Oklahoma has a growing need for highly educated professionals. Most of the state’s primary industries, such as the energy and information technology sectors, are expected to grow at rates considerably faster than average. While this growth bodes well for Oklahoma’s economy, the state needs to have a qualified workforce on hand to meet the demand. In addition, even though these major Oklahoma industries get most of the attention, the overall job market in the state is also projected to grow at a steady rate.
Since the majority of in-demand jobs in Oklahoma available require college and university degrees, the state has begun several initiatives to ensure the citizens of Oklahoma are equipped to supply the demand for an educated workforce. The availability of online colleges in OK has played a major role in these efforts. Several state organizations have made it their mission to prepare students for higher education from a young age and to make college and university as accessible as possible, providing everyone with equal opportunity and access to education and an empowering career. Through the several online colleges in OK, increased training opportunities, high-quality college and university programs( including those from online schools in OK), and access to higher education funding, Oklahoma looks to continue to increase the number of students in post secondary education year over year and to meet the demands of its growing industries and economy.
Oklahoma’s Online Education Profile
In response to the growing demand for more Oklahoma online colleges, several organizations have come together to make online degrees in OK more available and accessible. One of the best resources available to aspiring online students is the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Additionally, the growth in online colleges in OK has also helped other initiatives such as Reach Higher, a statewide program that helps students with unfinished degrees complete their education. The overall program and the students participating benefit from the flexible schedules offered through online classes in OK. Funding is available for these degree completion programs through another state program, Project Finish Line.
With more than 20 online schools in OK running accredited distance education programs, students have plenty of options for higher education. Both the enhanced accessibility of online programs and the lower-than-average tuition rates for online colleges in Oklahoma have been major contributing factors for the annual increase in degrees conferred in the state. Whether it be first-time enrollees, degree completion, or graduate degrees, students looking for online degrees have a wealth of choices available to them from the Oklahoma online school system.
|Number of Title IV 4-year colleges||40||56|
|Number of Title IV 2-year colleges||20||33|
|Percentage of students enrolled in distance education||28.6%||25.8%|
|Postsecondary education spending per full-time student||$6,148||$6,954|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||7.2%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||16.1%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||8.0%||11.2%|
Average Cost of College Tuition & Fees in Oklahoma
|Average in-state tuition & fees – public 4-year||$6,680||$8,778|
|Average in-state tuition & fees – private 4-year||$23,658||$27,951|
|Average in-state tuition & fees – public 2-year||$3,349||$3,038|
Best Online Colleges in Oklahoma
With so many different options available to them, aspiring online students can find the decision between online schools in OK a difficult one. Below, the best online colleges in Oklahoma have been ranked based on the most common student needs. Each institution has its best attributes as it relates to online education highlighted, allowing students to find a school that matches best with their own personal educational needs and wants.
Oklahoma’s Higher Education Outlook
Currently, the state of online education in Oklahoma is positive. More than 71,000 of the 220,000 total students are taking online courses through Oklahoma colleges and universities. Even though the graduation rate of Oklahoma students from four-year universities is only 46.9% of students, which is less than the national average, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have two of the of the top graduation rates in the country at 66% and 61%, respectively. With the bulk of online students receiving higher education from those institutions and statewide efforts to help Oklahoma students complete their unfinished degrees, the job outlook for Oklahoma looks strong overall. Across all professions, the state is projected to have 14% growth between the beginning of 2010 and 2020. In that number, the careers expected to grow the most and the careers expected to have the most job openings are those that require bachelor’s degrees as minimum entry-level requirements.
Higher Education Initiatives in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has several organizations and programs dedicated to making education in the state as effective and accessible as possible. There are a few networks open to students in the state in which multiple schools and programs have combined their resources to make a much larger collective database. This provides students at smaller online schools in Oklahoma with access to resources from many institutions. With initiatives designed to create schools and programs that appeal to every type of student, as well as programs created to educate both students and parents about the higher education options available to them, postsecondary education in Oklahoma has become a real possibility for everyone. Because of the dedicated organizations and high-quality programs listed below, all Oklahoma students have access to education, funding, and flexible study options, such as those that online education offers. There are programs in place available to Oklahoma students of all ages, from students in the early years of school to adult students who need to finish their degrees.
Resources for Oklahoma
- Southern Regional Education Board: Headquartered in Atlanta, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is made up of 16 member states, of which Oklahoma is one. As a collective, the SREB works with its member states to improve public education at each level. The SREB network also allows students to access the resources of multiple schools.
- Oklahoma Humanities Council: The Oklahoma Humanities Council is an organization that supports Oklahoma students in pursuit of a humanities education with funding and resources.
- Oklahoma College Assistance Program: Part of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the Oklahoma College Assistance Program improves college accessibility by providing financial aid, financial literacy, student loan management services, and financial aid awareness to students and parents in Oklahoma.
- Reach Higher: Reach Higher is a degree-completion program designed to help working adults complete unfinished degrees. The program has multiple schedule and format options to ensure students have the best chance at success.
- Project Finish Line: Established by the Central Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board, Project Finish Line is a program that provides educational grants to various Oklahoma residents who are within 15 credits of degree completion.
- Oklahoma Association for Career & Technology Education (OKACTE): The OKACTE is an organization dedicated to improving career and technology education at every level.
College Savings Plans
A 529 plan is a state-sponsored savings plan that helps parents and students save for impending college costs. The tax-advantaged plan has two different types: one is a prepaid tuition plan, which allows the buyer to essentially purchase credits to be studied in the future from participating colleges, and the other is a college saving plan, which allows contributors to purchase investment options on behalf of the future student. The investments can be withdrawn and put toward education at any point. Every state has at least one of these 529 plans available and most colleges and universities in the country allow for these plans to be utilized.
In the state of Oklahoma, parents and students have the option of contributing to the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP). With nine different investment options to choose from, contributors invest their money into the OCSP and benefit from tax-free growth. Funds can typically be used for many different school-related fees, including tuition, books, room and board, and other supplies. With OSCPs, the choice of school and/or program does not matter. As with any investment, there is some risk with an OSCP, but the multiple investment options allow investors to choose how aggressive they want their investments to be.
Educational Nonprofit Organizations in Oklahoma
- Stand for Children: Stand for Children is an educational advocacy program fighting for progressive educational policies and investments from all levels of government. The organization also runs programs designed to educate and empower students and parents to push for better public schools and educational opportunities in the state of Oklahoma. Most importantly, Stand for Children is driven to ensure that all Oklahoma students have the opportunity to finish high school and pursue higher education.
- Oklahoma Education Association: Founded in 1889 as the Oklahoma Teachers Association, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) has been dedicated to improving public education in the state for almost 130 years. The association’s mission is to ensure that every Oklahoma student has an available seat in schools at every level.
- Community HigherEd: Community HigherEd (CHE) is a corporation committed to improving various Oklahoma institutions of higher learning, such as Community Care College, Oklahoma Technical College, and Clary Sage College. CHE approaches this mission through advocacy at the various levels of community and government, as well as fundraising, scholarships, and public engagement.
Accrediting Bodies in Oklahoma
While each of the online schools listed is accredited, there are differences in what type of accreditation they have. Most programs and schools are regionally accredited, meaning they are screened by an accrediting body governed to overlook schools in the state of Oklahoma. Nationally accredited institutions are typically trade and career schools, which feature programs that are not as standardized as the regional schools.
In Oklahoma, there are various accrediting bodies that screen the schools and programs on this list, including the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which governs a 19-state region of which Oklahoma is included. While this accreditation is the primary seal of approval for most Oklahoma colleges and universities, there are several additional accreditations specific to Oklahoma. Depending on what type of institution it is and what type of programs are being offered, these organizations may be involved in the accreditation process in addition to the regional HLC accreditation or a national accreditation.
- Oklahoma State Accrediting Agency: The Oklahoma State Accrediting Agency (SAA) is the authority that approves all training and education programs registered under the G.I. Bill®. The Agency ensures all programs are of the highest quality and set up to provide veterans with the training and educational opportunities they deserve.
- Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education: The State Regents are in charge of prescribing the academic standards in the 25-institution Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. The State Regents approve and manage the available degrees, tuition limits, scholarships, and special programs within these colleges and universities as well.
- Oklahoma Private School Accreditation Commission’s (OPSAC): The OPSAC is a section of the Oklahoma State Department of Education that is in charge of ensuring all educational programs in Oklahoma’s private school sector are of a satisfactory quality and comply with the rules and regulations as set out by the Department of Education.
Job Outlook for Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s economy is led by several major industries, including energy, transportation, information and financial services, government, and military. While many of the big industries have been foundational sectors for Oklahoma’s economy, such as the energy and transportation industries, the advances within each of these industries require newly and highly educated personnel coming up each year. The biggest industries and the biggest employers in the state are projected to grow at incredible rates, but each require employees with education and specific training.
Top Industries in Oklahoma
|Energy||Nearly 25% of the working population of Oklahoma are employed in the energy industry in some fashion. Though the industry began with oil, it has extended to include various forms of clean energy, such as geothermal, wind, and solar. The existing energy systems and resources also contribute to Oklahoma’s strength in other industries.|
|Information and Financial Services||Largely because Oklahoma’s low energy costs attract high-energy industries, the state has become a hotbed for technological data centers. With more than 70 data centers, the Oklahoma workforce fuels many of the world’s largest information technology and financial services companies.|
|Transportation and Distribution||Home to three interstate highways that act as crossroads in North America, five airports (including two international airports), two inland ports, and two major railroads, Oklahoma is one of the nation’s primary pathways and distributions channels.|
Top Employers in Oklahoma
|Top Employers||Number of Employees|
|State of Oklahoma||46,000|
|Tinker Air Force Base||26,000|
|Oklahoma State University||21,000|
Oklahoma by the Numbers
Per capita income:
- State: $25,762
- US average: $29,979
Median household income:
- State: $48,568
- US average: $55,775
Gross Domestic Product:
- State: $183 million
- US: $18.57 trillion
* GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.