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College of the Ozarks appears in these rankings and resources:

50 Best Value Rankings: Best Small Colleges

The 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America

20 Best Value Colleges and Universities in Missouri 2018

Are Small Colleges Less Expensive?

20 Best Value Small Colleges for a Christian Studies Degree 

The College of the Ozarks creates students with Christian values, character, hard work and financial responsibility. These are the building blocks of the college, exemplifying the traits that are right in America. The school is committed to providing a quality, Christian education to students who have the ability but not the means for higher education. Full-time students do not pay tuition. Instead, they are provided campus jobs that defray the costs of their college education. Upon completion of the Education Program, the college guarantees to meet the entire cost of their tuition so that they are able to graduate debt free. In fact, the school does not participate in any federal, state or private loan programs.

The College of the Ozarks was the dream of Presbyterian missionary, James Forsythe, who was assigned to serve the southwest Missouri area. Upon arrival, he realized that young people did not have much in the way of higher education opportunities. He reached out to the Missouri Synod of the Presbyterian Church, suggesting that they provide quality, Christian education to students who were willing to work in exchange for tuition in order to operate the school.

In 1906, the School of the Ozarks was established with the original purpose to provide high school education for the people of the Ozarks plateau. In 1956, two years of junior college were added to the program and, in 1964, four-year programs were added. The four-year program received full accreditation in 1971. In 1990, the name of the school was changed to College of the Ozarks.

The school has been ranked as the number one Best Value College in the Midwest and the number one for students graduating with the least debt by U.S. News & World Report. It is the only college ranked by U.S. News and World Report in the Midwest as number one in commitment to undergraduate teaching. It is ranked by Forbes as 38th in the Midwest and the magazine has graded it with an "A." Money Magazine named the school the third most affordable in the country.

College of the Ozarks Accreditation Details

College of the Ozarks is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation indicates that the college meets or exceeds criteria set forth by the accrediting agency that indicates excellence in education. In addition, the following organizations accredit specific programs at the college:

  • Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Missouri State Board of Nursing

College of the Ozarks Application Requirements

Students who wish to attend the College of the Ozarks are students who lack the financial resources to pay for higher education. The school requires that 90 percent of each entering class must demonstrate financial need. Students must be in the top half of their graduating class with a cumulative GPA of 3.0. They must also score at least a 20 on the ACT or 950 on the SAT. The school was founded to serve the Ozarks region but they do admit students from outside the region. Preference is given to students in areas of Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois. Children of alumni, who are dues-paid lifetime members of the Alumni Association, are also given preferential consideration until December 31 of each year.

Students must submit official high school transcripts as well as ACT or SAT scores. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and two reference forms. Interviews are required. Transfer students must submit a high school transcript as well as ACT or SAT scores if they have not completed 24 credit hours of post-secondary education. They must also provide the FAFSA and two references. A transfer student form is also required as is an interview.

College of the Ozarks Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition at the College of Ozarks would be $18,300 per year without generous donors who believe in what the college represents. Every student must participate in the on-campus work program for 15 hours each week and two 40-hour work weeks. Earnings from participating in the program are applied to tuition, amounting to approximately $4,284 annually. If students are eligible for Federal or Missouri grant programs, those amounts are applied to tuition. The remaining balance is covered by scholarships, so all students are able to attend College of the Ozarks for free.

College of the Ozarks Degree Program(s) Available

Hotel and Restaurant Management

The Hotel and Restaurant Management program at the College of the Ozarks is founded upon liberal arts, offering students investigation of many subjects as well as intensive instruction in hotel and restaurant management. The program is located in the Keeter Center and emphasizes professional categories within the hospitality industry, including culinary arts, hotel and restaurant management as well as meeting and special events management. The college has a high placement rate for its graduates as well.

The program offers many opportunities for growth, including student work opportunities at the Keefer Center, a world-class lodge and conference center located on campus as well as internship opportunities in businesses throughout the Branson area, a location with many opportunities for hotel and restaurant management employment. The culinary arts department has state-of-the-art kitchens and all programs offer current technology used in the hospitality industry today.

All programs are a blend of traditional classroom experiences with experiential learning. Working kitchens are the classroom for those in the culinary fields and the laboratory space is located adjacent to Dobyn;s Dining kitchen, allowing students to work alongside culinary professionals. Students in the hotel programs continue their learning behind the desk of the Mabee Lodge or managing housekeeping activities in the Presidential Suite.

Because every student is provided a tuition offset for working at the college, students in the program work in a work station recommended by their advisor, allowing them to gain hands-on experience in their career field for the four years they attend the school.

The College of the Ozarks is unique in that every student who attends does so without paying tuition. Students gain hands-on experience in their field of study by working at the college while attending and are able to graduate completely debt-free.

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