Best Online Colleges in Alabama

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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.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

Tuskegee University

 3/547.23%Tuskegee, AL

campus-tuskegee-university

Tuskegee offers several online master’s degrees and individual courses to distance learners. The school allows rolling admissions for the fall term. Tuition and fees for its online programs are universal, regardless of state of residence.

Tuskegee facilitates its courses through Blackboard. Many online courses also use Java and other plug-ins accessible for both Mac and PC users. Tuskegee offers a variety of scholarships to online transfer students; a range of student services are also available, from academic tutoring to paying tuition entirely online through the university’s “one-stop” portal.

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2

University of Alabama

 2/565.66%Tuscaloosa, AL

campus_University_of_Alabama

UA offers more than 60 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees and certificates online. The university also offers several hybrid programs and non-degree courses for professionals and high school students through its online system. UA’s distance programs are taught by the same professors that instruct residential students.

Online programs are delivered using video streaming and video-conferencing technologies. Degree completion times vary, though the school generally requires students to graduate within six to eight years. UA offers scholarships to online transfer students and military members enrolled in distance learning programs.

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3

Troy University

 2/534.98%Troy, AL

campus_troy_university

TROY Online features one of the most diverse selections of undergraduate and graduate programs in Alabama. In addition to offering dozens of online degree programs, TROY Online also provides certificates, professional training options and accelerated courses for high school students. Scholarships are available for distance and military students.

Courses are delivered asynchronously through Blackboard. Most online classes are eight weeks long, though term lengths vary. Students in math or English majors must first complete COMPASS placement tests in these subjects. All prospective distance learners may take a free, non-credit “test” course before enrolling.

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4

Alabama State University

 2/526.32%Montgomery, AL

campus_alabama_state_university

ASU offers four graduate programs for distance learners in education and health sciences. Already among the best in Alabama for international and continuing education students, ASU expanded its online programs in education last fall to include master’s programs in early childhood education and elementary education.

ASU uses Blackboard to facilitate its online courses. The school is working to make its online program available throughout the country; for now, approximately 25 states are currently eligible to enroll in ASU’s distance program. Alabama State also offers a variety of scholarship and financial aid opportunities to online students, including transfer students.

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5

University of Mobile

 3/541.06%Mobile, AL

campus-university-of-mobile

The University of Mobile offers a unique distance education program. Here, in addition to five full degrees offered entirely online, students may complete general education courses and electives to apply toward any bachelor’s degree on campus or online. Online courses are priced individually at $375 per credit hour. Distance learners access coursework through their student portal. A typical online course is eight weeks long, though course lengths may vary.

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6

University of North Alabama

 2/538.87%Florence, AL

UNA offers 12 bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist degrees online, along with individual courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Classes are taught by instructors with expertise in both their respective professional field and distance learning technology. In addition to its own online programs, UNA is also part of the Southern Regional Educational Board consortium, which helps extend opportunities to students throughout the region.

Coursework is delivered through Canvas. In addition to institutional scholarships for traditional students, UNA offers scholarships for distance learners, including transfer and out-of-state residents. Online course schedules follow the same semester-based timelines as on-campus students adhere to.

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7

Auburn University

 2/570.86%Auburn University, AL

Auburn features nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees, professional credit programs, and personal enrichment courses online. Auburn ranks among the best in the state for graduate business and MBA programs. Tuition and fees are determined on a per-credit basis; no additional fees are charged for exceeding minimum credit hour requirements.

Distance courses are delivered asynchronously through Canvas. Depending on the student’s major, some on on-campus labs or coursework may be required. Institutional scholarships may be available (depending on your department of study), with additional transfer, ROTC or military and veteran scholarships available.

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8

Judson College

 3/543.16%Marion, AL

Located in Marion, Alabama, Judson College was founded in 1838 by the members of Siloam Baptist Church. Affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention, Judson is a small, private institution for women with an enrollment of a little over 300 students. The distance learning program accepts both male and female students. Despite its small size, Judson offers a wide range of distance learning programs, including twelve online bachelor degrees in the areas of Elementary Education, Religious Studies, Business Administration, Interdisciplinary Studies, Language Arts/English, Music and more.

The Judson College Distance Learning Program offers individualized instruction with rolling admission and enrollment policies which allow distance learning students to begin courses at any time. Students can take any classes that are required for their major or minor or for their own interests without waiting until the next semester or the next year that the courses will be offered. Judson is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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9

The University of Alabama in Huntsville

 2/546.14%Huntsville, AL

UAH offers more than 20 online programs in five major areas of study. The school features a large selection of master’s programs; popular offerings include an online RN to BSN degree and several certificate programs. Distance learners may qualify for competitive scholarships, including specific awards for transfer students and students in a particular area of study.

Online courses are delivered asynchronously through Canvas. UAH’s programs are only available in select states.

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10

Auburn University at Montgomery

 2/521.94%Montgomery, AL

AUM offers 20 undergraduate and graduate degrees and programs, along with several continuing education and non-credit courses. Auburn has a diverse selection of programs for non-Alabama residents: all students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. AUM Online offers a generous transfer and transient college credit policy.

Coursework is delivered asynchronously through Blackboard. Online programs are taught by the same instructors as in on-campus classrooms, and distance learners receive the same degree as residential students.

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11

Jacksonville State University

 2/530.09%Jacksonville, AL

JSU offers more than 40 degrees and programs for distance learners, including bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctorate degrees, along with professional certificates. JSU features extensive education and nursing programs, many of which incorporate interdisciplinary studies. Per-credit tuition and discounted summer courses are available to all students, regardless of where they live.

Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard. JSU employs a team of dedicated instructional designers and educational technology specialists to develop and maintain a curriculum exclusively for online learning.

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12

University of Alabama at Birmingham

 2/555.54%Birmingham, AL

UAB’s e-learning division offers roughly 60 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Highlights include graduate-level nursing concentrations, including acute care, RN mobility, and advanced generalist options. Many certificates and individual continuing education courses are also available through the university’s membership in the SREB consortium.

Coursework is delivered through Canvas. Scholarships for online students may be awarded based on merit, their field study, transfer status, or military service; other regional financial aid opportunities are available for Alabama residents. UAB’s distance programs are available to students in almost all 50 states.

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13

University of South Alabama

 2/538.24%Mobile, AL

USA students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees online in education, nursing, or interdisciplinary studies. Customized interdisciplinary degrees comprise general education courses in administrative sciences, human services, and liberal studies. USA also offers more than 250 individual courses and degree-completion programs.

USA’s online courses are delivered through Sakai; first-time distance students must complete Sakai 101 training certification as a prerequisite. Distance learners earning an interdisciplinary degree with prior transfer credits may be eligible for an accelerated program.

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14

Alabama A&M University

 2/535.25%Normal, AL

Alabama A&M offers a robust master’s in educational leadership (K-12) program. The university plans to add six online degrees to their Center for Distance Education and e-Learning in the near future. Online students at AAMU may also choose from a variety of individual courses.

AAMU online coursework is delivered through Blackboard. Online courses are typically eight weeks, though some run longer. Beginning in fall 2016, online students may be eligible to participate in AAMU’s out-of-state waiver program, designed to provide additional financial assistance to non-resident freshmen students.

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15

University of West Alabama

 2/532.9%Livingston, AL

UWA features more than 30 undergraduate and graduate online programs in business, education, and the liberal arts. UWA stands out for its graduate degrees and specialist certificates in education, for both certification- and non-certification-seeking students. UWA also supports online teacher certificate renewal, offering online continuing education courses.

Online courses at UWA are delivered through Blackboard. UWA offers five eight-week terms per academic year; both undergraduate and graduate programs may be completed in just 18 months. In addition to offering affordable flat fees for undergraduate and graduate courses online, UWA also offers interchangeable financial aid for all students.

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16

Faulkner University

 3/530.73%Montgomery, AL

Faulkner offers more than 20 online degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Faulkner’s offerings include an executive MBA and a doctorate program in philosophy, with biblical studies and humanities concentrations. Special financial aid opportunities are available for online students with military experience.

Coursework is completed in Blackboard. As pioneers of non-traditional education in Alabama, Faulkner was among the first schools to offer evening and weekend classes, along with a broad selection of online courses and programs. Though primarily online, some programs are taught in a hybrid format.

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17

Amridge University

 2/522.22%Montgomery, AL

Amridge offers over 20 online undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees in business and leadership, human services, and theology. Amridge is a leader among institutions for its faith-based majors and integration of Christ-centered values. Unique scholarships and incentives are available to online Amridge students, including discounts for full-time enrollees who “lock in” their current pricing for future academic years.

Coursework is delivered through Blackboard. Distance learners complete their courses by watching lectures and finishing assignments at their convenience. The university also offers live-streaming Chapel services. Each year, online students are welcome to participate in graduation activities in-person with fellow students in Alabama.

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18

Athens State University

  N/AAthens, AL

ASU features 13 online undergraduate degrees in business, education, and arts and sciences. The university also offers hybrid programs and certificates for professional development. ASU further earns a mention for its financial aid benefits: in addition to awarding more than 160 scholarships annually, the university also offers a monthly tuition payment plan option.

Athens State coursework is delivered through Blackboard. ASU became a member of the Quality Matters program in 2014, which aims to improve online programs through faculty education and intensive peer review. Online students at Athens State receive the same diploma as those on campus and may participate in graduation activities with traditional students.

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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%