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Online schools in Alabama

Like other states, Alabama is working to increase the number of college-educated residents within its borders. In 2013, an executive order created the Governor's College and Career Ready Task Force to make recommendations to improve education opportunities. In addition, the PK-20 Initiative seeks to create a seamless system that will take children from early education to higher education.

Already, the state is home to an impressive number of colleges and universities that stand ready to assist in creating the highly trained workforce needed for many 21st-century jobs. Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville are a few of the places where you can find a vibrant college student population in Alabama.

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, there's important information about attending Alabama colleges you should know.

Explore the different sections of this guide, including:

Online education
Major industries & in-demand degrees
Alabama colleges

Online colleges in Alabama

Like they do everywhere, online schools in Alabama offer an alternate to on-campus degrees. These programs can often be earned on a flexible schedule that allows adults to study around their obligations. In addition, schools may use a similar or the same curriculum as that offered on-campus which means students get the same quality education, only through a different format.

In 2013, the Census Bureau found only 22.6 percent of Alabamans older than age 25 had a bachelor's or graduate degree, and for those who don't yet have a degree, a traditional campus-based program may not be feasible. Returning students may have jobs or families, which makes it difficult to commit to attending weekly classes in-person. Yet students interested in earning an online degree in Alabama have many institutions to choose from, with choices ranging from large and respected universities to local community colleges and private institutions. Here are a few of the online colleges in Alabama:

  • Ashford University
  • University of Alabama
  • Capella University
  • Huntsville Bible College

Depending on the institution, you may be able to choose from either a fully online degree or a hybrid degree that combines online courses with some on-campus requirements. For some degree programs, such as those in the health care field, on-campus and clinical coursework may be needed prior to graduation.


Returning students may have jobs or families, which makes it difficult to commit to attending weekly classes in-person, yet students interested in earning an online degree in Alabama still have many options.


Best industries and degree choices for Alabama students

There are diverse employment opportunities in the state, 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.

Though you may want to look at the key industries in the state when deciding which degree to pursue, you might also want to consider pursuing an education that will allow you to a fill job in an emerging field. The following chart highlights degree programs that may lead to some of the fastest growing occupations in Alabama, according to information from Projections Central and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Degree

Occupation

Expected job growth (2012-2022)

Master's degree in occupational therapy

Occupational therapist

49.6%

Associate or bachelor's degree in sonography

Diagnostic medical sonographer

43.4%

Bachelor's degree in social work

Health care social worker

26.6%

Bachelor's degree in market research, math or business administration

Market research analyst

26.6%

Master's degree in statistics

Statistician

25%

In terms of income, the BLS found highly trained medical professionals had the highest average salaries in the state for 2014. During that year, the following occupations were the highest paid in Alabama.

  • Anesthesiologists - $258,760
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists - $244,110
  • Surgeons - $231,480
  • Psychiatrists - $228,850
  • Physicians and Surgeons, all other - $216,330

For those not interested in a career in medicine, don't worry: Other high-paying occupations in Alabama include petroleum engineers, marketing managers and financial managers, among others. While a master's degree may be required for some occupations, others, such as engineers, usually only need a bachelor's degree to begin working.

Colleges in Alabama

Alabama has dozens of colleges, universities and technical schools. In addition to excellent community colleges, Bible colleges and specialty schools, the state is home to a number of nationally recognized institutions.

Students interested in a more complete list of Alabama-based institutions offering online degrees can start by exploring this map, which shows the location of all colleges in the state based on 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Once you identify schools located nearby, it's easy to explore what online degrees might be offered near you. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Here are a few of the top schools in Alabama that might help narrow down your focus:

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham: UAB started as an extension center and has since grown into a doctoral research university. It is also an academic health center that has been voted as having some of the nation's best doctors and has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its hospital specialties and graduate degree programs. UAB offers both certificates and degrees online as well as through blended programs.
  • Auburn University: Auburn University was founded in 1856 and has undergone tremendous transformation from its humble roots. Today, it is a land, sea and space grant university that enrolls nearly 26,000 students. Through Auburn Online, students can enroll in degree programs or take specific courses online. There are also learning options for professional credit and continuing education.
  • Alabama State University: In 1867, ASU was founded as the Lincoln Normal School with the intent of educating freed slaves. The school has expanded throughout the years and now boasts a diverse campus that offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As of 2015, its online programs include a bachelor's degree in psychology as well as five graduate degree programs in fields such as education, applied technology and physical therapy.
  • Alabama A&M University: Students seeking a small, historic institution may want to consider Alabama A&M University, known as AAUM. Serving nearly 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students, the university is located outside Huntsville. In 2013, AAUM launched its first fully online degree program, a bachelor's degree in management. It has since created an online master's degree in educational leadership and has a half dozen other programs in development.
  • Troy University: Troy University is another historic institution in Alabama, founded in 1887 to train teachers. Nowadays, students can attend classes on four campuses or online as they earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. The online program, eTROY, offers both individual courses as well as fully online degree programs.

Of course, these are just a few of the online colleges in Alabama. Plenty of other institutions offer distance learning opportunities, and the school with the biggest name might not necessarily be the best school for your career goals.

Last updated: April 21, 2015

Sources

1. PK-20 Initiative, Alabama Commission on Higher Education, accessed April 2015, http://www.ache.alabama.gov/Content/PK20/PK20.aspx
2. Alabama State University, accessed April 2015, http://www.alasu.edu/
3. Auburn Online, accessed April 2015, http://www.auburn.edu/online/
4. Key Industries, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, accessed April 2015, http://www.edpa.org/key-industries/
5. Center for Distance Education & eLearning, Alabama A&M University, accessed April 2015, http://www.aamu.edu/Academics/ODEES/Pages/CDEeL.aspx
6. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, accessed April 2015, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
7. Troy University, accessed April 2015, http://www.troy.edu
8. University of Alabama at Birmingham, accessed April 2015, https://www.uab.edu
9. Alabama Quick Facts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed April 2015, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/01000.html
10. Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2014, accessed April 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm

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