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 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 in reach, despite the demands of raising kids. Not only has distance education made it possible for moms to study from home, but an increasing number of colleges and universities are focusing their efforts on facilitating academic success for single parents. In this article, we identify 25 of the best online colleges for working adults who also happen to be single moms.
Featured Online Colleges
Rating and Ranking the 25 Top Online Colleges for Moms
Since single moms have unique needs and preferences when it comes to choosing online colleges, 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 degree programs they offered at the undergraduate level. In cases of a tie, the more affordable school received the higher ranking.
#25—Rogers State University
Number of Online Programs: 5
Rogers State University’s reputation as one of the best online colleges for working adults 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 going back to school through online tutoring, career services, financial aid, health resources, and more. The school offers a variety of bachelor degree programs for working adults as well as some of the best 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
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Applied Technology
The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited Rogers State University to confer these flexible degrees for moms.
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 adults in its region, Salt Lake Community College offers an impressive number of resources for single moms including help with childcare, a dedicated single parent scholarship program, food pantry, counseling services, and more. In terms of some of the best degrees for stay at home moms, the school offers the following online options:
- Online Associate of Science (AS) in Business
- Online AS in Criminal Justice
- Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Science and Information Systems
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has accredited Salt Lake Community College at the institutional level to award these online credentials.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,989
#23—Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Number of Online Programs: 6
Northwestern Oklahoma State University may be one of the top choices if you’re looking for the best degrees for moms going back 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, for example. Single moms enrolled at this top online college for working adults also have access to convenient online courses of study, including:
- 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 fully accredited Northwestern Oklahoma State University to award bachelor degree programs for working adults and single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,173
#22—Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Number of Online Degree Programs: 7
Single moms in search of a college degree will find ample support at Saint Cloud State University. This top online college for working adults provides plenty of parent resources through its Student Parent Support Center. Students enrolled in the 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 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 fully accredited Saint Cloud State University to offer these online credentials for single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,779
#21—Idaho State University
Number of Online Programs: 7
Idaho State University is one of the best online colleges for working adults and single moms in part 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 in the form of childcare payments, academic awards, and emergency assistance scholarships. Moreover, the school offers some of the best degrees for stay at home moms and single moms such as:
- Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Civil Engineering Technology
- Online AAS in Health Information Technology
- Online Associate of Arts (AA) in Criminology
- Online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
Idaho State is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to award online credentials.
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,872
#20—Rose State College
Midwest City, Oklahoma
Number of Degree Programs: 7
Rose State College prides itself on being one of the top online colleges for working adults 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 moms, including:
- Online Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Information Technology: Programming
- Online AAS in Business Administration: Marketing and Social Media
- Online AAS: Library Technical Assistant
- Online Associate in Arts (AA) in English
The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited Rose State College to award these flexible online credentials.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,754
#19—Durham Technical Community College
Durham, North Carolina
Number of Online Offerings: 8
Arguably the best online college for working adults (including 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, students 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, including:
- Online Associate of Applied Science (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 degrees for single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,872
#18—College of Southern Idaho
Twin Falls, Idaho
Number of Online Courses of Study: 8
As one of the best online colleges for working adults, 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 provides single parents with assistance 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:
- Online 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 and Universities.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,560
#17—Kapiolani Community College
Number of Online Options: 8
Among the top online colleges for working adults 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 degrees for moms going back to school such as:
- Online Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies
- Online 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 fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to offer online classes for stay-at-home moms and single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,284
#16—Jamestown Community College
Jamestown, New York
Number of Online Courses of Study: 9
A top contender for the best online college for working adults in New York, Jamestown Community College offers a host of resources for single moms through its Single Parents Reaching Education to Employment (SPREE) program. Students enrolled in the SPREE program have access to personalized achievement coaches, food assistance and financial support, peer support, and more. In addition, JCC offers some of the best degrees for moms going back to school, including the following:
- Online Associate of Applied Science (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 Education.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,336
#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 working adults and parents. Fully online degree options include:
- Online Associate’s in Business Administration Technology
- Online Associate’s in Pre-Nursing
- Online Associate’s in Elementary Education
- Online 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 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 best online degrees for stay at home moms and single parents such as:
- Online 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. Niagara County Community College is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,501
#13—Ozarks Technical Community College
Number of Online Courses of Study: 11
Thanks to the OTC Foundation, Ozarks Technical Community College has established itself as a top online college for working adults, including single moms. Through the Foundation, single parents have access to much-needed financial aid and resources such as scholarships and emergency funds. The school is also home to nearly a dozen of the best online degrees for stay at home moms like:
- Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Accounting and Business Management
- Online Associate of Arts (AA) in Teaching
- Online AA in Social Work
- Online AA in Behavioral Science
A variety of technical certificates are also available entirely online. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Ozarks Tech to award these flexible online credentials.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,924
#12—The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Number of Online Options: 12
The University of New Mexico specializes in bachelor degree programs for working adults, 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 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 online colleges for working 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 fully accredited to award online credentials by The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,161
#11—College of Western Idaho
Number of Online Offerings: 12
Regarded as one of the best online colleges for working 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 as well as monthly Zoom meetings for resource sharing. CWI also offers some of the best online degrees for moms, including offerings such as:
- Online 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 and Universities has fully accredited the College of Western Idaho to award these online credentials.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,336
#10—Oklahoma City Community College
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Number of Online Courses of Study: 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 degrees for moms going back to school, including:
- Online Associate in Science (AS): Business
- Online Associate in Applied Science (AAS): Child Development
- Online AAS: Speech Language Pathology Assistant
- Online AAS: Clinical Research Coordinator
Oklahoma City Community College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to confer these online credentials.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,059
#9—Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara, California
Number of Online Options: 12
Santa Barbara City College offers some of the best 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:
- Online Associate of Science (AS) in Computer Information Systems
- Online 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 program, entitled Single Parents Arriving Ready to College (SPARC), provides students with childcare, food vouchers, school supplies, and even grants. Santa Barbara City College is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Undergraduate Tuition: $1,374
#8—University of Louisville
Number of Online Offerings: 15
The University of Louisville supports enrolled single parents through a dedicated scholarship as well as the Student-Parent Association (SPA). The latter, offered through the university’s Women’s Center, provides social and emotional support for single moms as they navigate college alongside parenthood. The school also offers a host of online bachelor degree programs for working adults, 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 online degrees for moms by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Undergraduate Tuition: $12,162
#7—Kent State University
Number of Online Courses of Study: 16
In addition to offering some of the best online degrees for moms, Kent State University also offers support to 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 that they can attend classes and study, and 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 degree programs for working adults such as:
- 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 are made possible through Kent State’s accreditation status with The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $11,009
#6—Gateway Technical College
Number of Online Options: 16
At Gateway Technical College, single parents have access to a large number of good majors for stay-at-home moms as well as support and resource through the school’s Step Up program. This program designed for single parents and working adults provides instructional workshops, career development tools, job placement, and a single parent peer support group, for instance. Once enrolled, students can choose from among 16 of the best degrees for moms going back to school, including:
- Online Associate’s in Business Management
- Online Associate’s in Health Information Management
- Online Associate’s in Information Technology: Web Development
- Online Associate’s in Small Business Entrepreneurship
GTC is fully accredited to award these online credentials by The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,621
#5—Texas Woman’s University
Number of Online Offerings: 17
Single moms with a desire to go back to school for a degree should consider Texas Woman’s College. 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 have access to childcare services, social networking opportunities, and personal support, and more. TWU also offers online bachelor degree programs for working adults and single parents such as:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Human Resource Management
- 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 fully accredited Texas Woman’s University to offer some of the best online degrees for moms.
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,255
#4—SUNY-Broome Community College
Binghamton, New York
Number of Online Courses of Study: 19
Long regarded as one of the top online colleges for working adults in the SUNY system, SUNY Broome Community College is also one of the best sources of online degrees for moms, thanks in part to its Family Empowerment Program. Through this program, single parents can access academic support as well as 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 best online degrees for stay at home moms, including:
- Online Associate 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 fully accredited to confer these online credentials by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,136
#3—Metropolitan Community College
Number of Online Options: 20
Metropolitan Community College is not only home to some of the best degrees for moms going back to school, but it also 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, students may choose from a wide range of available online degree programs, including:
- Online Associate of Science (AS) in Management Information Systems
- Online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Business Administration
- Online Associate’s in Medical Office Management
- Online Associate’s in Database Management and Data Analysis
Numerous career certificates are also accessible entirely online. The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited Metropolitan Community College to award online certificates and degrees to single parents.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,195
#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 online colleges for working adults and single moms. 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: $4,032
#1—Eastern Kentucky University
Number of Online Courses of Study:
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 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 going back to school, EKU also houses the Center for Student Parents, which offers academic, career, and personal support to single parents. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has extended institutional accreditation to Eastern Kentucky University.
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,876
Advantages of Higher 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 earn a college degree. 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 to be had for single mothers who can invest in their own education. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the biggest reasons single moms (and stay-at-home moms too!) should consider going back to school for a degree.
More Lucrative Careers
It’s a vicious cycle that many single moms find themselves in. They lack the skills and education for high-paying jobs, but they have to keep working for low wages in order to put food on the table for their children. Higher education is perhaps the only thing that can break the cycle, giving these hard-working single parents the opportunity to improve their own lives and the lives of their children. By returning to school 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 with benefits, and enjoy greater overall health and wellness (IWPR, 2020)
Increased Opportunity for Advancement
Single moms who have already discovered their career paths can still benefit from going back to school to pursue higher education. That’s because individuals with degrees are more likely to receive raises and promotions versus those without these academic credentials. These advancement opportunities can result in significant wage increases over the course of a career. Moreover, it stands to reason that single moms who rise up the ranks of their chosen fields will experience much more job satisfaction as well.
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, however. 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 offers single moms the opportunity to rediscover themselves and their own intellectual potentials. 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 this dream 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 enrollment in a degree program.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)’s report on single mothers in higher education 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 great news for those moms who may be experiencing guilt for taking time away from their children to pursue higher 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, for instance. It seems going back to school for a college degree creates 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 who are considering bachelor degree programs for working adults (or any other type of degree program) should know that the benefits they reap will also have a positive impact on 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 that need to be filled require a college degree.
Benefits of Online Colleges and Degree Programs for Single Moms
While higher education in any format has the power to transform a single mom’s life and livelihood, there are particular benefits of online college for these mothers who must navigate parenthood alone.
Flexible Course Schedules
One of the hallmark advantages of online education is its extreme flexibility. While this flexibility provides perks for all types of students, single moms may enjoy the greatest benefit. That’s because, for these single parents, time is perhaps the most precious commodity they have. 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 the sole and primary caregivers for their children, any time spent alone must be paid for in the form of childcare expenses. For this reason, many a single mom has given up on the idea of attending college classes.
Enter distance learning. Relatively recent advancements in distance education have proven to be a gamechanger for single parents who have aspirations of higher education. Finally, single mothers can make their own course schedules 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 Internet access. 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 education, you might be thinking all of this hullabaloo about higher education for single parents sounds a bit 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 taken into account when designing their online courses and programs. In addition to online classes, most distance education 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 degrees for moms, 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 distance education, 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 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. Many times, these increased options translate to higher quality, more affordable degree programs than you would have had otherwise. In fact, some of the best online colleges for working adults and single moms offer discounted tuition rates for their distance learners. Many charge the same tuition rate as they do for in-state students.
Best Online Degrees 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. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most popular and advantageous online degree programs for moms.
Asynchronous Programs= Best Online Degrees for Moms
A little-known fact about distance education 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. Aside from giving students access to course materials and meetings online, these types of distance learning programs adhere to schedules similar to those followed by 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. There may also be requirements as to how many times per week students are required to contribute to discussion forums, for instance. In these synchronous online classes, lectures are often live-streamed, making your virtual attendance mandatory.
Asynchronous online classes and degree programs, on the other hand, are much more flexible, making them the better choice for single moms. These distance education options afford students much more freedom in terms of when they access course content. There may still be deadlines, of course, but there aren’t specific meeting times or live attendance requirements. If you’re a single mother and are given the 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 moms are the asynchronous ones.
Best Online Degrees for Moms? Part-Time Programs!
Single mothers contemplating their higher education options may think it’s an “all or nothing” decision. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially with online college degree programs. These flexible academic options are designed specifically for students who are short on time such as working adults and 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 best online degrees for stay-at-home moms allow for part-time enrollment.
Fully Online Programs and Courses
When we think of distance education, 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 types of distance education programs have their 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 education can be an intimidating prospect, children or no children. For single mothers who are hesitant about committing to a complete 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 distance education options allow students to experience higher education without the cost or commitment of official enrollment. Moreover, many of these online courses are offered by top U.S. colleges and universities, giving students a realistic idea of what an online college class is like. These individual distance learning 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 towards a credential.
Types of 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 think of higher education as a ladder, an associate’s degree would be the first rung. As such, it is often among the best degrees for moms going back to school. Typically, these 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 distance education coursework. For single moms who can invest in an online associate’s degree program, the payoff is usually worth it. 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, in some fields, the wage gap is much greater. For many single moms, this increase in earnings could be put to good use towards rent, groceries, childcare, and more.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Bachelor degree programs for working adults 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 greater than what one could expect with an associate’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with a bachelor’s credential made $1,305 per week on average in 2020 compared to $938 per week for associate’s 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 or select a safe degree path associated with high job security and wages. Ideally, these single mothers can find an academic discipline that satisfies both their interests and their salary requirements. Below, we’ll discuss some of the fields that our higher education 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. This 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 positions are expected to be available in business by the year 2030. These aren’t minimum wage jobs, either. On average, professionals who work in business and finance make over $72,000 per year on average—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 degree. Below, you will find some examples:
Accountants and Auditors
The BLS reports that by the end of the decade, there will be nearly 100,000 new positions for accountants and auditors. These professionals are needed to document and analyze financial records on behalf of 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 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 how to best run a company or organization. Pay is above-average for this occupation as well, with management analysts bringing in a median annual wage of over $87,000.
Healthcare has long been considered one of the best online degrees 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, along with the pandemic, explains why the healthcare field is currently 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 to start. Plus, many of the best online colleges for working adults have numerous degrees available in this flourishing field. Below, we list some of the top occupations in the healthcare discipline for single mothers:
It’s well-known that one of the best 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, though, 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.
The demand for dental hygienists is currently growing faster than average, according to the BLS. 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 a dental hygienist, 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, this field is growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Dieticians and nutritionists may work independently or for a healthcare organization. They advise clients as to 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 per year, and a bachelor’s degree 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 their yearly wages are over $75,000 on average. This makes a two-year 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 the fact that RTs need only an associate’s degree for entry. This makes radiation therapy one of the best degrees for moms going back to school. After completing a two-year degree, single mothers can begin working in the field, helping patients in need of 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 per year on average. Of course, the job is taxing, and respiratory therapists often work with very sick patients who have difficulties 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 are often high-paying, even entry-level positions, and they’re also growing at a faster-than-average pace.
Computer Systems Analysts
Single moms interested in both technology and business should consider a career in computer systems analysis. Also known as systems architects, computer systems analysts work on behalf of businesses to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their computer 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, computer 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 online degrees 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 information security is one of the best online colleges for working adults, including single moms.
Computer-savvy single moms may be interested in going back to school to pursue a career in software development. Software developers 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 to manage their patient databases. Due to this demand as well as six-figure median wages, bachelor’s degrees in software development are among the best degrees for stay-at-home moms as well as single parents.
Another of the good majors 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 are able to work from home, which is another big draw for single parents and the reason why web development is considered one of the best online degrees for moms.
Paying for School As a Single Mom
Locating the best online degrees for moms and finding the top online colleges for working adults 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 higher education pursuits. Fortunately, there are some financial aid sources that 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. To determine your eligibility for these types of scholarships, the school will request your GPA and academic transcripts.
Grants for Single Parents
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.
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 a large number of 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 as well as 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 going back 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 education is that it can usually be combined with federal grants for even greater savings! To find out 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 full childcare expenses, or reimburse students for payments to daycares and babysitters.
Though tuition and childcare represent the most significant expenses for single mothers going back to school, there’s more to worry about as well, including rent, food, and utilities. Many of the best online colleges for working adults and single parents have resources to help you with all of your needs as well as the needs of your child. Essentially, these schools have made it their mission to eliminate any and all barriers for single parents with the desire to pursue higher education. From food pantries to coat closets, emergency funds, free housing, and more, they’ve got you covered. 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 education 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 best online degrees for moms 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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