Online Degree Programs in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board and the State of Wisconsin Educational Approval Board (SWEAB) are the agencies responsible for higher education in Wisconsin. There are 72 four-year colleges and universities in the state, 14 of which are public. Wisconsin also possesses 53 technical and community colleges. One of the most prestigious postsecondary school in the state, however, is the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSE). This small, private institution opened its doors in 1903. Today, its academics still concentrate mostly on engineering, though it also has health care-related programs. Today, MSE is ranked No. 19 in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.


Some of Wisconsin’s largest postsecondary schools are the various University of Wisconsin (UW) campuses. The UW system consists of 13 four-year campuses, all of which make U.S. News & World Report’s various ranking lists. The two UW campuses with the highest enrollment in the state are the Madison and Milwaukee campuses. UW – Madison is the system’s flagship university and also happens to be the oldest university in Wisconsin. It is ranked as the No. 41 best university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Meanwhile, UW – Milwaukee was founded in 1956 in Milwaukee, Wis. Its traditional graduate as well as online graduate degree programs are ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Wisconsin is part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), which is an interstate compact formed between 12 states with the goal to increase residents’ higher education opportunities and the efficiency and quality of participating state’s postsecondary schools. The MHEC meets said goals by fostering cooperation and educational resource sharing among MHEC member states. Through this compact, Wisconsin postsecondary institutions have the opportunity to participate in the MHEC’s Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE). The CSRDE was created through an agreement between MHEC and the University of Oklahoma in an effort to make higher education as accessible as possible. Through the CSRDE, states learn how to retain online students to ensure they complete their online degree programs.

Wisconsin Distance Learning Initiatives

Given that UW has 13 campuses in the state, it’s no surprise that it is a leader in distance education. The UW system developed Distance Learning Wisconsin, which is an online collaboration of 13 UW four-year and 13 UW two-year schools with online degree programs. Together, the 26 schools provide students with over 100 accredited online college degree programs as well as certificate options. Distance Learning Wisconsin also offers students the choice of more than 1,400 online course opportunities.

Meanwhile, the SWEAB has been monitoring online degree programs from major universities inside and outside the state for years. Recently, the Federal Department of Education implemented regulations on online learning that affected online schools as well as those that operate as traditional schools with online college degree programs. The regulations require these schools to adhere to each state’s operation regulations in which they have students enrolled. Many schools were caught off-guard by these new regulations. However, schools with students in Wisconsin were not because state authorization has always been required for online and out-of-state schools offering distance education. This authorization, coupled with the readily available information on degree and diploma mills on the SWEAB’s website, have undoubtedly provided protection for citizens that other states previously lacked.