Students who enjoy the flexibility of a distance learning format may wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree online in Iowa. There are numerous options available for starting a career in nursing, business, the social sciences, liberal arts, and more. Consider the following schools in Iowa that offer an accredited bachelor’s degree online:

The University of Iowa

  • Number of Online Bachelor’s Degrees: 5
  • Fields Offered: Applied Studies, Social Work, Business Administration, Liberal Studies, Nursing
  • Accreditor: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)

The University of Iowa, a nationally ranked institution in Iowa City, offers online bachelor’s degrees through its Continuing Education division. All of the University of Iowa’s online bachelor’s degree programs are aimed at adults who either hold an associate degree or who started a four-year degree program at one point but did not finish. For instance, students must possess either an associate degree from an accredited institution or 60 transferable semester hours of college credit before they are eligible for most of the university’s online bachelor’s degree programs. Both the online Bachelor of Applied Studies and the online Bachelor of Liberal Studies allow students to choose an individualized plan of study rather than a traditional major, with areas of emphasis including creative writing, human relations, justice studies, political science, and more.

The online Bachelor of Business Administration, however, requires a major in management. More specialized degrees include the Bachelor of Social Work, which prepares students for generalist practice in social work, and the online RN-to-BSN program for registered nurses. The RN-to-BSN program is primarily delivered online but also incorporates one clinical course with face-to-face requirements arranged close to where the student lives in Iowa. RNs must possess either a diploma in nursing or an associate degree in nursing before they can be eligible to start the RN-to-BSN program.

Iowa State University

  • Number of Online Bachelor’s Degrees: 1
  • Fields Offered: Liberal Studies
  • Accreditor: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)

Iowa State University, which is most recognized for its online graduate programs, also offers an online bachelor’s degree, the Bachelor of Liberal Studies. This versatile degree is a good option for nontraditional students whose work and family obligations keep them from attending a traditional program. Unlike more traditional bachelor’s programs, the online Bachelor of Liberal Studies does not require students to declare a major but instead allows students to take a selection of general studies courses in the humanities, communications and arts, math and natural sciences, social sciences, and professional studies. To be eligible for the program, students must have acquired either an associate degree or 62 semester credits. Students also have the option of taking a mixture of campus-based courses and distance education courses.

Upper Iowa University

  • Number of Online Bachelor’s Degrees: 17
  • Fields Offered: Business, Criminal Justice, Emergency and Disaster Management, Health Services Administration, Human Services, Interdisciplinary Studies, Management Information Systems, Psychology, Public Administration, Social Science
  • Accreditor: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Upper Iowa University, a private not-for-profit school located in Fayette, offers a wide variety of online bachelor’s degree programs through its Center for Distance Education (CDE). Unlike many other online bachelor’s degree programs in Iowa, UIU’s programs do not have any residency requirements, allowing UIU to have a more worldwide reach. Altogether, more than 3,000 students across the globe are served through the CDE. Courses are delivered asynchronously, meaning students and instructors do not need to be online at the same. This provides much-needed flexibility for working adults, military personnel, stay-at-home parents, and those who travel frequently. A hallmark of UIU’s distance learning programs are online discussions, in which students actively participate in conversations that center on course topics.

Higher Education in Iowa

Iowa, tucked away in the American Midwest, has long made education a priority. In fact, Iowa had the fifth-highest public high school graduation rate in the country in the 2008-2009 school year, with the graduation rate exceeding 80%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. More high school graduates means more of Iowa’s students are prepared to pursue higher education, which is also highly valued in the Hawkeye State. Major public research universities in Iowa include the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. In addition, the state’s higher education system encompasses a wide range of private institutions, including liberal arts colleges, faith-based colleges, and proprietary institutions. Many of these schools offer online bachelor degrees in Iowa.

Iowa residents representing every county in the state take courses at public universities through distance education opportunities, according to the State of Iowa Board of Regents, the governing body for the state’s five public educational institutions. Students can search for distance learning courses through the IowaLearns Distance Learning Catalog, a service of Iowa Public Television that catalogs distance learning opportunities available from both public and independent higher education institutions in the state. However, online education in Iowa starts even earlier than the college level. Iowa Learning Online allows high school students to take distance education courses through online classes and interactive video classrooms.


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