Best Online Colleges in Florida

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Florida has supported distance and online learning programs for decades. In 1996, the state launched the Florida Community College Distance Learning Consortium, a network of public and private colleges that work to create and develop statewide online learning initiatives. Next came the Florida Virtual Campus in 1999, which provides online educational resources and support to high school and college students. These resources include access to digital journal and library databases, online courses, and virtual student services.

Together, these initiatives make Florida one of the best states for online learners. Between 2006 and 2011, enrollment in postsecondary online courses increased by 128.8%, and today there are well over 150 online colleges, degree programs, and learning initiatives throughout the state.

Online colleges in Florida have provided a venue for frugal students to obtain degrees and certificates without incurring significant debt. Like most states, tuition rates in Florida have spiked in recent years alongside major cutbacks in state funding and appropriations. However, grants account for nearly 12% of the state’s total financial support for higher education, a significant allocation that helps individual students save on tuition and related expenses. Additionally, the rise of online programs has encouraged many students to study in a distance program, where costs are generally lower.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Central Florida 90.00 3/5 70% Orlando, FL

Surrounded by 800 acres of woodland, UCF’s main campus in east Orlando is one of 12 regional campuses and locations spread out to best serve the community in Central Florida. In addition to its physical campuses, it’s also one of the best online colleges in Florida, offering courses online for the past 20 years. Today, UCF Online provides more than 20 online bachelor's degrees in areas such as the sciences, arts and humanities, and health and public affairs. Online students have complete access to UCF's entire library, as well as the Writing Center, Career Services, and all on-campus athletics events.

To ensure its online students are supported fully, UCF Online pairs each student with a Student Success Coach, a school representative who takes on the responsibility of aiding and guiding online students throughout their experience, answering questions, sending reminders, and helping students navigate their way through their degree or individual courses.

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2 University of Florida 81.09 3/5 85% Gainesville, FL

For over 160 years, UF has provided higher education to the people of Florida and beyond. The school’s online sector, UF Online, offers a wide variety of degree and certificate programs, including 19 bachelor's degree options for students who require more flexibility in their schedules.

Among these options are the BA in geology, the BS in sport management, and the BS in telecommunication media & society. UF Online also offers bachelor completion programs that lead to bachelor’s degrees in communication sciences & disorders, digital arts & sciences, fire & emergency services, and microbiology & cell science. Distance learners can earn certificates in specialized subjects and enroll in non-degree and non-credit courses from the comfort of their home, as well. UF Online provide its students with the same library and resource privileges as on-campus students, and offers complete support in all areas, including technical, admission, financial, and career support.

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3 The Baptist College of Florida 79.68 3/5 58% Graceville, FL

Since 1943, BCF has been providing a private program of education and training for Christian leaders in Florida and the surrounding area, presenting its teachings within the framework of a Christian worldview. With its home campus in Graceville, Florida and three additional distance sites in Orlando, Northeast Florida, and Panama City, BCF has made its mark on the state of Florida and its inhabitants.

BCF offers a wealth of fully online programs, including 18 bachelor's programs in Christian studies, music, missions with a concentration in aviation, and more. Every student at BCF is also required to take foundational curriculum, which includes a combination of general education coursework (33 hours) and biblical and theological courses (18 hours). Distance students at BCF have complete access to the school's online library resources and support services, and typically asynchronous online courses can be completed from any approved location and during the time of the week that works best for the individual student.

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4 Florida International University 75.00 3/5 49% Miami, FL

When it was founded in 1965, FIU became the first public research university in Miami. Today, with more than 54,000 students, FIU is among the 10 largest universities in the U.S. and remains the only public research university in Miami.

With over 27 fully online programs, including 20 bachelor's degrees, FIU online has something for everyone. In fact, almost half of all FIU students take online classes in some fashion during the school year. Some unique programs on offer include the BS in recreation and sports management, a BA in communication arts, and the FIBA anti-money laundering certification. The school also offers a selection of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These courses are free, open to anyone with Internet access, and offer an introduction to online learning through the school. FIU offers 24/7 technical support, success coaches, and access to every resource students have on campus.

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5 The University of West Florida 74.29 3/5 45% Pensacola, FL

Home to around 13,000 students, UWF has physical locations all throughout Northwest Florida, including the main campus, which is situated in Pensacola. With some of its core values being inclusiveness, quality, relevance, and innovation, UWF is one of the best online colleges in Florida, offering more than 500 online course sections each semester, and seven fully online undergraduate degrees that provide all the upper division coursework necessary to graduate.

Online bachelor’s programs include a BS in engineering technology, a BA in exceptional student education, and a BA in maritime studies, among others. All the lower division coursework in these programs is available at UWF or through its partner institutions. Approximately 30% of UWF's student body study completely online. For this reason, the school provides its students with substantial technical support and online resources, ensuring that online students are supported every bit as much as the students are on campus.

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6 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 73.53 4/5 60% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Providing adult learners with a career-focused education, Keiser University-Fort Lauderdale has been serving the Florida area residents for the past 40 years. The school has grown to become one of the top Florida online colleges, with 16 bachelor degrees available online. Notable programs include the BS in imaging sciences, the BS in cyber forensics/information security, and the BA in homeland security.

Keiser University's online courses and degree programs allow students the opportunity to study and work at the same time. The school's mandatory scheduling of one class at a time allows students to dedicate their entire focus into one area for four weeks and then move on. The institution also provides small class sizes and flexible scheduling that allows students to choose between on-campus courses, online courses, or a combination of the two. Both on-campus and online students have access to hands-on instruction, which gives students a practical education that they can draw from after graduation. Additionally, all students are encouraged to take advantage of the online career center as well as the student organizations that are available to them.

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7 Nova Southeastern University 71.28 4/5 42% Fort Lauderdale, FL

For many years now, NSU has been nationally recognized for its innovative distance education programs. Since its start, one of NSU's institutional missions has been to provide students with the most convenient methods of study, leading to the establishment of one of the leading online colleges in Florida.

The school offers online bachelor's degrees in business management, health science, psychology, and nursing. Online students join and interact within real-time electronic classrooms, and NSU has built a substantial eLibrary and online database that gives students access to everything their studies will require. While many of NSU's online students live and study far from Florida, they still have access to more than 400 undergraduate and graduate student organizations run by the university's students, faculty and alumni. For those students who are in the Florida area, NSU also has the added benefit of hosting the Miami Dolphins training facilities. This partnership grants NSU students access to seasons tickets for the NFL teams' home games as well.

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8 Florida Gulf Coast University 70.00 3/5 45% Fort Myers, FL

In 1998, FGCU held its first ever commencement ceremony in Southwest Florida with 81 graduates. Now, less than 20 years later, more than 23,000 FGCU graduates have received at least one degree from the institution. In that time, FGCU has grown into a state university that offers 79 degree programs to close to 15,000 students annually.

During its second semester as a university, FGCU began the process to adopt distance learning as one of its primary delivery methods, granting program access to students across the country and the world. Fast forward to today and FGCU is one of the best online colleges in Florida, offering both graduate and undergraduate courses to students whose lifestyle, location, and/or schedule restricts them from in-person studies. At FGCU, it's not only the students who have access to a wealth of technical support and resources but the instructors as well. Since the school is committed to delivering the best online courses in the country, it ensures that its faculty have everything they could need at their fingertips, from assistance with course design to online training to course material development.

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9 Southeastern University 66.60 4/5 40% Lakeland, FL

Founded in 1935 as the Alabama Shield of Faith Institute, Southeastern has seen significant changes in its history, including locations, but its Christ-centered student-focused approach to education has stayed the same. The institution that started in New Brockton, Alabama has since moved to its current location in Lakeland, Florida, but a Southeastern University education is available to students from all over.

As one of the top Florida online colleges, Southeastern delivers an unmatched experience to students looking for online degree programs in fields such as business, behavioral and social sciences, ministry, and more. From enrollment through to graduation, online students at Southeastern have help every step of the way. The Center for Student Success offers students a range of assistance, including tech support, tutoring services, and even counseling. The online portal provides students with access to Southeastern University's entire digital library database from anywhere that has an Internet connection.

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10 Saint Leo University 66.03 3/5 43% Saint Leo, FL

Since its beginnings in the 19th century, Saint Leo has striven to make higher learning more accessible for everyone. At Saint Leo, eLearning has been a focal point since the 1990s when its online system was first established, making it one of the first online colleges in Florida.

Students can choose from dozens of online bachelor’s degrees offered through the School of Business, the School of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Education & Social Services. Online undergrads can minor in accounting, criminal justice, human resources management, or management. St. Leo also has six different start dates for each program, allowing students to pick the time that works best for their schedules. Over the years, this Catholic institution has developed a system that allows students to get the most from every program, from starting with online tutorials to ensure that each student is comfortable studying online to including a variety of state-of-the-art tools and materials to accommodate the many different learning styles of the diverse student body.

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11 Warner University 64.29 3/5 40% Lake Wales, FL

Situated between Orlando and Tampa, Warner University has been serving the entire Central Florida region with Christ-centered higher learning for almost 50 years. Offering bachelor degree programs in 30 different liberal arts and professional studies fields, including fully online degrees in business administration, educational studies, and more, warner university's online offerings make higher learning truly accessible.

The online administration at Warner University make sure that each and every student is cared for, providing digital tutoring and paper review services for those who need extra help. Additionally, students in the online programs at Warner have access to the same scholarships and financial assistance that on-campus students have, making it one of the best online colleges in Florida. The institution has been able to maintain its intimate class sizes and low student-to-instructor ratio. As the technology and digital requirements and demands for both classes and careers continues to increase, Warner University has instituted new initiatives to address digital literacy in its students, primarily through the EDGE project, a program that trains students on different technological components, helpful for their online studies and careers afterward.

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12 Remington College-Heathrow Campus 62.24 4/5 40% Heathrow, FL

At Remington College-Heathrow Campus, students have access to hands-on training and learning from instructors with real world experience. Unlike some online colleges in Florida, Remington College still manages to provide interactive training to its online students. Take, for example, the health information management degree online, which has established a virtual lab that enables students to get hands-on training from their own homes.

Like all on-campus students, online students also have access to Remington College's career services team, a dedicated group who help students with resumes, applications, interview techniques and student-employer networking, ensuring that the move from studies to career is as seamless as possible.

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13 Everglades University 60.83 5/5 58% Boca Raton, FL

Serving the communities of Florida with campuses in Boca Raton, Sarasota, Orlando, and Tampa, Everglades University offers 11 degree programs both on campus and online. Notable programs include alternative medicine, surveying management, and alternative and renewable energy management. Everglades has established state-of-the-art virtual classrooms, interactive lessons, and live chats with both instructors and peers. The result is an educational experience that simulates in-person studies.

The online division provides technical support, free tutoring services, and financial support for online students. The online library is accessible for students anytime and anywhere as well. Additionally, any student at Everglades, regardless of their location or delivery method, is paired up with an academic advisor who they are encouraged to meet with each semester to plan the best path for completing their education.

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14 Daytona State College 60.00 2/5 40% Daytona Beach, FL

Far removed from its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Daytona State has grown from a small one-campus college to a technologically advanced multi-campus institution. Today, the college has a total of seven locations throughout the Volusia and Flagler counties in Florida, and offers more than 100 different certificate, associate, and bachelor's degree programs.

Online students can pursue a BAS in supervision and management, a BS in engineering technology (with or without a concentration in electrical engineering), or a BS in information technology. With almost 300 online courses to choose from, the school's mission to expand and enhance the technological infrastructure and online environment has been a massive success. As part of its commitment to its online students and faculty, Daytona State offers the same academic support for online students, the same course standards for online classes, and the same level of interaction between online students and faculty as it does with its on-campus programs.

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15 Eastern Florida State College 57.82 2/5 42% Cocoa, FL

Each year, more than 25,000 students take one of the more than 100 degree programs offered at Eastern Florida, either at the main campus in Cocoa, one of the other three campuses in Melbourne, Palm Bay, and Titusville, or online. As one of the best online colleges in Florida, EFSC offers more than 250 online courses, each with small class sizes and interactive opportunities with other students and the instructors.

Students studying online can pursue BAS degrees in the areas of applied health science, organizational management, or computer systems technology. EFSC offers 24/7 online tutoring through Smarthinking.com at no cost for online students, as well as computer software, like Microsoft Office 365, and other technological resources to ensure that everyone has the tools necessary for success.

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16 Palm Beach Atlantic University 56.60 3/5 51% West Palm Beach, FL

PBA provides its more than 3,500 students with a Christ-centered education. The school boasts a low 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and 50 undergraduate majors to choose from. It is one of the top Florida online colleges, providing distance education in real-time with Class Live Pro, virtual classrooms that simulate on-campus learning with the added flexibility of studying anywhere that an Internet connection is available.

Bachelor’s-seeking students can pursue a BS in organizational management, a BS in psychology, or an RN to BSN degree. As a Christian university, PBA also offers a number of spiritual opportunities for students, including an online BA in ministry, Bible studies and even worships led by some of the most renowned spiritual advisors in the country.

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17 Indian River State College 56.47 1/5 36% Fort Pierce, FL

Indian River State College and its five campuses offer over 150 programs to more than 32,000 students each year. While its dedication to the local communities have been a major part of IRSC's mission over its 50-year history, the institution has also made considerable strides in making its programs accessible to everyone from everywhere, a dream that IRSC's virtual campus has made into a reality.

Now one of the leading online colleges in Florida, IRSC offers hundreds of online courses, including 12 online bachelor degree programs in areas such as criminal justice, exceptional student education, nursing, and public administration. Each of the courses online are certified though Quality Matters (QM), a nationally recognized peer-reviewing process. In addition to offering some of the highest quality online courses in the country, IRSC also grants its online students access to its career and transition services to help all graduates find the career they have been aiming for.

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18 St Petersburg College 56.28 2/5 31% Clearwater, FL

St. Petersburg College features brick-and-mortar campuses all across the state and more than 100 degree and certificate industry-based programs, but it is also the largest and one of the best online colleges in Florida. With over 20,000 online students, 650 online courses and over 40 fully online programs, SPC's online campus utilizes the best in eLearning technology, online resources, and educational software.

The school offers 12 online bachelor’s programs, including degrees in dental hygiene, sustainability management, interdisciplinary studies, and more. Like most online courses, SPC's online programs provide increased scheduling flexibility, but they also provide a one-on-one instruction not available from traditional classes. The eLearning at SPC also has a virtual classroom that allows for a hands-on approach to online instruction and a structured interaction between student and instructor. This means that online courses at SPC are much more similar to on-campus courses than in most online colleges, something that many students look for when considering online programs.

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19 Northwood University-Florida 56.09 4/5 39% West Palm Beach, FL

With the mission of eliminating barriers to equal opportunity and access to education, Northwood University-Florida has been driven to creating a new concept in education. In fact, the university was founded with that goal in mind. Online students can pursue bachelor of business administration (BBA) degrees in aftermarket management, entrepreneurship, healthcare management, marketing, and more. BBA students in any program can also choose to earn a minor in operations and supply chain management.

Students in any of the online degrees at Northwood University have the option to do the course completely online, at one of the Regional Education Centers, or a combination of both. In terms of support, online students have access to Northwood University's 35 different online library databases and full academic support. For the students in the Florida area, Northwood offers several clubs and social programs, as well as NCAA Division II athletics to participate in or enjoy as a spectator.

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20 Broward College 55.51 3/5 32% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Since 1960, Broward College has been providing career-focused education for students in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area. Today, with more than 100 degrees and certificates, plus options to take classes during the day, the evening or online, Broward College programs are available to students across the country even and worldwide.

Not only does Broward College offer online courses, the school is one of the top online colleges in Florida as well, offering four complete bachelor’s degree programs and cost-conscious learning materials and resources, including some courses with no textbook costs at all. Distance students can pursue a BAS degree in information technology, supervision and management, technology management, or a BS in nursing. Broward College also has cyber advisors available and awaiting the questions or concerns of online students 24/7. Everything at Broward College is made with online students in mind, including the library, financial aid, tutoring and career services, which are equally accessible for everyone. The school has even made much of the requisite software available to students for free to ensure that the demanding technological requirements don’t hold anyone back.

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21 Florida State College at Jacksonville 55.32 2/5 35% Jacksonville, FL

With several locations throughout the Duval County and Nassau County, FSC at Jacksonville offers fully online courses and an online BS degree in business administration.

To bolster its reputation as one of the best online colleges in Florida, FSCJ Online provides its students with many of the technological resources required for their studies, such as Microsoft Office and more. For students who don't have access to the Internet, FSCJ grants access to its state-of-the-art computer labs. The school also has degree coaches on hand, ready to help students transfer credits, find financial aid, and enroll in the courses and programs that are best suited for their interests while still satisfying their program requirements. For students in the Jacksonville area, FSCJ provides countless services and facilities for its students, including child care, counseling services and access to fitness centers as well.

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22 Florida Institute of Technology 54.81 4/5 55% Melbourne, FL

One of FIT's missions as an institution of higher learning is to be recognized as an innovative and technology-focused school. Since its founding in 1958 and still today, FIT is the only independent, technological university in the Southeast.

FIT is also one of the top Florida online colleges, offering more than 15 bachelor degree programs online. Students can pursue online baccalaureate degrees in forensic psychology, aviation management, criminal justice, and more. With live chats and discussion boards to keep students engaged and interactive, as well as individualized attention to students from the instructors, FIT's online programs are designed to feel like on-campus courses with increased flexibility. As with its on-campus students, Florida Tech has many support centers set up to assist its online students on every step of their journey, from technical to academic support, from enrollment to career services.

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23 Florida Gateway College 54.62 2/5 32% Lake City, FL

Founded as a school of Forestry in 1948, Florida Gateway College has now become a comprehensive, public community college educating more than 6,000 students each year and serving the Baker, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, and Union counties in North Central Florida.

On top of that, FGC has also made itself into one of the best online colleges in Florida, offering online courses that, other than the increased flexibility and accessibility, have no noticeable differences from their on-campus counterparts. Whether it’s through online discussion forums, web conferencing, or live chat rooms, online courses at FGC encourage frequent and interaction with classmates and instructors, keeping students involved and ensuring that everyone is on track. For students who struggle to meet the technological requirements or aptitude for online courses, FGC has a computer lab available for students to use as well as technical support services. For the students living nearby or visiting, FGC also has several student-run organizations and clubs, sports and other activities that students can get involved with on campus.

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24 Everest University-Brandon 53.27 4/5 37% Tampa, FL

At Everest University-Brandon, students receive an accredited education from industry-experienced instructors through hands-on training with flexible class scheduling, truly a career-focused educational system. Online students at the school can pursue bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business, and computer information science.

As one of the top Florida online colleges, Everest provides students with full access to tutoring and Everest's information resource library. After graduation, the Career Services department assists graduates with resume preparation and interview techniques to help them find the career they both want and deserve. In terms of online studies, the programs are designed with the same Everest accelerated learning format. Similarly, the online environment and classroom is both diverse and supportive and students have 24/7 support, ensuring that no student is left out or left behind. The school encourages students to work closely with the different departments to make sure that the entire system is working for the students the way it should.

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25 Jones College-Jacksonville 53.21 2/5 14% Jacksonville, FL

For almost 100 years, Jones College-Jacksonville has been providing career-focused training to the students in the Florida area. Distance students can obtain a BS degree online with concentrations available in business administration, computer information systems, and interdisciplinary studies.

For students in the Florida area, there is also a legal assistant track available online. To best set up its online students for success, Jones College has designed a mandatory online orientation that every hopeful student must take in order to register for online courses. This course ensures that the student's computer and the student themselves are capable of managing an online program. Both on-campus and online students have access to financial aid and career assistance from Jones College as well.

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More About Online Colleges in Florida

As of fall 2012, Florida counted over 150,000 degree seeking students at Title IV institutions that were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses. Over 8,500 non-degree-seeking students enrolled exclusively in distance learning programs.

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

NCES Report

According to a 2012 report by the NCES:

  • 68,064 undergraduates lived in Florida or the same jurisdiction as the school.
  • Those outside Florida totaled over 72,000, and a further 726 came from outside the United States.
  • Over 16,000 graduate students pursued online-exclusive degree programs within Florida’s boundaries.
  • Over 11,000 came from elsewhere in the U.S.
Best Online Colleges in Florida of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
3 University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
4 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
5 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
6 Florida International University Miami, FL
7 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
8 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL
9 Jacksonville University Jacksonville, FL
10 Remington College - Heathrow Campus Heathrow, FL
11 Northwood University - Florida West Palm Beach, FL
12 St. Thomas University - Florida Miami Gardens, FL
13 Embry-Riddle Aeronatuical University - Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL
14 Adventist University of Health Sciences Orlando, FL
15 Florida Institute of Technology - Online Melbourne, FL
16 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
17 Hodges University Naples, FL
18 Valencia College Orlando, FL
19 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Meyers, FL
20 Warner University Lake Wales, FL
21 Northwest Florida State College Niceville, FL
22 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
23 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
24 Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL
25 City College - Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL