25 Most Affordable Online Engineering Masters

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25 Most Affordable Online Engineering Masters

An affordable online engineering masters degree program offers a flexible path to earn an advanced degree to advance your engineering career. For working engineers who want to get an advanced degree, finding a cheap online master’s degree in engineering is the best way to start saving money. Many degree programs require you to take classes that may not fall in line with your final goals.

Colleges and universities are developing affordable master of engineering degree programs that are tailored to meet the needs of the student. Instead of requiring students to take courses they really don’t need, students are allowed to choose courses that fall more in line with what they want to achieve. This means the student only pays for classes they really need or want to take instead of paying for classes they don’t.

Talk to your employer to see if they would cover a portion of the cost of your education. Many employers will support their employees returning to school to complete their education, especially if they want the employee to remain with the company. Work-study programs offer employees an opportunity to maintain their job while attending an affordable Masters of engineering degree online. An employer will sometimes choose to pay all or at least half of the cost of their classes.

Our Method for Ranking the Most Affordable Master’s of Engineering Programs 

To rank the most affordable online engineering master’s programs, Value Colleges editors started with accredited, trusted programs known for their quality, job market value, and return on investment. But for budget-conscious working adults, we ranked programs on one simple factor: their tuition rate, drawn from IPEDS data. 

1. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers an affordable master’s of engineering that allows students to focus on their career objectives. The MS in Engineering Management from the university prepares students to take on leadership roles and to find creative solutions to address concerns or problems that may arise when working on a project. It ensures that students are ready to work in a management position.

The University of North Carolina in Charlotte emphasizes the combination of management and engineering skills. That unique combination of skills ensures that students are able to handle the challenges of working in a complex environment and helps students manage a team of engineers to complete important tasks and projects. It also teaches students to look into creative methods of addressing challenges or concerns. The University of North Carolina in Charlotte is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Degree: MS in Engineering Management

2. New Mexico State University

When you’re looking for the most affordable master of engineering online, you want to consider the engineering programs at New Mexico State University. The school offers two engineering master’s degree programs: electrical engineering and industrial engineering. Students can focus on the type of engineering that appeals to their personal interests and goals. The degree programs emphasize the process of working with multi-disciplinary teams and addressing concerns that may arise in a workplace environment.

New Mexico State University offers a flexible approach to engineering education. Students can take a fully online degree program, a hybrid online program, or a traditional program as it fits their personal interests, goals, and situation. That flexibility allows students to work at their own pace and keep up with work or personal obligations. It ensures that students are able to work on their degrees, even if they have challenging schedules. New Mexico State University offers scholarships to students in the online program.

Degree: Electrical or Industrial

3. Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University offers one of the most affordable masters of engineering degrees for students who want to become a leader in their careers. The Master of Engineering Management degree program emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to engineering and leadership skills as it relates to working in a management position. It teaches students the skills they need to lead a team or to work in a business setting.

Arkansas State University offers an online and a traditional course for students who want to obtain an engineering management degree at the master’s level. The ability to choose from a fully online degree program to a traditional on-campus program allows students to determine the best option for their schedules and situation. It also ensures that students are able to work around obligations that limit their time during normal classroom hours. Arkansas State University is a military-friendly school that works with students who are in the military.

Degree: Master of Engineering Management

4. Kennesaw State University

Students who want to obtain a master’s degree in engineering will find that Kennesaw State University is a good option for their goals. It offers one of the most affordable master’s engineering online degree programs with an emphasis on student preferences. The school allows students to choose from five concentrations within engineering. Since students can focus on electrical engineering, civil engineering, engineering management, mechanical engineering, or systems engineering, it allows students to evaluate their personal goals for a career.

Kennesaw State University stands out by emphasizing student interests within applied engineering. It allows students to focus on specific areas of engineering based on their personal goals and preferences. That flexibility allows students to keep up with their career goals. It gives students the opportunity to gain specific skills that are ideal for their objectives for the future. The Senior Education Group ranks Kennesaw State University in the top 17 colleges for affordability at the master’s level.

Degree: MS in Applied Engineering-Electrical, Civil Engineering, Engineering Management, Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering

5. University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma offers an MS in Civil Engineering online that allows students to prepare for a leadership role in engineering. The degree program focuses on the complexities involved in civil engineering as well as the technical skills students need to advance in their careers. Students learn the practical application of engineering skills and tools as it relates to different environments and situations.

The University of Oklahoma stands out by offering a fully online program that gives students a flexible schedule. It allows students to work at their own pace and ensures that course material is available as students work through the classes. The program is taught by the same teachers that teach the on-campus classes, so students can expect a quality education while working on their degrees. The civil engineering degree from the University of Oklahoma is an accelerated program that allows students to finish within 21 months.

Degree: MS in Civil Engineering

6. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a Master of Engineering program online that prepares students for the rigors of working as an engineer. The degree program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to engineering and gives students a strong foundation in the practical tools they need when working as an engineer. It also gives students a broad understanding of engineering as it applies to multiple situations and technologies.

Texas Tech University stands apart by offering students the opportunity to study topics of interest through elective courses. Students are able to gain specialized skills and education in specific areas of engineering by taking classes that fit their personal interests and goals. It gives students a chance to focus on their career objectives and to emphasize the skills that are most relevant to their career goals. Texas Tech University offers scholarships to graduate students.

Degree: Master of Engineering

7. Texas A&M University–Kingsville

Texas A&M University in Kingsville offers an MS in Industrial Engineering that teaches students the practical skills they need to improve on industrial systems and technology. It also emphasizes analytical skills as it relates to engineering and critical thinking skills to ensure that students are able to think of solutions to complex problems based on the skills they develop.

The way Texas A&M University in Kingsville differs from other programs is the educational options for students. The engineering degree is available online or on-campus. It gives students the opportunity to determine if they want to study at their own pace and work around a current job, or if they want to take a more traditional approach to their education. That flexibility gives students a chance to determine the best options based on their situation and goals. Texas A&M University in Kingsville has received the HP Catalyst grant for the Developing STEM project.

Degree: MS in Industrial Engineering

8. University of New Orleans

The MS in Engineering Management from the University of New Orleans is a fully online degree program that combines business management skills with engineering skills. The degree program emphasizes skills that allow students to take on challenging leadership roles in engineering or within a business that involves engineers in work projects. Students are able to become team leaders or managers when they are finished with the degree.

The University of New Orleans emphasizes technical and financial skills to give students a broad understanding of the practical application of engineering skills in a corporate or business environment. It gives students a broad education that prepares them to take on challenging roles in the workplace. By emphasizing the business side of engineering, the degree program ensures that students are able to minimize risks and costs when working on a project. The University of New Orleans requires all students to complete a capstone project, even if they are in the non-thesis master’s program.

Degree: MS in Engineering Management

9. Louisiana Tech University

Louisiana Tech University offers two master’s degree programs in engineering. Students can take the MS in Engineering and Technology Management or the MS in Industrial Engineering. The engineering and technology management degree emphasizes leadership skills as it applies to the engineering or technology industries. It gives students a strong foundation in analysis, statistics, and mathematics. The industrial engineering program teaches students to analyze existing tools and then make adjustments to improve the technology or tools for greater sustainability, efficiency, or risk management.

Louisiana Tech University offers online and on-campus courses for two of its master’s level engineering programs. That flexibility allows working adults to complete their degrees when they have time. It also gives students greater flexibility to handle complicated or challenging schedules that may limit their time for studies. Louisiana Tech University uses a quarter system for student degree programs, so students can start their degree four times a year.

Degree: MS in Engineering and Technology Management or Industrial Engineering

10. University of Wisconsin Stout

The University of Wisconsin in Stout offers an affordable MS in Manufacturing Engineering that emphasizes critical thinking, system design, and automation. The degree program recognizes that students need practical skills for their work, and it provides a strong foundation that allows students to develop useful skills that work well with different companies and industries.

The University of Wisconsin in Stout offers a hybrid online program that allows students to work around their personal schedules for their educations. Students are able to take online classes for greater convenience to fit their schedules. It also offers night and weekend classes on-campus for students who want to work around their jobs or personal obligations. By providing a flexible solution, the school allows working adults to complete their degrees. The University of Wisconsin in Stout helps students meet some qualification standards for the Six Sigma Black Belt Certificate.

Degree: MS in Manufacturing Engineering

11. California State University, Fullerton

The MS in Environmental Engineering from California State University, Fullerton is an affordable online program that helps students prepare for their work as an engineer. The degree emphasizes sustainable technology and engineering practices as it applies to sustainability and the environment. It gives students the practical skills and training they need to address conventional environmental concerns. Students will be able to work with government agencies, private companies, and corporations to accomplish specific goals for improved environmentally friendly technology. 

California State University in Fullerton stands out by using a cohort model for student education. Students follow a cohort schedule for their online degree, so they must keep up with their cohort to complete their degrees. The school does allow students in good standing to fall into the next cohort if a situation arises that prevents them from following the current cohort schedule. California State University in Fullerton requires students to complete a capstone project as part of their degree program.

Degree: MS in Environmental Engineering

12. University of Nebraska Lincoln

The Master of Engineering Management from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln prepares students for the challenges of taking on management and leadership roles. The degree program emphasizes leadership skills as it applies to engineering projects and working with a team of engineers. It also gives students the strong foundation in engineering they need to keep up with the project and analyze potential concerns that may arise. Students gain business skills and engineering skills for a well-rounded education.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln emphasizes technical skills through its online program. It gives students a chance to develop useful skills that apply to a variety of industries and positions. By combining technical and practical skills with leadership skills, the program prepares students to work as a team lead or a manager in a business that works with engineers for different projects or goals. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln is ranked among the top schools for its graduate program in engineering by U.S. News and World Reports.

Degree: Master of Engineering Management

13. University of Wisconsin-Platteville

The affordable online MS in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin in Platteville builds on student experience and training in engineering theory and mathematics to prepare them for the practical use of theoretical knowledge. It emphasizes engineering skills and leadership skills to help students prepare for a leadership position. It also recognizes that students need effective communication skills when working with professionals from other fields and industries.

The University of Wisconsin in Platteville encourages students to learn communication skills as it relates to engineering. It teaches students the proper methods to communicate with others in different fields so that projects are completed in a timely manner. It also prepares students to take on leadership roles and ensures that students have the management skills to handle challenges when working as a team lead on an engineering project. The University of Wisconsin in Platteville is ABET-accredited for its engineering program.

Degree: MS in Engineering

14. University of North Dakota

Students searching for the most affordable master’s in engineering online should take a look at the University of North Dakota. Not only is the school affordable, but it also offers a huge selection of engineering majors. Students can choose from biomedical engineering, civil engineering, data science, energy systems engineering, petroleum engineering, environmental engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, cyber security, mechanical engineering, or unmanned aerial systems engineering.

The University of North Dakota was founded before North Dakota was even a state. The school is the largest in North Dakota and is a leader is unmanned aircraft systems, aviation, medicine, and engineering. UND is one of the top research institutions in the nation and excels in academics. Students at UND are prepared not just for their careers, but for life. UND graduates make an impact on the world around them. The University of North Dakota has an average class size of 24.

Degree: Many concentrations

15. University of Maine

The University of Maine Online offers a Professional Science Master’s in Engineering and Business. This affordable master of engineering consists of 30 credits and is 100% online. The program is made up of nine credits of business courses, 15 credits of engineering courses, and six credits of field experience. Courses for the surveying engineering concentration include advanced project management, advanced adjustment computations, advanced boundary law, introduction to geographic information systems, survey strategies in the use of lidar, advanced digital photogrammetry, and geodesy.

The University of Maine is committed to providing opportunities for everyone in the community through its 100+ degree programs. The school was one of the first universities in New England and is affordably priced to be accessible to as many students as possible. The University of Maine is dedicated to seeing its students succeed. The school has a top-notch research program and outstanding faculty. The surveying engineering concentration is offered online.

Degree: PSM in Engineering and Business

16. University of Houston

Next on the list of the most affordable masters in engineering online is the University of Houston, which offers eight online master’s degrees in engineering. Engineering students can choose to major in subsea engineering, petroleum engineering (MS or MPetE), mechanical engineering (MS or MME), electrical engineering – power and energy systems, construction management, or civil engineering. Opportunities for engineers are expected to grow by 11% through 2023, which means approximately 250,000 new jobs that will need to be filled.

The University of Houston Online & Special Programs offers hybrid and online programs for students who require a more flexible way to earn their degrees. The division provides support in developing online programs in order to help the university reach its goal of being competitive both nationally and internationally in its online offerings. The University of Houston started offering distance education in 1953 through its educational television station.

Degree: 8 concentration

17. Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University has earned its place among schools offering the most affordable masters in engineering online with eight online engineering degrees. Students can choose from aerospace engineering, computational engineering, civil engineering, computer science and engineering, industrial and systems engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, or a master of engineering with a concentration in military engineering or general engineering.

The Bagley College of Engineering is more than 100 years old and is one of the top engineering colleges for expenditures on research and development. The school is committed to diversity, with 11% of its enrollment made up of African American students. Nationwide, African Americans earn just 5% of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering. The Bagley College is committed to increasing the number of female engineers in the workforce and has programs in place to encourage more high school girls to consider pursuing a degree in engineering. The College of Engineering has an enrollment of almost 5000 students.

Degree: Aerospace, Civil, Computational, Electrical and Computer, Industrial and Systems

18. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers an MS in Engineering Management with a concentration in Engineering Management or Construction Management. These affordable masters of engineering provide students with the skills they need to pursue a career in engineering. The engineering management concentration covers strategic management, leadership and entrepreneurship, decision making and optimization, project management, quality control and reliability, and engineering economics and finance.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science produces graduates who are in demand in the workforce. The school provides a hands-on education that prepares students to take on the challenges they will face in the real world. Students participate in internships and are involved in research. The small class sizes allow for close interaction with faculty members, who serve as mentors, helping students reach their true potential. The school has partnered with many organizations around the world and locally in order to give students the opportunities they need to succeed.

Degree: MS in Engineering Management

19. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida offers an MS in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering Management. These affordable masters of engineering degrees prepare students to be outstanding engineers. The industrial engineering degree covers topics such as quality control, engineering statistics, applied automation, risk analysis, project management, applied operations research, and decision support systems. The engineering management degree covers decision-making and managerial skills for engineers who want to advance to management roles in their careers.

The University of South Florida is dedicated to seeing its students achieve success. The school has over 50,000 students and is committed to helping close the achievement gap for students regardless of their ethnic, cultural, or economic backgrounds. USF has eight highly-ranked graduate programs and has a technology incubator on campus that has created more than 230 local jobs. The University of South Florida is a major research university.

Degree: MS in Engineering Management

20. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers 16 of the most affordable masters engineering degrees online. Students can choose from nuclear engineering, nanoengineering, mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, integrated manufacturing systems engineering, industrial engineering, environmental engineering, engineering, electric power systems engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, computer networking, computer engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, and aerospace engineering.

North Carolina State Engineering Online is part of the North Carolina State College of Engineering. The school has top-notch faculty members, some of whom are members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Several faculty members have won recognition from the National Science Foundation, MIT Technology Review, and the White House. The school has partnerships with many industries and government organizations and works with them to help solve global problems. The online engineering programs follow the same curriculum as the school’s on-campus programs.

Degree: 16 concentrations

21. Old Dominion University

Students seeking the most affordable master’s in engineering online should not overlook Old Dominion University Online. The school offers twelve online master’s degrees in engineering. Students can choose from systems engineering, mechanical engineering – design and manufacturing, engineering management by portable media, electrical and computer engineering, civil engineering – coastal engineering, modeling and simulation, environmental engineering, engineering management, cybersecurity, and aerospace engineering.

Old Dominion University Online offers more than 100 online programs and has a 97% satisfaction rate with its students. The school’s outstanding faculty helps prepare students to take the next step in their careers. The school is committed to helping its students succeed. The distance education program started with courses offered on US Navy ships and has evolved as new technologies have become available—from ships to interactive television to today’s online programs delivered through the internet. ODU has been offering education delivered via technology since the mid-1980s.

Degree: 10 concentrations

22. Purdue University

Purdue University offers six affordable master of engineering degrees online. Students can choose from an interdisciplinary MS in engineering or major in nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, electrical and computer engineering, or aeronautics and astronautics. Purdue’s online master’s in engineering is ranked in the top three by US News & World Report and features the same top-notch faculty as Purdue’s on-campus classes. Students develop the skills they need to distinguish themselves as outstanding engineers.

Purdue Online is one of the top online engineering programs in the nation and is preparing to expand through a partnership with edX and Kaplan Higher Education. The school is proud to offer a high-quality engineering education at an affordable price. The electrical and computer engineering program is the first program being offered through the edX MicroMasters® program. The partnership will help make Purdue Online’s offerings more accessible. Purdue Online is constantly looking for ways to innovate its online offerings.

Degree: 6 concentrations

23. Clemson University

Clemson University offers an online Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering. This affordable master of engineering is designed to provide an advanced supply chain logistics degree for working professionals. Students learn to design the best possible supply chain for their place of business, whether they work in construction, tourism, healthcare, banking, distribution, manufacturing, or another industry.

Clemson University offers tough, challenging programs that give its students the skills they need to excel in their careers and in life. The school is ranked #24 in public universities by US News & World Report. Its research, teaching, and outreach is improving the quality of life throughout South Carolina and around the world. Clemson’s graduates are prepared to take on the world and help solve the problems facing humanity. Clemson’s industrial engineering master’s program has gained acclaim among several industries.

Degree: MEng in Industrial Engineering

24. Ohio University

Ohio University offers three of the most affordable master’s in engineering degrees online. The school offers master’s degrees in engineering management, electrical engineering, and civil engineering. The civil engineering degree teaches students to design, operate, and supervise infrastructures that keep the modern world connected. The electrical engineering degree teaches students to design electronics and electrical systems for an assortment of varied applications. The engineering management degree is for students who want to take an engineering-centered approach to leadership and management.

The Russ College of Engineering and Technology is about creating for good. The school’s focus is to encourage students and faculty to find ways to make the world a better place. Russ has a history of creating outstanding graduates. The school seeks to be the go-to place for employers to search for outstanding graduates to fill competitive job openings. Russ College graduates make a positive impact on the world around them. Ohio University is one of the nation’s leading research institutions.

Degree: MS in Civil Engineering, MS in Electrical Engineering, Master of Engineering Management

25. Missouri University of Science & Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology offers several of the most affordable master’s engineering degrees online. Students who are interested in engineering can choose from systems engineering, mining engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, information science and technology, geotechnics, explosives technology, explosives engineering, environmental engineering, engineering management, electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, civil engineering, or aerospace engineering.

Missouri University of Science and Technology has been a leader in innovation and research for a long time. The school was started in 1870 as one of the first institutes of technology in the West. The school has a heritage of creativity, discovery, and innovation. Missouri S&T is committed to helping solve the world’s biggest challenges through research and education. The school strives to become the #1 public technological research university for creativity, discovery, and innovation. All online courses are taught by the school’s top-notch faculty and meet the same rigorous standards as their on-campus classes.

Degree: Numerous concentrations

How Do I Save Money on an Online Engineering Masters?

Grants and scholarships are available for engineering students who want to earn their Master’s degree and move into a managerial role. If a student wants to complete their Master’s degree, the first step is to find a grant or scholarship program that you qualify for and submit a detailed application. You may have to fill out an essay or submit supporting documentation that states your intent and why you should be awarded the grant/scholarship.

Will I Make More Money With a Master’s in Engineering?

Once you earn your Master’s in engineering degree, more opportunities for advancement will begin to appear. A Master’s in engineering salary can put you into the six-figure range, depending on the area of study you enter into. A Master’s degree provides you with additional skills that will allow you to further your career. This includes managerial skills that will allow you to oversee complex projects and supervise employees as they complete their tasks. This additional responsibility often comes with a raise in pay that is comparable to the amount of extra work you have to perform.

An engineer who has earned their Master’s degree can expect to have a salary upwards of $100,000 or higher depending on what type of engineer they are and how much experience they have in their chosen field. While an electrical engineer with a Master’s degree can earn on average, $95,000, an aerospace engineer with a Master’s degree can earn as much as $115,000 a year or higher.

If you are wondering if a Master’s in engineering is worth it, you need to ask yourself how much you want to earn and how hard you want to work for your money. With a Master’s degree, you can move forward with your career, making more money by working smarter not harder. Instead of struggling through your day working in a job that may or may not offer opportunities for advancement, take the initiative and earn your Master’s degree. An online degree will help you move ahead in your career and allow you to explore new opportunities. Your earning potential is up to you!

Are the Top Value Online Digital Marketing Masters Programs also Affordable?

Are the top value online digital marketing masters programs also affordable? Finding the best online digital marketing programs that offer great value and affordability can be a challenge. However, many reputable universities and institutions provide top-notch courses at reasonable prices. It’s essential to research, compare program costs, and take into account the education quality and additional benefits offered. With thorough consideration, it is possible to find affordable yet excellent online digital marketing masters programs.

Do I Have to Have a Bachelor’s in Engineering to Get a Master’s?

If you have a major in a non-engineering program, like mathematics or science, you may qualify for an online master of engineering degree program. If you are an engineering major and want to complete a Master’s degree program, you will have to complete the Bachelor’s degree first. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, by completing your Bachelor’s of engineering degree you create the foundation you need to start building your career. Completing a Bachelor’s degree program is an important step in the process and should not be overlooked.

Engineering Masters’s programs for non-engineering majors build on what a student has already learned in their Bachelor’s degree program. Most Bachelor’s degree programs offer a solid base of information that can be applied to an online Master of Engineering degree program. Bachelor’s degrees that are designed for Mathematics and Science majors include many of the same types of courses found in a Masters of Engineering program. While there are subtle differences, the student can take the information they learned and apply it to the engineering subject matter.

Students who have a Bachelor’s in Mathematics or Science can enter into a Masters in engineering degree program and earn a dual degree. A dual degree that includes a BS in Math/Science and an MS in engineering can actually make you more sought after. Companies are always looking for an employee who is capable of bringing a wide range of talents to the table. Go the extra mile to get a dual degree and you will be amazed at the opportunities you will be presented with.

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The Benefits of Attending a Trade or Community College

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Traditional four-year degrees and colleges may be the norm, however, there’s no harm in exploring alternatives that can help you reach your goals quicker. If you haven’t considered them yet or just need more information about them, then keep reading because this article is packed with the benefits of attending a trade or community college. 

The Benefits of Attending a Trade or Community College

Community colleges offer unique opportunities in higher education, balancing affordability with access to various programs. They are a vital part of the higher education landscape, serving as a stepping-stone for further studies or a pathway to immediate employment.

Three young men standing in front of a blackboard, discussing a project during a college lecture

Attending a trade or community college can offer several compelling advantages as you consider your educational pursuits and career aspirations. Here are some key benefits that may draw your attention:

Lower Tuition Cost

Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who was the Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, shares:

“There are distinct advantages that either a trade school or community college would have relative to a standard 4-year college or university, however, the one advantage that both have is the cost.

On average, community colleges and trade schools will offer the most “bang for the buck” if one looks at the total expense over the course of the degree or certification gained between these options.”

When considering postsecondary education, your budget is a key factor. You’ll find that trade schools and community colleges present affordable alternatives to conventional four-year universities. Trade schools focus on vocational training for specific careers and often have a more concise curriculum, meaning lower general education costs. 

The economic benefit is clear: You can save substantially on tuition while earning an associate degree or a professional certification. 

More Flexibility

When you attend a trade or community college, you choose a path that offers you greater control over your education. Many community colleges offer courses at various times, including evenings and weekends. This means you can balance school with work or family commitments more easily.

You can take classes at a pace that suits your lifestyle and learning style. If you need to go slower for deeper comprehension or to juggle other life responsibilities, you can.

Remember, the flexibility of trade and community colleges extends beyond mere scheduling. It’s about providing a learning environment that adapts to your personal and professional needs, allowing you to pursue your education without putting the rest of your life on hold.

Transferrable Credits

The ability to transfer credits is one of the key benefits of enrolling in a community college. Many community colleges have articulation agreements with four-year universities, guaranteeing your credits can seamlessly move toward a bachelor’s degree.

However, it’s important to check that your credits will transfer to the institution of your choice. Review and understand transfer policies, as not all credits are created equal. Some may be elective credits, while others apply directly to your degree program. 

Trade and Vocational Focus

When you enroll in a trade school or vocational program, you sign up for an education tailored to equip you with specific skills for particular jobs. Unlike the broader curricula of many community colleges or traditional four-year universities, trade schools focus on hands-on training in fields like plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry.

The courses you’ll take are designed with one thing in mind: To make you job-ready as soon as possible. You’ll learn through practical experience, often with the same tools and technology you’ll use on the job.

A woman engrossed in a book while sitting on the stairs

Smaller Class Sizes

When you choose to attend either of these two institutions, one of the immediate benefits you’ll notice is the smaller class sizes. This environment fosters a more intimate educational experience that can profoundly impact your learning.

A smaller class size also means you’re not just another face in the crowd. Instructors are more likely to know you by name, making it easier for you to seek help and clarification when needed. This kind of setting is especially beneficial if you prefer a more hands-on approach to learning or are looking to build connections that can help with future employment.

Top Job Options For Trade School and Community College Graduates

For a fulfilling career path, consider these top five trade school jobs where your specialized skills will be in high demand. Don’t forget to check the specific job requirements for your area, as they can vary.

JobNational Average Salary
Maintenance Technician$49,794
Dental Hygienist$74,321
HVAC Technician$70,590

Maintenance Technician

As a maintenance technician, you are responsible for making sure machinery and equipment are in excellent working condition. You’ll receive hands-on training, which is vital for this practical career. Typical responsibilities include:

  • Routine inspection of equipment
  • Troubleshooting and repairing faults
  • Installing new machinery

The certifications or specific training your program offers can further enhance your desirability in the job market and potentially lead to a higher salary. It’s also important to note that your education may involve learning how to read technical manuals to understand machinery and equipment controls more comprehensively.

The national average salary of a maintenance technician is $49,794. 

Dental Hygienist

If you are passionate about the health sector, you could consider becoming a dental hygienist after graduating from a trade or community college. This position leverages interpersonal skills and technical proficiency to deliver comprehensive oral care and patient advice.

As a dental hygienist, you’ll play a critical role in preventative dental health, often the first to spot potential issues. You’ll conduct dental cleanings, assess oral health conditions, and even take part in more advanced procedures such as taking dental X-rays. Some of your other key responsibilities will include:

  • Performing oral health assessments
  • Removing plaque and calculus through cleanings
  • Educating patients on maintaining oral health
A man in a white coat getting his teeth cleaned by a dental professional

The national average salary of a dental hygienist is $74,321.

HVAC Technician

As an HVAC technician, you’re stepping into a role that involves installing, maintaining, and repairing climate control systems, which are vital for living and working environments. Your responsibilities will include making sure homes and businesses are equipped with heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and sometimes refrigeration systems. Other key responsibilities will involve:

  • Calibration and maintenance of HVAC systems
  • Installation of new systems and components
  • Troubleshooting and repairing existing systems
  • Conducting inspections and performing routine checks

By entering the HVAC field through a trade school, you’re setting the foundation for a future-proof career with diverse opportunities and the potential for financial stability.

The national average salary of an HVAC technician is $70,590. 


Choosing a career as a plumber through trade or community college education offers numerous benefits. You’ll gain practical skills that are in high demand, meaning job security is a strong advantage in this field, as plumbers are needed for residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

Enrolling in a trade school for plumbing often involves hands-on learning, which can be more engaging if you enjoy learning by doing. You’ll learn about pipe systems, fixtures, and the tools of the trade. Plus, many programs also include an apprenticeship, which allows you to gain real-world experience and earn while you learn.

The national average salary of a plumber is $73,341. 


Being an ultrasonographer is a rewarding trade, offering a blend of patient interaction and technical expertise. If you enjoy working with cutting-edge technology and have a keen eye for detail, this may be your perfect career choice. 

By pursuing a career as an ultrasonographer, you join a community of healthcare professionals dedicated to assisting with patient diagnoses through non-invasive technology. Your work is critical in healthcare while providing a fulfilling and reliable vocation.

The national average salary of an ultrasonographer is $71,570. 

Differences Between Trade School and Community College

A young woman focused on her work, sitting at a desk with a computer in front of her

Trade schools and community colleges may have some similarities, like shorter program durations and similar graduate job profiles; however, they do have several features that set them apart. 

FeaturesTrade SchoolCommunity College
Teaching Style This takes a more hands-on approach involving a lot of practiceA similar approach to a traditional college except that classes are smaller
Learning Environment Career-specific, so students spend more time in workshops rather than in classroomsMore academic approach, so students spend more time in classrooms and/or labs
Course DurationTakes a year or two, depending on the programTakes a minimum of two years and can extend depending on how you structure your education
Career PathTrade school prepares students for the specialized jobs market right after graduationStudents can either decide to start working or proceed to further their education
CertificationCertificates and diplomas Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Certificates, and Diplomas 
Tuition CostAverage cost of around $33,000Costs as low as $10,000

Related Questions

Is Community College Free?

Some states in the US have initiated tuition-free programs for community colleges. You can attend community college without paying tuition if you meet certain requirements and reside in one of these states. However, it’s important to note that while tuition might be covered, you may still be responsible for other expenses such as books, supplies, and living costs.

What Are the Academic Requirements for Trade or Community College?

Typically, admission to trade schools generally requires you to have a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED. This proves you’ve obtained a fundamental education that forms the base for more specialized training. In contrast, community colleges often have open admission policies; however, you still need a high school diploma or GED for most programs. 

Should I Go to Trade School or College?

Deciding between a trade school or a traditional college depends on your career goals, learning preferences, and financial situation. Trade schools offer focused training in specific skills, leading to quicker entry into the workforce and often with less debt. In contrast, traditional colleges provide a broader education, which can lead to a wide range of career options over time.  


In less than four years, trade schools can be the gateway to a lucrative career. Community colleges can offer a more rounded educational experience with the opportunity to attain an associate’s degree or transfer credits. Remember: regarding higher education, consider your career goals, learning preferences, and finances before deciding.

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Top 10 Colleges Offering Scholarships for International Students

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College tuition costs a ton, and we know it can be a dealbreaker, especially for international students, who have to pay way more than their in-state counterparts. If you’re an overseas student looking for an affordable college in the US, this list of the top 10 colleges offering scholarships for international students could help you find your ideal school!

Top 10 Colleges Offering Scholarships for International Students 

Higher education in the US can be financially challenging for international students; however, scholarships specifically designed for international students help ease this burden. Before we dive into the top colleges that international students can get scholarships at, we connected with Kelsey Ludeman, an education expert with 15 years of experience in the education sector, to learn her #1 tip to help out international students:

“When looking to apply for college scholarships as an international student, my number one tip is to check eligibility. Qualifying eligibility criteria can include nationality, field and level of study, academic and personal achievement, financial status, language proficiency, residency, and more. Be sure to check the details and follow all steps to avoid missing out! Check out Education USA for a ton of great resources and scholarship listings for international students.

Find the best international student scholarships by starting your search early and utilizing all of your resources. Websites like ScholarshipPortal.com, IEFA.org, Fulbright.org, and StudyAbroad.com provide up-to-date opportunities and in-depth information to keep you a step ahead and in the know. Your university’s website and financial office are other vital resources on funding offerings and to gain clarification on requirements and restrictions.

Cast a wide net and increase your chances of earning funding by applying to as many opportunities as you can! Tailor each submission to highlight your skills and experiences to better meet and exceed the criteria of each scholarship.”

Here are some of the top-rated institutions that offer scholarships to international students:

A diverse group of students attentively sitting at desks in a well-lit classroom, engaged in their studies

Arizona State University

If you want to pursue an education at ASU, we highly recommend exploring the many scholarship opportunities designed to support international students. Review the eligibility requirements carefully and consider using the university’s resources, like the tuition estimator, to further plan your finances at ASU’s International Students and Scholar Center.

As an international student, budgeting for college expenses is vital. Your costs at ASU will include tuition, fees, and living expenses, such as housing, meals, and personal expenses. You also have the option to work part-time on campus, which can help cover some of your costs and provide valuable professional experience.

George Mason University

George Mason University stands out with its #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship, an initiative that underscores its commitment to international students and intercultural exchange. This scholarship could be a fit for you if you’re a first-year international applicant looking to minimize educational costs. 

Eligible candidates are those joining the university as first-year undergraduates and hail from countries outside the US and don’t have a US citizenship or permanent residency. To apply, indicate your interest in the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship on your application. Should you choose to proceed:

  • Complete the application, answering the scholarship-specific question
  • Prepare a scholarship submission detailing your leadership experiences in school or in a community in a 500-1000 word essay or a two-to-five-minute video. Articulate how you’ll transfer these skills to the campus community at Mason.

The #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship is renewable and covers a minimum of 50% tuition for the first year of study. Students are eligible to renew the scholarships till they continue to be in good academic standing.

Oregon State University

If you’re pursuing a graduate program, you’ll find various scholarship opportunities at Oregon State University (OSU). When you enroll in Graduate Pathway and Master’s International Direct, you’re immediately eligible for a one-time scholarship ranging from $1,000 to $7,500 for your first year. The scholarship helps reduce your tuition from the standard $32,850 to potentially as low as $25,350.

Post matriculation to OSU, you could qualify for the Continued Success Scholarship if you successfully complete your GPW or MID. This renewable scholarship provides between $3,000 and $5,000 per year, totaling $6,000 to $10,000, and can last up to 2 years.

At OSU, your hard work and academic efforts can be recognized with valuable financial support, paving the way for a successful academic journey in the US.

University of Alabama

At the University of Alabama (UA), a suite of scholarship options rewards students from outside the US for their hard work and talents. If you’re a high school senior pursuing an International Baccalaureate Diploma, consider applying for UA’s International Baccalaureate Scholarships through the BSMART system. 

Beyond the IB-specific scholarships, UAB offers awards tailored to various disciplines. Dive into the humanities or sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences, or explore the various opportunities at the Collat School of Business. These entities provide scholarships that cater specifically to their students, ensuring finances don’t become a roadblock in your academic path.

A woman instructing students on computer usage in a classroom setting

Northeastern University

At Northeastern University, you have the opportunity to advance your education and career trajectory through various scholarship programs. These Professional Advancement Scholarships are designed to recognize and support incoming students who have demonstrated academic excellence and are embarking on one of the bachelor’s degree completion programs offered at the institution.

The offerings may include contributions from the Community College Scholarship, Lowell Institute School Scholarship, and the generous Professional Advancement Scholarship. Remember that while eligibility is vital, it doesn’t automatically guarantee a scholarship due to the limited funds.

For detailed guidance and resources for international students, explore International Students | Student Financial Services at Northeastern, known for its significant international student community. If you are keen to learn about Northeastern’s commitment to global experiences and scholarships, the Global Experience Office provides extensive information.

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland is a beacon for international students seeking scholarships to study in the United States. At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), you will be surrounded by a supportive academic environment that offers many funding opportunities, striving to make your American university experience affordable.

If you’re an incoming freshman, UMBC greets you with automatic consideration for general merit-based scholarships, making pursuing an American education more accessible. 

UMBC also offers two annual, renewable #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarships to undergraduate applicants for up to four years of study that are worth 50% tuition at the time of initial matriculation. Successful applicants participate in furthering the message of this scholarship and bridging cultural divides.

To make an American education more accessible and affordable, UMBC fosters a friendly, inclusive atmosphere and presents a variety of scholarships and financial aid options for international students.

Baylor University

At Baylor University, you’ll find a commitment to providing financial support to students from around the globe. When you’re admitted as a first-time international student, you’re automatically evaluated for merit-based scholarships. This is based on your high school academic performance without additional application requirements.

Remember that you’ll need to act fast if you are interested in the International Student Scholarship. It’s important to apply for this scholarship by May 1. For consideration, you must:

  • Access and complete the scholarship application form through your goBAYLOR account after acceptance.
  • Submit your CSS/Financial Aid profile, which will also be utilized to determine your scholarship eligibility.

If you’re allowed to work in the United States, the door is open for you to secure a job on campus. Competitive wages are paid for these work-study positions, and you can work up to 20 hours each week. To dive deeper into this, visit the student employment website or contact One Stop for further details.

An instructor giving a lecture to students in a classroom

The University of Tulsa

International students at The University of Tulsa (TU) can receive substantial financial support through various scholarship programs. One notable option is the International University Partnership Scholarship (2+2), a partial tuition award you can receive for two years, provided you maintain good academic standing. 

If you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you could be eligible for an additional award, significantly boosting your financial aid package. As an international student, you’ll find TU’s campus welcoming, with an attentive staff ready to make your transition to college life in the US smooth and enjoyable. 

TU prides itself on a diverse community where students come from various states and countries. For more information on scholarships and financial aid options, you can visit the international scholarships section at the TU website.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University (WVU) offers many scholarship opportunities specifically tailored for international students like you. These scholarships aim to make your educational journey in the United States more accessible and rewarding.

WVU awards International Freshman Scholarships to new incoming international freshmen based on academic merits. These renewable scholarships are available for the academic year if you meet specific criteria.

If you’re transferring to WVU, you might qualify for transfer scholarships. Eligibility depends on your academic record at your previous institution. You must adhere to the university’s renewal requirements to maintain your scholarship.  

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida (USF) is noted for offering a variety of merit-based scholarships that can provide substantial financial relief to international students. Considering USF’s offerings is a smart move as you explore opportunities to study in the United States.

As an incoming freshman, you’re lucky because USF automatically evaluates applicants for merit-based scholarships when you submit your application by January 15th for the summer or fall term. These scholarships are based on the same academic credentials considered for admission, so there’s no extra application to fill out.

Securing a scholarship is competitive, and meeting the minimum criteria does not guarantee an award. We recommend applying early and verifying that you meet the necessary requirements to improve your chances. USF could be your bridge to academic achievement and financial ease as you pursue studies in the American education system.

A student in glasses writing on a piece of paper

Related Questions

What Is the Best Scholarship for International Students?

The best scholarship for international students includes the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship provided by various colleges like George Mason University and the University of Maryland. The International University Partnership Scholarship (2+2) provided by the University of Tulsa is also excellent, especially since you can enjoy this for two years. 

Do All US Colleges Offer Scholarships to International Students?

Not every college in the United States offers scholarships to international students. While significant financial aid is available at numerous institutions, the availability and amount of scholarships can vary widely. Some colleges provide scholarships based on merit, which may include academic excellence, artistic talent, or leadership qualities.

How Can I Get a Full Scholarship to Study in the US?

To secure a full scholarship for your studies in the US, start by researching scholarship options thoroughly and understand the eligibility requirements. Certain scholarships are based on academic success, financial need, or specific countries of origin. Prepare well for required standardized tests like the TOEFL or SAT as high scores can also be a deciding factor.


Scholarships can significantly reduce the financial burden of studying abroad, and many top colleges across the US are eager to support gifted international students. You’ve seen options ranging from partial merit scholarships to generous full-tuition awards. Remember, these opportunities tend to be competitive, so it’s important to maintain excellent academic records and prepare compelling applications.

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Resourceful Ways to Save Money While in College

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College can be expensive. Over the last two decades, private and public college tuition and fees have increased by 132%. Luckily, there are workarounds students can use to cut costs, save cash, and still have a fun, fulfilling college life. How? By using this list of resourceful ways to save money while in college!

Resourceful Ways to Save Money While in College

From working part-time to buying used textbooks, there are plenty of ways to save money in college so you don’t exhaust your entire spending budget. Here are a few ways to save cash while in college:

People browsing books in a warehouse

Look For a Job

To save money in college, students need some cash to start with. According to US News, 74% of part-time and 40% of full-time college students work. 

Based on their financial situation, students may qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program, which helps them land campus jobs. These jobs are great because they’re easy to access and don’t require you to travel far. Plus, on-campus managers usually understand that studies come first and are flexible with your class schedule.

As a college student, you can also check out jobs at local spots such as cafes, restaurants, or stores. Just make sure the job can fit around your classes.

Minimize Textbook Costs

When a student seeks ways to save money during college, it’s best to start by looking at where they spend the most. Textbooks can be a significant financial drain each semester. On average, first-year students spend around $1215 on books and supplies. 

However, there are simple ways to save, such as:

  • Buy or rent used textbooks
  • Check online prices against the campus bookstore
  • Consider older yet relevant editions
  • Check the campus library for textbook copies 

Plus, if you end up buying books, you can sell them after you are done! Even though it won’t be much, every extra dollar counts for a college student on a budget. 

Set Weekend Spending

One of the easiest ways to manage your finances is by setting a cap on your weekend spending. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun; just be a little more mindful when you’re spending money on fun. 

College is the time you meet new people and make lifelong friends, so don’t miss out on that opportunity just to save some bucks. A part-time job, even if it only covers weekend expenses, can help keep your finances stable and allow you to have fun without worrying about money.

Eat on Campus

Another effective way to save cash in college is to leverage the meal plan. Instead of spending money eating out every time, use your prepaid on-campus meals.  

If the cafeteria food doesn’t suit your taste buds, make home-cooked meals to limit dine-outs. Students can even turn it into a fun group activity with friends, taking turns hosting and splitting the costs. 

To have more options, you can look up easy recipes online and cook something new each day. This isn’t only an efficient way to save cash; you could also become a master chef while studying in college!

Two male students having a pizza at school grounds

Track Your Spending

Another way to not go over your budget while in college is to track your spending. Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D. a former Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, shares,

“As I reflect on school, I think one of the best ways for students to save money while in school is for them to actually itemize and keep track of what they are spending money on every day. It might seem simple, but it is so easy today to get caught up in subscriptions and apps that chip away at our finances.

For students in particular, it can quickly start to become overwhelming if they aren’t careful. Ride shares, food delivery, and other apps can quickly and, in some ways, too easily, drain one’s bank account.”

Apps such as Mvelopes or Mint can make this very easy for you. You can simply connect them to your credit card and bank account, which will allow you to monitor your spending, set savings targets, and even receive a warning if you spend too much.

Become a Resident Advisor

Housing costs become a huge part of the general cost of attending college. However, a way to cut down on this expense and save money is to become a resident advisor (RA). You will need to work some nights and do administrative tasks, but many students find it worth it to get free housing.

Ditch Your Car

Not every college allows students to have cars on campus. Even if yours does, think carefully before bringing your vehicle to college. It can cost a lot — you must pay for car insurance, gas, repairs and maintenance, and parking passes every semester.

These costs can add up to a large amount of money. Instead, students can save money and the environment by using buses or bikes. If you need a ride, you can take a taxi or use a service like Uber or Lyft.

Get Students Discounts

Your college student ID does more than just provide access to campus. You can use it at stores, on buses, museums, and even restaurants to get discounts. It’s best to check with your college if they have a list of businesses that offer students special deals. Plus, whenever you find yourself shopping, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they offer student discounts.

Look For Second Hand Furniture

Furnishing your house, apartment, or college dorm can get expensive, especially if you don’t have roommates. It’s also not very financially wise to splurge on a TV or coffee table when you only need it temporarily.

With this in mind, reach out to your friends and family. Ask if they have any old furniture they don’t use or plan to upgrade. Their unwanted items might be just what you need.

You can also check out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Students can easily find some good deals instead of paying full price. Split the cost with your roommates, and if you can’t agree on who keeps it, settle it with a fun game of rock-paper-scissors after graduation. Or you could just sell it!

A cozy bedroom with a desk and a laptop, perfect for work or study

Use Your Credit Card Wisely

Credit cards can be great, only if you use them wisely. If not, they can become a problem. Even if you have a credit card with excellent student rewards, be smart about how you use it. Students should save it for necessities or emergencies. 

You should also avoid taking out cash from a credit card because that can cost a lot in interest. These kinds of transactions add up fast. Here are some tips to keep your credit card debt under control:

  • Pay at least the smallest amount due each month
  • Don’t spend more than your credit limit allows
  • Try to pay more than the minimum amount every month
  • Don’t get more cards than you can handle paying for
  • Track your accounts to catch any fake charges

Monitor your credit score by using apps like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma. They can help students stay organized and know what’s happening with their cards.

Apply for Financial Aid 

One of the most common ways students cut down on expenses in college is by optimizing their financial aid opportunities. This allows you to lower your tuition fees and reduce your student loan. This begins with learners filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FAFSA helps determine what grants, scholarships, and federal loans a student can get based on their needs. Many schools even use it (or the CSS Profile, which is like its private version) to decide which need-based, school-sponsored aid you qualify for.

Apply for Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships (funding students don’t have to repay) aren’t only for first-year students. Many colleges and private scholarship-granting organizations reserve some cash for enrolled students.

Here are some tips to consider when seeking grants and scholarships:

  • Start early: Many grants and scholarships are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Starting your search early means you’re more likely to qualify.
  • Look everywhere: Don’t just focus on big, well-known scholarships. You may overlook many useful smaller scholarships. Believe it or not, they can add up and save you money in college online.
  • Customize your applications: Take a little time to show how you meet the requirements for each scholarship or grant. This has the potential to make you stand out from other applicants, improving your chances of getting the funding you need.
A group of students chatting and laughing while standing in a busy hallway at school

Get a Student Checking Account

A student checking account is an account with extra features meant to cater to students’ specific needs and money goals. If you choose a college checking account, you may get some valuable tools to manage your money, such as:

  • Low balance requirements: Most college checking accounts keep little to no minimum balance requirements. 
  • Fewer fees: Some checking accounts may waive specific fees, especially when you first open the account.
  • Handy digital tools: A student’s college checking account will likely have tools to help keep track of money and even save automatically, which is great when you’re busy.
  • Payment apps: Many college checking accounts can link with various peer-to-peer payment apps that let you easily split bills and pay friends.

Remember, the benefits of each student checking account can differ, so read the details before opening one.

Related Questions

Why Should Students Save Money?

Saving money while in college helps students reach their future dreams. Whether you want to fund your higher education, start a business, travel, or buy a house, having savings means you can start making those dreams come true.

How Can You Earn a Passive Income in College?

There are several opportunities for students to earn a passive income in college. You can work part-time or become a resident assistant. Students can also provide tutoring, campus tours, or explore popular online platforms for remote freelance gigs.

How Can You Save Money on Transportation in College?

You can use a carpool, bike, or take public transit to the campus to save money on transportation.


Saving money during college not only helps make your learning experience smooth and worry-free, it also sets you on a path to financial success after you graduate. From working part-time and buying used textbooks to eating on campus and planning your weekend spending, there are numerous ways to slash costs and save money without sacrificing on fun.

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Navigating Your Way Through Student Loans: A Comprehensive Guide

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College tuition, living, and miscellaneous costs can be too much to handle out-of-pocket, but financial aid can offer some respite. Student loans are designed to help alleviate the financial burden of attending college; however, knowing exactly what you’re getting into is critical. Here’s what you should know about navigating your way through student loans using a comprehensive guide. 

Navigating Your Way Through Student Loans: A Comprehensive Guide

Before getting into the specifics, it’s important to recognize that student loans can be a viable option for funding your education. However, to make informed decisions, it’s important to understand the different types of loans available and the distinctions between federal and private loans.

Two women sitting on a bench, engrossed in highlighting notes in a printed paper

Private loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and other private entities. Unlike federal loans, terms and conditions vary greatly based on the lender. Federal loans, as the name suggests, are funded by the government. These include:

  • Direct subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students with financial needs, where the government pays the interest while you’re in school at least part-time.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans are not based on financial needs and are available to undergraduates and graduate students. Interest accumulates while you’re in school.
  • Direct PLUS loans are unsubsidized loans geared toward graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduates to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid options.

Student Loan Rights and Responsibilities

To make the most of student loans, you need a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities. This section will guide you through the vital aspects of loan agreements and the practical handling of loan servicing and payments.

Understanding Your Loan Agreement

When you sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for your student loans, you agree to the loan terms and commit to the repayment terms outlined within it. The MPN details every aspect of your loan, including interest rates, grace periods, and loan limits. Make sure you understand the consequences of entering into default, which can severely affect your credit score and financial future.

It is critical for you to complete loan counseling before borrowing and upon leaving school to assure you have the necessary information to manage your loans effectively. If you encounter financial hardship, knowing what options are available to you, such as deferment or income-driven repayment plans, is important to help you maintain timely payments and avoid default.

Handling Loan Servicing and Payments

Your loan servicer is your primary point of contact for managing your student loans. They handle your monthly billing and are there to assist you if you’re struggling with payments. Establish communication with your servicer early and keep reaching out if you need assistance or need to discuss repayment plans.

  • Make payments on time: Late payments can incur additional fees or impact your credit score.
  • Keep records updated: Notify your servicer if your personal information changes.
  • Stay informed: Servicers will communicate important information regarding your loans, such as repayment term changes or benefits you may be eligible for.

If you’re facing financial difficulties, contact your loan servicer immediately. They can provide information on options such as temporary postponement or adjustments to your repayment plan based on your income, which can ease the burden during tough times. 

Remember, you have the right to understand every part of your loan agreement and the repayment process, and you are responsible for upholding your end of this financial agreement.

Exploring Repayment Options

Choosing the right repayment plan for your student loans can save you money and stress over time. We recommend reviewing specific repayment options and settle on one that aligns with your financial situation and goals.

A woman sitting on the floor with her laptop, focused on the screen

Standard Repayment Plans

A standard repayment plan pays a fixed monthly amount for up to 10 years. It’s a straightforward plan where you’ll pay less interest over time than other plans because of the shorter repayment term. However, monthly payments may be higher than income-driven alternatives.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans are designed to make your student loan debt more manageable by reducing your monthly payment amount based on your income and family size. Several IDR plans exist, including Pay As You Earn (PAYE), which caps your payments at 10% of your discretionary income and forgives any remaining balance after 20 years of qualifying payments.

This implies that payments change as your income changes, and there is possible loan forgiveness after 20-25 years of qualifying payments.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

You might be eligible for loan forgiveness programs if you work in public service or certain other professions. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives the remaining balance on your direct loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

Remember that although forgiveness programs can result in significant savings, they require you to meet strict eligibility criteria and to document your qualifying employment and payments meticulously.

Understanding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Embarking on your college journey requires understanding the financial landscape, and understanding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a vital step in accessing educational funding. You must understand the factors determining your eligibility for aid and the application process as this will ensure you’re financially prepared for higher education.

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid

To qualify for federal student aid, you must meet the following conditions:

  • First, your education must be at an accredited institution, and you’ll need to demonstrate financial need. 
  • Your eligibility also depends on citizenship or eligible non-citizen status and a valid social security number. 
  • Maintaining satisfactory academic progress is key to your continuing eligibility. 
Three students collaborating on a laptop, engaged in a productive study session

Applying for FAFSA

Applying for FAFSA might seem daunting, however, it’s a straightforward process. You’ll create an FSA ID—a username and password—to access and legally sign your application. Remember, this information is personal and shouldn’t be shared. Once your FSA ID is ready, you can fill out the FAFSA form by providing financial information typically derived from your personal identification details, including:

  • Your social security card
  • Your driver’s license (if any)
  • Your latest tax return
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Information on cash, savings, and investments

It’s vital to apply as early as possible since aid is often provided on a first-come, first-served basis. After submission, watch for your Student Aid Report (SAR), which outlines your expected family contribution (EFC) and financial aid eligibility. You’ll need to reapply every year to continue receiving financial aid, so stay updated with any changes in the application process.

Alternatives and Additional Financial Aid

To make your higher education more affordable, you could consider exploring financial aid options beyond student loans. Scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and employer assistance can significantly reduce your college costs without the burden of repayment.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are the types of financial aid that don’t require repayment, making them very popular among students. Various scholarships are available based on merit, need, or specific criteria such as your field of study, hobbies, or background. 

For example, you may qualify for scholarships by excelling academically or pursuing a teaching or STEM degree. To expand your search, visit databases like Learning Liftoff, which may guide you to numerous opportunities.

We interviewed the former Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., to get his insights on how students could improve their chances of getting scholarships:

“The number one chance of getting a scholarship is to make sure that there is a cohesive story that ties together your experiences (both in and out of school), hopes and goals for the future, and what you’ve studied and areas where you’ve excelled.

Humans learn best through stories in part because they engender a sense of knowing who the characters are and what they are feeling.

To this end, if you can get scholarship review boards or individuals to feel what you do and why it is important, it will go a long way towards helping you be competitive.”

Grants, on the other hand, are often need-based and can be provided by federal and state governments and individual colleges. The Pell Grant is a well-known federal grant that offers financial assistance to undergraduates with exceptional financial needs. Be sure to fill out the FAFSA form annually to determine your eligibility for these grants.

Work-Study Programs and Employer Assistance

Work-study programs let you work part-time while you are enrolled in school. This program helps finance your education, reduces reliance on loans, and provides valuable work experience. Positions can be related to your course of study or involve community service. 

Information on work-study programs can often be found on your school’s financial aid website or you could directly speak to financial aid officers.

Employer assistance is another avenue to explore, especially if you are already in the workforce. Some employers offer tuition assistance programs to benefit their employees. These programs can pay for a portion, or sometimes even the entire, cost of pursuing higher education. 

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Related Questions

Are There Any Forgiveness Programs for Student Loans?

Yes, there are forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) for individuals working in public service roles and Teacher Loan Forgiveness for educators in low-income schools. Carefully review the eligibility criteria as these programs can offer significant relief if you qualify.

Which Student Loans Are Forgiven?

Student loan forgiveness can vary based on the type of loan you have, as well as the programs you might qualify for. The most commonly forgiven loans are federal student loans under programs like Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). 

What Happens When You Refinance a Student Debt?

Refinancing your student debt means replacing your current loans with a new one, ideally with better terms. Your refinancing application will likely be approved if you meet the qualifications, which often include a lower debt-to-income ratio and stable income. Refinancing federal loans means losing access to government protections, such as income-driven repayment plans and potential loan forgiveness.


Successfully managing your student loans is about staying informed and making strategic decisions. Initiate the process by compiling a list of your loans to keep track of what you owe. It’s best to stay updated with any changes in terms and conditions or repayment plans, so keep a close eye on any changes and monitor potential forgiveness programs or income-driven repayment plans.

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Exploring Online Degree Programs: Pros and Cons

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If you’re undecided about enrolling in an online degree program, exploring the upsides and downsides could aid your decision. A great way to do that is by creating a list of pros and cons, and you just got lucky because in this article, we’ll be exploring online degree programs: Pros and cons!

Exploring Online Degree Programs: Pros and Cons

With technological advances, online degree programs have become an accessible and flexible way for students across the world to pursue higher education. These programs offer various online courses, typically organized by accredited online universities. Online education caters to various fields, allowing you to obtain a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral degree from virtually anywhere.

A woman sitting at a table with a laptop and books

E-learning platforms facilitate an environment where your geographical location or busy schedule is no longer a barrier. Through online learning, you engage with course materials, interact with instructors and fellow learners, and complete assignments with the convenience of studying at your own pace.  

Pros of Online Degree Programs

Online degree programs have become increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. They are especially beneficial for students who want to continue their higher education, but either have busy professional lives or other commitments or obstacles that keep them from pursuing a traditional on-campus degree. Here are some upsides of online degree programs:

Range of Programs

When you choose a degree program online, one significant advantage is the diverse selection of courses and disciplines available. Unlike traditional institutions with limited offerings based on faculty and resources, online education typically comes with a broader spectrum of subjects and specialized programs.

Convenience and Flexibility

Online learning reshapes the traditional educational landscape, offering unparalleled convenience and flexibility. Thanks to the digital revolution in education, you can now manage your studies, personal, and professional life without conforming to a fixed schedule.

Online learning platforms offer several subjects, from core academics to unique interests. If you’re passionate about a niche topic, you’re more likely to find an online program catering to that interest. Also, many online programs allow you to tailor your coursework. This customization can align tightly with your career ambitions.

You can tailor your day to fit in study time when it suits you best: Early morning, late night, or between commitments. You can balance life’s roles effectively, juggling work, family, and leisure with your educational aspirations.

Lower Tuition Cost

One of the most attractive aspects of an online degree program is that it tends to have lower tuition rates than traditional on-campus courses. Additionally, while pursuing an online degree, students don’t need to worry about the costs associated with commuting, parking, and on-campus living.  

Since learning can be done from home, relocating near campus is unnecessary, saving you from significant living expenses, such as rent and utilities. You can also save significantly on transportation costs.

A woman focused on her laptop, studying diligently from the comfort of her home

Experienced and Knowledgeable Faculty

Enrolling in an online degree doesn’t mean choosing a lower-quality education. Most online degrees come with experienced faculty who are just as good and knowledgeable as the ones teaching in classrooms.

  • Teaching expertise: Professors with years of experience possess advanced knowledge in their field and the pedagogical skills required to deliver content effectively in an online setting.
  • Current industry trends: Faculty active in research bring the latest industry insights to their courses, ensuring you receive a relevant and current education.
  • Mentorship availability: Even in an online environment, experienced faculty can offer mentorship, helping you successfully navigate your academic and career paths.

Cons of Online Degree Programs

Online programs may have some incredible upsides; however, to have a balanced view and make the best decision for yourself, knowing the potential downsides is crucial. Here are the potential drawbacks of online degree programs:

Potential Technical Issues

When studying online, you should be aware that occasionally, technical hurdles can arise. These can range from internet outages to hardware malfunctions, potentially hindering your progress. Here are some things you can consider to avoid these issues:

  • Reliable internet access: A stable internet connection is a must. Poor connectivity disrupts lessons and delays your coursework submissions.
  • Hardware requirements: Your computer or device should meet specific requirements. Outdated technology may not be compatible with learning platforms.

Online learning environments depend heavily on software that can sometimes be glitchy. Ensuring software is up-to-date and backed up can mitigate risks. Regularly check that your devices are compatible with the online platform used for your coursework.

Remember, the right preparation and support can resolve most technical issues. With the right setup and a proactive attitude, you can get by smoothly.

Concerns About Degree Reputation

One element to consider when assessing degree programs online is the reputation of the program you’ll earn. In the past, some may have viewed online education as less prestigious than on-campus degrees, which could influence your job prospects.

Not every employer views online degrees favorably. Certain industries and organizations might prioritize traditional education due to their internal hiring policies or biases. It’s important to articulate the rigor and relevance of your online degree to potential employers, showing the worth of your education despite the format it was delivered in.

By understanding these concerns, you can make more informed decisions about pursuing a degree online and prepare to address any questions about your education’s reputation.

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Open to Distractions

Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who was the Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, thinks that “the biggest disadvantage of pursuing an online degree often has nothing to do with the school, but rather relates to the readiness and the time management skills of the student.”

“For students who aren’t able to find the motivation to log in when they want or are able to doggedly pursue answers when they hit learning challenges, the semester can too easily slip away from them.”

When pursuing a degree online, your learning environment is considerably different from the traditional classroom. This incredible flexibility allows you to attend classes from home, in a coffee shop, or even during travel. However, this convenience comes with the challenge of numerous distractions that can hinder your concentration and learning process.

Remember, managing distractions effectively is the key to success in your degree program. This might mean turning off unnecessary notifications during study time, informing family and friends of your schedule to minimize interruptions, or even investing in noise-canceling headphones. Your efforts to create a conducive learning environment will pay dividends in your educational journey.

Limited Face-to-Face Networking Opportunities

In the digital realm of online degree programs, your networking must often occur beyond physical classrooms. Engaging in real-time discussions, sharing coffee breaks, and attending campus events are traditional means of creating professional relationships. These face-to-face moments offer direct contact that can lead to internships, job offers, or collaborations.

When you choose an online program, there’s a high probability you will miss out on these personal interactions. However, you do have other options. Online programs can include virtual meet-ups and discussion forums. These spaces can lead to meaningful connections; however, they require you to be proactive. 

Remember, while the setting might be virtual, the relationships and opportunities you cultivate through these channels can be as impactful as those formed in person. It’s your initiative, and willingness to engage that will bridge the distance.

Why Should You Consider an Online Degree?

When considering a degree online, weighing the advantages it presents is important. One of the most compelling reasons to consider this route is its flexibility. You can tailor your study schedule around life’s other commitments — work, family, or leisure. As long as you have internet access, your classroom can be anywhere, allowing you to learn at your own pace.

Conversely, while pursuing a degree online has its hurdles, these can be easily navigated. For instance, digital tools provide an excellent way to keep in touch and communicate with classmates. With the right initiative, they can also be used to network easily from the comfort of your home. 

Many online programs also find ways to facilitate interpersonal relationships between coursemates, so you can rest assured that you will enjoy a semblance of the in-person class feel on your own terms. 

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Related Questions

How Does an Online Degree Work?

An online degree program operates on the principle of providing you with education in a digital format. Usually, you’ll engage with course materials, assignments, and lectures over the internet, which means you can access your coursework virtually anywhere. Classes might be live or pre-recorded, giving you the option to learn at your own pace. 

Is an Online Degree the Same as a Traditional Degree?

While there is a perception that traditional degrees carry more weight, this is changing rapidly as more reputable institutions offer online programs. It’s important to consider the accreditation of the institution and the recognition of the degree by potential employers—factors vital for both types of degrees.

How Do You Know an Online Degree Is Best for You?

Choosing the right educational path can be pivotal for your career growth. An online degree may be ideal if you seek flexibility to travel, work, or balance family and other commitments. When you choose an online degree, you’ll successfully be able to manage your busy schedule as they allow you to learn at your own pace.


In examining online degree programs, you’ve now seen both sides – the flexibility they offer and the potential drawbacks they carry. Remember, your success depends on your discipline and the program’s alignment with your learning style and career goals. Evaluate your options carefully, and consider how the pros and cons apply to your individual situation.

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On-Campus vs. Online Learning: Which Is Right for You

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Choosing between on-campus or online learning is a major decision that can significantly impact your educational and personal higher education experience. Lots of students face this dilemma, so we want to offer some guidance. On-campus vs. online learning: Which is right for you? Let’s find out!

On-Campus vs. Online Learning: Which Is Right for You

Understanding the difference between on-campus and online learning is vital when considering your education. Your choice should align with your learning preference, lifestyle, and educational goals. Whether you lean towards a dynamic campus life or value the convenience of digital classrooms, both paths are designed to lead you towards academic success.

A man sitting at a desk, using a laptop with a blue screen displayed on it

What’s the Difference Between Traditional College and Online College?

From the tuition to the way classes are conducted, there are a few major differentiating factors between traditional on-campus college and online college. Here’s a more comprehensive breakdown of these differences:

Learning Style

Everyone grasps and retains information differently. As a student deciding between on-campus and online college, you need to think about your preferred learning method and what helps you understand things easily and effectively.

On-campus learning is suited for learners who benefit from physical presence in a classroom. If you’re an auditory or visual learner, lectures and in-person discussions can significantly enhance your understanding of the material.

On the other hand, online learning is ideal for independent learners who feel comfortable with self-paced study. You rely on written communication and are at ease with reading and writing as primary learning modes. Individuals who are motivated and self-disciplined tend to thrive in online programs.


When you’re juggling responsibilities like work and family, the ability to manage your study time effectively becomes vital. Online learning offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to access coursework at any hour, whether during a lunch break or late at night after the kids are asleep. Your classroom is wherever you have an internet connection.

On the flip side, on-campus learning requires a more structured schedule. Universities may offer some flexibility with evening classes; however, you’re still bound to specific times and must consider the commute. Balancing these commitments demands careful time management.

Whether you prefer the structured environment of a physical classroom or the autonomy of virtual learning, weigh the convenience each offers while making your decision between the two. Your lifestyle, personal commitments, and location can play a significant role in helping you decide between on-campus and online learning.


Higher education can get very expensive, so consider your financial situation when picking between on-campus and online learning. 

Attending classes physically comes with additional expenses such as room and boarding, commuting costs, and physical materials. The tuition may be on par with online programs, particularly in state colleges. However, private institutions may charge more. Financial aid may offer some respite as many traditional colleges and universities offer substantial aid packages.

Typically, online programs offer a lower tuition fee as there’s minimal overhead for the university to cover, such as physical classroom space and campus facilities. You can also save on transportation, housing, and even textbooks. Still, online courses may include technology or distance learning fees, so getting a full tuition breakdown is important.

Students studying outdoors at a table

Accreditation and Degrees

The validity and esteem of your degree are the same for online and on-campus programs, provided your chosen university is accredited. Your diploma will typically not indicate the learning mode, ensuring your achievement holds its value in the professional field.

Advantages of On-Campus Learning

When you embark on your educational journey, consider that on-campus study offers a range of benefits tailored to enrich your academic and personal life. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Faculty interaction: You’ll treasure the face-to-face time with your professors and classmates, which allows for immediate feedback and guidance.
  • Campus facilities: Enjoy full access to the university’s resources, including libraries and computer labs, which are important for your academic success.
  • Networking opportunities: Building connections comes naturally as you interact and discuss with a diverse group of peers and professionals.
  • Social engagement: The university experience is more than just study; it’s about making lifelong friends and experiencing new social activities.
  • Diverse programs: On-campus study often means you have a greater choice of degree programs, including those with practical elements such as lab work.
  • Structured learning: With a set timetable, your classes are structured to provide a consistent routine, helping you develop time management skills.
  • Learning styles: In-person instruction accommodates various teaching methods, from lectures to group projects, catering to different learning preferences.

We connected with Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who has over 15 years of experience in educational research, and he explains what the biggest advantage of on-campus learning is:

“The biggest advantage of on-campus learning is having access to all of the resources that a university offers. Though many online educators are fantastic, there is something that happens in person that isn’t captured in most virtual classrooms.

Whether it is the direct way that faculty and students interact or the ability of students to actually get to know one another, if students have the means to study in person, it can be quite advantageous.”

Choosing on-campus study shapes your university experience in a uniquely interactive and comprehensive way, creating a strong foundation for both your academic and personal development.

Disadvantages of On-Campus Learning

While on-campus education provides a rich, immersive environment, it also has limitations. 

  • Rigid study structure: One notable drawback of on-campus learning is the rigid study structure. Unlike online counterparts that offer scheduling freedom, on-campus courses follow a strict timetable. This can be challenging if you balance studies with work or family commitments.
  • High costs: Generally, on-campus education ranks as the priciest option, encompassing tuition, potential housing, and travel expenses. This can strain your finances substantially, particularly if you’re an international student adjusting to a new economy.
  • Time constraints: Depending on your location, the daily commute to and from classes can drain your time and energy, leaving less room for personal activities or part-time work.
  • Accessibility: Lastly, you might face accessibility issues. Physical attendance may become complex or impossible due to unforeseen circumstances such as travel restrictions or personal emergencies, thus disrupting your educational journey.
Three students walking on brick sidewalk with backpacks

Advantages of Online Learning

In the age of digital advancement, online learning has emerged as a practical and accessible option for furthering your education, especially if you are a working professional or have a family to care for.

  • Flexibility: By opting for an online degree, flexibility becomes a key benefit. You’re free to organize your learning schedule around personal and professional commitments, allowing for a balance between work, life, and study.
  • Lower tuition costs: Online education often has reduced tuition fees compared to traditional campus-based programs. This makes education more affordable and can alleviate financial stress.
  • Freedom to choose a learning environment: Online programs offer the chance to tailor your learning environment. Whether it’s the comfort of your living room or a quiet spot in a local café, you can learn from a space where you feel most productive and engaged.

Dr. Rekart shares,

“The biggest advantage of online learning is the flexibility. Many online programs allow students to login asynchronously, which means that school works around their schedule and not the other way around.”

Remember, with online learning, you’re not constrained by physical classroom walls. Instead, you embrace a global classroom with peers worldwide, while gaining a quality higher education that doesn’t break the bank.

Disadvantages of Online Learning

While online learning offers flexibility, convenience, and affordability, several drawbacks could affect your educational experience. Here is what you might need to consider:

  • Lack of in-person interaction: Though you’ll interact virtually, you won’t have the same degree of face-to-face contact with your professors, which can limit academic support and mentorship opportunities.
  • Risk of isolation: Without physical presence on campus, you may experience social isolation. Interacting with peers is less organic, making building friendships and professional networks harder.
  • Limited hands-on experience: Many online programs lack practical components, such as lab sessions, which are integral for certain fields of study, limiting your hands-on learning experience.
  • Restricted program availability: The variety of online degree programs is growing, yet it may still be limited compared to on-campus options.
  • Campus facility access: As an online learner, you miss out on utilizing campus amenities, like libraries, study spaces, and specialized laboratories.
  • Technology dependence: Your learning relies on consistent access to a computer and a stable internet connection, which can be a barrier for some.

Remember, while these points are potential negatives, they vary in impact from student to student based on individual preferences and circumstances.

On-Campus vs Online Learning: Which Is Right for You?

When considering higher education, you have two primary options: On-campus and online learning. Both have unique attributes and cater to different student needs. On-campus learning involves physically attending classes at set times and locations and this traditional method facilitates direct interaction with professors and classmates.

The growth in online education highlights its increasing popularity and acceptance, with a significant uptick in enrolment in recent years. Quality is maintained as both online and on-campus programs undergo similar rigorous accreditation processes. 

Ultimately, when making a decision between the two, give special consideration to your lifestyle, learning preferences, financial circumstances, and career goals.

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Related Questions

Should I Go to College Online or In Person?

If you value flexibility, an online college experience may be more suitable, offering the convenience of studying from anywhere and often on your own schedule. In contrast, structured schedules and direct professor interaction are hallmarks of an in-person college environment, which can greatly benefit those who seek a traditional educational setting.

What Are the Downsides of Online College?

When considering an online college, being aware of the potential challenges is important. Some of the main downsides include the lack of social interaction, limited access to facilities, and even limited programs to choose from. You may also struggle with managing your time effectively or finding a suitable learning environment away from the distractions at home. 

Are Online College Degrees Different from Traditional College Degrees?

Online college degrees allow you to access your coursework from anywhere with an internet connection. Compared to traditional degrees, you’ll find that the online approach demands more self-discipline since you must manage your time effectively to complete your studies. Courses taken online can be as rigorous as those offered on campus. Also, regarding program content, online courses often mirror their on-campus counterparts.


When choosing between online and on-campus education, consider your preferred personal learning style and daily routine. As we’ve stated above, both the options come with their own set of pros and cons. You have to decide what you value more. Remember, the choice isn’t just about convenience—it’s about matching your education pathway to your career goals and lifestyle.  

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Comprehensive Guide to Captivating Degree Programs

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If you’re finding it overwhelming to choose a degree program, this comprehensive guide to captivating degree programs could be your guiding light! You’ll get to discover various programs, their courses, and their salary and career prospects. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

Comprehensive Guide to Captivating Degree Programs

When you’re considering advancing your education, there are countless degree options that offer both fulfillment and exciting career opportunities. Keep in mind each degree path you explore holds its unique appeal. The best way to choose a program is to see if it aligns with your personal and professional goals. 

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A degree in business is a remarkable choice for gaining versatile skills applicable across various industries. This degree covers important areas such as management, marketing, accounting, and human resources. You will also explore subjects like business law and economics to assure you are well-prepared for the corporate industry. It is also worth noting that this degree continues to be in demand by potential employers.

A typical business program might include courses on:

  • Business management: Learning the ropes of effectively running and managing a business.
  • Marketing principles: Understanding how to promote products and foster brand growth.
  • Accounting basics: Acquiring knowledge on managing financial records and interpreting fiscal reports.
  • Human resources: Mastering the art of managing a company’s most valuable asset – its people.

With these courses, you’ll gain critical insight into creating business strategies, analyzing industry trends, and developing the ability to recognize and seize business opportunities. Potential career options, along with their 2024 potential salary range, could include:

  • Business analyst: $60,000 – $85,000
  • Human resources manager: $70,000 – $100,000
  • Marketing manager: $65,000 – $90,000


Accounting is a vital field that allows you to explore finance and business operations. As an aspiring accountant, you’ll embark on a journey that sharpens your mathematical skills and also gives you a strong understanding of business laws and financial strategies.

The versatility of an accounting degree opens doors to several positions, such as:

  • Bookkeeper: $39,000 – $50,000
  • Accountant: $53,000 – $88,000
  • Auditor: $90,000 – $108,000

Choosing accounting means setting yourself up for a stable and rewarding career with ample room for growth. Remember to stay current with accounting software and regulations to maintain an edge in this dynamic field.


Embarking on a career in nursing can be deeply rewarding and professionally fulfilling. If you are passionate about caregiving and want to impact individual lives and communities significantly, you could consider getting a nursing degree. Here are the different types of nursing programs:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): Typically a two-year program that provides foundational knowledge and skills, preparing you for entry-level positions.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A four-year degree that offers a comprehensive education, equipping you with diverse opportunities and often resulting in higher salary potential.
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Advanced education for specialized roles, such as nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): A practice-focused terminal degree aimed at leadership roles in clinical settings.
  • Ph.D. in Nursing: This is focused on research and academia; choosing it prepares you for roles as a nurse educator or a high-level administrator.

Typical admissions requirements include:

  • Completed application
  • Transcripts from prior education
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Relevant test scores (e.g., TEAS, HESI)
  • Some programs may require nursing experience or a Registered Nurse (RN) license.

There are several practice options for nurses. Here are the more common ones and the average salary per year: 

  • Public health nurse: $65,676
  • Occupational health nurse: $73,139
  • Private duty nurse: $59,512
  • Home care nurse: $66,542
  • Nurse midwife: $107,278
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner: $115,485
  • Nursing home administrator: $104,719

Computer Science

A bachelor’s in computer science is where technology meets creativity. Your curriculum will typically span coding, software development, and understanding data structures and algorithms. Each course is designed to strengthen your foundation in both the theoretical and practical aspects of computing.

The type of degree you may pursue, a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA), hinges on your career interests. If your aim is a role steeped in technical prowess, the BS is tailored for you, while the BA might be great for those leaning towards a blend of technology with creative problem-solving skills.

While admission to these programs can vary, they generally require a solid foundation in math and science from your high school education. Prospective students must often demonstrate proficiency in these subjects through their transcripts or standardized test scores. Here are some career paths available here and the average salaries:

  • Programmer analyst: $75,515
  • Technical support engineer: $73,138
  • Systems analyst: $79,891
  • Database developer: $94,537
  • Software developer: $108,896
  • IT project manager: $96,926

Healthcare Administration

When you choose to pursue a healthcare administration degree, you’re stepping into a role that meshes business acumen with the intricacies of the healthcare industry. Structured to groom future healthcare leaders, this degree program equips you with the skills needed to manage healthcare facilities and understand the complexities of medical billing and healthcare laws.

A healthcare professional on a lab

On a personal level, this field calls for detail-oriented individuals who possess strong interpersonal skills, as interaction with healthcare professionals and patients is a critical component of the role. Your curriculum might include:

  • Statistics: To analyze and interpret healthcare data effectively.
  • Healthcare management systems: To understand the operations of healthcare services.
  • Healthcare technology: Offering insights on how technology improves patient care and administrative processes.

The average salary of a healthcare administrator in the US is around $89,433.


An architecture degree merges creativity and science to help graduates shape the environment. Your path can begin with an undergraduate degree, such as a B.A. or B.S. in architecture. Typically, a portfolio of your work, letters of recommendation, and a satisfactory GPA are some of the basic admission requirements colleges and universities may ask for. Here are some courses you’ll be studying:

  • Design: Fundamental design principles
  • Technology: Building methods and materials
  • History: Architectural history and theory
  • Practice: Professional practice and ethics

Degree options vary, and you could consider specialized graduate programs to hone your skill set further. The journey is demanding, however, it can also be exhilarating as you bring your concepts to life. The average salary of an architect in the US is around $108,890.


If you’re passionate about connecting with people and conveying messages effectively, a degree in communication might be the right choice. It’s a versatile field that can prepare you for various media, public relations, marketing, and more roles. Here’s what your coursework overview would look like:

  • Core subjects: Public speaking, media writing, intercultural communication
  • Specializations: Public relations, journalism, digital media
  • Practical experience: Internships, media projects

Remember to consider accreditation and university rankings, such as those provided by U.S. News & World Report, when selecting a program. Your education is not just about obtaining a degree; it’s a pathway to a fulfilling career in a field that values clarity and connection. The average salary of a communication specialist in the US is around $72,826.

Information Technology

By choosing an information technology (IT) degree, you’ll immerse yourself in a world that merges technology with business needs. Offering a blend of technical know-how and innovation, this degree often encompasses a variety of subjects such as system analysis, network architecture, and cybersecurity. Core components include:

  • System development: Understand software engineering and database management.
  • Network security: Learn how to protect information systems.
  • Technical support: Learn how to troubleshoot and provide tech solutions.

An IT degree can pave the way for a dynamic career with expansive opportunities. If you’re fascinated by technology and its application in the real world, this degree could be a perfect choice for your future. The salary range for an IT specialist in the US is between $76,000 and $92,000. 


With increasing demand across various industries like technology, infrastructure, renewable energy, and healthcare, the future for engineering graduates is bright. Engineering degree programs are known to emphasize problem-solving, innovation, and technical skills.  

For a smooth transition into this field, students typically need a strong foundation in mathematics and science. Some universities may require specific prerequisites or placement exams in these subjects. Here are some of the most common types of engineering degrees:

  • Computer engineering: You will engage with designing and developing computer components. Your curriculum will include processors, circuits, and memory systems. This degree can lead to positions such as software developer and hardware engineer.
  • Civil engineering: Focus on infrastructure and public works. You will study design principles, environmental engineering, and construction management, which are vital for a career in constructing the backbone of society’s framework.
  • Biomedical engineering: This degree merges healthcare with engineering. Students will discover courses that combine biology, biomechanics, and bioengineering design, readying them for roles that improve health outcomes through technology. 
  • Electrical engineering: This relates to electrical systems and technologies. Specializations like wireless tech or energy-saving technologies might be part of your journey, potentially leading to roles in innovation and development.

The average salary of an engineer in the US is around $101,479.

Three newly graduated women with their diplomas

Admission Processes and Requirements

Once you find a degree and school that perfectly aligns with your professional and personal goals, understanding the specific admission criteria set by the institution is the next step. You should also verify that your choice holds the necessary accreditation status.

Understanding Admission Criteria

While admission requirements vary widely between institutions and degree options, they typically include academic records, standardized test scores, and sometimes personal statements or letters of recommendation.

  • Academic records: These may involve a high school diploma or equivalent, focusing on relevant coursework.
  • Standardized tests: Many schools and programs require SAT or ACT test scores.
  • Supplementary materials: Some degree programs may ask for a portfolio, especially if you’re applying to a field such as art or design.

Knowing each program’s specific criteria is vital, as this can influence your preparation and chances of acceptance.

The Accreditation Checklist

Degree accreditation is a mark of quality and credibility for educational programs. Remember, your education is a significant investment, and verifying these elements safeguards your future.

Here’s why it’s important:

Accreditation is a critical factor in the validity and recognition of your degree. There are two primary types of accreditation in the US:

  • Regional accreditation: This is the most prestigious form of accreditation. If you’re looking at a traditional four-year university, it will likely hold regional accreditation.
  • National accreditation: Often, vocational or career-oriented schools have national accreditation. It is more specialized, however, this doesn’t make it more prestigious.

You should confirm that your prospective institution is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This assures that the quality of education meets certain standards, which is important for future employment and if you decide to pursue further education. 

Choosing the Right Degree for Your Career Goals

Kelsey Ludeman, an Academic Success Coach at the University of Houston-Downtown, shares her top piece of advice when it comes to choosing the best program to major in:

“Choosing a degree is a decision that paves the path for your future. Consider what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what kind of lifestyle you plan to live. These three factors are key to feeling satisfied in your career.

Websites like The Princeton Review have informative career pathway quizzes that can help point you in the right direction. Pick a field that offers a wide range of employment opportunities and allows you to easily pivot, should you decide to shift your path at any point.

Take into account the expected debt-to-income ratio after graduation, and look into the day-to-day experiences of the role. Picking a degree plan that best matches your skills, interests, and income expectations sets you up for productive career growth and development, and above all, happiness.”

Selecting the appropriate bachelor’s degree is pivotal in aligning your education with your professional aspirations. Here are some strategic questions to consider:

  • What are your long-term career goals? This will influence whether you pursue a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or a specialized degree such as a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.).
  • Does your chosen field require further education? Some professions may require master’s or doctoral degrees beyond the bachelor’s level.
  • Consider the pros and cons of various programs, such as the flexibility of a liberal arts degree versus the specificity of a business degree.

Remember, understanding the specifics of a bachelor’s degree program is critical when considering post-secondary education. Whether you’re eyeing a master’s degree or planning to start your career, this degree is the foundational step in higher education and sets the stage for future advancement.

Two students typing on their laptop

Financial Considerations in Higher Education

Figuring out your finances is a vital step you should take before starting your higher education. Understanding the landscape of tuition fees, other miscellaneous expenses, and the available financial aid options will empower you to make informed decisions about your educational investment.

Navigating Tuition and Associated Costs

When budgeting for your degree, you’ll find that tuition is the major expense, however, it’s not the only one. Tuition costs can vary widely between institutions and programs, so it’s important to research the exact figures for the schools you’re considering. Additionally, mandatory technology, library, and laboratory fees often contribute to your total educational cost. 

Also, consider costs for books, supplies, and potentially, room and board if you’re studying on campus.

  • Tuition: The cost per credit hour or semester.
  • Fees: Additional costs including technology, student activity, and facility fees.
  • Supplies: Textbooks, software, and other course materials.
  • Living expenses: Room and board, transportation, and personal expenses.

Consider researching the financial value of education programs to assure your investment aligns with your long-term professional goals.

Securing Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid is an umbrella term that includes scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities designed to help you fund your education. Scholarships and grants are often need or merit-based and don’t have to be repaid. They’re awarded by colleges, private organizations, and charities.

Make sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible to determine your eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs.

  • Scholarships: Search for opportunities via your chosen institution or scholarship search engines.
  • FAFSA: A necessary application for federal student aid.
  • Work-study: Part-time work opportunities to earn money while attending school.

Remember, the key is to start your financial planning early and watch for upcoming deadlines to maximize your potential aid and scholarship award.

A calculator, bills, coins, and computation on the table

Strategic Planning for Career Advancement

In today’s dynamic job market, aligning your degree with your professional ambitions and establishing a long-term career plan is vital to find long-term success and make the most of your degree.

Aligning Degrees with Professional Ambitions

When you select a degree program, you’re laying the foundation for future career opportunities. Consider degrees that offer a clear pathway to roles within administration or management, sectors known for their advancement potential. 

To directly impact your career trajectory, choose programs that cater to the current demands of the job market and provide the technical knowledge and soft skills employers desire. For example, if your career goal is to become a high-level executive, a degree in business administration can be advantageous. 

Long-Term Career Planning

Long-term career planning isn’t just about the destination; it’s about mapping the journey. Start by identifying where you want to be in five, ten, or even twenty years. Then, break down your career goals into achievable milestones. If you’re aiming for upper management or executive levels, consider doing the following:

  • Earning professional certifications after your degree
  • Gaining varied experiences through different roles and responsibilities
  • Building a network of professionals in your field

By actively managing your career progression, you increase your chances of achieving your desired role. Adapt your plan to new challenges and opportunities that align with your skills and interests.

Balancing Academics and Personal Growth

Striking a balance between your studies and personal development is vital as you navigate your degree program. Mastering this balancing act can lead to a more fulfilling academic journey and holistic personal growth.

Effective Time Management for Students

To manage your time effectively, it’s important to establish clear priorities and carefully divide your time. Begin by tracking your activities for a week to get a baseline. Then, draft a schedule that can accommodate your academic responsibilities and personal needs. 

Consider these strategies:

  • Prioritize tasks: Start with the most important academic tasks and assure they’re catered to before others.
  • Set specific study times: Block out periods specifically for studying to create a routine.
  • Be flexible: Allow some wiggle room for unexpected events or shifts in your plan.

Effective time management enhances your academic performance and clears space for your personal interests and growth opportunities.

Incorporating Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are key to personal growth and can complement academic learning by developing additional skills and interests.

  • Join clubs or groups that align with your personal and professional interests to network and build soft skills such as leadership and teamwork.
  • Engage in volunteer work to enhance empathy and social awareness.

Remember, while extracurriculars are important, balance is key. It’s vital not to overcommit, as this can lead to stress and burnout. Choose activities you genuinely enjoy and give you a sense of fulfillment.

Group of graduate students with their gowns and cap

Related Questions

What Degree Has the Highest-Paying Jobs?

In terms of a degree that offers both a rewarding career and a generous paycheck, engineering degrees consistently rank at the top. These programs equip you with skills to design, build, and analyze various systems, allowing entry into sectors with significant financial incentives.

What is the Best Bachelor’s Degree to Get?

In recent years, computer science has emerged as a highly valued degree due to its versatility and demand in various industries. With skills learned in a computer science program, such as software development and data analysis, you can enter careers in tech companies, finance, and more.

What Career Makes the Most Money?

When you’re looking into careers that offer the most lucrative salaries, healthcare jobs stand out significantly. Specifically, jobs like physicians, surgeons, and psychiatrists are on the top of the pay scale and also high on the list for growth and demand. You must complete several years of post-baccalaureate training to enjoy a medical doctor’s salary.


With constant innovation, technological advancements, and societal changes, there are so many new degrees students can explore. However, there are some degrees that are truly evergreen due to the highly in demand careers they lead to. Just make sure your chosen program resonates with your personal and professional goals to pave the way for a fulfilling academic and career pathway.

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14 Best Trade Schools in America [2024 Guide]

Occupational Safety and Health Career

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A myriad of industries in the United States are on the hunt for skill-specific professionals. Without proper training, you may not gain the necessary practical skills and industry knowledge to thrive in these careers. For that, you need to find the best trade schools in the US. Here’s a list of schools offering high-quality, hands-on training and a curriculum designed for career readiness. 

The 14 Best Trade Schools in the US

Renowned for their commitment to career and technical education, institutions like Harper College, Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center, Holmes Community College, Washburn Institute of Technology, and Minnesota State Community and Technical College stand out as some of the best trade and vocational schools in the US. 

These trade and vocational schools offer comprehensive certificate programs and specialized training that equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in various career opportunities. With a strong emphasis on hands-on learning and industry-relevant curricula, these top trade schools are dedicated to producing exceptionally skilled workers.

SchoolPopular Trade ProgramsAverage In-State TuitionAverage Out-of-State Tuition
Harper CollegeBread and Pastry Arts, Digital Press, Mechatronics$9,942$11,754
Ashland County-West Holmes Career CenterHVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technology, Automotive Service, Food Service$7,630$12,562
Holmes Community CollegeAutomotive Technology, Health Sciences, Computer Programming$3,510$6,210
Washburn Institute of TechnologyPractical Nursing, Graphics Technology, Cosmetology$9,306$20,530
Minnesota State Community and Technical CollegeAgribusiness, Global and Intercultural Studies, Dental Hygiene$5,900$10,000
Butte County Regional Occupational ProgramProfessional Welding, Veterinary Assistant, Phlebotomy Technician$10,360$18,570
San Jacinto CollegeWeb Development, Construction Management, Medical Imaging$3,240$5,040
Baptist Health College Little RockMedical Laboratory Science, Surgical Technology, Patient Care Technician$10,098$12,938
Southwest Mississippi Community CollegeWelding and Cutting Technology, Process Operations Technology, Commercial Truck Driving$3,600$6,300
Southwest Wisconsin Technical CollegeApplicator Technician, Agronomy Technology, Medical Insurance Coding$4,571$6,731
State Technical College of MissouriAgriculture Operations, Diesel Technology, Aviation Maintenance$7,095$12,780
Wallace Community CollegeComputer Information Science, Emergency Medical Services, Masonry$4,860$8,610
Western Iowa Tech Community CollegeIndustrial Welding, Plumbing Systems, Social Work$4,922$4,946
Western Technical College – WisconsinDairy and Livestock Technician, Digital Court Reporting, Facilities Maintenance$4,636$6,788

ValueColleges.com 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.

1. Harper College

Harper College

Harper College is one of the top trade and vocational schools in the area, with 85% of its graduates getting employed in the top trade industries within a year. The college also offers online classes as convenient options for working professionals or those with busy schedules.

As one of the best vocational schools in the area, Harper College maintains strong industry partnerships, making sure its curriculum and school programs remain up-to-date and aligned with current workforce demands.

2. Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center

Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center

As a public vocational school with open admissions, Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center offers a diverse range of certificate programs designed to address the skills gap in various high-growth fields, such as industrial maintenance, plumbing, welding, and healthcare. 

One of the key advantages of attending Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center is the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through work-based placements and practical learning environments.  The school’s commitment to offering financial aid options makes it an accessible choice for individuals seeking a cost-effective path to rewarding careers in various fields.

3. Holmes Community College

Holmes Community College

Holmes Community College is one of the best trade and vocational schools for many of the hands-on skills that are needed in careers that involve skilled trades. It provides a comprehensive range of vocational school programs, including welding and healthcare.

Students acquire the specialized skills and knowledge needed for their desired careers. The college offers associate degree programs, providing a solid foundation for further educational or professional pursuits that require licensing. It even has a 93% passing rate for the NCLEX-RN, one of the highest in the country.

Having 15 years of experience in the education sector, Kelsey Ludeman shares that Holmes Community College is an excellent trade school:

“Holmes Community College, with its affordable tuition, program variety, expert instructors, industry partnerships, and support services, is a top pick among trade schools.

Within its curriculum, the college offers a broad spectrum of trade and technical programs, spanning fields such as automotive technology, welding, HVAC, electrical technology, cosmetology, and many more, allowing students to pursue a program that harmonizes with their individual passions and career objectives. With over 40 trade specialties and fast-paced 2-year programs, graduates will enter their new careers efficiently and well-equipped with the skills needed to thrive.”

4. Washburn Institute of Technology

Washburn Institute of Technology

Are you looking for a vocational school with flexible enrollment options? Washburn Institute of Technology is the perfect pick for students looking for a work-life-study balance thanks to the school’s online classes and on-campus offerings at its Topeka, Kansas location.

The school’s curriculum is carefully designed to equip learners with career-focused skills and knowledge specific to their chosen fields. With a 94% job placement rate, it empowers a majority of its students to enter the workforce or pursue further education in a four-year bachelor’s program.

5. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

With financial aid options and a 98% job placement rate, Minnesota State Community and Technical College lets you pursue your desired career paths through certificate programs or associate degrees.

It’s one of the best trade schools to learn the in-depth skills needed to work as web developers, construction managers, nursing associates, or graphic designers. The college’s strong industry partnerships and emphasis on experiential learning mean you’ll receive relevant and up-to-date training.

6. Butte County Regional Occupational Program

Butte County Regional Occupational Program

With open admissions, Butte County ROP welcomes people from various backgrounds to prepare students with the necessary foundational knowledge, technical skills, and professionalism for a thriving career path.

Students receive job skills training from industry-qualified instructors, career guidance, and on-the-job experience. By aligning its offerings with industry needs, Butte County ROP prepares students to secure employment and contribute to their respective professions immediately upon completion of their associate’s degrees or professional certificates.

7. San Jacinto College

San Jacinto College

San Jacinto College students who enroll in the school’s award-winning programs gain foundational knowledge and practical skills from online and on-campus classes. Each student works one-on-one with the instructor to fully grasp the concepts and methods being taught.

It offers a wide array of certificate programs in various fields, including healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, preparing students for a multitude of career opportunities upon graduation.

8. Baptist Health College Little Rock

Baptist Health College Little Rock

Baptist Health College Little Rock, a private, non-profit vocational-technical school, offers a unique opportunity to get a headstart in a career path in the healthcare industry. The college incorporates general education courses into its curriculum to prepare students with a well-rounded educational experience that fosters personal and professional growth.

It mainly imparts career-focused skills specific to each program. The nursing program, in particular, is prominent for its flexible delivery options, with both traditional and accelerated tracks available to cater to the diverse needs of its student population. 

9. Southwest Mississippi Community College

Southwest Mississippi Community College

Southwest Mississippi Community College lets you complete an associate’s degree in various vocational fields, such as welding, automotive technology, and healthcare, equipping students with the skills and knowledge required to become part of a skilled workforce.

The college’s emphasis on experiential learning creates an immersive learning environment that prepares students for successful careers in their chosen vocational fields. Students also have the option to take evening classes in different school programs.

10. Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

As one of the top career schools in the region, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College offers a wide range of vocational programs, including online courses, providing flexibility for students to balance their education with other commitments. 

The college’s strong industry connections and relevant curricula are aligned with current workforce demands, giving graduates a competitive edge in the job market. For instance, students get involved in local communities and organizations for hands-on training.

11. State Technical College of Missouri

State Technical College of Missouri

With a focus on hands-on training and practical experience, State Technical College of Missouri remains one of the leading trade and vocational schools. Its school programs have a trusted reputation for providing students with the skills they need, resulting in an ongoing 99% job placement rate after graduation.

Welding, cooking, carpentry, and many other careers that require unique skill sets are taught to students who want to make an immediate change in their lives.

12. Wallace Community College

Wallace Community College

Wallace Community College, as one of the top community colleges in the region, offers a range of trade programs that combine classroom instruction with hands-on training.

At least 90% of the graduates get employed one year after graduation, proving that quality education prepares students for life after school. Meanwhile, about 80% of employers show satisfaction with the work performance of Wallace graduates.

13. Western Iowa Tech Community College

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Western Iowa Tech Community College offers a variety of vocational programs that cater to students with diverse educational backgrounds, including those with only a high school diploma. This provides them with the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge for their desired careers.

Hands-on skills are the meat of the coursework, allowing students to enter the workforce much earlier than expected, either as an apprentice or a graduate. Each course can be used as a stepping stone to a higher degree program or can be used to lay the foundation for a long and very lucrative career path.

14. Western Technical College – Wisconsin

Western Technical College – Wisconsin

Western Technical College – Wisconsin is one of the best schools in Wisconsin, especially in teaching a variety of career and technical courses. About 93% of its graduates enter the workforce within six months, showing strong technical and practical skills among its student population.

While certificate programs offer a concentrated and focused curriculum within a particular discipline, associate degrees provide a well-rounded education by incorporating general education classes that foster transferable skills. Faculty members, who have a firm understanding of their craft, work diligently to teach the skills students need when they enter the workforce.

What Is a Trade School?

Trade schools, also known as career colleges, vocational schools, or technical colleges, concentrate on providing industry-specific training and school programs tailored to particular professions or trades. A trade school lets you specialize in a certain craft with the help of skill-focused courses.

  • Reduced general courses: Trade schools and technical colleges offer you the vocational education you need without the extra courses you’d typically have to study in a traditional four-year college degree program. 
  • Focus on practical skills: Unlike traditional academic programs, trade school curricula primarily focus on developing practical skills and knowledge valuable for success within a specific industry, with minimal general education requirements.
  • Hands-on teaching for technical skills: Skills like welding, fabricating, sewing, cooking, computer technology, and certain medical/healthcare skills take time to learn. When it comes to these types of skills, practicing them each day in a classroom setting is the best way to reinforce the learning process.
  • Variety of certifications and associate degrees: Trade school offerings vary, with some institutions providing industry-recognized certifications while others confer an associate degree in applied sciences related to the vocational and trade fields.

Why Should I Opt For a Trade School?

A trade school is perfect for those who want to start working in their chosen career field right after graduating and don’t want to go the traditional degree program route. Studying in these schools also allows you to work as an apprentice or intern. Many students choose to pursue this route simply because it allows them to start using their skills as they learn them.

  • Get employed fast: Recent years have seen a decline in skilled labor and trades, with a 7% vacancy rate. Vocational schools and certificate programs offer a faster route to employment in various trade school careers, such as web development, automotive technology, or healthcare, often requiring only a high school diploma for admission.
  • Learning industry-focused skills: The focused curricula at trade schools allow students to gain specialized knowledge and technical expertise in their chosen field, preparing them for immediate entry into the workforce upon graduation – without the need for extensive additional training.
  • Gain hands-on training: Trade schools provide hands-on classroom instruction and practical training. These equip students with the specific skills needed to address the skills gap in many industries and make graduates employable upon completion.
  • Save on tuition costs: Attending a trade school can be more cost-effective than pursuing a traditional four-year degree. Many vocational programs lead to an associate’s degree or certificate within a shorter time frame, resulting in lower tuition costs.

What Can I Learn in Trade and Vocational Schools?

Trade schools provide a viable alternative for individuals who prefer a more targeted approach to education and want to start their careers sooner rather than later. The curriculum is tailored to meet industry demands and focuses on teaching practical skills that can be immediately applied in the workplace.

This results in graduates who are well-equipped with relevant knowledge and the hands-on experience necessary for success in their chosen field. By offering specialized training programs that prioritize practical skills over theoretical knowledge alone, these institutions equip students with the tools they need for successful careers in various industries.

A man fixing a part of a vehicle in a garage

How Much Does An Education at a Trade School Cost?

Pursuing a technical education at a trade school can be a cost-effective option compared to traditional four-year college programs. The expenses can vary based on factors such as the institution type (public or private), program duration, and living arrangements. Here’s an overview of the potential costs:

  • For less than two-year programs at public schools, the average tuition cost is $8,680.
  • Private for-profit schools offering less than two-year programs charge an average tuition of $15,600.
  • For two-year programs at private for-profit schools, the total cost (including tuition, books, and living expenses) can range from $21,400 (off-campus, living with family) to $31,400 (off-campus, not living with family).

With shorter program durations and specialized training focused on specific skill sets required by employers, trade school graduates can enter the workforce faster without accumulating substantial student loan debt.

Financial Aid for Trade Programs

Pursuing career-focused education at a trade or vocational school can be an affordable option, especially with the availability of various financial aid opportunities. High school seniors and prospective students can explore the following financial aid options:

  • Scholarships: Trade schools often offer scholarships based on academic merit, financial need, or specific criteria related to the vocational program or industry.
  • Federal grants: Students may be eligible for federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, which provides financial assistance based on financial need and does not require repayment.
  • Loans: Both federal and private student loans are available to help cover the costs of attending a trade school. Federal loans typically offer more favorable terms and repayment options.

What Is the Difference Between Trade School and College?

While pursuing higher education has traditionally been associated with attending a four-year college or university, an increasing number of students are exploring alternative paths, such as trade schools. Trade schools and four-year colleges have many differences, including:

  • Costs: Trade schools are often less expensive than traditional colleges and offer focused curricula tailored to specific career paths, allowing students to graduate in a shorter time frame. This is typically between three and 12 months, depending on the program.
  • GE courses: A four-year degree offers a broader range of general education courses and degree options. Earning a bachelor’s degree usually requires a substantial time commitment of two to four years or longer.

In recent years, the percentage of high school students considering college after graduation has declined. For instance, enrollment at public four-year institutions dropped by 3.4%. The decision between a trade school and a traditional college often comes down to factors like career goals, financial situations, and the desired timeline.

How Do I Choose a Trade School?

You should choose your trade school based on what you want to learn and whether or not they offer the type of skills and training you are looking for. In addition to that, these are the factors you should be considering while choosing a trade school for yourself:

  • Accreditation: Like when considering four-year schools, check if the vocational school is accredited. The accreditation indicates that it meets established standards and requirements for providing hands-on experience and education in its respective fields.
  • Program offerings: Identify whether the vocational school offers certificates or degrees in your area of interest. Review the curriculum to see if it aligns with the skills and knowledge you aim to acquire.
  • Reputation and success rates: Research the school’s reputation within the industry. Consider the job placement rates for graduates and student satisfaction to gauge the quality of education and training provided.
  • Financial aid availability: Explore the financial aid options offered by the school, including scholarships and grants. These factors determine the affordability and potential return on investment.
  • Admission requirements: Understand the school’s admission requirements, such as a high school diploma or equivalent, to make sure you meet the necessary criteria for enrollment.
  • Hands-on learning opportunities: Prioritize vocational schools that emphasize hands-on training and practical experience through internships, apprenticeships, or on-site learning facilities. These experiences are invaluable in preparing students for their future careers.
Culinary expert adding orange juice to a hollowed pumpkin

What Can I Do with a Trade or Vocational School Degree?

Trade school degrees open up a wide range of job opportunities for individuals seeking practical, hands-on careers. These degrees provide specialized training in specific trades, equipping graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their chosen fields.

Whether you’re interested in construction, automotive technology, or healthcare, a trade school degree can pave the way for a rewarding career. Prospective students must note that there are many industries, including manufacturing and construction, that hire students right out of high school and provide them with on-the-job training.

Vocational training is needed for most trade school jobs. These are just a few examples of the many career paths available to those with trade school degrees:

  • Medical assistant: Many trade schools offer programs that train individuals to become medical assistants who provide administrative support and assist healthcare professionals with patient care. Graduates can expect a median annual salary of at least $47,000.
  • Electrician: With a trade school degree in electrical work, you can become an electrician and work on installing and maintaining electrical systems in residential, commercial, or industrial settings. Electricians can earn a median annual salary of $60,240.
  • Welder: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for welders can reach up to $48,900. Trade school programs in welding prepare individuals for careers in metal fabrication and joining. As a welder, you can work on projects ranging from construction to manufacturing. 
  • HVAC technician: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are responsible for installing and repairing HVAC systems. A trade school degree in HVAC technology can lead to opportunities in both residential and commercial settings, letting you earn a median annual salary of at least $58,500.
  • Automotive technician: If you have a passion for cars and mechanics, a trade school degree in automotive technology can qualify you to work as an automotive technician or mechanic at repair shops or dealerships. You can expect to earn a median annual salary ranging from $57,772 to $72,998.
  • Culinary arts professional: Trade career schools specializing in culinary arts provide aspiring chefs the necessary skills to thrive in the food service industry as cooks or chefs at restaurants or hotels. This can provide a median annual salary of around $63,000.

Can I Get a Technical Degree Online?

Similar to a traditional bachelor’s program, you can enroll at online trade schools to earn an associate’s degree or professional certificate. You can combine an online technical degree program with the hands-on education you receive while on the job as you build your technical career.

Many students who cannot attend a classroom setting for various reasons can still benefit from this type of technical degree or certification process. Attending their classes online allows them to continue working. It also allows them to learn in an environment that is most beneficial for them.

Earning a technical degree online offers students who are already employed an opportunity to learn the latest techniques and methods for their chosen industry. Enrolling in an online degree or certification program will keep them up to date on advancements that they need to be aware of in their field. 

Methodology: Ranking the Best Trade Schools in America 

The entire purpose of Value Colleges is to guide students to schools and degree programs that will pay off and lead them to successful and fulfilling careers. That’s why the ranking of the best trade career schools features only accredited institutions with a career and occupational focus. 

School programs are selected according to factors like cost, potential salary, and student reviews using data from IPEDS and Niche. The top vocational schools also offer financial aid for an associate degree.

A man in a blue jacket standing next to a car engine

Related Questions

What Is the #1 Tech School in the US?

Harper College, located in Palatine, Illinois, is widely regarded as one of the top tech schools in the United States. It’s known for its exceptional vocational programs and hands-on training approach, providing options for associate degrees or certificate programs.

What Are the Most Popular Trade School Programs?

Some of the most popular programs offered at trade or vocational schools include automotive technology, construction trades, healthcare professions, and information technology. Computer programming, project management, and practical nursing also help students develop the skills needed for in-demand careers.

Is a Trade School Better Than a Traditional College Education?

A trade school education is a better option if you’re looking to achieve job-specific skills, especially within a limited time frame and budget. A traditional bachelor’s degree may be a more suitable option for you if you’re interested in general education courses.

What Is the Best-Paying Trade Job?

Trade school careers such as electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians are known for their high earning potential. Many trade schools thoroughly prepare students with the practical skills and knowledge required for these well-compensated professions.


By choosing one of the top-ranked trade schools, you’ll gain access to exceptional technical education, hands-on training, and career-focused school programs that prepare you for success in your desired field. Investing in a reputable career school can open doors to numerous opportunities and pave the way for a fulfilling and prosperous professional journey.

Related Rankings:

Top 50 Best Community Colleges

Top 50 Best Online Community Colleges in the US

Highest-Paying Community College Degrees

Highest-Paying Tech School Degrees

Community College Guide: Technical Schools

Trade & Vocational Degrees: What Can I Do with a Degree in the Trades?

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Top 25 Best Occupational Safety Degrees

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occupational health and safety degree

If you’ve been considering a career in occupational safety, you might want to consider getting a health and safety degree. So many colleges with occupational health and safety degrees offer the program from various lenses and through different departments. Here’s a list of the top 25 schools and programs that can set you up for success.

Top 25 Best Occupational Safety Degrees

Environmental health and occupational safety degrees allow for a professional account of the wellness of workers in an industry setting. From ensuring the worksite is up to code to making sure the chemicals they work with are safe, occupational safety and health engineers are needed now more than ever.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is a relatively recent focus that companies can access to ensure their jobs are not causing workers harm. Even at a bachelor’s level, graduates can enjoy a lucrative career in OSH, which is becoming rare nowadays. 

Choosing an Occupational Safety and Health Degree

Many OSH degrees are housed in a university’s School of Public Health. Others are run by their school’s Engineering or the Environmental Science department. The University of Central Missouri tucks theirs into the School of Geoscience, Physics, and Safety. 

Given how wide-ranging this degree and its central focus can be for individuals, it makes sense that different schools teach it from a different lens. We did our best to represent the best value programs from various perspectives.

Additionally, Kelsey Ludeman, an Academic Success Coach at the University of Houston-Downtown, shares her insights on what to look for when choosing this program:

“Accreditation is key when selecting an Occupational Safety and Health degree program. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) offer a reliable and up-to-date database of accredited colleges and university degree plans in the field.

Look into the ranking of the school, the curriculum of the program, the requirements of the degree plan, and the cost of the tuition. Professors who are experienced and connected in the field will not only offer you quality and relevant knowledge but will also set you up for success long after graduation.”

Ranking the Best Value Occupational Safety and Health Degrees

At Value Colleges, we hope to give the kind of information students need to make the best decision for their interests and needs, including money. We hope to reach students who care about the value of their education and the return on investment their degree will bring. 

The Value College’s ranking thoroughly surveys the most reputable, proven bachelor’s degrees in Occupational Safety and Health. The ranking order of this list is based on three metrics:

  • Reputation (based on U.S. News & World Report)
  • ROI (based on Payscale data)
  • Cost (based on online tuition as reported to IPEDS)

All of the colleges and universities featured by Value Colleges are regionally accredited. Many of the Best Value Online Occupational Safety and Health Degree ranking programs are also recognized by the Institute of Safety and Health Management or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. ISHM is an industry-recognized, third-party accredited certification for Environmental Health and Safety professionals.

University of Houston- Clear LakeEnvironmental Science Safety, BS
University of North AlabamaIndustrial Hygiene BA/BS
Grand Valley State UniversityOccupational Safety & Health Management, BS
Utah State UniversityPublic Health, Emphasis: Industrial Hygiene, BS
The Johns Hopkins UniversityOccupational and Environmental Hygiene, BS
The University of TexasIndustrial Safety, BS
Ohio UniversityIndustrial Hygiene, BS
Slippery Rock UniversitySafety Management, BS
Eastern Kentucky UniversityOccupational Safety, BS
The University of WisconsinOccupational Safety, BS
Millersville UniversityOccupational Safety & Environmental Health, BS
University of Central MissouriOccupational Safety and Health, BS
Oakland UniversityOccupational Safety and Health, BS
Purdue UniversityOccupational Health Sciences, BS
Marshall UniversitySafety Technology, BS
Montana Tech of the University of MontanaOccupational Safety and Health, BS
Murray State UniversityOccupational Safety and Health, BS
Indiana UniversitySafety, Health, and Environmental Applied Sciences, BS
Odessa CollegeOccupational Safety and Health Technology, AAS
Southeastern Louisiana UniversityOccupational Safety, Health, and Environment, BS
Missouri State UniversityOccupational Safety and Health, BS
The University of FindlayEnvironmental Safety and Health Management, BS
Trinidad State Junior CollegeOccupational Safety and Health Technology, AAS
Columbia Southern UniversityOccupational Safety and Health, BS
Fairmont State UniversityOccupational Safety, BS
Rank School Name Description

University of Houston-Clear Lake

The University of Houston- Clear Lake was established in 1971. Much of their mission came from a request from NASA for more graduate studies related to space industries. They are one of the four institutions that make up the University of Houston System. Their main campus sits on 524 acres of land on a nature preserve in Houston, Texas, and they have an additional branch in Pearland, Texas.

University of Houston- Clear Lake

US News and World Report ranked them number 74 among regional universities. The University of Houston at Clear Lake offers four distinct colleges with 90 degree offerings, including 40 bachelor’s, 44 master’s, and two doctoral programs.

The Institute for Safety and Health Management at the University of Houston Clear Lake offers an online Masters of Science in Environmental Science Occupational Health and Safety. They also have a residential Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. Both programs allow students to study at the intersection where people and the environment come together.

This includes a comprehensive study of both natural and unnatural processes. They foster an intimate educational environment with small class sizes and many opportunities for peer collaboration. These programs are interdisciplinary and, therefore, offer many career possibilities in various applicable fields. This is one of the top safety programs on this list.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Environmental Science Safety, BS

University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is often called UNA and was founded in 1830. They first went by the name LaGrange College, which in French means “the barn”. The college began with an idea developed at the Methodist Church’s Tennessee Conference, where a collective vision was to create a college that would not base its study on religion or theology.

University of North Alabama

They were re-established in 1872 as a normal school with the intention of training teachers. They are a public institution of higher learning situated on a 130-acre campus in Florence, Alabama. The campus is across from the Seminary-O’Neal Historic District. With a total enrolment of approximately 7,450 students, they are known for being the oldest four-year postsecondary institution in Alabama.

The University of North Alabama is one of many schools offering innovative health and safety degrees. Their offerings include a BA and a BS in Industrial Hygiene Degree Program. Students in this course of study will grasp the underpinnings of scientific principles, emphasizing chemistry and how they are used to evaluate and anticipate health hazards in the workplace.

Many of these hazards result from exposure to biological, physical, and chemical substances. Students will be prepared to enter career paths related to industry, government, and related organizations in the role of industrial hygienists. The prerequisites for this industrial hygiene program include related courses in computer science, biology, physics, and mathematics.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Industrial Hygiene BA/BS

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University was officially founded in 1960, though the vision of this four-year institution that would serve the Grand Rapids region began in 1958. Their primary campus sits on 1,322 acres of land in Allendale, Michigan, just 15 minutes from Grand Rapids. They host additional classes at a downtown Grand Rapids site and an international campus in Holland.

Grand Valley State University

Their total student enrollment exceeds 25,000, placing them into the category of one of the largest 100 universities in the country. Their program offerings include over 200 disciplines. Regarding admissions, they are classified as “more selective” by the US News and World Report.

Grand Valley State University offers a bachelor’s of science degree program in occupational safety and health management (OSHM). This program prepares students to achieve their professional certification and positions participants to obtain entry-level positions in safety management, becoming certified safety professionals.

The education at Grand Valley is steeped in values concerning ethical and professional behavior, as well as social responsibility, respect, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Students in the program can participate in an internship that provides hands-on, career-based training and experience. They will also have access to advisors supporting them throughout their academic experience.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety & Health Management, BS

Utah State University

Utah State University is often referred to colloquially as USU or Utah State, and it was established in 1888. Initially, it was started to offer students in the state an agricultural college, though they have since taken on a more comprehensive list of program offerings. Currently, they are known for being the state’s most prominent public residential institution of higher learning.

Utah State University

23% of their student body is from states other than Utah, making it the highest percentage in the state for any public institution. USU has been designated as offering a “higher research level” by the Carnegie Foundation. Utah State University offers a Bachelor’s of Science program in Public Health that is comprehensive in its reach.

It is one of the oldest public health programs in the country. Therefore, they have a lot of practice catering to students interested in various relevant disciplines. Each student in the program will choose from one of three subjects: Industrial hygiene, public health major, and environmental health.

The industrial hygiene track prepares students to be experts in workplace hazards and their interventions. The ABET accredits the Associates of Applied Science course of study. Upon graduation from the industrial hygiene discipline, students will have the foundations to take the certification test to become an Industrial Hygienist officially.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Public Health, Emphasis: Industrial Hygiene, BS

The Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University was established in 1876 and got its name from the first benefactor to support this institution. Johns Hopkins was a known abolitionist and entrepreneur, and he donated 7 million dollars to establish the institution, which at the time was the biggest-ever philanthropic gift in United States history.

Johns Hopkins University

The campus is in the center of Baltimore, Maryland, with an additional site in Washington DC and international sites in Singapore, Italy, and China. Many things make this institution notable, including the fact that it is considered the first research postsecondary school in the nation. They were also one of the founding members of the American Association of Universities.

The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University offers a flexible Master’s of Public Health Program that students can take in part-time and online formats. The program is geared towards working adults who require flexibility to be successful in an academic path. Students can access recorded video lectures at their convenience.

The program generally has cohorts of between 50 and 60 people, and the average student age is 36. The residential requirement is 1-2 weeks on campus per year, and the program can be completed in 2-3 years. There are over 100 courses, all facilitated by faculty leaders in their field.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, BS

The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler is also called UT Tyler and is a component institution for the University of Texas System. They were founded in 1971 with the original name of Tyler State College. They had a few names before they connected with the University of Texas system in 1975.

University of Texas at Tyler

Their campus is situated on 204 acres of land in Tyler, Texas, and has been their site for 40 years. The campus is a refuge in its parklike setting, as it sits on the edge of Harvey Lake. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits this proudly Texan school.

Total student enrollment exceeds 10,500, and they maintain intimate classes with a student-to-faculty ratio 20:1.

The University of Texas at Tyler offers a Bachelor of Science program in Industrial Technology, which is also called Applied Engineering.Students in this program are trained to successfully achieve positions such as procurement manager, plant manager, safety manager, and project and industrial engineer, among others.

There is a minor embedded into the program in Business Administration, which gives students an additional leg up with marketing, business, and finance skills. Nearly 100% of students who have graduated from the program have entered a related career path upon completion. Many graduates work for Chicago Bridge and Iron, Trane Inc., Eastman Chemical, and Lockheed Martin.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Industrial Safety, BS

Ohio University

Ohio University was founded in 1804 and was the first university in Ohio. It was initially chartered in 1787 by the First Continental Congress, though did not officially open for students until 1809. The campus was built under the Jefferson presidency only 20 years after the White House.

Ohio University

Located in Athens, Ohio, it sits on the Hocking River and is a registered national monument. They are known for their selective admissions policies. Total enrollment for all of their programs exceeds 36,800 students. They have more than 250 fields of study, and The Higher Learning Commission is their accrediting body.

The College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University offers an Industrial Occupational Hygiene and Safety Program. This course of study teaches students the foundations of the applied science-related skills needed to ensure health and safety in the workplace. Students will learn innovative problem-solving skills that will ultimately serve to protect workers and community members.

Many graduates achieve positions in manufacturing, industry, insurance companies, and corporations. Some graduates work within colleges and universities, construction, cruise ships, and natural resource departments. Students will study biological and physical hazards, ergonomics, EPA, and Osha regulations. This program sets you on track to become a certified safety professional.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Industrial Hygiene, BS

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania is also known as SRU and The Rock. They were established in 1889 and have always been coeducational. They are a public institution of higher learning that offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a few doctoral degrees.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Their campus sits on 611 acres of land in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, and they have one of the largest campuses on the western side of the state. Though rural, they are only an hour away from Pittsburgh. They have an active student life and even offer an 82,000-square-foot student recreation center called the Aebersold Student Recreation Center on campus.

Among the other health and safety degrees in the country is Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania’s Bachelor of Science program in Safety Management. This program offers an experiential approach to learning the practical and applied sciences concerning health and safety practices. This course of study’s foundations cover critical thinking skills to ensure you know how to become accountable and knowledgeable certified safety professional.

Students will learn what protecting property, productivity, people, and the environment means. Safety management techniques and elements are infused throughout the curriculum and academic experience. Each lab consists of no more than 24 students.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Safety Management, BS

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University was established in 1906, initially under the name Kentucky State Normal School No. 1. The original intention of this institution was to train teachers in the state. It became a four-year institution of higher learning in 1922 and changed its name to the Eastern Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College.

Eastern Kentucky University

They are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Their primary campus sits in Richmond, Kentucky, with additional branch campuses in Lancaster, Corbin, Manchester, and Hazard. The US News and World Report has ranked Eastern Kentucky University in many categories, including Top Regional Universities in the South and Best Graduate School in Occupational Therapy.

Eastern Kentucky University offers an online Bachelor of Science program in Occupational Safety. This study path engages students in the skills to ensure workers are safe in their jobs and return safely home. This online format focuses on program requirements nontraditional students need as they need more flexibility due to personal and professional commitments.

This program can be completed in as little as 2.5 years. Many students in the program might take this program while already working in the field of personal safety. The program embeds opportunities for students in career development and internships as an experiential learning strategy to become a certified safety professional.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety, BS

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin at Whitewater was established in 1868, and they graduated their first class of teachers in 1970. They are now a comprehensive four-year institution of higher learning and a member of the University of Wisconsin System. Their campus sits on 400 acres of land in the state’s southeastern region, in the rural town of Whitewater, Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

Over 11,000 undergraduates attend this residential school, and nearly 1,200 postgraduate students are enrolled. Students have many opportunities, including an honors program that offers additional programming for those who qualify and a robust student life involving many clubs and extracurricular activities.

The University of Wisconsin at Whitewater is one of many schools now offering degrees in occupational safety and health. The Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health offers a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety. This course of study gives students the most up-to-date skills utilized to protect people at work and the environment as certified safety professionals.

Students will learn the underpinnings of health, safety, and productivity, including many biological, chemical, physical, and psychological factors. Coursework encompasses a holistic framework for accident prevention and topics such as fire prevention, ergonomics, and an understanding of legal contexts.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety, BS

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Millersville University of Pennsylvania is often called Millersville University. They are one of the fourteen schools comprising the University of Pennsylvania System. Established in 1864, with the original name Millersville Academy, they started out primarily offering teacher training series in workshop styles. It was not until 1983 that they took on their current name.

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Their primary campus sits in Millersville, Pennsylvania, on 250 acres of rolling hills and picturesque land. They are three miles from Lancaster City and one and a half hours away from Philadelphia. They have an additional campus in downtown Lancaster.

Millersville University of Pennsylvania is the home to the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety, and Technology, which offers many disciplines that result in a variety of occupational safety and health degrees. There are opportunities for students to achieve 2-year associate degrees and four-year bachelor’s degrees in related fields.

The principles of professionalism, teamwork, leadership, and innovation guide the work in all programs. Many focus on health and safety in the workforce, and some have opportunities to tailor the course of study to meet specific student needs and career-related goals.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety & Environmental Health, BS

University of Central Missouri

People often call the University of Central Missouri simply UCM. They were established in 1871 with the original name Normal School No 2 and soon after Warrensburg Teachers College. Both original names referenced the early mission of the school, which was to train high-quality teachers in Missouri.

University of Central Missouri

They underwent many name changes and ratifications of their mission before becoming the University of Central Missouri in 2006. Warrensburg, Missouri, is the home of their main campus, which is built on 1,561 acres of land. They also have several satellite locations, including in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. They have many online and residential offerings. Their total enrollment is over 14,000 students.

The School of Geoscience, Physics, and Safety has several majors culminating in occupational safety and health degrees, including the Occupational Safety and Health Bachelor of Science degree program. Students in the program choose between three disciplines: Occupational health management, environmental management, and safety management.

Each discipline offers the skills and tools to keep people and the environment safe, especially in the workplace. Students will have lots of opportunities for hands-on engagement in the field. All program graduates receive the designation of Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP). The designation of Graduate Safety Practitioner is a highly respected title in the field.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety and Health, BS

Oakland University

Oakland University was founded in 1957, though the land where it sits began visioning the institution in 1908 when married couple Matilda and John Francis Hodge bought a 320-acre farmhouse. After John died, Matilda used his fortune with her new husband to build Meadow Brook Hall, an anchor building in the formation of Oakland University.

Oakland University

The campus sits on 1,400 acres of land in Rochester, Michigan, part of the Detroit metro area. There is a second campus in Auburn Hills. Oakland is known for being the county’s only institution of higher learning with high research activity. Total enrollment includes over 20,000 students.

Oakland University has an environmental health and safety degree online program that meets the needs of busy professionals and adult learners who require flexibility. The online format does not require students to step on campus, and most of the learning is delivered asynchronously, except for some classes that will be scheduled far in advance, which will, therefore, be easy to put on the schedule ahead of time.

The program dives into scientific themes, introducing students to occupational safety and environmental health. Students will learn to engage in health and safety practices in workplaces such as hospitals, manufacturing, and construction.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety and Health, BS

Purdue University at West Lafayette

Purdue University was established in 1869, though their first classes began in 1874 to 39 students with facilitation from 6 faculty members. They are a renowned public research institution of higher learning with its flagship campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Purdue University

Their 2,602-acre campus sits on the Wabash River, and on the other side, you will find Lafayette, a much bigger city. This main campus has over 200 majors serving graduate and undergraduate students. They offer over 69 doctoral and master’s programs. They participate in the Big Ten Conference, and with nearly 40,500 students enrolled, they have the second-largest student body in the state.

Purdue University at West Lafayette offers a Bachelor of Science program in occupational health sciences through their School of Health Sciences. Many students take this course of study to achieve a successful career as industrial hygienists. Students will learn various applicable skills, including performing quantitative and quantitative assessments on workplace exposure.

By the end of the course, students will know how to look for biological agents, radiology, and physical and adverse chemicals. They will receive rigorous training with the goal of injury and fatality prevention. There are many opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning in the program, and many companies participate in offering internships that provide on-the-job training.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Health Sciences, BS

Marshall University

Marshall University was established in 1837 as a private subscription school and was formed by those who resided within the nearby surrounding area. The school was named after the fourth United States Chief Justice, John Marshall. In 1937, the campus was a victim of a horrendous flood that forced them to rebuild many of the critical buildings and replace many books and academic artifacts.

Marshall University

Marshall University is currently made up of nine colleges, all of which serve undergraduate students. Their primary campus sits on 100 acres of land in Huntington, West Virginia. They also have a nonresidential campus serving graduate students in South Charleston. They are known for their sports teams, inter-collegiately known as The Thundering Herd.

Marshall University College of Information Technology and Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science Program in Safety Technology. The Applied Science Accreditation Commission accredits this program. “Safety Science” is an umbrella term for all disciplines that train students in preventing illnesses, fires, explosions, accidents, and other occurrences that might damage workers, people in general, property, and the environment. This is one of the top safety programs on this list.

Students focus their foundational skills in safety science in this course of study. They will also learn how to achieve a career in the field of occupational health in sectors such as governmental, industrial, public, or private.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Safety Technology, BS

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Montana Tech of the University of Montana was established in 1889 with the original name Montana State School of Mines. It was not until 1944 that they joined forces with the University of Montana. Their campus is in Montana’s fifth largest city, Butte. They offer close to 45 degree programs, which include 11 certification degrees and several professional career programs.

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

They were ranked by the Wall Street Journal as ninth in the country for best university for return on the investment. Several faculty members at Montana Tech have had partnerships with NASA related to academic endeavors in Montana.

Montana Tech of the University of Montana offers degrees in occupational safety and health, including a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health degree program. The program is within the School of Mines and Engineering Department. Students will dive into the disciplines that relate to occupational safety with a scientific lens.

The curriculum is heavily structured to ensure that students are adequately prepared to take on a related career upon graduation as an industrial hygienist or something similar. The foundations will be there for students to further their educational pursuits with a master’s degree in a related field to achieve a leadership role in this unique profession.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety and Health, BS

Murray State University

Murray State University was founded in 1922 following the passage of Senate Bill 14 by Kentucky’s General Commonwealth Assembly. Initially, they created two institutions in response to the state’s need for teachers; both were Normal Schools. Murray was the site chosen for the Normal School on the state’s Western half.

Murray State University

They have since become a public four-year university with comprehensive academic offerings. They are consistently ranked by the US News and World Report, often among the top schools in Kentucky. For 26 years, they have been ranked among the “Best Colleges” for regional universities.

Murray State University Department of Occupational Safety and Health offers a Bachelor of Science degree program in Occupational Safety and Health. This program provides students with the foundations for graduates to be successful in a career related to loss-control management and supervision, accident prevention, industrial hygiene, and occupational hazards.

Students must participate in the core courses of Murray State and 51 credit hours of major requirement classes, including Fundamentals of Management and Processes and Materials. Students must choose a track, which includes Occupational Safety and Health programs or Environmental Health and Safety.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety and Health, BS

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Indiana University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1875 by Indiana Charter Investors. It was initially created by the Normal School Act, which established independent Normal Schools to train teachers. Indiana University was initially a Normal school serving 225 students. Currently, they are a comprehensive four-year public institution of higher learning.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Their campus sits on 374 acres of land with mixed architecture representing old and new styles. One of their buildings, Sutton Hall, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The campus is just one hour from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Indiana.

Among degrees in occupational safety and health, you will find the Bachelor of Science in Safety, Health, and Environmental Applied Sciences at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This program trains students to recognize and intervene regarding safety hazards both in the workplace and in the environment.

This program is designed to be challenging and involve experiential learning opportunities that can help students achieve a professional position upon graduation or further their studies in a similar field. Students will have opportunities to work in laboratories and participate in internships. The faculty will be very involved in each student’s work and progress and provide tailored support.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Safety, Health, and Environmental Applied Sciences, BS

Odessa College

Odessa College is often referred to as OC. It was established in 1946 with the original name Odessa Community College. Situated on 80 acres of land, they are located in Odessa, Texas. They are a public two-year college serving Permian Basin and Ecktor County. Total enrollment at OC is close to 5,000 students.

Odessa College

Though a junior college, they take sports and student life seriously. They have many teams with a track record for winning, as well as student groups catering to various students’ needs and interests. They serve many students in adult basic education, community recreation, and continuing education classes.

Odessa College offers an online associate’s degree in occupational health and safety. This program was designed to meet the needs of students seeking employment in a lucrative field, already working for a company, and interested in entering the safety department. Students will learn how to maintain health and safety compliance in various environments.

Students will gain foundational information rooted in the sciences to support safe environments and workplaces. The program is two years long and will end with an associate’s degree. Some students may wish to further their education upon graduating and pursue a bachelor’s degree.a2was

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety and Health Technology, AAS

Southeastern Louisiana University

Southeastern Louisiana University is located in Hammond, LA, 45 miles east of Baton Rouge and 45 miles northwest of New Orleans. They are the state of Louisiana’s third-largest public college or university, serving more than 15,000 students each year. They offer more than 150 programs of study and focus on giving personal attention to students in a close-knit community of learners.

Southeastern Louisiana University

Of the many goals of each faculty member, providing students with a challenging college experience that empowers them with a lifelong education is the most important. With research centers and focused, on-campus study groups, students are given the academic resources to thrive in today’s competitive job market.

SLA offers a unique Bachelor of Science program in Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment (OSH&E) designed to provide an academically comprehensive curriculum. This program of study prepares graduates with the ability and competency to become highly qualified safety, industrial hygiene, and environmental professionals.

The program is accredited by the ABET’s Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission, and the outstanding faculty are engaged and focused on student success. Graduates will be able to apply knowledge and principles of mathematics, science, technology, and management in industry, business, or other related areas of employment as occupational safety, health, and environmental professionals;

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment, BS

Missouri Southern State University

Missouri Southern State University was established in 1937 with the original name Joplin Community College. It was not until 1968 that it became a four-year institution of higher learning and officially took on the name Missouri State University in 1977. Their campus is situated on 373 acres of land in the town of Joplin, Missouri.

Missouri Southern State University

The campus includes a massive stadium and softball fields, accommodating their sports programming. Their mascot is known as Roary The Lion. Their student life is active, with over 70 clubs and organizations that cater to their diverse student population. Their total enrollment is close to 5,700 students.

Missouri Southern State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and Safety. This course of study trains students to control and contain potential hazards in the workplace and beyond. This particular program is among 30 others in the country that are accredited by the National Environmental Health and Science Accreditation Council.

Graduates of the program might go on to serve public health departments to ensure water and restaurants are safe for consumers and workers. Students will also train for careers as safety and health inspectors. In addition, graduates will also be qualified to work for environmental protection agencies.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Environmental Health and Safety, BS

The University of Findlay

The University of Findlay was founded in 1882 as a collaboration between the City of Findlay and the Churches of God General Assembly. They are a private, comprehensive four-year institution of higher learning. Their crucial mission principles include knowledge, religion, and liberty.

University of Findlay

They are known for being the first postsecondary school in the country to offer a degree in Hazardous Waste studies, which has since turned into their renowned Safety and Health Management Degree program. This program helped initiate their All Hazards Training Center, which offers hands-on learning opportunities for students in various disciplines, including government officials and industry leaders concerned with emergency response planning.

The University of Findlay offers degrees in occupational safety and health, including a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Health Management. Graduates have reported 100% job placement following program completion. The coursework includes opportunities for experiential learning, including paid internship opportunities for students.

Comprehensive job training is not only delivered in the classroom, but students will also have access to the All Hazards Training Center, where they will be prepared to intervene and understand hazardous situations. Students will be at the front lines of the field with their inaugural Implementing Innovation Symposium, which is structured to find best practices for workplace safety standards.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Environmental Safety and Health Management, BS

Trinidad State Junior College

Trinidad State Junior College was the first community college in Colorado. The school began serving students in 1925 and now has campuses in Trinidad and Alamosa, Colorado. Their primary focus is to provide students with an affordable and accessible education.

Trinidad State Junior College

Students from southern Colorado and beyond excel in unique academic programs in fields ranging from Aquaculture and Cosmetology to Welding and Massage Therapy. Trinidad State is also known to be one of the first gunsmithing schools in the US.

They offer associate’s degrees in applied science, in addition to traditional Arts and Sciences classes, and a guaranteed transfer program through a partnership with four-year colleges and universities in Colorado. Trinidad State has instructors with PhDs and boasts the highest completion rates of any community college in Colorado.

Students interested in improving the operations and safety of industrial spaces and services should consider the institution’s Occupational Safety and Health Technology program (OSHT), which is available online. OSH online courses and some required general education courses are offered via TSJC Online. In contrast, the remaining general education courses required for the degree are available through the Colorado Community Colleges Online (www.ccconline.org) consortium.

Students may register for both TSJC Online and CCCOnline courses through Trinidad State. The Associate of Applied Science degree in OSH Technology is fully accredited by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. The faculty prepares students for a professional career in occupational health and safety.

Students will perform the duties of anticipating, recognizing, and evaluating hazardous conditions (including hazardous materials management) and practices affecting people, property, and the environments of companies. This enables them to apply appropriate strategies designed to mitigate workplace risks, closely following Colorado State Labor laws.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety and Health Technology, AAS

Columbia Southern University

Columbia Southern University was established in 1993, and its inaugural degree programs were in Occupational Safety and Health and Environmental Engineering. They expanded their offerings to include Business Administration, Criminal Justice Administration, Health Administration, and Computer Science.

Columbia Southern University

Their headquarters are located in Orange Beach, Alabama, but the majority of their programming is accessible online. They are fully accredited by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission, initially known as the Distance Education and Training Council. Institutionally, they have over 1,000 faculty members and staff that work full time. The university offers over 26 degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s, and associate’s.

Columbia Southern University offers an online environmental health and safety degree, culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree. The entire course of study is 120 credit hours with 90 credits that students can transfer from another institution. The faculty is known for being experts in health and safety.

Graduates of the environmental health and safety program will be equipped for leadership positions in the field, including chief safety officer, risk control consultants (conducting risk assessment, amongst others), and corporate safety directors, among other positions. The program is board-approved specifically by the Institution for Safety and Health Management. They pride themselves on having many start dates, making it easy for students to matriculate when convenient.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety & Health, BS

Fairmont State University

Fairmont State University was established in 1865 and was initially known as West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont. They were developed with the specific intention of training regional teachers. Presently, they are a public four-year institution of higher learning with a campus that sits on 120 acres of land in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Fairmont State University

In 1974, they developed a community college/ technical school arm, which still operates in tandem with the four-year institution; however, they are independent schools that share a campus. They have additional regional campuses in Harrison County, the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg, and the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport.

Fairmont State University offers occupational safety and health degrees, including a Bachelor of Science program in Occupational Safety. The Applied Science Accreditation Commission fully accredits this program. The curriculum includes topics such as Safety Law and Compliance, Construction Safety and Law, Fire Prevention, Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Safety Management, and Concepts in Accident Prevention.

The foundations include Hazardous Waste, Ergonomics, Workers’ Compensation, and Regulatory Compliance. Graduates are prepared to dive into careers such as fire inspector, building inspector, occupational health and safety technician, and agricultural inspector. Total student enrollment in the program has ranged from 30-90 students at any given time.

  • Program Cost: $$$$$
  • Degree: Occupational Safety, BS

Why Get an Occupational Safety and Health Degree?

Occupational health and safety is a focus that represents a variety of majors in engineering departments alongside mechanical engineering and civil engineering. The field of industrial hygiene is also similar.  

Given the growth of businesses worldwide, increasing use of technology, and other high-tech machines, the need for people who specialize in worker wellness and safe industry growth will only increase as time goes on. 

If you’re considering moving up or starting your career in this industry, this Value Colleges list featuring 25 best-value occupational safety and health degrees can immensely help. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the growth of the field of Health and Safety Engineers at 9% between 2016 and 2026. Other careers in this category include construction and building inspectors, fire inspectors, industrial engineers, mining and geological engineers, and occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

A site engineer holding a checklist with helmet on

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Professional safety certifications do a lot to ensure that managers and bosses have a handle on safe practices. Certified safety professionals who earn a degree in occupational health and safety often teach these certification courses. They may also get a job as a consultant for a large factory, firm, or corporation employing workers full-time on-site. 

Construction workers with a degree in occupational safety and health and knowledge of general industry safety might be promoted to foreman or manager positions. OSH grads interested in law or policy may also be hired to develop or push new legislation for workers’ safety, safety regulations, and employers’ practices.

What is the Relationship Between Organizational Leadership and Occupational Safety?

The relationship between organizational leadership and occupational safety is crucial for maintaining a safe working environment. Professionals with organizational leadership master’s degrees play a vital role in establishing safety protocols, ensuring compliance, and fostering a culture of safety within an organization. 

Their expertise enables them to lead and inspire teams effectively, resulting in improved occupational safety practices and reduced workplace accidents thanks to general industry safety knowledge.

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Related Questions

Which Degree is Best for Health and Safety?

The best degree for health and safety is a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety, disaster management, or other related courses. Such courses put you on the best track to succeeding in a career as a safety officer with in-depth knowledge and tons of practical experience. 

What is the Best Qualification for Occupational Health and Safety?

The best occupational health and safety qualification is the NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (NGC). It is regarded as the best certification globally, and you can explore several career paths with it. You can land roles in the manufacturing industry, hospitals or healthcare facilities, construction, consulting services, and local, state, and federal government agencies.  

What Are the Three Major Fields of Occupational Health and Safety?

The three major occupational health and safety fields are Occupational Safety, Occupational Health, and Industrial Hygiene. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), in general terms, an occupational health professional specializes in developing and enforcing safety regulations. These specialists ensure the right processes are in place, analyze and work on report write-ups, review complaints, and investigate accidents and incidents. 

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An occupational health and safety degree can offer you several career path options and position you for success. To get the best program that aligns with your goals, be sure to review the degrees and programs offered by various institutions. With the right health education, training, and skills, you’ll be well on your way to a fulfilling career that makes workplaces safe and secure for workers.

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5 Best Paying Safety and Occupational Health Jobs in 2024

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occupational safety and health degree salary

Are you seeking a fulfilling career path that provides financial stability and lucrative opportunities? Failing to explore careers can leave professionals with dissatisfied earnings. Discover the highest paying safety jobs to maximize your earnings while contributing a positive impact to the well-being of others.

Highest Paying Health and Safety Jobs

Among the highest paid health and safety jobs, health and safety directors can earn an exceptional compensation of around $132,000 for overseeing an organization’s entire safety program. Health and safety engineers and occupational health and safety specialists follow at $103,000 and $96,000, respectively, for mitigating workplace hazards and implementing protocols.

Occupational health and safety jobs can be highly rewarding as they set the standards and conditions that protect employee welfare in the workplace. As you consider beginning your education in occupational health and safety, keep in mind these job roles that offer above-average salaries.

JobAverage Annual SalaryJob Growth (2022 to 2032)
OHS Director$132,4974%
OHS Engineer$103,6904%
OHS Specialist$96,663 13%
OHS Technician$67,0008%

1. Health and Safety Director

A health and safety director can command a median annual salary of $132,497. These professionals shoulder the immense responsibility of maintaining compliance with relevant environmental regulations across the entire organization. They develop and implement comprehensive policies and procedures, and manage a team of professionals. 

The role mainly involves mitigating risks, preventing incidents, and protecting employees from potential hazards. With their extensive knowledge, leadership skills, and significant impact on an organization’s operations and legal compliance, they are highly valued and compensated accordingly.

A woman going over her checklist while on a construction site

2. Health and Safety Engineer

Health and safety engineers earn a median income of $103,690 per year. Employment opportunities with impressive salaries often come from management, scientific, and technical consulting services.

Health and safety engineering jobs consider entire workplaces or work systems to determine procedures and guidelines that protect employees throughout the work cycle. This can include building specialized equipment, redesigning the layout of the workplace, or engineering new processes that increase OHS Safety Standards.

3. Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

These professionals can expect an average yearly income of around $96,663. They usually begin as technicians and move onto the next level after gaining field experience. 

Instead of ensuring that workplace regulations and standards are followed, these specialists are the professionals who research, design, and implement those standards. Additionally, they may oversee the tasks of technicians, specifically auditing or inspecting, to observe the highest level of safety management on the job.

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4. Epidemiologist

With a median annual salary of $81,390, epidemiologists are professionals qualified to investigate the spread and control of diseases, making it one of the highest paying health and safety job roles. They identify environmental factors to help organizations implement effective preventive measures. 

Epidemiologists play a vital role in responding to disease outbreaks, analyzing data to determine the source and patterns of transmission, and developing strategies to respond to issues and mitigate risks. Their responsibilities help protect communities, making epidemiology a highly important, sought-after, and lucrative career.

5. Occupational Health and Safety Technician

Technicians make sure that any equipment required on job sites is available to the people who need it and is being used appropriately. These are considered entry-level safety jobs yet still come with median salaries close to $67,000 per year, depending on the industry.

These professionals use their undergraduate education to guide workers in acting appropriately in the workplace. In effect, they prevent dangerous situations that could lead to their own injuries or circumstances that injure others.

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What Is Occupational Safety and Health and Why Is It Important?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is an area of public health that focuses on the prevention of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. It is important to protect people and the environment from physical, mental, and emotional harm by providing information about safe work practices and monitoring working conditions.

It promotes regulation compliance based on the standards provided by government agencies, trade unions, independent bodies, and non-governmental organizations. The job involves identifying and addressing workplace hazards to prevent injuries and illnesses that could occur due to unsafe working conditions.

OHS develops policies, procedures, and programs. This creates a positive environment where employees can perform their duties without fear of harm or injury. In effect, it reduces costs associated with lost time due to injuries or illnesses, as well as legal fees should an employee be injured on the job.

The main areas of function include:

  • Workplace and general public health promotion
  • Hazard identification and risk assessment
  • Hazard control measures such as engineering controls or personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Training for workers on how to safely perform their responsibilities
  • Emergency preparedness plans
  • Recordkeeping requirements for employers to track injuries or illnesses in the workplace

Industries With Lucrative OHS Job Opportunities

You can find rewarding compensation in different industries, including construction, manufacturing, engineering, science, mining, healthcare, technology, and exploration. Each sector offers unique employment opportunities with corresponding wages.

OHS is a field that protects organizations, businesses, and industries from potential hazards in the workplace. It is an important part of any organization’s operations and includes different job roles like:

  • Inspectors
  • Risk assessors
  • Workplace specialists
  • Education specialists
  • Managers
  • Coordinators
  • Environmental scientists
  • Industrial hygienists
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You can set up OSHA’s job alert to keep up with available positions. OSHA is an equal-opportunity employer.

Factors Influencing the Top Paying Health and Safety Jobs

Across industries, there are various factors and variables that play a significant role in determining the earning potential and career trajectory of an employee. Here are the ones that have an impact on health and safety jobs:


Higher levels of education, such as a master’s degree or specialized certifications, often command higher salaries, particularly for management and leadership positions.


Kelsey Ludeman, an Academic Success Coach at the University of Houston-Downtown, shares:

“While education and certifications lay the groundwork, experience is paramount for ascending to the highest paying roles in occupational health and safety. Organizations are willing to compensate generously for professionals who have proven their ability to proactively identify hazards, implement effective controls, and cultivate a culture of safety across all levels.

Those with the drive to take on leadership positions and oversee the development of comprehensive safety programs can maximize their earning potential in this vital field.”

You may receive higher pay from employers once you gather extensive relevant experience in conducting risk assessments, implementing protocols, and managing complex projects.


Geographic location can significantly impact salaries. Typically, roles in major metropolitan areas or regions with a high cost of living offer a higher compensation.


Some industries, such as oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, and mining, may provide higher salaries due to the inherent risks and regulatory requirements.


Executive roles, including those of directors and senior engineers, often command higher salaries compared to entry-level positions in an organization or business.

Required Skills for the Top Paying Occupational Health and Safety Management Careers

While you can earn an average of $132,000 per year in director roles, you will still need credentials to achieve this. Here are some key skills that can potentially qualify you for high-level roles in this industry:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of OHS standards and best practices
  • Ability to conduct thorough risk assessments and identify potential hazards
  • Proficiency in incident investigation techniques and root cause analysis
  • Strong leadership and decision-making capabilities to implement effective management systems
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills for training and educating organizations on protocols
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills for developing practical solutions for mitigating risks
  • Familiarity with environmental and sustainable practices
  • At least a bachelor’s degree in OHS, engineering, or a related field
  • For management-level positions, a master’s degree in OHS, environmental management, or a related discipline is often preferred
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Related Questions

What Is the Highest Paying Job in the Health Industry?

Surgeons, anesthesiologists, and physicians are among the highest-paid professionals in the health industry. Their salaries can range from $187,000 to $265,000, depending on their specialization, credentials, and employer.

What Is the Highest Paid Safety Job?

The highest-paid safety job is typically that of an OHS manager or director, with a median salary of $132,000 per year, depending on the industry and location. This is a high-paying job because of the demanding role of overseeing an organization’s entire OHS program.

What to Do with an Occupational Health and Safety Degree?

With an OHS degree, you can pursue roles such as an occupational safety officer, environmental specialist, or industrial hygienist. These professionals are responsible for identifying and assessing potential hazards in the workplace, developing and implementing protocols, and complying with environmental rules to protect people.


Pursuing one of the top paying occupational health and safety positions can open doors to a rewarding career where you can make a tangible influence on the lives of countless individuals. With the right credentials when you enter this field, you can enjoy financial security and career growth while creating safer environments.

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25 Best Value Online Occupational Health and Safety Masters [2024 Guide]

Highest Paying Safety Certifications

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Occupational safety professionals protect workplaces and the general public against physical, chemical, and biological hazards. Without proper training and knowledge, students aiming for this career won’t be qualified to implement safety protocols. These colleges with occupational health and safety degrees will prepare you for the profession’s risky challenges.

Graphic image for the Best Value Online Occupational Health and Safety Masters

Top Safety Degree Online Programs for Careers as Certified Safety Professionals

The online safety degree programs offered by Georgia Institute of Technology, Columbia Southern University, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University stand out for their commitment to workplace safety and the practical application of control strategies. These accredited institutions provide comprehensive curricula, experienced faculty, and robust academic advising.

These programs will teach you the necessary skills to identify hazards and implement effective solutions to promote a culture of safety in the workplace. Financial aid, academic support, and career services are also available to make it easier to get your degree and secure a good-paying job.

SchoolAverage In-State Tuition FeeAverage Out-of-State Tuition FeeAcceptance Rate
Georgia Institute of Technology$11,764$32,87617%
Columbia Southern University$12,474$19,679100%
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University$26,293$42,30464%
Indiana State University$9,732$21,16092%
Texas A&M University$30,608$32,25362%
University of Alaska$8,376$25,35665%
Johns Hopkins University$64,730$80,8007%
Waldorf University$21,604$38,17673%
Indiana University$12,142$41,89082%
University of South Florida$24,652$27,32044%
West Virginia University$24,928$26,56888%
The City University of New York$7,340$19,01062%
University of Nebraska Medical Center$14,720$33,89035%
University of Houston-Clear Lake$11,560$23,23069%
University of Alabama at Birmingham$27,320$28,90986%
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater$8,938$17,81093%
Murray State University$9,432$14,32884%
East Carolina University$7,325$23,81392%
Tulane University$65,538$83,89011%
Montana Tech of the University of Montana$8,045$23,6789%
Oakland University$14,694$29,11290%
Rochester Institute of Technology$57,016$72,35467%
Eastern Kentucky University$9,844$23,00498%
University of Central Missouri$9,735$22,91871%
University of Findlay$40,186$52,84586%

1. Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology provides one of the best Professional Master’s in Occupational Safety and Health programs in the state. You’ll discover how to use the latest technology and professionally evaluate and investigate any occupational health and safety issues found in the workplace.

The hybrid program makes it easy for you to work full-time while going to school. Graduates with this degree can work for any organization responsible for maintaining safety standards in the workplace.

With the help of an experienced staff and faculty members, students can develop the skills and gain the knowledge they need to have a thriving career in this field. These are some of the courses you’ll be studying: 

  • Economic Analysis, Risk Management, Risk Financing, and Insurance
  • Advanced Safety Principles
  • Industrial Hygiene Principles and Health Hazards
  • Culture Leadership Influences

2. Columbia Southern University

Columbia Southern University

Columbia Southern offers its students one of the best MS in Occupational Safety and Health degree programs in the south. You’ll develop the ability to create positive solutions to hazardous concerns that are often found in the workplace. 

This university offers its online students with the highest-quality academic courses in the area. You’ll understand what safety issues are and how they should be addressed so they don’t turn into accidents that involve damage to property or injury.

The courses are designed for students who want to pursue leadership roles like chief safety officer or employee safety director. The university has put together courses that meet industry standards on every level, including:

  • Advanced Toxicology
  • Fire Protection Technology
  • System Safety Engineering
  • Advanced Ergonomics

3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers students an MS in Occupational Safety Management to further their education. The university teaches students the skills to evaluate work environments and implement positive changes that make it much safer for the employees who work there.

You can choose to learn using the online format and can attend class from any location as long as you have an internet connection. Another great thing about this university is that faculty members are available when students who may be experiencing difficulties with their coursework need help.

The rigorous program can train you to become a certified safety manager or leader in the industry with courses like:

  • Loss Control and Insurance
  • Principles of Accident Investigation
  • Disaster Policy and Management
  • Environmental Compliance and Safety

4. Indiana State University

Indiana State University

Indiana State University is well-known throughout the Ohio Valley for its excellent online academic programs. Its MS Occupational Safety Management degree has been meticulously developed to instill in students the best skills and abilities required for this field. 

Kelsey Ludeman, an education expert with 15 years of experience in the education sector, shares that Indiana State is her top pick when it comes to the best value school for getting your online masters in occupational health and safety:

“Indiana State University is a premier pick due to its modest tuition prices and high acceptance rate. The school also offers the MS program both in-person and online. Although certificate programs are not eligible for financial aid, the school offers several other financial support opportunities.

The Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety degree program, accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, offers flexibility, research opportunities, industry connections, and expert instructors, designed to launch your career successfully.”

You can learn management skills and how to create safety guidelines that will work within each situation. The ultimate goal is to become a safety manager with the skills to make a difference in whatever work environment you are in.

Faculty members are also carefully chosen to make sure you have the best possible learning experience. With these courses, every graduate completes their education knowing they can perform the duties of their role accurately and efficiently.

  • Safety Inspection, Assessment, and Control 
  • Fire Science and Protection Systems
  • Statistics for Engineering and Technology
  • Safe Transportation and Management of Hazardous Materials

5. Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University is one of the most technologically advanced schools of higher learning in the country. Its Master of Science in Safety Engineering helps you develop the ability to find effective solutions to many safety issues in the workplace.

The university is well-respected both for its academic excellence as well as its award-winning faculty members. Every student has access to the most up-to-date resources available to get the most out of their educational experience. 

As a student of this program, you will learn to use the latest advancements in technology to create safer, more productive work environments. The program’s courses focus on extensive engineering applications while introducing safety principles, procedures, and practices. You will be studying topics such as:

  • Consequence and Impact Analysis
  • Process Safety Engineering
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis in Safety Engineering
  • Reliability Engineering

6. University of Alaska

University of Alaska

The University of Alaska’s Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Safety and Health provides a deep understanding of various safety standards and regulations set by government agencies such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This prepares students to navigate the complex legal landscape of occupational safety.

One of the key strengths of this program is its comprehensive curriculum that covers key aspects of safety. This covers hazard identification and risk assessment, as well as developing and implementing effective control strategies. With online classes and fieldwork, students can excel as occupational safety professionals after taking courses like:

  • Safety Program Management and Recordkeeping
  • Occupational Safety Training Needs and Methods
  • Hazard Control: Inspections, Audits and Investigations
  • Workplace Monitoring: Instrumentation and Calibration

7. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University has a reputation for being one of the most technologically advanced universities. Its Master of Science in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene allows students to take their classes online while continuing their full-time jobs. 

In this program, students are given the skills and resources they need to perform the duties associated with their chosen career paths. Upon graduation, you can potentially switch to high-level roles that focus on creating safer, more hygienic work environments.

The faculty members are some of the most well-respected professors in their fields. The program comes with these courses that provide the most up-to-date information to broaden your employment opportunities as a graduate safety practitioner.

  • Exposure Assessment Techniques for Health Risk Management
  • Occupation Injury Prevention and Safety Policy and Practice
  • Introduction to Risk Sciences and Public Policy
  • Noise and Other Physical Agents in the Environment

8. Waldorf University

Waldorf University

Waldorf University’s BA in Occupational Safety consistently ranks among the best in the nation due to its well-rounded curriculum and commitment to practical, hands-on training. Students gain a deep understanding of the theoretical principles and real-life applications of occupational safety practices.

What sets Waldorf’s program apart is the emphasis on experiential learning opportunities. Through internships, case studies, and interactive projects, you get to apply your knowledge in simulated workplace environments. This better prepares you for the challenges you’ll face as a real-life safety practitioner. 

As a graduate of this program, you’ll be sought after for your ability to make immediate contributions to improve workplace safety and minimize accidents. The program’s online courses cover a comprehensive range of topics, such as:

  • Interactions of Hazardous Materials
  • Fundamentals of Occupational Safety
  • Fleet Safety and Accident Investigation
  • Workers’ Compensation

9. Indiana University

Indiana University

Indiana University is one of the country’s most well-respected schools, especially when it comes to the health sciences. Its Bachelor of Science in Applied Health Science program gives you entry into government agencies, non-profit organizations, and industrial businesses for their training and risk management policies.

The online format allows for a student to be located anywhere and still be able to enroll in this prestigious degree. Faculty members are highly respected professionals in their own right and provide you with guidance and encouragement throughout the program.

You will understand safety protocols and best practices that will allow you to monitor and identify potential occupational hazards within the workplace. With these courses, you will hone your safety management skills and learn how to maintain a safe work environment:

  • Industrial Hygiene Sampling and Analysis
  • Incident Investigation and Analysis
  • Legal Aspects of Safety
  • OSHA Construction Standards 

10. University of South Florida

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida has been providing quality educational programs for many years, offering students who attend online to have everything they need for an exceptional and fruitful educational experience. Its Environmental Health and Safety Training Program teaches you the necessary skills and abilities to maintain a safe environment within various workplace settings.

The curriculum highlights a professional’s social responsibility to develop and implement programs and policies to promote safer work environments. The school’s training center focuses on courses that aim to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, including: 

  • Biomedical Waste Training
  • Hazardous Waste Awareness and Handling
  • Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan
  • Compressed Gas Safety

11. West Virginia University

West Virginia University

West Virginia University has a reputation for being one of the best schools in the area in terms of technology and advanced learning opportunities. Graduates of the online MS in Safety Management can look for a position in their field before they graduate, making it possible to work while they are still learning.

Faculty members offer guidance and give students the benefit of their years of experience so they can gain a new perspective they can use when building their careers. With this graduate degree, you can secure a high-paying job as an occupational safety technician, emergency and risk management director, or environmental specialist.

You’ll learn leadership skills and safety best practices that will allow you to make positive changes in work environments so that safety is a priority and not an option. After completing these courses, you can effectively identify workplace hazards, design safety procedures, investigate incidents, and implement protocol:

  • Controlling Environmental and Personnel Hazards
  • Loss Control and Recovery
  • Instrumentation for Safety Managers
  • Safety Legislation and Compliance

12. The City University of New York

The City University of New York

The City University of New York is well-known throughout New York for its quality educational programs and state-of-the-art technology. With an online MS in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, graduates can utilize a wide variety of resources to create safe and healthy work environments that are free from hazards.

The ability to provide their degree programs in an online format makes it possible for full-time working students to return to school and complete their degree. Faculty members understand how important this is and actively work with students to help them achieve their career goals for the future.

Students are taught how to create a safer, more productive work environment. Whether you aim to work as an inspector, training specialist, or safety officer in consulting firms or governments, you can take advantage of the cutting-edge technologies and analytical techniques you’ll learn from these courses:

  • Hazard Evaluation and Instrumentation
  • Noise and Radiation Hazards and Controls
  • Industrial Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
  • Environmental and Occupational Toxicology

13. University of Nebraska Medical Center

University of Nebraska Medical Center

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has a reputation for being one of the leading teaching schools for medical practices and environmental and occupational health. By enrolling for the Graduate Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health, you’ll learn the skills and best practices to create protocols and improve occupational and environmental health in the workplace. 

Faculty members are medical professionals who are constantly striving to provide each student with the best advice and encouragement possible. Because of the flexibility of the online format, you can make time for family commitments and continue to work at your regular job while earning your degree.

The program’s main objective is to teach students the physical and psychosocial hazards in occupational environments. Through these courses, you’ll learn how to apply control measures, assess environmental risks, and implement occupational safety standards:

  • Elements of Industrial Safety for Health Sciences
  • Environmental Exposure Assessment
  • Epidemiology in Public Health

14. University of Houston-Clear Lake

University of Houston-Clear Lake

The University of Houston-Clear Lake is a leader in the state of Texas when it comes to occupational safety and health awareness. With its MS in Occupational Safety and Health, graduates can design solutions using any available resources they have at their disposal.

Students are given information on a variety of potential hazards. Once they are aware of what type of hazards may exist in a specific environment, it is easier to come up with a solution to remedy the situation.

Aside from informative and concise courses, faculty members are also consummate professionals who are both knowledgeable and supportive. Students can rely on both to provide them with an exceptional education they can count on to help them establish a career they can be proud of. Here are some topics you’ll be getting acquainted with:

  • Noise and Hearing Conservation
  • Control of Occupational and Environmental Hazards 
  • Radiation Protection 
  • Sampling and Analysis of Environmental Contaminants

15. University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Alabama at Birmingham

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is well-known for its quality curriculum and in-depth degree programs. Its MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health offers an online and in-class accelerated bachelor’s degree for students aiming to balance their academics and professional lives.

No matter which learning environment they choose, the faculty and professors are dedicated to providing students with the assistance and encouragement they need. The program’s mandatory internship exposes you to real-life environmental and occupational health situations, where you’ll learn to assess exposures, determine risks, and design policies.

In this program, you’ll get to explore both environmental and occupational health issues and how to correct them. By finishing these courses, graduates can improve conditions in both the environment and the workplace.

  • Public Health Leadership
  • Community Assessments
  • Environmental Justice 
  • Environmental and Occupational Toxicology & Diseases

16. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Aside from a bachelor’s degree, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater offers an online BS in Occupational Safety in Environmental Safety and Health. These programs enable graduates to take the necessary steps to protect the environment and its different life forms.

Keeping the natural environment safe requires extensive problem-solving skills that allow you to determine what is causing the problem and then find a solution that will benefit everyone involved. More than theoretical classes, your semester-long internship will prepare you to manage real-life scenarios.

The online format makes it easier for you to remain motivated, especially when you don’t have to worry about missing work to go to school. Faculty members have a strong reputation for providing learning tools that can help you grasp and retain the information you learn through these courses:

  • Principles of Occupational Epidemiology
  • Occupational Safety Management
  • Disaster Planning and Response
  • Prevention and Control of Airborne Hazards in the Workplace

17. Murray State University

Murray State University

Murray State University is one of many universities that have started offering online courses to their students who want to complete their degree yet have to work full-time jobs. Its MS in Occupational Safety and Health program gives you what you need to succeed in creating a safe work environment.

Students pursuing this degree will get trained in maintaining a safe work environment. Here, you’ll develop the skills necessary to identify and solve potential problems arising from faulty equipment or poor workmanship. 

The school offers financial aid options and encourages faculty members to work with each student individually to make sure they have everything they need for a memorable and enriching learning experience. From government agencies to private companies, the program’s comprehensive catalog consists courses that will prepare you to work in different sectors:

  • Facility Water Quality and Management
  • Toxicology of Industrial Materials
  • Systems Approach to Hazard Control
  • Disaster Management, Emergency Preparedness and Planning

18. East Carolina University

East Carolina University

At East Carolina University, each online degree program is developed to provide the most advanced skills and up-to-date technology available. Its MS in Occupational Safety program is for students who aim to climb the career ladder as safety managers or inspectors in a variety of industries.

Being able to take classes online lets you look for work before you graduate and balance other commitments in life. You can rely on the school’s valuable resources and esteemed faculty for support and guidance during your time at East Carolina University.

The program teaches occupational safety to make sure workplaces are safe and have no hazards that could lead to an accident or injure a worker. From theoretical and fieldwork to research classes, you’ll learn about and keep up with industry updates through these courses:

  • Risk Management and Workers’ Compensation
  • Biostatistics for Health Professionals
  • Technical Aspects and Field Audits in Occupational Safety
  • Occupational Ergonomics

19. Tulane University

Tulane University

Tulane University is one of the most revered colleges in the country when it comes to quality degree programs. Its Master of Health Administration offers two tracks: Occupational and Environmental Health and Occupational Health and Safety Management

Only the most experienced faculty members are recruited to teach students at Tulane. In addition to its stellar classroom offerings, the university offers quality education in an online format, making it easier for anyone to return to school and complete their education. 

Industrial hygiene and occupational health and safety management require skills in solving safety issues as they arise. This field also requires professionals to create safety guidelines and protocols that will keep workers safe in the future. You’ll leave the school with the knowledge of how to develop solutions and implement protocols through these courses:

  • EHS Training
  • Radiological Health
  • Air Sampling and Analysis
  • Physical Agents and Ergonomic Hazards in the Workplace

20. Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Montana Tech of the University of Montana has developed online safety degree programs that are as complete and informative as any classroom offering. Its bachelor’s degree provides foundational training and knowledge. Meanwhile, the MS in Industrial Hygiene – Distance Learning/Professional Track will hone your skills and add to your knowledge as an industrial hygiene manager.

The online format makes it possible for you to earn a master’s degree without ever entering a classroom. You can complete your work when it is most convenient for you, enabling you to continue working while you learn.

Faculty members are ready to assist with your project training – for which the school offers financial aid options. To be a successful and responsible occupational safety professional, you’ll study areas such as:

  • Law and Ethics for OSH
  • Ergonomics
  • Construction Safety
  • Safety Engineering and Technology

21. Oakland University

Oakland University

Oakland University offers both online courses and traditional classroom degree programs so students can choose which type of learning environment is best for them. A great example is the MS in Safety Management‘s online format. It offers students who have trouble in classrooms a unique opportunity to learn from where they are most comfortable.

Besides the resources the school offers, you can also rely on faculty members for help and guidance. You’ll receive sound career advice as you move forward with your fieldwork and research.

Safety managers require skills that enable them to be quick on their feet and capable of handling any unforeseen situation. They must also be proficient in developing and enforcing safety guidelines in the workplace. Through these courses, the school’s degree provides the required skills to help you reach these career goals and objectives:

  • Environmental Safety at Work
  • Risk Management and Loss Control
  • Legal Aspects of Business
  • Safety Program Planning

22. Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Institute of Technology provides the highest possible level of academic excellence in the state. Its MS in Environmental, Health and Safety Management focuses on training professionals to help companies meet safety and sustainability standards through internships and a STEM-focused curriculum.

When working with environmental, health, and safety management protocols, the goal is to provide a work environment that is safe for the workers. Earning this degree instills in you the necessary skills needed to establish and enforce workforce safety protocols.

Students and faculty work together to ensure the courses are continually providing everything students need to become successful managers in the occupational safety field. These are some of the courses you will be studying:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Management System Design
  • EHS Internal Auditing
  • Integrating EHS Management

23. Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University gives students the best possible online course curriculums as well as some of the most experienced and well-respected faculty members. Its MS in Safety, Security & Emergency Management allows you to keep or start working and continue your education.

Each member of the faculty has years of experience and is fully committed to providing each student with the level of education they need and deserve. After graduation, you can enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge required for working in the occupational safety industry. 

The program will teach you the importance of maintaining a safe work environment and how to establish new protocols that can be used to keep employees safe in the workplace. The following courses will prepare you for careers in scholarly research, advanced professional training, and managerial roles:

  • Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience
  • Construction Safety
  • Healthcare Safety
  • Supply Chain Safety and Security

24. University of Central Missouri

University of Central Missouri

The University of Central Missouri is known throughout the area for its academic excellence and online programs. Its MS in Occupational Safety Management allows you to keep working while you’re enrolled in the program. 

Well-respected faculty members are committed to seeing each of their students succeed. By providing you with the one-on-one attention you need, faculty members can resolve problems and make sure you get back on track much sooner than later.

Here you’ll learn problem-solving skills, quick thinking, and develop the leadership qualities needed to follow and implement safety protocols. The school offers several financial aid options, including scholarships from foundations, to complete your degree. Once enrolled, you’ll take courses such as:

  • Principles of Accident Causation and Prevention
  • Safety Leadership
  • Applied Sciences for Professional Studies
  • Industrial Hazard Control

25. University of Findlay

University of Findlay

The University of Findlay’s MS in Environmental, Safety & Health Management is for students ready to move forward with their career goals.

Students often choose this school due to the small number of students in each class. The faculty commits to providing each student with the resources they need to be a successful manager in the occupational health and safety field. 

The program equips you with environmental, safety, and health management skills. These courses will teach you to assess a workplace environment, identify potential hazards, and establish effective safety guidelines for reducing the risk of an accident or injury:

  • Environmental Epidemiology
  • ESH Quality Systems and Auditing
  • OSHA Law and Regulations
  • Training and Development in Organization
A woman studying in front of her laptop

Can You Get Occupational Health and Safety Degrees Online?

You can get occupational health and safety degrees online. Many accredited universities offer online bachelor’s degree and master’s program options in occupational safety and health. These advanced online degree options provide flexibility for working professionals to gain the necessary training for careers promoting workplace safety protocols and standards. 

To be eligible for admission into an online bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational safety, prospective students typically need to meet certain standard requirements set by the universities. While specific criteria may vary, common application components include:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually between 2.0 and 2.5 for undergraduate programs
  • Submission of college entrance exam scores (ACT or SAT) for bachelor’s programs
  • Personal essay or statement of purpose
  • Official transcripts from prior institutions
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Relevant work experience (for some master’s programs)
  • Application fee payment

What Are Online Occupational Health and Safety Degrees?

Occupational safety and health degrees equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify and mitigate workplace hazards. This promotes employee well-being across various fields, including industrial, agriculture, construction, and healthcare. By enrolling in these programs, students learn about:

  • Potentially dangerous exposures and how to reduce risks by developing workplace policies and procedures.
  • Environmental issues, construction safety, ergonomics, accident investigation, and hazardous materials management.
  • Laws, regulations, and historical context about workplace safety.

To prepare for the critical role of implementing workplace safety according to federal standards, students should consider the following:

  • Accredited programs that have undergone third-party evaluation to guarantee quality education.
  • Opportunities for semester-long internships to gain practical experience.
  • Tuition costs and availability of financial aid for online bachelor’s degrees in occupational safety.

Common Courses in an Online Safety Degree Program

Occupational safety degrees provide comprehensive training on identifying, handling, and preventing hazardous materials and dangerous incidents in the workplace from legal, ethical, and managerial perspectives.

Online students gain skills in developing safety policies, monitoring workplace conditions, and effectively communicating procedures to employees. Key areas of study include:

  • Toxicology: Examining chemical and biological hazards like metals, solvents, dust, gasses, and protective measures to prevent employee exposure.
  • Environmental issues: Understanding industrial impacts on soil, air, and water contamination, climate change implications, and government regulations around environmental safety laws.
  • Occupational biomechanics and ergonomics: Studying principles of ergonomics, physiological risks, and improving physical work environments through safety standards, workstations, and tools.
  • Legal aspects of safety: Exploring government agency requirements (OSHA), employee compensation, liability issues, ethics, and common professional problems related to hazardous materials and safety training in the workplace.
Two men discussing on the site

Is an Online Degree in Occupational Health and Safety Worth It?

An online degree in occupational health and safety is worth it, especially because it gives students the flexibility to learn from anywhere and continue working. These degrees prepare students to identify and mitigate workplace hazards, making them invaluable assets to organizations focused on employee well-being and regulatory compliance. 

Here are some other reasons why you should consider getting an online bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational safety:

Study Anywhere

As long as you have a reliable internet connection, you can study from anywhere you want. You can work toward your diploma at home, at the local coffee shop, or even at a tropical beach.  

More Program Options

Completing a master’s or bachelor’s degree online means students aren’t limited to schools within their locale. You can take advantage of schools that offer different specializations, completion periods, internships, and work opportunities – even if they’re halfway across the world.

Opportunities to Connect

Even though an online program doesn’t require you to meet in-person, students can still connect with teachers and classmates. You can also enjoy virtual networking opportunities, discussion boards, forums, and social media, and find your own sense of community.  

Drawbacks of the Occupational Safety Profession

Occupational safety professionals play a vital role in handling hazardous materials properly and maintaining workplace safety. However, after completing your degree, getting the job comes with its own set of challenges.

  • A report from Johns Hopkins University highlighted issues like harassment, burnout, and low job satisfaction faced by public health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 7.5% increase in non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2022, indicating that occupational safety graduates may face some pretty challenging days at work.
  • Employers may require additional professional certifications beyond a master’s or a bachelor’s degree to tackle complex safety problems effectively in environments such as construction sites.
Two site engineers walking

Do I Need a Degree to Work in Health and Safety?

Most jobs in the health, safety, and risk management field require at least a bachelor’s degree to secure a job. However, this may still depend on the role’s requirements. In some states, you may also need licenses or certifications.

Best Jobs for Occupational Health and Safety Degrees

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth in occupational health and safety is projected at 13% from 2022 to 2032. This is much faster than the average growth rate among various industries and sectors. With this expected growth, you can thrive in this industry as you explore these career options.

  • Ergonomist: In an office setting, an ergonomist might suggest providing employees with standing desks or chairs that come with plenty of back support. At a manufacturing site, they may map out major changes to the layout of equipment to improve efficiency and prevent injuries.
  • Environmental protection officer: Job duties for environmental protection officers may include assisting with government clean-up programs, advancing local conservation projects, and enforcing construction codes to protect ecosystems and residents.
  • Industrial hygienist: Industrial hygienists inspect workplaces to identify potential hazards. They collaborate with business owners to help them avoid violations in the first place.
  • OSHA inspector: Most occupational safety specialists who work in the public sector are employed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA inspectors check workplaces for violations of these laws and impose fines.
  • Compliance manager: Compliance managers make sure their organization implements safety standards set by government agencies. They also conduct inspections, record issues, update documentation, and report safety issues to the management.
  • Construction inspector: An on-site construction inspector monitors projects for workplace standards and compliance violations. The job involves testing equipment, discovering violations, and issuing citations to address issues. 

How Much Can I Make with a Degree in Occupational Health and Safety?

According to the BLS, occupational safety specialists can earn an annual median wage of up to $77,580. For professionals with advanced degrees, the median pay can be as high as $114,674-$125,828.

The median or average salary for a certified safety professional can vary considerably based on educational level, location, and experience. Some job candidates, such as certified safety and risk management professionals, may have additional degrees or certifications that put them in line for a bigger paycheck.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Occupational Health and Safety Degrees

The editors at Value Colleges know that students want to feel confident about their online degrees and their ROI. That’s why VC focuses only on accredited, legitimate colleges and universities, ranking programs according to their tuition rate, reputation, and potential salary. Data for the ranking comes from Niche and IPEDS. 

A worker wearing gloves and holding helmet and safety glasses

Related Questions

What Is the Best Degree to Apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner Designation?

To apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, a master’s degree in occupational safety, environmental safety, or a closely related field that includes comprehensive safety training is typically required. This advanced degree demonstrates a thorough understanding of safety principles.

Which Degree Is Best for a Safety Officer?

If you’re interested in becoming a safety officer, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational safety is highly recommended, as these cover vital courses such as management principles, hazard recognition, and fire protection. This educational background equips safety officers with the necessary skills to enforce safety regulations.

What Is the Best Degree for Health and Safety Jobs?

A degree in occupational safety and health, environmental health and safety, or a related field such as emergency management is considered the best choice for those pursuing jobs in this field. These programs provide in-depth training on identifying and mitigating workplace hazards and implementing safety standards to guarantee workplace safety.

Which Diploma Is Best for Health and Safety?

A diploma in occupational safety and health or environmental safety is highly recommended. These programs also let students focus on specific areas, including occupational hazard and accident investigation.

An adult student studying on his library


Getting a degree in occupational health and safety online will provide you with valuable resources and a solid academic foundation for a career in this industry. If you plan to enroll in any of the aforementioned top online safety degree programs, you can rest assured that you’ll enter the workforce armed with the latest industry knowledge and best safety practices.

Related Rankings:

Top 25 Best Value Online Occupational Safety and Health Certificates

Top 25 Best Value Online Occupational Safety and Health Bachelor’s

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The 12 Best Degrees for Police Officers in Law Enforcement Work [2024 Guide]

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Pursuing a law enforcement degree that doesn’t align with your aspirations can potentially hinder your chances of securing your dream job or advancing your career as a police officer. To help you make the right choice, here’s a comprehensive guide to the best bachelor’s degrees for police officers.

Best Bachelor’s Degree Options for a Police Officer

For those aspiring to become police officers in law enforcement, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or criminology is often considered the ideal choice. These programs provide a comprehensive understanding of the legal system, criminal behavior, and investigative techniques. Other degrees like psychology, law, or forensics can also be valuable options to enter this field.

Kelsey Ludeman, an Academic Success Coach at the University of Houston-Downtown, explains what you should look for in a program to ensure it’s reputable and worth your time:

“Check the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to cross-check schools and programs.

Additional accreditations can be found at The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) and The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). Finding a school with a good reputation, experienced instructors, and connections in the field will help you thrive in your new career.”

A police officer riding a motorcycle in the city, patrolling the streets and ensuring public safety

Regardless of the specific major, pursuing a bachelor’s in a law enforcement-related discipline can further enhance your expertise and open up additional career advancement opportunities. While you can eventually broaden your expertise by pursuing a master’s degree, a great career starts with the right bachelor’s degree.

DegreeLaw Enforcement Program SpecialtyPotential Career Options for Police Officers
Criminal JusticeStudying criminal behavior, policy procedures, and the justice system.Criminal Investigator, Corrections Officer, Probation Officer
CriminologyExamining the causes, consequences, and prevention of crimeCrime Analyst, Criminal Profiler, Forensic Psychologist
PsychologyUnderstanding human behavior, mental processes, and emotionsCriminal Psychologist, Hostage Negotiator, Behavioral Analyst
LawStudying legal systems, laws, and their applicationPolice Legal Advisor, Law Enforcement Instructor, Internal Affairs Investigator
ForensicsInvestigating and analyzing evidence from crime scenesCrime Scene Investigator, Ballistics Expert, Fingerprint Analyst
Computer Science and CybersecurityProtecting computer systems and investigating cybercrimesCybercrime Investigator, Digital Forensics Examiner, Network Security Specialist
Public Safety LeadershipManaging emergency response and public safety operations.Emergency Management Coordinator, Public Safety Director, Disaster Recovery Specialist
Forensic AccountingDetecting and investigating financial crimes and fraudFraud Examiner, Forensic Accountant, Financial Crime Investigator
Homeland SecurityProtecting national security and preventing terrorism.Border Patrol Agent, Transportation Security Officer, Intelligence Analyst
Political ScienceUnderstanding political systems, policies, and governmentPolicy Analyst, Government Relations Specialist, Intelligence Analyst
SociologyStudying social behavior, institutions, and social issuesCommunity Relations Officer, Social Services Liaison, Juvenile Justice Specialist
Foreign LanguageUtilizing languages for communication and investigationInterpreter, Translator, Undercover Operative

Choosing the right online or in-person program depends on the student’s work experience and ultimate career goals. Here are popular degrees that can help learners who want to work in law enforcement.

1. Criminal Justice

Learning about criminal law and justice allows students to focus on topics that law enforcement officers deal with every day, including crime deterrence and criminal psychology. With this law enforcement degree, students can find entry-level jobs in security, private investigating, and similar roles.

Obtaining a criminal justice degree can assist students who already work in law enforcement to qualify for positions of increasing responsibility, such as detective or supervisor.

2. Criminology

Criminology is another great degree option for students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement as police officers. Students develop analytical skills to examine crime patterns, interpret data, and formulate effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Courses in areas such as forensic psychology, victimology, and criminal profiling offer insights that can aid in investigations and enhance the ability to understand and interact with offenders.

3. Psychology

A bachelor’s degree in psychology helps students who want to go into law enforcement gain a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings that lead to criminal behavior.

As law enforcement officers, you’ll learn how taking preemptive actions can minimize the consequences of violent and property crimes. Most criminal psychology jobs are public service positions in the courts, mental health facilities, and correctional facilities.

4. Law

Many schools offer pre-law majors, which are good degrees for law enforcement as well as students who plan to attend law school. With a background in law, students can attract the attention of hiring managers and public and private sector law enforcement organizations. 

It’s important for law enforcement personnel to understand how to execute a clean arrest so that prosecution goes more smoothly.

5. Forensics

A law enforcement agency heavily depends on law enforcement professionals with a background in forensics. With this major, students learn to gather evidence while investigating a crime. Forensic professionals work crime scenes and interview suspected perpetrators of various crimes.
This law enforcement degree will train you in forensic technology that detects chemical substances unique to individuals or places.

Two police officers standing next to a car parked on the side of the road

6. Computer Science and Cybersecurity

Computer science and cybersecurity degrees can train law enforcement professionals to investigate online crimes and crimes with online components.

Law enforcement agencies increasingly have to respond to requests to investigate sophisticated cybercrimes. Cybersecurity is a subset of computer science that helps federal agencies detect and apprehend cybercriminals who hack into computer systems, steal data, or otherwise wreak havoc within public and private networks.

7. Public Safety Leadership

An advanced degree in public safety leadership is a specialized program that focuses on developing the skills necessary to effectively manage and lead public safety organizations, such as police departments and emergency services.

The curriculum emphasizes principles of effective leadership, strategic planning, resource management, and organizational behavior within public safety contexts.

It’s also one of the best master’s degrees for police officers looking to advance their law enforcement careers relating to crisis management, risk assessment, and public safety and security.

8. Forensic Accounting

Do you want to join the ranks of law enforcement professionals working in financial and fraud investigations? A degree in forensic accounting provides specialized training in areas such as forensic auditing, fraud examination, and legal regulations surrounding financial misconduct. 

With this law enforcement degree, graduates can pursue careers as fraud investigators, forensic accountants, or financial crime analysts within federal agencies or regulatory bodies. Forensic accountants help agencies or organizations detect fraud and malicious activity. They may work in law enforcement or for corporations. 

9. Homeland Security

Law enforcement officials with homeland security degrees help protect the country against sabotage, terrorism, and internal security threats. This degree equips students with the technical knowledge and negotiation skills necessary to address national security threats, terrorism, and emergency management situations.

This program’s interdisciplinary nature also makes it one of the best master’s degrees to develop expertise in areas like emergency management, public policy, and international relations.

10. Political Science

A political science degree provides a comprehensive understanding of government systems, public policies, and the intricate dynamics between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

With a strong foundation in this field, aspiring officers can become well-rounded professionals equipped to navigate the intricate political, social, and legal landscapes they will encounter in their communities.

You can shape your law enforcement career by learning how to analyze legal frameworks, develop advocacy strategies, and provide insights for policies. 

11. Sociology

A sociology degree provides a deeper understanding of societal dynamics, human behavior, and the intricate relationships between individuals, communities, and the justice system. With this degree, you’ll develop a strong grasp of social structures, inequalities, marginalization, and their impact to help promote fair and unbiased law practices.

Law enforcement career opportunities also let you contribute to research methods and data analyses for crime management and policy development.

12. Foreign Language

With America being a melting pot of diverse cultures and communities, officers who can communicate proficiently in multiple languages have a distinct advantage when interacting with the public they serve.

For local communities, having more multilingual officers can help build trust and maintain positive relationships with minority populations who may not speak English fluently. Foreign language fluency is an invaluable skill for federal agents gathering intelligence, interviewing witnesses, and collaborating with foreign counterparts domestically and abroad.

Police officers standing near a car on a city street

How Can I Use a Law Enforcement Degree For Working For a Federal Law Enforcement Agency?

To work for a federal law enforcement agency, a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is typically required. However, some agencies prefer specific degree programs that align with their operational needs.

Landing a coveted federal agency role is highly competitive. Aside from a college degree, you’ll need to show exceptional skills like leadership, communication, attention to detail, and integrity. 

Many schools offer hybrid, on-campus, and online courses tailored to prepare students for various police work in federal agencies. While degree preferences vary across agencies, programs focused on criminology or cybersecurity can provide a distinct advantage for aspiring federal agents. 

Here’s an overview of degrees preferred by the following federal agencies in the US:

Federal Bureau of Investigation

For a thriving career with the FBI, programs focused on criminal justice, computer science, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, forensic science, and international studies are highly valued. These degrees will teach you skills necessary for crime scene investigation and analyzing complex security threats.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

To pursue a fulfilling career with BATFE or ATF, consider pursuing a degree in criminology, sociology, or psychology. These programs provide a solid foundation for different roles within the agency involving public safety and the investigation of firearms and explosives-related crimes.

United States Secret Service

It’s an advantage to have mastery of another language and prior military or law enforcement experience to become a federal agent with the United States Secret Service. Aspirants can boost their chances with this agency with a graduate-level law degree or education in criminal justice, public safety, or pre-law studies.

Drug Enforcement Administration

For jobs and careers at the DEA, ideal degrees include criminology, computer science, law, and finance. These provide a strong grounding in criminal law, investigations, and regulatory enforcement related to controlled substances.

United States Border Patrol

Fluency in Spanish combined with a police science, criminal justice, or law degree can increase your chances of landing a job with the US Border Patrol. These programs equip you with the necessary language skills and legal knowledge for border security operations.

Police officers in riot gear standing in a park, prepared to maintain public order and safety

United States Marshals Service

For aspiring federal agents interested in careers with the United States Marshals Service, an advanced degree in law, criminology, or sociology can provide the necessary legal expertise. These degrees also instill the investigative skills to carry out duties such as judicial protection, fugitive apprehension, prisoner transport, and witness security programs.

United States Postal Inspection Office

For a career at the USPIS, you need to gain the ability to combat crimes against the postal system while also emphasizing resource management and cyber investigations. You’ll learn these from degrees like computer science, public safety, law, finance, or forensic accounting.

What Are the Benefits of a Bachelor’s Degree for a Law Enforcement Career?

A bachelor’s degree equips aspiring police officers with critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills invaluable in the criminal justice system. Whether you pursue a psychology, forensics, or criminal justice degree, the extensive coursework and academic rigor involved in earning a bachelor’s diploma demonstrate a level of discipline and commitment. 

Aside from that, having a four-year degree can increase opportunities for advancement and leadership roles in law enforcement jobs. It indicates a broader knowledge base and ability to handle complex situations as police officers.

With specialized knowledge and expertise from a particular undergraduate degree, you can become a more valuable member of the police force and be better equipped to protect your communities from crime. You may learn elements of:

  • Political science
  • Police operations
  • Public administration
  • Forensic science
  • Emergency management
  • Legal system
  • Crime scene protocols
  • Forensics
  • Cybercrime
  • Organized crime
  • Juvenile justice

The Job and Salary Outlook for Police Work

Graduates with the best degrees for law enforcement can choose careers as probation officers, private investigators, US marshals, loss prevention managers, crime analysts, and DEA special agents, among many other career choices.

The best colleges for law enforcement degrees provide a solid foundation for students who want to earn lucrative salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detectives earn a median annual wage of $74,900.

Wardens have a median wage of $60,300, whereas detectives and criminal investigators can earn up to $91,100. Transit, railroad, and patrol police make an average of $72,200. Law enforcement officers with a master’s degree or doctorate can expect a higher median salary.

Police officers standing in front of a building, maintaining security and ensuring public safety

Related Questions

What Degree is Best to Become a Police Officer?

While you can get an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related law enforcement degree can provide a solid foundation for those aspiring to become police officers. A bachelor’s degree can facilitate career advancement within the criminal justice field.

What Degree is Best for Criminal Justice Work?

For those interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in criminology or a related law enforcement discipline is typically recommended. These degrees provide a comprehensive understanding of the justice system.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Police Officer?

While having a degree can give you an edge when applying for a police officer job, it may not be necessary in some cases. Depending on the state or jurisdiction, some police departments may require you to go through police academy training or have at least a high school diploma or associate’s degree.

Which Schools Offer the Best Law Enforcement Degrees?

Many reputable institutions, including West Liberty University, Fayetteville State University, University of Pennsylvania, Bellevue University, and CSU Global, offer highly regarded bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in law enforcement or closely related fields.


With the right educational background, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges and responsibilities that come with the demanding roles of police officers. Whether you choose criminology or another law enforcement-related discipline, these degrees can increase your chances of securing rewarding and fulfilling employment opportunities.

Related Rankings to Help Majors for Law Enforcement:

25 Most Affordable Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Top 25 Best Value Undergraduate Criminal Justice Programs

Top 25 Best Value Online Undergraduate Criminal Justice Programs

Top 25 Best Value Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs

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12 Best Affordable Online Colleges in the United States [2024 Guide]

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With rising costs, students are finding alternative ways to get quality education. This is especially true for out-of-state students as the additional travel costs, accommodation, and miscellaneous fees can get pretty expensive. If you’re looking for a good education on a budget, you’ll find 12 reputable yet affordable online colleges in this article.

Top Online Affordable Colleges for Quality Education

Fort Hays State University Virtual College, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Oregon State University Ecampus are affordable online colleges that offer high-quality programs at reasonable tuition rates. These factors make them attractive options for students seeking financial support while pursuing their academic goals. 

Are you looking for a combination of affordable tuition, financial support opportunities, and reputable accreditation? These institutions provide a pathway to a valuable education without the burden of excessive student debt.

SchoolNotable Online Programs OfferedMinimum In-State Tuition FeeMinimum Out-of-State Tuition Fee
Fort Hays State University Virtual CollegeBusiness Education, Communication Studies, Health Studies$7,853$15,641
University of North Carolina at PembrokeAccounting, Public Administration, American-Indian Studies$3,495$7,495
Oregon State University EcampusAgricultural Sciences, Kinesiology, Sustainability$13,494$35,664
Florida International UniversityWomen’s and Gender Studies, Global Sustainable Tourism, Religious Studies$6,565$18,963
Georgia Southern UniversityHuman Development and Family Science, Latin American Studies, Nursing$6,485$17,539
Sam Houston State UniversityHomeland Security Studies, Band Studies, Sustainable Agriculture$8,960$18,752
Northwestern State UniversitySports Administration, Child and Family Studies, Nursing Practice$19,46048,672
Lamar UniversityHealth Sciences, University Studies, Hospitality Leadership$8,690$18,482
Georgia College and State UniversitySpecial Education, Music Therapy, Athletic Training$8,974$28,154
American Public University SystemEsports, Cybercrime, Retail Management$6,840$8,128
University of North FloridaHealthcare Management, Business Analytics, ASL/English$6,389$20,793
Western Illinois UniversityAnthropology, Geographic Information Science, Applied Statistics$14,406$20,750

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1. Fort Hays State University Virtual College

Fort Hays State University Virtual College

With in-state tuition costs of only $186 per credit hour for undergraduate programs, Fort Hays State University Virtual College tops the list as one of the most affordable online colleges. The virtual college provides comprehensive distance learning support, including virtual classrooms, online tutoring, and dedicated academic advisors to help students succeed in their virtual classes.

2. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers affordable yet high-quality online programs with an in-state tuition rate of around $175 per credit hour. One of the most affordable online colleges, you’ll get access to virtual class sessions, online resources, and dedicated student support services to prepare you for job hunting after graduation.

We connected with Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who has over 15 years of experience in educational research, and University of North Carolina at Pembroke is his top choice:

“For me the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is the stand out school from this list. The fact that you would be within the University of North Carolina system, which is well funded and run, would be a major plus relative to many of the other institutions which are largely “stand alone.””

3. Oregon State University Ecampus

Oregon State University Ecampus

Oregon State University Ecampus offers bachelor’s degrees starting at just $191 per credit, making it an affordable choice for prospective online students. Even an out-of-state resident can thrive in the robust virtual learning environment with the help of live-streamed classes, online discussion forums, and 24/7 technical support.

4. Florida International University

Florida International University

With tuition rates as low as $211 per credit hour, Florida International University’s online degrees are accessible and affordable. The university’s virtual classroom platform, combined with online tutoring and academic advising services, guides students to a holistic, quality distance learning experience.

5. Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University

At only $199 per credit hour, and with many programs to benefit military veterans, Georgia Southern University is a reliable institution for online bachelor’s and graduate degrees. Even for programs like engineering and health sciences, students benefit from interactive virtual classes, online tutoring centers, and dedicated support staff.

6. Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University

With a virtual shelf full of accolades, Sam Houston State University has a strong reputation as one of the top affordable online colleges. SHSU in Texas gives students a wide variety of programs, including nursing and business administration, with tuition costs starting at a base of $204 per credit hour.

7. Northwestern State University

Northwestern State University

Out-of-state residents pay no extra cost for online classes, and at only $206 per credit hour for bachelor degrees, Northwestern State University in Louisiana is another affordable online college. Students have access to personalized schedules, virtual online courses, and technical support services tailored for distance learners.

8. Lamar University

Lamar University

Lamar University’s LU Online is designed as an alternative degree path for working adults and includes the Center for Military Services, helping military veterans further their education.  At only $208 per credit for bachelor’s degrees, you can choose from various specializations, including entrepreneurship, criminal justice, and computer game development.

9. Georgia College and State University

Georgia College and State University

Georgia College and State University have built their online education into a reputable, distinguished system that is still extremely affordable, starting at only $232 per credit. It’s one of the most affordable online colleges to provide interactive virtual classrooms, online tutoring services, and personalized support from faculty and advisors.

10. American Public University System

American Public University System

The only for-profit institution on the list – the American Public University System – now offers more degrees for distance learning students. UNF’s award-winning programs include traditional and accelerated-term formats, with programs combining live seminars, discussion forums, and online courses.

11. University of North Florida

University of North Florida

The University of North Florida is among the best affordable online colleges providing rare degrees, including a Master of Education in Special Education: Autism Track and a Master of Science in American Sign Language. Even out-of-state residents get access to counseling, library resources, writing centers, and academic tutoring.

12. Western Illinois University

Western Illinois University

For students wanting to pursue a non-traditional education pathway, Western Illinois University makes college education accessible to distance learners. As one of the top affordable online colleges, you can study programs like computer science or human services through live-streamed classes, online discussion boards, and comprehensive support services.

Can I Trust Affordable Online Colleges?

While you can trust affordable online colleges, there are certain things you must consider. These include the type of student services offered, the student-to-faculty ratio, and the level of accreditation. 

Woman resting her chin on her palm while a laptop is on her table

Getting a degree from a prestigious university is not cheap. However, it’s important to remember that affordable online colleges can offer you the same quality education as an expensive school – without breaking the bank. Researching online colleges on the basis of cost could be one way to find an affordable and quality education.

The best way to find out if you can trust an affordable online college degree is to check its accreditation. This means you should check whether they are recognized by a national or regional agency that evaluates and approves schools for their educational programs.

Why Should I Get a Degree From An Affordable Online College?

Cost savings, program versatility, and top-tier education benefits are a few reasons why you should consider enrolling in an online university instead of taking traditional, on-campus classes. 

In fall 2021, the country saw a 21% year-over-year decline in undergraduate students enrolling in college. This trend has been driven by the rise in popularity of low-tuition colleges online and the convenience and flexibility offered by these institutions.

Save on Costs

You don’t have to pay much money to get a good online education. Plenty of affordable online universities offer high-quality programs and degrees at a low cost. Online programs are generally lower in cost, especially online programs from a state university.

Receive Quality Education

The cheapest online university does not necessarily mean that it is a low-quality institution with an inferior degree. Additionally, an affordable online program can still provide the same level of student support services for undergraduate students.

Choose From a Variety of Accredited Programs

Accredited and affordable online colleges are held to the same standards as traditional schools by accrediting commissions. The quality of online learning is determined by the level of instruction, faculty credentials, and the institution’s accreditation. 

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Is it Cheaper to Study at Online Colleges?

Online degree programs are a great option for those who want to save money and gain access to higher education. A cheap degree program helps college students get their bachelor’s degree without building up too much student debt.

Prospective students are increasingly turning to online degree programs because they offer a cheaper alternative than attending traditional universities. The average cost of tuition is $23,000 per year at a public university while the average cost of tuition at an online university is just $6,000 per year for undergraduate degrees. 

Costs go up even more for master’s and doctoral degrees, which makes affordable online schools a great alternative for those wishing to continue their educational endeavors beyond a bachelor’s degree. The flexibility to take classes from anywhere in the world at their own pace is also making these online colleges more popular among students.

Affordable online colleges also allow students to save money on books and supplies by using textbooks and other online resources, which can be accessed for free or a small fee.

Can I Get Financial Aid for Cheap Online Programs?

Yes, you can still seek financial support for cheap online programs. However, the criteria for eligibility can vary depending on the type of school you choose to attend. Financial aid is also often available for textbooks and other education-related expenses.

  • For example, if you enroll in a public college or university, you will be eligible for federal financial aid programs and most likely state-sponsored assistance as well. 
  • If you enroll in a private institution, then they may offer loans and grants as well as federal assistance (though this varies by school).
  • Many undergraduate students will look for scholarships and grants at online colleges. Those do not need to be paid back, and student support services at many affordable online colleges will work to make sure their college students get the financial assistance they need.

What Kinds of Affordable Online Degrees Are There?

The best inexpensive online colleges offer a wide range of degrees and programs that cater to every student’s needs. This means you can get your degree in any time frame and at any pace from affordable online colleges or universities, making them a lot more wallet-friendly and convenient than traditional schools.

  • Many affordable, accredited online schools offer distance learners everything from certificate programs and associate degree programs (also offered by community colleges) to master’s programs and doctoral degrees. 
  • Undergraduate students can get cheap online college degrees and associate degrees for much less than the cost per credit of on-campus students. 
  • Online doctoral degree programs and other professional programs allow working professionals to earn their credentials more conveniently than in-person programs.

Affordable online colleges provide flexibility and accessibility for students who want to pursue a degree from wherever they want. An online school offers incredible full online programs for distance learners, including undergraduate and graduate students. Anyone can pursue cheap online degrees today without the inconveniences that come with traditional, on-campus degrees.

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Related Questions

What is the Easiest Online College to Attend? 

Fort Hays State University Virtual College is widely regarded as one of the easiest and most accessible online programs. It offers a flexible and user-friendly virtual learning environment for students, including technical support for virtual classes.

Is it Cheaper to Do an Online University Course? 

Yes, online colleges and universities typically have lower tuition costs compared to traditional on-campus courses. This makes them a more affordable option, especially for out-of-state students who would otherwise have to pay higher fees.

What is the Cheapest College Degree?

While costs vary depending on the program and institution, associate’s degrees from community colleges or other cheap online colleges often represent the most affordable path to obtaining a college degree. It may also depend on the course requirements since some programs may require you to spend money on training, internships, and laboratory equipment.

Are There Cheap Online Colleges in the United States That Offer Free Laptops or iPads for Online Students?

Many of the top cheap online colleges in the United States now offer free laptops or iPads. Take advantage of this opportunity to enhance your learning experience and stay connected wherever you go.


Exploring different affordable online colleges can open up opportunities for students seeking a quality education without the burden of excessive financial strain. By taking advantage of these cost-effective options, you can pursue your academic aspirations and acquire valuable knowledge and skills for building a flourishing career.

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Top 50 Best Universities for an Artificial Intelligence Degree

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machine learning undergraduate

With the explosive growth of artificial intelligence (AI) transforming industries worldwide, aspiring AI professionals are seeking out the top university programs to gain the necessary skills and expertise. 

From cutting-edge curricula to world-renowned faculty and unparalleled resources, we’re sharing the best universities for artificial intelligence that are producing the next generation of AI innovators and problem-solvers poised to shape the future of this transformative technology.

AI Academia: Best Universities for Artificial Intelligence

Stanford is widely regarded as one of the best universities for AI, boasting a renowned AI lab and groundbreaking research projects. The National University of Singapore and the California Institute of Technology have rigorous AI and autonomous systems curricula. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University offer innovative research and state-of-the-art facilities.

SchoolMinimum Cost Per Credit HourAcceptance Rate
Stanford University$2535%
National University of Singapore$37010%
California Institute of Technology$5624%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology$9254%
Columbia University$6457%
University of California-San Diego$61124%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign$6637%
University of California-Berkeley$89040%
Georgia State University$15017%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University$80757%
Ohio State University$49253%
Texas A&M University-College Station$55064%
John Hopkins University$1,237%
Rutgers University-New Brunswick$44168%
New Jersey Institute of Technology$44169%
University of Maryland-College Park$36045%
Harvard University$1,6415%
University of Georgia – Athens$37040%
Cornell University$1,75012%
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor$1,15624%
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus$58616%
Northwestern University$3759%
Yale University$5,1906%
Carnegie Mellon University$77610%
University of Washington-Seattle Campus$66153%
Rice University$2,38011%
University of North Carolina at Charlotte$29279%
Oregon State University$48989%
University of Rochester$1,20041%
Colorado State University$10384%
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee$67140%
University of Massachusetts-Amherst$55061%
University of Pennsylvania$360$6
North Carolina State University$6247%
Worcester Polytechnic Institute$1,60060%
University of South Carolina$51259%
University of Tennessee-Knoxville$1,13768%
Purdue University$1,13922%
New York University$2,1004%
Arizona State University$1,13488%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute$2,52042%
University of Pittsburgh$1,72867%
Southern New Hampshire University$3307%
University of Iowa$37686%
University of Wisconsin-Madison$67549%
University of Southern California$2,13713%
University of Utah – Salt Lake City$31295%
Washington University in St. Louis$69514%
University of Texas at Austin$5031%
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities$5578%
Rank School Name Description

Stanford University

Stanford offers a BS in Computer Science (BS CS) with an Artificial Intelligence Track. With opportunities at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, computer science researchers published an investigative report on the field of AI and its influences on people, their communities, and society – The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence.

Silicon Valley is an area of northern California known for its high concentration of technology companies. The valley is a mecca for tech jobs, as well as tech education. Stanford, a private university located in Stanford, California, and founded in 1885, is just one of the many Silicon Valley colleges and universities.

“Stanford University is a leader in artificial intelligence research and development,” shares Kelsey Ludeman, an education expert with 15 years of experience in the education sector. “The university offers multiple degree and certificate programs, with affordable course costs. You can attain a bachelor’s degree in computer science with an artificial intelligence focus, or receive certification with the Stanford artificial intelligence professional certificate and the Stanford artificial intelligence graduate certificate. These are all great options for students wanting to focus on AI.”

Not surprisingly, Stanford is known for its innovation in computer science and its influence on the academic discipline.

Students in the program develop a breadth of knowledge across the subject areas of computer science by taking core courses. Students then choose an area of depth or a track.

Topics in the AI Track concentration include two courses from four different areas – Methods (classes in Machine Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Decision Making), Vision, and Robotics. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning research opportunities are available through the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), which has studied AI since the lab’s founding in 1962.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore boasts a comprehensive AI department that covers the entire spectrum of AI, including natural language processing and speech recognition. With its strong foundation in mathematics and computer science, NUS offers exceptional opportunities for students pursuing doctorate degrees in AI-related fields.

What sets NUS apart is its commitment to developing systems that can work collaboratively with humans, fostering a mindset of seamless integration between artificial and human intelligence.

This forward-thinking approach has led to groundbreaking research projects, such as the development of an AI model capable of translating thoughts into vivid images and videos.

NUS has firmly established itself as one of the premier institutions for pursuing an education in artificial intelligence, catering to both undergraduate and graduate students. It provides students with the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary to excel in the rapidly evolving field of AI.

Whether pursuing bachelor’s degrees or advanced doctoral studies, NUS offers a rich academic environment, world-class faculty, and cutting-edge research opportunities, making it an exceptional choice for those aspiring to become leaders in artificial intelligence.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

California Institute of Technology

Caltech’s Department of Computing and Mathematical Sciences offers a BS in Computer Science (BS CS) with a Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Track. Computer science undergraduate students can utilize a variety of AI research opportunities through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program.

The California Institute of Technology, better known as “Caltech,” is a small, private university located in Pasadena, California. The school was founded as Throop University in 1891 and renamed in 1920.

Caltech’s most popular undergraduate major is computer science, and an impressive 43% of the incoming computer science students are women.

The undergraduate computer science degree teaches a solid foundation in engineering and programming through a set of core courses. It also provides in-depth, advanced coursework in topic areas through specialized Tracks and a capstone project.

The Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Track classes include Introduction to Probability Models, Advanced Topics in Probability and Algorithms, Machine Learning & Data Mining, Learning Systems, and Neural Computation.

Finally, for students who have not decided if a bachelor’s degree in AI and Machine Learning is right for them or for those students ready to get started, an online Introductory Machine Learning class is offered as a collaborative effort from Caltech and edX.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is a private university, founded in 1861 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT opened the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1959, four years before the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1963.

Through the School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, you can pursue a Scientiae Baccalaureus (S.B.) in Computer Science and Engineering. The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratories have partnered with forward-thinking companies.

In 2017, MIT and IBM announced a partnership to create the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab in Cambridge, near the MIT campus.

IBM is investing $240 million in the AI research center, which is expected to be one of the largest university-industry collaboratives on artificial intelligence. The lab will support research by IBM and MIT scientists and students and is slated to employ 100 of MIT’s faculty and students and house around 3,000 of IBM’s employees.

The program curriculum centers on computation structures, artificial intelligence, computer algorithms, and computer systems. Although this degree has an AI focus, MIT’s research is the school’s most significant draw.
Scientiae Baccalaureus (S.B.) in Computer Science and Engineering.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Columbia University

Columbia offers a BS in Computer Science with an Intelligent Systems Track for those interested in ML, and AI systems capable of exhibiting ”human-like” intelligence. The undergraduate degree uses an integrated curriculum to prepare students for future applied and theoretical developments.

Columbia University, a private New York university, was founded in 1754 and is known as one of the eight members of the Ivy League. The school enrolls a little over 6,000 undergraduate students each year.

Many students choose to combine computer science with a second career interest by pursuing additional programs in business administration, medicine, or other professional studies.

The lower-level computer science curriculum consists of a foundation of core courses that provide the basis for the tracks and the advanced classes. The upper-level computer science curriculum is organized into tracks of electives that allow students to select one area of interest to study in greater depth.

Students will take classes in artificial intelligence, spoken language processing, big data, and machine learning.

The Computer Science undergraduate degree at Columbia prepares graduates to transition directly into career positions in computer science or continue their education in graduate degree programs.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of California-San Diego

Classes at UC San Diego’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an Artificial Intelligence Cluster prioritize search and reasoning, statistical approaches to AI, image processing, and image processing. Notable AI research includes the Artificial Intelligence Group and the campus-wide Computational, Statistics & Machine Learning (COSMAL).

The University of California – San Diego is a public university founded in 1960. Although the school is young, it has rapidly achieved the status of one of the top institutions in the nation for scientific research and mathematical sciences education and receives over $1 billion in annual research funding.

In addition to the affordable, top-notch education, students enjoy one of the most beautiful academic settings in the world. UCSD’s breathtaking 1,200-acre campus stretches along the Pacific Ocean. The school’s annual enrollment is a little over 35,000 students.

Like a concentration or specialization, the Cluster adds a focus area of interest to help students pursue their advanced studies more deeply and broadly. Students focusing on the Artificial Intelligence Cluster will also work in its sub-fields of machine learning and data mining.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois offers a BS in Computer Engineering with a Specialization in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Cybernetics. The campus research groups and facilities include the Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction Research Group.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public land-grant institution founded in 1867. The university is located about 140 miles south of Chicago, in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana.

The university has an annual undergraduate enrollment of around 33,000 students and has over 150 undergraduate programs of study.

As part of the school’s commitment to student success, the university actively seeks corporate partnerships and encourages campus recruiting with these partners.

Students looking for value, hands-on experience, and a chance to research at the undergraduate level should consider the AI program at the University of Illinois.

The program focuses on problem-solving and prepares students for employment in fast-paced and solution-oriented industries. Undergraduate research is encouraged, and ample opportunities are provided for students to participate. Students can also earn credit hours for the research programs they conduct.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley offers a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science (BACS). The Cognitive Science technical elective classes include Advanced Robotics, Artificial Intelligence Approach to Natural Language Processing, and Data Science.

The University of California-Berkeley is a public university founded in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California. The campus, near San Francisco Bay, is only a short drive from Silicon Valley. It’s where students can find numerous opportunities for research, internships, and employment.

The computer science division at UC Berkeley is one of the most robust artificial intelligence programs in the country and is renowned for its innovations in teaching and research. Berkeley’s AI research and machine learning establish the school as an AI authority.

Berkeley’s six research facilities include the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (BAIR), the Berkeley Laboratory for Information and System Sciences (BLISS), the Berkeley Vision & Learning Center (BVLC), the Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS), CITRIS People and Robots, and the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI). U.C.

Students are required to take technical electives that are similar to the AI track offerings or specializations at other institutions. For students who meet the qualifications, a five-year BS/MS accelerated computer science program is offered.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Georgia State University

Georgia State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Concentration in Databases and Knowledge-based Systems. Girls++ was created to provide a place for women majoring in computer science to connect and share their development experiences.
You may not be familiar with Georgia State University, but rapper Ludacris and former Bank of America CEO, Ken Lewis, know this school – they are both alumni.

Georgia State University is a public university, founded in 1913. The school’s self-proclaimed “campus without boundaries” consists of seven campuses throughout metro Atlanta enrolling over 24,000 undergraduate students.

This undergraduate degree program prepares students with core classes in the fundamental principles and processes of computation, and concentration classes to provide the appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge in the discipline.

Concentration classes include Artificial Intelligence, Digital Image Processing, Network-Oriented Software Development, Web Programming, Database Systems, and Data Mining. Georgia State University’s Department of Computer Science was created in 1999 and is active in interdisciplinary research.

Participating in the school’s Molecular Basis of Disease and Brains and Behavior programs is just one example of how the department collaborates with other departments. Georgia State is also well-known for its diversity, and not surprisingly, the department strives for gender diversity in a field where women are historically underrepresented.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A Bachelor of Science degree with a Knowledge, Information, and Data (KID) track focuses broadly on data science, information, human modeling, and knowledge. Virginia Tech also offers access to AI internships and employment opportunities through a corporate partnership program.

Students interested in AI and machine learning can “invent the future” at the research powerhouse Virginia Tech. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known to most as “Virginia Tech”, is a public university located in the mountain town of Blacksburg, Virginia.

The school was founded in 1872 and has an undergraduate enrollment of over 25,000. The school is well known for academic excellence and value.

  • Virginia Tech is known globally for engineering and mathematical sciences. The Department of Computer Science has an accredited undergraduate program that offers undergraduate degrees with a specialized track of study.
  • The KID Track focuses broadly on data science, information, human modeling, and knowledge and in numerous sub-areas, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. 
  • Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in research and team projects through capstone courses.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Ohio State University

A Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering from OSU offers many opportunities for artificial intelligence research. The Ohio State University also offers many opportunities for artificial intelligence research.

Computer science engineering courses include AI, ML, Statistical Pattern Recognition, Human-Computer Interaction, Speech and Language Processing, and Neural Networks.

OSU Columbus is a public university founded in 1870. The school is in the city of Columbus, Ohio, and has a total undergraduate enrollment of over 45,000 students.

  • Ohio State continues to take its land-grant mission as its calling card, providing the very best possible education in practical applied sciences, and preparing students for crucial professions.
  • OSU is the highest-ranked and most prominent university in the state, and building connections between government and private industry.
  • Campus AI research groups include Applied Machine Learning; Auditory, Speech, and Language Processing; Machine Learning and Learning Theory; and Cognitive Systems. The Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research (LAIR), established in the 1970s, conducts cutting-edge AI research.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Texas A & M University-College Station

Texas A&M University-College Station offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an Information and Intelligent Systems track. Computer science research areas include Data Science and Human-Computer Interaction.

Texas A&M University—College Station, founded in 1876, was the first public institution of higher education established in the State of Texas. Centrally located between the cities of Houston, Dallas, and Austin, the school calls College Station home.

The university has an undergraduate enrollment of over 50,000 and is frequently ranked for its quality of education and its value.

  • This undergraduate curriculum in computer science is designed to prepare students to enter the rapidly evolving field of computer science with a solid foundation in science, English, statistics, and computing. 
  • In addition to the core classes, students take 12 credit hours in an area of concentration. 
  • Courses include Database Systems Artificial Intelligence, Computer-Human Interaction, Computer Graphics, Game Development, Structures of Interactive Information, Computers and New Media, Robotics and Spatial Intelligence, and Information Storage and Retrieval.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Johns Hopkins University

Courses from John Hopkins’ Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Focus Area in Natural Language Processing include Knowledge from Text, Machine Translation, and Machine Learning. Campus AI-related computer science research areas include Machine Learning & Data Intensive Computing, Language & Speech Processing, Robotics, and Vision & Graphics.

Johns Hopkins University is a private institution located on a 140-acre campus in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The small school, founded in 1876, has an undergraduate enrollment of around 6,100 students.

The school is known for academic excellence parallel to prestigious Ivy League institutions. Although Johns Hopkins is not an Ivy League school, it has cheerfully agreed to be in a “League of its Own.”

  • Few universities in America offer a more well-rounded education. Undergraduate research is an integral part of the Johns Hopkins degree. Interested students can conduct research alongside faculty and graduate students. 
  • About 40% of computer science undergrads take advantage of these research opportunities. 
  • Students are also encouraged to pursue internships during winter and summer and can choose to work for pay or academic credit.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

The Rutgers Department of Computer Science offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Track in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. The associated on-campus computer science labs and centers include the Center for Dynamic Data Analytics (CDDA) and the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCs).

Rutgers University-New Brunswick (The State University of New Jersey ) is a public university, initially founded in 1766 as Queen’s College. The school is located in Piscataway, New Jersey, and has a total undergraduate enrollment of more than 36,000 students.

With multiple locations throughout the state, and an influence that stretches across virtually every profession and discipline, Rutgers can truly claim the title of The State University of New Jersey.

  • The artificial intelligence program provides a solid foundation in computer science and a focused area of education in a computer science sub-discipline. 
  • It’s part of the School of Arts and Science and is a center for research and education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • Focused on studying the different sub-disciplines of computer science, Rutgers has research groups in areas of artificial intelligence, foundations of computer science, human modeling, and scientific computing.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

New Jersey Institute of Technology

NJIT offers a BS in Human-Computer Interaction with a Specialization in Cognitive Design. The computer science track focuses on the interfaces between people and computers while the AI specialization introduces the philosophy of mind.

Students interested in studying cognition and computer science should consider the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Founded in 1881, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a public university in Newark, New Jersey.

NJIT is rooted in Newark, where the university’s founders anticipated a major need for technical and mechanical education during the height of the Industrial Revolution.

NJIT had a foundation to become one of the Northeast’s top institutions for engineering and technology.

The Ying Wu College of Computing has the distinction of being the largest computer science school in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan region. This makes it a major provider of trained, innovative professionals in the computer science field.

Courses in this specialization include numerous offerings in Neural Networks, Minds and Machines, and Cyberpsychology.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Maryland-College Park

The University of Maryland-College Park offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Data Science Specialization. The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation will support groundbreaking research in virtual and augmented reality, autonomous systems, AI, algorithms, and languages.

The University of Maryland—College Park is a public university founded in 1856. The suburban school is just a short distance from Washington, D.C. on the flagship College Park campus of the University of Maryland.

Computer science research has been conducted at UM since the 1940s. In 1973, the Computer Science Department was formally established.

The computer science degree curriculum offers a comprehensive introduction to artificial intelligence through data science specialization.

Students pursuing this specialization are required to complete fundamental lower-level courses and then upper-level specialization classes. Courses in the specialization include machine learning, database design, and artificial intelligence.

In the spirit of innovation, an online web camera shows the real-time progress of the building. The Iribe Center will house the university’s Department of Computer Science and its renowned Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Harvard University

When interested in cognition and neuroscience from the perspective of computer science, you can pursue an Artium Baccalaureus (A.B.) in Computer Science with a Concentration in Mind, Brain, & Behavior at Harvard University. AI-related campus research group is the Artificial Intelligence Research Group (AIRG).

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and founded in 1636, Harvard University is one of the oldest institutions in the country. The private university has one of the most recognized names in the world and is considered by most to be the measuring stick for academic excellence.

It is one of eight members of the prestigious Ivy League Schools and has graduated seven U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy.

This unique program through the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers an interdisciplinary track of study affiliated with the University-wide Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative.

Students pursuing the Mind, Brain, and Behavior track are expected to complete undergraduate research before graduation. Students can also participate in the university-wide Mind, Brain, and Behavior research milieu or non-credit senior-year seminar.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Georgia - Athens, GA

UGA offers an Artium Baccalaureus (A.B) in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence Foundations. AI Foundations courses cover computing theory, data structures, artificial intelligence, computer vision, symbolic programming, evolutionary computing, and deductive systems.

UGA, founded in 1785, is the country’s oldest state-chartered university. The school is located 70 miles north of Atlanta in Athens, Georgia – a top-rated college town.

The University of Georgia is home to the Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The institute, formed in 1984, helped found the Cognitive Science undergraduate major, the only program of its kind in the University System of Georgia.

The unique program combines interdisciplinary fields. Students on this degree track will study the mind, intelligence, and their relationship to AI.

Classes in computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology form the core of the artificial intelligence degree. After exposure to a wide range of interdisciplinary courses, students can study two foundational areas.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Cornell University

At Cornell, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Vector in Artificial Intelligence and a Track in Machine Learning. Computer science research groups and areas of study include computational sustainability, game and decision theory, connections to economics, knowledge representation and reasoning, and computational linguistics.

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, is a private institution founded in 1865. Its annual undergraduate enrollment is around 14,500. The department was established in 1965 and is one of the oldest in the United States. The department maintains 12 major avenues of their research including Artificial Intelligence.

The 2300-acre main campus in Ithaca is in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and offers hiking trails, sailing on Lake Cayuga, and many other outdoor activities.

The college town of Ithaca is frequently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the United States, with walkable restaurants and shops, and is less than an hour’s drive from the City of Syracuse.

The AI Machine Learning track focuses on machine learning methods and theory. Cornell is a leader in producing cutting-edge research in many important areas of computer science.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

You can pursue the computer science AI track to study AI theory and applied investigations. Ten different research groups are housed in The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Michigan, offering ample research opportunities.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is a public institution founded in Detroit in 1817. The university moved to its present-day location in Ann Arbor in 1847.

Ann Arbor is arguably one of the best college towns in the country and only a forty-five-minute drive from Detroit. The University of Michigan is a large school with an annual enrollment of around 29,000 students.

The school is also considered a research powerhouse and has been classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as one of 115 Doctoral Universities with “Very High Research”.

The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Track in Artificial Intelligence. The curriculum allows students to tailor a computer science degree to a specific area of interest.

The core lower-level classes provide students with a solid foundation in computer software, hardware, and theory. The optional degree track specializations give students ample opportunity to take advanced computer science electives.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

Georgia Tech offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science focusing on different specializations, including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The AI interdisciplinary research centers directly involved with Computer Science include the Center for Research into Novel Computing Hierarchies, the Institute for People and Technology, and the Algorithms and Randomness Center.

It is a public university in Atlanta, Georgia. The school was founded in 1885 and currently has an annual undergraduate enrollment of around 15,000 students.

Computer science is the base and platform for countless industries and disciplines. Georgia Tech seeks to create graduates with a solid foundation in the principles of computer science, specialized computing skills, and an expert’s eye for innovation and problem-solving.

  • The BS degree has eight areas of concentration, or Threads, that take> on different specializations, including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML). 
  • The AI thread is concerned with top-to-bottom computational models of intelligence and prepares students for fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and perception. 
  • Commonly taken courses in AI and ML include Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Understanding, Knowledge-Based AI, Game AI, and Pattern Recognition. 
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Northwestern University

The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence Specialization teaches how to approach AI problems from both algorithmic and systems perspectives. Specific campus computer science research groups include the Assistive & Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory; the Intelligent Information Lab; and the Interactive Audio Lab.

The comprehensive artificial intelligence degree is ideal for students interested in AI and machine learning. The Northwestern curriculum is designed to show students how to approach problems from both the algorithmic perspective and the systems perspective and to expose students to the “breadth” and “depth” requirements within their major.

Northwestern gives students the tools to comprehend the breadth of the computer science field through core classes. As part of the curriculum requirements, students are expected to acquire depth in two of the areas of specialization.

  • The Artificial Intelligence Track is one of the two depth areas for computer science majors to pursue, offering close to 20 different courses. Students in this track will take classes in Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, Machine Learning
  • This program prepares students for employment or to move on to graduate studies. Northwestern’s computer science graduates are recruited by employers in nearly every industry. 
  • Research opportunities available through the McCormick School of Engineering include research in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and human-computer interaction.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Yale University

Yale offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and Psychology designed for AI biological perception. Campus artificial intelligence research areas/groups/facilities include the Center for Computational Vision and Control.

Yale’s Department of Computer Science was founded in the early 1970s when the department only had four areas of study – Theory of Computation, Artificial Intelligence, Numerical Analysis, and Systems.

Now, the department prides itself on the interdisciplinary nature of its subject and maintains connections with other departments including psychology.

  • The school has an annual undergraduate enrollment of around 5,500 students. Yale is well-known for its excellent drama and music programs, as well as, its overall academic excellence. 
  • A coveted Ivy League school, the school’s student-faculty ratio is 6:1, and 75.2% of the classes have fewer than 20 students. 
  • The most popular majors at Yale include Economics, Political Science and Government, History, Psychology, Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology. 
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Minor in Machine Learning. It is located on a 149-acre campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was founded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1900.

The small, private university annually enrolls around 6,600 undergraduate students. Artificial intelligence is one of the most studied interdisciplinary areas at the university.

The departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Statistics, and the Tepper School of Business all have offerings in AI that uniquely cater to each field of study.

  • The Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Melon University’s School of Computer Science offers two undergraduate programs for students interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning. 
  • The Minor in Machine Learning allows undergraduates to learn about the core principles of machine learning and statistical methods used in the application of natural language processing and robotics. 
  • The second undergraduate program offers a BS in Statistics & Machine Learning, a program that develops the critical ideas and skills underlying statistical machine learning.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

UW offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Engineering with a Specialization in Data Mining. Computer science students pursuing a specialization in data mining will take courses in AI, database design, robotics, and machine learning.

Data mining is used daily to tune Web search engine ranking functions, evaluate the merit of credit card applications, determine when a retail store should reorder products, and even optimize the energy efficiency of advanced CPU architectures.

Because these skills are so widely used, it’s not surprising that individuals skilled in data mining and machine learning are presently in extremely high demand.

Considered to be one of the best locations in the world for research, the University of Washington (UW) is an excellent choice for students interested in the sub-field of machine learning.

UW is active in most significant areas of machine learning research and a variety of applications like vision, computational biology, the Web, and social networks.

UW’s campus AI-related research areas include Ubiquitous Computing and Artificial Intelligence. The artificial intelligence group research focuses on areas such as Automated Planning and Control, Intelligent Interaction, Brain-Computer Interfaces Intelligent Interaction; Machine Learning; Robotics, and Graphics & Imaging Laboratory.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Rice University

The Rice Computer Science Department focuses on three specialization areas, including Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AAI), Computer Engineering and Systems (CES), and Programming Languages and Software Engineering (PLSE). Its computer science and algorithm courses help you prepare for computational work in employment or graduate studies.

Rice University is situated in the heart of Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. Rice is a small, private institution that was founded in 1912 and has an annual undergraduate student enrollment of around 3,800 students.

Rice strives to produce the next generation of leaders and advances tomorrow’s thinking through comprehensive research and fostering a diverse intellectual environment.

  • The school was recently ranked #14 by U.S. News as one of the 2020 best National Universities. 
  • The department was officially formed in 1984 and now offers students a choice of a B.A. or a B.S. in Computer Science.
  • Rice University offers its students who are interested in the Artificial Intelligence program the newest technological advances in the field. While using these advances, students will be able to work in groups for research to learn from existing methodologies and develop new ones.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

UNC offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming. The University Career Center allows you to pursue a degree along with alternating semesters of full-time AI work experience.

The University of North Carolina—Charlotte is a public institution that was founded in 1946 on a 1000-acre campus near uptown Charlotte. The school is one of the fastest-growing campuses in the North Carolina university system, with an annual undergraduate enrollment of more than 23,000 students.

They also have a growing reputation for online learning. UNC-Charlotte is also one of the most affordable choices for students pursuing a computer science degree in artificial intelligence.

Graduates from this comprehensive artificial intelligence degree have broad knowledge and skills in computer science, gained through the required 25 hours of computer science courses and 15 credit hours in a complementary discipline to which computing applies.

Students can also pursue a degree concentration, designed to prepare students for employment or to pursue graduate studies. The concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming includes courses in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision.

Students in a concentration must complete a course in critical thinking. The University Career Center offers an optional Cooperative Education program to help students prepare to enter a chosen professional career.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Oregon State University

Oregon State University offers a Bachelor’s in Science in Applied Computer Science with a Specialization in Artificial Intelligence. You can specialize in an area of computer science or shape an AI program that includes fields outside of computer science, like music.

Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis is an hour’s drive from the Pacific Ocean and about 90 minutes south of Portland.

Founded in 1868, the school is Oregon’s only Land Grant university and is one of only two universities in the U.S. to have the distinction of all three of the designations – Sea Grant, Space Grant, and Sun Grant.

OSU is Oregon’s largest public research university and is well known for its studies of marine sciences, sustainable food systems, and forestry.

Oregon State has an annual undergraduate enrollment of around 25,000 students and is also known for its eCampus which offers a wide variety of online degrees. Oregon State University’s program is one of the most flexible AI programs available.

The applied computer science degree option allows students to develop a degree program that focuses on their area of interest. Students will need to complete and submit a plan of study by the end of their first term in the program.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Rochester

The University of Rochester offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Specialization in Machine Learning, Vision, and Robotics that provides a robust and rigorous background in computer science and AI principles.

The University of Rochester is a private institution founded in 1850 in Rochester, New York. The school’s picturesque 707-acre main campus is located two miles south of downtown Rochester on the Genesee River.

Aside from the requisite mathematical foundations, students get exposed to the problems and solution techniques used in the various areas of the discipline.

You can take advantage of campus research opportunities with innovative AI professors. Students seeking this degree can choose a specialization in machine learning, vision, and robotics.

Related campus research groups include the Center for Language Sciences, the Center for Visual Science, the Center for Computation & the Brain, and the Rochester Human Computer Interaction Group (ROCHI).

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Computer Science majors at Colorado State University are trained to advance the fundamental understanding of how AI information is processed. Computer science majors are required to complete basic courses in calculus, AI, robotics, computer programming, and mathematical foundations.

Like many of these western expansion schools, the original intended purpose of what is now CSU Fort Collins was to educate members of new states in agriculture, mechanics, and other homesteading tools to equip the community with sustainability practices of the time.

Since then, CSU has grown to be a leader in technology education, with a $375 million research budget and a world-class medical school.

Colorado State University is a public research university located in Fort Collins, Colorado. The campus ranks among those few that were founded before their home state achieved statehood.

Faculty at Fort Collins proudly instruct courses on the study of algorithm design, networks, security, languages, graphics, databases, artificial intelligence, and many others. They are expected to have a basic understanding of statistics, computer organization, and algorithmic theory.

Systems software and computer security will be emphasized as well. Majors may select senior-level courses in artificial intelligence, networks, machine learning, and many others, to highlight their particular interests and skill sets.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

UWM’s Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science offers specializations in AI, Programming Language Design and Implementation, Computer Networking, and Algorithm Design. Ongoing computer science and artificial intelligence research at UWM include computational robotics and intelligent dialog systems.

The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is a large public university that was founded in 1956. Originally named the Milwaukee Teachers College, the evolution of this unique school has been rapid.

It became one of only two doctoral degree-granting universities in the state of Wisconsin, the largest university in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and the largest member of the University of Wisconsin System.

  • This school also offers high-quality educational programs, including 191 undergraduate degree programs.
  • There are highly-ranked programs in industrial engineering, materials science, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and electronic engineering. The film program is also highly ranked for those artsy cheesehead students. 
  • The faculty at UWM are on the leading edge, even encouraging alumnus Satya Nadella to become the current CEO of Microsoft as of this writing. They welcome innovative, outside-the-box thinkers, and encourage far-reaching research, and industry-changing.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

The Artificial Intelligence track focuses on the fundamental mechanisms that enable the construction of systems that can operate autonomously, learn from experience, plan their actions, and solve complex problems independently. UMass cooperates with four other excellent local universities, including Amherst College, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College, and Hampshire College.

UMass Amherst is the flagship university for the University of Massachusetts system and is located in Amherst, in western Massachusetts. As a member of what is known as the five college consortium,

Students can attend classes at each of the schools and easily transfer credits between them. UMass serves a few more than 30,000 students and is a designated Land-grant research university.

They maintain a research budget of nearly $300 million and are considered a university with the highest level of research activity.

The College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst offers a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. They also offer a Bachelor’s in Informatics, which studies computing as applied to other disciplines.

Each of these is based on a flexible set of degree requirements, allowing students to use a greater breadth of CS courses based on their skills and professional interests.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Pennsylvania

You can take up a Bachelor of Applied Science degree focusing on Computer Science (ASCS) or Computer and Cognitive Science (ASCC). The department also provides opportunities for interdisciplinary AI collaborations with CIS fields and biology, genetics, linguistics, mathematics, and electrical engineering.

The University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1780 and is one of the nine colonial colleges that were chartered before the American Revolution. Penn is a member of the Ivy League, a designation that originally referred to an athletic conference, but now more commonly connotes academic excellence and selectivity in admissions.

Penn has one of the most impressive lists of alumni of any university in the world, including two U.S. presidents, Guggenheim fellows, Nobel Laureates, Fortune 500 CEOs, members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and more billionaires than any other school.

  • The main campus allows students to engage in everything this former nation’s capital city has to offer, including numerous historical points of interest and engagement with other high-caliber post-secondary institutions and health centers.
  • Students are encouraged to engage in the myriad opportunities for artificial intelligence research that Penn faculty offers, including theoretical and application topics like robotics, real-time systems, computer architecture, machine learning, languages, and many more.
  • The faculty at Penn Engineering also emphasizes that AI programs provide the opportunity for the study of a diversity of subjects that satisfy personal and professional desires and that several options exist for students to customize their undergraduate experience and prepare for graduate degrees.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers a BS in Computer Science with a concentration on Game Development. Some of their offerings feature AI learning that has entered an international scope with a renowned new programming and computer science framework.

North Carolina State University is a public research university and one of the many “ag and tech” schools in the Tar Heel State. This large school located in the state’s capital city of Raleigh is a flagship school and is a part of the University of North Carolina system.

As a part of their vast research budget, they participate in the Land-grant, Sea-grant, and Space-grant programs.

The noteworthy alumni list from NC State includes the Chief Operating Officer of Apple Computers, Jeff Williams; co-founders of the SAS Institute – Anthony Barr, James Goodnight, and John Sall; as well as humanitarians, athletes, politicians, and academic leaders.

NC State currently enrolls more than 34,000 students and offers 106 bachelor’s degrees in 11 colleges. NCSU is well-known for its emphasis on practical knowledge. North Carolina State University offers a comprehensive program with an interdisciplinary reach.

They designed an AI program that can play the cooperative card game Hanabi. It also offers an emphasis on machine learning and human-computer interaction, as well as coursework that is applied to military intelligence.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

WWorcester Polytechnic Institute offers a comprehensive Computer Sciences Program. Their computer science specializations include frameworks for AI, human-robot interaction, human-computer interaction, educational bioinformatics, and automated planning.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has what is called the WPI, intended to set students apart in the world of technology and professionalism. This plan was only an experiment in 1970 and has been demonstrated to be a successful model for their alumni, as proven by their professional track record and academic retention.
What the Worcester Polytechnic Institute plan looks like is seven-week terms, instead of academic semesters, which includes four during the academic year and the option of taking two over the summer.

Students have the power and freedom to create their course load with the support of advisors, and there is no such thing as a failing grade at WPI.

Their coursework includes many current topics including machine learning and artificial intelligence programs that engage students in computing. The course offerings are extensive in their reach and cutting-edge in their approach to practical knowledge.

They pride themselves on experiential/ hands-on learning that gives students the skills to embody the learning through large-scale team projects and make a difference in the community. The critical thinking and analytic development involved in the program leaves students able to be on the front lines of innovation on professional and entrepreneurial levels.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina participates in the federal Sea Grant program, designating funds for learning more about the nation’s coastal waterways and oceans.

The Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the global standard for programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and technology.

The University of South Carolina is a public research school located in Columbia, South Carolina, and is the flagship school for the University of South Carolina System. Serving nearly 35 thousand students at the Columbia campus, this large, urban university has an over 200-year history of bringing excellence in education to the American South.

From the school’s founding in 1801 and the original quadrangle of buildings that make up what is called the Horseshoe or the main quad, U of SC has persevered and transformed into a major research university still dedicated to educating South Carolinians.

The undergraduate program provides students with practical knowledge in science, mathematics, and computational techniques while preparing them for graduate studies or professional careers in computer science, human-computer interaction, or related industries.

The Computer Science, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems, BS degrees are accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. Graduates are well poised to enjoy a long and lucrative professional career.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers an extensive Computer Science Major that includes a track in Artificial Intelligence. The computer science major includes Biologically-Inspired Computation, or an option within the honors program Biologically Inspired Computation, as well as an Introduction to Pattern Learning.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is proud to be the first public university that was established west of the Mississippi divide.

They first opened their doors in 1794, and since have held to their values of educating the citizens of the state, and contributing research and service to the communities around them. They are known as Tennessee’s flagship land-grant institution and are part of the University of Tennessee system, which not only includes academic institutions, but also the UT Health System, and its defining health institutions.

It’s extensive in its reach and enables students to engage in a variety of coursework, including engineering.

Students are required to maintain a C grade in every aspect of their coursework to succeed in the program. They can work with a system called uTrack, that helps them remain on a track that prepares them for graduation.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Purdue University

To this end, Purdue has graduated 23 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, and Eugene Cernan, the first and last people to walk on the moon. The Machine Intelligence Track prepares you to work in fields related to data analysis, ML, AI, computational neuroscience, robotics, and information retrieval.

Purdue University was founded in 1969 as a regional university with an emphasis on science, agriculture, and technology. Located in central Indiana, in a town called West Lafayette, the university began a tradition of excellence in technological and engineering education.

Purdue has maintained that tradition of excellence in tech, as well as many other fields of study. The artificial intelligence research conducted at Purdue is among the most influential in areas such as aeronautical engineering, aviation, and space technology.

The track is designed to prepare students to understand, and effectively apply in practice, the principles and techniques of data and knowledge representation and search, as well as learning and reasoning with data.

Beyond the initial background courses required by the university, students interested in this track of computer science are expected to complete two electives that allow computer science majors to focus on their interests.

These range from human-computer interaction to information systems to Intro to Artificial Intelligence and Compilers: Principles and Practice.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

New York University

The university has one of the largest research budgets of any school in the United States. This enables AI researchers to access some of the most cutting-edge material in their field, including students who will take the Artificial Intelligence concentration at the Tandon School of Engineering.

New York University is among the best institutions of higher ed across the world. Not only does the school stand out at the Manhattan campus, but also at the global campuses located in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

At NYU, students have the opportunity to choose from over 400 graduate degrees and undergraduate programs and excel in arts and technology education.

The field of computer science focuses on how to design, build, and use the computers and systems that we interact with every day. This vitally important discipline powers the essential functions of business, industry, government, and entertainment.

Students who choose a major in computer science have tremendous opportunities for professional growth and exploration.

By focusing required electives on the three Artificial Intelligence courses that Tandon offers, graduates will set themselves apart from other professionals. These courses include Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Neural Network Computing, each worth three elective credits.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Arizona State University

ASU’s Bachelor of Computer Science program prepares you to focus on the AI design of computers and computational processes. Computer science courses cover the process of the integration of computer and information sciences.

In 1898, the school that preceded what is now Arizona State University built its first buildings and began holding classes for teachers in the Arizona territory. After several changes in concentration and name, the original Arizona State University Tempe campus is one of four ASU campuses and the largest of them all.

It’s known globally for its more than 150 undergraduate and master’s programs through an entirely online platform. ASU has earned respect as an innovative public educational institution, even earning the highest ranking by the U.S. News & World Report as the Most Innovative School in America for three years in a row.
ASU has a vibrant campus community and serves over 50 thousand students annually.

With further emphasis on information transfer, problem-solving, and transforming software, ASU computer science graduates will ensure system quality, security, performance, and usability.

Students have the opportunity to apply themselves to their specific interests in aspects of computer science like artificial intelligence, machine learning, computational neuroscience, and information management through elective courses.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The Bachelor of Science in ​​Cognitive Science degree establishes the scientific study of cognitive phenomena such as reasoning, decision-making, memory, learning, language, perception, and action. Research projects take place at the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Lab.

The private tech university was originally founded as a school for the “application of science to the common purposes of life”. Now, RPI serves as a leader in higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math and is the oldest technological research university in the country.

With noteworthy alumni who are professional athletes, politicians, and founders of multinational corporations like Texas Instruments, RPI gives students the foundations in innovation that do not stop after graduation.

The school houses the most powerful university-based supercomputer in the world and has been ranked among the top 10 universities from which graduates go on to earn the highest salaries.

Cognitive (meaning thinking) science takes what we know of how human minds operate and simulates or enhances the options we have for technologically assisted evolution.

Students are encouraged to apply their skills by using knowledge of human cognition to build ‘cognitively ergonomic’ tools and environments, to build devices that repair and augment cognitive skills and capacities, and to create artificially intelligent computers and robots.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh offers an innovative BS in Computer Sciences Program. Experiential computer science learning is also a focal point, as you work with AI, software development, database administration, robotics, and software testing.

The University of Pittsburgh was founded in 1787 and is one of the oldest academic institutions in the United States. They are known for being at the front of critical research, such as fighting polio, understanding DNA, leading the way for organ transplants, as well as many other critical accomplishments for the nation and beyond.

Their Pittsburgh Campus is on 132 acres and sits in the Oakland neighborhood of the city. Another point of pride for the University of Pittsburgh, or Pitt colloquially, is that they were the first to have a Computer Sciences program in the country.

They operate a nearly $900 million budget in research and development expenditures and are the sixth-largest recipient of federally sponsored research funding among U.S. universities. It engages computational methods through active problem-solving and critical thinking.

The coursework in this program is fast-paced and intensive, and mathematics is highly stressed. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a required capstone experience that solidifies their hands-on work in the field.

A core course is required to provide a foundation for the many areas associated with artificial intelligence. Modern languages, including JAVA, are also offered as students enter the program.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers a fully online Bachelor’s Degree program in Information Technologies, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. This in-depth computer science degree is uniquely the only degree on this ranking list that can be fully completed online.

SNHU is a private, nonprofit university that offers both comprehensive residential and online programming. Founded in 1932, SNHU initially had an accounting and secretarial focus, they serve over 80,000 students in their online classes, and 3,000 on their lovely 300-acre campus in Manchester, New Hampshire.

One of the many accolades SNHU boasts is the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology, granted by the United States Distance Learning Association.

The stated mission of the university is to provide accessible education that is both affordable and has tailored pathways to reach each student, including non-traditional, adult learners.

Students will engage with technical skills that are both hands-on and applicable in real-world settings. This program takes students to the cutting edge with innovative disciplines that engage both robotics and artificial intelligence.

They will learn how to solve inquiries related to technology with effective and appropriate methods. Written and verbal skills are highly stressed in the program, as are critical thinking skills.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: online and on campus

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa’s Artificial Intelligence program incorporates the natural sciences in AI, as well as the fundamental courses that pertain to artificial intelligence, and quite a few electives that engage the discipline. It offers a more interdisciplinary professional outlook for graduates, with the possibility of a double major.

The University of Iowa is a public research institution located in Iowa City, Iowa. The school was founded in 1847, making it the oldest post-secondary institution in the state. The campus is in an urban center and is situated on 1,700 acres of land on the banks of the Iowa River.

The school has organized its over 200 disciplines into eleven distinct colleges. They even have a doctoral university classified by the Carnegie Classifications as having the highest level of research.

One interesting fact is that this university was the first to develop a Master’s in Fine Arts degree program, one of the most common master’s programs today.

The University of Iowa enables undergraduates to achieve a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in the discipline.

Both degree offerings require significant coursework in various programming languages and theory. They also offer a foundation in computer sciences, although the work for the major can be taken on a pass/no pass basis.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW’s BS Computer Sciences allows you to work with robots while also engaging the skills and application of AI machine learning techniques. Their computer science programs engage AI with the cutting edge of medicine and business.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison was founded in 1848 and is located in the heart of Madison, Wisconsin, on the impressive Lake Mendota. The campus spans 936 acres and is a point of pride for students, faculty, and alumni.

They have an annual research budget of over $1.2 billion and are classified as both a land-grant and sea-grant university.

The UW, as it is referred to by the university community, is one of America’s Public Ivy universities, a top public university in the United States capable of providing a collegiate experience comparable to those in the Ivy League.

With alumni who have founded such entities as Earth Day and The Onion satirical newspaper and discoveries that led to inventions.

Graduates of the program will also be well poised to engage in graduate study in a variety of computer science, programming, artificial intelligence, and machine learning fields. Critical thinking and problem-solving are major themes emphasized in the program.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a highly respected private research institution located in the heart of Los Angeles, a city that provides students access to a whole world of global business, arts, and culture to engage with their curricula.

Established in the 1870s, USC was started by high-energy citizens who thought it was essential to bring a postsecondary institution to the area. Today, their offerings are vast, and consistently revered internationally, for scholarship in all of their disciplines.

The Viterbi Department of Engineering and Computer Science at USC is home to the Information Sciences Institute (ISI), which was one of the founding bodies of the internet. They also offer the Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT).

The University of Southern California and its Viterbi Department of Computer Science are maximizing their timely impact with programming that is in line with current tech trends. They have a myriad of undergraduate offerings in the computer sciences like the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (CSCI) that offers a holistic computer science background.

This versatile degree ultimately gives students the ability to increase their competitive candidacy in the job market following graduation. Along similar lines is the Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering and Computer Science, a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science (Games), and a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science and Business Administration.

Graduates from the program are expected to emerge on a path of lifelong learning, where they can have an impact on their communities by using artificial intelligence in both a traditional and non-traditional scope.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Utah - Salt Lake City

The University of Utah is a public research university in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are a space-grant research institution. It receives considerable research funds for outer space-related research.

The U, as the school is called, was founded in 1850 as the University of Deseret, and has since undergone many transformations. The University of Utah prides itself on being one of the best in the nation at creating startup companies based on student and faculty research.

They currently serve more than 30 thousand undergraduate and graduate students each year. The university ranks among the top 50 universities in the United States by the total amount of money spent on research, specifically over $518 million.

  • The Computer Engineering Bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah is offered by the School of Computing in the College of Engineering. This professional path leads students down a journey toward a lucrative career in innovation, with the University of Utah laying the foundation for success.
  • Students have the opportunity to study with world-renowned faculty who are leaders in their field and dedicated to student success. Although the program is comprehensive, students can further their focus on specific aspects of computer science that they are interested in through their electives.
  • One elective for those interested in AI and robotics is the course Introduction to Machine Learning, which covers techniques for developing computer programs that can acquire new knowledge automatically or adapt their behavior over time.
  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Washington University in St Louis

Washington University in St. Louis is located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. Referred to as WashU by the university community, it was founded in 1853 and named for the first president of the United States, George Washington.

Over the last century and a half, WashU has supported the work of nearly two dozen Nobel laureates. The undergraduate school is consistently ranked among the top artificial intelligence schools in the country.

It has developed many outstanding schools of study, including the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering, the School of Law, the College of Art, the School of Medicine, the College of Architecture, the Olin Business School, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, the University College, and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science at WashU offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science & Engineering for undergraduates who are passionate about innovation and technology.

In addition to the 18 required units of study in the area of computer science and engineering, those students who have specific interests in a particular area of computing like, artificial intelligence and machine learning, should refer to the technical elective course sequences for suggestions on which courses are relevant to that area.

These can include Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Theory of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Computational Neuroscience, Computational Biology, Multi-Agent Systems, Motion Planning, and Video Game Programming. Students are also prepared for graduate programs.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin, like its home state, is known for being big and bold. There are several applicable Bachelor’s degree programs that engage such topics, including their new BSA, Bachelor of Science and Arts, which is the most interdisciplinary of the offerings and was formed in 2014.

They have over 51,000 students enrolled and a faculty of close to 3,000 members. They are the flagship school for the entire University of Texas system, which encompasses nine academic institutions and six health institutions throughout the state of Texas.

They are known for their high-quality programming and cutting-edge research among their various departments. One of its crowning jewels is its renowned department, which has consistently been ranked in the top 10 in the nation by US News and World Report and beyond.

The University of Texas at Austin offers an array of disciplines that are on the front lines of cultural and technological innovation. Their research areas include AI, which aims to address discourse surrounding machine cognition, bioinformatics and computational biology, data mining, machine learning, and natural computation.

There’s also an emphasis on formal methods, model-driven engineering, operating systems, distributed systems, networking, and implementation.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities offers AI students a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Track in Artificial Intelligence / Robotics. The is a public land-grant university located in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota.

One of the most esteemed public research universities in the nation, the school is the oldest and largest in the Minnesota University system. The University of Minnesota is a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), an academic consortium of fourteen universities in the Big Ten Conference that engages in collaborative research.

Member schools can generate unique opportunities for faculty and students by sharing resources and expertise. Big Ten membership is a draw for students seeking research programs, especially in emerging fields of study like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The university’s computer science undergraduate degree is part of the College of Science and Engineering, which offers numerous unique undergraduate majors.

The AI Track includes classes in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Mining, deep learning, Intelligent Robotic Systems, Sensing and Estimation in Robotics, and Computer Vision.

The University of Minnesota’s related AI and machine learning research labs and projects include the Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision Lab; Outobox: Machine Learning Reading Group; and the Visual Computing and AI Seminar.

  • Annual Tuition: $$$$$
  • Format: on campus

Methodology in Choosing the Top Universities for AI

More colleges and universities are developing bachelor’s degrees in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Value Colleges has gathered data and ranked programs based on three factors:

  • Cost (current IPEDS data)
  • Reputation (current U.S. News & World Report ranking)
  • Success (average alumni salary)

VC determines which schools are most likely to provide a healthy return on a graduate’s investment of time, work, and money.

A robot hand touching a human hand

Overview of Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs

The more a software application is used, the more it “learns” from the available data, and the more accurate the application’s responses become. This ability to self-improve is the essence of Machine Learning. Useful web searches and self-driving cars are just a few of the many ways ML and AI have permeated our lives.

AI undergraduate and graduate programs have historically been master’s level degrees and offered only as a specialization or concentration of another degree. They have existed in university departments of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and computer engineering. However, many schools now have bachelor’s level programs to study AI.

A teacher and student interacting with a machine

How Are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Related?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of computers to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Some examples of these tasks are visual recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. 

  • AI can take a physical form – like a robot – but most AI is embedded (often by bots) in services that don’t have a physical presence and are not seen. Social media sites like Facebook use visual recognition to identify and classify photos. 
  • AI is found in the technology used for mobile banking to make a remote deposit, the sorting of your email in the inbox and spam box, and the ‘recommendations’ suggested when we shop online. All machine learning is AI, but not all AI is machine learning.
  • Machine learning is a specific subcategory of artificial intelligence. So a degree in machine learning is not interchangeable with AI. 
A woman coding on her laptop

The fundamental difference between machine learning AI and traditional AI software is the use of algorithms or rules that tell a computer what to do in a situation.

  • A machine learning major uses self-developing models to process data and make predictions that enable machines to act without being explicitly programmed. 
  • Machine learning is currently the favored method for building AI and is experiencing a rise in popularity and educational opportunities.
  • Computer science and engineering study artificial intelligence, design and create computer systems, networks, and software, and develop computing techniques.

These are dynamic fields that impact the world more every day. As businesses and industries increasingly rely on computers and AI as integrated parts of daily business, research will grow and encompass almost all sectors. 

The emergence of Health Informatics, a degree of information technology (IT) in the healthcare system, is a prime example of the crossroads between industry and computer science degrees.

A screen of the laptop showing programming

Are Construction Management Schools Offering Programs in Artificial Intelligence?

Many aspiring students wonder if the best construction management schools offer programs in artificial intelligence. As the industry becomes more technologically advanced, students must have a strong foundation in AI. 

To stay ahead of the curve, construction management schools are now incorporating AI courses into their curriculum, providing students with the skills they need to succeed in this evolving field.

Where Do Artificial Intelligence Majors Get Jobs?

From the best artificial intelligence schools, where will you go? It’s hard to say where your computer science degree will take you. Since there is no specific classification for AI or Machine Learning in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we researched the Computer and Information Research Scientists occupation.

A woman playing chess with a robot

The Bureau describes the Computer and Information Research Scientists occupation as individuals that, “invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, medicine, science, and other fields”. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the Computer and Information Research Scientists occupation to grow 19% between 2016 and 2026, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy compared to all occupations. They are projected to increase by only 7% in the same period. Those with graduate degrees can expect even higher.

A professor interacting with a robot

Related Questions

Which College Is Better for Artificial Intelligence?

Among the top colleges, Stanford and MIT are widely considered to be the best for studying artificial intelligence. They offer top-notch programs and resources in this field.

What Is the Best College Major for Artificial Intelligence?

For those looking to learn AI, computer science is generally regarded as the best college major. It provides a strong foundation in programming, algorithms, and the theoretical concepts underlying AI.

What Is the Best Place to Study AI?

When you’re interested in pursuing advanced studies and research, the best place to study AI and obtain doctorate degrees would be at institutions like Stanford’s AI laboratory and UC’s Computational, Machine Learning, which have renowned computer science, AI, and ML research groups.

Two men talking while looking at the screen full of codes


Attending a top-ranked institution for AI provides access to top-class resources and faculty while opening doors to prestigious internships, research opportunities, and master’s degrees in AI-related disciplines. Ultimately, choosing the right university can be the first step towards a rewarding career in artificial intelligence and its numerous applications.

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12 Highest Paying Teaching Jobs: What is the Highest Paying Job in Education? [2024 Guide]

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Aspiring educators may find themselves in positions that fail to adequately compensate them for their hard work in schools and dedication to teaching students. We’ve helped professionals identify the most lucrative career paths. We’re sharing that list to help you make informed decisions that will align with your employment and financial goals.

Maximizing the Pay Grade: What Teachers Make the Most Money?

For those seeking education leadership roles and the highest paying jobs in the field, positions like superintendent, assistant principal, university or college administrator, postsecondary administrator, and college professor typically offer the most lucrative earnings. Despite requiring advanced degrees and considerable experience, these roles provide more opportunities that command top compensation within educational institutions.

No one goes into education to become a millionaire, despite the work that goes into becoming a teacher. Whatever the path, the best careers in education are in demand, and earning the higher degrees necessary for higher positions is a good investment.

PositionYearly Average EarningsHighest Educational Attainment
Superintendent$98,750Master’s Degree or PhD in Educational Administration/Leadership
School or assistant principal$95,310 Master’s Degree in Educational Administration
University or college administrator$94,340Master’s Degree or PhD in Educational Administration/Leadership
Postsecondary education administrator$86,320Master’s Degree or PhD in Educational Administration/Leadership
College professor$78,470 Master’s or PhD in a Subject Area
Instructional coordinator$64,450Master’s Degree or PhD in Curriculum & Instruction
High school teacher$60,320Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Teaching Certification
Special education teacher$59,780Bachelor’s Degree, Special Education Certification
Middle school teacher$58,600Bachelor’s Degree, Teaching Certification
Primary school teacher$57,980Undergraduate Degree in Elementary Education
School and career counselor $56,310Master’s Degree in School Counseling
Librarian$51,502Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Library Science

1. Superintendents

When you are looking into the best profession in education that gets paid the most, you will want to consider the role of a superintendent. A superintendent is a leader for an entire school district and strives to obtain the goals set by the school board in relation to student education.

Employees wearing suits conversing with each other during a social gathering

The career path is a challenge, although this level allows them to advance in their careers and achieve unique goals in various schools.

The salary expectations for a superintendent depend on the state and the local school district. While the exact income differs significantly, you can expect to earn between $98,750 and $156,000 per year. Keep in mind that starting salaries for a superintendent are usually lower than the income you can expect as you gain experience in your district and implement plans for student education.

2. School or Assistant Principals

Searching for the best-paid teaching jobs may result in evaluating the role of a principal or an assistant principal in a local school. A principal’s responsibilities focus on the school’s goals. A principal may meet with parents to discuss specific concerns related to their children, hire new teachers, or engage in teacher development. 

Woman using her laptop

The position may also require administrative skills that focus on ensuring that the school runs smoothly and the curriculum meets the district and state standards. 

A principal must have a master’s degree and five years of teaching experience before taking an exam to qualify for the position and move into the administrative role. An assistant or vice-principal helps the principal keep up with the demands of his or her position as a leader.

Income information:

  • While the specific income level may vary, the average income for a principal is around $95,000 per year. The highest-paying principal positions may earn around $70,000 to $138,000 per year. 
  • When working as an assistant principal, you can expect a median income of around $88,500 per year. The income range for an assistant principal is between $59,000 and $130,000 per year. 

3. University or College Administrators 

An administrator for colleges and universities focuses on the day-to-day running of the school. The responsibilities of the career path focus on tasks like budgeting, organizing events, appropriate disciplinary action, and public relations. The position focuses on leading the school to ensure that it runs smoothly during normal days and during times of crisis. 

Unique building university architecture

The administrator must have the skills to keep up with the challenges of administration work and leadership roles within the school.

College administrators have a master’s degree or higher in education administration or leadership that allows them to handle the challenges of following local, state, and federal regulations related to post-secondary education.

Income information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a university administrator is around $94,340.
  • The wage range may vary based on your state and experience level, so you may start with earnings of roughly $61,000 per year.
  • The highest-earning administrators for colleges can get paid around $128,000 per year.

4. Postsecondary Education Administrators

While teachers work to focus on instructional delivery and teaching lessons, administrators provide vital leadership and organizational oversight across schools. 

Young woman smiling on an empty school meeting room

Salary information:

  • Despite a starting pay of around $30,100 per year, most postsecondary administrators hold advanced degrees like a master’s in education leadership or related fields.
  • The path often involves first securing an advanced degree, followed by entry-level positions, before progressing to top-tier positions that reflect their graduate school training in management. This can get you a pay of up to $187,000 annually.

5. College Professors

When you are looking for the best-paid teaching jobs for your area of interest or specialized skill, then you may consider working as a professor in colleges or universities. A college professor prepares course material, teaches students in a classroom environment, and grades student work. 

Teacher pointing to a student in class during a lecture

A professor needs a minimum of a master’s degree to qualify for a teaching position; however, many schools may also require professors to obtain a doctorate before they qualify for a full-time position.

Salary information:

  • The median pay for a college or university professor is around $78,470 per year. 
  • Professors can get paid from $39,700 to $175,000 per year. Professors focusing on law tend to make more than professors in other fields or industries.

6. Instructional Coordinators

An instructional coordinator receives high pay because the position focuses on setting the standards for curriculum and teaching within district schools. Instructional coordinators work with principals and teachers to implement the curriculum and then assess the effectiveness of the curriculum among students.

Two men looking at a textbook outside the school building

An instructional coordinator has a master’s degree or higher with at least five years of work experience in an administrative or education position. You may be required to obtain a license for your career in some states.

Income information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for instructional coordinators is around $64,450 per year. 
  • The wage range for instructional coordinators is between $36,300 and $102,200 per year. Expect your earnings to change as you gain experience and improve in your profession.

7. High School Teachers

Becoming one of the highest-paying high school teachers allows you to advance your employment and earn reasonable pay. High school teachers prepare students for graduation by teaching a subject and specialized skills to their students.

Man wearing a suit and holding a tablet while sitting on a bench

High school teachers need a bachelor’s degree and certification or a license in their state. Standards related to licensure differ by state, so you will want to evaluate your state’s standards before you start working.

Income information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for high school teachers is $60,320 per year. 
  • The income range is between $39,700 and $97,500 per year.

8. Special Education Teachers 

Working as a special education teacher offers a rewarding profession that allows you to teach students with special needs to gain the skills they need for their lives. Special education teachers must adapt educational material to fit their students’ needs and help them with their specific challenges.

Teacher assisting a young male student while he's looking at a laptop

Special education teachers need a bachelor’s degree and an appropriate certification or license in their state to work with their students.

Salary information:

  • The median income for special education teachers is around $59,780 per year. 
  • The wage range for a special education teacher is between $39,600 and $97,000 per year.

9. Middle School Teachers

Working as a middle school teacher means taking on specialized classes and preparing your students for the challenges they will face as they move into high school. The position builds on the previous education of students at the elementary level and focuses on advancing skills to set a stronger foundation.

Teacher looking at her male student's laptop during class

A middle school teacher needs a bachelor’s degree and a license in their state to start their career and work with students on a specific subject in the classroom.

Salary information:

  • The median income of middle school teachers is around $58,600 per year.
  • The earnings can be around $39,000 and $93,000 per year.

10. Primary School Teachers

With a bachelor’s degree in education, elementary teachers set the foundation for students to build on as they grow and learn. Unlike a high school teacher, you will teach multiple subjects to your students in a classroom.

Young students listening to a teacher during class

Primary school teachers have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or related subjects. You may also need a state-issued certification.

Income information:

  • The median income for a primary school teacher is around $57,980 per year. 
  • The wage range for a primary school teacher is between $37,700 and $95,200 per year.

11. School and Career Counselors

A career counselor focuses on helping and advising students to determine their long-term goals for their future. A school counselor needs a master’s degree in school counseling and must have a state-issued license to work with students.

Counselor taking notes during a therapy session

Salary information:

  • The median income for a school or career counselor is around $56,310 per year. 

The earnings range for the position is between $33,600 and $94,600 per year.

12. Librarians

Librarians’ responsibilities extend beyond assisting students in navigating resources. They also manage entire library collections, plan programs, and support faculty with research and lesson planning. However, they are integral to facilitating research and learning at the college level.

School librarian talking to students that were sitting on a table

Income information: 

  • Librarians may not earn as much as teachers providing teaching lessons or those in specialized fields like special education, with a starting income of around $38,000 every year.
  • The average salary for a librarian is $51,502 per year.
  • These trained professionals can earn up to $71,000 yearly. Their work involves creating efficient access to valuable resources across schools, community colleges, and universities, which justifies their competitive pay.

How We Chose the Highest-Paying Careers in Education

For selecting the best-paid teaching jobs and administrative careers, our methodology was simple consulting Bureau of Labor Statistics data on various positions in the teaching field. From there, we simply arranged jobs in order of average salary at the national level, from highest to lowest. 

Young students sitting on the floor while listening to their teacher tell a story from a book

Why Are Some Types of Teachers Paid More?

The compensation a teacher receives as a professional is based upon several important factors.

With 15 years of experience in the education sector, Kelsey Ludeman shares her insights on this topic:

“Salaries in the education arena vary vastly between districts, schools, and universities. Administrators and professors tend to have higher earning power, while classroom teachers often operate at a lower pay scale. Factors that can positively impact income include specialized expertise, additional certifications, location and cost of living, school type, supply and demand, and advanced degrees.”

Earnings for the varying types of jobs in education depend on many components. Early childhood education and elementary education, for instance, are more different than you would expect.

Total compensation includes wages and other benefits, like sick days and health insurance. However, monetary compensation is determined by the following factors:

  • Level of education: The education requirements for a teacher include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education before they can even apply for their teaching license. It benefits the district through advanced education, and a teacher’s compensation increases when an advanced degree is earned. This becomes a great return on investment
  • Years in service: Like most occupations, seniority plays a key role in determining one’s level of compensation. Many of the highest-paying careers include university teachers who have been teaching for many years.
  • State or district: Because school funding is usually tied to tax revenue, each district within a state will have public school teacher incomes that vary as well. For example, the Aldine Independent School District pays starting employees $61,000 while Conroe ISD jobs offer $60,000 with no experience.
  • Supply and demand: Some roles, like special education teachers, require a very specific set of skills and may pay more. For example, the high school culinary arts teacher wage may be higher since the role is hard to fill.

States With the Highest Average Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the list of jobs in the education field with the highest annual compensation packages for teachers (May 2020) includes:

  • New York — $85,300
  • California — $80,510
  • Massachusetts — $80,020
  • Alaska — $77,920
  • Connecticut — $76,980

Do Higher Salaries Bring More Job Satisfaction for Teachers?

The reality is that for some teachers, higher wages would seem to bring a higher level of satisfaction. It’s one of the non-monetary benefits of education. However, much of that satisfaction is likely to be cloaked in the security that the higher salary brings. 

Teacher looking at the art work her young student is holding on her hand

The concept of job satisfaction is what is known as a social construct — a notion that was crafted (and accepted) by those who occupy society. What makes job satisfaction even more complex is that one’s level of job satisfaction is highly personal. 

Consider the following factors that create satisfied workers across the board: 

  • Level of engagement: Whether you want to become a high school teacher or an instructional coordinator, those who find meaning in their work become easily engaged. 
  • Respect and appreciation: Many studies have shown that an underappreciated or disrespected employee is more likely to become disgruntled and dissatisfied in a classroom.
  • Reasonable and just compensation: Loyal workers expect to be fairly paid for their skill level, their commitment to the school system’s objectives, and their meeting of student education level expectations. 
  • Life satisfaction: Studies show that people, who are generally more predisposed to be happy in life, tend to find more satisfaction in their work.

Related Questions

What Kind of Teachers Get Paid Most?

Teachers in leadership and administrative roles, such as principals and superintendents, tend to command the highest salaries. This is compared to traditional teaching positions that involve teaching materials and lesson planning for students.

Which Level of Teaching Pays the Most?

Roles like college professors, postsecondary administrators, and superintendents overseeing advising students and entry-level positions earn higher salaries than elementary or secondary school teachers. Generally, the higher the level of education and the broader the experience, the more lucrative the teaching positions become.


Having a clear understanding of the highest-paying jobs in education empowers professionals to make strategic decisions regarding their employment trajectories. Whether pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education or considering a transition into the field, being aware of the positions that command top wages allows for better planning and goal-setting.

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What Are the Benefits of Trade School?

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The thought of committing to four-year degree programs might be overwhelming. While it opens doors to several career opportunities, the massive commitment required for a bachelor’s degree might not appeal to everyone. 

Fortunately, trade schools help you build a successful career without spending years in the college setting. If you’re wondering, “What are the benefits of trade school?” don’t worry. In this article, we’ll dig deeper to answer the question and help you decide whether they’re worth a shot! 

What Are the Benefits of Trade School? 

Trade schools, aka vocational schools, offer several benefits, such as lower costs, trade-focused training, smaller class sizes, and a greater variety of programs. On top of that, trade schools allow faster graduation, facilitating you to graduate within two years or less. 

Students in a classroom

Kelsey Ludeman, an Academic Success Coach at the University of Houston-Downtown, explains how trade schools can often get overlooked, though have a lot of potential and benefits:

“In an often college-focused society, trade schools are sometimes overlooked, yet have the potential to build highly successful and lucrative lifelong careers. Vocation and technical schools offer specialized skills training, accelerated course durations, low overhead costs, and provide valuable industry connections.

Build a recession-proof career by specializing in an essential services field such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work, which are relatively economically resilient, offering job security regardless of economic inconsistencies.”

As per the last statistics, more than 20% of students at public four-year institutions take seven years or longer to graduate or drop out. This indicates that not every student will flourish in a traditional four-year college. This is where trade schools step in. 

For many learners, trade schools sound like a great deal for eliminating the general courses and only focusing on practical skills. However, that’s not even the best yet – these schools have other benefits that set them apart from the conventional four-year degree programs. Some of these include: 

Low Tuition Costs

Did you know that the average in-state student attending a public four-year institution spends $26,027 per academic year? If you multiply it by the years it takes to complete the degree, the numbers only get crazier. On the contrary, public two-year institutions cost around 3,970 per year, which indicates a huge difference. 

Goes without saying that these numbers significantly soar for private colleges. If you’re looking for lower costs, opting for a local community college can be your best bet. 

For instance, community colleges don’t require you to pay additional charges for campus facilities. However, be prepared to have fewer facilities and entertainment options than a four-year college. 

Focused Training

Another huge benefit of attending trade schools is their focused training approach. They provide comprehensive training programs designed to help students acquire specific skills required to pursue their desired profession. This, in turn, gears them up for entering the workforce as soon as they’re done with college. 

Once you have a clear career path in mind, you have the chance to bypass general education requirements and focus on your vocational goals. For instance, if you wish to build a career in cybersecurity, you can take classes only related to the field and skip the rest! 

Small Class Sizes 

In trade schools or community colleges, perhaps the biggest edge is the smaller size as compared to large public universities. With a focus on specifics, classes are made up of individuals who share common career aspirations. This creates a more intimate learning environment, allowing closer interactions with professors and inclusive discussions with peers. 

For most learners, smaller classes present the opportunity to learn more comfortably and cohesively. When surrounded by like-minded individuals, you can build stronger connections, participate actively, and gather the support you need to pursue your goals. 

Students working at desks with computers

Easier Job Placement 

Like traditional four-year colleges, trade schools offer job placement services to help students secure jobs after graduation. What’s different is that in trade schools, these services are highly personalized and more hands-on. This is mainly due to close-knit student bodies and better connections. 

Even better, the focused programs here and career training prepare you for very specific careers. As a result, you’re less likely to encounter uncertainties in the job market. Also, there’s a high chance your trade school has joined hands with local businesses, which means more job opportunities for you! 

Emphasis On High-demand Careers 

While most students don’t know it, one of the greatest benefits of trade schools is their commitment to highly demanded careers. These schools prepare you for the most reliable career paths out there. From careers in construction to positions in the medical field, vocational schools provide you with the right skills for the fast-growing roles today. 

The best part? The earnings of many trade school graduates can be on par with those of their peers from four-year colleges. For example, if you complete an HVAC program in less than a year, you’re ready to enter the job market. In contrast, your fellows at four-year colleges may have to wait till their graduation to step into the field. 

Financial Aid 

Apart from the lower tuition costs at two-year institutions, trade schools also offer a myriad of financial assistance options. With these scholarships, you can easily cover your tuition costs and other college expenses. Some schools even offer waives to reduce student debt so you can graduate with minimal financial strain. 

To discuss these aid options, get in touch with your financial aid advisors, who will help you get through the process smoothly. Plus, don’t forget to do your research beforehand so you know your options and trade-offs. 

Faster Graduation 

Let’s be real; most of us look for shortcuts without compromising on our objectives. The biggest edge trade schools have over regular four-year colleges is the faster graduation time. Most of their programs last a maximum of two years, with some offering even shorter timelines. 

Besides, most trade schools have multiple start dates throughout the year. This means shorter waiting times even if you missed your previous enrollment date. So, with trade schools, you don’t have to wait six or more months to begin your career – you can start whenever you feel like it! 

Group of individuals collaborating on a project in a classroom setting

Fewer Admission Requirements 

The tons of admission requirements that come with a four-year bachelor’s degree can be super draining. Again, trade schools step in to save the day, offering more lenient admission policies and fewer requirements. To put this into perspective, trade schools readily accept students without a high school diploma or low grades. 

So, even if you didn’t perform well in high school, a bright future still awaits. Also, trade schools often don’t have prerequisite courses, experience, or extracurriculars as conditions for letting you in. 

Variety of Programs 

While trade schools are generally smaller, don’t mistake them for offering limited courses. At trade schools, you find a diverse range of programs, including business, medical, finance, and mental health programs – under one roof. 

Depending on your interest, you can expand your skillset which paves the way for your dream career. For instance, if you have your HVAC certificate and want to broaden your skillset, you could explore other programs such as an Automotive Technician Program to further excel in the automotive industry. 

Types of Trade School Programs 

Given that 66% of jobs in the US no longer require a bachelor’s degree, it’s hardly surprising why trade schools are becoming increasingly popular among students. They’re highly flexible, enabling you to select options that best suit your career goals and time constraints. 

While you may pull off some trade programs in weeks, others may take up to two years, depending on the subject’s complexity. This way, you can study at your own pace. The main types of trade school programs include: 

  • Certificate Programs 

Typically shorter, certificate programs equip you with specific skills required for a particular trade. They offer a great chance for students who wish to quickly become field experts without spending years on a long-term degree.  

  • Associate Degree Programs 

On the flip side, associate degree programs are longer and take up to two years to complete. Such degree programs are ideal for students seeking a deeper understanding of their field before they’re ready to enter the workforce. 

Top Trade Professions 

Trade school programs offer students numerous professions to choose from. Here’s a list of the most popular careers you can tap into after graduating from a trade school: 

  • Automotive Technology 
  • Culinary Arts
  • Plumbing
  • Healthcare Assistants 
  • Computer Networking 
  • Cosmetology
  • Welding 
  • Carpentry 
  • Electrical Technology  
Young students reading and researching in a library

Related Questions 

Are Trade Schools Better Than Colleges?

If you prefer smaller class sizes, lower tuition costs, faster graduation timelines, and fewer admission requirements, then trade schools might be the way to go. While it depends on your preferences, it’s worth noting that certain careers, like physicians, may require a college degree to enter the field. 

Is a Trade School Worth It?

Yes, trade schools can be a valuable investment for students whose academic and financial goals align with the benefits these schools offer. With direct pathways to careers, these are a solid investment for those seeking practical, hands-on education and quick entry into the workforce.

What Is the Best Trade to Get Into?

Typically, the best trades to learn depends on your interests and preferences. However, according to BLS projections, the highest trade jobs include construction managers, elevator installers, dental hygienists, and nuclear medicine technologists.


Trade schools are the ultimate answer for those looking for a fulfilling career without spending four or more years at a traditional college. Whether you wish to save money, fast-track your career, or access a variety of programs, roll up your sleeves to attend a trade school! 

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