2018 was a great year for online education. The industry saw an increase in online degree programs offered across the board and a consistent rise in online enrollments. Many colleges contributed to these positive trends, but a handful truly stood out as the leaders of their field -- and we want to take a moment to celebrate them.

Out of the over 3,500 eligible universities in the United States, more than 2,000 offer online degrees. Only 100 of these schools can claim the right to be called a School of Distinction for 2018. This year, 15 schools earned a gold standing, 26 earned silver, and 59 earned bronze.

To qualify for this honor, schools must be a two- or four-year, accredited, nonprofit college or university and offer an online program ranked by Best Colleges. Points for each school were calculated based on the number of times they appeared in the top 3 positions of our rankings, weighted against the total number of rankings in which they appeared.

Only online academic degree and certificate program rankings were considered in the calculations. Online colleges earning the Gold distinction scored in the 98th percentile nationwide, Silver schools in the 95th and Bronze in the 90th.

These Schools of Distinction have devoted time, energy, and resources to developing quality online programs that meet the expanding demand in higher education. We recognize that their hard work provides flexible, customized learning alternatives for today's growing demographic of online learners. We hope you will join us in celebrating their well deserved achievements.

Continue below to view the complete Schools of Distinction awards list, and get more information about their online programs and the rankings they feature in. If you are from a recipient school or the media and would like more information, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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Gold Schools

Gold colleges and universities are in the 98th percentile of all online colleges ranked on our site. Not only do they provide students with some of the most diverse program offerings, but they also consistently finish among the top three on their respective rankings. These schools demonstrate a high-level of investment in online education and a commitment to excellence in online learning. Click on each school to learn more about the degrees and subject areas they offer. Schools are listed alphabetically.

  • Arizona State University-Tempe

    Arizona State University offers over 150 undergraduate, graduate, certificate, and non-degree programs through the school's distance learning arm, ASU Online. ASU earns top marks from BestColleges.com for their programs in media communications, art and art history, homeland security, electronics engineering, and forensic psychology.

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  • Brandman University

    Brandman University offers several online and hybrid programs. The school has earned #1 ranks in multiple BestColleges.com lists, on subjects such as corrections, child and adolescent psychology, organizational psychology, legal studies, and organizational leadership. Hybrid offerings allow students to interact with students and professors in a face-to-face environment.

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  • Colorado State University-Global Campus

    CSU-Global Campus offers a wide variety of accredited online bachelor's and master's degrees. It was founded in 2007 as the first and only 100% online, independent, regionally accredited state university in the United States. BestColleges.com has recognized CSU-Global with #1 rankings for their high-quality programs in organizational leadership, business management, healthcare management, social science, and management information systems.

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  • Excelsior College

    Excelsior College offers a wide variety of associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees entirely online. The school's programs rank at the top of BestColleges.com's rankings for their associate in administration and management, associate in health science, bachelor's in forensic science, and master's in cybersecurity programs.

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  • Florida International University

    FIU Online offers a wide variety of distance learning programs through Canvas. The school is ranked #6 on BestColleges.com's ranking of top online schools. The school has also been recognized for their high-quality programs in early childhood education, information technology, hospitality management, human resources, and international business.

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  • George Washington University

    George Washington University offers several online degree programs, with topics ranging from liberal arts, business, and education to medicine and nursing. BestColleges.com recognizes GW Online with top ratings in their master's in clinical research, MBA in healthcare management, MBA in project management, and MSN in nurse practitioner programs.

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  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University offers several distance learning programs through their 7 graduate schools. The school's Office of Continuing Medical Education offers online courses that help doctors receive professional development conveniently through distance learning. Johns Hopkins' top programs include its master's in education, master's in economics, and online MBA in healthcare management.

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  • Liberty University

    Liberty University is ranked #5 in BestColleges.com's ranking of top online schools. The school offers a wide variety of distance learning programs on topics such as graphic design, game design, homeland security, education, and management information systems. Classes are offered in eight-week terms with eight start dates each year.

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  • Northeastern University Global Network

    Northeastern University offers a wide variety of certificates and bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees that can be completed entirely online. The school is ranked #3 in BestColleges.com's list of top online schools. Some of the school's topic programs cover topics like behavioral psychology, security, finance, human services, and taxation.

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

    SNHU offers more than 200 accredited online degree programs. The school boasts low tuition rates and several start dates throughout the year. BestColleges.com has ranked SNHU as #1 on rankings for associate in marketing, bachelor's in forensic accounting, bachelor's in nonprofit management, and bachelor's in sports management programs.

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  • University of Central Florida

    University of Central Florida is ranked #2 on BestColleges.com's list of top online schools. UCF offers more than 80 distance learning programs, including both degrees and certificates. The school's top programs cover subjects such as criminal justice, anthropology, English, history, legal studies, and healthcare administration.

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  • University of Florida

    University of Florida is a leader in online education, offering over 100 distance learning programs. UF offers a variety of undergraduate, bachelor completion, master's, doctorate, and specialist degrees online. The school is ranked #1 in BestColleges.com's list of top online schools.

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  • University of South Florida

    University of South Florida offers a wide variety of distance learning programs. The schools has been recognized by BestColleges.com with top rankings for their bachelor's in general studies, master's in coaching, master's in adult education/learning, and master's in reading and literacy programs.

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  • University of Southern California

    USC Online offers several graduate and professional programs that can be completed entirely online. BestColleges.com has recognized USC Online for their high-quality degree offerings including a master's in supply chain management, master's in construction management, and master's in English language learning.

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  • Western Governors University

    WGU offers over 60 distance learning programs through the school's four online colleges. Some of the school's top online programs include a bachelor's in database management, bachelor's in nursing, bachelor's in information systems, and a master's in cybersecurity. WGU graduates have a 98% rate of employer satisfaction.

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Silver Schools

Schools earning a silver medal represent the 95th percentile of all online colleges and universities ranked on Best Colleges. These institutions provide an expanding number of options for students interested in online learning through a wide variety of academic programs. Explore the opportunities available in your subject of interest and location at all degree levels. Schools are listed alphabetically.

  • Arizona State University-Skysong

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  • Boston University

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  • Brigham Young University-Idaho

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  • Drexel University

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  • Florida State University

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  • Fort Hays State University

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  • Georgetown University

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  • Harvard University

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  • Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

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  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh

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  • Nova Southeastern University

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  • Oregon State University

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  • Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

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  • Regis University

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  • The University of Alabama

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  • The University of West Florida

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  • Thomas Edison State University

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  • Touro University Worldwide

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  • University of Alabama at Birmingham

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  • University of Denver

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  • University of Georgia

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  • University of Illinois at Springfield

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  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • University of Washington-Seattle Campus

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  • Webster University

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Bronze Schools

Bronze colleges and universities round out the top 10% of Best Colleges' ranked online schools. These schools have established themselves as online education providers that focus on multiple degrees and areas of study. Learn more about how these schools support distance learning through a growing number of quality academic programs. Schools are listed alphabetically.

  • American University

    American University

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  • Azusa Pacific University

    Azusa Pacific University

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  • Bellevue University

    Bellevue University

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  • Bismarck State College

    Bismarck State College

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  • California State University-Fullerton

    California State University-Fullerton

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  • Carnegie Mellon University

    Carnegie Mellon University

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  • Champlain College

    Champlain College

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  • Clemson University

    Clemson University

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  • Columbia University in the City of New York

    Columbia University in the City of New York

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  • Concordia University-Chicago

    Concordia University-Chicago

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  • Concordia University-Wisconsin

    Concordia University-Wisconsin

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  • Davenport University

    Davenport University

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  • East Carolina University

    East Carolina University

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  • Eastern Kentucky University

    Eastern Kentucky University

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  • Foothill College

    Foothill College

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  • Franklin University

    Franklin University

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  • George Mason University

    George Mason University

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  • Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

    Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

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  • Indiana University-Bloomington

    Indiana University-Bloomington

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  • Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion

    Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion

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  • Lehigh University

    Lehigh University

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  • Michigan State University

    Michigan State University

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  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College

    Minnesota State Community and Technical College

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  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College

    Minnesota West Community and Technical College

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  • Mississippi College

    Mississippi College

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  • Missouri State University-Springfield

    Missouri State University-Springfield

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  • Moraine Park Technical College

    Moraine Park Technical College

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  • National University

    National University

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  • New York University

    New York University

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  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Northwestern State University of Louisiana

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  • Northwestern University

    Northwestern University

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  • Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    Rutgers University-New Brunswick

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  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University

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  • Stanford University

    Stanford University

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  • Stevens Institute of Technology

    Stevens Institute of Technology

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  • Stony Brook University

    Stony Brook University

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  • Surry Community College

    Surry Community College

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  • Syracuse University

    Syracuse University

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  • Texas A & M University-College Station

    Texas A & M University-College Station

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  • The Baptist College of Florida

    The Baptist College of Florida

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  • The University of Texas at Dallas

    The University of Texas at Dallas

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  • University of Arizona

    University of Arizona

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  • University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

    University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

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  • University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

    University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

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  • University of Maryland-College Park

    University of Maryland-College Park

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  • University of Maryland-University College

    University of Maryland-University College

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  • University of Massachusetts-Lowell

    University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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  • University of Memphis

    University of Memphis

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  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

    University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

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  • University of Missouri-Columbia

    University of Missouri-Columbia

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  • University of Nebraska at Kearney

    University of Nebraska at Kearney

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  • University of Nebraska at Omaha

    University of Nebraska at Omaha

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  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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  • University of North Dakota

    University of North Dakota

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  • University of Virginia-Main Campus

    University of Virginia-Main Campus

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  • University of West Georgia

    University of West Georgia

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  • Wake Technical Community College

    Wake Technical Community College

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  • Wilmington University

    Wilmington University

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