The state of Wisconsin is known for many things – cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and Les Paul, inventor of the solid-body electric guitar. But Wisconsin deserves recognition as well for one of the premiere public higher education systems in the nation, the University of Wisconsin System. While the UW System may lack the recognition of the University of California or the State University of New York systems, UW is, pound for pound and institution to institution, one of the finest in the world.
With its spread-out population, and a mix of urban and rural regions, the UW system has also emerged as a model for online education. The system is highly organized, with a number of award-winning collaborative online programs, such as the UW System MBA Consortium. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the necessity of providing education to one of the largest student bodies in the nation has made Wisconsin an innovator.
With so many students, from working adults, mid-career professionals, and younger traditional-aged students turning online for their education, Value Colleges believes it is necessary to provide prospective students with the information they need to find the best online educational choices for their interests, career, and future. That’s why we’ve set out to cover the very best online options in every state. Students can choose a large, national for-profit or non-profit for their online degree, but many don’t realize that their best choice might be right around the corner, in their own home state.
Value Colleges is proud to highlight the top 10 Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin, including the University of Wisconsin System, as well as leading private institutions. VC is committed to guiding prospective students to the best educational and financial opportunities available to them, and we feature only regionally-accredited, reputable institutions.
In-state tuition rates are chosen to determine cost; these are taken directly from each institution’s own website. The number of available online degree programs is accurate at the time of posting, but may change as the institution’s curriculum changes. Check each college or university’s site for the most up-to-date information.
University of Wisconsin - Stout
Recognized by the state as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, the University of Wisconsin-Stout is a mid-sized public research institution dedicated to STEM study, with a particular career and professional focus in technology, business, and applied sciences. UW-Stout is rooted in applied technology, having been founded in 1891 as a vocational school, and retains its expertise in adult education, practical instruction, and useful arts.
To meet its goals of educating Wisconsin’s next generation of scientists, researchers, and technicians, UW-Stout has enthusiastically embraced online education, building a strong web presence and many fully online degree programs. UW-Stout’s online offerings play to the university’s strengths, including undergraduate and graduate programs in information technology, education, and design. Stout’s low tuition rate and strong reputation in the Midwest have made it a frequently-cited best value.
Annual In-State Costs: $9203
Number of Online Programs: 30
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
A large, public institution in the UW system, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the state’s foremost urban research university, ranked at the highest research level by the Carnegie Foundation. Many of UWM’s individual programs are ranked in the top 50 and top 100 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, including one of the nation’s strongest library science programs, a highly-respected engineering school, and one of the Midwest’s top business schools.
UWM has further made its name with a strong slate of fully online programs and hundreds of online courses, including undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, nursing, and the top-ranked Library & Information Sciences. In addition to strong student support services for online students, UWM also has a number of Flex Option degree programs, in which students can earn their degrees in a self-paced, competency-based platform for ultimate convenience.
Annual In-State Costs: $9429
Number of Online Programs: 28
University of Wisconsin - Superior
The University of Wisconsin-Superior is a small institution identified by the state as Wisconsin’s official public liberal arts college. This special designation is based on UWS’s commitment to small class sizes, close personal attention and mentoring from faculty, and liberal arts-based education and career preparation. That mission has given UWS a strong track record for sending graduates into jobs or graduate education, as high as 96%.
UW-Superior has also gained accolades for their excellent online degree programs, ranking in the top 25 nationally for online undergraduate education according to U.S. News & World Report. UWS’s fully online programs include degrees in business, education, and health care management, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees offered. For the quality of a small liberal-arts institution, UW-Superior’s low tuition makes it a clear value.
Annual In-State Costs: $8036
Number of Online Programs: 23
University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Wisconsin’s third-largest university, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh was founded as a normal school, and has stood as a key educational institution in the lumber region of central Wisconsin for a century and a half. UWO’s nursing, education, and other professional career-oriented programs are at the heart of Wisconsin’s safety and welfare, and since 2005 UWO has also become a regional leader in sustainability and green development.
UW-Oshkosh is also a major online educator for the state, recognized regionally and nationally for their top-notch online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. UWO’s online degree programs focus largely on the careers central to civic life, including nursing, criminal justice, human services leadership, and the nation’s first online Fire and Emergency Response Management degree program. An online degree from UW-Oshkosh is not just a solid investment in your future, but Wisconsin’s future.
Annual In-State Costs: $7487
Number of Online Programs: 15
Maranatha Baptist University
A small, evangelical institution in Watertown, WI, Maranatha Baptist University was founded in 1968 by Myron Cedarholm to bring conservative Christian education to southern Wisconsin. Affiliated with the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International, Maranatha is built on biblical values and incorporates its vision of fidelity, integrity, and learning into all of its courses and degree programs.
Maranatha, like many other evangelical colleges, has found its reputation and recognition rise in the 21st century by embracing online education, using the internet to carry its message and mission farther than a real-world campus allows. Maranatha offers numerous associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in areas such as business, education, and criminal justice, and has also added master’s programs in Organizational Leadership and Education. For Wisconsin students who value Christian education but need the convenience of online, Maranatha is there to serve.
Annual In-State Costs: $13,940
Number of Online Programs: 13
A small, Catholic institution, Marian University was founded in 1936 by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, a religious order dedicated to education, public service, and health. In keeping with their roots, Marian University is best known for their nursing programs, as well as education and business, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 regional institutions in the Midwest.
Marian’s online offerings include both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in some of Marian’s most popular and respected programs, including nursing, healthcare, and education, as well as a rare Master of Science degree in Thanatology (end-of-life care). Other programs include degrees in service-oriented careers such as criminal justice, homeland security, and organizational leadership. Marian’s tradition of rigorous Catholic education and commitment to humankind prepares students well for the caring and protecting professions.
Annual In-State Costs: $27,210
Number of Online Programs: 13
Lakeland University has a long history as a small liberal arts college, but in the 21st century they’re building a new reputation as a distance education leader. Founded in 1862 by German immigrants fleeing religious persecution, Lakeland began as a college and seminar before growing beyond buildings. Today Lakeland has more than three times as many online students as traditional students, a testament to their innovation and their dedication to quality distance education for working adults and other non-traditional students.
Lakeland offers ten online undergraduate programs and three online graduate programs, and continues to grow, infusing every program with the top-tier student support, faculty attention, and relationship-building that a small college can provide. Programs include numerous business, accounting, and marketing degree options, as well as MBA, MAC, and M.Ed. degrees. Lakeland offers an an educational opportunity that few schools in its class can match.
Annual In-State Costs: $25,050
Number of Online Programs: 13
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Founded as a normal school in 1894, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is a mid-sized regional public institution doing the invaluable work of preparing Wisconsin’s professionals, technicians, and leaders. UWSP’s mission is deeply focused on community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability, and their College of Natural Resources is a major interdisciplinary division leading environmental study in Wisconsin.
UW-Stevens Point has built an impressive selection of fully online degrees in some key areas, such as nursing, health information management, and data science, as well as some degree programs to which they are uniquely suited, such as master’s degrees in Natural Resources and in Sustainability and Resilient Food Systems. With certificates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, UW-Stevens Point has proven a worthy online value.
Annual In-State Costs: $7672
Number of Online Programs: 13
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
A mid-sized regional institution dedicated to bringing quality education to rural southern Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is recognized as one of the state’s most effective career-preparation institutions. Like many such institutions, UWW has its roots as a normal school, and teacher education remains important to their curriculum. UWW also puts an emphasis on undergraduate research and apprenticeship, preparing students for their future roles as leaders, educators, and researchers.
UWW has become known in recent years for their online education, with a growing set of fully online degrees geared toward their greatest strengths, especially business and education. Online students can earn degrees in Early Childhood Education, General Business, Marketing, and more, while graduate students can choose from a variety of degrees, including Library Media, Environment Safety and Health, and the highly-ranked UWW Online MBA.
Annual In-State Costs: $7637
Number of Online Programs: 11
University of Wisconsin - Platteville
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has a 150-year history of providing Wisconsin’s students with the education they need, whether in the liberal arts, applied sciences, or professional careers. UWP has its beginnings in the merger of a teacher’s college and a mining school, and the combination of professional study and technical training remains at the center of UWP’s mission as a regional university.
UWP has also been a leader in distance education for Wisconsin, providing educational opportunity for Wisonsin’s rural residents, from their correspondence courses in the 1970s to the implementation of an online school in 1999. UWP’s online programs have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for excellence, drawing upon UWP’s reputation in engineering, management, and criminal justice. Dollar for dollar, they’re among the best online degrees in Wisconsin.
Annual In-State Costs: $7488
Number of Online Programs: 8