2018 Guide to Online Colleges and Universities in Texas

Texas is part of the Southern region of the United States and gets its name from a Caddo word meaning “friends.” The 2nd largest state in the US, it has an area of 268,596 square miles.

Texas also has the 2nd largest population in the country. With 254 counties, it has 27,862,596 residents. About 45% of Texas’s population is under the age of 30. Also, it has one of the most diverse populations in the nation with about 55% of the population identifying itself as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group.

The capital city of Texas is Austin. However, with a population of 2,303,482 residents, Houston is the state’s largest city. Other large cities in Texas include San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth.

Texas residents typically have a lower than average level of education as compared to those around the country. According to the 2010 Census, approximately 16% of the state’s residents over the age of 25 have graduated from high school, 3.5 percent have at least an associate degree, 2.7 percent have degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher, and 1 percent hold a graduate level degree.
Texas has more than 365 post-secondary institutions, of which 74 offer online programs. Of these accredited online colleges in Texas, 32 are public four-year colleges or universities and 13 are public community or technical colleges and 29 are private colleges, universities, or career and vocational schools. These schools offer 1,505 online certificate programs, 9,139 online associate programs, 10,926 online bachelor’s programs, 6,842 online master’s programs, 8,541 online professional programs, and 1,699 online doctoral programs.

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Texas’s Online Education Profile

In addition to its many traditional higher education programs, there are many online universities in Texas. In fact, Texas is part of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, a web portal of the region’s online educational opportunities. Students can also use the Academic Common Market/Electronic Campus and the Regional Contract Program for Health Professions, to continue paying in-state Texas tuition at out-of-state programs.

Number/Percentage Texas National Average
Number of Title IV 4-year colleges 128 56
Number of Title IV 2-year colleges 124 33
Percentage of students enrolled in distance education 25.2% 25.8%
Postsecondary education spending per full-time student $7,159 $6,954
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 6.7% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree 18.2% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 9.4% 11.2%

Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Average Cost of College Tuition & Fees in Texas

Number/Percentage Texas National Average
Average in-state tuition & fees – public 4-year $8,091 $8,778
Average in-state tuition & fees – private 4-year $28,880 $27,951
Average in-state tuition & fees – public 2-year $2,017 $3,038

Source: NCES

Best Online Colleges in Texas

Everything really is bigger in Texas. Even education. Not only do students have hundreds of traditional institutions to pick from, but they also have a variety of quality online schools in Texas. While tuition and fees at traditional colleges have gone up more than 147% since 2002, online alternatives remain a cheaper and economical avenue for higher education.

Here are some of the best options when looking for Texas online colleges.


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Texas’s Higher Education Outlook

There are 1,573,627 students enrolled in higher education programs across Texas. This includes traditional programs and online schools in Texas, and both undergraduate and graduate students.

In 2014, it was reported that Texas had a retention rate of 76% at four-year colleges, just slightly below the national average of 79%. Retention measures the number of students who entered as freshman and return the following year as sophomores. Texas students have a four-year graduation rate of 27.6% at public universities, and a six-year graduation rate of 51.7%. Both are slightly below the national average of 33.3% and 57.6%, respectively.

Recent budget changes in Texas have resulted in a $1.4 billion increase in higher education funds, making it $19.9 billion. Money going toward academic institutions increased by nearly $399 million to hit a total of $6.82 billion. For the 2016-2016 Texas state budget, higher education amounts for 9.5%.

“Higher education is more important than it’s ever been,” said Gregory L. Fenves, Ph.D., of The University of Texas at Austin. “You look at our state, you look at our nation, you look at what’s happening globally, and it’s even more important that we get more of our students going to high-quality universities, getting those post-high school credentials in different forms.”

Higher Education Initiatives in Texas

Texas has some lofty goals to increase its educated workforce and college enrollment across the state. Initiatives are in place to enhance educational opportunities at both traditional institutions and online universities in Texas.

Since the year 2000, the Texas State Legislature put $3.3 billion in state grants to assist low-income students attend college. For fields that needed additional attention and an increased workforce, funds were also given. Colleges have seen a more than 600,000 student increase since that year, and have awarded 250,000 bachelor’s and associate degrees, and certificates, an increase of 130,000 since 2000.

The Texas Pathways Project is an initiative for community colleges across the state. The Project hopes to aid in Texas’s plan to increase credentialed graduates in Texas to 60% by 2030. In fact, Texas’s Higher Education Strategic plan wants to see 60% of 25-34 years olds in Texas hold a certificate or degree by 2030, which would be an increase from 38%.

Resources for Texas

  • Southern Regional Educational Board: The SREB works with southern states, including Texas, to improve public education. The Board conducts research and analyzes data to ensure effective policy and standards.
  • Humanities Texas: Humanities Texas works to improve education in the state by enhancing teaching, libraries, museums, and offering opportunities for lifelong learning. They host public lectures, publish books and reports promoting the humanities, and air a weekly radio show.
  • Adult Education & Literacy: AEL works with adult learners on reading, writing, math, the English language, and work readiness training. The program helps adult learners obtain a high school diploma and transition to post-secondary education or the workforce. Some of this can open doors to attending an online Texas college.
  • Texas Association of Community Colleges: The organization represents the 50 community college districts of Texas. Here, interested students can find out college enrollment numbers, scholarships, and available opportunities for a post-secondary education at a community college.
  • Texas State Library & Archives Commission: The Commission’s mission is to “ensure that citizens have access to the information they need to lead informed, productive, and fulfilled lives.” They do this through preserving historical information and archives, maintaining public records, and improving Texas state and school libraries.
  • Texas Workforce Commission: TWC provides licenses to career schools and colleges, and offers technical assistance to schools, students, and the public.
  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: The Board offers leadership and coordination for Texas’s higher education system. This includes matters of internal auditing, college readiness, and student loans.

College Savings Plans

College savings plans are sponsored by states and state agencies as a way for individuals and families to set aside money to be saved for future educational costs. These funds are exempt from federal taxes. It gets its “529” moniker from the section of the Internal Revenue Code for which it was named. Those who create the plan can select from a variety of investment options, much like a 401(k) or IRA. Once a savings plan account is created, the funds can be used for college tuition, books, or a variety of other education-related expenses. Most accredited colleges accept 529 plans.

The Texas College Savings Plan is managed by the NorthStar Financial Services Group. The savings accrued in the plan can be used at most U.S. colleges, including one of the many online colleges in Texas, and even at international institutions. Money saved is exempt from federal taxes and investors can choose from 20 different investment opportunities.

Educational Nonprofit Organizations in Texas

In addition to the many state-run programs and resources available for higher education and online schools in Texas, there are also many nonprofit organizations with missions of assisting those interested in obtaining a post-secondary degree.

  • Greater Texas Foundation: This nonprofit’s mission is to ensure quality post-secondary access and resources for the state’s most underserved students. They do this by providing opportunities to receive college credit while attending high school, promoting increased education in math studies, and working on breaking down barriers on the pathway between high school and college.
  • Emerge: Emerge works with high-performing students who come from underserved neighborhoods to make sure they have a chance to attend college. Through their fellowship program, they prepare students while they are still in high school, and stick with them through their college experience to ensure their success. Students take part in college application workshops, standardized test preparation, and college visits.
  • Breakthrough: Breakthrough focuses on first-generation college students, working in low-income communities to provide advising, leadership opportunities, and extended learning for the students who need it the most. Using a case-management approach, they guide students from middle school onward, helping them create a path to a traditional college or one of the many online universities in Texas.

Accrediting Bodies in Texas

Schools seek accreditation to earn credibility and enhance their reputations as educational leaders. Accredited schools have been certified and meet the standards of the governing agency. Depending on what type of school it is, the college is expected to meet a certain set of standards by the regional or national accreditation agency to which it is applying. Schools must demonstrate a solid foundation and mission of educating its students, and must show that they have the resources to continue this work long-term. Accreditation requires frequent reviews and checks to ensure they maintain these standards.

Some colleges have received regional accreditation, while some have been nationally accredited. Most regionally-accredited colleges (98%) are non-profit, and degree-granting. Typically, nationally-accredited schools are for-profit schools, often with a religious affiliation. Both types require quality outputs from the colleges, can be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and can accept financial aid.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the regional accrediting agency for southern states. Accreditation standards for the body include an extensive review of the school’s’ institutional mission, its governance, effectiveness, and even financial resources.

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Job Outlook for Texas

The average wage of Texas employees is approximately equal to the average wage for employees across the nation. The national average annual income is $42,871, while employees in Texas earn an average annual income of $42,220. The median income for employees is $31,490 per year. But, the top 10 percent of the state’s employees earn over $78,680 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earn under $16,620.

Texas’s overall job outlook is very promising, making it a great choice for students to enroll in one of the many online colleges in Texas. Many large corporations have headquarters in Texas, including Exxon Mobil, AT&T, and American Airlines.

Top Industries in Texas

Industry Description
Trade, Transportation, and Utilities This industry employs roughly 2.369 million people in the state. Texas is more of a hub than many states for trade, transportation, and utilities work.
Professional and Business Services Of all non-farm workers, this industry employs around 13.5% of Texas’s workforce. Population growth and new Texas residents account for much of the increase within this industry.
Education and Health Services This industry employs 1.585 million people in Texas. This industry will remain at the top for Texas’s workforce, as eight of the 25 largest Texas employers are hospitals or research facilities.

Top Employers in Texas

Top Employers Number of Employees
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 50,000
Shell 44,000
Dell 21,000

Texas by the Numbers

Per capita income:

  • State: $28,210
  • US average: $29,979

Median household income:

  • State: $55,653
  • US average: $55,775

Gross Domestic Product:

  • State: $1,616,801
  • US: $18.57 trillion