Whether it's one online course or hybrid-learning options that drive your postsecondary interests, online colleges in Rhode Island could give you the choices you seek. Private schools, public universities and community colleges offer online alternatives in the state that can give you a variety of option for pursuing your education.

Online Colleges in Rhode Island

Colleges in Rhode Island are continuing to offer online learning opportunities to help meet the ongoing needs of students. These opportunities are available through distance learning programs, some which can be found in public schools, private institutions and community colleges.


Nationwide, enrollment in online learning has been on the rise. Online colleges in Rhode Island contribute by offering distance learning opportunities ranging from online classes to degree programs, which can help a student advance at their own pace. The latest report from the Sloan Consortium shows that 6.7 million U.S. students nationwide had enrolled for at least one online course in the fall of 2011, an increase from 1.2 million in the fall of 2002.

On Jan. 1, 2009, the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authorized local programs to offer distance learning through its Office of Adult and Career and Technical Education. Prior to that, Rhode Island had been actively seeking alternatives to traditional classroom programs to reach more adults in need of educational services, according to the agency's "Distance Learning Policy Guidelines." Online colleges in Rhode Island can also help provide career training and preparation through certificate and degree programs.

Trends in Rhode Island Online Schools

Several online schools in Rhode Island offer unique distance learning programs. Distance learning courses related to addiction, chemical dependency, recovery and substance abuse could be helpful to guidance counselors, social workers, and others who may work in these fields. The classes are offered through collaborative efforts of the New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center, the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, and the Public Health program within the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University. The program provides a range of continuing education courses related to advances in treatment and addiction.

Brown University also offers seven online college prep courses. These classes lead to a certificate, and can help students prepare and plan for their professional objectives. Classes include Developing Young Entrepreneurs, Lessons in Leadership and So You Want to be a Doctor. The Rhode Island National Guard is also making distance learning more accessible, providing two well-equipped classrooms that are available for a cost to community organizations and private businesses. The rooms feature fully-integrated video teleconferencing equipment and satellite connectivity.

College Degrees in Rhode Island

According to the non-profit Lumina Foundation, 41 percent of Rhode Island's working adults held at least a two-year college degree in 2010. This is above the national average, which sits at approximately 38 percent, but by 2025 the state is expected to face an almost 12.9 percent college graduation rate gap. The Lumina Foundation predicts that an additional 74,433 degrees will need to be completed in the state by 2025 to help make up for this gap. Programs offered by online colleges in Rhode Island could help fill the gap, allowing some students the additional flexibility they might need to pursue a postsecondary education.

Online schools in Rhode Island could also be beneficial to students wanting to enter any of the occupations predicted to be the fastest growing in the the state between 2008 and 2018, according to CareerOneStop. Those wanting to pursue a certificate may be able to enter growing occupations that include for audio and video equipment technician, medical records and health information technician, and medical transcriptionist. Growing jobs in Rhode Island that will require at least a four-year degree include financial analysts, personal financial advisors and technical writers.

Online College in Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island is the state's flagship public university, and the university's selection of online courses include Computer Sciences, Film Studies, Microbiology, Landscape Architecture, Plant Sciences and Entomology. The Community College of Rhode Island is the largest community college in New England, and offers a variety of formats for distance education including online courses, hybrid courses, telecourses and web-enhanced courses. Students can complete many courses and degrees via distance education, including Chemistry, Rehabilitative Health, Spanish and Radiography.

Through its division of Continuing Education, the Rhode Island School of Design offers a small selection of online classes in Marketing, Web Architecture, History of Photography, and others. Brown University, a private college and world-renowned research university, offers the IE Brown Executive MBA program, which is a blended learning approach that allows students to spend a few weeks in traditional classrooms at both the IE Business School campus in Spain and the Brown University campus in Providence. The remainder of the program is completed through online coursework.

Brown University, Addiction Technology Transfer Center Distance Learning Program
Brown University, Pre-College Courses
Community College of Rhode Island, Distance Learning
IE Brown Executive MBA
Lumina Foundation
Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rhode Island Distance Learning Policy
Rhode Island National Guard
Sloan Consortium, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2012

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