Online schools in Connecticut

Connecticut's tradition of higher education is one of the oldest in the U.S., beginning with the founding of Yale University in 1701 and growing through the centuries to include a count of nearly 50 public and private nonprofit colleges and universities today. With the movement in recent years toward academic accessibility through digital distance education, the list of online colleges in Connecticut has grown to include some of its longest-standing and most prestigious universities.

Whether you're hoping to continue your education on campus or online, schools in Connecticut that support substantial student populations can offer a comfortable municipal environment in which to work toward your academic goals. Here's a list of the Connecticut cities with the highest overall student populations as of 2015, according to enrollment data presented by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):

• New Haven
• Storrs
• New Britain
• Fairfield
• Bridgeport

It's often the case that cities with a greater density of students in their population feature scholastic amenities such as tutoring services, expanded reference sections at libraries and free Wi-Fi at public study spots. It's not necessary to live in one of these academic hubs if you're attending one of the online schools in Connecticut, but you may find it easier to keep your eyes on the prize when surrounded by hundreds other students having similar experiences.

To find out more about the state, its educational options and potential careers, explore the different sections of this guide. They include:

• Online education in Connecticut
• In-demand degrees & industries
• Connecticut colleges

Students interested in a more complete list of Connecticut-based institutions offering online degrees can start by exploring this map, which shows the location of all colleges in the state that have distance education options, based on 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Once you identify schools that are 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.)

Online colleges in Connecticut

Some benefits of taking at least a few of your courses online are fairly consistent from state to state — typically lower cost of tuition, flexible scheduling options, shorter times to completion in some cases, etc. — but there are a few advantages to attending online schools in Connecticut specifically that are good to be aware of.

Top-ranked traditional and online degrees at colleges in Connecticut

Every year, U.S. News and World Report produces a comprehensive ranking of colleges and universities, paying special attention to the quality of their individual degree programs. Numerous campus-based and online schools in Connecticut have made strong showings on the rankings released for the 2015-16 academic year, including a few programs that placed in the top three regionally or nationwide.

It's impossible to talk about higher education rankings in Connecticut without mentioning Yale University, which U.S. News ranks as No. 3 in the country and No. 17 out of all universities on Earth. Although no fully online degrees were offered at Yale as of 2015, the old-guard institution does offer more than 50 courses in online formats, including some from its No. 1-ranked law school and its No. 4-ranked college of political science.

Among the full degrees available online at colleges in Connecticut, the non-MBA graduate degrees in business and management available at the University of Connecticut impressed U.S. News analysts enough to place them at No. 3 in their category nationwide. Another top Connecticut university for online business degrees is Quinnipiac University in Hamden, which made the national top 50 for its online MBA and placed at No. 15 for its non-MBA graduate programs.

Numerous campus-based and online schools in Connecticut have made strong showings on the U.S. News and World report rankings released for the 2015-16 academic year, including a few programs that placed in the top three regionally or nationwide.

Online bachelor's programs in Connecticut and beyond

There are also great in-state online options for 2016 undergraduates, according to U.S. News. Sacred Heart University, a private institution in Fairfield, offers online bachelor's degree programs that ranked in the national top 100, and similar programs at Post University in Waterbury missed the top 100 by just a few slots.

Digital distance education often waives the customary tuition hike for out-of-state students, which can make it possible for Connecticut residents to apply to top-rated programs all across the country. Prospective undergraduates looking for the best online bachelor's degrees in the U.S. can find them at Pennsylvania State University - World Campus, a global leader in nearly every online category. Comparably rated undergraduate programs can also be found at Western Kentucky University, University of Illinois - Chicago and Daytona State College in Florida.

Best degrees to get in Connecticut

The Office of Research of the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) keeps track of the occupational categories that are expected to face the greatest workforce demand over the next several years, and projections show that many of the fastest-growing careers in the state will require at least some formal education for entry-level positions. Here's a list of some of the degree programs available at campus-based and online schools in Connecticut that can prepare students for the challenges of some of the state's hottest career markets, along with DOL job outlook info and salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

    • The increasing prevalence of international commerce and cross-border migration for jobs or education is leading to growth in the demand for degrees in English or other modern languages. Connecticut DOL projections indicate 45 percent job growth for interpreter and translator positions between 2012 and 2022, and the BLS reports median wages of $51,550 in Connecticut in 2014, well ahead of the same year's national median of $43,590. Although the most important requirement for employment in this field is high-functioning fluency in two or more languages, many employers also prefer candidates who have at least a bachelor's degree.
      • Connecticut residents who want to help people manage their money more effectively can pursue a degree in finance or accounting and line themselves up to fill one of the more than 1,300 positions for personal financial advisers expected to emerge in Connecticut by 2022. Adding even further incentive to the 27 percent employment growth expected in the field, financial advisers in Danbury, CT, earned mean annual pay of $167,730 in 2014 — a wage of more than $80 per hour and the highest annual salary average in the field of any region in the U.S.
        • One of the fastest growing careers in the medical profession is physician assisting, with 32 percent employment growth projected to occur in Connecticut alone by 2022. The scope of practice and amount of responsibility afforded a physician assistant is fairly broad, and most states require that candidates earn a master's degree before they can be licensed to practice legally. The mean salary for physician assistants working in Connecticut was $106,760 in 2014, with those in the top 10 percent of earners taking home $145,000 or more for the year.

        According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers for systems software and applications developers in Connecticut are expected to increase 26 and 21 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2022.

        • Careers in computer technology are hot from coast to coast, and online colleges in Connecticut and elsewhere are responding by offering dedicated software development degrees for aspiring programmers and tech entrepreneurs. Mean annual wages for both positions in 2014 came in at more than $40,000 higher than the statewide salary average across all occupations for the year, and careers for systems software and applications developers in Connecticut are expected to increase 26 and 21 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2022.
          • Even though software developers tend to get more of the limelight than their counterparts in other segments of the tech industry, a more generally applicable degree in computer science or information systems comes with its own set of benefits for career seekers. For example, the Connecticut DOL projects that computer systems analysts should see more than 2,000 new jobs hit the market by 2022, thanks to an employment increase of 24 percent. Information security analyst positions are expected to increase 19 percent in the same period, and statewide median annual salaries for both positions came in just shy of $90,000 in 2014.

            It's important to mention that no degree from any particular institution can serve as a guarantee of employment after graduation, but it is possible to use your time in school to help you understand what it takes to succeed in the career field of your choice. Some online colleges in Connecticut work hard to ensure that their degree programs are workforce-relevant, providing field experience and employing faculty with real-world perspective in various fields, and most institutions provide career counseling and other professional readiness services for students who take the time to use them.

            Connecticut colleges

            Some of the traditional and online schools in Connecticut have a particularly good track record of educating students in certain disciplines. Here's a quick table of in-state colleges and universities and their most notable degree programs:

            Institution name Online degrees? Top programs
            University of Connecticut Yes Graduate business (on campus and online), public affairs, psychology, nursing, medical research, primary care medicine, education, engineering, law, English, pharmacy, social work, statistics
            Yale University No Law, business, medicine, economics, chemistry, biology, history, fine arts, mathematics, political science, physics, psyschology, public health, sociology, neuroscience
            Quinnipiac University Yes Physician assisting, occupational therapy, nursing, physical therapy, MBA (online), graduate business (online), part-time law, health care law, undergraduate business
            Fairfield University No (individual online courses available)

            Undergraduate teacher education, undergraduate business, engineering, accounting, finance, marketing, nursing

            University of Hartford Yes Business, engineering, teacher education, fine arts, nursing, clinical psychology, physical therapy
            Sacred Heart University Yes Physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, business, MBA, graduate nursing (online)
            Southern Connecticut State University Yes

            Social work, speech-language pathology, library and information studies, education, nursing

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