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Online schools in Alabama

Article Sources

"America's Most and Least Educated States," 24/7 Wall St., Accessed November 30, 2016, http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/09/23/the-most-and-least-educated-states/10/

Key Industries, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Accessed November 30, 2016, http://www.edpa.org/key-industries/

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/

U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop, State Profile: Alabama, Accessed November 30, 2016, https://www.careerinfonet.org/state1.asp?id=11&nodeid=12

U.S. News & World Report, Rankings, Colleges in New Alabama, accessed October 22, 2016, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/al

United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, accessed November 30, 2016: Web Developer, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, or Nurse Practitioners, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm, Software Developers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm, Biomedical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm, Operations Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm, Statisticians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm, Physical Therapists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm

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Alabama seems to be truly invested in producing more college graduates and the promising businesses and jobs they tend to attract. In 2013, an executive order created the Governor's College and Career Ready Task Force to make recommendations to improve education opportunities. Meanwhile, the state's PK-20 Initiative seeks to create a seamless system that will support student achievement and success from early childhood education through college.

Alabama hosts an impressive number of colleges and universities that stand ready to assist in creating the type of graduates 21st-century jobs demand. While traditional degree programs remain popular, many online schools in Alabama make it easy for returning students to schedule classes around work and family obligations. Regardless of your preferred learning style, it is important to discover which Alabama college cities, degrees and careers best suit your style and goals.

This guide is here to help. In it, you will find:

Snapshot: Live and learn in Alabama

Students looking for a college experiences as much as a college degree, take heart: Alabama is home to several well-loved college towns. The following cities fit the bill.

Alabama's college towns

The following cities are known for their excellent college vibe:

City

Highlights

Featured Local College

Institution Type

Tuscaloosa

  • Well rated pubs and breweries
  • Pedestrian-friendly community
  • Energetic sports scene

University of Alabama

Public research university

Birmingham

  • Regional history and tradition
  • Affordability
  • Local festivals and events

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Public research university

Virginia College

Private for-profit 2- and four-year college

Auburn

  • Promising job market
  • Arts and culture scene
  • Football, football, football

Auburn University

Public research university

Troy

  • Historic downtown square and nightlife
  • Troyfest arts festival
  • Woodland trails and camping

Troy University

Public master's university

Florence

  • Dynamic music scene
  • Well loved restaurants and cuisine
  • Shopping plus designer stores and outlets

University of North Alabama

Public master's university

Heritage Christian University

Private Bible college

* Enrollment data is the most recent available at the time of this writing. Check out our source list for more information.
Source: This chart's data is primarily using U.S. News & World Report sources.

Alabama's best colleges

Alabama's top colleges' reputations extend well beyond its borders. The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) creates an annual ranking of the top 1,000 colleges in the world using factors like research publications, alumni employment, and overall quality of education and faculty. The following colleges in Alabama made the cut:

University

City

Enrollment

(2016)

Percentage of male / female students

Tuition and fees

(In-state, 2016)

Known for

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham

11,511

41/59

$7,766

UAB's research programs are nationally ranked and their scientists and professors highly-regarded.

University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa

31,958

45/55

$10,470

UA is Alabama's oldest public university and commonly called "The Capstone," but most people know it for its football tradition.

Auburn University

Auburn

21,786

51/49

$10,696

Auburn, like UA, is a major football school, and the city itself has been featured on CNN's Best Places to Live ranking.

University of Alabama in Huntsville

Huntsville

6,013

57/43

$9,128

Hunstsville's aerophysics prowess earned it the nickname "Rocket City." UAH's excellent science and engineering programs and its 16 research labs reflect that.

University of South Alabama

Mobile

11,524

44/56

$9,446

U.S. News & World Report ranked USA among the top 100 engineering master's schools.

Source: Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) and U.S. News & World Report

Most affordable colleges in Alabama

Most affordable…

(2016)

University

In-state tuition and fees

Out-of-state tuition and fees

Online learning options?

Public school

Athens State University

$6,120

$11,490

Athens State offers several online degree programs.

Community college

Gadsden State Community College

$3,168

$5,880

GSCC offers a range of online courses.

Private school

Columbia Southern University

$5,175

$5,175

This is a 100 percent online college.

Special-interest school

Huntsville Bible College

$4,320

$4,320

HBC offers some online coursework.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), National Center for Education Statics (NCES)

Online education in Alabama

Alabama needs more college graduates. When 24/7 Wall Street published an analysis that ranked all 50 states by educational attainment, Alabama came in at No. 44. According to the report, fewer than 24 percent of Alabamians had bachelor's degrees or higher that year. If Alabama could push this rate higher, all citizens would benefit: States with more educated workforces tend to attract more — and higher-paying — jobs than states with fewer college graduates.

One way Alabama can increase its share of college degree-holders significantly is improving educational accessibility, especially within the state's working and sizeable rural populations. This is where online schools in Alabama shine. Online programs can offer students the flexibility to study around personal obligations and geographic barriers. Alabama has a myriad of online colleges with choices ranging from large and respected universities to local community colleges and private institutions. Here are a few of the best online schools in Alabama.

Top online colleges in Alabama

U.S. News & World Report's 2017 rankings highlight the quality and range of online colleges in Alabama:

Online school

Featured ranking

National program ranking*

Featured online degree

Auburn University

Best Online Graduate Education Programs

7

AuburnMBA, a fully-online MBA program

University of Alabama

Best Online Graduate Business Programs

16

MS in Operations Management through Bama by Distance

Jacksonville State University

Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs

33

MS in Criminal Justice through Online@JSU

Samford University

Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs

13

Online BSN to DNP - Family Nurse Practitioner

Troy University

Best Online Bachelor's Programs

100

BS/BA in Business Administration - Data Analytics

*Source: U.S. News & World Report, Rankings, Best Online Bachelor's Degrees, 2016

Majors and careers in Alabama

Alabama's economy is a balance of traditional and emerging industries, which is one reason alone it might be a great place to continue your education. Aerospace and defense programs play a prominent role in the economy, with industry giants such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Boeing having a presence there. Both automotive manufacturers and suppliers also have operations in Alabama. Food production, chemical, information technology and energy are a few other key industries. For prospective college students in Alabama, understanding the state's economic makeup can help narrow their program options. Here are some of the state's leading fields and employers:

Industry

Sample Career Fields

Major employers

Aerospace and defense

Mechanical engineers

Aeronautical engineers

Materials engineers

Lockheed Martin

Northrop Grumman

Boeing

Automotive

Operations Management

Mechanical engineers

Mercedes-Benz

Honda

Hyundai

Chemical

Chemistry

Chemical engineering

Occidental

Huntsman

Daikin

Forest products

Fire science
Environmental science

Environmental science technician

Georgia Pacific

International Paper

Boise Cascade

Information technology

Computer programming
Network administration

Information systems security

GATR Technologies

Fresh Technology

AccuReg Software

Health care and medical devices

Biomedical engineering
Medical assistant
Nursing
Ultrasound technician
Physical therapy

University of Alabama Hospital

Huntsville Hospital

Atrion

Evonik

Retail and distribution

Marketing
Operations management

Customer service

Home Depot

Target

SYSCO

Wal-Mart

High-potential careers and programs

College is a major investment in your future. Chances are want to know which degrees might serve you best down the road. Knowing Alabama's major industries is an excellent first step, but only presents half the picture. You also need to know which of those industries — and which of their careers — are growing fastest. Here is a breakdown of some of Alabama's fastest-growing occupations, as projected by the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Occupation

Projected growth,

2014-2024

Minimum degree-level required

Recommended Programs

Occupational Therapy Assistant

57%

Associate*

Occupational therapy assistant

Physical Therapist Assistant

47%

Associate*

Physical therapy assistant

Web Developers

30%

Associate

Web development

Personal Financial Advisors

33%

Bachelor's

Financial planning

Accounting

Finance

Athletic Trainers

30%

Bachelor's

Sports management

Operations Research Analysts

29%

Bachelor's

Data analytics

Statistics

Physical Therapists

37%

Doctorate*

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Nurse Practitioners

37%

Master's*

Chosen Advanced Practice Registered Nursing (APRN) specialty*

Statisticians

35%

Master's

Statistics

Mathematics

Economics

* May require additional licensing or certification
Source: CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, State Profile: Alabama

Once you know what you want to study, you can decide where.

Featured colleges in Alabama

With a clearer picture of Alabama's career and educational opportunities, it would be time to begin researching schools in earnest. The following tables highlight some of the best campus and online colleges in Alabama by institution type.

Top public universities in Alabama

Public colleges offer a number of advantages over many private institutions, especially when it comes to cost and accessibility. Thankfully, Alabama has no shortage of highly-ranked, well-respected public universities — universities that increasingly offer online and hybrid degree programs. A sampling:

University

Notable Rankings, 2017

U.S. News & World Report

Most popular fields of study

(2015)

Online learning?

Auburn University

No. 99 (tie) (national)

Business, Engineering, Biological Sciences, Education and Health Care

Online courses and degrees

Troy University

No. 23 Top Public Schools (regional)

Business, Security, Psychology, Social Sciences and Education

Online courses and degrees

University of Alabama

No. 43, Top Public Schools

(national)

Business, Health Care, Engineering and Family/Human Sciences

Online courses and degrees

University of Mobile

No. 8 in the Southern Region

Education, Health Care, Business, and Philosophy and Religious Studies

Limited online programs

Source: U.S. News & World Report, National Rankings, Top Public Schools, 2017

Alabama's top private colleges

Private colleges tend to cost more than public schools, but the investment is not in vain: private institutions may be better-funded, offer smaller class sizes, and provide unique learning and campus cultural experiences. Here are some of the best private schools in Alabama:

University

Notable rankings, 2017

U.S. News & World Report

Most popular fields of study

(2015)

Online learning?

Huntingdon College

No. 10 in Regional South

Business, Education, Biological Sciences, Psychology, and Parks and Leisure

Limited online services

Tuskegee University

No. 4 in U.S. among Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Engineering, Psychology, Biological Sciences and Health Care

Online courses and degrees

Samford University

No. 4 in Regional South

Health Care; Business; Parks and Recreation; and Family and Consumer Sciences

Online courses and degrees

Source: U.S. News & World Report, National Rankings, Top Public Schools, 2017

The best community colleges in Alabama

Sometimes the best — and most affordable — college journey begins not at a big-name Alabama University, but at a community college. Students who start their educations in community college before transferring to a bachelor's program can save hundreds-to-thousands of dollars on their educations. Most also offer university guaranteed transfer agreements and other simplified admissions programs. Here are some of Alabama's best community colleges, and look out for Schools.com's own upcoming top 10 best community colleges in Alabama in 2017:

College

Why

Main campus

Online learning options

Marion Military Institute

Best graduation + transfer rate

Marion

Some online courses

Snead State Community College

Highest first-year retention rate

Boaz

Online courses, degrees and certificates

Northeast Alabama Community College

Most completions per 100 full-time students

Rainsville

Online coursework

Source: CollegeMeasures.org, 2015, http://collegemeasures.org/2-year_colleges/state/AL/compare-colleges/strategic-measures/

Where to begin

Choosing a college and degree program is a process — one that requires time and careful research. Our college directory featuring some of the best campus and online schools in Alabama is a solid place to start.

Article Sources
Explore Online Colleges and Universities near Alabama