Best Online Colleges in Virginia

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Online students in Virginia are part of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market. This education initiative expands in-state tuition beyond Virginia students to those who are from throughout the Southeast, from Texas to Louisiana to Florida and as far north as Maryland. More than 1,900 programs in 16 states participate in the market, including 7 universities located in Virginia.

Online colleges in Virginia stand out among the Academic Common Market due to the unique variety of online study programs. Earn a Master’s in Cybersecurity from Norfolk State, a Bachelor’s of Art in Religious Studies from Virginia University of Lynchburg or a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Virginia Commonwealth. By studying at a school participating in the exchange marketplace, students from throughout the Southeastern United States have the opportunity to pursue an affordable, high-quality education that helps them meet their future career goals.

Using the valuable online Virginia Education Wizard, prospective students can take an assessment to see which careers would be a good fit for their skills and interests. Students may also create a planner for degree completion, work on technical or soft skills, practice interviews, learn about networking, estimate financial aid and search for schools that offer guaranteed admission.

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

George Mason University

 2/566.88%Fairfax, VA


Mason Online has over 50 programs designed to fit students’ schedules. Coursework is delivered synchronously and asynchronously, depending on the class, and students receive support through the Online Writing Lab, an email-based tutoring service. The school offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate courses.

The Mason Online Nursing program for RN to BSN is a top-rated program in the country for registered nurses. In as little as a year, students are able to advance their nursing degree to a BSN with project-based courses and a schedule tailored to fit their needs.

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James Madison University

 2/582.43%Harrisonburg, VA


JMU Online offers a range of programs from cyber security to speech pathology to nursing. The adult degree program is designed for non-traditional students who are aged 22 or older and in need of a college degree. Students are able to design their own area of focus so that their individual educational needs are met. JMU online offers graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs.

The master’s degree in speech and language pathology grew out of a need for SLP specialists in Virginia schools. Since then, it has grown into a successful graduate program with a 100% job placement rate.

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Liberty University

 4/550.41%Lynchburg, VA


Liberty University Online gives distance students a choice from over 245 Christian faith-based programs. The school offers college credit for high school students, undergraduate and graduate certificate programs, and doctoral programs in business and education.

While most of the online programs can be completed 100% online, some courses must be completed partially on-campus to allow for hands-on learning and face-to-face interaction. Certificate programs are offered in many of the same fields as the graduate and undergraduate programs.

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Old Dominion University

 2/551.58%Norfolk, VA


ODU Online provides online advising and support for every program, offering tools to help students succeed as distance learners and to complete the program that best fits their interests.

The courses offered at ODU online can be taken synchronously or asynchronously. Distance students can choose from associate degree programs in communication, criminal justice, information systems & technology, psychology, and more. Dozens of bachelor's degree completion programs are also available online, including civil engineering technology, dental hygiene, medical technology, and an RN to BSN bridge program.

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Jefferson College of Health Sciences

 4/555.56%Roanoke, VA


Jefferson Online boasts a strong academic program in the health sciences. While based in Virginia, the degree programs are available to distance students in every state except New Jersey, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The school offers undergraduate nursing degrees and master’s degrees in health sciences and nursing. It also provides online services to help its students succeed, including counseling and wellness support, academic counseling, and aiding non-traditional students on their path to success in a health profession.

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Regent University

 3/550%Virginia Beach, VA

Regent’s faith-based education is ranked in the top 20 on US News & World’s best online bachelor’s degree programs. As a member of the Navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership (NCPDLP), the school’s online program also extends benefits to military personnel.

Students can choose from dozens of undergraduate programs including a BS in biblical and theology studies, a BS in Christian leadership and management, a BAS in information systems technology, and a BS in paralegal studies, among others. Online graduate programs include an MA in organizational leadership, an MBA, a PhD in organizational leadership, or a doctor of strategic leaderships. Online students have access to resources such as library databases, counseling needs, and student services.

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Norfolk State University

 2/532.63%Norfolk, VA

NSU’s School of Extended Learning is the first HBCU in the nation to be awarded the Quality Standards Certification by the United States Distance Learning Association, and offers a flexible and convenient way to earn a quality degree.

The school’s online arm works closely with NSU’s main campus to offer convenient classes from a variety of fields. Bachelor’s and master’s students can choose from hundreds of online courses in accounting and finance, business and leadership, hospitality, education, green and renewable energy, healthcare, industrial and skilled trades, multimedia and graphic design, programming, languages, and technology and computer programs.

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Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing

 2/5N/ARichmond, VA

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing provides many continuing education resources and courses for healthcare professionals. Of note is the school’s RN to BSN online completion program, which allows students to complete their degree entirely online in as few as three semesters.

Students who complete the BSN program online are qualified to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), and the school's College of Nursing ranks among the highest in the nation for NCLEX pass rates.

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Mary Baldwin University

 4/543.18%Staunton, VA

Mary Baldwin College offers a strong adult degree program for those seeking a degree beyond the traditional college years. While there are many offerings that can be completed entirely online, hybrid options are available as well. Mary Baldwin College has many regional centers across the state.

Online students have access to an advisor who will help them design a plan to reach their academic goals.

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Averett University

 4/532.91%Danville, VA

Averett University’s IDEAL program is specifically designed for adult learners seeking their bachelor’s degree. At Averett University, an advisor works with the students to put together a tailored learning plan to achieve their academic goals. These advisors help students choose coursework to help get them closer to their career goals, and optimize the courses they have already taken.

IDEAL bachelor’s programs include business administration, criminal justice, sociology, sport management, and applied science.

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Bluefield College

 4/550%Bluefield, VA

Bluefield College is a Christian college offering many degrees and areas of study online. The school boasts a low 11:1 student-to-teacher ratio, meaning even distance learners get to enjoy personalized faculty attention. Courses are about eight weeks long, and some degrees can be earned at an accelerated pace.

Distance students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, entrepreneurship, management & leadership, human services, and nursing, among others.
Of note is the school’s online criminal justice degree, which prepares students for entry into the criminal justice profession or for law school.

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Virginia University of Lynchburg

 2/539.13%Lynchburg, VA

The online program at Virginia University of Lynchburg embraces non-traditional learning, meaning veterans can can seek credit for prior experience and education, and students may also receive credit from prior credentials, technical training, and national exams.

Distance students can earn a bachelor's degree through its liberal arts & science, sociology, business administration, or organizational management programs. Graduate students can pursue an online MA in organizational management, and certificates are available to online students as well.

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Sentara College of Health Sciences

 1/5N/AChesapeake, VA

Sentara College of Health Sciences offers a strong online program for registered nurses to pursue their bachelor’s in nursing.

Candidates must have a minimum of 25 general education credit hours prior to starting the online program. Prospective students can take an assessment offered by the school to figure out if its online learning program is well suited to their needs.

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More About Online Colleges in Virginia

The South Atlantic state of Virginia is home to over 110 colleges and universities; including highly competitive Virginia Tech and the nation’s first Public Ivy, The College of William and Mary. With this prestige, the higher-than-average cost of living and recent statewide tuition hikes are not surprising, and can be prohibitive for some hoping to seek an education in Virginia. However, the state has measures in place to make college affordable to all, such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act; it also now offers a selection of free online courses through the University of Virginia.

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


A recent NCES report indicates that 18.6% of students enrolled in higher education institutions in Virginia were in exclusively-online degree programs.

  • 45.2% were residing in Virginia
  • 52.1% resided in other parts of the US
  • 67.3% were considered undergraduates
  • 7.5% studied through public, 4-year institutions
  • 8.2% studied through private, nonprofit 4-year institutions

Those who pursue an online degree in Virginia can be assured that the state takes educational effectiveness seriously; a recent study was commissioned through Columbia University to determine how well students respond to online learning. Further paving the way to a successful online degree experience, the Commonwealth ranks #4 in the nation for 4-year graduation rates; the state is also a participant of the State Authority Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which promotes and streamlines state-to-state distance learning.