Online schools in Mississippi

Mississippi was home to 36 public and nonprofit private colleges and universities in 2015, according to data published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the percentage of those institutions that offer coursework and degrees in the virtual classroom is on the rise. Students at online colleges in Mississippi can earn professional certifications as well as academic degrees at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels, and a variety of subjects including business, education, nursing, design, technology and more are available.

It's often the case that cities with student-dense populations have more cohesive networks of scholastic amenities and academic services to offer, both to students in traditional campus-based programs and those attending online schools in Mississippi. Here's a list of the four cities in the Magnolia State with the highest overall population of students in 2015, according to NCES enrollment data, if you want to live among a strong student culture as you work toward your degree:

  1. Mississippi State (Starkville)
  2. University (Oxford)
  3. Hattiesburg
  4. Jackson

The top two densest areas of student population in Mississippi exist under somewhat peculiar geographical conditions. Mississippi State, MS, and University, MS, are census and postal designations that stand apart from their associated cities proper and were designed to encompass just their home universities, giving a whole new meaning to the term "college town."

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 Mississippi
• In-demand degrees & industries
• Mississippi colleges

Students interested in a more complete list of Mississippi-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 Mississippi

On the whole, online schools in Mississippi offer flexible and customizable course schedules, 24-hour access to recorded lectures and study materials and typically lower tuition cost, among generalized benefits of digital distance education that institutions all over the country strive to provide for their students. There are, however, some advantages afforded to students at online colleges in Mississippi that may be out of reach to those in other states.

For example, a study conducted by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) showed that Mississippi was the most affordable state for a reasonable standard of living in the first quarter of 2015. Here's a breakdown of the six categories analyzed in the C2ER study, along with Mississippi's affordability ranking in each one:

  • Grocery cost: 4th
  • Housing costs: 1st
  • Utility costs: 2nd (tie)
  • Transportation costs: 7th
  • Health care costs: 6th
  • Miscellaneous expenses: 1st

The sum of those strong showings in each category made for a chart-topping score of 83.7 on the cost of living index (COLI), beating second-place Idaho by almost five full points and ranking more than 16 points better than the national average score of 100. To put that number in perspective, the most expensive state in the study, Hawaii, had a COLI score over 170.

Top-ranked programs at online schools in Mississippi

National ranking agencies such as U.S. News and World Report have taken notice of some of the online schools in Mississippi, placing several programs among the best in their category for 2015-16. For starters, the most recent U.S. News data ranked Mississippi State University's online graduate programs in engineering, business administration and computer information technology among the top 20 in the nation.

National ranking agencies such as U.S. News and World Report have taken notice of some of the online schools in Mississippi, placing several programs among the best in their category for 2015-16.

The online MBA on offer at the University of Mississippi also took top 20 honors, coming in just a couple of spots above the MBA at Mississippi State. The graduate education programs at Ole Miss also made an appearance in the upper tiers of the national rankings, with similar programs downstate in Hattiesburg at William Carey University also making a respectable showing. A pair of smaller, faith-based institutions in the state, Belhaven University and Blue Mountain College, were recognized for their online bachelor's programs in 2015.

Best degrees to get in Mississippi

Data compiled and released by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) shows that the statewide job market is projected to increase by approximately 7 percent across all occupations between 2012 and 2022. Here's a quick rundown of some of the hottest degrees available at traditional and online schools in Mississippi, according to reports by MDES and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as well as some salary and job growth information about their associated careers:

  • Health care is projected to be one of the strongest employment sectors nationwide over the next several years, and students who earn a degree in physical therapy, especially doctoral, should face one of the brightest outlooks of all. Employment growth of about 29 percent is expected for physical therapists in Mississippi by 2022, and the state's mean annual salary for physical therapists was reported by the BLS as $87,440 in 2014.
  • Medical technology degrees are among the most promising two-year programs for students at campus-based or online schools in Mississippi, with hundreds of new positions in various specialties expected to join the career market in the next several years. The BLS reports a mean annual salary of $52,830 for medical and clinical laboratory technicians in Mississippi in 2014 — better than the statewide yearly average by about $14,000 — and jobs in the field are projected to increase 23 percent by 2022.
  • With all the upcoming growth in health industry careers, college-level instructors in various segments of the field will be in high demand. Teaching jobs for graduates with master's or doctoral degrees in nursing are expected to increase 39 percent between 2012 and 2022, and teachers of public health, laboratory technology and other health specialties should see a 40 percent increase in the same period. Nursing instructors at colleges and universities earned a mean wage of $72,210 in 2014, while those employed at specialty hospitals took home an average of $116,210 for the year.

Health care is projected to be one of the strongest employment sectors nationwide over the next several years, and physical therapists in Mississippi have an especially bright job outlook.

  • Mississippi residents who earn a degree in geography are also expected to have strong prospects over the next several years. Jobs for photogrammetrists, who plan aerial surveys and analyze the resulting data, are expected to comprise a large portion of the 30 percent growth expected in Mississippi, although positions for cartographers and other spatial information designers should also emerge. The median annual salary for cartographers and photogrammetrists in Mississippi was $48,530 in 2014.
  • The age of Big Data has made market research all the more valuable to private companies and other organizations. Graduates with degrees in statistics have the training to crunch market data and discover patterns, while those trained in social sciences or business administration can use their skills to transform those data patterns into actionable conclusions. Jobs for market research analysts are projected to increase 28 percent in Mississippi by 2022, and their statewide salary average for 2014 was $52,790.

In light of all these stats, please remember that no matter how much workforce demand there may be for a certain career, no degree program can guarantee that its students will find employment. Focusing your attention on the right combination of courses and extracurricular work, however, can help take some of the stress out of the application process after graduation.

Mississippi colleges

Here's a table that shows a few notable traditional and online colleges in Mississippi, along with a list of some of the most popular or well-regarded degree programs at each one:

Institution name Online degrees? Top programs
Mississippi State University Yes Computer information technology (online), MBA (online), graduate business (on campus and online), graduate education (on campus and online), engineering, veterinary medicine, public affairs, math, chemistry, counseling
University of Mississippi Yes MBA (online), graduate education (on campus and online), pharmacy, history, English, law, psychology, math, physics, social work, fine arts, biological sciences, economics
Delta State University Yes Graduate nursing (on campus and online), criminal justice (online), graduate education (on campus and online), MBA (online), graduate business (online)
University of Southern Mississippi Yes

Nursing, clinical psychology, English, social work, speech-language pathology, fine arts, MBA, biological sciences, criminology

Mississippi Valley State University No (individual online courses available) Social work, business, criminal justice, teacher education, public relations, public administration, rhetoric and composition
Mississippi College Yes Graduate education, law, fine arts, physician assisting

To learn more about online schools in Mississippi and elsewhere, explore the school listings below or contact an admissions representative to ask a few questions or schedule a visit.

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3. The Council for Community and Economic Research, adsf, https://www.c2er.org/
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