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Kansas' higher education system consists of 32 public colleges and universities and 38 private for- and non-profit schools. The state's seven public universities include the nationally recognized University of Kansas and Kansas State University. Notable private institutions such as the University of Phoenix and Brown Mackie College operate within Kansas as well. Kansas' higher education institutions are governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, which is a nine-member body that are appointed by the governor. The board reviews private institutions and certifies them to operate within the state and it administers the state's financial aid programs. It also administers Kansas' adult basic education programs and performs other oversight functions. Online education is a priority within Kansas, and three of the state's largest public universities, as well as some of the private schools, offer distance learning programs in a variety of areas of study.
The University of Kansas is a public, four-year research and education institution that awards certificates and bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at its campus in Lawrence. The university opened its doors for the first time in 1866, just five years after Kansas was admitted into the United States. Since its first class, which was 55 students strong, the university has grown to offering more than 190 undergraduate majors and 42 graduate programs to its 27,000 students. Areas of study include architecture, business, history, health information management, education, and law. In its Best Colleges report of 2012, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the school's graduate programs at No. 18 within the top 30 in the nation, and its special education, and city management and urban planning programs were ranked No. 1. The university's online nursing program was also recognized by the U.S. News, as it ranked within the top 30 for faculty credentials and training and student services and technology.
Located in Manhattan, or the "Little Apple," Kansas State University provides associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees to its approximately 23,000 students. The university, recognized as one of the best higher education institutions in the country by the Princeton Review, offers its academic programs through its 10 colleges, such as veterinary medicine, technology and aviation, and agriculture. In addition to its on-campus curriculums, Kansas State University also offers online bachelor's completion, master's, Ph.D., and certificate programs in wide range topics, including engineering, education, and food science.
Located in Hays, Fort Hays State University serves more than 12,800 students at its 200-acre campus and through its online programs. Founded in 1902, the university offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees through 28 academic departments, including the College of Business & Entrepreneurship and the College of Health and Life Sciences. Fort Hays State University seeks to provide its students with innovative and high-quality educational programs that encourage civic and professional engagement. This goal carries over into its online degree programs which were recognized by U.S. News. The institution was ranked No. 6 in student engagement and assessment and No. 10 in student services and technology of the top online bachelor's programs, No. 15 in faculty credentials and training of the top online business programs, and it ranked among the top online education and nursing programs.