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Our Research

This list features some of the best online schools in Rhode Island. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

We helped assure the quality of these institutions by focusing solely on accredited schools. The schools on this list are all accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). NECHE confirms the value of post-secondary institutions by reviewing academic objectives, performances, and overall effectiveness. College students in need of professional credentials after graduation must attend an accredited institution.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Online College Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Top 50 Online Colleges in Rhode Island

Best Online Colleges in Rhode Island Badge

Johnson & Wales University

Bryant University

New England Institute of Technology

University of Rhode Island

Salve Regina University

Roger Williams University

Rhode Island College

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Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in Rhode Island

Does Rhode Island have good online colleges and universities?

Yes. The state offers a wealth of online educational opportunities, such as Johnson & Wales’ Online Associate in Business Administration and the University of Rhode Island’s Online Bachelor’s in Strategic Communication. After you graduate, you may want to consider staying in Rhode Island to complete a master’s degree while you work in one of the state’s many growing fields, such as computer science. Rhode Island is rich in graduate school options, like Bryant University’s Online Master of Business Administration and Salve Regina University’s Online Master’s in International Relations.

That said, there are many excellent online college programs available in other states as well. If you’re open to attending a school that’s located in another state, check out our guide to the best accredited online colleges. In addition to showing you the top 30 options in the entire United States for remote learning, this guide offers expert advice on how to choose a college and complete the application process.

Do online college credits in Rhode Island cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some schools offer discounted rates for online courses, whereas others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. Rhode Island became a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2015, which means that out-of-state students who live in a SARA-participating state can take online courses from Rhode Island schools without incurring additional fees.

Why should you choose Rhode Island for online higher education?

From affordable community colleges to religious institutions to top public research universities, Rhode Island offers something for every online college student. One option that stands out as a particularly appealing choice is Johnson & Wales University, which offers 24 online bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand fields such as supply chain management and computer science.

The Cost of Online College in Rhode Island

How much does an online degree in Rhode Island cost?

The cost of an online degree in Rhode Island depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree that you decide to pursue. For example, undergraduate degrees are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you’ll probably find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save money on indirect expenses, such as transportation, parking, and housing, by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the lowest and highest rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in Rhode Island below:

Most affordable online college in Rhode Island: New England Institute of Technology – $260 per credit

Most expensive online college in Rhode Island: Johnson & Wales University – $495 per credit

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in Rhode Island to get in-state tuition rates?

Typically, you would be eligible for in-state tuition rates after you have lived in Rhode Island for 12 consecutive months. Some groups, such as military veterans, tribal members, and graduate fellows, are entitled to in-state tuition rates without meeting this one-year requirement.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island Promise was started in 2017 by Gov. Gina Raimondo. This scholarship offers two years of free tuition for recent high school graduates who enroll at the Community College of Rhode Island. Residents of the state need only fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in Rhode Island

If you don’t qualify for the Rhode Island Promise, there are many other sources of financial support available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are based on income, whereas others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent scholarship options for you below:

Rhode Island Foundation Scholarships

This nonprofit organization oversees nearly 50 private funds that provide scholarships to students from Rhode Island. You only need to fill out one application to be considered for all scholarships you’re eligible for.

Who’s eligible? Although each scholarship has different criteria in terms of GPA and course of study, most require Rhode Island residency. Most also look for strong involvement in community service, extracurricular activities, and financial need.

Contact information: [email protected] | 401-274-4564

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Horatio Alger State Scholarship - Rhode Island

This national scholarship program is named after American author Horatio Alger, and the Rhode Island division is funded by the Horatio Alger Endowment Fund. Scholarships are offered to students who exhibit integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity. You may begin your studies at a two-year institution and later transfer to a four-year institution.

Who’s eligible? High school juniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and Rhode Island residency.

Contact information: [email protected] | 844-422-4200

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Nursing Foundation of Rhode Island

This nonprofit organization is dedicated to promoting the nursing profession through the awarding of scholarships and research grants in Rhode Island. Various scholarships are available for students enrolled in nursing programs at all levels, from an associate degree to graduate school. Preference is given to Rhode Island residents enrolled in a nursing program located in the state.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the preferences listed above, applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA (2.5 for licensed practical nursing programs). You must also demonstrate financial need and a passion for the nursing profession.

Contact information: [email protected] | 401-223-9680

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Westerly College Club Scholarship

This Rhode Island–based social and educational organization has been awarding scholarships since 1910. Applicants must be residents of the Rhode Island towns of Charlestown, Hopkinton, Richmond, or Westerly. The scholarship can only be used to help fund a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the requirements above, applicants must submit an essay and their Student Aid Report from their FAFSA. They must also participate in an interview.

Contact information: [email protected] | 401-322-1571

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Top 5 Fast-Growing Industries in Rhode Island

If you still don’t know where you will attend college, it’s quite possible you also don’t yet know what you will major in. In that case, one of the most important factors you should consider is which industries are growing the fastest in Rhode Island — this will make it easier to find a job, and more demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By examining the RI Occupational Projections (2020–2030), we’ve determined that the following five industries will have particularly high growth rates in the Ocean State over the next few years.

Personal Care and Service

The personal care and service industry is a broad sector that mostly focuses on consumer quality-of-life services throughout the age spectrum. In Rhode Island, the most common occupations in this sector are child-care workers and recreation workers. Other occupations include funeral attendants, makeup artists, animal trainers, and gambling service workers. Jobs in this industry have an average salary of $36,930 in Rhode Island.

  • Growth: 22.1%
  • Degree options: Associate in Cosmetology, Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education, Bachelor’s in Recreation and Leisure, Bachelor’s in Funeral Service Management, Bachelors in Animal Behavior, Master’s in Leadership, Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology

Computers and Mathematics

Rhode Island’s software, cyber systems, and data analytics industry concentration is 18% higher than the national average, making it a strong and growing industry in the state. Within this sector, the most common occupations are software developers, computer systems analysts, and computer user support specialists. Other occupations in this domain include information research scientists, actuaries, and web developers. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $110,400.

Construction and Extraction Occupations

Private, nonresidential building projects are driving the construction industry in Rhode Island. Within this sector, the most common occupations are carpenters, construction supervisors, and construction laborers. Other occupations include miners, plumbers, steelworkers, and operating engineers. Jobs within the construction and extraction industry in Rhode Island have an average annual salary of $62,520.

  • Growth: 15.5%
  • Degree options: Associate in Construction Technology, Bachelor’s in Construction Management, Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Technology, Bachelor’s in Mine Technology, Bachelor’s in Hazardous Materials, Master’s in Construction Administration, Master’s in  Ph.D. in Building Construction

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance

Occupations in the building and grounds cleaning and maintenance domain include landscapers, groundskeepers, pest control workers, janitorial workers, and tree trimmers. Top places to find such jobs include schools, hospitals, and local municipalities. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $40,200.

  • Growth: 12.1%
  • Degree options: Associate in Ornamental Horticulture, Associate in Turf Management, Bachelor’s in Facilities Management, Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture, Master’s in Integrated Pest Management

Life, Physical, and Social Science Organizations

Although Rhode Island is the smallest state by geography, it is rich in natural resources thanks to 400 acres of coastline. The University of Rhode Island also has a top natural resources science program, so it’s no surprise to see that this industry is one of the strongest in the state. Jobs include soil and plant scientists, foresters, chemists, biological technicians, and epidemiologists. In Rhode Island, the average salary for jobs in this sector is $90,090.

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