13 Best Online Colleges in Iowa

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Considering a college that does not require you to put in a lot of classroom time? Are you too busy to spend hours inside a room with others?

Online education through many great Iowa colleges is recommended for those leading busy lives. Each of the colleges provided on this list has been thoroughly researched to ensure that the student is enrolling with a quality college. The colleges each have been placed under a microscope, with various factors considered, to provide high-quality learning for students wishing to pursue a degree online.

Learn at your own pace, right from home in your pajamas through the use of e-learning platforms that each college or university offers to their students. Each college and university is accredited to provide students with a chance to have a high ranking degree once they complete their course curricula each semester. If you choose to go to the campus, a mix of both online and on-campus courses can be chosen, depending on the degree that the student wishes to pursue. Keep in mind, some of the degrees require the student to do both online, as well as face-to-face learning, while others can be done completely through the use of a computer with internet connection.

Top 10 Best Online Colleges in Iowa

Rank School Location
1 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
2 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
3 Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids, IA
4 Iowa State University Ames, IA
5 Clarke University Dubuque, IA
6 Morningside College Sioux City, IA
7 Buena Vista University Storm Lake, IA
8 Northwestern College Orange City, IA
9 Briar Cliff University Sioux City, IA
10 Graceland University Lamoni, IA

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Best Online Colleges in Iowa Badge

What are the best online colleges in Iowa?

We use three different criteria to find out which colleges are the best throughout the state. In order to provide the most relevant colleges, we thoroughly check into their institutional excellence, return on investment and student satisfaction with the specific college. Through various reviews and ratings based on the colleges themselves online and in-person, students tell what they love (or dislike) about the college. Those with lower student satisfaction ratings do not make the list, while those with higher ratings are worth talking about for other students. We provide only those colleges with exceptional qualities to ensure that students get the best education.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Northern Iowa
    Location

    Cedar Falls, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Northern Iowa or UNI as many students refer to it as is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Offering over 90 majors in 7 colleges and one graduate college, there are plenty of offerings for students to choose from. The colleges house courses and degrees for Education, Arts, Sciences, Business Administration, Humanities, Behavioral Sciences and Social. Named one of the best in Midwest, it continues to strive to provide a learning environment modeled around the student’s needs. Ranked by both the Princeton Review and US News and World Report.

    Program Features

    UNI e-learning is a platform that was designed with the busy student in mind. Providing both course classes, as well as full degrees, it is a distant based learning platform for the college. Students have the opportunity to take either on-campus classes or online classes, as well as pursue full degrees with some limitations. Some of the courses that are offered through this college include:

    • Course classes for specific degrees for on-campus learning
    • Continuing and distance education
    • Main classes – English, Math, Science and Social
    • Liberal Arts
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Management
    • Emergency Services
    • Technology

    Notables

    Consistently ranked in the 10 top universities in the nation for the CPA exams, it continues to be a well-ranked college worth looking into. Over 90 percent of the classes provide small class sizes, with less than 50 students in each. Professors, not teaching assistants teach close to 80 percent of all classes. Mostly all the students are from the state of Iowa, though others are encouraged to enroll.

  2. University of Iowa
    Location

    Iowa City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Known as UI or U of I, the University of Iowa is a public research university located in Iowa City, Iowa. Founded back in 1847, it has deep roots within the history of the state. It is also one of the oldest universities that can be found throughout the entire state. Second largest in the state, it houses thousands of students. UI offers over 200 areas of study, as well as a handful of professional degrees for those looking to pursue their careers even further. The athletic teams are some of the best in the nation with the Hawkeyes making it to Division I of the NCAA.

    Program Features

    Excited to welcome their first ever online lab courses, they’ve expanded and excelled at providing an online learning platform for all students to enjoy learning away from the campus. With a full e-platform dedicated to students that wish to take courses, or full degrees online, they’ve provided students with a way to further their lives without having to sit in a classroom.

    • Applied Studies
    • Liberal Studies
    • Science and Math
    • Political Science
    • Management Degrees
    • Radiation Sciences
    • Nursing
    • Leadership Studies
    • Writing and English

    Notables

    Spanning over 1,700 acres of land and right on the banks of the Iowa River, it is a beautiful place to spend some time taking classes. Many of the students in the health programs work with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. With very high research activity, it is a part of several research coalitions such as the Big Ten Academic Alliance and Association of American Universities.

  3. Mount Mercy University
    Location

    Cedar Rapids, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A four year Catholic liberal arts university, Mount Mercy University is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Founded in 1928 by the Sisters of Mercy, it continues to provide traditional teaching values for those that want a quality education both on-campus and online. Students that attend Mount Mercy take liberal arts courses as a core study, while providing numerous minors for students to choose from to enrich their liberal arts core major. Offering more than 45 undergraduate programs and several graduate programs, many are available for students to take online.

    Program Features

    An online e-learning platform has been set up for students that wish to learn away from the campus. Those that enroll with the college have the opportunity to enjoy full online degree options, or to mix and match with both online and on-campus courses that are provided. Some of the offerings online include:

    • Business
    • Human Resource Management
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Core Classes – Math, Science, Social and English

    Notables

    A smaller university as compared to some of the larger ones located throughout Iowa, it provides students with a chance to have smaller class sizes and more attention while in the classroom. Accredited through the North Central Association, students will have full accreditation with their degrees once they finish their degree program choice, whether it is through online learning or on-campus classrooms.

  4. Iowa State University
    Location

    Ames, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Referred to as Iowa State, Iowa State University of Science and Technology is a large University that is providing numerous degree options for those students seeking a major or minor of choice. It is a public land-grant, space-grant University that is located in Ames, Iowa. The largest university for the state, it has hundreds of classes and thousands of students that learn both on campus and online. It is also the second largest university found in the Big 12 athletic conference.

    Program Features

    Iowa State University offers numerous program offerings for those that want to learn either online or through campus learning. Many of the courses can be taken through the e-learning platform, as well as full degrees for those wishing to pursue a degree on their own time, at their own homes. Some of the courses and degree offerings for online learning include:

    • Human Sciences
    • Agricultural and Life Sciences
    • Business
    • Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Design
    • Veterinarian Sciences
    • Engineering

    Notables

    Classified as a Research University, they have very high research activity that happens on campus. A member of the Association of American Universities, they have a strong connection with many of the Universities and other campuses around the state, as well as the nation. Awarded the Innovation and Prosperity University award, they are one of 54 that have been named as such throughout the country.

  5. Clarke University
    Location

    Dubuque, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A four year liberal arts college that is located in Dubuque, Iowa, they’re affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Overlooking the Mississippi River, the campus is a beautiful picture that students walk through. Known as a college for the arts, they provide numerous course offerings for the arts, but also for many other majors and minors for students looking to pursue a different type of degree. They also provide masters and doctoral degrees for those seeking a graduate level amount of education.

    Program Features

    Currently, there is only one online course that is offered to students that want to enroll in this college. However, they continue to further their research on adding an online classroom section for students that wish to do distance learning. Those students interested in graduate programs in education can do so online through Clarke University.

    • Online Graduate Education Program

    Notables

    A smaller college, they have around 1,200 students enrolled each semester. This provides students with more learning resources and classroom time with the professors.

  6. Morningside College
    Location

    Sioux City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private, liberal arts college that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the Morningside College is located in Sioux City, Iowa. Founded back in 1894 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, it is a private college that provides students with small classrooms and a traditional learning platform. With 21 buildings that make up the campus, there is plenty of space on the 68 acre college campus for many students to roam. Many of the classrooms are smaller in numbers to provide students with more one-on-one learning, as well as a whole college area devoted to online learning.

    Program Features

    There are a few graduate programs available for those looking to pursue their careers, as well as an option for undergraduate degrees. You can choose which one works for you. There are also many other degrees available for those that wish to pursue a degree through the campus itself. The online offerings include:

    • Graduate Program in Education
    • Graduate Program in Nursing
    • Undergraduate in Organizational Management
    • Teacher Intern Program

    Notables

    Morningside College is part of the Morningside College Historic District and includes the campus, which is all part of the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the buildings are the original buildings from when the campus was first founded.They cultivate a passion for lifelong learning and wish to provide the very best for the students that come to learn with them and in their classrooms.

  7. Buena Vista University
    Location

    Storm Lake, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private four-year college that is located in Storm Lake, Iowa, Buena Vista University was founded in 1891. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, it sits on 60 acres of lush land, as well as on the shores of Storm Lake. With traditional liberal arts courses and hands-on learning opportunities, it has a very small classroom size of only 13 students per one professor. This provides students with the ability to learn easily and effectively without having too many students in the classroom setting. Online classes are definitely an options for students interested in distance learning.

    Program Features

    There are many different types of degrees that are offering through Buena Vista’s online degree plan choice. You can choose which major fits with the needs that you have and take all of the classes through the platform completely online. The majors offered include:

    • Accounting
    • Applied Studies
    • Applied Management
    • Business Administration
    • Criminal Justice
    • General
    • Finance and Banking
    • Health and Human Services
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Psychology
    • Graduate Programs

    Notables

    Accredited through the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, Buena Vista provides accredited degrees to those students that complete the courses required. Both graduate and undergraduate degrees are offered to students that wish to pursue different career paths in life.

  8. Northwestern College
    Location

    Orange City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private Christian Liberal Arts college, Northwestern College has over 1,200 students that attend each and every semester. Located in Orange City, Iowa, it is known to many as Northwestern IA. Affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, it began in 1882 as an academy. Upgraded to a junior college in 1928, it gained attention and traction then turned into the college that it currently is in 1961. With a deep history, the college has been standing for some time, though changing shapes, it continues to provide exceptional learning help for students.

    Program Features

    There are a handful of options for those pursuing a degree and wish to take the next course of action. Northwestern College provides these full degree options for those searching for either degrees or certificates in specific areas.

    • Health Information Technology
    • Business Administration
    • Business Administration Certificate
    • Coding Specialist Certificate
    • Medical Insurance Billing Specialist

    Notables

    Accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, it continues to be one of the higher up institutions of the area. The specialized majors, such as nursing, business and education all have separate accreditation through organizations. Their sports teams are recognized through various divisions and associations.

  9. Briar Cliff University
    Location

    Sioux City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Sioux City, Iowa, Briar Cliff University is a private, Franciscan and Roman Catholic liberal arts university. Known for their exceptional online studies, they’ve quickly gained ground in being known throughout the world. They have on-campus courses that students can take, as well. However, since being founded in 1930, they’ve gained traction and built their campus and school up more to provide even more for the students that attend each semester.

    Program Features

    Briar Cliff University has a very large selection of classes to choose from. Those seeking a full online degree, or even graduate degree can benefit from being able to enroll within this college and have a full course offering completely through the internet. Some of the degrees offered include:

    • Social Work
    • RN to BSN
    • Accounting
    • Art
    • Criminal Justice
    • Dentistry

    Notables

    Part of the Community for Accredited Online Schools, they’re recognized as one of the best and most influential online schools for students to take part in. For their continued excellence in education, students are able to learn at their own pace through online classes. This helps many students still manage their busy full time lives, while still going to school and being able to work towards the degree plan of their choice.

  10. Graceland University
    Location

    Lamoni, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private liberal arts university with over 2,000 students, Graceland University provides students with a more in-depth learning opportunity. With a few different campuses, they provide a number of places for students to receive their education, including online. With graduate and undergraduate programs offered, there is plenty for students to choose from when becoming a part of this online college. Founded in 1895, it is a part of the Community of Christ. The main campus is located in Lamoni, Iowa and provides over 50 programs for students to take part in.

    Program Features

    There are undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees that can be done completely online. Many of them provide the user with a way to learn at their own pace and at their own time. Enjoy all that comes from being able to learn through the use of these programs offered from the university.

    • Business
    • Organizational Leadership
    • RN to BSN
    • Healthcare Management
    • Education
    • Science
    • Religion

    Notables

    Activities and sports are highly recommended for the students, with many options to choose from. The nursing and education programs offered through the school are highly regarded through various accreditation associations. The school is also home to programs from the Community of Christ Seminary. With plenty to offer students, including their online curriculum, it is a place where students can further their careers.

  11. Upper Iowa University
    Location

    Fayette, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private institution known as UIU, it has the residential campus that is located in northeast Iowa. It is next to the Volga River and provides a place for around 900 students to take courses. Known mostly for the online educational classes that it provides students, as well as an independent study program, it centers its focus to students around the globe and not just to those located in the US. Counting the students that do online learning, the university provides programs for over 6,000 students.

    Program Features

    Since UIU is a big online college, they offer many different courses for students to take part in. You can enjoy being able to obtain some of the best classes and information out there. Some, but not all of the classes, include:

    • Criminal Justice
    • General Business
    • Liberal Arts
    • Psychology
    • Graphic Design
    • Sociology
    • Accounting

    Notables

    Both undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered to students. Over 40 majors are provided to students that wish to choose one. With 2 eight week terms per semester, it rotates on a different type of university clock then the others. Accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, it continues to provide excellence to those students that wish to attend either the campus or online college.

  12. Iowa Wesleyan University
    Location

    Mount Pleasant, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private four year college that focuses on liberal arts, Iowa Wesleyan University is located in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Founded in 1842, it is Iowa’s first co-educational institution of higher learning. It is also the oldest type of learning facility located west of the Mississippi River. They have many new innovations that are presented, making it an ideal place for those seeking more out of technology. They have concepts of undergraduate lab science and service learning techniques.

    Program Features

    Offering several online degree programs, you can expect to have exceptional learning through the use of the online campus. You can meet with other students and navigate your way through the classes without having to go to the actual campus. They are looking to expand their online offerings to students wishing to pursue a different degree then what is currently being offered online. The degree offerings include:

    • Business Administration
    • Criminal Justice
    • Human Services
    • RN to BSN

    Notables

    Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, they have many campus buildings and even an online learning center for students that wish to do distant learning. Two of their buildings, the Old Main and Harlan-Lincoln House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their long standing reputation within the area. One of the buildings is now a museum that showcases some of the older items from the past.

  13. Purdue University Global
    Location

    Cedar Falls, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Purdue University Global is a network of colleges that are both on campus and online. Owned by Purdue University, they are primarily an institute for distance learning. This allows them to offer a number of online degrees for students that wish to pursue them completely online, without having to go to a campus, though they do have campuses set up in various places. They continue to boost their ratings with students that graduate with their programs every day.

    Program Features

    Since Purdue University Global is an online learning environment, they provide many different online courses and degree offerings to students wishing to pursue a degree completely online. They currently have over 180 degree offerings. When enrolling with the college, you can choose from a number of programs, including, but not limited too:

    • Business
    • IT
    • Nursing
    • Health Sciences
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences

    Notables

    Regionally accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, they have many programs that have the specific accreditation that is needed to provide students with a high standing degree program of their choice. They are currently hoping to turn their institution into a nonprofit one, providing more affordable learning opportunities for students that wish to better their lives.

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