There is more than one way to complete a college degree. Rather than going directly to college after high school, an increasing number of students delay their higher education. There are numerous reasons for this decision: some travel the world, start families early in life, or pursue a career in the military. For others, life may simply get in the way due to commitments outside of their control, such as a family illness or a major life event.

What are the best colleges for working adults of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 Gods Bible School and College Cincinnati, OH
3 Bryan College of Health Sciences Lincoln, NE
4 Trine University Fort Wayne, IN
5 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
6 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
7 Mercy College of Ohio Toledo, OH
8 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
9 Cox College Springfield, MO
10 Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord, NC

2020 Top Accredited Colleges for Working Adults

Regardless of the reason, it may not be possible -- or necessary -- to complete a college degree directly after high school. Fortunately, schools make resources available for nontraditional students, who are usually defined as undergraduate students over the age of 25. Nontraditional student enrollment is more common in some schools than others, but many institutions offer specific resources, organizations, or courses tailored to the needs of nontraditional students.

Nontraditional students face some unique challenges. They often juggle the demands and responsibilities of adulthood -- such as paying bills and working full time -- with the requirements and deadlines of college courses. Not all colleges provide the right environment for nontraditional learners to flourish. The list below, however, identifies institutions that go the extra mile to accommodate nontraditional students and help them succeed.

Are you an older student considering a new degree, or perhaps finishing a degree that you previously started? If so, there has never been a better time to pursue your dream diploma. Technology now allows students to work on their degree in ways that were once impossible; and many programs offer asynchronous courses that let you complete coursework at your own pace and according to your own schedule. In short, completing a degree online means you do not have to forego your commitments to take your career to the next level.

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

One of the best colleges for working adults, the University of Central Florida boasts dozens of online degree and certificate options. Popular online bachelor's programs include nursing, psychology, and anthropology, while students can pursue online master's programs such as aerospace engineering, digital forensics, and health administration.

With thousands of learners earning their degree or certificate online at UCF, the university provides multiple online student resources, including coaching and tutoring. Prospective and current students can also review online learning and financial aid success guides.

UCF accepts high school graduates and individuals who hold a GED diploma. First-year applicants must also submit ACT or SAT scores. The university uses modified application requirements for transfer applicants. UCF's generous financial aid programs have helped 44% of its recent students graduate with no debt.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 20 bachelor's degrees; 34 master's degrees; 3 doctoral degrees; 33 graduate certificates
Tuition: $179/credit in-state; $716/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT for undergraduate programs; GRE or GMAT for graduate programs

Contact

Phone: (855) 903-8576
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

2

Gods Bible School and College

Cincinnati, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

Online programs at God's Bible School and College prepare graduates for ordained or lay ministry positions. The college also features an associate in general studies program -- a suitable choice for degree-seekers who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university. Additionally, each program's website includes information about recent graduates' career paths.

This best college for working adults hosts a student success center to ensure that online and on-campus students can graduate on time. Services include one-on-one advising, writing assistance, and academic success skills tutorials. Online learners can receive additional academic support through the school's library.

Undergraduate applicants must submit recommendation letters, as well as high school or college transcripts. Incoming students interested in an endowed scholarship should submit a separate application by the April 30 deadline.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 4 associate degrees; 3 bachelor's degrees; 2 master's degrees
Tuition: $3,000/12-18 credits
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (513) 763-6518
Email: mdavis@gbs.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

3

Bryan College of Health Sciences

Lincoln, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Bryan College of Health Sciences offers a hybrid RN-to-BSN that allows registered nurses to earn their bachelor's degree in just 12 months. Flexible coursework accommodates the schedules of nursing professionals, and graduates are prepared for leadership roles in the field.

Hybrid learners primarily study off campus, and they can access numerous academic resources from a home computer. The college also offers a virtual writing center and online tutoring resources.

Application requirements include two reference letters and an active nursing license. As a private institution, Bryan College of Health Sciences charges the same tuition rate to all students, regardless of residency. This best college for working adults awards over 170 institutional scholarships.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 1 bachelor's degree
Tuition: $14,636/semester
Credit Requirements: 128 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact

Phone: (402) 481-8863
Email: ktrojan@bryanhealthcollege.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

4

Trine University

Fort Wayne, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Trine University offers online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels in four fields. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor's degree in accounting, applied management, or communication, while master's degrees prepare graduates for leadership positions in the criminal justice, engineering, and business sectors.

Through TrineOnline, students benefit from an asynchronous learning environment and 24/7 academic tutoring support. This best university for working adults also offers extensive career preparation services to degree-seekers and alumni.

Trine accepts GED scores and does not use a GPA cutoff for transfer credit. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and Trine grants active-duty service members a 35% tuition discount. Online learners do not qualify for institutional scholarships or grants.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 6 associate degrees; 11 bachelor's degrees; 6 master's degrees
Tuition: $399/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Quarter

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (877) 701-3343
Email: online@trine.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

5

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

Online learners at the University of Illinois Springfield have more than 40 programs from which to choose, including bachelor's degrees in mathematical sciences, philosophy, and English. This best university for working adults provides multiple opportunities for students to perform academic research and network.

Support for online learners at UIS starts with an in-depth student orientation. Other resources include the school's career development center, a Blackboard tutorial, and a library research tutorial.

First-year applicants must possess a high school diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores. All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and approximately 70% of learners receive financial aid in the form of scholarships and/or grants.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 14 bachelor's degrees; 12 master's degrees; 16 graduate certificates
Tuition: $359/credit
Credit Requirements: 121-125 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (217) 206-6600
Email: admissions@uis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

6

The University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

Online programs offered by the University of West Florida give students all over the world the ability to earn a degree or certificate, including uncommon bachelor's degrees such as maritime studies and clinical laboratory sciences. Individuals who already possess a bachelor's degree can increase their salary and career potential by earning a certificate in intelligence analysis or business intelligence, among other options.

An online student orientation introduces new learners to valuable resources, such as technology guides and student support. UWF also provides an in-depth guide on how to succeed as an online learner.

This best university for working adults accepts new students in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Although out-of-state learners pay a higher tuition rate than in-state students, all new learners can apply for institutional scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 7 bachelor's degrees; 21 master's degrees
Tuition: $219/credit in-state; $648/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 upper-division credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (888) 529-1823
Email: online@uwf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

7

Mercy College of Ohio

Toledo, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

Mercy College of Ohio offers online degree completion programs in medical imaging and healthcare administration, as well as an RN-to-BSN track. Graduate students can earn an online master's degree in health administration. Each program page on Mercy's website includes the latest job outlook information for graduates -- a valuable tool for prospective students considering their future career path.

Student resources for online learners at this best college for working adults include technical support -- such as a Canvas helpdesk -- and the school's student success center. Students can make a tutoring or advising appointment by filling out an online form.

Prospective undergraduates should possess an associate degree or ample transfer credit. Application requirements vary slightly by program. Mercy uses a February 28 scholarship application deadline.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3 bachelor's degrees; 1 online master's degree
Tuition: $445/credit full-time; $491/credit part-time
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.3 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (419) 251-1967
Email: dan.french@mercycollege.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

8

Clarkson College

Omaha, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Online programs at Clarkson College feature small class sizes, and students can pursue bachelor's degrees related to the health field, such as community health, health information management, and medical imaging. Some programs feature academic pathways for both first-year and transfer students. Additionally, some programs at Clarkson boast a 100% job placement rate.

Academic resources at this best college for working adults include a student success center, where online learners can work with mentors, tutors, and mental health counselors. Additionally, students can access a job board to learn about the latest career opportunities throughout Nebraska.

Clarkson accepts GED scores, and applicants should possess a minimum 2.5 high school or undergraduate GPA. The college has scholarship application windows during the spring, summer, and fall semesters.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3 associate degrees; 5 bachelor's degrees; 3 master's degree; 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $558/credit
Credit Requirements: 128 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (800) 647-5500
Email: admissions@clarksoncollege.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

9

Cox College

Springfield, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

Headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, Cox College offers nine hybrid degrees related to a variety of healthcare topics. Bachelor's programs include nursing and diagnostic imaging, as well as an RN-to-BSN track. This best college for working adults boasts an 88.3% job placement rate.

Alongside traditional student services, Cox College provides online degree-seekers with educational software that helps learners improve their critical-thinking and concept mapping skills. Other free software covers math fundamentals. The college library also features instructional videos that introduce research best practices, among other subjects.

Although admission requirements vary by program, all first-year applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores. High school or undergraduate transcripts should reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA. All institutional scholarship opportunities use a single application.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3 associate degrees; 3 bachelor's degrees; 3 master's degrees
Tuition: $415-$435/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (866) 269-3401
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

10

Cabarrus College of Health Sciences

Concord, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Cabarrus College of Health Sciences provides degrees in nursing, medical imaging technology, and occupational therapy. Two bachelor's completion programs use five-week courses and take only 18 months to complete. Additionally, 93% of graduates from this best college for working adults go on to pass a licensure or certification examination.

Cabarrus College makes distance education more approachable by providing an extensive guide that details common online learning myths. Other resources include tips for success and a web etiquette guide. Additionally, students nearing graduation and alumni can visit the school's career services center to receive a resume critique.

Prospective students can take an online readiness assessment before applying. Application requirements vary by program but typically include professional references. Cabarrus Colleges uses an April 1 deadline for all scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 2 bachelor's degrees; 1 hybrid master's degree
Tuition: $418/credit
Credit Requirements: 122 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact

Phone: (704) 403-1613
Email: admissions@cabarruscollege.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

11

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

San Diego State University's distance learning programs include online degrees, certificates, and personal enrichment courses. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor's degree in business administration or criminal justice. The school also offers a master of science in regulatory affairs.

Online learners at this best university for working adults can access student resources through the SDSU World Campus website. University services help students troubleshoot IT problems, access digital library collections, and navigate private and federal financial aid opportunities.

Like many institutions in this ranking, SDSU offers an online readiness survey for prospective students. Each program uses a different transfer credit GPA cutoff. Students can apply for scholarship opportunities through the University Scholarship Management System.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 2 bachelor's degrees; 6 master's degrees
Tuition: $7,510/semester in-state; $19,390/semester out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (619) 594-5821
Email: extended@sdsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

12

University of St Francis

Joliet, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

For more than 20 years, the University of St. Francis has offered online degrees to adult learners living all over the world. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor of business administration and choose from five concentration options. The school also oversees an RN-to-BSN track and a bachelor's in healthcare leadership program. Each degree prepares students for career advancement and/or graduate study.

To help students make the most of their degree, the school's career success center provides essential services, including resume help, internship guides, and an exclusive job board. Students can also find links to many excellent outside resources.

This best university for working adults features a generous transfer credit policy, and incoming learners can earn additional credit through a prior learning assessment. Incoming first-time students with an excellent high school GPA may qualify for a Presidential Scholarship.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3 bachelor's degrees
Tuition: $399/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Schedule: Quarter

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (800) 735-7500
Email: information@stfrancis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

13

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Lancaster, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences offers a hybrid bachelor's program -- an RN-to-BSN track -- that boasts a 100% job placement rate. Learners take accelerated, flexible courses that allow them to continue working full time. Additionally, this best college for working adults offers a hybrid doctoral program -- a doctorate of nursing practice.

Distance-based courses at PA College use Blackboard virtual learning software to provide online learning tutorials. The college also offers a success manual that teaches students vital online learning best practices.

Prospective RN-to-BSN students should possess an active nursing license and an associate degree that reflects a minimum 2.0 GPA. Other application requirements may apply. Degree-seekers may qualify for one of over three dozen institutional scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 1 bachelor's degree; 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $610/credit
Credit Requirements: 131 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (800) 622-5443
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

14

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

Lincoln Christian University hosts six online degrees, preparing graduates for careers in business, psychology, and ministry. The university also offers many other programs in a hybrid format. Each program's website features alumni testimonials that detail how the degree positively shaped their career potential.

The Student Development Team at this best university for working adults ensures that each learner has the tools necessary for academic, career, and personal success. The university library also boasts more than 60 academic search engines that can help online degree-seekers with research.

Undergraduate application requirements include an essay and a Christian character reference. The university automatically awards a $1,000-$6,500 scholarship to incoming students who possess an excellent high school GPA.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 1 associate degree; 3 bachelor's degrees; 2 master's degrees
Tuition: $6,990/semester
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (217) 732-3168
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

15

California State University-Fullerton

Fullerton, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

California State University, Fullerton provides three online degree completion programs in business administration, sociology, and humanities and social sciences. Full-time students can complete their program in just three years. Additional information for each degree -- including alumni interviews -- can be found on each program's website.

Advisors at this best university for working adults take questions from prospective and current degree-seekers. CSUF also provides IT support during university business hours.

Applicants must hold an associate degree or at least 66 transfer credits. CSUF recommends that applicants earn these credits at a California community college. Although online learners do not receive institutional aid, they may qualify for a Cal Grant, Pell Grant, or Stafford Loans.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 3 bachelor's completion degrees
Tuition: $425-$500/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0-2.5 GPA for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (657) 278-2611
Email: eipconnect@fullerton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

16

Wesleyan College

Macon, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Wesleyan College offers three online bachelor's degrees in business, accounting, and applied psychology. Students build critical-thinking and analytical skills throughout a career-focused curriculum.

Support at Wesleyan starts in the virtual classroom with occasional synchronous meeting times. All students are paired with an academic advisor and can access tutors through the school's academic resource center during university business hours. Degree-seekers approaching graduation can make a virtual appointment with the career development center.

Wesleyan accepts up to 60 transfer credits earned with a "C" or better. Tuition at this best college for working adults covers the cost of textbooks.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3 bachelor's degrees
Tuition: $448/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (478) 757-3994
Email: jtucker@wesleyancollege.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

17

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Oklahoma State University's numerous online programs allow first-time, transfer, and graduate students to earn a degree. Undergraduate degrees include a bachelor's in multidisciplinary studies with five concentration options. Additionally, 87% of OSU graduates find employment within one year of earning a degree.

This best university for working adults offers four student support programs: tutoring services, a math workshop, a writing center, and career services. Learners can access these resources entirely online. The university also offers IT and online learning tutorials.

OSU accepts new online students in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. First-year applicants with a minimum 3.0 high school GPA receive assured admission. Transfer and out-of-state learners may also qualify for institutional aid.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 10 bachelor's degrees; 24 master's degrees
Tuition: $179/credit in-state; $696/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (405) 744-1000
Email: brenda.dawes@okstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

18

LeTourneau University

Longview, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Distance learners at LeTourneau University can choose from more than 30 online programs, including a unique associate in aircraft dispatch. Alumni of this best online school for working adults enjoy a 93% job placement rate.

Online learners benefit from multiple student success tools. Starfish Software helps students navigate university resources and services -- such as tutors and academic advisors -- while the student success center's website features citation guides.

Online admissions counselors are available to answer the questions of prospective students. Application requirements vary by program, and all undergraduates pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency. Online undergraduates may qualify for one of three endowed scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 4 associate degrees; 14 bachelor's degrees; 18 master's degrees
Tuition: $375-$475/credit
Credit Requirements: 122 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (800) 759-8811
Email: enroll@letu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

19

California State University-Northridge

Northridge, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Tseng College at California State University, Northridge offers 13 online degrees in areas such as engineering management, instructional design, and assistive technology engineering. The university also offers a variety of certificate programs, including speech-language pathology. Career outcomes for graduates include a 91% pass rate on the PRAXIS exam, which is six percentage points higher than the national average.

All online programs at this best university for working adults use a cohort learning model with synchronous course meeting times -- an advantage for learners who require a more structured environment. Each degree track also has a program coordinator who can direct students toward appropriate resources.

Undergraduate application requirements include at least 60 transferable credits. Unlike some of the other public institutions in this ranking, CSUN charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online learners. However, in-state learners may qualify for certain institutional and state-funded grants.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 2 bachelor's degrees; 11 master's degrees
Tuition: $675-$681/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (866) 873-6439
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

20

Shiloh University

Kalona, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Shiloh University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that prepare learners for careers in ministry. The online associate degree at this best university for working adults transfers to most bachelor's completion programs, while a master of divinity prepares graduates for advanced careers.

Library resources include biblical studies software and the Library Information Resources Network. Academic advisors at Shiloh University work with students throughout their program and also assist with career research.

First-year applicants should have a GED certificate or a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Other application materials include a 300-500-word essay. Shiloh University's institutional scholarships award $500-$1,500.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 1 associate degree; 2 bachelor's degrees; 2 master's degrees; 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $175/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Trimester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (319) 656-2447
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

21

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

The University of North Dakota offers an affordable online education for working adults. Undergraduate majors include computer science, data science, and electrical engineering. The school also posts numerous alumni success stories on its website.

This best college for working adults supports thousands of online learners through Smarthinking, which connects students with professional tutors. Additionally, advisors help learners find financial aid opportunities and register for courses.

Application requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and SAT or ACT scores. Some programs may ask for additional materials. UND awards up to $12,000 in automatic merit-based scholarships to incoming first-year students, and transfer learners may qualify for up to $2,000.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 15 bachelor's degrees; 32 master's degrees; 10 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $598/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (701) 777-3000
Email: und.info@und.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

22

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Appalachian State University's App State Online offers fully online and hybrid programs. Popular online bachelor's degrees include career and technical education, communication, and nursing (an RN-to-BSN program). Each degree's website provides a host of information about the curriculum and outcomes, including potential career paths.

Student resources at this best college for working adults emphasize academic and financial aid support. Support services include a student learning center, writing center, and test preparation courses. Additionally, Appalachian's IT support center provides one-on-one assistance and troubleshooting.

Undergraduate application materials vary by program but may require students to hold a certain amount of transfer credit. Some programs also require prerequisites. Incoming students only need to submit one form to apply to all institutional scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 11 bachelor's degrees; 16 master's degrees; 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $143/credit in-state; $644/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.25 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (828) 262-3113
Email: online@appstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

23

University of Alaska Southeast

Juneau, AK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

UAS offers all of its programs online. Students can pursue certificates and degrees, preparing for careers in mining, business, and marine biology. Additionally, this best college for working adults boasts multiple research opportunities for undergraduates, which can improve career opportunities after graduation.

UAS offers all of its support services to online students, including advising, counseling, and tutoring. Incoming learners who need to take placement tests can do so remotely.

To enter a bachelor's program, students must hold a high school diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores. Graduate program applicants should submit recommendation letters. Incoming degree-seekers interested in scholarship opportunities should apply by the February 15 deadline.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 7 associate degrees; 5 bachelor's degrees; 9 master's degrees
Tuition: $3,345/15 credits in-state; $11,835/15 credits out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (907) 796-6100
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

24

Veritas Baptist College

Greendale, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Online students at Veritas Baptist College prepare for rewarding careers in ministry, strengthen their Christian faith, and learn from seasoned practitioners in the field. Bachelor's programs in ministry and Christian education offer concentration options, including Bible and church business. All programs emphasize educational and spiritual learning outcomes.

Online student success resources at this best college for working adults include suggested degree schedules. Also, the school's library boasts an extensive online catalog that learners can access at any time.

Applicants first submit a simple form. VBC may then ask for additional materials, such as transcripts. The college awards scholarships based on academic merit and financial need.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 2 associate degrees; 2 bachelor's degrees; 4 master's degrees
Tuition: $2,880/semester
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (812) 221-1714
Email: office@vbc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

24

Regis University

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Regis University designed its online programs with working adults in mind. Online courses use evening meeting times, and popular bachelor's degrees include healthcare administration and an RN-to-BSN track. Additionally, all first-year learners and some transfer students participate in the Cornerstone Program, which instills valuable academic and career skills.

Additional student support resources at this best university for working adults can be accessed through the Center for Career and Professional Development. This center provides free career counseling to learners and alumni, and all students can access exclusive job opportunities through Handshake. Regis graduates enjoy an 89% job placement rate within six months of earning a degree.

Application requirements include official transcripts and a personal essay. Online students can apply to the PTK Scholarship, which awards $3,500.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 29 bachelor's degrees; 31 master's degrees
Tuition: $450-$850/credit
Credit Requirements: 120 credits (bachelor's)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Contact

Phone: (800) 388-2366
Email: studentservices@regis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

25

Shasta Bible College and Graduate School

Redding, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Founded in 1970, Shasta Bible College and Graduate School offers nearly 20 programs fully online. Learners can pursue certificates and associate degrees in biblical studies and early childhood education, as well as bachelor's degrees in Bible and theology, biblical counseling, biblical studies, and education. The school also offers multiple graduate degrees in education, a master of Christian ministries, and a master of divinity with four available areas of concentration.

Distance learners complete asynchronous coursework through Populi, where they can access course material at any time and from any location. Students can also interact with professors and each other through online discussion boards and conduct course research through Shasta's online library. Applicants must submit an online application, a $50 fee, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an autobiographical essay.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 2 certificates; 2 associate degrees; 5 bachelor's degrees; 9 master's degrees
Tuition: $375/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-96 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (503) 221-4275
Email: admissions@shasta.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook

Definition of Nontraditional Students

Traditional students are generally defined as learners who attend college soon after completing a high school degree. These undergraduates are often enrolled full time and are usually between the ages of 18 and 24. While definitions may vary, nontraditional students frequently meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Over the age of 24 (or, in some cases, as young as 23)
  • Several years out of high school
  • May be a parent or have dependents
  • May be married
  • May hold a GED rather than a high school diploma
  • May have completed military service
  • Financially independent

Depending on the institution, any of these characteristics may meet the parameters of a nontraditional student. Moreover, as the population of nontraditional students continues to rise, colleges and universities are finding new and innovative ways to reach these learners.

Why Online Programs Are a Good Option for Working Adults

Working adults who pursue a college degree face a variety of challenges. Earning a college degree is difficult on its own, and it is made more difficult by combining college's relentless onslaught of deadlines, projects, and tests with a demanding work schedule.

Fortunately, colleges and universities are increasingly tailoring their programs to nontraditional students. For example, online programs are an excellent option for working adults; they provide the flexibility that working adults need, and allow them to complete their degree while maintaining their job schedule. Some online programs also offer accelerated degree programs where motivated learners can complete their degree much faster than a traditional degree track.

Interview with Sheneka Balogun, a Former HBX Participant

Sheneka Balogun
Former HBX Participant


How did HBX accommodate you as a non-traditional/working student?
When I told a friend that I was considering applying to HBX, she tried to talk me out of it, only because I am a working mom of two young children-ages 5 & 7. She was concerned how I would fit a tripod of courses from an elite school like Harvard into my already full schedule. I'm so glad that I took a chance because HBX was one of the best educational experiences of my life! I relied heavily on the HBX calendar that provided me an overview of the weeks, and peer-to-peer learning. The calendar kept me grounded because it showed me that the coursework was manageable. The community of learners across the globe on the journey with me kept me connected and engaged in course discussion.
What are the common traits you see in a non-traditional/working students?
We want to learn things that are applicable to both our professional and personal lives. We are looking for non-traditional ways to advance our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. We are value-driven and that simply is a way of saying that everything has to be meaningful and relevant, and worth investing our time because we juggle many responsibilities.
Can students be successful at an online program while working full-time?
Without a doubt! As I completed the coursework each week at HBX it was really apparent that they had me in mind when they developed the curriculum. There was a variety of learning resources and each week I looked forward to logging in because it was a challenging, fun, and rewarding experience all bundled into one. Even with other priorities that compete for our time as full-time working students, if colleges and universities design it with us in mind we will be successful.
How can universities better equip non-traditional students, like working mothers, veteran, and students exclusively enrolled in distance programs?
Universities can equip us by identifying what is important to us and then developing programs that suit our professional needs. Higher education has to continue re-inventing itself and evolve with a diverse, student population like me. We want to be equipped with 21st century skills so that we are competitive applicants for jobs and promotion in a global economy. We just want it packaged in a way that takes it from theory to practice, and fits into our busy lives.
What services should a non-traditional/working student look for when choosing a university or program?
Support and connection in real time. Students should determine if the program has resources to help manage and organize their time, and also academic support for coursework. HBX developed a platform that helped to facilitate learning student to student. They also embedded opportunities within the course to practice the concepts learned each week. It was a different model of academic support I had not experienced before and it worked! Often times, support and connection comes in novel ways. Students should look for what is different about the program, and what kind of unique services have been engineered with them in mind so that if they need support, it is at their fingertips.
What benefits are there to working while attending school?
There are so many benefits to working while attending school. You get to put into practice what you learn in school and that helps to retain what you are learning in coursework. It also helps to see the immediate value that education offers to you and motivates you to continue until you finish!

Nontraditional Student Enrollment Expected to Rise

Nontraditional students are common at colleges throughout the country, particularly in online programs. In fact, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Education Commission of the States indicates that the ratio of non-traditional students attending higher education is expected to increase. While enrollment totals are higher for students younger than 25, the NCES projects total enrollment growth rates for older students to outpace growth rates of traditional younger students through 2024.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Interview with Gary Alan Miller, the Director University Career Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Gary Alan Miller
Director University Career Services
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


How does your school accommodate non-traditional students?
We provide the opportunity for students to request appointments via video chat or phone call, to accommodate difficulties coming to traditional office hours. We offer networking programs in evening hours to accommodate the schedules of individuals who are working. Non-traditional students can, of course, also access our online resources around the clock. We strive to support all of our students, regardless of their needs.
What are the common traits you see in a non-traditional student?
I don't know that non-traditional students can be stereotyped. Each individual has their own strengths and their own situation. A place like UNC-Chapel Hill is probably known more for traditional college students. But, we want all students to both feel welcome and be successful on our campus.
What services should a non-traditional student look for when choosing a university?
It depends on their individual needs and how much those needs require unique services, of course. My advice is for students to be truly reflective of their needs so that they know what questions to ask with regard to services. For example, if the individual knows that they are not going to be able to be on campus during traditional work hours, they should ask how they will be able to benefit from those services.
What benefits are there to working while attending school?
From a career perspective, adding that practical experience to your story can be invaluable. Employers appreciate the work ethic and dedication it takes for someone to be successful in college while maintaining employment. Of course, a concern may develop if the person loses the ability to take on other experiences that would benefit their career plans (such as an internship in a new area into which they are trying to transition). But, we work with students to make sure they can convey all the positive aspects of their work in parallel to what they are learning in the classroom.

How Long Do Online Programs Take?

Earning an online degree can take anywhere from a few months -- in the case of a certificate -- to five years or more to earn a Ph.D. Associate and master's programs typically take two years, while bachelor's degrees take about four years to complete. Program length also depends on how many transfer credits your institution will accept, and whether you study on a part-time or full-time basis. Below, is additional information about adult college options such as accelerated programs, life experience and transfer credits, and scholarships available to nontraditional students.

Accelerated Online Programs

While not every online school offers an accelerated degree program, they can set working adults on a fast track to their educational goals. Accelerated options use shorter timelines for college classes and offer coursework year-round rather than on a set semester schedule.

Provided you already hold an associate degree, you may be able to complete a bachelor's in as little as one year. Another popular accelerated bachelor's degree program for adults allows learners to complete a bachelor's and master's degree simultaneously. This dual-degree format can reduce the overall time commitment and financial burden to students, while giving them a competitive advantage on the job market.

Generally, accelerated programs cost about the same as traditional-length programs, since tuition prices are tied to the number of course credits a student completes. Explore your prospective schools' websites for detailed information on their accelerated degree options.

Credit for Life Experience and Prior Learning

Institutions are increasingly recognizing the value of life experience and prior learning. By awarding credits for military service, work experience, or life experience, colleges and universities make earning a degree more accessible and affordable to nontraditional students.

Professionals with years of employment at a technology company, for example, may be awarded credit for a related course in their IT degree without completing modules and assignments.

Although these credit-for-experience programs provide an excellent way to lower the cost and time commitment of a degree program, the process can require an extensive amount of time and work on the student's part. Schools may request submission of a thorough work portfolio and/or completion of an exam to demonstrate one's mastery of a subject before awarding credit.

Transferring Previous College Credits

Prospective college students can reduce the cost and time commitment of their degree by taking advantage of transfer credit opportunities.

Individuals with an associate degree, for example, can fulfill about half of the credit requirements of a bachelor's by transferring prior credits. To transfer credits, students submit official transcripts from their previous institution to their new institution, and work closely with an admissions advisor to ensure eligibility.

Transfer credit exceptions and issues may arise; however, and may be attributed to a difference in a school's accreditation, core curriculum requirements, or mismatched course equivalencies. Check with your prospective school to ensure your prior credits can transfer.

Scholarships for Adult Working Students

Nontraditional college students can locate a variety of scholarship opportunities online through a number of foundations, organizations, or private companies. Eligibility requirements may include one's field of study, current employer, gaps in an educational timeline, organizational membership, age, or other life circumstances. Ten scholarship opportunities are listed below.

American Legion Auxiliary Non-Traditional Student Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include members of The American Legion Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion. They must pursue their degree in a trade, professional, or technical program, or a two- or four-year degree. Applicants must also submit FAFSA results.
Amount: $2,000

View Scholarship
Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants must be at least 23 years old, active members in ANTSHE, and meet at least one criteria of a nontraditional student, such as being a single parent or veteran. Applicants must also submit letters of recommendation.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship
College JumpStart Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This merit-based scholarship allows any high school upperclassman, current college student, or nontraditional student to apply. Applicants must attend or plan to attend a U.S. college or university and must express their higher education goals.
Amount: $1,000

View Scholarship
EWI Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is awarded annually to nontraditional adult students currently enrolled in school or enrolling for the first time. Applicants must live within the boundaries of a participating Executive Women International Chapter.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship
Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include low-income women over the age of 35 who pursue technical or vocational training, an associate degree, or a bachelor's degree from a nonprofit, accredited institution. Applications require letters of recommendation.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship
Lifetime Adoption Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Scholarship applicants must be birth mothers who placed a child for adoption anytime after 1990, meet minimum GPA requirements, and be enrolled part time or full time. Applicants must write a 400-word essay.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship
Osher Reentry Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include students with a gap in their education of five years or more and are pursuing their undergraduate degree. Applications are handled by participating institutions; contact your prospective school for more information.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship
Pride Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: One application enters students into more than 50 scholarship pools. Applicants must be LGBT residents of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington, and enrolled -- or planning to enroll -- in a degree or certificate program.
Amount: $10,000

View Scholarship
Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation

Who Can Apply: Eligible students must be enrolled full-time with a 3.0 GPA, and attend a printing or graphic program at a U.S. technical school, college, or university. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship
Walmart Associate Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be part-time or full-time Walmart associates who demonstrate financial need, and participate in Walmart's Lifelong Learning Program or pursue an accredited postsecondary education.
Amount: Varies

View Scholarship

FAQs About Online Colleges for Working Adults


Are online degrees respected by employers?

Graduates of online degree programs receive the same diploma as their on-campus counterparts. Most employers accept an accredited online degree without issue.

How much money will I make with an online degree?

Although college graduates generally earn higher incomes than high school graduates, an individual's potential salary depends upon their field of study, their location, and their career choice.

Are online degrees easier than traditional programs?

Online courses for adults require the same level of commitment as traditional classroom courses. However, eLearning can be even more difficult, as many individuals juggle work and additional obligations simultaneously.

Are online degrees cheaper?

Tuition for online degrees typically costs about the same as a traditional program. Students can significantly save money on college costs; however, by avoiding campus fees, room and board, and meal plans.

Are online degrees quicker than traditional programs?

Accelerated programs allow students to complete their degrees quicker than traditional programs. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree while working full-time may prefer to enroll on a part-time basis, which increases degree completion time.