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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Brigham Young University-Idaho
Florida State University
Fort Hays State University
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Nova Southeastern University
Oregon State University
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
The University of Alabama
The University of West Florida
Thomas Edison State University
Touro University Worldwide
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Denver
University of Georgia
University of Illinois at Springfield
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
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.