Education in Florida
There are hundreds of colleges, universities, career schools and other postsecondary institutions in Florida. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) keeps track of a total of 438 schools, which break down into these major categories:
Florida is also home to a number of less-than-two-year colleges, providing mostly career and technical training to professionally minded students. About one in eight schools in this category were nonprofit private or public institutions, while the remaining 106 were technical colleges, beauty schools and career academies that educate students for profit.
According to a 2013 annual report published by the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) of the state of Florida, total enrollment at degree-granting colleges and universities was 238,848 during the 2011-12 fiscal year. Among those students, 60,776 were reported as graduating during the survey period.
The HECC also accounts for 596 licensed non-degree institutions in the 2013 report, at which enrollment reached 69,008 in 2011-12. About 60 percent of those enrolled in non-degree institutions during the survey period were reported as graduating that same year, working out to a raw figure of 40,927 graduates.
Accreditation is another factor tracked in the HECC report, and the Council acknowledges a total of 510 accredited degree and non-degree institutions in the state in 2013. Of these, 157 were non-degree academies and 353 were degree-granting colleges and universities recognized by regional or national accrediting bodies.
Online education in Florida
Online courses and degrees are on the rise in institutions all over the country, and colleges and universities in Florida are no exception. Students in the Sunshine State who need a flexible coursework schedule or a generally more affordable higher education experience have a number of distance learning options to choose from.
The five largest Florida colleges and universities each offer their own catalog of online classes and degree programs, and several of their offerings are getting the attention of national college and universities rankings agencies. Here are a few of those programs and where their programs rank according to U.S. News and World Report:
- University of Central Florida
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (2015): No. 24
- University of Florida
- Best Online Bachelor's Programs (2015): No. 5
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (2015): No. 3
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 47
- Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs (2015): No. 44
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (2015)
- Florida International University
- Best Online Bachelor's Programs (2015): No. 124
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (2015): No. 27
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 145
- Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs (2015): No. 41
- University of South Florida
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 36
- Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs (2015): No. 26
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (2015)
- Florida State University
- Best Online Bachelor's Programs (2015): No. 102
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (2015): No. 10
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (2015): No. 43
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 61
These 5 top Florida universities offer many more online degree programs than just those few ranked by U.S. News analysts. The University of Central Florida offers 20 online undergraduate programs, 6 graduate degree plans and 7 programs that lead to a non-degree graduate certificate. The University of Florida allows its students to choose among dozens of online degrees at multiple levels, including a particularly wide selection of master's degrees.
Top jobs and careers in Florida
Check out this table for details of some of the top careers in Florida, including job outlook projections and information about degrees common among professionals in each field:
|Occupation||Top regions||Why it's hot||Necessary skills||Relevant degrees|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks||Miami, Tampa, Orlando||According to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation (FAWI), more than 28,000 accounting, auditing and bookkeeping clerk positions are expected to open up in Florida between 2012 and 2022. Technological advancements in banking and bookkeeping tools are shaking up the industry, and clerks who train in today's computerized business environment should have strong chances of landing one of those emerging positions.||Mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, bookkeeping, written expression, professional communication, office computing, time management, information organization, active listening||Candidates with an accounting degree or a bachelor's degree in finance are likely to have their pick of the financial clerk positions on offer, particularly if they have some business experience in an office setting. Many clerk positions only require a high school diploma, but employers often give extra attention to candidates who have taken it upon themselves to learn the business in a formal setting.|
|Nursing Assistants||Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach||Employment demand for nursing assistants is projected to grow rapidly in the next decade or so, thanks to a generally aging population of baby boomers. FAWI projections indicate an expected 22 percent increase in job opportunities in the field between 2012 and 2022, leading to more than 30,000 new nursing assistant jobs for graduates of Florida colleges and universities.||Social perceptiveness, activity coordination, compassion, empathy, active listening, effective oral communication, customer and personal service skills, physical health, basic psychology||A degree in nursing can prepare you exceptionally well for the challenges of the position, and a general health and medical science degree can teach you the essential protocols of a health care environment. Most nursing assistants must complete state-approved training programs before they can be approved to work with patients. Those with an interest in advancing in the nursing profession can move on to registered nurse training and help people get and stay well across multiple stages of life.|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale||Rates of employment among mechanics in Florida are projected to rise at about 1.5 times the national average rate; FAWI data projects a 14 percent increase between 2012 and 2022 in Florida, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has forecast just 9 percent growth among auto mechanic jobs nationwide.||Troubleshooting, critical thinking, equipment maintenance and repair, fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, deductive reasoning, electronic diagnostic equipment operation, hand-tool use||Automotive technology is advancing in step with technology in the information and health care industries, and today's mechanics often need at least some formal auto mechanic career training to work confidently on late-model vehicles. Auto mechanics in Florida can also benefit from completing some online language courses, particularly in Spanish, to help them communicate with a wider range of customers.|
|Lawyers||Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee||Law practice is another area where job growth in Florida is set to outpace the national average. Employment of lawyers nationwide is expected to increase 10 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the BLS, but FAWI numbers suggest an 18 percent increase in workforce demand for lawyers in Florida.||Oral communication, reading comprehension, written expression, persuasion, law terminology, knowledge of precedent, inductive reasoning, complex problem solving, negotiation||Lawyers in every state need an accredited law degree and a passing score on the American Bar Association (ABA) exam before they can legally practice. The path to a legal education starts with a traditional or online bachelor's degree and requires that candidates take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to gauge their legal aptitude before entering law school.|
|Medical Assistants||Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami||The Baby Boomer population entering the later stages of life and beginning to require gerontological and other medical care is expected to drive nearly 30 percent job growth in the medical assisting field, which is expected to add around 162,900 new positions to the national workforce and 17,200 new jobs in Florida between 2012 and 2022.||Health care terminology, medical technology, clinical hygiene, attention to detail, clerical fundamentals, sanitary sampling and testing practices, electronic recordkeeping||Earning a medical assisting degree can put you on the path to one of these rewarding, in-demand careers. On-the-job training may be available, but employers tend to prefer candidates who have already learned some of the basic procedures and terminology of the profession. Programs may lead either to a medical assisting diploma or a full-fledged degree.|
It's important to note that although there's no degree that can be guaranteed to lead to employment, following an educational plan that focuses on the knowledge and skills of a single professional discipline can often increase your attractiveness as a candidate in that profession.
Florida financial aid info
Depending on the institution you attend, the degree you pursue and whether you choose to attend classes in person or online, the cost of your college tuition can fall anywhere on a fairly wide range. College and university costs are going up at all points on the spectrum, though, and the raw data indicates that students may need financial aid now more than ever.
A 2014 report published by the College Board states tuition and fees at colleges and universities in Florida has risen sharply between 2004 and 2014. Here's a list of tuition increases at not-for-profit colleges and universities over just 9 academic years, to show how much things have changed:
The first stop for any student seeking to defray the cost of higher education should be the Federal Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA. Some colleges and universities even mandate that students must fill out the FAFSA before allowing them to enroll in their first batch of classes. Federal and state sources of student aid often look directly to FAFSA to assemble the information they need to properly assess the financial needs of students.
The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) at the Florida Department of Education maintains a web portal for Florida financial aid seekers. In keeping with its mission to facilitate higher education access to everyone who wants it, the OSFA provides a listing of available scholarships and grants as well as information and resources for student borrowers and their families.
To find out more about some of the schools and programs available in Florida, be sure to check out the ones featured in our school listings below.
- "Florida, College Navigator," National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=FL
- "A report to the Florida Legislature, Office of the Governor, State Board of Education, Florida Board of Governors," Higher Education Coordinating Council, December 2013, http://floridahighereducation.org/_doc/HECC%20Report_2013_FINAL.pdf
- "Florida, May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm
- U.S. News and World Report: "University of Central Florida, Online Programs," http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-central-florida-132903, "University of Florida, Online Programs, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-florida-134130, "University of South Florida, Online Programs," http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-south-florida-main-campus-137351, "Florida International University, Online Programs," http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/florida-international-university-133951, "Florida State University, Online Programs," www.usnews.com/education/online-education/florida-state-university-134097,
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition: "Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Office-and-Administrative-Support/Bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm, "Lawyers," www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Lawyers.htm, "Nursing Assistants and Orderlies," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Nursing-assistants.htm, "Medical Assistants," www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Medical-assistants.htm, "Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: "Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics," http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes411011.htm," Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes433031.htm, "Lawyers," http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes231011.htm, "Medical Assistants," http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm, "Nursing Assistants," http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
- "2014-2015 Online Programs," University of Central Florida, http://programs.online.ucf.edu/
- "Online Degree Programs," University of Florida, http://www.distance.ufl.edu/online-degree-programs
- O*Net OnLine Occupational Information Network: "Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/43-3031.00, "Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/43-3031.00, "Lawyers," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-1011.00, "Nursing Assistants," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-1014.00, "Medical Assistants," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00
- "Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics: Florida," Occupation Profile, Career InfoNet, http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=001000000&soccode=493023&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=12&search=Go#SectionOp3
- "Medical Assistants: Florida, State and National Trends," Occupational Information Network, http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?next=occ_rep&Level=&optstatus=001000000&jobfam=31&id=1&nodeid=2&soccode=319092&menuMode=&stfips=06&x=49&y=17
- "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
- "Office of Student Financial Assistance," Florida Department of Education, http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/