According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 15 million children in the United States are raised by single mothers. That number represents 20% of families across the country and a whole lot of moms who are taking on parenthood alone. While single moms and stay-at-home moms who are struggling in the trenches may feel as if their options are limited, higher education shines a beacon of hope on their path to making a comfortable life for themselves and their children.
Today, single mothers have access to programs and resources that put higher education within reach, despite the demands of raising kids. Not only has online education made it possible for stay-at-home moms to study from home, but an increasing number of colleges and universities are focusing their efforts on facilitating academic success for single parents. This article identifies 25 of the best online colleges and best online degrees for working adults who are also single moms.
Rating and Ranking the 25 Top Online Schools for Moms
Since single moms and stay-at-home moms have unique needs and preferences when it comes to choosing online programs, we took a different approach to rating and ranking schools for this article. Instead of applying our usual methodology, we chose our initial pool of colleges and universities based on the extent of their efforts to support their enrolled single parents. We then filtered these schools by cost, eliminating schools with expenses of over $30,000 per year. Finally, we ranked the schools based on the number of online programs they offered at the undergraduate level. In cases of a tie, the more affordable school received the higher ranking. Tuition costs were taken from the NCES College Navigator.
#25—Rogers State University
Number of Online Programs: 5
Rogers State’s reputation as one of the top online colleges for busy moms and single parents has been long-established. The school’s Single Mothers Inspiring Lifelong Education (SMILE) program helps to facilitate the success of single moms through online tutoring, career services, financial aid, health resources, and more. The school offers a variety of bachelor programs as well as some of the best online college degrees for stay-at-home moms, including:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business Administration
- BS in Business Information Technology
- Associate of Science (AS) in Computer Science
- AAS in Applied Technology
The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Rogers State to confer these flexible degrees for moms to earn on their own schedule.
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,470
#24—Salt Lake Community College
Salt Lake City, Utah
Number of Online Programs: 5
Highly regarded as one of the top online colleges for working women in its region, Salt Lake Community College offers an impressive number of resources for single and busy moms enrolled in an online degree program. This includes help with childcare, a dedicated single-parent scholarship program, a food pantry, counseling services, and more. In terms of some of the best degrees for stay-at-home moms, the school offers the following college degrees:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Business
- Online AS in Criminal Justice
- Online AAS in Computer Science and Information Systems
Salt Lake Community College is accredited to award these online credentials at the institutional level.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,297
#23—Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Number of Online Programs: 6
Northwestern Oklahoma State may be one of the top choices if you’re looking for the best degrees for working moms returning to school. That’s because the university is home to an active Single Parent Support Network that provides essential resources such as academic support, a food pantry, mentorships, and family activities. Single and busy moms enrolled at this top online college also have access to convenient online courses of study, including the following college degrees:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Accounting
- BBA: Business Administration
- Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS): Technical Management
- Online RN to BSN
Online degree completion programs are also available to students with some prior college credit. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Northwestern Oklahoma State to award bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed online for single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,970
#22—Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Number of Online Degree Programs: 7
Single moms and stay-at-home moms searching for a degree will find ample support at Saint Cloud State. This top online college provides plenty of parent resources through its Student Parent Support Center. Working moms enrolled in an online degree program are entitled to a long list of services, including parenting workshops, a laptop loan program, academic resources, and even complimentary diapers. They’ll also have access to some of the best online degrees for stay-at-home moms, such as:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Professional Communication
- BA in Geography
- Associate of Science (AS): University Transfer
- Associate of Arts (AA): University Transfer
The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Saint Cloud State to offer these college degrees for busy moms and single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $10,117
#21—Idaho State University
Number of Online Programs: 7
Idaho State is one of the leading online colleges for single moms partly because of its single-parent assistance program offered through the university’s College of Technology and the Center for New Directions. This program provides funds for single parents to fund their education through childcare payments, academic awards, and emergency assistance scholarships. Moreover, the school offers some of the best online degrees for stay-at-home moms and single moms that can be completed at their own pace. These include associate degree and bachelor’s degree options for working women and student parents, such as:
- Online AAS in Civil Engineering Technology
- Online AAS in Health Information Technology
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Criminology
- Online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
Idaho State is accredited to award college degrees to busy moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,958
#20—Rose State College
Midwest City, Oklahoma
Number of Degree Programs: 7
Rose State College prides itself on being one of the top colleges for working moms and single parents. As such, the school is home to the Single Mother’s Academic Resource Team (SMART), an organization that provides resources and assistance to enrolled single parents. Some of these benefits include instructional workshops, counseling, academic assistance, and more. Moreover, students will have access to some of the best degrees for parents that can be completed at their own schedule and their own pace. These include bachelor’s degree and associate degree programs like:
- Online AAS in Computer Information Technology: Programming
- Online AAS in Business Administration: Marketing and Social Media
- Online AAS: Library Technical Assistant
- Associate in Arts (AA) in English
The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Rose State College to award these flexible college degrees to busy moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,754
#19—Durham Technical Community College
Durham, North Carolina
Number of Online Degree Offerings: 8
Arguably the best online college for single moms in North Carolina, Durham Technical Community College offers a range of services to single parents, including a child care grant. Through the child care grant program, busy moms can have some of their child care expenses paid for by the school so that they can study and attend classes. In addition, the school also hosts a single-parent success network where students can find peer support. Students enrolled at Durham Tech have their choice of some of the best degrees for stay-at-home moms. These include associate degree programs like:
- Online AAS in Business Administration
- Online AAS in Emergency Management
- Online AAS in Public Safety Administration
- Online AAS in Criminal Justice Technology
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited Durham Tech to award these convenient college degrees for single parents and working moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $1,958
#18—College of Southern Idaho
Twin Falls, Idaho
Number of Online Degree Options: 8
As one of the top online colleges for adult learners, particularly single moms, the College of Southern Idaho offers a variety of resources through its Single Parent/Displaced Homemaker Program. Sponsored by the school’s Center for New Directions, this program assists single parents through financial aid initiatives, educational workshops, and peer support. Students enrolled in the program may also pursue one of the college’s convenient online programs, including associate degree programs like:
- Associate of Arts (AA) in General Business
- Online AA in Education
- Online AA in Criminal Justice
- Online AA in Library and Information Science
The College of Southern Idaho is accredited to offer some of the best degrees for stay-at-home moms and single parents by the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,360
#17—Kapiolani Community College
Number of Online Options: 8
Among the top online colleges for adult learners and single mothers in the U.S., Kapiolani Community College houses a Student Parent Program (SPP) that provides resources for student parents, regardless of their circumstances. Available services include access to office spaces, counseling, academic and career support, financial assistance, and more. The school also provides some of the best academic options for busy moms seeking associate degree programs, such as:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Liberal Arts: Business Administration
- Online AA in Liberal Arts: Human Development and Family Studies
- Online AS in Information Technology
Kapiolani Community College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to offer degrees for stay-at-home moms and single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,284
#16—Jamestown Community College
Jamestown, New York
Number of Online Degree Options: 9
Jamestown Community College is a top contender for the best online college in New York for adult learners. It offers many resources for single moms through its Single Parents Reaching Education to Employment (SPREE) program. Students enrolled in the SPREE program can access personalized achievement coaches, food assistance and financial support, peer support, and more. In addition, JCC offers some of the best associate degree options for working moms that can be completed at their own pace, including the following:
- Online AAS in Information Technology
- Online AAS in Business Administration
- Online AAS in Health Information Technology
- Online AAS: Administrative Professional
Jamestown Community College holds its institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Ed.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,450
#15—Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
Number of Online Offerings: 9
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College offers single-parent resources through funding from the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma. These resources, which include child care assistance, employment resources, food and housing assistance, and more, combined with access to online degrees, make Northwestern Oklahoma A&M College a top online college for adult learners and parents. Fully online degree options for working moms include associate degree programs like:
- Associate’s in Business Administration Technology
- Associate’s in Pre-Nursing
- Associate’s in Elementary Education
- Associate’s in Psychology and Sociology
The Higher Learning Commission has institutionally accredited Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College to award some of the best degrees for stay-at-home moms and single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,913
#14—Niagara County Community College
Sanborn, New York
Number of Online Program Options: 11
Niagara County Community College supports single moms through its Career & Transitional Services department. Through this program, students enjoy personalized advice from success coaches, educational workshops, academic support, and more. The school also offers nearly a dozen of the top online degrees for stay-at-home moms and single parents, including associate degree programs such as:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Computer Information Systems
- Online AS in Psychology
- Online AS in Health Studies
- Online Associate of Arts (AA) in Human Services
Numerous career and technical certificates are also available to busy moms. Niagara County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Ed.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,165
#13—Ozarks Technical Community College
Number of Online Program Options: 11
Thanks to the OTC Foundation, Ozarks Technical Community College has established itself as a top online college for adults, including single moms. Through the Foundation, single parents can access much-needed financial aid and resources such as scholarships and emergency funds. The school is also home to nearly a dozen online degrees for stay-at-home moms, including associate degree options like:
- Online AAS in Accounting and Business Management
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Teaching
- Online AA in Social Work
- Online AA in Behavioral Science
A variety of technical certificates are also available to busy moms entirely online. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Ozarks Tech to award these flexible online credentials to working moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,216
#12—The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Number of Online Program Options: 12
The University of New Mexico specializes in bachelor’s degree programs, including some accelerated options for stay-at-home moms and single parents looking to get a head start on their careers. Some examples include bachelor’s degree programs like:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
- BA in Journalism & Mass Communication: Strategic Communication
As one of the top colleges for adults, including single moms, the school also provides a range of single-parent resources such as a designated scholarship for single mothers, access to the university’s emergency funds, and food resources. UNM is accredited to award online credentials to working moms by The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,076
#11—College of Western Idaho
Number of Online Program Offerings: 12
Regarded as one of the best online colleges for adults, the College of Western Idaho is home to a single-parent support network designed to help single moms succeed in gaining valuable workforce credentials. Entitled the Center for New Directions Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker program, the initiative sponsors a social network of students navigating single parenthood and monthly Zoom meetings for resource sharing. CWI also offers some of the top online degrees, including associate degree offerings such as:
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Business
- Online AA in Criminal Justice
- Online AA in Political Science
- Online AA in Philosophy
The Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities has accredited the College of Western Idaho to award these online credentials to busy moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,336
#10—Oklahoma City Community College
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Number of Online Program Options: 12
Oklahoma City Community College supports its single-parent students through its Single Parent Academic Resources Collaborative (SPARC). Funded by the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, this program encourages and supports students as they navigate their degree programs while also parenting their children. Students will have access to resources such as counseling, child care, financial assistance, housing, and more. They’ll also be able to choose from a dozen of the best credentials for busy moms, including associate degree programs like:
- Associate in Science (AS): Business
- Online AAS: Child Development
- Online AAS: Speech Language Pathology Assistant
- Online AAS: Clinical Research Coordinator
The Higher Learning Commission accredited Oklahoma City Community College to confer these online credentials to working moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,059
#9—Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara, California
Number of Online Program Options: 12
Santa Barbara City College offers some of the leading online degrees for stay-at-home moms and single mothers in terms of convenience and affordability. Here, single parents can choose from among a dozen different fully online associate’s degree programs, including:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Computer Information Systems
- Associate of Arts (AA) in International Business
- Online AA in Film and Media Studies
- Online AS in Cancer Information Management
In addition to these flexible degree programs, the school also offers a summer bridge program specifically designed to help prepare single parents for the rigors of college academics. The Single Parents Arriving Ready to College program (SPARC) provides students with childcare, food vouchers, school supplies, and even grants. Santa Barbara City College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Undergraduate Tuition: $1,234
#8—University of Louisville
Number of Online Program Offerings: 15
The University of Louisville supports enrolled single parents and working moms through a dedicated scholarship and the Student-Parent Association (SPA). The latter, offered through the university’s Women’s Center, provides social and emotional support for single moms navigating college alongside parenthood. The school also offers a host of online bachelor’s degree programs, including:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Organizational Leadership and Learning
- Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
- BA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
The University of Louisville is authorized to award these bachelor’s degrees to busy moms by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Undergraduate Tuition: $12,520
#7—Kent State University
Number of Online Program Options: 16
In addition to offering some of the best academic options for working moms, Kent State supports busy moms and single parents through its Literacy and Independence for Family Education (LIFE) program. Available in collaboration with the Center for Adult and Veteran Services, LIFE helps single moms find housing and childcare so they can attend classes and study. The program also sponsors a scholarship initiative for single parents. Students enrolled in the program also have access to educational workshops and resources for parenting. Single moms will find a host of convenient online degree programs at Kent State, including bachelor’s degree programs such as:
- Online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Applied Technology
- Bachelor of Business Administration: General Business
- Bachelor of Radiologic and Imaging Sciences Technology
- BS in Public Health
These online programs culminating in a bachelor’s degree are made possible through Kent State’s accreditation status with The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $12,464
#6—Gateway Technical College
Number of Online Program Options: 16
At Gateway Technical College, single parents have access to many good majors for stay-at-home moms and support and resources through the school’s Step Up program. This is considered a “best online program” designed for single parents and adults. As such, it provides instructional workshops, career development tools, job placement, and a single-parent peer support group. Once enrolled, students can choose from among 16 of the best degrees for parents, including associate degree programs like:
- Associate’s in Business Management
- Associate’s in Health Information Management
- Associate’s in Information Technology: Web Development
- Associate’s in Small Business Entrepreneurship
A testament to its quality education offerings, GTC is accredited to award these online credentials to busy moms by The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,766
#5—Texas Woman’s University
Number of Online Program Offerings: 17
Single moms desiring to go back to school for a degree should consider Texas Woman’s College for a “best online college” experience. In addition to family housing options for on-campus students, the school offers a host of resources for its distance learners through the Campus Alliance for Resource Education (CARE) Office. Here, students can access childcare services, social networking opportunities, personal support, and more. TWU also offers online bachelor’s degree programs for single parents, such as:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Human Resource Management
- Online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Child Development
- BS in Health Informatics
- BS in Sociology
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited Texas Woman’s University to offer some of the best programs for moms culminating in a bachelor’s degree.
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,311
#4—SUNY-Broome Community College
Binghamton, New York
Number of Online Program Options: 19
Long regarded as one of the top colleges for adults in the SUNY system, SUNY Broome Community College is also one of the best sources of online degrees for single parents, thanks, in part, to its Family Empowerment Program. Through this program, single parents can access academic support, wellness resources, and a social network of like-minded students. The program may even pay for childcare for qualified students. Moreover, the school also offers some of the leading online degrees for stay-at-home moms, including:
- Online Associate Degree of Science (AS) in Business Information Management
- Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Security & Forensics
- Online AS in Health Studies
- Online AAS in Hospitality Management
SUNY-Broome is accredited to confer these online credentials to busy moms by the Middle States Commission on Higher Ed.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,704
#3—Metropolitan Community College
Number of Online Options: 20
Metropolitan Community College is home to some of the best online degree programs for busy moms and offers plenty of resources for single mothers through its Single Parent Homemaker Services (SPH) program. Students enrolled in this program will be granted access to resources such as tutoring, financial aid support, educational workshops, career resources, and more. In addition, working moms may choose from a wide range of available online associate degree programs, including:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Management Information Systems
- Associate of AAS in Business Administration
- Associate’s in Medical Office Management
- Associate’s in Database Management and Data Analysis
Numerous career certificates are also accessible entirely online. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Metropolitan Community College to award online certificates and degrees to single parents at an affordable price.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,285
#2—Front Range Community College
Number of Online Offerings: 27
Front Range Community College’s robust suite of single-parent resources and initiatives makes it one of the best colleges for single moms interested in continuing education. Students enrolled in the school’s Single Parent Program will enjoy personalized academic and career support, advocacy, educational workshops, and social networking opportunities. In addition, the school offers more than two dozen of the best degrees for stay-at-home moms as well as single moms, including:
- Online Associate of Arts (AA) in Early Childhood Education
- Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Information Systems
- Online AAS in Accounting
- Online AA in Business
Front Range Community College holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,126
#1—Eastern Kentucky University
Number of Online Study Options: 31
Eastern Kentucky University is home to an impressive number of online degrees for moms, including both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. Standout options for continuing education include:
- Applied Associate of Science (AAS) in Paralegal Studies
- Associate of Science (AS) in Paramedicine
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Management
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Services Administration
In addition to some of the best degrees for moms, EKU also houses the Center for Student Parents, which offers single parents academic, career, and personal support. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has extended institutional accreditation to Eastern Kentucky University to award these degrees to busy moms at an affordable price.
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,844
Advantages of Education for Single Moms
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), single mothers are much less likely than other women their age to successfully complete a degree program. With their enormous child-rearing responsibilities and the pressures of providing for their families, it’s no wonder. Even so, studies have shown that there are incredible benefits for single mothers who can invest in their education. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the biggest reasons single moms (and stay-at-home moms, too!) should consider returning to school for a degree.
More Lucrative Careers
It’s a vicious cycle that many single moms and stay-at-home moms find themselves in. With just a high school diploma, they lack the skills and education for high-paying jobs and career paths, but they have to keep working for low wages in order to put food on the table for their children. Higher ed is perhaps the only thing that can break the cycle, giving these hard-working single parents the opportunity to improve their own lives and their children’s lives through higher paying job opportunities. By returning to school and fulfilling their educational goals for an academic credential, single moms increase their earning potential significantly, but that’s not all. They’re also more likely to remain gainfully employed, access jobs that pay good money with benefits, and enjoy greater overall health and wellness (IWPR, 2020)
Increased Opportunity for Advancement
Single and stay-at-home moms who have already discovered their career paths can still benefit from returning to school to pursue a college education. That’s because individuals who achieve these educational goals are more likely to receive raises and promotions versus those without these academic credentials. These career opportunities can result in significant wage increases over the course of a career. Moreover, it stands to reason that single moms and stay-at-home moms who rise up the ranks of their chosen fields will also experience much more job satisfaction. Online programs enable them to manage work responsibilities while also pursuing a degree.
If you’re a single mom, you may have moments when you wonder who you are anymore. Becoming a parent is a huge transition, and it’s easy to lose yourself in motherhood, no matter your level of education or family situation. This loss of identity may be even more debilitating for single mothers. While raising children is a noble pursuit and can be fulfilling in its own right, it can consume young mothers, especially single ones, who spend seemingly every waking moment either working a low-wage job or changing diapers.
Higher education allows single moms and stay-at-home moms to rediscover themselves and their intellectual potential. For many of these mothers, a college degree was once a dream that had to be put aside for the sake of having kids. For these educational goals to be revitalized is often a defining event for parents-turned-college students and one that breathes life into their entire families. It is not uncommon for these college students/single moms to report feeling like they’re better (not worse) parents to their children after time spent in a degree program.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)’s report on single mothers in higher ed reveals that when single moms attain a degree, they simultaneously increase the likelihood that their own children will one day do the same. This is excellent news for those moms who may be experiencing guilt for taking time away from their children to pursue their education. Knowing that their efforts and sacrifice will likely have a trickle-down effect on their kids may be just the motivation they need to keep working hard in their classes and pushing on toward graduation day. What’s more, attending college as a single mom also has more immediate effects on children, including increased performance in academic areas like reading and math. Going back to school for a degree seems to create a win-win scenario for single mothers and their children!
The Greater Good
One of the common concerns for single mothers entertaining the idea of returning to school for a college degree is that it’s a selfish endeavor. Not only is this “mom guilt” over pursuing higher education detrimental to one’s mental health, but it’s also rooted in a lie. In reality, the opposite is true. Single moms considering bachelor’s degree programs (or any other type of degree program) should know that the benefits they reap will also positively impact not just their families but society as a whole. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Single mothers with a college degree will likely earn higher wages and, therefore, will pay more taxes than those with just a high school diploma —money that goes towards improving their communities. Moreover, the United States is currently facing a labor shortage, and many of the jobs with work responsibilities that need to be filled require a college degree.
Benefits of Online Schools and Degree Programs for Single Moms
While higher ed in any format has the power to transform a single mom’s life and livelihood, there are particular benefits of online college for these stay-at-home moms who must navigate parenthood alone.
One of the hallmark advantages of online programs is their extreme flexibility. While this flexibility to work virtually toward a degree provides perks for all types of students, single moms may enjoy the most significant benefit. That’s because, for these single parents, time is perhaps their most precious commodity. Their young children require 24/7 care, so every moment of their day seems to be accounted for even before they have time to make plans for themselves. Because they are their children’s sole and primary caregivers, any time spent alone must be paid for in the form of childcare expenses. For this reason, many single moms have given up on the idea of attending college classes.
Enter online learning. Relatively recent advancements in distance education have proven to be a game-changer for single parents with aspirations for a college education. Finally, single mothers can make their own course schedules through online programs rather than trying in vain to adapt their own daily routines to accommodate traditional college classes. Instead, online courses for stay-at-home moms and single parents can often be completed anytime and anywhere, as long as students have the required Internet access to work virtually. That means you can study while the baby naps or watch an online lecture while waiting in the car line to pick up your school-aged child. In essence, online college degree programs turn the fantastical dream of earning a university credential into a real possibility for single mothers.
Online Student Support
If you’re a single mom interested in online programs, you might think all of this hullabaloo about education for single parents sounds too good to be true. Ok, so you can access course content online, but what happens when you have a question about an assignment or have to go to the library and can’t find a sitter? These are valid concerns. Luckily, they’re the same concerns (among many others) that online colleges have considered when designing their online courses and programs. Most distance ed providers also offer a robust suite of online student support services to assist their busy and working students as they pursue their degrees. Some of these resources may include instant online access to professors and academic advisors, online library resources, virtual tutoring, and even mental health and wellness support. Like your online courses, all of these support services can be accessed from the comfort of your home or anywhere there’s Wifi.
Imagine getting stuck in traffic and missing your class only to have to turn around and pick up your child from daycare which you paid dearly for but turns out you didn’t need, after all. Single parents who attend college courses on-campus experience this type of frustration and more on a regular basis. Online programs, however, eliminate the commute required to make it to class on time, thus erasing many of the daily hassles and expenses associated with a car or bus ride to campus. With online school, you can wake up in the morning, grab your coffee, and start studying before the kids even begin to rouse. Likewise, you can spend all day with them and leave your studies for after they’re in bed for the night. No commute is required.
Greater School Selection
Another advantage to online education versus traditional college classes for single moms is the ability to choose from a larger pool of colleges and universities. Because learning happens online, you can access schools and degree programs from around the country rather than being limited to a certain radius surrounding your location. These increased options often translate to higher quality, more affordable degree programs than you would have otherwise. In fact, some of the leading online schools for single moms offer discounted tuition rates for their distance learners. Many charge the same tuition rate as they do for in-state students.
Top Online Degree Programs and Classes for Single Mothers
As long as you choose a legitimate, accredited online college or university, you almost can’t go wrong in your higher education pursuits. Still, some programs are more beneficial than others to single parents. This section will discuss some of the most popular and advantageous online degree programs for moms.
A little-known fact about distance ed is that not all online degrees and courses offer the same levels of convenience and flexibility. In fact, synchronous online programs are often quite stringent regarding required school hours. Aside from giving students access to course materials and online meetings, these types of distance learning programs adhere to schedules similar to those of traditional degree programs. That is, students enrolled in a synchronous online course will be expected to log in to their virtual classroom at a specific time of the day to log school hours. For instance, keeping track of how many times per week students are required to contribute to discussion forums can be tedious. Lectures are often live-streamed in these synchronous online classes, making your virtual attendance mandatory.
On the other hand, asynchronous online classes and degree programs are much more flexible, making them the better choice for single moms. These online education options afford students much more freedom regarding when they access course content. There may still be deadlines, but there aren’t specific meeting times or live attendance requirements. If you’re a single mother and are given a choice between a synchronous or asynchronous program, be sure to choose the latter. This decision will free up a lot of extra time for you to attend to your children and family responsibilities as necessary. Clearly, the best online degrees for parents are the asynchronous ones.
Single mothers contemplating their higher ed options may think it’s an “all or nothing” decision. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially with online programs. These flexible academic options are explicitly designed for students who are short on time, such as working mothers or single parents. Therefore, they don’t often require full-time enrollment. Instead, they allow students to take as many or as few courses at a time as they wish, depending on their availability. This is not often the case for traditional, in-person programs, many of which require a full course load of classes. Even those that admit part-time students may require a minimum number of credit hours per semester, making it difficult for single moms with significant childcare obligations. It’s not hard to see why most of the top online degrees for stay-at-home moms allow for part-time enrollment.
Fully Online Degree Programs and Courses
When we think of distance ed, we tend to call to mind fully online programs and classes, but be warned that this isn’t the only type of offering you’ll find under the umbrella of distance learning. Hybrid programs also exist, which combine online and in-person meetings for a blended learning experience. While these programs have advantages, they’re not often ideal for single parents because of their on-campus attendance requirements. If your schedule won’t allow for trips to campus, be sure to opt for fully online classes and programs. That way, you can eliminate the commute entirely and spend more time with your children.
Free Online Courses for Stay-at-Home Moms
Higher ed can be an intimidating prospect, children or no children. For single mothers who are hesitant about committing to a completely online degree program, we recommend they try free online courses for stay-at-home moms and single parents. Sometimes referred to as Massive Open Online Courses or MOOC, these options allow students to experience college-level education without the cost or commitment of official enrollment. Moreover, top U.S. colleges and universities offer many of these free online courses, giving students a realistic idea of what an online college class is like. These individual options are available in virtually every academic discipline imaginable. They’re usually not part of a degree program but can sometimes be transferred to a college or university for credit toward a credential. You can’t go wrong with free online courses!
Types of Best Online Degrees for Single Moms
Single moms with a high school diploma or GED usually have two options when it comes to pursuing a college degree online—an online associate’s degree program or an online bachelor’s degree program.
Online Associates Degrees
If you consider higher education a ladder, an associate’s degree would be the first rung. As such, it is often among the best credentials for moms returning to school. Typically, these online programs require roughly two years of study and can lead to a good-paying job in a career/technical field or lay the foundation for future study in a bachelor’s degree program. An online associate’s degree usually requires about 60 credit hours of coursework. The payoff is usually worth it for single moms who can invest in an online associate’s degree program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that professionals with an associate’s credential make about $150 more per week on average than those with just a high school diploma. Of course, the wage gap is much more significant in some fields. For many single moms, this increase in earnings could be put to good use towards rent, groceries, childcare, and more.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Bachelor degree programs represent another very popular option for single mothers returning to school. These four-year programs require roughly 120 credit hours of study and can often be completed entirely online. Since online bachelor’s degrees require about twice the investment of time and tuition, it’s not surprising that the rewards are often more significant than what one could expect with an associate’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), average individuals with a bachelor’s credential made $1,305 per week in 2020, compared to $938 per week for associate degree holders.
Best Fields of Study for Single Moms/Stay-At-Home Moms
Many single moms who are eager to return to the classroom to pursue a degree still struggle to choose a field of study that’s right for them. These non-traditional students may experience some anxiety over whether to pursue their passions (think liberal arts) or select a safe degree path associated with career opportunities like high job security and wages. Ideally, these single mothers can find a high-demand academic discipline that satisfies their interests and salary requirements. Below, we’ll discuss some of the fields that our higher ed experts have deemed particularly advantageous for single moms.
Business and Financial Studies
If you’ve ever had dreams of inhabiting a corporate office, then you may decide to focus your postsecondary studies on the discipline of business and financial studies with the goal of earning a business degree at the undergraduate level. Business is a field that has long been considered one of the good majors for stay-at-home moms and single moms alike. That’s because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the business field is growing steadily; more than 700,000 new job opportunities are expected to be available in business by the year 2030. These aren’t minimum-wage jobs, either. On average, professionals working in business and finance make over $72,000 per year—that’s much higher than the median for all occupations.
Though an associate’s degree in business can get you a foot in the door of this growing occupational field, most jobs in business require a minimum of a bachelor’s-level business degree. Below, you will find some examples of career opportunities in business:
Accountants and Auditors
The BLS reports that by the end of the decade, there will be nearly 100,000 new job opportunities for accountants and auditors with a business degree. These professionals are needed to document and analyze financial records for companies and individuals. On average, accountants and auditors make more than $73,000 per year.
Financial analysts are among some of the highest-paid professionals in the field of business and finance, making over $83,000 annually on average. These professionals have fulfilling careers, too. They help businesses and individuals grow their investments by analyzing market trends and providing financial advice. Jobs for financial analysts are growing about as fast as average right now, according to the BLS.
Logisticians are in charge of a company’s supply chain. They determine how a product moves through its life cycle from production to consumption. The demand for logisticians is currently on a steep incline, thanks in part to the growth of e-commerce. The BLS reports a 30% projected growth in this specific occupation by 2030. Logisticians are well-paid, earning more than $76,000 per year on average.
One of the fastest-growing occupations in business and finance is that of a management analyst. Jobs for these professionals are expected to grow at a better-than-average pace over the next decade, according to the BLS. Management analysts, sometimes called management consultants, advise managers on best running a company or organization. Pay is also above-average for this occupation, with management analysts bringing in a median annual wage of over $87,000.
Healthcare and the medical field have long been considered one of the best fields for moms, and currently, that couldn’t be more true. A large portion of the United States population is approaching an advanced age and will be in need of increased healthcare services in the coming years. This and the pandemic explain why the healthcare and medical field is growing much faster than average. While health problems are never anything to celebrate, this is good news for single moms who wish to return to school to become a nurse or other type of healthcare professional, especially since a number of the in-demand healthcare positions require only an associate’s degree in health sciences to start. That’s right–you don’t have to go to medical school! Plus, many of the best colleges for adults have numerous health sciences degrees available in this flourishing field. Below, we list some of the top occupations in the healthcare discipline for single mothers and stay-at-home moms:
It’s well-known that one of the leading online degrees for stay-at-home moms and single moms is the Online RN credential. That’s because these convenient degree programs prepare moms to assume the in-demand and lucrative position of a registered nurse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected job growth for registered nurses is comparable to the average growth for all occupations. Because the occupational field for RNs is so large, this average growth will result in more than 275,000 new job openings. Registered nurses are well-compensated, too, earning a median salary of over $75,000 per year.
According to the BLS, the demand for dental hygienists is growing faster than average. This, alongside a handsome salary and minimal educational requirements, makes dental hygiene one of the best degrees for stay-at-home moms and single mothers. After completing an associate’s degree in the discipline, single moms can begin work as dental hygienists, assisting dentists in cleanings and examinations. A job as a dental hygienist will set healthcare professionals up for a median annual wage of over $77,000.
Dieticians and Nutritionists
An aging population, as well as trends in wellness, are contributing to the growing demand for dieticians and nutritionists. Thus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field is growing faster than average. Dieticians and nutritionists may work independently or for a healthcare organization. They advise clients on what food they should eat and which diets they could adopt to increase their health and wellness. The average pay for these healthcare professionals is over $63,000 annually, and a bachelor’s degree in health sciences is typically required.
Another healthcare occupation that single moms may be drawn to is the job of a medical sonographer. These medical professionals conduct sonograms of the human body in order to examine the condition of organs and tissue. Medical sonographers need only an associate’s degree to begin practicing, yet average yearly wages are over $75,000. This makes a two-year health sciences degree in medical sonography one of the best online degrees for stay-at-home moms and single parents. Demand is high for medical sonographers, too. The BLS reports that jobs in this field are growing faster than average at the moment.
Jobs for radiation therapists are growing steadily. Plus, the average salary for these healthcare professionals is over $86,000 per year despite RTs needing only an associate’s degree for entry. This makes radiation therapy one of the best credentials for moms returning to school. After completing a two-year degree, single mothers can begin working in the field, helping patients needing radiation therapy, including those with cancer.
Single moms interested in working in the healthcare industry would be wise to consider a career as a respiratory therapist. These healthcare professionals are very much in demand right now; jobs are projected to grow by 23% by 2030. The position is also associated with a decent wage, with respiratory therapists making nearly $63,000 annually on average. Of course, the job is taxing, and respiratory therapists often work with sick patients who have difficulty breathing.
Computer and Information Technology
Another occupational field that single moms should keep top of mind when going back to school for a college degree is the field of computer and information technology. Tech jobs, including those beyond software development, are often high-paying, even entry-level, and are growing faster than the average rate.
Computer Systems Analysts
Single moms interested in both technology and business should consider a career in computer systems analysis. Also known as systems architects, systems analysts work on behalf of businesses to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their systems and processes. Jobs in this field are growing steadily, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and they’re well-paid too. On average, systems analysts make nearly $94,000 annually.
Database Administrators and Architects
In the age of big data, single moms looking to go back to school can take advantage of the increased demand for database administrators and architects. These IT professionals work to develop and/or manage databases on behalf of businesses and organizations. The average pay for this occupation is very nearly six figures per year, making database administration easily one of the best jobs for moms in terms of earning potential.
Information Security Analysts
Cyberattacks are on the rise, so companies need trained information security analysts to protect their computer systems from hackers. These analysts are very well-compensated for their work; the BLS reports their mean annual wage to be over $103,000. Due to the high wages and unprecedented demand in this field, a bachelor’s degree in info security is one of the top online colleges for single moms.
Computer-savvy single moms may want to pursue a career in software development. Software developers and software development specialists are currently in demand due to the rise in consumer and professional products that rely on software applications. Additionally, the growing healthcare industry is continually looking for advancements in software development to manage its patient databases. Due to this demand and six-figure median wages, bachelor’s degrees in software development are among the best degrees for stay-at-home moms and single parents.
Another good major for stay-at-home moms and single moms is web development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for web developers are growing faster than average right now due to the continuous growth in e-commerce. These professionals make a decent salary, too, earning an average of $77,200 per year as of 2020. Many web developers can work from home, which is another big draw for single parents and why web development is considered one of the best fields for moms.
Paying for School As a Single Mom
Locating online degrees and finding the top online colleges with resources for single parents can be challenging, but it’s really just half the battle. As a single mother strapped for cash, you may face even bigger obstacles when it comes to paying for your college pursuits. Fortunately, some financial aid sources can help fund your tuition.
Scholarships for Single Mothers
Many colleges and third-party organizations recognize the unique plight of single moms. They also acknowledge the great potential of single parents to give back to their communities when given the opportunity. That’s why there are hundreds of scholarships available specifically for single parents. Our editors have identified the following schools that offer scholarship opportunities for single moms:
- Cameron University: Cindy Ross Scholarship for Single Parents
- Central Ohio Technical College: The J. Gilbert Reese Scholarship Fund for Single Parents
- University of Arkansas- Little Rock: Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship
- Lincoln Technical Institute: Single Parent Scholarship Program
- South Arkansas Community College: Union County Single Parent Scholarship
- Washington State University: Single Parents Scholarship
- Austin Peay State University: Fortera Foundation Bridge Scholarship
- Sonoma State University: The Custody X Change Giving Fund
- Central Washington University: Ruth Harrington Luncheon Single Parent Scholarship
When applying for scholarships at a specific school, you should be aware that there are certain eligibility requirements. Some of these financial aid opportunities are need-based, which means they’re only available to students who can demonstrate a certain level of financial need. That means you may have to submit financial documents for the school’s review, such as pay stubs or tax returns. Other scholarships are merit-based, meaning they are awarded to high-achieving students. The school will request your GPA and academic transcripts to determine your eligibility for these types of scholarships.
Grants for Single Parents
Look for schools and organizations that offer grants. Like scholarships, grants are coveted sources of financial aid for single moms and dads because they don’t have to be paid back. Plus, grants are usually a little easier to access than scholarships, and you may be able to skip the lengthy application process. In general, there are two types of grants for single parents: federal grants and state grants.
Did you know the federal government can offer grants to fund online degree programs? The most popular federal grant for single moms is the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant is available to any undergraduate student who can demonstrate financial need, but many single parents receive funds from the Federal Pell Grant Program each year. To be eligible for a Pell Grant, you must enroll in school at least part-time and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each school year of your enrollment. The amount of your Pell Grant will depend on the cost of your tuition and the extent of your financial need. The maximum award amount is approximately $6,500 for the 2021-2022 school year.
State Grants for Single Moms
Individual states have also developed grant programs for single moms returning to school. Many times, these grants are awarded in order to boost the economy of a particular state by investing in a trained workforce. The application process and the amount of your award will vary based on your place of residency. Perhaps the best part of receiving a state grant to pursue higher ed is that it can usually be combined with federal grants for even more significant savings! To determine if your state offers college grants for single moms, visit the state’s official education department website.
Child Care Payments/Reimbursements
Many single moms stress over the cost of college, not only in terms of tuition expenses but also because they have to pay for daycare when they need time to study or attend classes. Fortunately for single parents, many schools factor childcare costs into the equation when offering students financial assistance. Depending on the college or university, the school may waive the costs of childcare for an on-campus facility, pay a portion or total childcare expenses, or reimburse students for payments to daycares and babysitters.
Though tuition and childcare represent the most significant college-related expenses for single mothers, there’s more to worry about as well, including rent, food, and utilities. Many of the best online colleges for adult learners and single parents have resources to help you with all of your needs as well as the needs of your child. Essentially, these schools had the great idea of making it their mission to eliminate all barriers for single parents who desire to pursue higher education. They’ve got you covered from food pantries to coat closets, emergency funds, free housing, and more. Just bring yourself, your kid, and your dreams of earning a degree!
With the number of colleges and universities offering not only flexible online degree programs but also entire departments and programs devoted to helping single parents succeed, there’s never been a better time for single mothers to pursue a valuable academic credential. In the higher ed space, the days of letting moms struggle alone are finally over. You now have the support in place that you need. So what are you waiting for? Go choose from the top online degrees available, and take the first step towards a brighter future for yourself and your child!
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): Education Pays, 2020
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Institute for Women’s Policy Research: Single Mothers in College: Growing Enrollment, Financial Challenges, and the Benefits of Attainment
- United States Census Bureau: Number of Children Living Only With Their Mothers Has Doubled in Past 50 Years
- U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid: Pell Grants
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