Best Online Colleges in Iowa

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There are many people who benefit from attending Iowa online college. Many people who choose to earn their degrees at Iowa online schools are busy professionals who want to advance their education without taking time off from advancing their careers. Online school is also ideal for people who are interested in switching career industries. Nontraditional students who have been out of the classroom for some time might find that they feel more comfortable in an online classroom setting, or that attending class online simply makes more sense for their schedule. Accredited online colleges in Iowa are also popular with rural citizens, who don’t want to spend the time or money commuting to and from a classroom every day. 

Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Colleges in Iowa

In the Value Colleges ranking of the best online colleges in Iowa, you will find the best of the best. Each school listed below offers degrees that students can obtain 100% online, plus a plethora of certificate programs or minors, graduate degrees or continuing education options. All programs are fully accredited and meet Value Colleges’ exacting standards of quality, affordability, and return on investment.

Featured Programs

1. Upper Iowa University

In total, Upper Iowa University offers 37 online degree programs and allows students to choose a minor in addition to their major. This educational institution supplies associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs via its distance learning programs. Students may also opt to earn a certificate in various areas of interest. The subjects that pupils may choose to study range from accounting to nursing to software engineering, among others. Many of the jobs in the subjects available offer job stability and a high ROI, including Upper Iowa University’s BSN program.  

Upper Iowa University has been around since 1857, and they still operate under the same concept — an education revolving around the needs of students. Today, they believe strongly in keeping up with the ever-changing world, so many of their programs are available in an online format. They offer the benefit of a high acceptance rate, giving more students an opportunity to succeed. Pupils benefit from a low student-to-professor ratio, so each student receives adequate attention. Plus, 88 percent of students there receive financial aid. 

Number of Online Programs: 37

school website

2. University of Iowa

The University of Iowa offers students access to 27 online programs ranging from bachelor’s to doctorate degrees. Students may choose to earn certificates and take professional development courses as well. The degrees prepare students to work in the field of their choosing by offering only courses necessary in building life and career skills and knowledge. For instance, the nursing program gives current RNs knowledge about finance, pathology, and more. The acceptance rate of this school is over 80 percent. Plus, many of the University of Iowa’s online degree programs offer students job stability and a high ROI, such as the school’s radiation sciences degree.  

This university is the oldest one in the state with a history dating back to 1847. This higher education institute is known for its medical centers and is a member of the Big Ten Conference and Association of American Universities. The University of Iowa’s tuition rate is more affordable than many other programs, in particular for Iowa residents, and students may enjoy the benefit of the school’s scholarship programs and tuition assistance program.  

Number of Online Programs: 27

school website

3. Grand View University

At Grand View University, students may choose between 14 online bachelor’s degree programs, including an undecided option that allows students to explore different areas of interest. The school has a few options for minors as well. Some of the possible subjects a student may choose from include nursing, psychology, marketing, and paralegal studies. It’s also possible to earn a master’s degree completely online. Some of the programs offer a high ROI while pupils also benefit from low tuition costs, especially if they’re eligible for financial aid or receive scholarships.

This school has a high acceptance rate close to 100 percent, giving many people an opportunity to become a Viking. Grand View University generous scholarship program. It’s a private, liberal arts school with affiliation with the Lutheran religion. Additionally, it has accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission and opened its doors in 1896. 

Number of Online Programs: 14

school website

4. Iowa Wesleyan University

Iowa Wesleyan University offers 14 online bachelor degree programs, three master’s degree programs, and an option to take single courses online. All programs may be completed at your own pace from anywhere a student has internet access. Some of the areas a prospective student may choose from include business, management leadership, criminal justice, nursing, and human services. Many of the degree options from Iowa Wesleyan University offer a high ROI. 

This university has a long history dating back to 1842 and has remained a leader in science. The school and its programs received accreditation from several agencies while U.S. News & World Report ranked it as number one for having the best online bachelor’s program. Additionally, it received the number one spot for their ethnic diversity when compared to other regional schools. 

Number of Online Programs: 14

school website

5. Buena Vista University

Buena Vista University has online bachelor’s and master’s degree options available as well as seven graduate endorsement programs for educators. Students may choose from majors like health services, marketing, criminal justice, and accounting. A prospective student may also choose to minor in psychology. The tuition rate for this school is relatively low, and this educational institution offers the option of numerous grant programs. 

Buena Vista University is a private school with affiliation with the Presbyterian church. Buena Vista University beavers benefit from a school accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and that’s a member of the Iowa College Foundation. Buena Vista University has a high graduation rate.

Number of Online Programs: 11

school website

6. Mount Mercy University

Mount Mercy University offers a total of 10 bachelor and master’s degree programs online. Students may choose from areas of focus including applied management, business, nursing, and marketing. The school partners with local businesses to offer the option of tuition reimbursement. Programs at Mount Mercy University like its nursing program offer a high ROI. 

This school opened in 1926, and the mustangs have remained fierce competitors. It’s a private university associated with the Catholic religion. The school has an acceptance rate of over 60 percent, and more than 70 percent of students graduate. 

Number of Online Programs: 8

school website

7. Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff University offers six online degree programs. Students may choose from majors in accounting, health services, and social work. The school also offers a BSN program for RNs wishing to advance. All of this educational institution’s degree paths may be earned entirely online. Students who opt for the nursing degree program benefit from a high ROI. 

This school believes strongly in educating students via a liberal perspective as well as a Catholic one. This university began in 1929 and has continued to provide students with a quality education ever since. The school’s motto is the chargers, and students get to represent the blue and gold when they become a part of this institution. 

Number of Online Programs: 6

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8. Graceland University

As one of the best online colleges in Iowa, Graceland University offers a total of 11 degree programs online. They supply prospective students with the option of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree programs in subjects like nursing, business administration, and special education. All programs can be done completely online. Graceland University’s ROI for programs in business and nursing is considerably high while 98 percent of students benefit from their financial aid program. 

In 1895, Graceland University began a private institution sponsored by the Community of Christ. The school has remained relevant in the community by keeping up with the changes in technology and now gives students the option of online education. Moreover, the school still stresses the importance of dedication and compassion. 

Number of Online Programs: 5

school website

9. Saint Ambrose University

Saint Ambrose University ranks as one of the best online colleges in Iowa and offers eight degree program options, including both bachelor’s and master’s degree options. All programs focus on preparing students for a career and encouraging life-long learning while also establishing a strong religious foundation in students. Students may choose between applied science, business administration, cybersecurity management, and criminal justice. Saint Ambrose University’s online nursing program offers a high ROI, and the school touts about offering competitive tuition rates for online students. 

Saint Ambrose University is a private liberal arts school that was founded in 1892. As noted by the school’s motto “Faith Learning Justice,” the school weaves education, fairness, and religion into each one of their programs. As a fighting bee, a student can benefit from attending the 27th best college in the midwest region of the U.S., as ranked by U.S. News. 

Number of Online Programs: 4

school website

10. University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs online. As one of the best online colleges in Iowa, students may also opt to complete a certificate or endorsement program. Some of the possible subjects a student may choose between include education, business administration, social work, criminal justice, or liberal arts. Students may also choose to just earn general credits toward a degree. Many majors at the University of Northern Iowa provide students with a high ROI, and Iowa residents benefit from a low tuition rate. 

The University of Northern Iowa is a public university with a high acceptance rate. It began as an orphanage in the 1800s but now provides a solid education to almost 10,000 students yearly. Students at this school become panthers and fierce competitors in the job world. Representing the purple and gold means that a student is enrolled in a school known for its excellence in assessment. This university is specifically known for its master’s degree program in business. The educational institution as a whole earned the number two spot in the category of the “Best Regional Universities in the Midwest,” as ranked by U.S. News & World Reports. 

Number of Online Programs: 4

school website

What is the Value of Online Colleges in Iowa?

If you’re a busy adult who is thinking about attending one of the many accredited online colleges in Iowa, you’re in good company. Iowa online college has been taking off in recent years. Iowa online schools offer flexible scheduling, a multitude of different degree options, and the same one on one interaction with instructors that you would expect from a traditional classroom setting. 

More than ever before, attending college full time on a traditional campus is not a desired avenue for obtaining a degree for many students. And with rising tuition costs, working full or part time while obtaining a college degree is becoming the norm rather than the exception. For these reasons colleges today are doing their best­­–and succeeding greatly–in meeting the demand for flexible education by providing quality degree programs that can be obtained through distance learning programs fully or partially online. Highly respected and accredited universities and colleges across the nation offer associate through doctorate degrees online.

What Kinds of Degrees Can I Earn Online in Iowa?

People who take classes to earn Iowa online degrees can earn anything from an associate’s degree up to a doctorate (with one of the many online graduate programs in Iowa). An associate’s degree typically takes two years of study, and may take more time if you choose to only go to school part time, as is the case with many nontraditional students who pursue Iowa online degrees. A bachelor’s program usually comes next – this four year course of study combines major classes and core (general education classes) to provide a well rounded education that opens the door to entry level positions in many career fields. There’s no need to get an associate’s degree before working toward a bachelor’s degree. After a bachelor’s degree, many people decide to take classes with online graduate programs in Iowa. At this level, students can earn their master’s or doctorate degrees. There are also many programs that provide higher learning certificates that are not tied to a specific degree program. Earning a certificate can be a valuable way to advance your career and keep up on continuing education credits necessary for professional licensure. 

How Can I Save Money on an Online Degree in Iowa?

Many nontraditional students want to go back to school, but are anxious about how they’ll pay for a higher education degree. There are many different options that can make earning your degree low cost, or even free. Many students choose to start their bachelor’s degree at online community colleges in Iowa. These colleges offer two year courses of study that end in an associate’s degree. Students may choose to end their education there, or they can transfer their credits from online community colleges in Iowa to a four year university. Online community colleges are cheaper than four year universities, making it possible to save money by completing the first two years of study at the community college level. 

When you’re thinking about going back to school, it’s important to apply for scholarships and financial aid, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll qualify. You’ll also want to talk to your employer to see if they offer a tuition reimbursement program. These programs help students to pay for school, often with the agreement that they’ll continue to work for the company for a certain number of years after they earn their degree. If you’re struggling to pay for your education, talk to the financial aid office to find out about low or zero interest loans that may be offered by the school. 

Are There Online Public Universities in Iowa? 

You know that University of Iowa online degrees are well respected throughout the state and the nation, and for good reason. Public education is just as rigorous as private education, and it’s available to a greater number of students due to state funding. When work towards one of the many University of Northern Iowa online degrees, you’re paying a fair price that helps to make education accessible to all students. The price is often even cheaper for students who solely take classes online, as you’re not paying for the amenities afforded to students who take classes on campus. 

Private universities also provide a great education, but their tuition is typically much higher than that of a private university. Since they’re privately funded, tuition rates fluctuate based on the amount of funding they receive each year. When you choose to take online classes at a public university, you’re getting a rigorous education at a reliable tuition price. You’ll also be able to apply for state and federal grants that can cut the cost of your education to an even lower rate. 

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

Find your perfect value college is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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