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College of the Ozarks

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Innovative College of the Ozarks Programs

The College of the Ozarks appears in our ranking of the 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges West of the Mississippi.

The College of the Ozarks offers 75 undergraduate degrees in 50 majors. There are also minors, pre-professional programs, and certifications. This is an undergraduate school, so there are no graduate programs. Because of the unique nature of the College of the Ozarks’ education process, no classes or programs are offered online. Following is a sampling of major programs at the College of the Ozarks.

The Bachelor of Science in Biology may be earned with one of four concentrations. These include Human/Molecular Biology, Ecology and Field Biology, Conservation and Wildlife Management and Biology Education (taken as a second major with Secondary Education)

The BS or BA in Education, Elementary Education may be earned with an optional middle-school or early-childhood endorsement. The BA or BS in Education, Secondary Education is earned in one of twelve secondary fields such as art, physical education, mathematics, English or others. Students may also add other certification endorsements.

Students earning the BSN degree at the College of the Ozarks must complete one year of college with general education and pre-nursing classes before applying to the nursing school. Courses in the program are offered in sequence over six semesters. Clinical course areas in the degree program are maternity, pediatrics, adult health, geriatrics, simulations, mental health, community health, and leadership.

The BA or BS in Culinary Arts is housed in the Keeter Center which is the largest work area on campus. In addition to classrooms, the center features a 15-room lodge, restaurant, bakery and gift shop, all open to the public. Students in the Culinary Arts degree program begin with introductory programs and progress to professional cooling, dietetics, and baking. In addition to the school-operated restaurant on campus, students have access to chefs in the many fine-dining restaurants in the Branson. Missouri area.

The BA or BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management may be earned in one of two concentrations: Hotel and Restaurant Management or Meeting and Special Event Management. Courses cover all areas of hospitality. Students in this program have access to the Keeter Center as well as the nearly 1300 hotels in the tourist destination Branson, Missouri.

Besides these and other majors, the College of the Ozarks has minors and pre-professional programs. The school also offers teacher certification.

About the College of the Ozarks

This school was founded by a Presbyterian minister in 1906 as a high school called The School of the Ozarks. In 1956 it became a junior college, and in 1965 it began to offer four-year programs. It assumed its current name in 1990.

What makes this school unique is that it is free. The purpose of the College of the Ozarks is to offer higher education to students who have real financial need. The school has no tuition, but students are required to work at one of the school’s 100 jobs. The College of the Ozarks has a dairy, a hotel, a restaurant, a bakery, a gift shop, a mill and several other work opportunities. The school even has a museum which houses the original “Beverly Hillbillies” truck with Grannie’s rocking chair firmly attached to the top. Students work 15 hours a week except for two required 40-hour work-weeks. Wages from those jobs, federal and state grants and scholarships and private donations pay for the cost of the school, with the exception of room and board. Even that, however, can be covered with scholarships and participation in a summer work program.

In 2012, The College of the Ozarks reinstituted the School of the Ozarks and now provides Christian-based education from kindergarten through 12th grade as well as the college. The school has five goals. The academic goal is met by offering a comprehensive liberal arts education as a foundation for its degree programs. The vocational goal is met by instilling work ethic and character into its students through the work programs. The Christian goal is met by fostering Christian faith. The patriotism goal is met by “ encouraging an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country and willingness to defend it.” The last goal of the college, the cultural goal, is met through endorsing a global perspective.

The US News and World Report ranks the College of the Ozarks as #3 in Regional Colleges Midwest, #6 in Best Undergraduate Teaching and #1 in Most Innovative Schools.

College of the Ozarks Accreditation Details

  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Education Commission
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Missouri State Board of Nursing
  • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission

College of the Ozarks Application Requirements

Students applying to this school do so by completing an online form. Upon receiving the application, the school will email the list of required documentation. Currently, however, students must have a 3.0 GPA, be from an Ozark area and demonstrate financial need. Documents normally needed to apply are an official high school transcript, the official scores from the SA or ACT tests, a completed FAFSA form, two reference forms and an interview. Once admitted, the is a one-time $330 acceptance fee.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The cost-of-attendance at the College of the Ozarks is estimated at $19,360. Most students do not pay that amount, however. The college encourages students to look for scholarships and to complete the FAFSA to apply for federal grants. Because the purpose of the college is to provide a free education to “worthy” individuals, however, students meet their educational debts by working at the school. Students work 15 hours every week except for two 40-hour week periods. The College of the Ozarks uses the federal grants and funds from donors to provide the funding for student tuitions and fees. The “free” education does not include room and board, which is estimated at $7,600 annually, but students may work full-time over the summer to meet that bill. If they choose not to do that, they may pay the bill with their own resources setting up a payment plan, or they may seek more outside funding sources such as additional scholarships. The goal of the College of the Ozarks is, and has always been, to provide an education to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it.