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Utah’s higher education system consists of six public and 24 private colleges and universities, and 52 community and technical colleges. Some of the state’s most prestigious colleges are Brigham Young University, ranked No. 71 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and Southern Utah University, ranked No. 71 in the western region. Utah’s higher education system is managed by the State of Utah Office of Education (SUOE). This system prides itself in providing Utah citizens with tuition rates lower than the national average; in 2010, it boasted that the average Utah state tuition was $4,532, versus the national average of $6,695.
Online education, on the other hand, has grown exponentially each year since its launch in the early 1990s. Such an education affords students with the ability to maintain their busy schedules and lifestyles, while also gaining the degree necessary to progress in or obtain their career of choice. As such, Utah’s colleges and universities have heeded distance learners needs and adopted distance learning tools and programs. Schools like Utah Valley University, the University of Utah, and Brigham Young University, among many others, projected that there will be thousands of online students in 2012, which is a huge increase from the early 2000s; for instance, the University of Utah had 1,200 online students in 2011, and it projects it will enroll 12,000 online students in 2012. Some of the state’s top online accredited online colleges are listed below.
One of the nation’s best universities is also one of Utah’s best online colleges: Brigham Young University (BYU). It was founded as Brigham Young Academy in 1875, and is a Moron-affiliated university located in Provo. It also has campuses in Hawaii, Idaho, and another in Salt Lake City. One aspect of BYU that makes it unique is that apart from offering more than 500 online courses, it offers over 50 free online courses, thus making it one of Utah’s top colleges offering free online courses. It also offers one bachelor’s online program in general studies, which allows students to choose among seven concentration areas. However, this program is only for those who previously attended BYU and did not finish their degree. Online courses at BYU are offered as asynchronous or synchronous in three forms: paper/online (asynchronous), online (asynchronous), and instructor-guided (synchronous).
Independence University is a purely distance education university founded about 30 years ago. It is one of Utah’s top online public colleges and is the online branch of Stevens-Henager College. Independence University works to guide students through the entire educational experience. It begins with helping students determine which career best suits their interests and aptitudes. Next, students confer with their admissions consultant and financial planner. Finally, students enroll and are ready to begin their education with their admissions consultant at their side and a financial plan that meets their fiscal needs and capacity. Independence University offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in health care and business disciplines. Some of its programs include an Associate of Occupational Studies in Medical Specialties, a Bachelor of Science in Business, and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration. Programs can take as little as 16 months and as much as 42 months to complete.
Western Governors University (WGU) is one of Utah’s top online non-profit colleges. WGU is a private, completely online college that boasts a very unique beginning: it was founded by 19 U.S. governors. WGU works to provide its students with affordable bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are flexible to their schedules. Many of WGU’s students are working adults, and the average student is 36 years old, according to the school’s website. Its degree offerings are very broad, including those in education, business, information technology, and health care; its education program offerings are especially extensive. Students can easily communicate with their instructors and peers to feel part of their school’s community, and can utilize their degree program to progress at accelerated rates. To fully understand what the WGU experience entails, prospective students can visit The WGU Experience section on the WGU website.