Best Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Programs

Political science is an academic area of study concentrated in the political theories and practices of different government systems. This multidisciplinary field also examines how wealth and resources have historically been ― and currently are ― distributed among populations of cities, states and provinces, countries, and other governmental jurisdictions, as well as the laws and policies that have guided and continue to influence these provisions. Subfields of political science include: comparative politics, or the science of weighing differences and similarities between governments; international or global relations; public administration; and public health. Political science often leans on other academic disciplines, including social sciences like history, sociology, anthropology, and economics, as well as law, criminal justice, and public policy.

Political science is one of the most popular areas of study among U.S. undergraduate students, and The Princeton Review ranks ‘government/political science’ as the third best college major. The bachelor’s in political science will prepare students for a wide range of career paths in both the government (public) and private sectors. The curricula of these bachelor’s programs is grounded in history, economics, political theory, social advocacy, and law. Many bachelor’s in political science pathways culminate in a capstone experience, which typically entails a comprehensive research project that addresses a current trend or hot topic in the global political sphere. An internship may be required, as well. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s in political science online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online bachelor’s in political science degree programs is also a good fit for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties, and other commitments that potentially conflict with commuting to a college campus.

Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor’s in political science and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


A bachelor’s in political science online degree will introduce students to the foundational theories and practices that have shaped modern politics, laws, and government systems.
Coursework will involve extensive study in both the U.S. government and the governments of other countries, often as part of side-by-side comparisons. Other courses will delve into social justice and advocacy, highlighting some of the defining social issues of the past and present. Capstone projects allow students to draw on the skills and knowledge they have acquired to create a comprehensive report, and internships prepare students for the realities of today’s work environments.


Bachelor’s in political science online programs offer a flexible, easily-accessible alternative to traditional higher learning. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their own home. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi-compatible devices.


Bachelor’s in political science recipients are typically well-suited for jobs in law, policy, criminal justice, and other fields related to political theories and practices. In addition, many of these students find careers in occupations that require skills in leadership and communication, as well as a background in liberal arts, social sciences, and social advocacy. These include roles in fields like public relations, human resources, sales and marketing, social work, and community management. The bachelor’s in political science can also serve as a stepping-stone toward a master’s or Ph.D. in political science; a graduate degree is often the minimum educational attainment level for political scientists, as well as political science teachers.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s in political science programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor’s degree in political science, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Central Florida 72.92 3/5 65% Orlando, FL

Orlando’s University of Central Florida currently serves about 64,000 students. This state research university has been offering online degrees — including an online political science degree — for over 20 years. Students enrolled in the school’s political science BA program accumulate 120 credits by choosing one of three concentrations: American politics and policy, international relations-comparative politics, or pre-law. Each consists of basic and advanced core requirements and various electives. Students must also demonstrate capability in a foreign language.

Courses are delivered through the school's Webcourses@UCF learning management system, though some classes do have in-person requirements. Online Student Services provides access to multiple resources, including career services, academic resource and writing centers, accessibility and advisory services, the school's library, and book and computer stores.

Applicants must have at GPA of 2.0 or higher at their last school attended. At this time, the University of Central Florida cannot enroll distance learners with residencies in Michigan, Minnesota, or Oregon.

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2 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus 65.83 4/5 50% University Park, PA

Public research university Pennsylvania State University's internet-based University Park World Campus has been educating online students for nearly two decades. Those pursuing Penn State Online’s BS in political science (note that the school also offers a BA in Political Science) attain 120 credits through classes in political theory, analysis, mathematics, programming, and statistics.

Courses last 12 to 15 weeks and generally involve weekly assignments. Students can access materials, which are delivered by Canvas and ANGEL course management systems, at their convenience. Online students take advantage of academic advising services, career counseling, technical support, tutorials, and the university's libraries, which make up one of the largest research collections in the country.

The school encourages World Campus students to join university organizations, including branches of national honor societies Alpha Iota Omega (for political science students), and Alpha Sigma Lambda, for adult learners. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or a GED.

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3 Northeastern University Global Network 64.31 4/5 79% Boston, MA

Located in Boston, Northeastern University was founded in 1898 and currently enrolls over 17,000 students. NU's College of Professional Studies (and, for international students, NU's Global Network) offers an online political science degree, the school's BS in political science. This degree requires 120 credits, includes foundation courses in general education (18 semester hours) and political science (36 semester hours), as well as major requirements and electives (36 semester hours). Interested students may concentrate in international relations and comparative politics or American politics by completing five specific electives.

Northeastern uses the Blackboard online learning system, and students may access materials at any time (though assignments are usually due on a weekly basis). The academic year consists of three 15-week terms. Students enjoy access to the Office of Academic Advising (everyone is assigned a career and academic coach), the Peer Mentoring Program, tutoring services, and NU's libraries. Applicants must submit transcripts and/or GED scores. SAT and ACT scores are not required.

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4 Arizona State University-Skysong 63.19 3/5 51% Scottsdale, AZ

Arizona State University boasts an incredible total enrollment of close to 100,000. ASU’s online BA or BS in political science requires 120 hours in subjects such as government, politics, math, and composition, as well as several social science courses. Some courses require a minimum grade of “C” in order to receive credit towards the degree, and all political science students must demonstrate a proficiency in a foreign language. The program uses multiple digital learning platforms, including Blackboard, to provide course materials.

The degree is offered in an accelerated format, with classes starting six times a year and running for seven-and-a-half-week sessions. Students can access course materials whenever they like, though assignments are due at certain times. Online students have access to academic advisors and success coaches, and are encouraged to join student organizations, such as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Tuition is the same for both in-state and out of state residents.

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5 Oregon State University 62.50 3/5 61% Corvallis, OR

Oregon State University is a public research university, and its e-campus offers a political science online degree (BA or BS). Students must acquire 180 credits (classes carry three or four credits) during four 11-week terms.

Graduation requirements include 51 credits of general education classes, including a writing class; 15 credits in the College of Liberal Arts, 15-24 credits in political science subjects, and 52 elective credits. Political science undergraduates study American and international politics; government; and political analysis, as well as related issues like media, gender, and law. Online students may also declare a minor.

Courses are delivered via Canvas, and Ecampus Student Services offers access to OSU Libraries, online tutoring, career services, a writing center, video-based counseling, and more. The Open Oregon State program offers a variety of free educational materials online, including digital versions of textbooks. High school graduates should submit ACT or SAT scores. GED recipients must have received a minimum score for admission.

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6 Fort Hays State University 61.11 3/5 41% Hays, KS

Fort Hays State University in Kansas features a total enrollment of more than 40,000 students, including about 6,700 online learners. The online political science degree offered by Fort Hays’ Virtual College delivers courses in American politics, international relations/comparative politics, public law, political theory, and public administration and policy. Students can concentrate in pre-law or public administration.

In order to accumulate the 124 credit hours required for the BA, students take general education classes (55 credits hours); core and major classes in political sciences (37 credit hours); and electives (22 credit hours). There’s also a 10-credit hour language requirement. Course materials are delivered via Blackboard.

All online students are assigned an academic advisor and enjoy access to free online tutoring, technical support, and writing and career resources. The Forsyth Library offers assistance via text, email, and phone as well as research guides, ebooks, and databases. All incoming freshmen must submit ACT or SAT scores.

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7 Troy University 58.75 3/5 35% Troy, AL

Located in Alabama, Troy University has delivered internet-based education for nearly two decades. In the fall of 2015, the school had a total enrollment of about 18,000. Approximately 9,000 of these were online students.

Troy's political science online degree program requires 120 credit hours for a BA, of which 36 must be within the major. Students concentrate in either American politics and public administration or international politics, where they learn about subjects such as American government, world politics, and political theory and research. Undergraduates must also take classes in English composition, math, science, and history.

Most courses run for nine-week terms, and Troy uses the Blackboard and Canvas learning management systems. Troy’s virtual student union, Trojan Café, is updated weekly. The site hosts articles, tips, discussion forums, and announcements. Troy requires ACT or SAT scores for applicants under 25. High school graduates should have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

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8 University of Maryland-University College 57.92 3/5 4% Adelphi, MD

The University of Maryland University College is a member of the University System of Maryland. Members of the military, their families, veterans, and adult learners make up a significant portion of UMUC students.

UMUC’s online BS in political science is a 120-credit degree course. Major courses (30 credits) address topics such as political science, theory, government, terrorism, war, law, and statistics, while general education requirements (41 credits) include classes in computing, writing, arts, the physical and social sciences, and math. Students also complete 49 elective credits. Most courses are offered in eight week sessions, and materials may be accessed at any time through Learning Experience Online (LEO).

Students benefit from access to academic advisers, tutoring and writing centers, mentoring, career services, technical support, and library services. Most textbooks are available at no cost through UMUC’s open resource program. Applicants should submit either a high school transcript, a college transcript with at least 24 semester hours of credit, or GED scores.

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9 University of Nebraska at Omaha 55.00 3/5 46% Omaha, NE

Founded in 1869, the University of Nebraska-Omaha is part of the public University of Nebraska system and enrolls more than 15,000 students, most of whom live off-campus. UNO offers a concentration in political science for online undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s of general studies. This undergraduate degree requires 120 credits, including a concentration (30 hours). Classes introduce students to political history, theory, and analysis; government; law; international relations, and politics as in relation to gender, ethnicity, identity, and race.

UNO uses Blackboard learning management system to deliver live and recorded media, as well as other course materials. Online students have access to the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss library, which boasts more than 200 databases. The library also features more than 400,000 ebooks and documents, as well as an Online Learning Resource Guide. Applicants should submit high school and/or college transcripts, as well as ACT or SAT scores.

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10 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 51.67 3/5 58% Whitewater, WI

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater became part of the public University of Wisconsin system in 1971. The school currently enrolls more than 12,000 students. UWW’s online BA and BS programs in political science are degree-completion courses for students who have earned at least 12 undergraduate credits.

The political science degrees require 120 credits total, of which 34 credits are in the major. Students take courses in American government, public policy and administration, comparative government, international relations, political theory, and more. BA students must show that they have a certain level of proficiency in a foreign language, while BS students are required to complete several math and science courses. Political science majors must also choose a minor.

UWW uses Desire2Learn for course material delivery. Online students enjoy access to career services and the library, which offers free document delivery to distance students, web chat and email reference, and an extensive ebook collection. Applicants should have GPA of at least 2.0.

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11 Southern New Hampshire University 50.28 4/5 59% Manchester, NH

Founded in 1932 as a business school and based in Manchester, this private institution became a degree-granting institution in 1963 and Southern New Hampshire University, its current name, in 2001. Today, about 3,000 students attend classes on campus, while more than 75,000 do so online.

SNHU’s BA in political science degree requires 120 credits and offers courses in American history, politics, government, international relations, law, and comparative and world politics. The school also offers classes in political theory, analysis, and research. SNHU uses Blackboard and eight-week terms begin six times each year.

Online students have access to SNHUconnect, the virtual student union, as well as to the school's writing center, academic advising, tutoring, disability resources, technical support, and wellness educational resources. SNHU’s Shapiro Library features more than 100 full text databases, and offers interlibrary loan and electronic document delivery services. Applicants can transfer up to 90 credits towards a degree.

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12 National University 47.36 4/5 23% La Jolla, CA

National University specializes in educating adult learners. Students enrolled in the online BA in political science learn about topics such as political theory, comparative politics, international relations, American and international politics, and public policy. The major consists of 10 core classes, plus seven electives.

NU students take one course a month during the 32-week school year, and need 180 quarter units (most classes carry four and a half credits) to graduate. Qualified students have the option to continue to the school's master of public administration transition program. Students have access to the library and library services, including tutorials, research guides, and guidance from staff. Online students can also consult career services, the help desk, disability services, and the math, academic success, and writing centers. As NU's student body includes many active or former members of the military, the school also hosts a facility specifically for veterans. Applications are accepted year-round.

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13 Columbia College 46.11 3/5 42% Columbia, MO

Based in Missouri, Columbia College serves students at 36 locations around the country. The school also educates more than 16,000 online students annually. This non-sectarian school is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Columbia's BA in political science is a 120 semester hour degree. Students take general education courses, including an ethics class, foundational political science classes (18 semester hours), and major electives (30 semester hours). Subject matter includes American government, international relations, international studies, the presidency, ethics, and political philosophy. Students must also complete six semester hours of a foreign language.

Online courses run in six eight-week sessions per year, and the school employs the Desire2Learn learning management system. Online students have access to academic advisors, career advisors, and virtual veteran services. Columbia's Stafford Library also provides an Online Campus Library Guide, which includes course guides, tutorials, and citation information. Applicants should submit either official transcripts from high school or college, or GED scores.

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14 Indiana University-East 43.89 3/5 25% Richmond, IN

Located in Richmond, Indiana University East is part of the renowned public Indiana University system. The school currently serves more than 4,500 students. Its online BS in political science is tailored to the needs of undergraduates who have accumulated 60 or more semester hours of college credit (IU accepts grades of “C” or higher). Political science students complete 36 hours of advanced-level courses, 18 of which should be in the major. Subject matter includes American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory. IUE uses Canvas to deliver materials.

The IUE library is part of the extensive IU Library system, which has millions of items, including books, ebooks, and full text databases. The library also offers email and chat reference assistance. Degree students must complete at least 30 hours (including 15 hours in the major) at IU East.

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15 Brescia University 43.89 3/5 46% Owensboro, KY

Brescia University is a small Roman Catholic institution in Owensboro, Kentucky. A BA in political science from BUonline requires students to complete 128 credits, including political science classes (18 hours), general education courses (57 hours), and electives. Political science students take classes in American government, international relations, comparative political systems, public policy, constitutional law, campaigns and elections, and more. A math class is also required.

Brescia uses the Moodle learning platform, and all online courses include weekly (and required) scheduled chat times. Courses are scheduled in four eight-week sessions (modules), and some students complete the program's degree requirements in two years. More than 70% of Brescia’s faculty members hold the highest degree available in their field.

The school's Fr. Leonard Alvey Library makes available extensive resources for online students, including live distance instruction, research assistance, citation information, and tutorials. Tuition is the same for both Kentucky and out-of-state residents.

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A political science degree online is for students interested in politics and political theory. Political science graduates find careers in government, law, business, advocacy groups, teaching, and journalism. An online political science degree covers a broad range of topics.


Concentration Description Potential Careers
American politics This concentration focuses on analyzing and understanding the American political system using historical and contemporary case studies. The concentration typically looks at institutions, politicians, the public, law, the media, and diversity to try to understand how the political system has evolved and how to create change. Governmental positions (local, state, and federal level), lawyer, advocate in the nonprofit field, lobbyist
Comparative/international politics This concentration is similar to the American politics concentration but is expanded to analyze and compare politics at a global level. More focus is given to understanding and resolving conflict. A comparative politics concentration also spends time looking at why politics differ from country to country. Governmental positions, international business, international legal positions, NGOs
Political theory A political theory concentration (sometimes called political philosophy) focuses on the theoretical underpinnings of the political and legal system. Courses explore philosophical questions about the meaning of justice, the social order, and authority. Students who want a theoretical understanding of politics should consider this concentration. Teaching, law, governmental positions


Political science degree online schools offer a range of courses that can vary between schools. Some sample online political science courses are listed below.

  • The American political system: This course introduces students to how the American political system has worked historically and how it functions today. It also gives an overview of the field. Topics covered include institutional foundations of U.S. politics and activities of politicians, citizens, and organizations. This introductory course is helpful for students interested in any career dealing with politics or the government.
  • Constitutional law: This course looks at constitutional law in the United States from a contemporary and historical point of view. The intentions of the founding fathers are considered while the role of the Supreme Court and changes in society over time are also examined. The three branches of government and their separate roles are discussed. Future lawyers and government workers benefit from this course.
  • Political protest: This course examines the role of protest in either American or global politics. Topics include protesters, protest strategies, and response to protest from the government, the public, and the media. Students also analyze the way that protests and governmental responses to protest change depending on type of government and epoch. This course develops necessary skills for students interested in pursuing careers in advocacy and nonprofit groups.


Factors affecting program length include the number of courses available each term, if a student attends classes full-time or part-time, and the number of transfer credits a student has when beginning the program.

Some programs give students the choice to go at their own pace, while others adopt a cohort learning approach. In cohort programs, students progress through the program together, taking the same courses each term. The cohort approach fosters a community of learners who support each other. Students who go at their own pace may have more flexibility in how many courses they take and when they take them. On average, it takes two-and-a-half to four years to complete a political science degree online.

When looking at political science degree online schools, it’s important to make sure the school chosen is accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary process in which a school is evaluated to make sure it meets minimum educational standards.

There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation agencies concentrate on specific geographic regions of the country. National accreditation agencies can accredit schools in any part of the country and typically work with for-profit and faith-based schools. Regional accreditation is more widely recognized, and regionally accredited institutions tend to accept transfer credits. By choosing an accredited school, students can be assured they will get a quality education. Many political science online degrees at the bachelor’s level are not accredited separately from the school.

Two organizations play important roles in accreditation: the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Department of Education (DOE) is a U.S. government agency that establishes policy and coordinates federal assistance, including student loans and grants. The DOE publishes a list of nationally recognized accreditors that students can trust. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is an organization of degree-granting American colleges and universities. Its purpose is to coordinate the accreditation process for higher education in the United States by ensuring the quality of accrediting agencies. For a list of all accredited schools, visit the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.


The political science field is relatively small, and little to no job growth is projected in the coming years. Thankfully, this is not the only career option for those who earn a bachelor’s in political science; graduates ― particularly those with good grades and solid recommendations ― are well-positioned to compete for jobs in business, creative media, and social services.

Unemployment rates for political science graduates will vary by their specific job title. Using data from U.S. News & World Report, the table below looks at the current employment rates for some of the most common jobs among political science bachelor’s recipients. Comparatively, the average unemployment rate for all occupations nationwide currently sits at 4.5%.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2017)
Public Relations Specialist 1.1%
Paralegal 2.8%
Market Research Analyst 3.1%
Interpreter and Translator 4.0%
Political Scientist 7.9%
Fundraiser 8.1%
Technical Writer 8.7%

Source: U.S. News & World Report


Like unemployment rates and projected job outlook, the earning potential for those with a bachelor’s in political science will often boil down to their experience level and current title, as well as the size of their employer and their city/state of employment. The table below features 20-year salary growth projections for five of common careers among those who have earned a bachelor’s in political science.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Public Relations Specialist $41,877 $54,057 $60,563 $60,173
Public Relations Manager $51,770 $67,115 $74,905 $75,446
Campaign Manager $50,474 $61,609 $79,208 $73,469
Marketing Manager $54,369 $65,768 $73,016 $77,213
Human Resources Specialist $44,951 $50,430 $54,645 $61,124

Source: PayScale

All five occupations experience salary growth of at least 36% after 20 years on the job. PR managers reported the highest growth rate: a 45.7% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Campaign managers ranked closely at second with 45.6% career salary growth, followed by PR specialists with 43.7% salary growth.

Career Opportunities

Those who earn a bachelor’s in political science will be qualified for dozens of jobs in a wide range of industries, although individual eligibility may depend on their chosen concentration. Four popular career pathways in political science are outlined below.

Public Relations Specialists: Public relations specialists (also known as PR specialists) create a positive image for individuals and organizations in order to generate public interest. Their day-to-day duties include writing press releases, scheduling public appearances, coordinating interviews with journalists, and engaging in social media marketing on behalf of their clients.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: PR and fundraising managers design the materials used to promote and raise money for individuals, organizations, and social causes. PR and fundraising both play an important role in modern politics, and these managers often find work with elected officials, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers: These managers develop and coordinate programs designed to generate public buzz about a person, place, or product. Those with a background in political science are well-suited for the data analysis, demographic research, community outreach, and communication that this job entails.

Human Resources Specialists: HR specialists are responsible for recruiting new employees, screening job applicants, conducting interviews, and providing orientation programs for workers when they begin work. The BLS notes that 14% of HR specialists are work for local, state, or federal government employers.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Public Relations Specialists $56,770 6% (+14,900 jobs)
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $104,140 7% (+4,700 jobs)
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers $127,560 9% (+19,700 jobs)
Human Resources Specialists $59,180 5% (+22,000 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to political science is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for political science professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • American Political Science Association: Founded in 1903, the APSA today represents more than 13,000 members in 80 different countries. The association published four different peer-reviewed journals and hosts a handful of events, including an annual exhibition in a different major city each year.
  • International Political Science Association: UNESCO established IPSA in 1949 to “support the development of political science in all parts of the world, building academic networks linking East and West, North and South”. Membership is offered at individual, institutional, and collective rates.
  • International Association for Political Science Students: The IAPSS represents more than 1,000 students worldwide and publishes two peer-reviewed journals. Membership benefits include voting rights in general assembly meetings held each year, an invitation to join different committees, and complimentary magazine and journal subscriptions.

Despite the relative affordability of online bachelor’s programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


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