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Online Colleges for Public Health

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Article Sources

Sources:

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  2. Bachelor of Science Health Services Administration, http://www.fnu.edu/prospective-students/our-programs/select-a-program/bachelor-of-science-degree-programs/health-services-administration-hsa/
  3. Master of Science, Health Services Administration, http://www.fnu.edu/health-services-administration-hsa-master/
  4. Bachelor of Science Health Services Management, Independence University, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.independence.edu/healthcare/bachelors/health-services-management
  5. Healthcare Degree Programs, Bryant & Stratton College, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.bryantstratton.edu/degrees/healthcare
  6. Online bachelor's public health degree, Monroe College, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.monroecollege.edu/Online/Online-Degrees/Online-Bachelors-Degrees/Online-Bachelors-Public-Health-Degree/
  7. Health Services Administration, AA, Keiser University, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.keiseruniversity.edu/health-services-administration-aa/
  8. Health Services Administration, BA, Keiser University, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.keiseruniversity.edu/health-services-administration-ba/
  9. Health Services Administration Bachelor's Degree, Hodges University, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.hodges.edu/academics/academicprograms/bachelors-health-services-administration.aspx
  10. BS in Public Health, Walden University, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.waldenu.edu/bachelors/bs-in-public-health
  11. Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Walden University, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.nu.edu/OurPrograms/SchoolOfHealthAndHumanServices/CommunityHealth/Programs/BSPublicHealth.html
  12. Bachelor of Science in Public Health, National University, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.nu.edu/OurPrograms/SchoolOfHealthAndHumanServices/CommunityHealth/Programs/BSPublicHealth.html
  13. Bachelor of Science, Kent State University, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.kent.edu/publichealth/undergraduate
  14. Online degree programs, Mississippi University for Women, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.muw.edu/online/programs
  15. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Health Educators and Community Health Workers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm, accessed April 2017
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  18. Online Bachelor's Public Health Degree, Southern New Hampshire University, Accessed June 2017, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/bs-in-public-health
  19. Master of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Accessed June 2017, http://www.jhsph.edu/academics/degree-programs/master-of-public-health/index.html
  20. Public Health Major, Northern Illinois University College of Health and Human Sciences, Accessed June 2017, http://www.chhs.niu.edu/public_health/
  21. Masters Degrees, University of Pittsburgh, Accessed June 2017, https://www.publichealth.pitt.edu/home/academics/degree-programs/masters-degrees
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  30. Facts at a Glance, University of Illinois Springfield, https://www.uis.edu/about/facts/
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  33. Facts & Figures, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, https://twin-cities.umn.edu/sites/twin-cities.umn.edu/files/factsfigures-list9-06-2018.pdf
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  35. Executive MPH in public health administration and policy, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, https://online.umn.edu/degrees-certificates/executive-mph-public-health-administration-and-policy
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Achievements in the public health field during the 20th century have radically improved the quality of life around the world. As a result, many diseases, such as smallpox and polio, have been eradicated or reduced; the rate of infant and child mortality has been decreased; and people are, on average, living longer. However, there are plenty of challenges left to conquer in this field.

If you’d like to have a career in improving public health in the 21st century – whether in your local community hospital or government or through a nonprofit organization that addresses issues on a global scale – earning an online degree in public health can be a good place to get started.

Best Online Colleges for Public Health in 2018

Students looking to have careers in public health will likely need a degree in that field, and may want to consider earning one online. If you're overwhelmed by the number of online programs available to you, this list might be able to help! We have ranked the top 10 schools for earning an online public health degree by looking at a variety of factors, including admissions rate, graduation rate and tuition costs. You can read more about the methodology used to create the list below, but first: meet our top 10 online colleges for degrees in public health.

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Methodology
1

University of Illinois at Springfield

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,413
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.
65%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
24
School Type
4-year

The University of Illinois at Springfield was founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University and changed names in 1995, after being absorbed into the University of Illinois system. Among the university's plethora of online degree programs is an online Master of Public Health degree program, which also includes the option for a concentration in environmental health. The program requires 48 credits to satisfy degree requirements, as well as a four-credit internship. Students enrolled in the environmental health concentration also have the option of applying for certificates in risk assessment, or emergency preparedness and homeland security.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission; application for accreditation by Council on Education for Public Health
2

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$14,417
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%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
34
School Type
4-year

The University of Minnesota has five campus locations throughout Minnesota, including its flagship Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. UMN-Twin Cities offers several different online options for public health, including an Executive Master of Public Health in public health administration and policy as well as a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health. Both programs require 42 credits to complete. The MPH in maternal and child health is delivered fully online, while the MPH in health administration and policy requires 17 days of on-campus attendance. The university also offers a post-bachelor's certificate program in public health core concepts (14 credits).

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission; Council on Education for Public Health
3

University of South Carolina-Columbia

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,862
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.
25%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
31
School Type
4-year

Originally founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina at Columbia is one of eight colleges in the University of South Carolina system. USC's Arnold School of Public Health offers a fully online Master of Public Health degree program in health promotion, education and behavior, and another in health services policy and management. Both programs require 45 credits to complete. The health promotion, education and behavior pathway emphasizes education and leadership training for employees of community, school and workplace health departments. Meanwhile, the health services policy and management concentration focuses on public health law, program planning and program evaluation.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Council on Education for Public Health
4

University of Florida

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,381
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.
58%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
50
School Type
4-year

The University of Florida's flagship campus at Gainesville encompasses more than 2,000 acres and 16 separate colleges, including the College of Public Health and Health Professions. Through this college, UF offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in public health and health sciences, including:

  • Master of Science in biostatistics (36 credits to complete)
  • Master of Science in health education and behavior (30 credits to complete)
  • Master of Public Health (48 credits to complete; includes a five-credit public health internship)

There are six potential specializations for the MPH degree program, but only two can be taken online: public health practice, or social and behavioral sciences. Either specialization can also be taken in an accelerated, 42-credit format if desired.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Council on Education for Public Health
5

Kent State University at Kent

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,012
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.
49%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
44
School Type
4-year

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in public health degree program at Kent State University should expect their curriculum to cover five distinct areas:

  • epidemiology
  • health policy and management
  • biostatistics
  • environmental health
  • social and behavioral sciences

There also are several areas of concentration that students can choose to focus on during this program, including community-based public health, global health and health promotion and education, to name a few.

6

New York University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$50,464
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.
7%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
53
School Type
4-year

New York University is a private nonprofit research university located in (where else) New York City. This member of the prestigious Association of American Universities offers a fully online multidisciplinary Master of Public Health program that focuses on the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, and also three different online certificate programs:

  • Advanced certificate in public health
  • Applied global public health certificate
  • Advanced certificate in health & human rights

Most uniquely, however, NYU offers a cross-continental Master of Public Health degree program in a hybrid format, with the choice to take online electives. This program splits its studies between Washington, D.C., Accra Ghana and Florence for the 2018-2019 academic year and Washington, D.C, Buenos Aires and Madrid for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education; application for accreditation by Council on Education for Public Health
7

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,738
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.
38%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
42
School Type
4-year

Oklahoma State University was established in 1890 and has five campus locations across the state, including its flagship campus at Stillwater. The school's mascot, Pistol Pete, is one of the most widely recognized mascots in all of collegiate athletics.

OSU's online college offers a graduate certificate in public health program that requires 15 credit hours to complete. Program coursework is designed to cover the five core competencies of public health: epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics, healthcare administration and social and behavioral sciences. Students must earn a B grade or higher in each class to remain in good academic standing.

8

Purdue Global University-Davenport Campus

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$14,263
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.
100%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
114
School Type
4-year

Purdue Global University's Davenport campus is a former location of Kaplan University (Purdue acquired the Kaplan portfolio of campuses in 2017). Its online Master of Public Health degree program requires 56 quarter-credit hours to complete, including 40 core public health credits and 16 electives. The program takes 66 weeks to complete for fulltime students, with the option of completing fieldwork opportunities and/or onsite training. Students who hold graduate degrees from a medical, naturopathic, chiropractic or osteopathic program may transfer up to 28 quarter-credits into the MPH program at Purdue Global University.

9

East Tennessee State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,679
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.
46%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
26
School Type
4-year

Located in Johnson City, East Tennessee State University was established in 1911 and is made up of 11 colleges. Among them is the ETSU College of Public Health, which offers online degree programs in public health with four concentrations: community health; biostatistics; health services administration; and epidemiology. Each program requires 43 credits to complete. There's also a dual-degree pathway where students can earn a Master of Public Health and a Doctor of Medicine simultaneously. ETSU students can also pursue one of five different public health certificate programs to further accent and specialize their public health education.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Council on Education for Public Health
10

University of Arizona

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,877
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.
35%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
75
School Type
4-year

The University of Arizona has its flagship campus at Tucson and is one of the largest postsecondary institutions in the state. It is also one of the few institutions on our list that offers an online bachelor's degree program in public health. This program is designed to cover the basic principles of public health and disease prevention.

UA's Zuckerman College of Public Health also offers an online interdisciplinary Master of Public Health degree program with concentrations in applied epidemiology, health and behavioral health promotion, and health services administration. There is also a graduate certificate program in public health, consisting of the five core courses of the MPH program; this program is stackable with the MPH program, in case students complete the certificate and later decide to earn the master's as well.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission; Council on Education for Public Health

Degree Overview: Public Health

Online programs for public health are meant to educate those who are interested in how diseases affect a community, using their curriculum to impart valuable skills to their students. Here, we will explore the coursework found in these programs and the skills they hope to cultivate.

Online Public Health Courses

Public health is a complex field that requires rather specialized knowledge. The following are examples of courses focused on this knowledge that are commonly found in public health degree programs.

  • Introduction to public health: This course presents a basic understanding of the field and the foundation for what students will learn throughout their studies. Covered topics may include public health theories and how they relate to professional practice, how the health system works, biostatistics and the strategies for promoting public health.
  • Public health communication: Public health communication courses are valuable resources for learning how to effectively provide information to a community. Such a course may cover strategies for such tasks as creating messages during a public health crisis, implementing health education programs, persuading people in different demographics or public policy development.
  • Epidemiology: Epidemiology classes explore the way diseases are tracked by professionals, and may include topics such as public health policy and research, disease identification, randomized clinical trials, statistical interaction and the ways infectious and noninfectious diseases are spread.
  • Law and ethics in public health: This class addresses the legal and ethical standards that are required of public health professionals. Students may learn how ethics affect research, policy and reporting; the ways public health policy affects health care systems; and the federal and state legislation that impacts the way professionals do their job.
  • Health informatics: A crucial field, "health informatics" is a term used to describe the process and benefits of collecting and sharing medical information between a patient's various health care providers, i.e. making your doctor's records available to your dentist so both can be informed of the other's observations. A course in this subject might discuss the technologies used when conducting public health surveillance; how collected data is used; and the legal and ethical issues associated with patient information.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

Online education for public health emphasizes many different skills during its courses. The following are some of the skills students may want to pay particular attention to refining as they complete the coursework in their program.

  • Research: Professionals in the public health field are required to collect and analyze data, then draw conclusions about what that data means. In order to do this accurately, strong qualitative and quantitative research skills are needed.
  • Planning: Public health workers are often required to design, develop and implement programs that teach the community about certain health issues. Changing the habits of a community to preserve public health can mean the difference between an epidemic passing mostly harmlessly, or exploding into a rampant pandemic. It is thus important that these professionals have the planning skills to determine the goals for an event; create appropriate content to convey those goals; and present their program convincingly to the public.
  • Written communication: Written communication skills are essential in this field. Whether they're drafting an article for an industry journal or writing a brochure to be given to patients in doctors' offices, these workers are providing complicated medical information to their colleagues and the general public. Strong writing skills are a must for such a painstaking task.

Public Health Specializations

Public health professionals have a demanding job that requires specialized abilities and knowledge. In order to display this expertise, people in the field can earn certifications. The following are examples of some of the credentials public health workers can obtain.

  • The Certified in Public Health designation is for those who have knowledge of classic and contemporary public health principles. It is offered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.
  • Professionals with experience educating the public about the relationship between public health and physical activity can earn the ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist designation, which is issued jointly by the American College of Sports Medicine and National Physical Activity Society.
  • The Certification in Public Health (CPH) from the National Board of Public Health Examiners is for professionals with knowledge of public health sciences.
  • The Certified Communicator in Public Health (CCPH) is issued by the National Public Health Information Coalition to people who have public health communication experience.
  • The Public Health Practitioner Certification Board offers the Certified Public Health Administrator (CPHA) for people with an understanding of basic industry concepts, as well as specialized knowledge in areas such as emergency preparedness and bioterrorism.

Public Health Career Outlook

Community Health Workers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$42,340
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
8,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
18.1
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
High school diploma or equivalent

Community health workers serve an important role in modern society. As educators, they are charged with discussing an array of health concerns with members of a community — people who live in the same area or those who share a similar characteristic. By sharing information on important health-related topics, community health workers can guide people toward valuable resources such as cancer screenings and community health fairs.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, some community health worker careers begin with a high school diploma and some experience. However, other community health workers get started with on-the-job training, an associate degree, or state-based certifications. Regardless of the length of the program, most educational programs aimed at community health workers focus on wellness, ethics and cultural awareness.

Environmental Health and Safety Specialists
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$76,220
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
9,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
11.1
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Bachelor's degree

The environment we live in plays a critical role in public health. As a result, many public health careers fall into the field of environmental health and safety. Environmental health specialists study how various environmental factors impact human health. Job duties can include investigating potential risks to public health such as chemical spills or dumping, as well as checking out reports of soil and water contamination. As educators, environmental health and safety specialists also help community members understand how to properly care for our planet.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, most environmental health and safety specialist careers begin with a bachelor's degree in natural science or a related field. Typically, these programs require students to study topics such as physics, biology, chemistry and geology.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$73,600
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
4,900
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
7.6
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Bachelor's degree

While job duties can vary based on the position, occupational health and safety specialists focus most of their efforts on identifying occupational hazards in the workplace. They collect samples of material to check for toxicity, inspect and evaluate workplace environments, investigate workplace accidents and help create procedures that prevent unsafe working conditions. While many of these workers are employed by the government, occupational health and safety specialists may also work in manufacturing, construction, professional and scientific industries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most occupational health and safety specialist careers begin with a bachelor's degree in occupational health and safety or a related field.

Health Educators
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2017 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$59,010
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
8,700
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
14.5
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Bachelor's degree

Health educators play a vital role in public health, mostly because they're the driving force behind the programs implemented in their communities. These workers survey their communities to find out which public health issues need addressing. They also gather and hand out important information to community residents, advocate for improved health resources and educate community members on the best ways to care for their bodies and specific health conditions.

Most health educator careers begin with a bachelor's degree in health education or health promotion. Some employers may also require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of those employed in this field work either for hospitals or for the local, state or federal government.

Article Sources
Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following four criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2016-17
  4. Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below

We ranked 1,813 colleges and universities in the United States on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:

  1. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  3. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment: 12.5%
  4. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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