Best Online Colleges in Alabama

Search Colleges

Close
Online or Campus

Rooted in Alabama’s online education offerings is the Alabama ACCESS Distance Learning Initiative, which provides online coursework across all classroom-taught subjects to high school students. The state’s online learning options at the college level spread even farther since several of Alabama’s largest public universities also offer a variety of distance programs.

Alabama’s participation in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) provides them greater access to working with policymakers, colleges, and schools to improve education in Alabama. This interstate consortium also tracks tuition and enrollment rates relevant to schools that offer online education programs. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, Alabama’s overall enrollment in degree-granting institutions decreased by 2% as tuition increased by four percent. This shift in enrollment is counter to national trends, which show an increased number of students in higher education programs by an average of 4.5%.

Despite the increased cost of tuition and decreased enrollment throughout the state, students who do choose to invest their time in online colleges in Alabama have diversified program offerings and universities to choose from. Many in-state colleges with online learning programs are still cheaper than other options, and the multitude of distance programs offered often make for a worthwhile investment in one’s higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Troy University 75.44 3/5 35% Troy, AL

Troy University’s online blended programs give students options for learning. Founded in 1887 in Troy, Alabama, the school’s educational platform is truly global, with programs throughout Alabama, in seven southern states, at air bases in South Korea and Japan, through partnerships with universities in Vietnam and Malaysia, and through Troy Online.

Reflecting the school’s longstanding ties to the U.S. military, Troy has offered extension courses on nearby bases since the 1950s, leading to today’s Troy Global Campus. As one of the best online colleges in Alabama, Troy partners with all military branches and welcomes adult learners looking to study abroad.

Catering to students balancing full-time jobs and families, Troy Online offers 50+ undergraduate and 40+ graduate degrees. Most classes last for nine weeks. Online discussions through Blackboard and virtual collaborations help online students stay engaged, as does the Trojan Café, a virtual student union comprised of Troy students around the world. Troy’s libraries regularly sponsor lectures, programs, exhibits, and films.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
2 The University of Alabama 74.85 4/5 67% Tuscaloosa, AL

Alabama (UA) offers multiple distance learning opportunities that suit students’ diverse needs. Bama By Distance includes 75 programs that use non-traditional formats including online, video conference, evening, and weekend classes. Instruction is delivered online by professors using Blackboard Learn. Online and blended courses utilize two-way interactive classes and pre-recorded lectures streamed same day. Students submit assignments through email.

UA offers an innovative LifeTrack program. Instead of choosing a major, adult students with irregular schedules can select from four broader study courses or design their own for a well-rounded education. Students team with a personal advisor who serves as mentor through graduation.

One of the most flexible of online colleges in Alabama, The Gadsden Education and Research Center is an off-campus program serving residents of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia with weekend, evening and summer classes. UA’s Back to Bama program is designed for previous students seeking to return to school (on campus or online) for their degree.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
3 University of Alabama at Birmingham 68.53 3/5 48% Birmingham, AL

Students at Alabama-Birmingham can take courses that are 100% online, mostly online, partly online with occasional on-campus intensives, or enroll in blended programs containing both online and on-campus classes.

There are 12 online bachelor degree programs, 13 online minors, 47 online master programs, 7 online doctoral degrees, and 8 online academic certificate programs. The school is internationally known for its medical, research, and academic prowess, attracting record enrollment in 2016 of over 19,500 students. Consistently cited for its diversity, UAB welcomes students from over 80 countries.

Medical students can explore potential specialties by participating in clinics, conferences and mentorship programs or joining any one of dozens of medical student interest groups and local chapters of national medical associations. Equal Access Birmingham, for example, is a student-run, free healthcare clinic serving the Birmingham community.

Special online degree programs exist for active duty, reserve, retired military members, and for adults who have some college credit. High school juniors and seniors can get a jump start by taking online courses.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
4 Auburn University 66.18 3/5 68% Auburn University, AL

The school became the first land-grant college in the South in 1872; its mission was to teach agriculture, military tactics, and the mechanical arts to the working classes. Auburn delivers a quality education to over 27,000 students at its Auburn, Alabama, campus. There are 140 majors spread across 13 colleges. The school provides conveniently accessed instruction to distance students using a range of delivery methods. Students can expand their personal knowledge, enhance career skills, or earn a college degree.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees are available online in agriculture, business, education, engineering, human sciences, liberal arts, mathematics, and veterinary medicine. Students can take online courses individually, as part of a certificate program, to supplement undergraduate studies or to complete a degree program.

Certain departments offer degree credit, graduate certificates, or continuing education units. Affordable, no-transcript certificate courses don’t require AU admission. No-credit Personal Enrichment Programs can boost careers or personal growth.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
5 Amridge University 61.03 3/5 40% Montgomery, AL

Distance students can find over 30 online programs and hundreds of courses at Amridge to help them earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Distance learning is the school’s primary instructional method for all its programs. The Montgomery, Alabama-based school was tapped as one of the first schools nationwide for a distance education initiative by the U.S. Department of Education. Like other online colleges in Alabama, students can take classes asynchronously.

The school, committed to upholding Christian ideals, provides a nurturing learning environment with an outstanding faculty and state-of-the-art instructional technology. Instructors attend monthly workshops to stay up-to-date on online instructional technology. Classes are small, and all instructors are uniquely qualified to teach in their subject areas.

Amridge is also one of the most affordable private schools in the United States, with over 90% of its student body qualifying for federal financial aid.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
6 University of West Alabama 60.88 3/5 27% Livingston, AL

Formerly made up of an all-female student body, West Alabama did not begin accepting male students until after 1900; it remained a school for predominantly female students until the 1950s.

Western Alabama’s emphasis is on traditional learners, but like many online colleges in Alabama, the school is also committed to the concept of lifelong learning and to serving non-traditional students. The Livingston-based university has expanded its use of technology to facilitate distance learning. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered online through the colleges of business and technology, education, and liberal arts. The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics also offers a Master of Science degree in Conservation Biology. UWA offers six terms a year that are eight weeks long in fall through spring and six weeks long during the summer.

For online graduate programs, a full load is two classes per term. There are five online terms of eight weeks each, enabling students taking a full load each term to finish 30 credit hours in a year. Students can take one class a term or even skip a term at times, choosing to set their own pace. Most students earn their degree in about 18 months.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
7 University of North Alabama 60.29 3/5 32% Florence, AL

North Alabama’s motto, “Building Success through Discovery,” is fulfilled by providing its 7,000 students the tools they need to “imagine, investigate and communicate.” UNA stimulates intellectual growth through small, interactive classes, intensive faculty mentoring, and out-of-classroom experiences.

Responding to employers’ calls for college graduates who are able to forge change and think outside traditional academic lines, UNA offers an individualized bachelor’s degree path with courses that cross traditional disciplinary lines. The popular Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program is well suited for students whose career plans don’t fit a specific major/minor program. The degree offers customized studies with online, traditional, and hybrid courses. UNA offers 12 online bachelor’s, master’s, and education specialist degrees. Participation is expected online, just as it is in classrooms.

Like other Alabama online colleges, distance learners have access to library resources electronically; requests can be made through phone research consultations. Orientation sessions, tutoring, online writing assistance, and academic counseling are also available. Online writing assistance can be used for homework assignments, resume building, or grad school application essays.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
8 University of Mobile 60.29 3/5 42% Mobile, AL

Mobile offered its first fully online degree program -- the Bachelor of Science in Marketplace Ministry -- in 2015. The school has expanded its distance learning program to include six undergraduate and four graduate programs. Online programs include an associate in general studies, a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a Master of Business Administration. Students enroll throughout the year in convenient eight-week sessions tailored to working adults who are starting or continuing their education. College-bound high school seniors can prepare by taking online summer classes.

Unusual among Alabama online colleges, students attend classes Mondays through Thursdays; on Focus Fridays, they enrich their academic studies with internships, field experiences, missions, volunteerism, or academic clubs. Focus Fridays are designed to give students time to discover their professional callings and grow spiritually. This liberal arts and sciences school integrates the Christian faith with academic excellence.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
9 Judson College 59.71 3/5 37% Marion, AL

Judson has prepared young women for purposeful lives for the last 178 years. The private, four-year, Christian college is the only women’s college in Alabama. Located in Marion, Alabama, Judson offers 12 distance learning majors with bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, music, education, and psychology. The rolling enrollment, online programs are open to men. Most degrees require students to earn at least 128 semester hours. The Judson online colleges in Alabama boasts an enviable 9:1 student to faculty ratio, so instructors can take a genuine interest in their students’ progress. For the past 20 years, 96% of Judson graduates have been employed or continued their education within a year of graduation.

Judson’s Office of Faith-based Service and Learning provides opportunities for students to practice community service. Over 80% of students participate in volunteer projects that may involve tutoring youth, distributing food and clothing, offering health screenings, or building homes. As a result of Judson’s civic leadership, it has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll eight times. The first female justice on the Alabama Supreme Court and the first woman to head Wright Laboratory, the smart weapons research and testing facility, are included among Judson alumni.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
10 University of South Alabama 57.35 3/5 37% Mobile, AL

More than 450 online courses and 12, 100% online bachelor and graduate degree programs (primarily in education, nursing and Interdisciplinary Studies) can be found at South Alabama in Mobile. Programs will appeal to first-time students, community college graduates and returning students.

At the School of Nursing, where all graduate courses are online, students can finish online courses and complete clinical requirements in their home communities. The Master of Education in Elementary Education and the Master of Education in Educational Media are also entirely online.

The 1,200-acre campus, which accommodates 16,000 students, is home to the USA Technology & Research Park, a 160-acre economic development incubator. USA’s health system includes two hospitals, the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and the USA Physicians Group, all of which serve residents of the Gulf Coast region and as a training ground for future physicians and healthcare professionals.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
11 University of Alabama in Huntsville 56.47 3/5 47% Huntsville, AL

Prospective students searching for the best online colleges in Alabama should consider the Alabama-Huntsville. As a leading research university with a global reputation, UAH is home to 8,400 students from over 80 countries. UAH’s campus includes 16 high-tech research centers and labs in the nation’s second largest research park. The complex attracts nearly $90 million in research spending.

UAH offers 22 intellectually stimulating online programs using Blackboard, live streaming, and real-time videoconferencing. Distance students can view audio and video lectures alongside any materials used by faculty. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are 100% online or hybrid with some on-campus meetings. There’s a 17:1 student to faculty ratio. Courses are offered year-round so students can complete the program in 18 months. Fall and spring semester courses are held in five-week installments.

UAH was recognized by the Brookings Institution as the best university in the state based on graduates’ economic outcomes. (Graduates’ average $53,000 starting salary is higher than many.) Famous alumni include astronaut Dr. Jan Davis and Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
12 Athens State University 55.29 4/5 40% Athens, AL

Athens State offers more than 50 majors and degree programs, 40 minors, and various certificate programs at the school’s three colleges: Arts & Sciences, Education, and Business. Many of these programs can be completed entirely online. Bachelor's and master’s degree programs are available.

The Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance prepares students to counter cyber security issues using risk management, security framework integration, incident response, disaster recovery, and acquisition lifecycle management.

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management will study planning and forecasting demand for products and services. They’ll come to understand production cycles whereby raw materials become finished consumer products.

Older than many other online colleges in Alabama, Athens State was founded in 1822, when it was known as Athens Female Academy; the school became coeducational in 1931. The school’s current four-year strategic plan calls for increased service to non-traditional populations using blended and distance learning that utilizes innovative course delivery methods.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
13 Faulkner University 52.79 4/5 33% Montgomery, AL

Faulkner, a faith-based institution, is located in Montgomery, but offers classes at campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile. It’s one of many Alabama online colleges helping students juggle family and work with flexible class options for distance learning.

There are 23 online associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. The school offers accelerated, fast-track schedules for its 3,000+ students and an average class size of 10-15 students. The online Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Psychology is designed for students planning to work in law enforcement, a correctional facility, or the legal system. The online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies prepares scholars for careers in teaching, research, and the ministry. Students choose either an Old Testament or New Testament track and finish the program in four or five years. The online Sports Psychology bachelor’s degree is a good fit for young athletes attracted to study with a fitness focus or for students pursuing rehabilitation careers.

Remaining true to its roots as a Christian college, Faulkner considers daily chapel, Bible classes, and evening devotionals as integral to the undergraduate experience. All undergraduates must complete 160 hours of volunteer service.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
14 Heritage Christian University 49.12 3/5 0% Florence, AL

Heritage Christian, In Florence, Alabama, offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs -- on and off campus -- for preachers, teachers, and missionaries. Each program is intellectually challenging, evangelical-focused, and committed to real world ministry. All programs are available online, and coursework and graduate requirements are the same for all students. Bachelor’s degree candidates must complete 30 hours of supervised field experience; this requirement is adjusted for associate’s degree or transfer students. Ministry options might include Bible class teaching, youth or prison ministry, or hospice chaplaincy.

The school’s three master’s degrees include the Master of Arts, which readies students for biblical study in Greek or Hebrew, the Master of Ministry, and the Master of Divinity program. Online graduate students need to be on campus for orientation, graduation, and final exams. HCU’s faculty is made up of elders, ministers, Bible class teachers, deacons, and missionaries, all of whom have personal experience in local ministry and missions.

Similar to other Alabama online colleges, online students at HCU listen to recorded class presentations (audio and visual) accompanied by supplemental materials. Students access class presentations, assignments, tests, and grades on a web-based course management system. Distance learners can listen to recorded chapel messages through the school’s YouTube channel.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
15 Auburn University at Montgomery 48.38 3/5 6% Montgomery, AL

When its doors opened in 1967, AU-Montgomery was a commuter campus. Full-time students remain a big presence, but working and part-time students are attracted to Auburn for its small class sizes and 90 fields of study. The school’s colleges of Arts and Science, Education, Nursing, and Public Policy & Justice, support different types of learners. Degree, non-credit, and continuing education online courses are available with reduced tuition for out-of-state residents. Auburn offers traditional, online, and hybrid programs day, night, and weekends.

The College of Education offers eight graduate degree online programs. At the College of Nursing, the RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Medical Clinical Laboratory Science and graduate nursing programs are all fully online. Most College of Public Policy & Justice courses are online, including the Geographic Information Systems Certificate and Homeland Security & Emergency Management program. Students at Alabama online colleges, like Auburn, can feel confident knowing tech support, and math and writing tutoring is available.

Tweet this Share this School Profile

More About Online Colleges in Alabama

In the past decade, Alabama has prioritized the innovation and proliferation of distance learning throughout the state. Once ranked among the lowest-performing states for producing both high school and college graduate in 2003, Alabama has made dramatic changes through online education initiatives. ACCESS Distance Learning, started in 2006, provides rural students with resources and Advanced Placement courses comparable to those available in metropolitan areas. Now, Alabama has the third largest virtual school in the US. And this momentum spread; those students who benefited from distance learning in high school now can continue their online education in college. In 2012, 16% (50,008) of the higher education students in Alabama attended distance education programs exclusively.

Though higher education budgets and tuition rates have both fluctuated in Alabama, there have been signs of positive change in the past years. In 2012-2013, Alabama’s annual tuition rate for public in-state institutions was $8,073, or roughly the same as the national average. The rate for private institutions, at $13,983, was significantly lower than the rest of the country. These numbers bode well for prospective online learners living in-state. And, now that over 80% of all educational institutions offer at least a handful of online courses, the options for distance education have never been so diverse.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Alabama for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

The National Center for Education Statistics released the following statistics on the percentage of Alabama postsecondary education students enrolled in distance learning programs in 2012:

  • Undergraduate, exclusively online courses: 12.1%
  • Undergraduate, some, but not all online courses: 19.6%
  • Undergraduate, no online courses: 68.3%
  • Graduate, exclusively online courses: 39.8%
  • Graduate, some but not all online courses: 12.2%
  • Graduate, no online courses: 48%
Best Online Colleges in Alabama of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Tuskegee University Tuskegee, AL
2 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
3 Troy University Troy, AL
4 Alabama State University Montgomery, AL
5 University of Mobile Mobile, AL
6 University of North Alabama Florence, AL
7 Auburn University Auburn University, AL
8 Judson College Marion, AL
9 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, AL
10 Auburn University at Montgomery Montgomery, AL
11 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL
12 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
13 University of South Alabama Mobile, AL
14 Alabama A&M University Normal, AL
15 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
16 Faulkner University Montgomery, AL
17 Amridge University Montgomery, AL