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Online schools in Rhode Island

Rhode Island was the first American colony to officially renounce allegiance to England, and state founder Roger Williams settled in Providence after being kicked out of Puritan Massachusetts for being too liberal. The tradition of taking your future in your own hands runs deep in Rhode Island, and going back to school to earn your degree can be a significant step toward making a claim for your own independence.

Working toward your degree in a city where the infrastructure supports an existing student population can make your time in school all the more enjoyable. The top five cities in Rhode Island for total student population, according to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), are Providence, Warwick, Kingston/South Kingstown, Bristol and Smithfield.

Students at online schools in Rhode Island tend to have more freedom of movement than their counterparts at campus-based universities, and choosing the right city in which to pursue your degree can go a long way toward keeping you on the path to success. 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 Rhode Island
• Major industries & in-demand degrees
• Colleges in Rhode Island

Online colleges in Rhode Island

The list of online colleges in Rhode Island may be small, but the catalog of degree options available in the virtual classroom extends further than meets the eye. More than a few nationally recognized online degree programs can be found at local schools, and the opportunity to reach out to schools based in other states gives online students a fairly wide variety of well-regarded degrees to choose from.

Students who can't find their preferred degree program offered online at a Rhode Island university may be able to split time between campus-based courses and those conducted in a digital format. Earning your degree in this hybrid fashion can help you adjust to the new approaches of online learning while still taking a portion of your education in a more familiar classroom environment.

If you're interested, start exploring what online degrees might be offered near you by checking out this map, which shows the location of all colleges in Rhode Island based on 2013 data from the NCES. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Homegrown distance education: Top online schools in Rhode Island

According to the 2015 college and university rankings released by U.S. News and World Report, at least two of the online schools in Rhode Island offer digital bachelor's degree programs that merit serious consideration. New England Institute of Technology, or New England Tech, placed among the top 150 in the nation for online undergraduate education, and Providence-based Johnson & Wales University took a spot on the list as well.


Earning your degree in a hybrid fashion can help you adjust to the new approaches of online learning while still taking a portion of your education in a more familiar classroom environment.


If it's executive or managerial education you're after, online colleges in Rhode Island have also earned recognition for their graduate programs in business administration, management and other specialties in the field. Johnson & Wales University placed on the online MBA rankings, and Salve Regina University, a private Catholic institution in Newport, caught the attention of U.S. News with its various graduate business programs and earned a top-150 ranking for its online MBA.

National universities with online degrees for Rhode Island students

One of the major paradigm shifts that comes with the movement of online education into the mainstream is that students no longer have to move across the country to attend a top-quality program not offered in their home state. Indiana University - Bloomington, for example, home to several undergraduate and graduate business degree programs ranked among the national top 10, offers a fully online MBA that U.S. News considers one of the three best in the country.

Nursing is another field with considerable presence among online programs, and graduate degrees in the profession are necessary for a vast majority of administrative and advanced practice careers in the field. Nation-leading online graduate programs in nursing at such prestigious health care institutions as Johns Hopkins University and the Medical University of South Carolina may be accessible to qualified online students in Rhode Island or anywhere in the world.

Best degrees to get in Rhode Island

According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), overall employment in the state is expected to increase by about 10 percent between 2012 and 2022. Some professions, though, are projected to see job growth of as much as four times that, and students at traditional or online schools in Rhode Island may be able to take advantage of these concentrated surges in occupational demand.

Here are a few of the hottest degrees on the Rhode Island career market, determined using DLT employment projections and education and salary data pulled from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • As a relatively new discipline of the engineering field, biomedical engineering presents students and professionals alike with a world of new frontiers to explore. It's also the hottest job in Rhode Island over the next several years, according to DLT data, with nearly 50 percent occupational growth expected between 2012 and 2022. Entry-level careers in the field can be had with just a bachelor's degree, but positions of advanced responsibility or independent research may require graduate or post-graduate training.

A career as a biomedical engineer is the hottest job in Rhode Island over the next several years, with nearly 50 percent occupational growth expected between 2012 and 2022.


  • Animal lovers considering an education in veterinary technology may find a favorable market for their skills in Rhode Island, where employment in the field is expected to grow 29 percent by 2022. Either a two-year or four-year degree may be required, depending on the employer and the individual position, and the Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association offers professional certifications and continuing education courses for those looking to keep their skills on the cutting edge. State salaries in the field are higher than the national mean for the occupation, as well, with a yearly average of $34,208 in 2014.
  • Degrees in mathematics can be surprisingly flexible in the workforce, particularly when coupled with additional coursework in business, economics or statistics. Employment opportunities for actuaries, cost estimators and operations research analysts are all projected to increase 23 percent or greater in Rhode Island between 2012 and 2022, and graduates with well-rounded bachelor's degrees in math are among those typically most qualified to handle the number-crunching required in positions like these. Each field may have its own preferred set of secondary skills, so be sure to consult with career counselors or academic advisers about the right steps to take to prepare for a particular mathematical career path.
  • Large databases and complex proprietary computer networks are becoming more and more common in organizations of all sizes, and professionals with degrees in computer science or information systems can help enterprise personnel determine the precise IT needs of their company and how to satisfy them. DLT projections indicate that jobs for computer systems analysts should increase 23 percent by 2022, creating around 400 new positions for Rhode Island techies. Those who prefer to use their IT skills more for development than analysis can work toward careers in applications software development, which are projected to grow 26 percent statewide in the same period.

Employment statistics show great demand for nursing instructors and teachers at the collegiate level throughout the foreseeable future.


  • Jobs for nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners are all projected to grow faster than the statewide occupational average, and a graduate degree in nursing can prepare you to help educate future generations of nursing professionals. Employment statistics show great demand for nursing instructors and teachers at the collegiate level throughout the foreseeable future — a statewide increase of 28 percent is expected by 2022 — and a master's degree is the minimum education necessary for postsecondary educators. Nursing instructors in Rhode Island earned a mean annual salary of $82,150 in 2014, according to the BLS.

While no degree can guarantee you a job after graduation, going into your education well-informed about the needs of the workforce can help you make a more confident decision about where you want to concentrate your energies while in school.

Colleges in Rhode Island

A few of the campus-based and online colleges in Rhode Island stand out from the regional or national ranks for their reputation for excellence in certain disciplines. Here's some information about the top colleges in Rhode Island and some notable degree programs available from each:

Institution name Online degrees? Top programs
Brown University No (some online courses available) Mathematics, applied math, English, economics, undergraduate teacher education, political science, chemistry, medical research, primary care medicine, computer science, earth sciences, engineering, psychology
University of Rhode Island Yes Pharmacy, physical therapy, earth sciences, clinical psychology, physics, chemistry, nursing, engineering, biological sciences, speech-language pathology
Rhode Island School of Design No Ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, printmaking, photography, illustration, studio art, multimedia art, sculpture, visual communications
Roger Williams University Yes Law, public affairs, business, engineering, healthcare administration (online), public administration (online), social science (online), emergency medical services
Salve Regina University Yes Rehabilitation counseling, MBA (online), graduate business (online), graduate criminal justice (online), health care administration, management
Johnson & Wales University Yes Teacher education, MBA (online), supply chain management (online), finance, human resource management, food service management (online)

Sources:

1. Rhode Island, U.S. States, History.com, accessed May 11, 2015, http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/rhode-island
2. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics,  http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=RI&ic=1+2&en=100&of=1&od=0
3. State and County Quickfacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed May 11, 2015, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/44000.html
4-11. Overall Rankings, U.S. News and World Report, accessed May 11, 2015: University of Rhode Island, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-rhode-island-217484/overall-rankings; New England Institute of Technology, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/new-england-institute-of-technology-217305/overall-rankings; Salve Regina University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/salve-regina-university-217536/overall-rankings; Brown University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/brown-university-217156/overall-rankings; Roger Williams University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/roger-williams-university-217518/overall-rankings; Rhode Island School of Design, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rhode-island-school-of-design-217493/overall-rankings; Johnson & Wales University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/johnson-wales-university-217235/overall-rankings; Indiana University - Bloomington, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/indiana-university-bloomington-151351/overall-rankings;
12. Best Online Nursing Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/nursing/rankings
13. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Rhode Island, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 12, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_RI.htm
14. Fastest-Growing Occupations, Career InfoNet, accessed May 12, 2015, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?printer=&next=oview1&level=Overall&optstatus=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=44&jobfam=&group=1&showall=yes
15-21. Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 12, 2015: Biomedical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm; Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm; Actuaries, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Actuaries.htm; Operations Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Operations-research-analysts.htm; Cost Estimators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Cost-estimators.htm; Computer Systems Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Computer-systems-analysts.htm; Software Developers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Software-developers.htm;
22. Online Learning, Online Programs, University of Rhode Island, accessed May 12, 2015, http://web.uri.edu/learningonline/programs/
23. Online Learning, Brown University, accessed May 12, 2015, http://www.brown.edu/academics/online-learning
24. Online Studies, Salve Regina University, http://www.salve.edu/graduate-studies/online-studies
25. Online Programs, Roger Williams University, http://rwu.edu/academics/schools-colleges/scs/online-learning/online-programs
26. School of Online and Continuing Education, Johnson & Wales University, accessed May 12, 2015, https://online.jwu.edu/
27. Certification, Rhode Island Veterinary Technician Association, accessed May 12, 2015, http://blog.rivta.org/certification/

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