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 criteria:
- Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
- Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
- At least 1 percent of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
- "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0
We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using provisional 2016-17 data from IPEDS:
- Number of programs offered via distance education
- Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
- Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
- Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- 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.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- April Thompson, Director of Summer, Winter, and Online Sessions, University of Mississippi, interview with the author May 2015
- Bloomsberg Businessweek, "Forty Strongest U.S. Metro Economies," http://images.businessweek.com/ss/09/10/1022_40_strongest_us_metro_economies/12.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_27140.htm#00-0000
- City-Data.com, Biloxi: Economy, http://www.city-data.com/us-cities/The-South/Biloxi-Economy.html
- The City of Pascagula, http://cityofpascagoula.com/business
- Fun & Free on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, http://www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/attractions/fun-and-free/
- Gulf Coast Attractions, http://www.gulfcoast.org/attractions/
- Jackson State University, http://www.jsumsonline.com/online-programs.aspxJackson State University Notable
- Regional Accrediting Organizations 2016-2017, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, accessed January 2017, http://www.chea.org/Directories/regional.asp
- University of Southern Mississippi, http://www.usm.edu/undergraduate/location/online
- Mississippi College, http://www.mc.edu/online/
- Mississippi State University, http://distance.msstate.edu/financial
- Mississippi State University Distance Programs, http://www.distance.msstate.edu/programs
- Mississippi University for Women, http://web3.muw.edu/online
- Mississippi University for Women Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_University_for_Women#Notable_alumni
- The National Center for Education Statistics, College Finder, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MS&l=93&ct=1
- Tougaloo College, http://www.tougalooonline.com/
- University of Mississippi, http://www.umc.edu/uploadedFiles/UMCedu/Content/Education/Schools/Health_Related_Professions/Clinical_Laboratory_Science/shrp_CLS%20progression%20program.pdf
- University of Southern Mississippi Eagle Learning Online, http://www.usm.edu/elo/
- U.S. Census Bureau, America FactFinder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_5YR_S1501
- U.S. Department of Education, The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Index.aspx
- Virginia College-Jackson, http://www.vc.edu/online/online-college.cfm
- Rise Up! Financial Aid, Accessed April 2017, http://riseupms.com/financial/
- Rise Up! State Aid, Accessed April 2017, http://riseupms.com/state-aid/
- Rise Up! Apply for State Aid, Accessed April 2017, http://riseupms.com/financial/#3/
Mississippi has long been at the forefront of higher education — the state was the first in the nation to have a planned system of junior colleges. This system began as a series of local agricultural high schools, which were founded in order to provide education to students who lived too far away from towns to attend school there. As such, Mississippi has been long aware of how difficult it can be for students to travel to a place where they can earn a quality education; it is no surprise, then, that the Magnolia State has embraced online and distance learning.
The 15 community colleges of Mississippi offer a comprehensive system of online education through the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC), which offered more than 3,100 online courses for the fall 2017 semester. The MSVCC also offers access to the Mississippi Electronic Online Libraries (MELO), a virtual library that was developed in 2000 to provide distance learners in Mississippi with access to online databases, ebooks, journals and scholarly Web sites.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are 28 different institutions that award associate degrees in the state, 17 colleges and universities that award bachelor's degrees, and 15 institutes that are authorized to deliver graduate-level programs. Eight of the most premier of these universities, including Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), make up the Mississippi Public Universities system. Distance learners can pursue dozens of different bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through the eight universities in this system.
Best Online Colleges in Mississippi for 2018-19
Students have a wealth of options when it comes to distance learning in Mississippi. To help narrow down your search for the perfect online Mississippi college, we used data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and our own personalized methodology to find the best options available in the state. You can find more about our methodology at the bottom of this page, or try narrowing down a ranking based on your own criteria with our Top Colleges Tool; first, however, consider browsing our list of the 10 best online colleges in Mississippi.
University of Southern Mississippi
Holmes Community College
University of Mississippi
William Carey University
Mississippi University for Women, Columbus
Jackson State University
Mississippi State University
Belhaven University, Jackson
Delta State University
Affordable Online Colleges in Mississippi for 2018
The following list presents several schools in Mississippi that offer online degree programs at affordable tuition costs. Tuition figures, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics, reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students.
In case you'd rather see a ranking of all online Mississippi colleges, arranged by quality and any other criteria you'd like to add, try out our Top Colleges Tool.
- School Type - 2 Years
- School Type - 4 Years
COLLEGE NAME TUITION & FEES/YEARTuition 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. DISTANCE EDUCATION PARTICIPATIONDistance 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. NUMBER OF ONLINE PROGRAMS OFFEREDNumber 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.. SCHOOL TYPE East Central Community College $2,290 51% 1 2-year Meridian Community College $2,440 28% 10 2-year Itawamba Community College $2,620 60% 6 2-year Mississippi Delta Community College $2,650 42% 1 2-year Copiah-Lincoln Community College $2,730 15% 29 2-year COLLEGE NAME TUITION & FEES/YEARTuition 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. DISTANCE EDUCATION PARTICIPATIONDistance 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. NUMBER OF ONLINE PROGRAMS OFFEREDNumber 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.. SCHOOL TYPE Southeastern Baptist College $4,790 71% 5 4-year Mississippi University for Women $6,065 60% 8 4-year Delta State University $6,418 54% 11 4-year Alcorn State University $6,546 63% 1 4-year Jackson State University $7,261 50% 16 4-year
College Accreditation in Mississippi
Accreditation is one way to determine the quality of education offered by a college or university. It's a voluntary process in which an accrediting body determines whether an institution of degree program meets certain minimum standards.
Each state has a regional accrediting body, and for colleges in Mississippi this is the designated organization:
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Schools without regional accreditation may have received approval from other accrediting bodies. Not all organizations are recognized as legitimate by the government so students should check the school's credentials carefully. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation maintains a list of all recognized accrediting bodies.
Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at your school?
The University of Mississippi offers online master's degrees in business, elementary education, and higher education and student personnel. There are master degree programs offered by The University of Mississippi Medical Center in health sciences, health information management, and various nursing specialties. UM offers online graduate certificate courses in teaching English as a second language and geospatial information science and technology. Over 100 undergraduate courses from various academic disciplines are also available online.
Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?
Do your research. What type of program or courses are you interested in taking? What is the course format? What are your strengths and weaknesses as a student? Will an online format help or hinder your success as a student? Online courses are a terrific option, but you must pick courses/programs that fit your strengths. For example, if you struggle with writing or math, taking an online course with emphasis in those areas may not be the best option. Doing a little research by talking to other students who have taken the course, talking to the instructor, and reading the course reviews will help you choose the right online course/program for you.
Q. How do you anticipate how online learning might evolve in the coming years?
Online learning will continue to grow for many reasons. Each year more nontraditional students return to school, whether as full-time or part-time students. The online format provides access to higher education to those who work full-time, have dependents and/or live in an area that does not have access to a traditional, four-year institution. In addition to nontraditional students, with the popularity of social media and online tools, today's generation of students are more comfortable with and knowledgeable of technology than previous student generations. Many students actually prefer using online learning technology at their own pace. The student demand for online course/program options will continue to grow.
In addition to student demand, technology continues to develop, allowing more learning opportunities. Students can take a live tour of the Egyptian pyramids, interview experts in any field, and research ancient artifacts from their living rooms. It will be very interesting to see where the creative development and use of educational technology will lead.
Financial Aid Resources in Mississippi
Mississippi no longer offers state-based education loans due to current budget constraints, but they do claim to provide students with nearly $30 million in state aid each year, through various scholarships and grants. Students are strongly encouraged to seek scholarships and grants before applying for loans. If at that point, you are still in need of financial assistance, you may apply for federal or private loans to help manage your college expenses. To qualify for federal loans, you will need to fill out the FAFSA with details about your family's financial situation.
For more in-depth insight into student loans, don't miss the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.
Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Mississippi
- Rise Up! Financial Aid provides Mississippi students with a step-by-step guide for acquiring financial assistance.
Featured Cities in Mississippi
The data that follows is sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov).
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Jackson is the state capital of Mississippi but it is also famous for its blues, gospel and R&B music. The city has undergone a major downtown revitalization that has brought more arts, culture and fine dining to that area. The city is also rich in historical sites, museums and a zoological park that is considered one of the finest in the South.
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Biloxi is a vacation paradise. It features white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, as well as numerous golf courses, hiking and bike-riding trails, casinos and charter fishing. The weather makes it a year-round attraction.
Pascagoula is home to the Aaron Jones Family Interactive Center, one of the best children's museums in the country. Visitors also enjoy the Bay Street Duck Pond, the Biloxi Fire Museum and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a great place to camp or relax on the beach.