Similar to the rest of the country, Oklahoma has seen considerable economic improvements since the economy crashed in 2008. In fact, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reports Oklahoma has experienced an increase in hiring in recent years. As a result, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the state held steady at 4.7 percent as of September 2014 -- lower than the nation's 5.8 percent unemployment rate.
Highlighted careers in Oklahoma
As the economy of Oklahoma grows, there are several careers that are on the rise around the state. Here are five fields leading in terms of median annual salary and total in-state employment according to May 2013 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
|Discipline||Median annual salary||Total in-state employment|
|General and operations manager||$80,120||24,270|
|First-line supervisor of construction||$56,620||7,580|
|Accountant and auditor||$53,280||14,960|
Top programs and degrees in Oklahoma
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the top degrees earned by Oklahoma students in terms of total degrees awarded were in communication and journalism. During the 2012-2013 academic year, there were 1,153 degrees earned by students in these disciplines at colleges and universities around the state.
Another popular degree program in the state is agriculture, as well as agriculture operations, with 705 students earning these degrees in that same academic year.
In 2012-2013, NCES reports that there were 104 degrees granted in natural resources and conservation in Oklahoma, while 121 students around the state earned architecture degrees. In addition, statistics show that there were 71 degrees in ethnic cultural gender and group studies granted in that same school year.
- Communications and journalism: 1,153
- Agriculture and agriculture operations: 705
- Natural resources and conservation: 104
- Architecture: 121
- Ethnic, cultural, gender and group studies: 71
Spotlight Cities and Schools in Oklahoma
It's no wonder there are so many diverse degrees earned by students in Oklahoma. The state is home to about 150 colleges and universities, providing students with a variety of options to pursue their academic goals.
For those who want to attend a public college or university in Oklahoma, there are a number of options though the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. Founded in 1941, the state system is made up of:
- 25 colleges and universities
- 10 regional universities
- 12 community colleges
- 1 public liberal arts university
Oklahoma is also the home to dozens of private colleges and universities, including schools like Oklahoma Baptist University, Bacone College, Brown Mackie College and Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
There are several large cities in Oklahoma, the largest being Oklahoma City with a population of 579,999. Other large cities in the state include Tulsa (population 391,906), Norman (population 110,925), Broken Arrow (population 98,850) and Lawton (population 96,867). Students who live in these areas can find colleges and universities close to their homes. However, when that's not possible, online schools in Oklahoma allow students to potentially earn their degrees without needing to move to another city or undertake a long, daily commute back and forth to campus.
Oklahoma education costs (tuition fees and cost of living) and student aid
Although exact tuition can vary from school to school, according to figures from The College Board, during the 2014-2015 school year, approximate tuition costs were as follows:
- $3,500 for public two-year in-state schools
- $7,000 for public four-year in-state institutions
- $17,300 for private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities
Tuition rate in Oklahoma are in line with the cost of living in the state. In other states, such as California, New York and Vermont, students can pay up to twice these tuition rates.
There are numerous resources available to Oklahoma students who need help paying for their tuition costs. For example, the Academic Scholars Program, which is provided by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, is awarded to students who have demonstrated high academic achievement throughout high school. The state also offers college funding to students based on need through programs like the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant Program and the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant Program.
Students may also fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid from the federal government.
Oklahoma accreditation standards
Higher education is a major expense for most people, so it's best for students to look at it from the perspective of a consumer. One part of being a good consumer is doing the proper research and due diligence in order to ensure one's actually getting what you pay for.
This is why it is important to look for schools that are accredited, meaning they are responsible for meeting certain academic standards. For example, some Oklahoma schools are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, an organization that ensures schools are providing a quality education.
Oklahoma Economic Indicators, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Accessed November 28, 2014, https://www.ok.gov/oesc_web/documents/lmiEconIndPub.pdf
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://data.bls.gov/oes/
Colleges in Oklahoma (OK) - 2014 Directory, CollegeStats, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://collegestats.org/colleges/oklahoma/
College Navigator OK, U.S. Department of Education, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=OK
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, About the State System of Higher Education, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.okhighered.org/state-system/
Alphabetical Listing of Oklahoma Colleges and Universities, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.okhighered.org/state-system/colleges-universities/list.shtml
Oklahoma - Largest Cities, GeoNames, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.geonames.org/US/OK/largest-cities-in-oklahoma.html
Oklahoma, City-Data, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.city-data.com/forum/oklahoma/1202173-2010-census-largest-cities-counties-oklahoma.html
Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-sector-and-state-over-time
Oklahoma Scholarships, Scholarships.com, Accessed November 28, 2014, https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-state/oklahoma-scholarships/
FAFSA Federal Student Aid, Federal Student Aid, Accessed November 28, 2014, https://fafsa.ed.gov/
Accreditation, Western Oklahoma State College, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.wosc.edu/index.php?page=accreditation
FAQs About Accreditation, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Accessed November 28, 2014, https://cihe.neasc.org/information-public/faqs-about-accreditation#what_is_accreditation
Important Questions About Accreditation, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.chea.org/degreemills/