Also on this page:
Wyoming is the least-populated state, but its public university and community colleges present plenty of options to online students. And due to the state’s common course numbering and easy transfer system, they work so well together that you may not know which school to attend. That’s where we come in. We’ll show you how to get a free year’s worth of college education online, spell out your transfer options, and point you to tuition exchange programs that can save you money. We’ve packed a lot of information in this guide, but don’t worry: We’ll recap with a list of links at the end.
A combined initiative of Wyoming’s eight public colleges and universities, WyCLASS helps you “find the classes you need.” To get started quickly, search the course directory for classes delivered via synchronous modes (e.g., interactive television and teleconference) and asynchronous modes (e.g., internet). A lot of states have this type of directory, but Wyoming’s does something nifty. It lets you select the courses you want to take, then check out. That allows you to send a registration request directly to the schools offering the courses you’ve selected. Each college will contact you to complete the registration process, not the other way around.
The state’s Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Program lets Wyoming high schoolers get college credit for enrolling in state community college or University of Wyoming classes. Though most courses are taught at high schools, colleges or college outreach centers throughout the state, many dual enrollment courses are available online. You’ll find them at Wyoming Switchboard Network. Eligible students can take up to 32 college credits — or about a year’s worth of college — online without paying a cent. Students at the state’s two online K-12 schools, Wyoming Connections Academy (WYCA) and Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA), are particularly well-positioned for dual enrollment courses because they’re already learning online.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) encompasses 15 states, including Wyoming. Three WICHE programs are worth mentioning. First, the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) allows students from participating states, such as Wyoming, to enroll in eligible programs at colleges in other WICHE states at a discount. Or vice versa. Second, the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) provides a similar opportunity for graduate students, except in this case students attending participating programs receive more than a discount — they are charged the same low price as residents. Last, while WICHE isn’t exclusively for distance learning, the Internet Course Exchange (ICE) is. Though mostly a tool for administrators and faculty to open up class spaces to students at other colleges, having ICE work in the background makes it a bit easier to access online degree programs.
If you want to get an online degree from University of Wyoming but it doesn’t have the courses you want, don’t fret. Wyoming’s community colleges and the flagship university work together seamlessly. First, the community colleges and the University of Wyoming utilize common course numbering. So, for example, History 101 is the same across all schools. Second, the Wyoming Transfer Advance guarantees admission to UW if you’ve earned an associate at a state community college. It also guides you through a 2+2 process so you can graduate in four years. So feel free to rack up online courses at the community college level before transferring. Last, if you didn’t follow 2+2 but still want to go to UW, you can use the UW Transfer Equivalency Self-Service. Type in the degree you want, enter the courses you’ve taken, then see how those credits will be applied and which courses you still need to take toward your UW degree.
One school meets the criteria to make both our “Top Online” and “Most Affordable” lists. That’s not so odd, considering Wyoming is a small state. And it may just simplify your degree search. To compare our list to what else is out there, especially the state’s community colleges, check out College Scorecard, which keeps tabs on graduation rates, student debt and alumni earnings.
University of Wyoming is the only four-year institution in the state to offer online degrees. (In fact, it’s the only regionally accredited four-year school in the state, period.) Its distance learning division is run through the Outreach Credit Programs, which helped produce a guide to financial aid. You can find the short version at the Outreach School’s financial aid page: “In general, the same financial aid is available to students seeking university degrees through the UW Outreach School and students seeking degrees at UW’s Laramie campus.” However, the Outreach School runs scholarship programs specific for its students. And the presence of regional outreach centers makes things easier for students who want some in-person classes but don’t want to move to Laramie.
Given the paucity of colleges in Wyoming — traditional or otherwise — it’s fairly easy to check a school’s accreditation status and make sure everything is in order. Plus, all the schools offering online programs are public, and state schools seldom run afoul of accreditation standards.
Wyoming’s public colleges usually keep their noses clean, and the state only has a few private colleges, most of which can’t support distance learning. The one private college that can, however, has some issues you should be aware of:
The CollegeAmerica chain maintains a Cheyenne campus to complement its online offerings. Although CollegeAmerica is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), a national agency, there’s some dispute as to whether it’s a for-profit or nonprofit college. The Century Foundation criticized its parent company, the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, in a 2015 report, The Covert For-Profit, suggesting that its request to convert from a for-profit were designed to enrich one man while bypassing regulations meant to protect students. The U.S. Department of Education denied the request.
CollegeAmerica Cheyenne has also had recent run-ins with its accreditor since 2012, when a former director blew the whistle to ACCSC on the chain’s practices. ACCSC issued a show-cause directive (essentially, a threat to pull the schools’ accreditation) in 2014 related to poor student outcomes and then placed it on probation in 2015 for low job-placement rates.
University of Wyoming offers eight Bachelor degrees, twelve Master's degrees, and four doctorate degrees including bachelor degrees in applied science, business administration, criminal justice, family & consumer sciences: professional child development, nursing: accelerated, nursing: RN/BSN completion, psychology, and social science; Master's degrees in education: curriculum and instruction, education: instructional technology, education: special education, educational administration: adult and post-secondary, educational administration: K-12 educational leadership, English, business administration, family & consumer sciences: human development & family sciences, kinesiology and health, nursing: nurse educator, public administration, and speech-language pathology; as well as doctorate degrees on educational administration: adult and post-secondary, educational administration: K-12 educational leadership, EdD in education: instructional technology, and nursing practice. The same financial aid is available for online students as it is for on campus students: scholarships, loans, and grants. Students can complete coursework whenever it is convenient, and most classes will not require students to be online at specific times. However, classes will have deadlines and exam dates, and some classes may require proctored exams.
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
CAG Score 95.9