Online Colleges in Texas

Six of the 20 largest cities in the country can be found in Texas, as well as the second-highest overall state population, so it stands to reason that the higher education scene in The Lone Star State contains a little something for everyone. Wherever you're hoping to work, learn and play during your college experience, you might just find what you're looking for at one of the campus-based or online schools and colleges in Texas.

Explore schools and related info about Texas, including its educational options and potential careers. Start by checking out the different sections of this guide. They include:

Snapshot of Education in Texas

The list of Texas schools offering postsecondary or career education topped out at 454 in 2016, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data. here is how many institutions of various types in the state offer the four main categories of degree:

Campus-based Schools in Texas
Institution type No. offering bachelor's degrees No. offering associate degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 45 67 73 44
Private nonprofit 54 37 36 52
Private for-profit 40 81 241 12

The overall student presence in a city, combined with the percentage of educated people who choose to call the area home, can give you a pretty good idea of the degree to which local policymakers and economic markets may seek to prioritize your academic needs. Here's some NCES and the U.S. Census Bureau data to paint that picture for seven Texas cities:

City Total estimated population
(U.S. Census, 2015)
No. of enrolled students
(NCES, 2016)
Student presence as a percentage of total population % of residents with bachelor's degrees
(U.S. Census, 2015)
Austin 931,830 103,548 11.11 percent 46.0 percent
Dallas 1,300,092 55,461 4.27 percent 29.7 percent
Houston 2,296,224 93,096 4.05 percent 29.8 percent
Lubbock 249,042 42,815 17.19 percent 29.5 percent
Denton 131,044 52,585 40.13 percent 38.3 percent
Edinburg 84,497 28,584 33.83 percent 28.1 percent
College Station 107,889 63,813 59.15 percent 55.1 percent

Now, it's important to note that the low student presence percentage in cities like Dallas and Houston doesn't mean that you can't have a great student experience there. Particularly if you do a little extra legwork to find truly student-focused services, or if you narrow your lifestyle focus to just certain neighborhoods or areas of town that lean more academic than others, big cities like these can be highly enriching environments in which to study and earn a degree.

Average yearly tuition for four-year schools in Texas was $9,117 in 2015-16, according to The College Board, but that figure includes quite a few high and low outliers that show a wide range of tuition costs in the Lone Star State. Southern Methodist University in Dallas took the prize for costliest tuition, according to U.S. News & World Report, with a 2016 price tag of $48,190 for one year, while Brazosport College in Lake Jackson and South Texas College in McAllen came away as the most affordable of the year with reported annual tuition of $2,295 and $3,590 (respectively) for in-state students.

Online Education in Texas

The numerous online programs in Texas can be a strong alternative for prospective students who live in very rural areas or might otherwise have difficulties pursuing traditional education. Here's a quick chart showing just how many options for online education can be found at Texas schools:

Online Schools in Texas
Institution type No. offering 4-year degrees No. offering 2-year degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 32 34 32 36
Private nonprofit 24 15 9 32
Private for-profit 14 16 19 5

Certain upsides to earning an online degree go beyond the schedule flexibility and broad range of programs typically available. Tuition is often lower at online schools and colleges in Texas than it is at traditional institutions, also, thanks to the use of e-textbooks and other cost-cutting measures.

Globally Ranked Traditional and Online Colleges in Texas

Educational rankings agencies the Center for World University Rankings and U.S. News & World Report have listed several Texas schools among their top-ranked regional, national and global universities for 2016. Here's the data on a few of the colleges and universities that made the grade:

Rankings for Campus-based and Online Schools in Texas
School name
Ranking agency
Rice University No. 18 (tie) National Universities U.S. News & World Report
Rice University No. 14 (tie) Best Colleges for Veterans U.S. News & World Report
University of Texas at Austin No. 32 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
University of Texas at Austin No. 42 (tie) Best Colleges for Veterans U.S. News & World Report
Texas A&M University No. 98 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
Trinity University No. 1 Regional Universities (West) U.S. News & World Report
Texas Lutheran University No. 2 Regional Universities (West) U.S. News & World Report

Top Degree Programs at Online Colleges in Texas

Digital distance education is becoming more and more mainstream with every passing year, and online programs in Texas happen to be among some of the nation's best. Here are a few of the online degree ranking highlights for Texas schools in 2016:

Top-ranked Online Programs in Texas
School name
Degree program
University of Houston Education No. 1 (tie) The top spot nationally for online graduate programs in education isn't the only accolade awarded to this Houston school — it also made the lists of top national universities and best colleges for veterans.
Sam Houston State University Criminal justice No. 3

Online students at this Huntsville institution can also enroll in several ranked graduate business programs and the nation's No. 6 online information technology degree.

The University of Texas at Dallas Business No. 4 (tie) Non-MBA graduate degrees in business may stand especially tall at the Dallas location of the University of Texas system, but the MBA program here is also ranked in the top 10 nationally.
West Texas A&M University Bachelor's degrees No. 11 (tie) Once business students at WTAMU are finished with their online bachelor's degree, they can move into a No. 12-ranked graduate business department that offers an MBA ranked in the national top 40.
Texas Tech University Information technology No. 11 (tie)

Texas Tech offers online students an array of other technical graduate degrees as well, in subjects such as healthcare engineering, horticulture, software engineering and instructional technology.

Industries and Degrees to get in Texas

Texas has experienced job growth in 15 of the past 16 months, according to the Texas Labor Market and Career Information Department (LMCI), and certain occupations in the state are poised to see especially rapid growth between 2014 and 2024. Here's a table of some of the fastest growing jobs in Texas, according to LMCI numbers, along with some contextual data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Hot Degrees and Top Jobs for Texas Graduates
Why it's hot
Degrees that can help
Statistician As members of the fastest growing job category in Texas — 52.3 percent employment growth is projected by 2024, nearly 20 points faster than the national average — statisticians have a pretty high likelihood of strong employment chances. Not only are hundreds of jobs expected to open up across the state, but the BLS reported a comfortable statewide annual salary average of $77,740 in May 2015. Most statisticians study statistics directly at the master's level before finding work in the field, but degrees in mathematics, computer science or another field with a heavy quantitative emphasis may also qualify you for certain statistical jobs. If you're thinking to work toward a statistics career but haven't yet earned your bachelor's, try to pick up some traditional or online courses in linear algebra, experiment design, survey methodology, probability and other statistical principles.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer The health care field is experiencing an overall employment surge over the last several years, thanks to a generally aging population and expansions in access to care, and technical fields like sonography are leading the way in some states. Texas sonographers are forecast to see job growth of 45.5 percent between 2014 and 2024, nearly twice as much as the national projection, and the state's average sonographer's wage of $74,640 works out to nearly $4,000 more than the national mean. According to the BLS, an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography is the most widely accepted educational requirement for the position. Some employers will accept the successful completion of a one-year certificate program and a qualifying amount of clinical experience in place of a full-fledged degree. What's more, the high demand for health technology jobs has led to an uptick in the availability of online programs in the field, so be sure to look into those if a traditional program doesn't fit into your schedule.
Biomedical Engineer Biomedical engineers in Texas earned a median annual wage of $85,870 in 2015, according to the BLS, with the top 10 percent of earners taking home more than $124,600 for the year, and that's only the beginning of the state's impressive statistics on this cutting-edge occupation. Career opportunities in biomedical engineering are expected to increase 37 percent over the next several years, and multiple top universities in the state offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in the field. A bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering is typically necessary before you can be considered seriously as an employment candidate, but there are other avenues as well. It's also possible, according to the BLS, for graduates who pursued other disciplines of engineering during their bachelor's degree work to qualify for biomedical careers by pursuing post-baccalaureate coursework that helps to align their essential engineering skills with the particular demands, methods and technologies of the biomedical field.
Cartographer or Photogrammetrist Real estate development and oil and gas extraction are two of the biggest industries in Texas, and accurate cartographic, aerial and satellite data can be a tremendous asset to companies in these industries looking to get big projects underway. Employment in this field is projected to increase 29 percent nationwide by 2024, which is no slouch, but the Texas career market expects a growth rate of 42 percent in the same period and reported a mean annual wage of $62,630 in May 2015. Both cartography and photogrammetry rely heavily on general principles of geography, and most bachelor's degrees that can lead to jobs in the field are likely to be offered through university geography departments. Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is becoming an essential part of the field, also, so some training in computer science can be an asset as well. Select institutions offer online certification programs in GIS and other fundamentals, to help working students who already hold a bachelor's degree but are looking to change careers.

Featured Online Schools in Texas

There are numerous nationally competitive traditional and online schools and colleges in Texas, and some of them offer degree programs that ranking agencies have found to be a cut above the rest. Here's a list of some of the top traditional and online programs in Texas:

Institution name
Online degrees?
Top Programs
The University of Texas at Austin No Business, accounting, information systems, marketing, finance, law, pharmacy, petroleum engineering, civil engineering, teacher education, public affairs, ecology, nursing, nursing administration, social work, computer science, chemistry, geology, economics, English, fine arts, Latin American history, library and information studies, mathematics, psychology, sociology, political science
Texas A&M University Yes Biological engineering, aeronautical engineering, nuclear engineering, petroleum engineering, Earth sciences, veterinary medicine, public administration, teacher education (on campus and online), mathematics, statistics, political science, economics, physics, chemistry, part-time law, clinical psychology, part-time MBA
Rice University No Computer science, biomedical engineering, business, Earth sciences, English, history, math, physics, statistics, chemistry, political science, economics, part-time MBA, biological sciences
Texas Tech University Yes

Computer science, information technology (online), engineering (on campus and online), teacher education (on campus and online), Earth sciences, math, chemistry, physics, psychology, physician assisting, law

The University of Texas at Dallas Yes Audiology, speech-language pathology, graduate business (on campus and online), MBA (on campus and online), operations management, criminology, public affairs, political science, engineering
University of Houston Yes

Teacher education (on campus and online), health care law, intellectual property law, pharmacy, social work, speech-language pathology, political science, math, fine arts

Sam Houston State University Yes Criminal justice (online), criminology, information technology (online), graduate business (on campus and online), MBA (online), teacher education (on campus and online)

How can I enroll in an On-campus or Online School in Texas?

First steps toward enrolling in a college program in Texas start with identifying the right school and learning format for you. The college admissions process for both campus-based and online schools is both similar and typically laid out clearly on their official websites. There are some important considerations, however. Here are tips to get you going:

  • Ensure programs are accredited before submitting an application; most financial aid awards and graduate schools require applicants to attend accredited colleges
  • Know and keep to all deadlines
  • Ask for letters of recommendation, transcripts and any other necessary items ASAP
  • For financial aid needs, fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) online and be sure to submit it on time; you also will need your — and maybe your parents' — tax and other financial information
  • Have all schools on your prospect list receive your FAFSA (it's an option you'll come across)

You can explore schools and potential careers here on our site. Deciding whether you would like to attend a campus-based or online school in Texas requires research and a lot of introspection — reaching out to a college admissions advisor can be a big bonus in your search.

1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed August 26, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed August 26, 2016, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00
3. U.S. News & World Report, accessed August 26, 2016: Texas Colleges, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/tx?_sort=tuition&_sort-direction=desc; Rice University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rice-3604; University of Texas -- Austin, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-texas-3658/overall-rankings; Texas A&M University -- College Station, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/texas-am-college-station-10366; Trinity University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/trinity-university-texas-3647; Texas Lutheran University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/texas-lutheran-university-3641; University of Houston, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-houston-3652; Sam Houston State University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/sam-houston-state-3606; University of Texas -- Dallas, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-texas-dallas-9741; West Texas A&M University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/west-texas-am-3665; Texas Tech University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/texas-tech-university-3644
4. Texas LMCI TRACER, Labor Market and Career Information Department, Texas Workforce Commission, accessed August 26, 2016, http://www.tracer2.com/
5. School pages, accessed August 26, 2016: Online & Regional Site Degrees, Certificate, and Certification Programs, Texas Tech University, http://www.depts.ttu.edu/elearning/programs/index.php; Academics, Biomedical Engineering, Texas A&M University, http://engineering.tamu.edu/biomedical/academics; UH Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston, http://bme.uh.edu/; Graduate Program, Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, http://www.bme.utexas.edu/graduate-program; Extended Campus, The University of Texas at Austin, https://extendedcampus.utexas.edu/; Programs, Rice University Online, http://online.rice.edu/programs/
6. Top Universities, USA, Center for World University Rankings, accessed August 26, 2016, http://cwur.org/2015/usa.html
7. Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, The College Board, accessed August 26, 2016, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time
8. Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 26, 2016: Statisticians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Statisticians.htm; Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm; Biomedical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm; Cartographers and Photogrammetrists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/cartographers-and-photogrammetrists.htm
9. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 26, 2016: Statisticians, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152041.htm; Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032.htm; Biomedical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031.htm; Cartographers and Photogrammetrists, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes171021.htm

Explore Online Colleges and Universities near Texas