When you think of the usual college student age range, you think of someone in their late teens and early twenties. However, not all college students are in their early 20s. Whether they chose to serve in the military, traveled around the world, took care of family, or decided to work before heading off to school, some students wait to attend college until later in life. Nontraditional students are students ages 25 and up who took some time before starting their undergraduate degree and need to find the best colleges for nontraditional students. The number of nontraditional students in college has increased since 2000. Some colleges and academic advisors even have programs specifically tailored to these kinds of students. So what are the best universities for these older students to attend?
The Top 50 Colleges for Older Students
University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas was established in 1961 and offers self-paced online study courses that don’t require enrollment. They also provide evening classes to adapt to any schedule.
The University of Texas also offers free tuition for students who are 65 or older, and who are enrolled in 6 credit hours, allowing students of any age to get their degrees or take classes and learn more.
University of Utah
The University of Utah has a variety of flexible online classes and courses designed for continuing education students. Almost 50% of their classes have fewer than 20 students, which means more interaction with professors.
University of Massachusetts – Lowell
Established in 1894, the University is known for experiential education programs. Classes at the University of Massachusetts have a student-faculty ratio at 20:1. They offer online and hybrid courses for adult students, and academic advisors are willing to meet with continuing education students to help them find educational and professional opportunities.
Regis University is a private institution with fast-track study programs that take 5 to 8 weeks to complete. They also have programs that allow students to work completely online at their own pace.
The college offers career placement, tutoring, and financial aid for adult students. The College of Professional Studies was created to help adult learners further their education, and with their 14:1 student to faculty ratio, they are doing just that.
Ohio University accepts some relevant professional experience and counts it for college credit; this system allows older students with valuable work experience to get ahead in their studies.
The school offers consultations with student advisors to help students figure out a workload that works best for them. Their Lifelong & Distance Learning program allows students throughout the world to earn degrees.
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Florida International University
This university is top-ranked in the South for minority students, and is one of the largest universities in the country. There is a wide range of hybrid and online classes for continuing education students. Their online courses take 6 weeks to complete, but are very flexible. They offer over 200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Not to mention, the Florida International University has warm weather all year round and close proximity to the beach.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama offers programs for remote study, and a variety of evening classes. They have an urban location in Birmingham that attracts a number of students.
Their student-faculty ratio is 18:1, and they provide specialists to help nontraditional students succeed at the college. There is an 85.7% acceptance rate, making it a great fit for adult students.
Northwest Nazarene University
This private university has a College of Adult and Graduate Studies, that works with continuing education students to help them further their education and enjoy their college experience. Over 60% of their classes have fewer than 20 students which makes this college and even better fit for older learners.
This college is a private school that offers over 50 undergraduate degrees. Among these degrees are 5 that were designed specifically for nontraditional students. They offer courses in hybrid format, allowing students to create a flexible schedule. They have a 12:1 student’ faculty ratio, and modest class sizes.
St. Joseph’s College – New York
St. Joseph’s College offers very flexible programs with personalized counseling for prospective students to make sure that the college will meet their needs. They also offer mentoring programs for enrolled students, and have both online and hybrid classes, as well as technical certification for nontraditional students.
University of St. Francis – Joliet
This university is a private Catholic school founded in 1920. They offer online courses for older students, as well as accelerated degree programs for some fields of study. It is one of the few universities in Illinois that offer the largest selection of online courses.
University of Alabama in Huntsville
The University of Alabama in Huntsville has career-training classes for students of all ages. They have online curriculum as well as hybrid-format classes.
Many professors offer one-on-one training for students for further help when needed. This University also has a Transitions Orientation program designed to help nontraditional students get ready for the semester.
Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University is a private Christian school founded in 1920. Over 70% of their students are adult learners, which is why the university offers flexible schedules, and has a variety of options for these older learners.
Lewis University has courses specifically for adult students. More than 40% of their students are adult learners, so they understand and are devoted to helping nontraditional students.
Many of their classes are also available online for added flexibility. They also offer credit for previous relevant work experience. The student-faculty ratio is 13:1.
Molloy college is a private Catholic school that was founded in 1955. They have a continuing education program that features a 6-week online class. They have 20 or fewer students in over 67% of their classes. They will also give up to 30 credit hours for some relevant life experience.
St. Catherine University
At St. Catherine University, almost 50% of the student population are nontraditional. ST Catherine University is a private school founded in 1905. They have an Office of Adult Learning dedicated to helping older students. They also offer a number of flexible programs, allowing adult students to create a schedule that works best for them.
University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas in Houston is a liberal arts university. It has a 79% acceptance rate, and about a quarter of their students are nontraditional. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1, offering valuable one-on-one interactions with professors. It even have separate housing for nontraditional students for those that choose to live on campus.
Roberts Wesleyan College
Roberts Wesleyan College is committed to character development, Christ-centered education, transformational learning and service. They have 87 undergraduate, graduate and adult-degree completion programs. The college has 11 online programs and a doctoral program in Clinical & School Psychology. Redhawks Athletics offers 19 intercollegiate sports.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, religious institution that was founded in 1968. They are located in a rural area of Ohio. 81% of classes have 20 students or fewer. Their nontraditional students make up 29% of their total student body, because of this the school offers up to 60 credit hours for life and career experiences.
Bethel College – Indiana
This college is a private institution for adult students with and without previous college experience. Degrees offered, include nursing, behavioral and social sciences, Christian leadership, business, interdisciplinary studies and organizational management. These innovative academic programs are designed to meet the needs of adult learners and offer convenient evening and online classes, seven-week course sessions, tutoring and computer support, personalized academic advising and credit opportunities for prior learning assessment.
This University is a private Baptist school. Over 60% of their classes have fewer than 20 students, and the student-faculty ratio is 16:1. They offer seven degree programs that are completely online, and take only 8 weeks to complete. They also have various hybrid programs. This university accepts transfer credits from other schools for continuing education students.
The Evergreen State College
The Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts and sciences university. More than 40% of students are adult learners. Students can earn credit for professional experience and choose daytime or evening and weekend classes. Instead of letter grades, students receive narrative evaluations from faculty.
Spring Arbor University
This university was founded in 1873; it is a private university affiliated with the Free Methodists. There is a 15:1 student-faculty ratio. They have a Weekend College, and also offer several degrees available completely online.There are 18 different sites in Michigan and Ohio for convenience.
Eastern University is a private Christian university. They offer a number of online classes, and have several programs designed specifically for adult undergraduate students. They also have fast-track programs to allow advanced and motivated students to finish earlier. The school has a 67% acceptance rate, and 86% of their classes have fewer than 20 students.
Concordia University Wisconsin
Concordia University is a private college that was founded in 1881. They have a 11:1 student-faculty ratio. They offer 70 plus majors in 6 academic schools with an average class size of 18. Classes are offered online or in-person to adapt to each student’s unique circumstance. They also offer accelerated in-person classes for adult education at any one of their 9 local area locations.
Baker University is a private Christian university founded in 1858. They have an acceptance rate of over 75% with over 70% of classes that only have 20 students or less. They are proud of their small class sizes and have an 11:1 student-faculty ratio.
Trevecca Nazarene University
This University was founded in 1901 as a private Christian college. They have developed several programs that can be completed online, and even have some programs like Information Technology and Management and Human Relations that are part of their Adult Studies department. Over 67% of their classes have fewer than 20 students.
University of Illinois at Springfield
This University offers adult students the opportunity to get credit for prior life experiences that count toward earning their degree. The student-faculty ratio is 14:1 allowing for more quality interactions with professors.
Guilford college is a private institution. It advisement services specifically for adult students, allowing for a personalized education. They offer credit for relevant life experience, and over 63% of their courses have fewer than 20 students.
Saint Martin’s University
Saint Martin’s is a private Catholic institution. They have an 89% acceptance rate, and a student to faculty ratio of 12:1. They offer a bachelor’s degree in psychology completely online, as well as a continuing education program. There are evening and weekend classes available to fit any schedule.
University of Montana
The University of Montana has a scenic campus with lots of opportunities for outdoor adventures. The acceptance rate is approximately 94%. The school offers distance learning courses, and some degrees online, making it a good fit for nontraditional students.
College of Saint Scholastica
The College of Saint Scholastica is a private Catholic institution located in a suburban setting. There is a 14:1 student-faculty ratio. The school boasts one of the largest nursing programs in Minnesota with evening, weekend, and online classes available. They also have advisors on site to help adult students.
CUNY Baruch College
CUNY Baruch College was founded in 1919. It has a student-faculty ratio of 16:1, providing one-on-one interactions with professors. The school is located in New York City, and thereby has an urban feel. They also have a Division of Continuing and Professional Studies to help nontraditional students.
This University is a private Protestant institution with an acceptance rate of almost 69%. They have Professional & Graduate Studies programs that meet one evening a week, making them easy to incorporate into busy schedules. They also offer accelerated, online, and hybrid courses.
University of Colorado – Denver
The University of Colorado in Denver offers two-year and four-year degrees. They have classes online, and in hybrid format. The department of Continuing & Professional Education programs give adult students access to resources to help them graduate.
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University offers hybrid and online classes to all students. They have an Adult Learner Program that helps nontraditional students find success. The program has been at KSU for 25 years, so they are experienced in helping older students. The program includes tutoring, transition services, advisement, and financial aid programs.
Ursuline College is a private, women’s college affiliated with the Catholic Church. They take pride in their small classes, with over 93% of their courses having fewer than 20 students. They offer online, hybrid, and accelerated classes to help adult students complete their degrees. They created the Ursuline College Adult Program to assist older students with at least 30 hours of college credit obtain their degree.
Montana Tech of the University of Montana is a public institution. They have over a 90% acceptance rate, and offer online classes, allowing flexible schedules for adult students. Their professors strive to assist nontraditional students in their endeavor to further their education.
University of Michigan – Dearborn
The University is located on historic land that the Ford Motor Company donated. With a Return to Learn program that helps nontraditional students earn a degree, UM Dearborn offers some of the best degrees for adults returning to college. They offer online courses, and have flexible schedules. For students interested in taking classes on-campus, their student-faculty ratio is 15:1.
University of Memphis
The University of Memphis was founded in 1912. Almost half of their classes have 20 or fewer students. They have developed the Adult and Commuter Student Service that works closely with adult students to provide resources, scholarships, and advisement.
CUNY Queens College
This college has an Adult Collegiate Education program to assist nontraditional students. Through this program, students can earn credits from previous life experience. They also offer affordable child-care services for students with children, making it a good school for older students.
Wichita State University
This University was founded in 1895 and has a 95% acceptance rate. They have a Returning Adult Student Organization to help support adult students complete their degree. They offer a number of online degrees, as well as other opportunities like internships, co-ops, and continuing education programs.
CUNY Brooklyn College
CUNY Brooklyn College is flexible with students, and determined to help all students finish their degrees. They offer programs specifically for adult learners, and have a student-faculty ratio is 16:1, allowing for interactions with instructors.
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University created the College of Continuing Education & Professional Development specifically for nontraditional students. Their goal is to provide students with high-quality educational opportunities. They have over an 80% acceptance rate.
Marian University is a private Catholic institution that was founded in 1851. They have modest class sizes, with a 13:1 student-faculty ratio. Over 63% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Its flexibility makes it one of the best online colleges for working moms. Marian University has online and accelerated degree programs for working adults.
Mount St. Joseph University
This is a private school affiliated with the Catholic Church. They have an acceptance rate of almost 87%. The student-faculty ratio is 11:1, which allows students to have quality interactions with professors. They recognize that nontraditional students have busy schedules, and strive to offer flexible learning options for them.
University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis is a private Methodist college. Over half of their classes have fewer than 20 students, and their student-faculty ratio is 11:1. They have a School of Adult Learning to serve nontraditional students, and also offer classes online that may give credit for previous professional experience.
Point Park University
The Point Park University offers online programs, evening classes, and weekend classes. Almost a quarter of their students are nontraditional. Point Park University has a 70% acceptance rate. They also have smaller class sizes; 73% of their courses have fewer than 20 students.
Northeastern Illinois University
At Northeastern Illinois University, almost half of the students are nontraditional. They have a Weekend Institute for Professional Development. They offer evening, hybrid, and online courses allowing students to have flexible schedules. Their student-faculty ratio is 16:1.
Rockford University is a private university founded in 1847. Over 80% of their classes have fewer than 20 students. Their modest class size and student faculty ratio of 10:1 allows for personalized interactions with professors.