Oklahoma is known for the Great Plains, the endless prairies and grasslands immortalized in song by Rogers & Hammerstein, but one thing most Americans would not associate with Oklahoma is high tech education. But that assumption would be very wrong. Like other Western and Midwestern states (Oklahoma being a border region with qualities of both), Oklahoma has to respond to the needs of a diverse, wide-spread population, often in rural areas. Oklahoma also has to reach working adults and career-changing professionals where they are, and further respond to issues that keep students from going to college and increasing their credentials – rising tuition costs, inconvenience, and professional pressures among them.
That’s why online education options are particularly important for Oklahoma’s higher education system, both the state’s many public colleges and universities, and its private institutions. All of Value Colleges’ Top 10 Online Colleges in Oklahoma have worked to meet all of those needs in their own, unique way – all with the common thread of affordability and quality. The VC Top 10 are determined by the number of available, fully online degree programs, and the tuition costs. Both figures are derived directly from the institution’s website for accuracy. Online programs profiled run the gamut from associate’s and certificate programs to graduate degrees and even doctorates, but for consistency the price listed is the lowest online tuition rate, usually in-state undergraduate. Prices and availability will vary, depending on the institution and the program.
all images sourced from institution’s website
Oklahoma State University
Founded in 1890 as the land-grant Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, Oklahoma State University has a long history of bringing practical education to the people of Oklahoma, long before it was even a state. As the flagship of the Oklahoma State University system, OSU is one of the foremost public research universities in the Great Plains, with world-class programs in engineering, health sciences, agriculture, and the acclaimed Spears School of Business. As a land and sun-grant university, OSU is also well respected in natural resources and environmental science. OSU is ranked by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review as one of the best public universities nationwide, as well as earning recognition from Kiplinger’s as a best value.
Oklahoma State has become known in recent years for its robust online degree programs, using technology to fulfill its land-grant mission to provide educational opportunity across Oklahoma, from urban to rural regions. Nineteen fully online degree programs include highly in-demand programs from OSU’s strongest areas of expertise: agriculture, engineering (including MS degrees in four different specializations), human science (such as nutrition, financial planning, and gerontology), and business (including both BBA and MBA degree programs). Oklahoma State is known for helping Oklahoma’s working adults earn the credentials they need for rewarding, market-ready careers.
Online Programs: 19
Tuition: $374 per credit
Oral Roberts University
Founded in 1965 by Pentecostal evangelist Oral Roberts, an Oklahoma native known for his popular tent revivals, television shows, and faith healing campaigns, Oral Roberts University is a small, interdenominational Christian liberal arts college known for its religious faith and academic rigor. Roberts began the university with a vision to spread holiness faith through education, and ORU remained central to Roberts’ mission through numerous highs and lows. Today, ORU is a cornerstone of academic and community life in Tulsa, recognized for its contributions to community service and to its academic excellence, exhibited through much higher than average graduate admissions to medical and dental programs, for example. ORU has been recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the top regional universities in the West.
Oral Roberts University has also been named one of the best online educators nationally by numerous publications; like other Christian universities, ORU has found online degrees to be one of the most effective ways to spread its message and reach out to student populations who would not otherwise be able to attend. ORU calls its program Whole Person Online Education, emphasizing the overlap of mental, physical, and spiritual growth and development through technology. Online students can turn to ORU for 19 fully online bachelor’s and master’s programs, from Biblical Literature and Church Ministry to International Business and Leadership Studies. ORU’s online programs are current and taught by experienced experts, and a reasonable tuition rate makes Oral Roberts University a classic best value.
Online Programs: 19
Tuition: $385 per credit
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Southeastern Oklahoma State University was founded as a normal school – a method that used real classrooms and experiential education to prepare schoolteachers – in 1909, intended to correct the shortage of qualified teachers in Oklahoma, which had just become a state two years before. By the 1920s, the normal school model had fallen out of fashion in favor of full 4-year bachelor’s degrees, and Southeastern began the long process of growth into a full public university. While Southeastern’s focus is still primarily on undergraduate education, outreach both local (in the Durant area) and in a wider scope has made adult education and professional programs a growing priority.
Like other western and Midwestern states, where populations are rural and widespread, Southeastern has found online education to be the most effective means of providing for the educational needs of working adults and other nontraditional students. Southeastern offers 19 fully online degree programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Of course, considering Southeastern’s roots in teacher education, there are numerous specializations in that field, but there are also numerous business concentrations, and a rare Master of Science in Native American Leadership, reflecting Oklahoma’s history as the Indian Territory. Whatever the discipline, Southeastern’s low tuition and solid regional reputation makes an online degree a sound investment.
Online Programs: 19
Tuition: $283 per credit
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma was founded alongside Oklahoma State University in 1890, centrally located on the border of what was then the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. While OSU was originally an agriculture and mechanics school, OU was designed to be Oklahoma’s flagship, intended to prepare the territory’s professionals and leaders; in fact, the very first degree issued was in pharmacy, forecasting OU’s importance in Oklahoma’s healthcare system. OU is one of the most influential and prominent public research universities in the region, with world-class programs in areas like energy, engineering, medicine, and Native American studies. A highly diverse institution, the University of Oklahoma has long been ranked in the top tier of public universities by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review,
The University of Oklahoma is noted for research productivity and educational excellence, but its importance as an online educator in Oklahoma is growing. Currently, OU offers 16 fully online degree programs, including programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Numerous business options, including accounting and administrative leadership, are available in electronic formats, along with some of OU’s strongest fields, like Natural Gas Engineering and Management. Library and Information Studies, Data Science and Analytics (popularly known as Big Data), and other up-to-date, in-demand career paths are also on offer, giving Oklahoma’s future leaders a low cost, convenient means to many different, highly marketable career avenues.
Online Programs: 16
Tuition: $333 per credit
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
The oldest of the colleges that contributed to Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Miltonvale Wesleyan College, was founded in 1909 in Miltonvale, KS, but that was only one of many. In an unusual process, Oklahoma Wesleyan was founded not all at once, but by the merger of many struggling Christian colleges from Colorado and California in 1959. Miltonvale Wesleyan didn’t even join until 1972, and the Oklahoma Wesleyan name only appeared in 2001, when the Bartlesville Wesleyan College grew to university status. Through all of that tangle growth, OWU has maintained a strong, evangelical faith and a focus on Christian education rooted in biblical values.
Oklahoma Wesleyan has grown a national reputation in recent years, with the highest-rated faculty in the nation (based on student ratings) and a growing slate of top-ranked online degree programs. Currently, OWU offers 12 fully online programs from the associate’s to the master’s level, including bachelor’s degrees in areas like business, education, and nursing, as well as the MBA and MSN. As a Christian university, OWU also offers a Master of Divinity that will be offered both on campus and online in 2018. OWU has designed their online courses to be exceptionally convenient and flexible for working adults: there is no difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, and online courses are the same price as on-campus.
Online Programs: 12
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City
Part of the Oklahoma State University System, OSU-Oklahoma City began in 1961 as an extension of OSU’s flagship in Stillwater. Originally OSU Technical Institute, OSU-OKC was originally intended to provide continuing education, adult education, and outreach to Oklahoma’s largest city. Over three decades OSU-OKC developed into a full, independent institution in its own right, taking on its own name and identity officially in 1990. As a regional institution, OSU-OKC’s mission emphasizes its role in providing educational opportunity to Oklahoma City, particularly through the highest quality career and technical education, largely centered around adult learning, from weekend programs to online degrees.
OSU-OKC’s program offerings are primarily two-year associate’s degrees, certificates, and the Bachelor of Technology, and 10 degree programs are available in a fully online format. The associate’s degrees students earn from OSU-OKC are designed for easy transfer to any of Oklahoma’s public universities, or for graduates to enter the workforce right away; all are designed along the most current guidelines and help students develop highly marketable skills for in-demand fields like Health Care Administration, Management, and Public Service. The Bachelor of Technology in Emergency Responder Administration is also available fully online. With the price of a community college and the OSU mark of distinction, an online OSU-OKC degree is a solid start on a reliable career path.
Online Programs: 10
Tuition: $135 per credit
Rogers State University
The roots of Rogers State University stretch back to a public prep school (intended to prepare young people for college in an era when high schools were relatively rare) founded in 1909, two years after Oklahoma’s statehood, though that institution folded in 1917. A military academy that opened in 1919 was more successful, particularly as the US military grew widely after the World Wars, but that college too faltered, becoming a conventional junior college in 1971. Rogers State College reached university status in 2000, and since that time, RSU has been Oklahoma’s fastest-growing public college, driven in part by the growth in Claremore (a suburb of Tulsa, and the setting of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!), and in part by a successful investment in online education.
Oklahoma is the state of pioneers, and Rogers State University was a key pioneer in online education – the first college in Oklahoma to offer fully online degrees, and one of the first nationwide, beginning its online programs in 1992 (when many colleges and universities were still wondering what the internet was). Early adoption has paid off; while Rogers State has only 9 fully online degree programs, they are ranked as some of the best in the US. As a four-year university, Rogers State offers online associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, technology, computer science, and the liberal arts, preparing students for in-demand careers, or for further schooling with a strong foundation at an affordable price.
Online Programs: 9
Tuition: $309 per credit
Western Oklahoma State College
Oklahoma’s oldest continuously operating 2-year college, Western Oklahoma State College began in 1926 as Altus Junior College, when the junior college model was still a revolutionary new idea. In the modern community college, as in the traditional junior college, the emphasis is on serving the local public by meeting crucial educational needs, and that has been WOSC’s mission from the beginning. With its location in rural western Oklahoma, WOSC makes outreach to the community a priority, including remedial and developmental education, continuing adult education, and career and technical certificates and associate’s degrees.
In recent years, WOSC has turned online to get that job done. Western Oklahoma State offers seven fully online degree programs in areas that have a high marketability and are always in demand on the job market, including education-related areas like Early Childhood, Child Development, and Health, PE, & Recreation. Other fields include Criminal Justice and Behavioral Science, both flexible, highly adaptable areas that can lead to career or further schooling, while Liberal Arts prepares students for transfer to a bachelor’s program at a 4-year college. With the low price of a community college, Western Oklahoma State is a sound investment for starting a career.
Online Programs: 7
Tuition: $140 per credit
Cameron University came into being through an ambitious plan, just one year after statehood (1908), to create an agricultural high school in each of Oklahoma’s districts. Secondary education was scattered at the time, and this plan would bring education to the rural areas of Oklahoma. By 1927, population and demand had grown enough to turn the high school into a junior college, and in 1974 Cameron reached university status, filling a crucial need for higher education in a region – southwestern Oklahoma – that lacked it. Today, Cameron is highly regarded for its professional programs, especially in business, with recognition from Entrepreneur magazine as one of the best Entrepreneurial Studies programs in the nation.
Cameron is fulfilling its mission to make higher education accessible to the Sooner State through its well-developed, market-ready online degree programs. Currently, Cameron offers only six fully online programs, but many other programs are offered in hybrid format and are almost completely online. Fully online programs include bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Interdisciplinary Studies, and master’s programs in Business Administration (the Cameron MBA) and Organizational Leadership. Programs that are nearly, and may soon be completely, online include Multimedia Design, Allied Health, and Educational Leadership.
Online Programs: 6
Tuition: $206 per credit
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Founded in 1897 as Oklahoma’s second normal school, Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s first mission was putting teachers into the territory’s many rural schools, mostly one-room schoolhouses scattered through the prairie. Since that beginning, NOSU has always responded to the needs of Oklahoma’s job market and society: becoming a teacher’s college, then a state college, to provide 4-year degrees; establishing a master’s degree in education; adding a nursing program when the healthcare system was dangerously short of qualified nurses; and, today, building online degree programs to help meet the needs of Oklahoma’s working adults.
Currently, Northwestern Oklahoma State offers five fully online degree programs, concentrated in areas that directly address the need for leadership in industry and healthcare: the Bachelor of Science in Accounting; the BS in Business Administration; the Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences in Technical Management (which includes an Alternative Energy specialty); an RN to BSN bridge program; and a BSN to DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). All of these programs are designed to fill a shortage or respond to real-world market demands, and all combine NOSU’s strong regional reputation and affordable tuition to create a strong value.
Online Programs: 5
Tuition: $294 per credit