percent have attended college or earned an associate degree and 7.6 percent have a bachelor's degree.

About a quarter of the schools in Texas 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. Here's a bird's eye view of the opportunities in Texas:

Degree LevelNumber of Online ProgramsNumber of Colleges
Associate40344
Bachelor's7944
Master's3644

Most Affordable Online Colleges in Texas

The following list ranks schools in Texas that offer programs at the lowest tuition costs. The schools are ranked based on their affordability by comparing the in-state, campus-based tuition they reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. If the schools tied based on their tuition, the tiebreaker was the schools’ overall scores from the Top Colleges tool. To see Texas schools ranked by quality, instead of affordability, check out the Top Colleges tool.

Most Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in Texas

Many students interested in pursuing a degree start out earning an associate degree. For many students, including those interested in medical technology and more hands-on work, a two-year degree is all the training they need for their desired career. Others go on to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree. The following is a list of the most affordable two-year schools in Texas.

1

Panola College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$600
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
63.81%
Institution Type
Public

About

Located in Carthage, Texas, near Shreveport, Panola College offers seven online associate degree programs and four online certificate programs. The associate degrees are in general business, office professional, teaching, computer information technology and health information technology. Two of these programs -- nursing and medical lab technician -- require face-to-face meetings for clinics and labs. Panola, which takes its name from the county it's located in, has repeatedly won the "Digital Community College” award in the small college division.

School Website: 
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2

Wharton County Junior College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$768
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
23.15%
Institution Type
Public

About

Located in Wharton, Texas, northwest of Galveston and Houston, Wharton County Junior College uses the internet, hybrid courses and interactive TV to deliver classes to students who can't come to campus. The school uses the Blackboard learning management system for its credit classes and ed2go for its many online enrichment classes. All told, the school offers 115 online credit courses in a variety of disciplines, including general education, health, communications and physical sciences.

School Website: 
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3

Trinity Valley Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$960
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
61.21%
Institution Type
Public

About

Located in Athens, Texas, Trinity Valley offers scores of classes in an online format. Classes run the gamut from business math and desktop publishing to history and criminal justice. The college also offers general support for its online students, including access to a distance learning student handbook and an orientation for students enrolled in the school's e-courses. Although its home base is Athens, the school draws on the resources of satellite campuses in Kaufman, Palestine and Terrell. Many students in the school's online courses transfer the credits they earn to four-year colleges so they can pursue a bachelor's degree.

School Website: 
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4

Amarillo College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,008
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
40.48%
Institution Type
Public

About

Amarillo offers five online associate degree programs. They are in business administration, criminal justice, general studies, psychology and radiation therapy. The college also offers a certificate in mortuary science. The main campus is located in Amarillo, but the school encompasses six different campuses, an outreach center and a technical training center. In additional to its online classes, Amarillo College also offers hybrid courses, telecourses that have been recorded and burned onto CDs and interactive video.

School Website: 
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5

Clarendon College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,008
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
40.39%
Institution Type
Public

About

Located in Clarendon, Texas, Clarendon offers a broad array of online classes using the Moodle system. Students must take a Moodle orientation course before starting a class. Clarendon is the oldest college in the Texas Panhandle, having been established in 1898 by the Methodist Church. Today, it is a nonsectarian institution. The school delivers undergraduate programs for associate degrees as well as continuing education and workforce development programs.

School Website: 
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Most Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in Texas

Below are profiles of the top five of the 110 four-year schools in Texas that were analyzed.

1

Baptist Health System School of Health Professions

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$325
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
91.8%
Institution Type
Private

About

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 degree programs in surgical technology accelerated delivery, applied science in surgical technology, health information technology, nursing, radiological technology and surgical technology. Its online bachelor's degree options feature programs in nursing and healthcare management.

School Website: 
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2

Texas Southern University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,400
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
12.95%
Institution Type
Public

About

In addition to a handful of certificate programs, Texas Southern, located in Houston, offers four online master's degree programs. These include programs in business administration, public administration, education and administration of justice. The school, one of the largest historically black universities in the country, offers online learners a diverse faculty as well as a strong and diverse alumni network. Overall, the school's 100 undergraduate and graduate programs are distributed among 11 on-campus colleges and schools on its 150-acre campus. Although it was established to serve African Americans, it has diversified in recent decades to serve all races from around the world.

School Website: 
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3

South Texas College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,330
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
17.11%
Institution Type
Public

About

South Texas in MacAllen, Texas, has created a robust "virtual campus" that allows students to register, pay, attend class and get advice entirely online. Students can choose from 30 different programs. It also offers some of the lowest tuition rates in the country. Most of the online degree programs are for associate degrees, although there are also eight certificate programs and four bachelor's degree programs. Many of South Texas' online students are nontraditional students who have been in the workforce for years and are looking to finish their degree and improve their value in the job market.

School Website: 
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4

Brazosport College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,790
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
26.71%
Institution Type
Public

About

Brazosport is part of the Virtual College of Texas, a consortium in which different Texas schools post classes they are willing to share with other colleges. The online courses vary each semester, but students who choose their classes carefully can earn an Associate of Arts degree entirely online. Students can also complete the college's core curriculum completely through online classes. The school also offers hybrid and supplemental courses, in which 15 percent or less of the class is completed online and the rest is completed in person.

School Website: 
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5

Tarleton State University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,696
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
16.73%
Institution Type
Public

About

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 programs for agricultural and consumer resources, business administration, human resource management, information systems, management and leadership, criminal justice, English, music education, and quality and engineering management.

School Website: 
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College Accreditation in Texas

As the biggest state in the lower 48, Texas is home to hundreds of notable public and private universities and technical colleges. Students considering attending online college in the Lone Star State need to make sure the college they are interested in is accredited by an approved governing body.

While there are hundreds of different colleges in Texas, one main body is responsible for accrediting the state's major educational systems. That accrediting body is listed below:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

There are, however, other accrediting bodies in the state. They include the following:

  • Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

The SACSCOC accredits large schools like Texas A&M in College Station to smaller, independent schools such as University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The COE and the ACCSC accredit technical and career schools. Students can check with the Department of Education to see how their institution is accredited.

School Interviews

Colleges and universities around the country are adding online degree programs. To find out what Texas educators are doing to add online classes and to ensure they meet the needs of their students, we interviewed several online educators from different online colleges and universities in Texas.

Dr. Rene Corbeil
Online programs offer opportunities and flexibility for academic and career advancement for adults, especially those who need to juggle multiple responsibilities such as work, family, and school.

Dr. Rene Corbeil

Associate Professor of Educational Technology

The University of Texas at Brownsville

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at The University of Texas at Brownsville?

The University of Texas at Brownsville presently offers 21 online programs-- 8 Master's degrees, 6 Bachelor's and 7 graduate certificates-- and delivers over 600 online undergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral level course sections per year to approximately 9,000 online students.

These fully online programs employ a mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication, facilitated through web-based discussion forums, blogs, desktop video conferencing, email, and a host of social media tools.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Do research on the program and institution you are interested in. Make sure that the institution is accredited and then, research the accreditation agency to ensure that it is recognized by the employers you will be seeking jobs with after you graduate. If the program itself is also accredited, then this degree will be of even more value.

Contact a faculty member or advisor in the online program you are interested in. In an online degree program, it is important to be able to reach someone if you need assistance. You can learn a lot about the type of support and service you will be able to count on from initial calls or emails.

Ask questions regarding the program requirements and the types of course assignments, projects, and assessments. Also ask about the technology tools and skills you are expected to have entering the program. This will help you determine if you have the skills, technology, and time necessary to successfully complete the course and program requirements.

To be successful in an online program, you will need to be proactive in asking for help, take the lead in your learning, and manage your time and life responsibilities wisely. Online programs offer opportunities and flexibility for academic and career advancement for adults, especially those who need to juggle multiple responsibilities such as work, family, and school.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

In the coming years, online learning will evolve especially regarding the increased use of web-based collaboration tools, outside of the learning management system, to facilitate more dynamic and experiential project-based and collaborative learning. Online programs will also shift from the use of print-based textbooks to more affordable and up-to-date e-books, as well as digital content sharing.

Another growing trend in e-learning is competency-based education. Through this approach, students advance through a program of study based on their ability to master specific skills or competencies, usually at their own pace.


Justin R. Louder
I see online education continuing to grow as more and more students want the flexibility of learning anytime and anyplace.

Justin R. Louder

Assistant Vice Provost

Texas Tech University

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at Texas Tech University?

We have more than 50 online programs including Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, more hybrid or online doctoral programs than any other university in Texas, and graduate certificate programs. Our comprehensive group of courses and programs allow a student to receive a Texas Tech University degree from anywhere – that is why we are named TTU Worldwide eLearning!

US News and World Report ranked our Master’s degree programs in Engineering and Education as some of the best programs in the nation. A list from the Affordable Colleges Foundation ranked Texas Tech number 6 out of 46 universities in the United States for our affordable and economical degrees. We were the only Texas university ranked by this group.

Texas Tech University prides itself on offering high quality online degree programs that are taught by the same highly-qualified faculty teaching in our campus-based or traditional programs. Students get the same content as they would if they were sitting in the traditional classroom. The only difference between a degree offered by TTU Worldwide eLearning and on the main campus in Lubbock is the fact that the student is doing their coursework online at their computer, in their environment and on their schedule.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Realize that online doesn’t mean easier -- it just means you don’t sit in a classroom for classes. You need to be a motivated learner and set aside time each day to do your coursework, just like you would if you were taking a traditionally offered face-to-face class.

Online learning is very rewarding and is a great option for people that don’t have access to a university in their area, can’t sit in the classroom because of other commitments, or need the flexibility of learning anywhere.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

I see online education continuing to grow as more and more students want the flexibility of learning anytime and anyplace. I see universities expanding their online programs and adapting to the changing landscape of higher education in the U.S. I also believe you will see programs utilizing tools for adaptive learning and expanding competency-based learning opportunities for people who have significant real-world experience in different fields.

I don’t think online classes will ever replace the traditional “brick and mortar” institutions -- we will always have traditional schools -- but online learning will continue to provide the answer for those numerous students who cannot sit in a classroom.

Top Cities For Students In Texas

There are many exciting cities in Texas for students. Below you can see information relevant to an online student for some of the top cities in the state. These data points include the average rent, as well as the average salary for those holding a high school degree compared to a bachelor’s degree.

Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX

Total Population

4,426,578

Median salary for high school grads

$28,708

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$55,408

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

9.2%

Median rent

$772

Economics

There are about 3.3 million people employed in the metropolitan area that includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2015. In the same year, these workers made on average about $23.57 per hour, which translates to an annual salary of $49,030. The Cost of Living index for this area is 92.1, with home prices averaging $130,900, according to 2014 Census Bureau data.

Demographics

The Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington metro area is 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, and Dallas-Fort Worth provides about 26 percent of the state's workers, according to BLS data. The metropolitan area's unemployment rate is just 5 percent.

Fun Facts

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.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Total Population

6,204,141

Median salary for high school grads

$28,732

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$57,366

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

9.2%

Median rent

$747

Economics

The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area employs more than 2.9 million people, providing 24 percent of the state's 12.9 million workers, the BLS says. Workers in the Houston area earn on average $24.92 per hour, the BLS reported in 2015, for an average annual wage of $51,830. 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 $125,400, according to the Census Bureau.

Demographics

The Houston area is the second-largest point of the Texas Triangle. The city of Houston has a vibrant ethnic diversity, with whites making up 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

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.

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

Total Population

2,239,222

Median salary for high school grads

$26,264

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$50,279

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

10.2%

Median rent

$713

Economics

The San Antonio-New Braufels metropolitan area is home to just under 1 million workers, about 7 percent of the state's total workforce, the U.S. Census reports. According to 2015 BLS data, the average hourly wage is $21.03 and the average annual salary is $43,740. 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 $114.600, the Census Bureau reports.

Demographics

The city of San Antonio alone is growing. In recent years, the population has grown by 6.1 percent. According to 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

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.

 

Sources

  1. Accreditations & Organizations, Arlington Career Institute, http://arlingtoncareerinstitute.edu/about-us/why-aci/
  2. American FactFinder, U.S. Census Bureau, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_5YR_S1501
  1. Civilian labor force and unemployment wages by state and metropolitan area, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed May 2016, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm
  2. Distance Education, Amarillo College, https://www.actx.edu/de/
  3. Distance Education, Wharton county Junior College, http://www.wcjc.edu/Programs/distance-education/index.aspx
  4. Distance Learning, Trinity Valley Community College, http://www.tvcc.edu/Distance-Learning/default.aspx?zoneid=132&deptid=151
  5. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
  6. Online Degrees & Certificates, Panola College, http://www.panola.edu/elearning/online-programs.html
  7. Online Learning, Texas Southern University, http://www.tsu.edu/onlinelearning/
  8. Programs, Baptist Health System School of Health Professions, http://www.bshp.edu/future-students/programs
  9. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, http://www.sacscoc.org/
  10. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, U.S. Department of Education, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx
  11. Welcome to Online Learning, Brazosport College, http://www.brazosport.edu/bconline/Pages/default.aspx
  12. Welcome to the COE, http://www.council.org/
  13. Why Choose South Texas College Online?, South Texas College, http://www.southtexascollege.edu/online/#offers