Methodology for Our Subject Rankings

The methodology behind our rankings is grounded in statistical data and a few consistently applied guiding principles, including academic quality, affordability, and online competency. Our 2017 rankings reflect the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) andCollege Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Our goal is to objectively assess relative quality based on academic outcomes, affordability, and the breadth and depth of online learning opportunities.

All eligible institutions are ranked on a 100 point scale. A perfect score of 100 is earned by ranking #1 for all ranking factors.

BEST ONLINE COLLEGES

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Accredited Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs: Each school must offer at least 10 online bachelor’s degree programs and three online master’s degree programs.
  • Accredited Online Associate Degree Programs: Each school must offer at least six online associate degree programs.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 50% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Admissions Rate – 30%
  • Enrollment Rates – 20%
  • Retention Rate – 20%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate – 30%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%

ONLINE PROGRAMMING – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Number of Online Programs Offered – 50%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Online Courses – 50%

BEST ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Must offer an online associate in degree program in the given subject
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 50% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Full-Time Retention Rate – 20%
  • Part-Time Retention Rate – 20%
  • Graduation + Transfer Rate – 35%
  • Number of associate degree graduates in the given program- 25%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%

ONLINE PROGRAMMING – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Number of Online Programs Offered – 50%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Online Courses – 50%

BEST ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Must offer an online bachelor’s degree program in the given subject
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 50% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Admissions Rate – 25%
  • Enrollment Rates – 15%
  • Retention Rate – 15%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate – 25%
  • Number of bachelor’s degree graduates in the given subject- 20%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%

ONLINE PROGRAMMING – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Number of Online Programs Offered – 50%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Online Courses – 50%

BEST ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Must offer an online master’s degree program in the given subject
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 50% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Admissions Rate – 25%
  • Enrollment Rates – 15%
  • Retention Rate – 15%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate – 25%
  • Number of master’s degree graduates in the given subject – 20%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%

ONLINE PROGRAMMING – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Percentage of Graduate Programs Offered Online – 40%
  • Graduate School Enrollment – 40%
  • Percentage of Programs Offered at the Graduate level – 20%

BEST ONLINE COLLEGES IN STATE

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Each school must offer at least one online bachelor’s degree program.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 50% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Admissions Rate – 30%
  • Enrollment Rates – 20%
  • Retention Rate – 20%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate – 30%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%

ONLINE PROGRAMMING – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Number of Online Programs Offered – 50%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Online Courses – 50%

BEST 2-YEAR COLLEGES IN STATE

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Must primarily grant two-year associate degrees
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 60% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Full-Time Retention Rate – 20%
  • Part-Time Retention Rate – 20%
  • Graduation + Transfer Rate – 60%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 50%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 50%

BEST 4-YEAR COLLEGES IN STATE

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Must primarily grant four-year bachelor’s degrees
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking Factors

ACADEMIC QUALITY – 50% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Admissions Rate – 30%
  • Enrollment Rates – 20%
  • Retention Rate – 20%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate – 30%

AFFORDABILITY – 25% OF TOTAL SCORE

  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%