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Inside Look: Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin

Inside Look: Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin

You can earn a quality, fully accredited degree online from one of the best colleges in Wisconsin. Our comprehensive guide to online colleges in the state provides you with all the essential information to get started on your search.

From major universities to small-town community colleges, online learning in Wisconsin continues to grow. For example, the University of Wisconsin System currently offers more than 150 degrees and certificates that can be earned either entirely or partially online. That doesn’t take into account the dozens of other great online programs available from Wisconsin’s other private and public colleges.

The resources, actionable advice, and concrete information in this guide can help you find the right college and program. We can help you select the online degree program that best fits your academic and career goals, learning style preferences, and busy lifestyle. Keep reading to discover Wisconsin’s best online colleges and find your school match.

Top Online Colleges in Wisconsin for 2023

These featured rankings look at the best colleges in Wisconsin for online learning. Top honors were awarded based on a combination of factors, including affordable tuition rates and overall costs, ample financial aid opportunities, a broad range of online degree options, low student-to-teacher ratios, and a wide variety of beneficial student support services. See which online colleges in Wisconsin stand out for 2023.

    or

    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2023 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

    2. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.

    Affordability

    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

  • Madison, Wisconsin
    Public $$

    When you enroll in an online program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you get access to the quality education that has made the school a popular choice among students around the state for years. In addition, the school provides tools to ensure that although you’re not on campus, you get the same support that those in traditional programs receive. For example, UW–Madison Online offers academic advising to help you create a roadmap for your education by choosing the coursework that will best help you reach your goals. Additionally, advisors can point you in the direction of the resources you need throughout your degree program and help you overcome any challenges that may arise. Also, the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides career services to online students, so you can get the help you need during your job search. For example, the Wisconsin Alumni Association offers resources, such as access to a job board and employment search advice, to give you a leg up after graduation.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Applied Social Science

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $600/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Science in Consumer Finance and Financial Planning

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $675/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Administration in Business Administration–Human Resources

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $675/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Madison, Wisconsin
    Public $

    For over a century, Madison Area Technical College has been dedicated to providing students with a quality education rooted in the school’s core values of excellence, respect, commitment to diverse communities, and education availability. Given these principles, it’s not surprising that the school has taken its dedication to students to a distance learning environment for the last twenty years, offering about two hundred online programs in a variety of disciplines, from technology to healthcare to business. When you enroll in an online degree program at Madison Area Technical College, you have options on how you receive your education, so you can best fit your studies into your lifestyle. If you have a hectic schedule that makes it difficult to watch lectures at specific times, you can enroll in online asynchronous classes to access course material at your convenience. However, if you are able to adhere to a set schedule and prefer to interact live with professors and classmates, you can enroll in the school’s online live options. In addition, there are hybrid classes available so you can combine in-person and online learning if you prefer to go on campus from time to time.

    Program Highlights:

    Associate of Arts in Administrative Professional

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $9,951.74/program
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Associate of Science in Nursing

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $12,881.33/program
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

    Associate of Arts in Fashion Marketing

    • Credits: 59
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $9,490.60/program
    • Mode: Fully or partially online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Menomonie, Wisconsin
    Public $$

    The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers online programs tailored to the needs of the adult learner, so whether you’re going to college for the first time or you’re a career changer going back to school to learn new skills, you get the education you need to reach your goals. In addition to a diverse choice of degree programs, the school offers support, such as advising, tutoring, and writing assistance. Another way the school supports its online learners is by providing the opportunity to earn prior learning credits that can be applied to your degree program. Whether you completed military service, do volunteer work, or passed advanced placement examinations in high school, you’re able to complete your degree faster based on relevant life experiences that can apply to your career.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $9,663/year in state; $17,930/year out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $9,663/year in state; $17,930/year out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Science in Special Education

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $9,663/year in state; $17,930/year out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Platteville, Wisconsin
    Public $$

    The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers online degree programs on the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Also, if you just want to take one class to determine if a degree program is right for you, the school offers a single course enrollment option. No matter what option you choose, you take classes in the Canvas learning management system, where you can do your coursework, as well as receive training on the system when you get started. Also, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers student services to help you succeed, such as advising, career, and professional development services. In addition, if you need some help with the stress of juggling school with your other responsibilities, the school has wellness and counseling services available.

    Program Highlights:

    Associate of Science in Business Administration

    • Credits: 62
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $342.25/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $370/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $370/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Stevens Point, Wisconsin
    Public $$

    From arts to sciences to business, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has programs for undergraduate and graduate students that can be completed entirely online. Also, the school offers professional certifications and certificates if you want to enroll in a shorter program to sharpen your skills and boost your career. If you want to continue your education without committing to a specific program, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point also gives you the option to take classes online on a non-degree seeking basis. All classes are accessed through the school’s SPoint system, so you are able to do your work and communicate with professors all in one place.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $279.09/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $279.09/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $279.09/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Whitewater, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Superior, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Watertown, Wisconsin
    Private not-for-profit $$$$
  • River Falls, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Brookfield, Wisconsin
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Kenosha, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Kenosha, Wisconsin
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Madison, Wisconsin
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Oshkosh, Wisconsin
    Public $$
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
    Private for-profit $$$

    or

    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2023 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

    2. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.

    Affordability

    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

  • Shell Lake, Wisconsin
    Public $

    Northwood Technical College offers more than 100 programs, certificates, and technical diplomas in more than 60 career areas. Northwood’s online options offer students the flexibility to fit college into their busy lives and provide savings in time and distance. Several programs have multiple classes offered in fully online or partially online formats that are part of the program’s required courses or electives. Northwood Tech staff is always available to support students with their educational and career goals. Students say Northwood Tech is set apart because of its student support which includes the Academic Support Center, math, science, and writing Labs, Learning Technology Center, and more. 

    Program Highlights:

    Administrative Coordinator Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,647/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Leadership Development Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,536/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Nursing Associate Degree

    • Credits: 70
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $11,685/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Wausau, Wisconsin
    Public $

    Northcentral Technical College offers individual classes and entire programs, including associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, in an online format. The college has more than 80 programs fully online and self-paced through the Virtual College. Northcentral’s Online students receive the same quality education as in-person students. The college serves students across the state of Wisconsin and the U.S. through its online programs. Online students have a dedicated advisor who serves as their guide to NTC resources and planning throughout their entire time as students there.

    Program Highlights:

    Digital Marketing Associate Degree

    • Credits: 63
    • Length: 4 semesters
    • Cost: $10,593/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Higher Learning Commission

    Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 4 semesters
    • Cost: $9,980/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Video Production Associate Degree

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: 4 semesters
    • Cost: $11,115/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Kenosha, Wisconsin
    Public $

    Gateway Technical College offers a wide variety of online and on-demand courses that allow students to customize their learning and work around their personal and professional schedules. Online programs are ideal for students who would like to maximize family and work time while reducing commuting time and expenses. Online programs are also available for high school students who would like to get a jump start on their college education. Courses are delivered through Blackboard, where students access course information and materials like syllabi, class handouts, assignments, interactive discussion boards, and tests. 

    Program Highlights:

    Small Business Entrepreneurship Associate Degree

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,819/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Higher Learning Commission

    Foundations of Teacher Education Associate Degree

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,682/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Graphic Design associate degree

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,890/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin
    Public $

    Western Technical College provides its students with options to advance their careers and education through online programs that make pursuing education flexible, convenient, and affordable. Several associate and certificate programs are offered 100% online from start to finish. Western offers a variety of flexible learning options, including taking classes live with other students, participating in classes when it works for your schedule, and even mixing online and in-person learning. The school also offers compressed classes where face-to-face courses are delivered in less than the standard term length and computer conferencing classes that are live. Western is also piloting a unique flexible experience where students learn and progress through coursework at their own pace. All students receive assistance with transitioning to classes in any format through The Learning Commons, which walks them through using programs/software and provides tips for success.

    Program Highlights:

    Accounting Associate Degree

    • Credits: 62
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,800/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Leadership Development Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,500/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Business Management Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,500/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Appleton, Wisconsin
    Public $

    Fox Valley Technical College offers several flexible, time-saving online learning programs and allows students to choose from four learning options. Fully online classes have students and instructors interacting through email, discussions, and other online tools with assignments and activities completed and submitted electronically. Hybrid classes include at least one in-person meeting and at least 50% online instructional activities. Virtual Classroom courses are live, scheduled online classes where students meet with faculty and classmates in an engaging online environment. In-person classrooms are a traditional classroom setting.

    Program Highlights:

    Construction Safety Technology Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $9,693.89/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Marketing Associate Degree

    • Credits: 63
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $10,332.89/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

    Technical Studies Journeyworker Associate Degree

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost:$3,404.69/program
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Cleveland, Wisconsin
    Public $
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
    Public $
  • Fennimore, Wisconsin
    Public $
  • Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
    Public $
  • Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
    Public $
  • Pewaukee, Wisconsin
    Public $

Online learning takes many forms on the college level and knowing the differences between them is crucial before you commit to your degree program. Below is a look some of the most common online modes offered by online colleges in Wisconsin to help you determine which ones support when, where, and how you learn best.

Fully Online vs. Hybrid/Blended

During your program search you will inevitably run into programs that claim to be 100% or fully online. This usually means that all coursework is completed online with no on-campus classes or requirements. Still, some “fully online” programs include in-person requirements such as internships, field experiences, or other off-campus activities. Other online degree programs are described as “hybrid” or “blended.” Both hybrid and blended programs combine coursework that is partially online and partially on-campus, and while the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there may be distinctions between the two. Hybrid courses typically employ online elements to replace in-person instruction fully or partially, while blended courses are more accurately described as supplementing in-person instruction with online elements such as reading assignments and research.

Whether the program you’re interested in is fully online or hybrid/blended will depend on several factors, including your major. Majors that require development of hands-on skills will likely be offered in a hybrid/blended format, while those that can be taught without hands-on practice are often presented 100% online. Students whose location makes on-campus attendance difficult will most likely want to choose a fully online or 100% online program.

Here’s a look at two online degrees in Wisconsin, one featuring hybrid/blended coursework and one offered fully online.

MS in Environmental Conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Blended/Hybrid)

The flagship school of the University of Wisconsin System, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, features an impressive lineup of online degree and certificate programs that includes over two dozen hybrid graduate degrees. One such degree program is the Master of Science in environmental conservation. The MS in environmental conservation is designed for early- to mid-career environmental professionals seeking to advance into leadership positions such as senior analyst, program manager, or project manager. 

You can choose from one of two specialization options: environmental conservation and environmental observation and informatics. Both options consist of 32 credit hours completed over 15 months. The accelerated hybrid curriculum begins in the summer and combines hands-on courses and fieldwork requiring in-person attendance on the UW-Madison campus during the first summer seminar and fall semester with online courses during the spring semester. The course of study concludes with independent practice attended in-person at an individual project site during the second summer.

Bachelor’s in Communication – Corporate Health and Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (Fully Online)

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater offers several fully online bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs, including a corporate health and communication bachelor’s degree. This highly flexible course of study prepares graduates for in-demand community and corporate positions as communication professionals in the healthcare industry. Students complete 36 credit hours of coursework in which they develop team building and leadership skills while learning to coordinate events and presentations, facilitate organizational outreach, and conduct training sessions. 

All courses are presented 100% online, with no campus visits required, in an asynchronous format. You can complete your coursework according to your own schedule through the Canvas course management system. You can study full-time or part-time, and both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts options are available. The curriculum follows UWW’s normal campus schedule that includes sixteen-week courses in the fall and spring semesters, three-week and six-week courses in the summer semester, and three-week courses in the Winterim Session. The current tuition rate is $378/credit for Wisconsin residents and $760/credit for out-of-state residents.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous

Asynchronous online degree programs feature classes and coursework without specific meeting times. You can access and complete your coursework at the times most convenient to you. Synchronous online programs require you to login and attend classes or other course activities at set times, much the same as you would if you were attending classes on campus. All degree programs at online colleges in Wisconsin present their coursework in an asynchronous format, a synchronous format, or a combination of both. Understanding how the coursework is formatted for any program you’re considering is crucial since you’ll need to fit your studies into your unique work and life schedules. For example, students with daytime jobs will need to avoid programs with synchronous class requirements scheduled during the day. On the other hand, students without a rigid job schedule may find a degree program with daytime online attendance requirements a perfect fit.

Below are some examples of degree programs in Wisconsin featuring coursework with each of these formats:

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education Accelerated at Concordia University Wisconsin (Asynchronous)

Concordia University Wisconsin is a private, Lutheran-affiliated university with a campus in Mequon. You won’t need to come to campus, however, to earn your BA in elementary education (K-9th grade) through CUW’s online accelerated degree program. The accelerated curriculum allows students to complete all degree requirements, including all general education and teaching coursework, in three years. Students also have the option of setting their own completion pace. All required teaching content courses are eight weeks in length and presented 100% online in a fully asynchronous format. In addition to the fully online coursework, students perform 45 hours of in-person clinical observation each semester at schools in their local areas. 

The current tuition cost is $559 per credit regardless of the student’s state residency status. CUW also offers accelerated BA programs featuring asynchronous coursework in secondary education English and language arts (4th-12th grade), secondary social studies (4th-12th grade), and special education cross categorical (4th-12th grade).

RN to BSN Completion at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (Synchronous)

The RN to BSN completion program at UW-Stevens Point provides licensed registered nurses the ability to earn their nursing bachelor’s degree, which is designed to lead to increased job opportunities and prepare students to continue their studies to earn an MSN. The program is open to RNs with a previously earned nursing diploma or associate degree. The curriculum consists of 31 credits of advanced nursing coursework that includes nine core courses (including a three-credit capstone project) and two electives. Courses are delivered in a hybrid format that combines online course materials and activities with synchronous classes attended via Zoom. Classes are scheduled at convenient times with both weekly morning and evening options available. Students have the additional option of attending some courses in person on the Stevens Point campus. 

The entire program is designed to be completed in as little as one year, not including non-nursing course requirements. Students may also integrate online asynchronous courses offered through the UW System’s BSN@Home program, allowing them to complete courses more quickly and all degree requirements in less than a year. The current per-credit tuition rate is $452 regardless of residence status.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

The concept of part-time vs. full-time degree programs isn’t exclusive to distance learning. Many schools offer both full-time and part-time program options to on-campus and online students alike. Still, the study flexibility of online learning, particularly when it comes to fully online and asynchronous coursework, lends itself well to part-time curriculums. You’ll discover in your program search that online colleges in Wisconsin offer both part-time and full-time programs and, in many cases, both options are available for the same degree. While these options are open to all students, part-time curriculums are a major plus for working students. Older, mid-level professionals who will continue their full-time careers while pursuing their degrees are especially suited to part-time college attendance.

Below are examples of part- and full-time programs offered by online colleges in Wisconsin.

Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (Part-Time)

The online MS in communication sciences and disorders program offered at UW-Eau Claire prepares students for professional careers as speech-language pathologists. The program features a part-time curriculum designed to give working students and those unable to relocate to the Eau Claire area the opportunity to earn their degrees in three years. Students complete a total of 54 credit hours consisting of 40 credits of didactic coursework and a 14-credit clinical practicum. Coursework is offered entirely online with the exception of mandatory week-long residencies each summer. The current tuition price is $707 per credit.

The program is accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and graduates are prepared to meet requirements for ASHA certification as well as state licensure. Additionally, UW-Eau Claire is a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) institution. 

Master of Science in Computer and Information Science at Marquette University (Full-Time)

The online MS in computer and information science at Marquette University offers both full-time and part-time study options. The program offers a full-time curriculum consisting of 36 credit hours that can be completed in as few as two years for students entering with experience in the IT field. The degree is also available to students with no IT background through the program’s career-changer pathway in which students complete a single seven-credit-hour prerequisite course that teaches the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to continue successfully in their degree studies. All students choose between two curriculum options: the highly customizable standard option and the cybersecurity focus option. 

Graduates of this program are prepared to take on advanced career positions such as software engineer, business analyst, lead systems engineer, and senior risk manager. The current per-credit tuition rate is $1,245. Program starts are available in fall, spring, and summer.

Why Accreditation Matters for Online Colleges in Wisconsin

Accreditation is the process through which colleges and universities – including online colleges in Wisconsin – are determined to meet stated minimums of academic quality. It’s critical that you confirm the proper accreditation of any school and degree program you consider. 

Be on the lookout for institutional and programmatic accreditation. Institutional accreditation concerns the quality of the college or university as a whole. Institutional accreditation of U.S. postsecondary schools is overseen by a group of independent regional and national accrediting organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The leading regional institutional accreditor of online colleges in Wisconsin is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Programmatic accreditation refers to the vetting of degree programs in a specific field of study and is administered by individual professional associations focused on those fields of study. Not all degree fields have this accreditation, but it’s critical for some that have strict licensing or certification requirements such as nursing and teaching. 

To learn more about accreditation of colleges and their programs, visit our guide to accreditation.

The Cost of Online College in Wisconsin

Degree program costs are a major determining factor for any college student. While those costs are substantial no matter what program or school you choose, Wisconsin students may find that overall costs for their degree programs tend to run lower than the national averages, though that’s not always the case. Costs for specific degree programs from online colleges in Wisconsin will vary based on several factors. (Private schools are often more expensive than public ones, and Wisconsin residents are often charged a lower tuition rate at public schools than out-of-state students. While private schools tend to cost more in general, there’s also a greater chance that tuition costs for online students are the same whether they are in-state or out-of-state.

Keep in mind, though, that the overall costs of online degree programs are typically lower than those for their on-campus counterparts due primarily to savings for such items as transportation costs (gas, parking, etc.) for traveling to and from campus to attend classes. 

The following current tuition rates for undergraduate programs at five Wisconsin colleges offering both online and on-campus degrees will give you an idea of what you pay for your online degree program:

School NameOn-Campus
In-State
On-Campus
Out-of-State
Online
In-State
Online
Out-of-State
Lakeland University (Kellett School)$541.00/credit$541.00/credit$541.00/credit$541.00/credit
Marian University$577.00/credit$577.00/credit$494.00/credit$494.00/credit
UW-Green Bay$262.43/credit$604.84/credit$287.43/credit$629.84/credit
UW-Madison (based on 12 credits taken per semester)$449.85/credit$1,642.81/credit$449.85/credit$449.85/credit
UW-Stout$233.81/credit$509.36/credit$233.81/credit$509.36/credit

* Costs are tuition only, not including fees.

Financial Aid for Wisconsin Online College Students

If you’re like most college students in Wisconsin and across the U.S., you’ll require help in paying for your education through a combination of one or more financial aid resources. The good news for students at accredited online colleges in Wisconsin is that the same full range of funding sources available to traditional on-campus students are available to them as well. These include, among others:

  • Scholarships and Grants: Sources include individuals, private corporations, professional associations, special interest organizations, federal and state government, as well as colleges and universities themselves.
  • Assistantships and Fellowships: Primarily for grad students.
  • Loans: The most popular source of college funding. Student loans are available from state governments, private lenders, and, of course, the U.S. Department of Education through its massive Federal Student Aid program.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement Programs
  • Military and VA Benefits

A great place for Wisconsin students to begin their financial aid search is with the state’s Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB). And for more detailed information and advice on college funding generally, be sure to check out our financial aid and scholarship guides.

Fastest-Growing College-Level Careers in Wisconsin

If you’re looking to earn a college degree but still not sold on a specific field of study, don’t panic. You’re far from alone. One thing you may want to consider in your career search is growth potential. The chart below offers a look at 10 careers among those with the fastest expected growth in Wisconsin between 2020 and 2030 according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

CareerJob Growth (2020-2030)Annual Mean Wage (2021)
Nurse Practitioners37.3%$116,990
Statisticians32.8%$65,140
Logisticians32.5%$67,850
Audio and Video Technicians28.8%$48,310
Data Scientists26.6%$71,710
Medical Scientists25.6%$89,820
Medical and Health Services Managers24.3%$119,670
Interpreters and Translators22.0%$52,610
Actuaries21.5%$114,290
Operations Research Analysts21.55%$90,900

Sources: Bureau of Labor StatisticsProjections Central

Available Resources for Online College Students in Wisconsin

Becoming a Successful Online Student

Informative webpage from Marquette University offering solid advice on strategies and best practices for success as a student in an online college program. Includes its own list and links to additional online study and self-discipline resources.

How to Succeed Online

Another excellent resource for information and tips to help you thrive as an online college student. Although specifically designed for students in UW-Madison’s School of Education summer term, you’ll find the advice valuable regardless of what or where you’re studying.

Resources: Badgerlink – Wisconsin’s Online Library

This page from Badgerlink offers descriptions of and links to a wide range of useful academic resources (encyclopedias, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, scholarly journals, and more) to aid Wisconsin students at all education levels, including college.

UW HELP

UW HELP describes itself as the “front door to the UW System and all 26 of its campuses.” On the site you’ll find extensive profiles of each UW campus along with excellent information on paying and preparing for college regardless of where you go choose to attend school. 

UW System: ecampus

Clearinghouse site for information on the over 150 degree and certificate programs on all levels (associate through graduate) available online through UW campuses throughout the state. Included is a link to the UW System’s online registration website.

UW System: Information for Students

Another great resource for current and prospective University of Wisconsin students. The site provides information and links on a range of important topics, including paying for college, UW admissions policies, finding the right major, and more. Visitors will also learn about the UW Flexible Option that helps working adults earn a degree and Career Connect, which connects UW students with employers seeking new talent. 

Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU)

The WAICU is the official association of 23 Wisconsin private, non-profit colleges and universities. Students visiting the site will find information on a wide range of student-related services including student access materials, counseling support, scholarships, and internship and career development opportunities.