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Online and On-Campus Colleges in WISCONSIN

Article Sources
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
  • School pages, accessed April 26-27, 2017: About the UW, University of Wisconsin-Madison, http://www.wisc.edu/about/; Future Students, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, https://www.uwlax.edu/future-students/; Online and Distance Education Programs and Degrees, University of Wisconsin-Stout, http://www.uwstout.edu/de/deo.cfm#iTab_1; UW-Stevens Point Online Offerings, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, http://www.uwsp.edu/online/Pages/default.aspx; Department of Music, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, http://www.uwsp.edu/music/Pages/default.aspx; UWSP at a Glance, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, http://www.uwsp.edu/admissions/Pages/WhyUWSP/default.aspx; About UWP, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, https://www.uwp.edu/explore/aboutuwp/index.cfm; Online Degree Programs, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, http://www.uwosh.edu/academics/online-degree-programs.html; Points of Pride, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, http://www.uwosh.edu/about-uw-oshkosh/points-of-pride.html; Academics Hub, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, http://www.uwplatt.edu/academics;
  • What is the UW System, University of Wisconsin System, accessed April 26, 2017, https://www.wisconsin.edu/about-the-uw-system/
  • University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Best Colleges, U.S. News & World Report, accessed April 27, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/uw-platteville-3921
  • Financial Aid Programs, State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board, accessed April 27, 2017, http://heab.state.wi.us/programs.html
  • Talent Incentive Program Grants (TIP), Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, accessed April 27, 2017, https://dpi.wi.gov/weop/tip-grant
  • Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
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Wisconsin has some elite public universities within its border and it turns out that they are all members of the University of Wisconsin System, which encompasses 26 schools overall, including 13 four-year universities. If you're a student in the Badger State who's looking to transfer from a Wisconsin community college or another four-year school, in Wisconsin or elsewhere, the UW System's Transfer Information System (TIS) and the collaborative Transfer Wisconsin program can help you find a way to make your transfer as easy as possible.

It may not be easy for prospective students to tell at a glance the difference between the Wisconsin schools, other than their location. So how might you decide which one might be your best option? We wanted to take a closer look at all of the schools in Wisconsin to find out which ones were the best traditional and online colleges, so we did it the most scientific way we know how — with math.

Best 4-Year Colleges in Wisconsin

We collected statistical info on dozens of Wisconsin schools and analyzed it using a 13-point methodology devised by our data team. We looked at things like affordability, flexibility, academic variety and availability of distance education to students who need it. There's a full rundown at the end of this page that shows the metrics we used and how they were weighted. Check out the ten best traditional and online colleges in Wisconsin:

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Methodology
1University of Wisconsin-Green Bay+
ADMISSION RATE
73%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
9

Affordability was a prime factor in landing the No. 1 spot for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The school's average net price, a measure of college cost determined by subtracting a student's expected amount of grant and scholarship aid from the aggregate expense of tuition, fees, room and board and other related costs, placed UW-Green Bay in the top three among our top ten schools for both low- and middle-income students.

The Green Bay campus also took the No. 1 spot among schools on our list for the manageable amount of debt that students carried on average after graduation. On top of its comparatively low cost of attendance, UWGB was one of the best online colleges in Wisconsin by enrollment. Only one other school on our list showed a higher percentage of students taking at least some courses online.

Additional Info
2University of Wisconsin-Madison+
ADMISSION RATE
53%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$60
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
4

Founded in 1848, the largest campus in the University of Wisconsin system has developed into a world-class research institution that offers one of the nation's largest selections of academic programs. Not only were the 399 degree programs available at UW-Madison enough to land it the No. 1 spot in the state, but only eight other schools out of the 1,647 we surveyed nationwide had a larger catalog than the Madison school.

The numbers also show that UW-Madison invests its energy in helping students stick with their degree plans to the end. It ranked No. 3 in the state for its rate of retention of first-year students, and its graduation rate came in at No. 1 statewide and in the top 100 nationally.

Additional Info
3University of Wisconsin-La Crosse+
ADMISSION RATE
74%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
6

Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse paid the lowest average cost in the state for books and supplies in 2015-16, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data. It can also claim the state's No. 5 rank for the affordability of its average net price for low-income students; just three other schools on our list saw their students graduate with a lighter burden of loan debt.

UWL also took the top spot among our top 10 Wisconsin schools for the ability of its alumni to pay off their college loans shortly after graduation. College Scorecard reports that nearly 90 percent of UWL graduates managed to repay their loan balances within three years of completing their degree plans.

Additional Info
4University of Wisconsin-Stout+
ADMISSION RATE
88%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
24

If you're looking for an online bachelor's degree program in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Stout should be on your radar. The list of 25 degree programs offered entirely in the virtual classroom by the Menomonie institution, including no fewer than 13 for undergraduates, constituted the largest online catalog available at any of the schools in our top ten.

Online enrollment was also high at UW-Stout, where the nearly 45 percent of students taking at least some distance education courses made up the second-largest proportion of online learners in the state. It also provided on-campus students with considerable academic variety, coming in at No. 3 among schools on our list for the size of its overall catalog of its courses of study.

Additional Info
5University of Wisconsin-Whitewater+
ADMISSION RATE
69%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
7

Tuition and fees costs at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ranked No. 4 in the state for affordability, and that wasn't the only financial category in which this southeastern Wisconsin school stood out. It also posted the fifth- and eighth-lowest average net prices in the state for middle-income and low-income students, respectively.

Another factor in UW-Whitewater's favor is its noteworthy ability to accommodate non-traditional campus-based students, taking the top spot on our list for the programs it has in place. It was the only school in our top ten to offer entire degree programs that can be completed using only night and weekend classes, and it provides remedial services and exams that allow students to earn course credit for applicable life experience.

Additional Info
6University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point+
ADMISSION RATE
81%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
7

The average net price for middle-income students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point ranked it No. 3 in the state, and the figure for students of low-income backgrounds wasn't far behind at No. 7. Students seeking an online bachelor's degree program in Wisconsin can choose among business, liberal arts and health care specialties from the state's No. 7 portfolio of distance education study plans at UWSP.

There's also some under-the-radar upside for singers, musicians, music educators and other prospective seekers of music degrees at the central Wisconsin school. The student-faculty ratio in UWSP's Department of Music is just 10:1, according to the departmental website, and the campus features more than 20 music performance ensembles for students to join or enjoy.

Additional Info
7University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire+
ADMISSION RATE
78%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
6

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire features the No. 3-ranked freshman retention rate among our top ten schools, and its graduation rate placed at No. 7 among all schools statewide. Students also paid comparatively little for books and supplies in 2015-16, according to NCES data, which put UW-Eau Claire in a tie for No. 3 on that metric.

Considerable academic variety is also on display at UW-Eau Claire, where students are free to choose their course of study from the fifth-largest catalog among the top ten schools in the state. As a bonus, UW-Eau Claire was the only University of Wisconsin System school other than the Madison flagship to offer all ten of the most popular degrees in Wisconsin during the 2015-16 academic year.

Additional Info
8University of Wisconsin-Parkside+
ADMISSION RATE
62%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
5

The NCES counted just 39 academic programs available at our No. 8 school in 2015-16 — the smallest catalog of any institution in our top ten — but students who find their degree plans at this small school in the lakefront city of Kenosha are in for a low-cost path to graduation. The raw cost of tuition and fees at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside was the most affordable in the state, and the average net price for students at all income levels ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin and placed among the top 100 of all 1,600+ U.S. schools that we analyzed.

The median college debt of alumni at Parkside was manageable, too. Only three other schools in the state reported lower debt burdens for graduates. Distance education enrollment and first-year student retention rate both landed at No. 5 among schools on our list.

Additional Info
9University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh+
ADMISSION RATE
65%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
10

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh features the second-lowest average tuition and fees cost in Wisconsin. And its average net price for both low- and middle-income students places it in the top ten statewide. The selection of degree programs available on campus and online were both fairly robust in 2015-16, placing at No. 8 for online bachelor's degree options in Wisconsin and taking the No. 7 spot for traditional, campus-based plans.

Students of international studies and political science may also have an extra pull factor at UW Oshkosh. The Model United Nations Program at the Winnebago County school is heralded as the most successful of its kind in the world, having earned 25 consecutive Outstanding Delegation awards at international competitions.

Additional Info
10University of Wisconsin-Platteville+
ADMISSION RATE
80%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
8

If you're concerned about carrying your student debt for decades after graduation, our No. 10 school might be a good choice. It placed in the statewide top ten for the manageability of its average debt load, and nearly 90 percent of alumni reported being able to pay off their loans within three years of finishing their degree programs.

Wisconsin students hoping to move into STEM jobs after graduating might be wise to take a second look at UW-Platteville. The school's College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science (EMS) was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as offering undergraduate engineering programs that ranked in the national top 40 among institutions where the terminal engineering degree is a master's.

Additional Info

Most Popular Degree Programs in Wisconsin

Whether you're hoping to run with the pack or find that elusive high-value degree off the beaten path, it can help to know which subjects of study typically see the highest enrollment. Here's a list of the most popular campus-based and online degrees in Wisconsin, according to recent numbers.

In-Demand Careers in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin job market can sometimes be unpredictable, but employment growth estimates offer some insight into which career sectors may be most in need of fresh college graduates when your time comes to leave school. Take a look at this quick survey of Wisconsin's hottest careers.

Career TitleProjected Job GrowthTotal EmploymentAnnual Salary
Statisticians40.1%470$82,210
Operations Research Analysts33%1,440$68,760
Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers31.5%130$46,470
Personal Care Aides28.7%59,690$22,400
Rock Splitters, Quarry28.2%80$35,750
Home Health Aides28%4,940$26,120
Computer Systems Analysts27.7%12,800$77,090
Personal Financial Advisors26.3%4,370$108,680
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists25.5%240$63,520
Industrial Machinery Mechanics23.7%9,830$50,700
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs23.2%5,450$23,670
Forensic Science Technicians22.8%170$53,040
Web Developers22.3%2,700$51,960
Interpreters and Translators22.3%1,020$48,940
Insulation Workers, Mechanical22.3%390$63,070
Biochemists and Biophysicists22.2%440$67,960
Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners21.8%590$37,090
Continuous Mining Machine Operators21.8%70$38,710
Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic21.7%1,440$51,640
Animal Trainers21.3%180$29,430
Helpers--Extraction Workers21.3%30$34,330
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic21.3%10,560$42,170
Hearing Aid Specialists20.6%210$49,160
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers19.8%-$72,440
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters19.7%200$38,270
Real Estate Brokers19.5%240$92,190
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists19%11,210$57,420
Software Developers, Applications18.8%15,850$83,040
Farm and Home Management Advisors18.8%60$51,050
Biomedical Engineers18.7%180$76,810
Source: 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Financial Aid and Scholarships in Wisconsin

Financial aid can go a long way toward easing the cost burden of college. Here are a few aid programs for Wisconsin residents only:

  • The Wisconsin Grant Program provides need-based awards of up to $3,000 annually for students in qualifying degree programs.
  • Talent Incentive Program (TIP) grants offer additional funding assistance to nontraditional or disadvantaged students of public or private Wisconsin institutions.
  • Aspiring nurses and classroom teachers may take advantage of several state-based loan programs, including the Nursing Student Loan Program and the Teacher Education Loan Program.
 
Moody's Mega Math Challenge
Applicant must be a high school junior or senior who is part of a team working to solve an open-ended, applied math-modeling problem focused on a real-word issue in 14 hours. Teams must be comprised of three to five students.
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AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

February 17

 

 

 
Oneida Higher Education Grant
Applicant must be an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

April 15 (fall); October 1 (spring); May 1 (summer)

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Reapplication required for renewal. Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 2.0 GPA (undergraduate) or minimum 3.0 GPA (graduate) and submits FAFSA.

 
Provost Scholarship
Applicant must be an out-of-state resident with a minimum 3.75 GPA and minimum combined SAT Reasoning score of 1400 (composite ACT score of 32).
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

November 15 (Early Action admissions deadline)

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.25 GPA and full-time status.

 
President's Non-Resident Scholarship
Applicant must be an incoming freshman student who is not a resident of Utah. Applicant is automatically considered with application for admission.
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$17,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Not Available

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.6 GPA.

Additional Resources

Article Sources
Methodology

To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,649 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the most recent data available from government sources. Our data points include:

  • The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The average net price for students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • The average net price for low-income students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
  • 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
  • No. of degree and certificate programs offered, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Average retention rate for full-time and part-time students, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2015-16
  • Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
    • Dual credit
    • Credit for life experience
    • Advanced Placement credit
    • Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
    • Remedial services
    • Academic and career counseling
    • Job placement services for graduates
    • Guaranteed tuition plan
    • Tuition payment plan
    • Any other alternative tuition plan
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