Rhode Island may be a small state, but it has a huge need for degree holders. According to a study by Georgetown University, 71 percent of jobs in the state are expected to require postsecondary education by 2020. This may be especially true for the state's growing health care, finance and insurance, and scientific and technical industries. Earning a degree online can help you be prepared for that educational requirement. And if you're already busy with work and/or family duties, online programs can give you the flexibility to take classes when it's convenient for you.
Here's an overview of online colleges in Rhode Island:
- 6 colleges in the state offer online associate, bachelor's, and/or master's degree programs.
- Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University offer the most online programs.
- 2 of the online college in Rhode Island are public institutions; 4 are private, including one faith-based school.
- Most online schools in the state offer fields of study such as business administration, humanities, hospitality management, and marketing.
One way Rhode Island supports higher education attainment is through the RI Transfers initiative. This program allows students who earn associate degrees at Rhode Island community colleges to transfer as juniors to four-year public colleges in the state. Transferring credits can also help students save on their college costs.
This page offers additional information on online colleges in Rhode Island, including a list of the best and most affordable ones, and state-specific financial aid resources to help you pay for your online degree.
What Makes a Good Online College in Rhode Island?
In order to help students find their ideal distance education program, OnlineColleges.com has compiled multiple rankings of the best online colleges in Rhode Island. The colleges in our rankings are all accredited by nationally recognized accreditation agencies. Many public, private and independent schools in Rhode Island are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), although there are other national and programmatic agencies that are recognized in the state. Students can learn more about the importance of accreditation from our "What is College Accreditation?" article, and state-specific information about accreditation can be checked at the Rhode Island Department of Education.
Our rankings analyze online colleges in Rhode Island based on multiple factors that have relevance to the online educational experience. Educational quality, financial considerations and academic resources are all important considerations when choosing an online college. For this reason, we use and display data points such as the number of online programs offered, the cost of in-state tuition, the student support services offered, and more. Review the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page for a full description of what we consider essential in a distance learning program and why.
Best Online Colleges in Rhode Island for 2019-20
Choosing between a set of schools isn't easy when you're unsure how they compare to each other. To make your job easier, we used data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to compare Rhode Island's online colleges on details such as acceptance rate, net price and number of online programs. The unique methodology we used to create this ranking can be read about in more detail at the bottom of this page; you can also use our methodology to create rankings yourself using our Top Colleges Tool.
Salve Regina University
Roger Williams University
University of Rhode Island
Community College of Rhode Island
Affordable Online Colleges in Rhode Island for 2019-20
The following list names the schools in Rhode Island that offer online degree programs at the lowest tuition costs for the state. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics and reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students.
Financial Aid Resources in Rhode Island
Rhode Island State Grant
Applicant must be a Rhode Island resident, a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, demonstrate financial need, and file the FAFSA. Applicant must be enrolled at least part time in a degree or certificate program.
Academic Promise Scholarship
Applicant must be a high school senior, a Rhode Island resident, a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen, and be able to demonstrate academic merit and financial need. Must file the FAFSA and take either the SAT or ACT test in order to apply.
Patty & Melvin Alperin First Generation Scholarship
Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited nonprofit post-secondary institution offering either a two-year associate or a four-year college degree.
Frederick J. Benson Block Island Scholarship
Student Loans in Rhode Island
Though Rhode Island does not offer any student loans through the state proper, a nonprofit quasi-state authority has stepped in to provide assistance to students. The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) does not receive any funds from the state, but does provide low-cost state-based loans exclusively to Rhode Island students. Be sure to seek out scholarship and grant money before relying on student loans. If you find that you are still in need of financial assistance, you will need to fill out the FAFSA and supply information about your family's financial situation in order to apply for federal student loans. RISLA and other private loan programs have their own application processes.
- Application deadline: Not specified
- Award amount: Up to $40,000 per year
Explore how student loans work in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.
Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Rhode Island
- College Planning Center of RI offers both online and in-person resources to help students search for scholarships, plan for college, and learn about financial aid.
Costs for Out-of-State Students in Rhode Island
It's commonly known that it's typically cheaper to attend college in your home state than in another state due to the dreaded cost of out-of-state tuition, but there's good news for New England residents. Students from any New England state, including Rhode Island, can attend college at a public university in other states at the in-state tuition rate as long as the major they are enrolling in is not offered in their home state. You can search for programs here.
It may sound too good to be true, but it's true indeed: during the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 9,000 New England residents saved some $60 million in tuition thanks the RSP (New England Regional Student Program) Tuition Break. On average, a full-time RSP student receives a tuition break of $8,033. Here's to making in-state tuition (or close to it) a possibility if you are dreaming of heading to college in Rhode Island. Be sure to speak with an adviser for more insight into your particular educational goals as an out-of-state student.
Best Careers in Rhode Island
Rhode Island's economy is moving away from its traditional roots in industries such as manufacturing, fishing and agriculture. The Ocean State's economy has come to be powered by financial, business and service-oriented industries. Increasingly, a college degree is required for many of the high demand jobs in Rhode Island. But what degree should you earn, and what job should you pursue after earning it?
The data compiled in this section covers statewide employment, job projections and average salaries for some of the best jobs to have in Rhode Island. With it, students can determine which majors and career paths might make the most sense for them to pursue.
|Employment||Employment Growth||Median High School Salary||Median Bachelor's Salary|
|Employment in Rhode Island||520,250|
|Employment Growth in Rhode Island||5.9%|
|Median High School Salary in Rhode Island||$32,734|
|Median Bachelor's Salary in Rhode Island||$53,036|
Top Rhode Island Industries
*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.
|Top Industries||Employment||Projected Growth||Average Salary|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||419,850||6%||$64,795|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||377,620||6%||$65,864|
|Waste management and remediation services||195,210||7%||$67,208|
|Heavy and civil engineering construction||242,200||7%||$64,503|
|Construction of buildings||230,870||7%||$68,852|
|Support activities for transportation||237,400||6%||$64,090|
Rhode Island is a major freight corridor in the northeastern U.S. Rail freight moves along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, while the bulk of marine freight moves through the Port of Davisville and Port of Providence. Air freight, meanwhile, moves through three primary airports. Students who earn degrees in supply chain management, logistics, human resources or other related fields could be well-positioned to pursue careers in the different kinds of transportation Rhode Island has to offer, helping to ship goods and resources across the rest of the United States.
Construction is another major economic sector for Rhode Island, both on its own and as part of the transportation industry. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has been implementing an in-depth 10-year plan known as RhodeWorks, designed to improve the infrastructure of Rhode Island's bridges, roads, bike paths, ferry services and more. Plans for storm water management and other waste and remediation services are also being targeted by the state government. Between all the different construction opportunities in the state, Rhode Island's Department of Labor and Training predicts a 36-percent rise in general construction employment from 2012-2022, with another 22 percent spike in employment for civil and heavy engineers.
In the section below, we'll drill down at the data in a specific metro area and take a closer look at several of the top careers in the Providence-Warwick region.
Finance and financial services are an important industry in Rhode Island, and the state capital of Providence ranks among the leading financial centers in the New England region. Talented financial managers are among the high paying jobs in Providence, as their skills and knowledge are needed to help those leading financial centers handle their assets wisely.
Postsecondary educational administrators, meanwhile, are among the most needed jobs in Providence. Just under 16,000 people were employed in the education sector in Providence as of 2017, the state's Department of Labor and Training reports. Yet with institutions such as Brown University, Providence College and Rhode Island College in the area, the need for qualified educators is high -- and it may only continue to grow as Baby Boomer teachers continue to retire and leave the field.
|Best Careers||Minimum Education||Average Salary||Employment|
|Financial Managers||Bachelor's degree||$143,500||2,890|
|Electronics Engineers, Except Computer||Bachelor's degree||$119,250||1,210|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||Bachelor's degree||$125,140||1,900|
|Pharmacists||Doctoral or professional degree||$121,420||1,920|
|Education Administrators, Postsecondary||master's degree||$113,590||960|
*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.
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 2017-18 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 2017-18 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.