Education in Rhode Island
Although the state of Rhode Island is the smallest by size in the United States, it boasts plenty of educational opportunities for current and future college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Rhode Island was home to 26 colleges, universities, technical schools, career academies and other postsecondary institutions in 2014. Here’s a breakdown of degree-granting schools in Rhode Island, by type:
- Public 4-year: 2
- Public 2-year: 1
- Private 4-year, nonprofit: 10
- Private 2-year, nonprofit: 3
- Private 4-year, for-profit: 0
In addition to degree-granting schools, Rhode Island offers 10 schools that award less-than-two-year degrees. This type of instruction typically includes programs that focus on preparing students for the workforce and culminate in career diplomas or certificates. Among the 10 less-than-two year institutions in Rhode Island, approximately half are beauty and barbering schools while the rest are trade, technical or business schools.
A 2014 report from the NCES shared some interesting facts about degree attainment in the state. According to the report, federal financial aid-eligible colleges and universities in Rhode Island granted 20,544 degrees and certificates to 19,979 graduating students during the 2011-2012 school year. Among graduates that year, 80 percent earned their degrees at four-year colleges in Rhode Island and 14 percent earned two-year degrees. The remaining 1,085 graduates earned career certificates or diplomas from colleges in Rhode Island that grant less-than-two-year degrees.
Colleges and universities in Rhode Island offer high-quality instruction, plus plenty of culture and activity. The following four-year schools in the state also boast impressive enrollment figures (current as of 2014):
- Brown University: 9,181
- Bryant University: 3,462
- Johnson & Wales University – Online: 239
- Johnson & Wales University – Providence: 9,955
- New England Institute of Technology: 2,922
- Providence College: 4,533
- Rhode Island College: 8,641
- Rhode Island School of Design: 2,449
- Roger Williams University: 4,884
- Roger Williams University School of Law: 370
- Salve Regina University: 2,739
- University of Rhode Island: 16,571
Online Education in Rhode Island
Because of the many advantages it offers, online education in Rhode Island is on the rise. Many four-year traditional colleges in Rhode Island have instituted their own online or distance learning programs, or begun offering at least some courses in an online format. Meanwhile, a handful of fully-online programs have taken hold in the state as well.
These programs can be truly advantageous for non-traditional student groups who have had trouble earning degrees in the past. Single parents, working professionals and rural students, for example, now have fewer barriers to degree attainment thanks to online education. Since online degrees can be earned at any place or time a student chooses, access to higher education all over the country is now at an all-time high.
Due to excellence and quality of instruction, several online schools and programs at colleges in Rhode Island have been recognized on a national level. Here are a few of the well-regarded online degrees offered by Rhode Island institutions, alongside their national rank as calculated by U.S. News and World Report:
- Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs (2015): No. 140
- Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (2015): Rank Not Published
- Best Online MBA Programs (2015): Rank Not Published
In addition to these schools, several other colleges and universities in Rhode Island offer top-notch online education programs. The University of Rhode Island, for example, offers a distance learning portal where students can take fully-online and hybrid courses. Roger Williams University, located in Bristol, Rhode Island, also offers a roster of fully-online degrees and certificates in disciplines such as criminal justice, health care, technology and public administration.
Further, as a recent NCES report notes, in fall 2012, 1.6 percent of students enrolled in Title IV institutions in Rhode Island, or 1,347 students, were enrolled in exclusively online programs.
Top Jobs and Careers in Rhode Island
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Rhode Island’s workforce included 463,930 workers with annual mean wages of $49,570 in 2014. Certain careers for college graduates led to higher than average earnings, however. To highlight the best jobs for graduates from colleges and universities in Rhode Island, we created this list of top jobs based on employment projections and wage data.
|Occupation||Top Regions||Why It’s Hot||Necessary Skills||Relevant Degrees|
|Biomedical Engineers||n/a||High demand continues to help spur growth in biomedical engineering. Specifically, U.S. Department of Labor figures show that employment for these workers in Rhode Island could increase by as much as 49 percent from 2012 to 2022.|
High pay also adds to the allure of this career. As of 2014, biomedical engineers earned an annual mean wage of $82,540 in Rhode Island.
|Analytical skills, problem-solving skills, listening skills, technical skills, math skills, the ability to communicate effectively||Most biomedical engineers get started by earning a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited school.|
Alternatively, some workers earn a Bachelor’s degree in another engineering field, then earn a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.
|Logisticians||Providence, Warwick||Because of the overall demand in the field of logistics and supply chain management, employment in this field is expected to surge. Specifically, the BLS predicts that employment for logisticians will increase 36 percent in Rhode Island from 2012 to 2022.|
High pay also adds to the popularity of this career. As the BLS notes, logisticians in Rhode Island earned an annual mean wage of $78,670 in 2014.
|Communication skills, critical thinking skills, time management skills, problem-solving skills, organization skills, mastery of advanced mathematical principles||The BLS reports that most logisticians earn a Bachelor’s degree in logistics or supply chain management. However, certain workers may get started with an Associate’s degree.|
Many logisticians also have degrees in related fields such as business, industrial engineering or process engineering.
|Market Research Analyst or Marketing Specialist||Providence, Warwick||As businesses continue relying on marketing professionals to sell their products and services, employment for market research analysts and marketing specialists is expected to increase. Specifically, the BLS predicts that job openings for these workers will increase 36 percent in Rhode Island during the decade leading up to 2022.|
In addition to excellent job prospects, this career also offers high pay. As of 2014, market research analysts and marketing specialists earned an annual mean wage of $63,970.
|Analytical skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, sales skills||As the BLS notes, most market research analysts and marketing specialists earn a Bachelor’s degree in marketing.|
However, some market research analysts and marketing specialists have degrees in social sciences, economics, psychology and communication.
|Interpreters and Translators||Providence, Warwick||As languages other than English grow in popularity in the United States, the need for bilingual professionals is on the rise. That’s especially true for interpreters and translators, who often serve as the point of connection for businesses and individuals who don’t speak the same language.|
Because of the anticipated growth in this field, U.S. Department of Labor figures show that employment for interpreters and translators in Rhode Island will increase 36 percent from 2012 to 2022.
|Absolute fluency in at least two languages, communication skills, business skills, cultural sensitivity, business skills, writing skills||Most interpreters and translators get their start by earning a Bachelor’s degree in English or a foreign language. However, since the main requirement for this career is absolute fluency in two languages, candidates with Bachelor’s degrees in other fields can sometimes find entry-level employment.|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||Providence, Warwick||Because of the overall demand for health care services, jobs in diagnostic medical sonography are on the rise. According to BLS data, that’s especially true in Rhode Island where diagnostic medical sonographers could see employment opportunities surge by as much as 35 percent from 2012 to 2022.|
The fact that most workers in this field get their start with a two-year degree also adds to the popularity of this career. Further, high wages sweeten the pot. As of 2014, diagnostic medical sonographers earned an annual mean wage of $72,100 in Rhode Island.
|Technical skills, communication skills, physical stamina, critical thinking skills, time management skills, interpersonal skills||As the BLS notes, most diagnostic medical sonographers get started with an Associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography. However, some earn Bachelor’s degrees in sonography as well.|
Professionals in related fields, such as radiation therapy, may also find entry-level work in this field after completing on-the-job training.
Financial Aid in Rhode Island
Tuition prices at colleges and universities in Rhode Island have increased steadily over the last decade, although prices still vary widely based on school and major choice, the length of the program chosen and whether a student opts for a private or public school.
To illustrate the changes in the cost of tuition over the last decade, we compiled tuition prices from the College Board for both the 2004-2005 school year and the 2014-2015 school year. Here are those average tuition figures, sorted by school type (all numbers in current dollars):
- Public 2-year in-state
- 2004-05: $2,310
- 2014-15: $3,950
- Public 4-year in-state
- 2004-05: $5,933
- 2014-15: $10,934
- Private 4-year nonprofit
- 2004-05: $22,603
- 2014-15: $36,308
While these numbers may seem scary, it’s important to note that most students at colleges in Rhode Island qualify for some type of student aid. To find out, the vast majority of students who enroll fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, right away. The information students provide on this form helps federal and state agencies determine what type of student aid they may qualify for and how much.
The Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority also lists a wide range of resources on its website, including details on state-specific scholarships and grants, special loan programs and financial literacy. Students who hope to learn more can refer to this agency for help with locating and applying for various types of student aid.
Meanwhile, more information on financial aid in Rhode Island can be found at the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority. In addition to a college planning center, RISLA offers details on a wide range of scholarships, grants and aid opportunities that may be available to Rhode Island students.
It’s important to note that not all student aid is created equal, however. While scholarships and grants my never need to be repaid, loans and other forms of student aid represent debt and need to be repaid back over time. Make sure to read all of the terms and conditions listed in your financial aid package before signing on the dotted line.
Further, some students may also qualify for school-specific aid based on need, academics or athleticism. Before you fill out your college application, make sure to explore any and all financial aid opportunities that may be available.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014: “Biomedical Engineers,” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031, “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032, “Interpreters and Translators,” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273091, “Logisticians,” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131081, “Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists,” http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131161
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition: “Biomedical Engineers,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers, “Interpreters and Translators,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators, “Logisticians,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians, “Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts, “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Rhode Island, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=RI
- “Enrolled in Distance Education Courses, by State,” U.S. Department of Education, June 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014023.pdf
- “Fastest Growing Occupations,” CareerOneStop, Rhode Island, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=44&ShowAll=
- “Johnson & Wales University, Online Programs,” U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/johnson — wales-university-217235
- “May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Rhode Island,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ri
- “New England Institute of Technology, Online Programs,” U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/new-england-institute-of-technology-217305
- “Online Education,” The University of Rhode Island, http://web.uri.edu/online/
- “Online Programs,” Roger Williams University, http://rwu.edu/academics/schools-colleges/scs/online-learning/online-programs
- “Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12, Web Tables,” U.S. Department of Education, March 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014033.pdf
- Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority, http://www.riheaa.org/cbf/
- Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, http://www.risla.com/college-planning-center
- “Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, Trends in Higher Education,” The College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-sector-and-state-over-time