Online colleges have made higher education more accessible than ever before. This is great news for you because earning a college degree is one of the best ways to advance your career.

Some of the world's best academic and professional programs are now available at your fingertips. You can balance life's competing demands, like work and childcare, while finishing your education online.

Use the following guide to learn more about earning an online degree. Find information about cost, the application process, and what it takes to succeed at learning from home.

Our list of this year's 50 best accredited online colleges and universities is a good place to start as you research options for earning your degree.

2019's Top Accredited Online Colleges & Universities

We review hundreds of online college programs each year to help you find a school that best meets your needs. Each ranked school is fully accredited and nonprofit. Our methodology uses qualitative measures and data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and proprietary school surveys.

Use our ranked list of online colleges to begin your search for a program that works with your budget, schedule, and learning style. Each school profile includes information about available subjects and majors, as well as notable student outcomes.

Rank School Location Description Toggle
1

University of Florida - Online

Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida is one of many online colleges that offers a comprehensive selection of online degrees at the bachelor's level, master's level, and doctoral level. Opportunities for undergraduates include bachelor's degrees in popular fields such as business administration, computer science, nursing, and psychology. Students also enjoy online options in specialized fields such as fire and emergency services, microbiology and cell science, and sport management. Graduate students can choose from a total of 77 online master's degrees, most of which focus on STEM fields and specializations, and nine online doctorate programs.

UF Online's undergraduate online degrees span 120 credits in length. Instructors deliver most classes asynchronously, allowing students to work at their own pace and enroll part- or full-time. The university also offers low tuition rates for distance learners; Florida residents pay a lower tuition rate than out-of-state students.

The school allots up to 60 credits for transfer students who pursue an associate degree from a two-year college in Florida. Admission requires a 2.0 cumulative GPA and sufficient scores on the SAT or ACT exams. The University of Florida receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 19 bachelor's degrees, 77 master's degrees, 9 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $129/credit in state; $212/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (352) 294-3290
Email: admissions@ufonline.ufl.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

2

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

UCF boasts an extensive online selection that caters to those earning degrees in liberal arts fields. Undergraduates can choose from 20 different programs, including bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, international and global studies, creative writing, and Latin American studies. Other bachelor's offerings include healthcare fields such as health informatics and information management, health services administration, and nursing. Graduate students may pursue 26 different master's degrees online, most concentrated in education or engineering, and three doctoral degrees in nursing.

Online bachelor's programs at UCF consist of 120 credits that students can complete in four years or less. Instructors deliver the majority of these programs fully online, synchronously or asynchronously. The college allows students to transfer 60 or more credits if they meet certain English and math course prerequisites.

Roughly 44% of UCF graduates leave school with no student debt. For admission, applicants must hold a cumulative 2.0 GPA and provide SAT and/or ACT scores. UCF receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 20 bachelor's degrees, 26 master's degrees, 3 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $179/credit in state; $383/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (407) 823-0407
Email: webcourses@ucf.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

3

Florida International University

Miami, FL

FIU provides a wide range of online undergraduate and graduate degrees. A total of 42 online bachelor's options include five hospitality management tracks and degrees in specialized fields such as crime science, internet of things, and sustainability and the environment. Offerings also include 17 online undergraduate minors and three combined bachelor's and master's pathways. FIU's online graduate options include 31 master of science tracks and MBA, master of public administration, and doctor of nursing practice pathways.

Most online bachelor's programs at FIU consist of 120 credits, though some span up to 128 credits. Instructors deliver the majority of these degrees fully online. Transfer students with an associate degree from a Florida-based institution may transfer up to 60 credits toward their bachelor's.

Incoming freshman need a 2.5 GPA or higher, and the minimum GPA requirement increases to 3.2 or higher for some combined bachelor's and master's programs. Admission also requires SAT and/or ACT scores. FIU receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 42 bachelor's degrees, 43 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $212/credit in state; $329/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120-128 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (855) 348-6654
Email: onlineprograms@fiu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

4

Colorado State University Global

Greenwood Village, CO

CSU Global features a total of 26 online bachelor's and master's degrees, most of which concentrate in business-related fields. Undergraduate students choose from degrees in foundational fields such as accounting, business management, marketing, and project management. Opportunities for graduate students include degrees in advanced subjects such as healthcare administration, IT management, data analytics, and an organizational leadership executive track.

Admission requirements include a minimum 2.3 GPA and SAT/ACT scores. Online courses at CSU Global begin every four weeks and do not meet at set times, allowing students to follow a completely asynchronous schedule. The bachelor's degree tracks consist of 120 credits, and undergraduates can transfer up to 90 credits from other accredited institutions. Most online bachelor's programs at CSU Global require a capstone project, and some, such as degrees in human services and criminal justice, offer specializations.

CSU Global offers a tuition rate for all students regardless of their state residency status. The university has not raised tuition prices for at least seven academic years. CSU Global earns regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 13 bachelor's degrees, 13 master's degrees
Tuition: $350/credit (undergraduate); $500/credit (graduate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher (undergraduate); 3.0 or higher (graduate)
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT
*CSU Global offers provisional admissions for those that don't meet the admissions criteria.

Contact
Phone: (800) 920-6723
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

5

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, UT

WGU offers a total of 66 fully online bachelor's and master's degrees. Nearly half of these programs focus on teaching and include nine specialized bachelor's degrees, five graduate-level tracks for educators seeking licensure, and more than a dozen master's concentrations for licensed teachers. Additional offerings include nine bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and an MBA in healthcare management. WGU's remaining degrees focus on business and/or information technology.

WGU operates on a unique schedule consisting of two, six-month semester terms per academic year. Students pay a flat tuition rate per term, regardless of how many courses they take or their state of residence.

Instructors deliver all online programs at WGU asynchronously, which proves beneficial to students with part-time jobs and other commitments. The university does not require standardized test scores at the undergraduate or graduate levels. WGU receives regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 28 bachelor's degrees, 38 master's degrees
Tuition: $3,225/term (flat rate)
Credit requirements: Varies by degree
Schedule: 6-month rolling semesters

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (877) 214-7004
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

6

Northeastern University Professional Advancement Network

Boston, MA

Boston's Northeastern University serves as home to a total of 10 online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in business-oriented fields such as finance and accounting management, leadership, analytics, and project management. Other options include online bachelor's degrees in digital communication and media, health management, and psychology. Graduate students can choose from 40 online master's pathways, most of which focus on management and/or education, along with doctoral degrees in education or transitional physical therapy.

Many online undergraduates at Northeastern collaborate with sponsoring organizations to complete an immersive six-week project. Working students, on the other hand, may partner with their employer to tackle a capstone project that addresses a key need or issue in their professional field. The university also offers a co-op program that allows students to work in a paid position related to their major field for up to six months.

Northeastern divides its schedule into two standard semester terms and two condensed summer terms. Incoming freshmen may begin taking courses in the fall, spring, or summer. The school prices tuition according to course instead of according to a per-credit rate. Northeastern University receives regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 10 bachelor's degrees, 38 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $1,600/course (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Varies by degree
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (877) 668-7727
Email: cpsadmissions@northeastern.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

7

Arizona State University - Tempe

Tempe, AZ

Arizona State University offers online programs for undergraduates and graduate students. Those seeking a bachelor's can choose from 80 different pathways, including multiple tracks in business, information technology, psychology, and public service and public policy. Other options include exploratory tracks in health and life sciences, the humanities, STEM, and social and behavioral sciences -- along with 27 online minors. Graduate students may select from more than 60 master's or doctoral degrees in behavioral health or education.

The school offers a cutting-edge experience for distance learners that integrates online proctoring for exams and biometric identification technology to prevent cheating. Programs allow for full accessibility, with closed captioning for students with impaired hearing and specialized software for the vision impaired. All video lectures come with complete transcripts for students to use as study aids.

ASU delivers online undergraduate courses in condensed terms spanning 7.5 weeks. The university does not charge out-of-state tuition for online students earning a degree at any level. Arizona State University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 80 bachelor's degrees, 64 master's degrees, 3 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $520-$728/credit
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (855) 278-5080
Email: asuonline@asu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

8

Brandman University

Irvine, CA

Brandman University serves students at more than two dozen campuses in California and Washington state, offering more than 70 online degrees for distance learners. Pathways for undergraduates include multiple online tracks in legal studies, organizational leadership, psychology, and computing technology, along with 11 bachelor's in business administration degrees for business majors. The school also offers a total of 33 online master's degrees and an online doctoral degree in educational organizational leadership.

Brandman offers a flat tuition rate to all undergraduates regardless of their state residency status. Military veterans and spouses seeking an undergraduate degree qualify for discounted tuition; military veterans also receive six course credits for their service. Online undergraduates at Brandman can connect with enrollment counselors, academic advisers, and career services throughout their studies.

Most bachelor's pathways are synchronous and offered in both online and hybrid formats. However, students can work through four bachelor's programs and one master's program at their own pace. Brandman University receives regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 38 bachelor's degrees, 33 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $500/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (800) 746-0082
Email: apply@brandman.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

9

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, IL

The University of Illinois at Springfield, the smallest and newest school in the UI college system, offers 14 online bachelor's programs, including degrees in psychology, computer science, information systems security, and healthcare informatics. Graduate students at UIS choose from 12 different degrees, including three pathways concentrated in environmental studies. Additionally, the school offers nine online certificates leading to professional licensure and 16 online graduate certificates.

UIS is a top destination for transfer students, who represent more than 90% of the online undergraduate body. UIS also boasts 2+2 agreements with 16, two-year institutions throughout Illinois that enable students to simultaneously earn an associate degree from a community college while taking courses for their bachelor's at UIS.

UIS offers flat-rate tuition for online students regardless of their state residency status provided they take exclusively online courses. The University of Illinois at Springfield receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 14 bachelor's degrees, 12 master's degrees
Tuition: $322/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: Varies by degree
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (207) 216-6600
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

10

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA

With more than 110,000 enrolled students -- most of them distance learners-- Liberty University offers a total of 34 online bachelor's degrees, including eight pathways for business majors, three RN-to-BSN tracks, and two programs concentrated in the field of aviation. Graduate students choose from 66 master's programs, including 15 business pathways and seven degrees in psychology/counseling. The school also offers 18 online doctoral degrees.

All undergraduate online courses at Liberty University span 7.5, allowing most bachelor's students to complete their degree requirements within 3-3.5 years. Additionally, students entering from an accredited two-year institution may transfer up to 75% of the required credits for their bachelor's degree.

Liberty University is one of many online colleges that offers flat-rate tuition for all online undergraduates regardless of their state residency status, and some RN-to-BSN students qualify for lower tuition rates. Additionally, police officers, EMS personnel, and other first responders receive a 25% tuition discount. Liberty University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 34 bachelor's degrees, 66 master's degrees, 18 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $390/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (800) 424-9595
Email: luoundergrad@liberty.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

11

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is the oldest and largest institution in the Minnesota university system. The school offers a total of 18 online bachelor's degree pathways, including six tracks related to general business studies and programs in specialized fields such as tribal administration and governance, manufacturing management, agricultural business, and sport and recreation management. Other online offerings include six undergraduate certificates and a learning technologies minor. Graduate students at UMN-Twin Cities can choose from 14 online master's degrees and nine online doctoral degrees, most of which focus on healthcare fields.

All bachelor's options are fully online, and instructors deliver most graduate-level degrees primarily online with some minimal face-to-face requirements. Distance learners can participate in online workshops for library training and MS Office software. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act approves several of the university's online bachelor's and graduate programs; this initiative provides financial aid for unemployed or underemployed students who cannot afford course tuition and fees.

Most UMN online bachelor's programs and undergraduate certificates cost the same regardless of the student's state residency. The school allows students to enroll in either the fall or spring. The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 18 bachelor's degrees, 14 master's degrees, 9 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $395/credit (flat rate for most programs)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (218) 281-6510
Email: umcinfo@umn.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

12

Regis University

Denver, CO

Regis University is a private nonprofit institution affiliated with the Jesuit order of Roman Catholics. The school offers a total of 25 bachelor's degrees online, including nine pathways in business-related fields, three nursing programs, and an elementary education licensure track. Standard online bachelor's programs consist of 16-week courses or accelerated formats of eight-week courses. The 33-credit online master's degrees offer tracks in education, nursing, and business administration, and doctoral degree options include concentrations in nursing and occupational therapy.

Roughly 92% of Regis University undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Tuition rates vary by program. The university allots transfer students up to 87 credits toward an undergraduate degree provided the original institution boasts regional accreditation. Regis also offers more than $100,000 in scholarship funding to transfer students.

Regis University boasts a low 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Roughly 89% of graduates secure employment within six months of leaving school, and 95% are either employed or continuing their education. Regis University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 25 bachelor's degrees, 33 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $430-$510/credit
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (800) 568-8932
Email: studentservices@regis.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

13

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

New Brunswick, NJ

Rutgers University, the largest degree-granting institution in New Jersey, offers several degree programs fully online, including three bachelor's tracks. These include a bachelor's in business administration and an RN-to-BSN program with no onsite requirements. Students may also pursue a bachelor's in labor and employment relations, which qualifies them to earn a master's in the same field in less than one year. Additionally, the university offers an online teaching certificate that consists of four individual courses.

Available online master's degrees include 12 programs in specialized fields such as biomedical engineering, government accountancy, music education, and supply chain management. In addition to full degrees, Rutgers students can also draw from three Rutgers campuses for individual online courses. The university hosts an annual online learning conference that includes panel discussions and demonstrations on emerging technology, learning management software, and related topics.

Roughly 78% of undergraduates at Rutgers receive financial aid, with the average offer exceeding $15,000. The university offers flat tuition rates plus an additional per-course fee. Rutgers University receives regional accreditation from the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 3 bachelor's degrees, 12 master's degrees
Tuition: $550/credit, plus $300/course
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (848) 932-4702
Email: tlt@docs.rutgers.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

14

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX

Texas Tech University offers a wide selection of fully online and hybrid degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school offers online bachelor's degrees in specialized fields such as restaurant, hotel, and institutional management; plant and soil science; and wind energy. Master's degree online options include eight education degrees with concentrations such as family and consumer sciences, agricultural education, and curriculum and instruction. Graduate students may also select master's degrees in technical fields such as healthcare engineering, horticulture, and data science, along with six doctoral degrees for aspiring educators.

Texas Tech helps veteran students and holds the designation of a Purple Heart University. The school also welcomes transfer students with scholarships of $4,500 for those who enroll with up to 30 transfer credits and $6,000 for those with up to 60 transfer credits. Those who place in the top 10% of their graduating high school class qualify for automatic admission to Texas Tech.

Tuition rates for online students at Texas Tech vary by degree; an online tuition estimator allows students to calculate their total tuition and fees for upcoming terms. Texas Tech University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 11 bachelor's degrees, 31 master's degrees, 6 doctoral degrees
Tuition: Varies by program
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Most courses are synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (806) 742-7227
Email: elearning@ttu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

15

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC

The fourth-largest degree-granting institution in North Carolina, East Carolina University offers a total of 22 online bachelor's degree completion programs aimed at transfer students. These include concentrations in several specialized areas of industrial technology, such as bioprocess manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and health information technology. Other options for undergraduates include five business pathways, five teaching tracks, and an RN-to-BSN. Online grad students at ECU can choose from 51 master's degrees and concentrations -- most of which concentrate in education and/or healthcare -- and seven doctorates.

All active-duty personnel and spouses qualify for in-state tuition. Many online bachelor's degrees at ECU are cohort-based, allowing students to take courses with the same group for the duration of their program. The university also offers a handful of video tutorials to help online students get started. East Carolina University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 22 bachelor's degrees, 51 master's degrees, 7 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $166/credit in state; $716/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher (transfer only)
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (252) 328-9206
Email: online@ecu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

16

Webster University

Saint Louis, MO

Webster University is a private nonprofit institution that offers five online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in management and data analytics through the university's School of Business and Technology and bachelor of arts tracks in media communications and religion and global society. The school also makes an RN-to-BSN pathway available for nurses. Master's degrees include options in specialized fields such as gerontology, environmental management, advertising and marketing communications, and public relations -- along with nine business-oriented programs and four teaching tracks.

The WorldClassroom platform delivers online courses at Webster, allowing students to enroll anywhere across the globe and communicate and collaborate with a diverse student population. Undergraduate online degrees span 128 credits, a little longer than average; but students who take at least 16 credits per semester can complete their programs in four years or less.

Tuition for online courses cost the same per credit regardless of a student's state residency status, and part-time students pursuing an online RN-to-BSN degree qualify for a significant tuition discount. Webster University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 5 bachelor's degrees, 21 master's degrees
Tuition: $710/credit (flat rate for online courses)
Credit requirements: 128 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 981-9801
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

17

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

Oregon State University, the state's largest degree-granting institution, offers a wide selection of online programs for undergraduates and graduate students. Many bachelor's degree online options focus on fields related to environmental science and land management, such as environmental economics and policy, fisheries and wildlife sciences, horticulture, and range science; the school also offers a dual degree in sustainability. Online master's programs at Oregon State include four MBA tracks, four teaching pathways, and a master's in public health.

Oregon State follows a quarterly calendar and provides four start times throughout the academic year for online students. Tuition for undergraduate online courses costs the same irrespective of a students residency status. Military veterans and servicemembers also qualify for certain tuition benefits, including financial aid that covers the cost of up to 16 credits per year. Oregon State University receives regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 25 bachelor's degrees, 18 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $297/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 180 credits
Schedule: Quarter

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 667-1465
Email: ecampus@oregonstate.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

18

Excelsior College

Albany, NY

Excelsior College, a private nonprofit institution, offers online associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees spanning several academic fields. Online undergraduate options include multi-concentration bachelor's degrees in fields such as business, health sciences, criminal justice, and electrical engineering technology. Excelsior's bridge degrees allow students to earn a bachelor's and a master's in an accelerated timeline. Examples include a BS in healthcare management with an MBA or master's in health science and a BS in nuclear engineering management with an MBA. The school makes dual-degree bachelor's pathways available too.

Tuition rates vary by degree subject, but most courses cost the same per credit regardless of the student's state residency status. Military servicemembers and veterans qualify for discounted tuition rates and fee waivers. Additionally, prospective students with a military background seeking a non-nursing degree do not need to submit an application in order to earn admission.

Most online courses at Excelsior College follow an asynchronous format and span eight weeks; other courses cover 15 weeks. Excelsior College receives regional accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 6 associate degrees, 19 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees
Tuition: $380-$510/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: (Semester/Quarter)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (888) 647-2388
Email: admissions@excelsior.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

19

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

The University of Alabama is the oldest and largest public degree-granting institution in the state, and the school's Bama by Distance platform offers online degree options. Online undergraduates can select from eight degrees in human environmental sciences fields, such as food and nutrition, early childhood education, consumer sciences, and hospitality management.

Other online bachelor's options include degrees in criminology/criminal justice, business management, mechanical engineering, social work, and an RN-to-BSN track. Additionally, students can take 32 master's degrees, including 15 teaching pathways and nine doctoral degrees, online.

Online courses involve email assignments, streaming video lectures, and proctored exams. In addition to the fully online programs listed above, Bama by Distance offers primarily online and blended degree options. Nontraditional students seeking a degree can also choose the New College LifeTrack option, a hybrid online and on-campus program for nontraditional students that awards degrees in four general subjects.

All online undergraduate courses cost the same per credit regardless of the student's state residency status. Graduate courses cost a higher flat rate per credit. The University of Alabama receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 15 bachelor's degrees, 32 master's degrees, 9 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $364/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT (graduates within past four years only)

Contact
Phone: (800) 467-0227
Email: uadistance@ua.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

20

Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, NJ

Thomas Edison State University counts among the many online colleges that offers a broad range of online undergraduate and graduate programs. Those seeking a bachelor's can choose from 32 online degree pathways, including nine business administration tracks and specialized technical fields such as nuclear engineering technology, data science and analytics, homeland security and emergency management, and cybersecurity. The college also offers 10 online master's degrees and an online doctorate in nursing practice.

Tuition costs at TESU for in-state and out-of-state students currently costs less than $500 per credit for online courses, and students can also elect a comprehensive tuition package covering 12 months of study. Active-duty military service members receive a sizable tuition discount.

TESU exclusively admits applicants 21 years or older. Standard online courses span 12 weeks. Additionally, the school offers self-paced e-Pack® online courses designed for independent study. Thomas Edison State University receives regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 13 associate degrees, 32 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $396/credit in state; $499/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (609) 777-5680
Email: admissions@tesu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

21

LeTourneau University

Longview, TX

A private institution with religious affiliations, LeTourneau University offers several online pathways for students seeking degrees in aviation science. The school offers online undergraduate degrees in aircraft dispatch, aviation management, aviation security, and remotely piloted aircraft. Other online degree options include a bachelor's in business administration with multiple majors/concentrations, several theology pathways, and an RN-to-BSN track. The school also offers 12 online master's degrees, most concentrated in teacher education, that cater to online students.

Instructors deliver many of LeTourneau's online bachelor's degrees in an accelerated, asynchronous format with, courses spanning five weeks in length. Students begin each week on Monday and must submit all assignments by Sunday at midnight. Program lengths vary from 120-129 credits, but students can complete most degrees in less than four years.

Due to its religious affiliations, students at LeTourneau must complete courses in biblical study and other related fields as part of their general education requirements; weekly chapel services are also required. The school boasts a graduation job placement rate of 95% or higher for all academic programs. LeTourneau University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 5 associate degrees, 18 bachelor's degrees, 14 master's degrees
Tuition: $355-$475/credit (flat rate; varies by subject)
Credit requirements: 120-129 (varies by subject)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT, ACT, or CLT

Contact
Phone: (800) 759-8811
Email: admissions@letu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

22

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC

Appalachian State University, the sixth-largest institution in the University of North Carolina system, offers online college degrees through blended degree completion bachelor's programs for transfer students with an associate degree. These include several options for aspiring educators, including online degrees in career and technical education, workforce education and development, child development, and a hybrid middle grades education track. Online bachelor's degrees in communications, management, and RN-to-BSN are also available.

Graduate students can choose from 10 online master's programs -- most of which award education degrees -- and a doctorate in educational leadership offered online or in a hybrid format.

Appalachian State University offers online courses in asynchronous or synchronous formats. Each course spans eight weeks in length, and most students attend school throughout the calendar year. Most full-time students earn their bachelor's degree in 2-3 years, while the average completion time for part-time students is 4.5 years.

Because Appalachian State exclusively offers degree completion programs at the bachelor's level, incoming students need at least 30 credits from another accredited institution. The school also reserves several institutional scholarships for transfer students. Appalachian State University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 8 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $163/credit in state; $663/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online and hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.7 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT (for students 22 years and younger)

Contact
Phone: (800) 355-4084
Email: online@appstate.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

23

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, VA

One of the country's largest providers of online degrees, Old Dominion University offers online bachelor's pathways -- with a majority being degree completion programs geared toward students who already earned an associate degree. These include degrees in specialized technical fields such as cybersecurity and cybercrime, mechanical engineering technology, medical laboratory science, and power systems technology.

The university offers a total of 50 bachelor's completion programs, 13 of which students may complete entirely at Old Dominion. Online graduate students can also choose from 42 master's degrees and 10 doctorates, most of which concentrate in education or healthcare/nursing.

As part of an agreement with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), Old Dominion offers guaranteed admission to all degree-holding VCCS graduates. Students may transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degrees. Additionally, some bachelor's programs enable students to earn graduate-level credits while pursuing their undergraduate degree. For example, those enrolled in the online bachelor's in business administration can take credits toward an MBA or master's in public administration degree.

Instructors deliver online courses at Old Dominion asynchronously or synchronously, and some bachelor's programs incorporate both formats. All online courses include proctored exams. Old Dominion University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 50 bachelor's degrees, 42 master's degrees, 10 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $352/credit in state; $389/credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT (not needed for students with GPA of 3.3 or higher)

Contact
Phone: (757) 683-3114
Email: webcomm@odu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

24

Indiana Wesleyan University - National and Global

Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, religiously affiliated school with a wide selection of online undergraduate and graduate degrees. Those seeking an online bachelor's can choose from eight business pathways, along with degrees in fields such as digital communication, addictions counseling, criminal justice, and licensure or non-licensure early childhood education. Indiana Wesleyan also offers several online graduate programs, including English-language and Spanish-language master's degrees in divinity and ministry; several graduate-level nursing tracks are also available.

Most online bachelor's programs at the university offer degree completion pathways designed for transfer students, and these programs may cover anywhere from 31-51 credits of core coursework. Students with associate degrees can typically complete the programs within two years or less. The school offers tuition at a flat per-credit rate regardless of the student's state residency status. Active-duty military personnel can earn associate or bachelor's degrees at a discounted tuition rate.

Indiana Wesleyan allows students to transfer up to 90 credits toward their four-year degree. The admissions office requires no fee for submitting an application to the school. Indiana Wesleyan University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 9 associate degrees, 22 bachelor's degrees, 32 master's degrees, 6 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $384-$439/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 31-51 credits (varies by program)
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Varies by program
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (866) 498-4968
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

25

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Natchitoches, LA

Considered the oldest and largest online degree-providing institution in the state, Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers web-based programs at all degree levels. Bachelor's options include degrees in fields such as addiction studies, business administration, and social work; the psychology and unified public safety administration fields offer multiple concentrations.

Other offerings include online degree completion tracks for registered nurses and radiologic technicians. At the graduate level, online students can choose from 20 master's degree fields, most concentrated in education, and doctorates in adult learning and development or nursing practice.

Most online programs at the university follow a fast-track schedule consisting of eight-week terms in the fall and spring and four-week or eight-week sessions during the summer semester. This timetable enables students to focus on 1-2 courses at a time and potentially graduate at a faster pace. Most online bachelor's pathways are asynchronous and do not require any campus visits, but some may include mandatory on-campus exams or presentations.

Online courses at the university cost the same flat rate regardless of the student's state residency status. Northwestern State University of Louisiana receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 1 associate degree, 16 bachelor's degrees, 20 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $375/credit up to 12 credits; $100/credit after 12 credits
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 327-1903
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

26

Fort Hays State University

Hays, KS

Fort Hays State University offers a total of 37 online bachelor's programs, including degrees with multiple concentration options in fields such as business education, elementary education, finance, information networking and telecommunications, and management. Other major options for online undergraduates include agricultural business, geography/GIS, organizational leadership, and an RN-to-BSN program. Online graduate students may choose from 17 master's degrees and a doctorate in nursing.

Fort Hays State boasts numerous accolades for its online degrees and virtual college. Several of the school's online bachelor's pathways serve as degree completion programs geared toward transfer students with an associate degree; most students complete these tracks in two years or less. Additionally, some programs carry a foreign language coursework requirement.

Tuition costs significantly lower than average. Fort Hays State University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 2 associate degrees, 37 bachelor's degrees, 17 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $218/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120-124 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 628-3478
Email: virtualcollege@fhsu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

27

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

Daytona Beach, FL

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the country's largest accredited institution that primarily offers degrees in aviation and aerospace technology. Undergraduates choose from 16 online bachelor's programs, including subjects such as aviation business administration, homeland security, safety management, and unmanned systems applications. The selection for graduate students focuses on similar topics, as options include online master's degrees in aviation and aerospace sustainability, cybersecurity management and policy, and systems engineering. The school also offers a Ph.D. in aviation.

In 2019, U.S. News & World Report named ERAU the top educator of online undergraduates and the best provider of online bachelor's programs for veterans. The university offers 12 different start times for undergraduates throughout the calendar year, with each course spanning 9-12 weeks in length. Instructors deliver all coursework synchronously and follow a schedule that mirrors brick-and-mortar coursework.

Tuition costs a flat rate for military veterans and active-duty personnel; civilians pay a higher, but still flat, rate. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 6 associate degrees, 16 bachelor's degrees, 20 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $250/credit (military); $413/credit (civilian)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT are recommended, not required

Contact
Phone: (800) 522-6787
Email: worldwide@erau.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

28

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

The University of Arizona Online offers multiple bachelor's programs for distance learners. Students pursuing technical careers can choose degrees in STEM fields such as cyber operations, geographic information systems technology, network operations, and meteorology. Options for those seeking a liberal arts education include bachelor's degrees in Africana studies, economy and industry, public health, and sustainable built environments. The university also offers 31 online master's degrees and six online nursing doctorates.

UA boasts the highest alumni earnings among public institutions in the state. To fulfill their general education requirements, online undergraduates can select from cutting-edge courses offered through the school's General Education Academy and Science Academy. Courses may be asynchronous or synchronous, but none of them require campus visits.

Tuition prices vary by program, but the school does not charge out-of-state tuition. Additionally, all active-duty military personnel pay a flat tuition rate per credit. The University of Arizona receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 32 bachelor's degrees, 31 master's degrees, 6 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $500-$610/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT are recommended, not required

Contact
Phone: (520) 621-0898
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

29

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, TX

Dallas Baptist University is a private Christian liberal arts school that offers online degrees for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to degrees in biblical studies and Christian ministries, those seeking an online bachelor's can choose from subjects including psychology, sociology, healthcare management, and eight business disciplines. The school's 15 online master's degrees include six tracks for aspiring teachers, six ministry pathways, and an MBA with concentration options.

In addition to these standard-length programs, Dallas Baptist University offers accelerated online bachelor's and master's programs in business management and ministry. Additionally, students can follow multiple dual master's tracks. Fall and spring courses span 16 weeks, summer courses span 10 weeks, and winter courses span 4-8 weeks.

Roughly 94% of the school's undergraduates successfully complete their degree programs, and 82% receive institutional scholarships. Dallas Baptist University receives regional accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 6 associate degrees, 20 bachelor's degrees, 15 master's degrees
Tuition: $929/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (214) 333-6893
Email: admiss@dbu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

30

Missouri State University - Springfield

Springfield, MO

Missouri State University offers a handful of online bachelor's degrees suitable for first-time undergraduates or transfer students. A total of 10 major options include criminology and criminal justice, finance, health services, hospitality leadership, and an RN-to-BSN. The school also offers two undergraduate certificates and 12 bachelor's degree minors fully online. Graduate students can choose from 14 online master's programs, including seven pathways for teachers, and two doctorate in nursing tracks.

Most online courses at Missouri State are asynchronous, and students generally earn their bachelor's in four years or less. All baccalaureate degrees culminate in a capstone assignment that requires students to construct a public affairs project or presentation around their major. The university allows students to transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degrees.

Missouri State University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 10 bachelor's degrees, 14 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $295/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (417) 836-6058
Email: adultstudentservices@missouristate.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

31

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Amherst, MA

UMass Amherst offers a selection of online degrees for undergraduates and graduate students. The school makes bachelor's in business degrees available through The Isenberg School of Management, and offerings include an online business administration bachelor's degree with concentrations in accounting, finance, management, marketing, and operations and information management.

Additional options include a hospitality and tourism management major, an accelerated online RN-to-BSN program that students can complete in as little as one year, and a 120-credit bachelor's in sustainable food and farming.

UMass Amherst also offers these majors in degree completion pathways for transfer students. Additionally, those with previously earned credits may choose the University Without Walls track, enabling them to complete degrees in fields such as advocacy and social justice, children's learning and development, human services, and writing. The school's transfer policy allows incoming students to apply up to 105 credits toward their bachelor's degrees.

A handful of online master's programs include degrees in accounting, clinical nursing, and nutrition. Tuition prices vary by degree level and major, but the school does not charge out-of-state tuition rates. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst receives regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 1 associate degree, 5 bachelor's degrees, 9 master's degrees
Tuition: $482-$525/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: Varies by program
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online and hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (413) 545-0133
Email: info@oe.umass.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

32

Ottawa University - Online

Ottawa, KS

Ottawa University is a private school affiliated with the Baptist denomination that offers a wide selection of online bachelor's programs for business majors. These options include degrees in accounting, business economics, healthcare management, human resources, management information systems, and business administration, all of which carry multiple concentration options.

Other fields for online bachelor's degree seekers include human and social services, mathematics, addiction counseling, and nursing. Available online programs at the graduate level include a dual MBA and master's in human resources track.

The school also offers bridge programs that enable students to earn a bachelor's and master's in the same field on an accelerated timeline. Ottawa University's generous transfer policy allows students to apply up to 80 previously earned credits toward their undergraduate degrees. Instructors deliver all courses fully online, asynchronously, and in timeframes that span eight weeks.

The university offers flat-rate tuition for all online students regardless of their state residency. Additionally, discounted tuition rates are available for military veterans and personnel and for students seeking a bachelor's in addiction counseling or an RN-to-BSN degree. Ottawa University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 20 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees
Tuition: $499/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120-124 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (855) 774-7714
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

33

Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE

Nebraska's Bellevue University offers more than 50 online bachelor's degrees, including 26 majors related to business administration and/or information technology. Online undergraduates may also pursue degrees in specialized fields such as child protection and juvenile justice, graphic design, and psychology -- along with an RN-to-BSN track.

Programs for graduate students include 27 online master's degrees, most of which focus on business and management, and a doctorate in human capital management. Bellevue's bachelor's programs span 127 credits in length, and most students complete their requirements in four years.

In addition to the standard bachelor's pathways listed above, transfer students with an associate degree can follow an accelerated cohort track with the same group of students and complete their undergraduate studies in two years or less. Other available options include course clusters that combine three interrelated courses into a single 12-week term. The school offers open enrollment, so students may begin their coursework at various points throughout the calendar year.

All online students pay a flat per-credit tuition rate regardless of their state residency status. Active-duty military personnel and their spouses qualify for a discounted tuition rate. Bellevue University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 51 bachelor's degrees, 27 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $415/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 127 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (800) 756-7920
Email: bruinsupportservices@bellevue.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

34

Indiana University-Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

Indiana University offers a wide selection of online undergraduate and graduate degrees, including 23 bachelor's degree programs in fields such as business administration, labor studies, medical imaging technology, and an RN-to-BSN. Several of these pathways serve as degree completion programs that exclusively admit students with a two-year degree; others serve as standalone, four-year tracks. Graduate students at Indiana University can select from 31 online master's programs and six online doctoral degrees, most of which focus on management and/or healthcare.

Instructors deliver most of the university's distance-based programs asynchronously and fully online, but some incorporate blended learning and synchronous coursework. The university offers rolling application deadlines and four start dates year-round. Additionally, transfer students can apply up to 64 credits toward their bachelor's degrees. Most bachelor's programs culminate in either a capstone project or an internship.

Tuition rates for the school's online degrees vary by program. Indiana University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 2 associate degrees, 23 bachelor's degrees, 31 master's degrees, 6 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $224-$315/credit in state; $321-$614 credit out of state
Credit requirements: 120
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT and/or ACT scores required for some degrees

Contact
Phone: (844) 948-4863
Email: iuoapply@iu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

35

City University of Seattle

Seattle, WA

City University of Seattle, or CityU, is a private nonprofit institution offering online and hybrid degrees at all collegiate levels. Undergraduate options include online associate degrees in business or general studies along with 11 online bachelor's programs in fields such as applied psychology, cybersecurity, and information systems. Online graduate-level options at CityU include 10 master's degrees and two doctorates, most of which concentrate in business administration or education.

In addition to online-only pathways, the school offers many of the university's bachelor's programs in a blended format. Some of these tracks follow CityU's Regional Cohort Model, enabling degree seekers to take the same online and onsite courses with the same group of students based on their geographical area. Bachelor's programs span at least 180 credits, and students typically complete their requirements within four years.

Tuition rates vary by department and course level. The university does not charge out-of-state tuition for U.S. students, but international students with F1 visas pay slightly higher rates. City University of Seattle receives regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 2 associate degrees, 11 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $361-$489/credit for U.S. students; $479-$579/credit for international students
Credit requirements: 180 credits
Schedule: Quarter

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Varies by program
Standardized tests: Not required for admission

Contact
Phone: (888) 442-4898
Email: info@cityu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

36

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, GA

Kennesaw State University offers several online undergraduate programs for business majors. These include bachelor's degrees in information security and assurance, marketing, manufacturing operations, and supply chain logistics. Other options include online degrees in cybersecurity, information technology, and five social sciences fields. Online graduate students at Kennesaw State can choose from 19 master's pathways and two doctoral degrees, most of which concentrate in business and/or technology. The school offers many of its online programs as on-campus degrees and/or in hybrid formats.

U.S. News & World Report recognizes Kennesaw State for its online bachelor's programs and the university's admissions yields rates. Most online courses at Kennesaw State require proctored exams, but the school makes alternative exams available for students who live more than 50 miles from the main campus.

Tuition costs vary by course level. Kennesaw State University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 12 bachelor's degrees, 19 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $159/credit general education courses; $199/credit major courses
Credit requirements: 120-127 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (470) 578-6000
Email: ksuadmit@kennesaw.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

37

Concordia University - Saint Paul

Saint Paul, MN

St. Paul's Concordia University offers a total of 16 online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in specialized fields such as child development, exercise science, sport management, and pulmonary science -- along with tracks in accounting, information technology, an RN-to-BSN, and other general fields. Additionally, graduate students can pursue online master's degrees in 23 different fields and doctoral degrees in physical therapy or education.

Most online bachelor's degrees at Concordia are designed as completion programs for transfer students with previously earned credits, and online courses span seven weeks in length. Roughly 95% of Concordia University graduates receive at least one offer within a year of their college graduation. The school also ranks first among all private Minnesota institutions in terms of graduate earnings, and Concordia alumni outearn the average graduate by more than 40%.

All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of their major or state residency status. Active-duty military personnel receive a substantial tuition discount. Additionally, students do not need to pay for application fees or transfer credit evaluations. Concordia University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 2 associate degrees, 16 bachelor's degrees, 23 master's degrees, 2 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $420/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT and/or ACT scores required for non-transfer students who have graduated from high school within the last three years

Contact
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

38

Washington State University

Pullman, WA

Students enrolled at Washington State University's Global Campus can choose from a broad selection of online bachelor's programs. These include several options for business majors -- such as degrees in economics, hospitality business management, and integrated strategic communication -- along with a bachelor's in business administration with four concentration options.

Other online majors include criminal justice, history, psychology, and sociology. The school also makes nine online master's degrees available, including specialized STEM pathways such as electrical power engineering and molecular biosciences.

WSU offers free online tutoring and a complementary writing lab for distance learners. Transfer students can apply up to 90 previously earned credits toward their bachelor's degrees, including 73 credits for lower-level courses. In terms of tuition pricing, full-time students taking 10-18 credits pay the same per-semester rate regardless of their major or state residency status. Individual per-credit rates are offered for part-time students and those taking more than 18 credits per semester.

In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees, the WSU Global Campus offers a handful of non-degree certificate programs online. Washington State University receives regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 12 bachelor's degrees, 9 master's degrees
Tuition: $5,067/semester for 10-18 credits in state; $5,645/semester for 10-18 credits out of state
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT and/or ACT scores required for students 24 and younger

Contact
Phone: (800) 222-4978
Email: online@wsu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

39

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie, TX

Texas-based Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers many different pathways for students seeking a religious degree. These include online undergraduate programs in fields such as Bible and theology, church ministries, and theological studies. Secular options include online bachelor's degrees in counseling, criminal justice, elementary education, and TESOL. Additionally, the university offers multi-concentration online bachelor's degrees in business administration and human services and 19 online master's and doctoral degrees.

SAGU online courses are relatively small, allowing students to receive individualized attention from faculty members. As part of the school's Experiential Learning Credit program, students may qualify for up to 45 undergraduate credits -- and save as much as $25,000 on their degree -- by completing a three-credit course. Admission requires each student to provide a statement of Christian faith.

All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of their state residency status. To incentivize distance learners, the university awards tuition grants to online students. Southwestern Assemblies of God University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Accreditation.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 14 associate degrees, 28 bachelor's degrees, 18 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $575/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: Not required for online students

Contact
Phone: (888) 937-7248
Email: info@sagu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

40

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL

The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers fully online, primarily online, and blended learning options for undergraduate and graduate students. Most of the school's online bachelor's pathways concentrate in business, and available majors include accounting, finance, industrial distribution, and marketing.

Other undergraduate tracks include degrees in criminal justice, psychology, and nursing. At the graduate level, students can choose from more than 50 master's degree pathways and more than a dozen dual-degree tracks. Most of the university's online options for graduate students concentrate in healthcare and nursing fields.

Fully online programs at the school do not require any campus visits, and primarily online pathways include occasional on-campus requirements. Most online programs mirror their brick-and-mortar counterparts and consist of mostly synchronous coursework. Students nearing graduation can access career counseling services through HireABlazer -- an online job management platform for students and alumni -- through the school's career and professional development services department.

Tuition rates vary by department, but all students pay the same per-credit rate regardless of their state residency status. The University of Alabama at Birmingham receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 11 bachelor's degrees, 51 master's degrees, 6 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $407-$505/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Most courses are synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (205) 934-7217
Email: uabonline@uab.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

41

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

Lowell, MA

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the second-largest degree-granting institution in its state, offers a handful of online undergraduate degrees. These include fully online bachelor's pathways in business administration, management, English, liberal arts, and psychology -- along with a degree in information technology with a business minor. Other bachelor's degrees at UMass Lowell, such as the RN-to-BSN track and engineering fields, are available in a blended format. The school also offers 12 master's degrees and a doctorate in educational leadership fully online.

The university allows transfer students to apply up to 90 previously earned credits toward their bachelor's degrees. All online students pay the same flat per-credit tuition rate regardless of their major or state residency status. Additionally, active-duty military personnel and veterans may qualify for experiential credits.

Most online courses at UMass Lowell are synchronous, and students typically complete their undergraduate studies in four years or less. The University of Massachusetts-Lowell receives regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 2 associate degrees, 6 bachelor's degrees, 12 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $380/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120-122 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT and/or ACT scores may be required for students 20 years and younger with fewer than 12 transfer credits

Contact
Phone: (800) 480-3190
Email: onlinelearning@uml.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

42

Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant, MI

At Central Michigan University, undergraduate students can choose from 12 online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in specialized fields such as fashion merchandising and design, international relations, public and nonprofit administration, and a BS in community development track with three specialization options. The university also offers 13 online master's degrees and three online doctorates, most of which focus on business administration or education. Online students represent roughly 25% of CMU's total student population.

Instructors teach most courses asynchronously in eight-week, 12-week, or 16-week tracks. Additionally, federal employees, spouses, and dependents receive tuition discounts of up to 15%; these candidates may also submit their applications free of charge.

All other in-state and out-of-state online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Transfer students may also receive tuition grants of up to $500 for select programs. Central Michigan University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 12 bachelor's degrees, 13 master's degrees, 3 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $417/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 124 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (877) 268-4636
Email: cmuglobal@cmich.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

43

Midway University

Midway, KY

Online undergraduates at Midway University who plan to enter a teaching career can earn a bachelor's in education with eight concentration options. Other bachelor's degree options include subjects such as business administration, criminal justice, healthcare administration, marketing communications, and nursing. The school also makes online MBA, master's in education, and master's in nursing degrees available for graduate students.

Most online bachelor's degree pathways at Midway University follow an accelerated format with eight-week courses, enabling most students to complete their degree requirements in fewer than four years. The school offers five different enrollment times throughout the calendar year.

Roughly 90% of the university's students receive some form of financial aid, and Midway charges online students a flat, per-credit rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Transfer students from institutions in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System qualify for a $1,000 transfer scholarship. Additionally, the school charges lower tuition rates for those seeking an online RN-to-BSN degree. Midway University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 2 associate degrees, 11 bachelor's degrees, 3 master's degrees
Tuition: $425/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 952-4122
Email: admissions@midway.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

44

Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, AZ

Northern Arizona University offers two pathways for distance learners: traditional online or competency-based online programs. Traditional online degrees mirror brick-and-mortar bachelor's programs in terms of course and credit requirements. Traditional online bachelor's options include specialized fields such as hotel and restaurant management, parks and recreation management, and 10 fields related to health professions. The school also makes 21 master's degrees and a doctorate in nursing practice available in the traditional online format.

The competency-based online pathway focuses on individualized learning. Students complete their courses asynchronously, allowing them to complete their degree ahead of schedule. The school offers a competency-based online format for students working through bachelor's degrees in computer information technology, liberal arts, management, nursing, and small business administration -- along with five undergraduate minors and two master's degrees.

Tuition rates vary by online pathway. For competency-based online learners, the school packages tuition into six-month subscriptions with unlimited courses. Northern Arizona University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 27 bachelor's degrees, 21 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree
Tuition: $425/credit
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (928) 523-9011
Email: admissions@nau.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

45

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo, FL

Saint Leo University enrolls more than 3,000 online students worldwide. The school's online bachelor's options include business administration, criminal justice, middle grades education, and psychology. Graduate students at Saint Leo may choose from 12 online master's degree fields and five online doctorate pathways.

The university offers rolling admissions for online students with six enrollment periods throughout the calendar year. In addition to these traditional degree pathways, Saint Leo is home to the Flexible Learning EXperience program. This initiative invites educational institutions in Florida to enroll students in online courses at Saint Leo to supplement their on-campus studies.

Tuition for online courses at Saint Leo cost the same regardless of the student's state residency status. Additionally, active-duty military personnel receive a sizable tuition discount. Saint Leo University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 5 associate degrees, 17 bachelor's degrees, 12 master's degrees, 4 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $360/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (877) 622-2009
Email: coladmission4@saintleo.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

46

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH

With more than 90,000 online students, Southern New Hampshire University is one of the fastest-growing postsecondary institutions in the U.S. The school offers online bachelor's degrees in a total of 40 fields. These options include business administration, criminal justice, geosciences, and information technology. Graduate students can choose from 29 MBA tracks and five pathways in curriculum and instruction.

Most online bachelor's degrees at SNHU are fully online and consist entirely of asynchronous coursework, and the school also makes some blended options available. The university allows transfer students to apply up to 90 credits toward their bachelor's degrees. Additionally, the school does not require a minimum GPA for undergraduate admission. Students with lower-than-average GPA scores qualify for provisional admission and may be placed in smaller classes to ensure more individualized attention.

SNHU charges the same flat tuition rate for all in-state and out-of-state students, and the school has not increased its tuition since 2012. Active-duty military personnel and their spouses may receive a discount of up to 30% on their tuition costs. Southern New Hampshire University receives regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 8 associate degrees, 40 bachelor's degrees, 31 master's degrees
Tuition: $320/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: No GPA requirement
Standardized tests: Not required for online students

Contact
Phone: (800) 668-1249
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

47

Cleary University

Ann Arbor, MI

Cleary University is a private, Michigan-based institution that specializes in undergraduate and graduate degrees for business majors. Online students can pursue an MBA with specializations in financial planning, global leadership, healthcare leadership, or analytics, technology, and innovation. The school also offers a master's in culture, change, and leadership online, along with graduate certificates in four MBA specialization fields.

Full-time students pay for tuition in semester-length blocks, which covers 12-18 credits at a flat rate. The school allows transfer students to apply up to 90 previously earned credits toward the bachelor's in business administration degree. Specific transfer policies apply to select two-year institutions in Michigan.

Students can complete most bachelor's programs at Cleary within four years or less. The university offers detailed coursework timelines for each degree track to ensure students take all of the requisite classes and graduate on time. Cleary University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 2 master's degrees, 4 graduate certificates
Tuition: $9,975/semester (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120-124 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous or synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Varies by subject

Contact
Phone: (800) 686-1883
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

48

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia's Drexel University offers an extensive range of online degrees for undergraduates and graduate students. Those seeking a bachelor's degree online can choose from a total of 12 degree fields, such as behavioral health counseling, computing and security technology, health services administration, and and two nursing tracks.

Graduate students may choose from more than 100 master's programs, including 17 business and management pathways, eight degrees related to biomedical research, and 16 education tracks. Online doctorates in education and leadership, health science, and nursing practice are also available.

Incoming transfer students at Drexel may apply 60-90 previously earned credits toward their bachelor's degrees depending on their major. The university follows a quarterly calendar with four, 10-week terms per year. Bachelor's degrees span 180 credits or more, but most students complete their undergraduate programs in four years or less.

All online students at Drexel qualify for a 40% tuition discount compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Additionally, online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of state residency, but these rates vary by subject. Drexel University receives regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


School Overview
Status: Private nonprofit
Number of online programs: 12 bachelor's degrees, 100+ master's degrees, 3 doctoral degrees
Tuition: $501/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 180-188 credits
Schedule: Quarter

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (877) 215-0009
Email: duonline@drexel.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

49

Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, AR

Arkansas State University offers a handful of online degrees for students at the undergraduate and graduate level. Bachelor's options for online students include degrees in business fields such as organizational supervision, strategic communications and social media management, and business administration. Other major fields include creative media, criminology, and digital innovation, and an accelerated RN-to-BSN track that students can complete in 12 months or less. Arkansas State also offers 10 online master's degrees concentrating in education and teaching fields.

Online bachelor's programs at Arkansas State are mostly asynchronous and do not carry any face-to-face requirements. These pathways span 120 credits or more, but many students complete their degree requirements in less than four years due to the self-paced format. The school offers multiple start dates throughout the calendar year. Additionally, distance learners may request online tutoring in a handful of business, STEM, and social sciences subjects.

The university does not apply higher rates for out-of-state learners. Arkansas State University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 1 associate degree, 11 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees
Tuition: $248/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120-125 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Most courses are asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 or higher
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (866) 621-8096
Email: Online form
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter

50

Southeast Missouri State University

Cape Girardeau, MO

Southeast Missouri State University provides several online pathways for undergraduates and graduate students. Online bachelor's degree options include tech-oriented subjects such as applied technology, computer information systems, and technology management. Other options include business administration, criminal justice, family studies, and RN-to-BSN completion program. Graduate students may select from a total of 18 online master's tracks, most of which focus on management and/or education.

Online programs at SEMO consist of asynchronous courses in the fall and spring that span eight or 16 weeks in length, along with four-, six-, and eight-week summer sessions. Some programs require internships, but students need to visit the brick-and-mortar campus. Detailed course maps are available for all online degrees.

Senior citizens seeking undergraduate degrees receive a substantial tuition discount. Southeast Missouri State University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


School Overview
Status: Public
Number of online programs: 13 bachelor's degrees, 18 master's degrees
Tuition: $284/credit (flat rate)
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Schedule: Semester

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Varies by subject
Standardized tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (573) 651-2000
Email: southeastonline@semo.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter


How to Choose an Accredited Online College?

Step 1: Check the Accreditation Status

Verifying a school's accreditation should be a top priority for any student applying to college. Accreditation status can impact your ability to apply for financial aid or transfer credits.

Accreditation status should be available on each school's official website. Students can also verify a school's status through the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education (CHEA). Both maintain lists of recognized regional, national, and programmatic accrediting agencies.

WHY DOES ACCREDITATION MATTER?

Accreditation matters because it sets quality standards meant to ensure that your degree holds value. Employers and graduate schools know that if you hold a degree from an accredited online school, then you graduated from a program that meets the rigorous requirements for accreditation.

In contrast, an unaccredited degree can cost you more than job offers. Graduates of diploma mills risk leaving school with debt and nothing to show for it but a degree that isn't recognized by employers, graduate schools, or professional certifying agencies.

Always verify that an online college is accredited.

NATIONAL VERSUS REGIONAL ACCREDITATION

Colleges are accredited by either regional or national agencies.

Regionally accredited colleges are typically nonprofit and state-operated. In the U.S., there are seven regional accrediting agencies that evaluate two-year and four-year colleges. Some states also have their own accrediting bodies independent of the regional agencies. You can learn more about each individual agency, and its jurisdiction, through the Office of Postsecondary Education.

Most nationally accredited colleges are for-profit and meet lower academic standards than their regional counterparts. Students considering a nationally accredited online college should research the school's reputation and understand how academic standards differ from regionally accredited schools. It's important to note that most nationally accredited schools will accept transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities, but the opposite is not always true.

Students should also be wary of accreditation mills that offer genuine-looking but ultimately phony endorsements to schools.

PROGRAMMATIC ACCREDITATION

In some cases, individual programs may also be accredited by an independent board. One example is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which evaluates academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. These agencies assess the competence of both on-campus and online degree programs giving students the peace of mind that their school's department offers a reputable program.

Some state-level professional certifications require that students graduate from a program with programmatic accreditation.

After confirming accreditation, it can still be difficult to weigh the value and quality of one online college over another. Keep in mind that regardless of whether a program is offered online or on campus, all regionally accredited programs in the U.S. are held to the same academic and professional standards. These standards also extend to the full-time faculty and adjunct professors that schools hire.

Any online school that fails to meet program and faculty quality requirements risks losing accreditation.

Due to the rapid evolution of online coursework, online programs are quickly becoming some of the most high-quality degree options available. To date, well over 2,000 colleges offer accredited online programs. While our list of the best online colleges and universities is a good starting point for researching programs, we've outlined additional steps you can take to narrow your list of potential schools.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE BEST ONLINE COLLEGE FOR YOU?

In the world of online education, there is no overall best online college or online degree program. But there is a best option for you. Ask yourself these five questions to begin the search for the best online colleges and universities for you:

  • What do you want to do with your degree?
  • What degree level do you want to earn?
  • What majors will help you achieve your career goals?
  • How much flexibility do you need?
  • How much can you afford to spend on an online degree program?

By understanding what you want out of a particular degree, you can make educated choices about which schools and programs will give you an acceptable return on investment.

KNOW YOUR CAREER GOALS

A college degree is the best way to increase your earning potential - but different careers require different degrees. Think specifically about the types of job titles you hope to be eligible for after you graduate and the types of employers you want to work for. Research the kinds of skills and degrees people at those jobs have, and use that research to narrow down the degree programs you are considering.

To help get you started on researching career options, check out these guides:

Step 2: Pick a Degree Level

There are a few considerations to make before choosing a degree level to pursue. One, what level of education have you achieved already? Two, what are your career goals? There are many online bachelor's degrees out there, but depending on your career aspirations you may also want to consider online associate degrees and online master's degrees. The following list can help you better understand these options:

Online Associate Degree

Full-time students can typically earn an associate degree in two years. An online associate degree is ideal for those who have a high school diploma and who want to quickly gain practical career skills. Associate degrees are less expensive than a bachelor's degree, and many online community colleges offer programs that open the door to vocational and administrative support positions such as legal assistant, medical assistant, and medical biller and coder. An online associate degree program is also a cost-effective way to complete general education requirements before transferring to a four-year program.

Learn more about how to choose an online associate degree below.

Online Bachelor's Degree

Most full-time students can earn a online bachelor's degree in four years. If you have a high school diploma or some college credits to your name, an online bachelor's program may be the right choice for you. Some colleges even offer degree completion programs specifically for students who have earned an associate degree and would like to finish a bachelor's program. A bachelor's degree is perhaps the single best way to increase your earning potential. According to PayScale.com, employes with a bachelor's degree can earn over $1,000,000 more over a 20-year career than someone with just a high school diploma. Most entry-level positions at professional organizations require at least a four-year degree. Business, healthcare, tech and other sectors prefer to hire candidates who are well-rounded and have good critical thinking and communication skills. An online bachelor's degree provides students with all of these skills, making them desirable to employers.

Learn more about how to choose an online bachelor's degree below.

Online Master's Degree

Most online master's programs can be completed in less than three years of full-time study. Many schools offer accelerated online programs, allowing you to complete your graduate degree in just 12 months. You should consider pursuing a graduate degree if you already have a bachelor's degree but want to switch careers, qualify for more advanced leadership roles, or increase your earning potential. Some fields require a master's degree and the completion of professional licensure and certification. Example careers include licensed counselors, social workers, and certified public health employees.

Learn more about how to choose an online master's degree below.

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Step 3: Choose a Major

Once you know what degree level you want to pursue, think carefully about what majors will have the biggest impact on your current career or future job prospects. Different majors teach different skills and have different points of emphasis. Multiple studies have shown that what you study has a bigger impact on future earning potential than where you go to school.

Examine the different majors offered by a variety of top online colleges that relate to the field of study you are interested in. Research what specific courses are required in each major. Also consider what specific hard and soft skills will be most valuable to the work you want to be doing. You can explore our collection of academic program rankings to learn more about other fields of study and potential career paths.

Most Popular Associate Degrees
Major Percentage of Degrees Conferred
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities 33%
Health Professions and Related Programs 21%
Business, Management, Marketing, and Support Services 12%
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, and Firefighting 5%
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 4%
Most Popular Bachelor's Degrees
Major Percentage of Degrees Conferred
Business 19%
Health Professions and Related Programs 11%
Social Sciences and History 9%
Psychology 6%
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 6%
Most Popular Master's Degrees
Major Percentage of Degrees Conferred
Business 24%
Education 19%
Health Professions and Related Programs 14%
Engineering 6%
Public Administration and Social Services 6%

Step 4: Decide How Much Flexibility You Need

Different online degree programs offer different amounts of flexibility. Here are some common types of online degree programs and online college classes you'll find. Each offers a different level of flexibility and different types of instruction.

Synchronous

Students are expected to attend classes, view lectures, participate in group chats and conversations and complete assignments at the same time according to a pre-set schedule or syllabus.

Asynchronous

Students are given regular deadlines for completing assignments, reading, viewing or listening to lectures and participating in group discussions (often using an online message board), but can complete these tasks at any time before the due date.

Open Schedule

A type of asynchronous class, Open Schedule courses allow students to begin courses at any time, independent of traditional quarter or semester systems. Students complete assignments at set points during the class based on their start date. Discussion and interaction with other students is usually minimal.

Fixed-Time Online Courses

Students access all academic materials from a computer (no in-person meetings are required), but must log in to virtually attend and participate in class at specific times.

Hybrid Online Courses

The majority of course materials and instruction are provided online and can be done remotely, but students are required to meet in person one or more times during the course.


How Much Does an Online Degree Cost?

There is no doubt that a college education pays off - on average, a college graduate earns $1,000,000 more than a high-school only graduate over the course of their lifetime, according to the College Scorecard. Individual earnings vary greatly from person to person based on what level of degree you earn, what you study, and what kind of career you choose to pursue.

The cost of a college degree can vary wildly as well. It's no secret that tuition prices have skyrocketed in the last few decades. Online degrees aren't necessarily cheaper than traditional on-campus degree programs, but choosing an online degree program can save you money in commuting costs and materials, and most importantly, give you the flexibility to work while you earn your degree more easily than if you had to take classes in-person.

School Name Out-of-state Total Program Cost
Coastal Carolina University $128,400
College of Coastal Georgia $16,320

In-state vs. Out-of-State Online Colleges

One of the main reasons that you might be considering an online college is because it frees you up from having to visit a campus, meaning you could attend college anywhere, regardless of where you live or work. This is absolutely true, and it means that you can consider colleges and online degree programs that wouldn't be available to you if you had to attend traditional in-person classes.

Many students enroll at public colleges in their own state to qualify for lower in-state tuition rates. However, several public colleges now offer in-state tuition rates to all online students, even if you don't live in the same state as the school. This can mean savings of thousands of dollars a year, which means you pay less out-of-pocket and take out fewer loans. If you are looking for a degree with a high return on investment, or are entering a field that doesn't pay a six-figure salary, do your research to find out if the program you are interested in can be found somewhere where you qualify for in-state tuition.

Consider Your Options

There are three main types of online schools, and each offers different advantages when it comes to cost:

Average Tuition and Fees by Type of Institution, 2016–17
  4-year Institutions 2-year Institutions
Public $8,800 $3,500
Private Nonprofit $33,500 $17,300
Private For-profit $16,300 $14,500
Community Colleges

At a community college, you can pursue your associate degree online, either to qualify for introductory positions in your chosen field or as preparation for a four-year program down the line. Tuition at two-year schools is lower than at most colleges, and for students just starting college, it might make sense for you to begin here.

Professional & Career Colleges

If you want to attend school and prepare for a specific career, you can develop industry-specific skills in a career college. Whether you're interested in nursing, secretarial work, or anything else, a professional college can help you take the next step in your career.

Public Colleges

These are the traditional four-year state schools. As a general matter, public colleges are usually cheaper than private schools. Some online schools offer reduced tuition rates to in-state students, while others are able to offer in-state tuition to students throughout the country.

Private, Not-for-Profit Colleges and Universities

Many, though not all, of the private schools offering online programs are religious schools. Some of these schools incorporate scripture into their online program, though others do not, and have no religious requirements for distance learners. Private non-profit schools are often more expensive than other four-year options, so be sure to do your research and find a school that fits with your budget.

Private, For-Profit Colleges and Universities

There are a number of reputable private for-profit colleges as well. When researching for-profit schools, it is vital that you research their accreditation and reputation, as there are a number of diploma mills in this category.


HOW TO PAY FOR YOUR ONLINE DEGREE

Earning an online college degree requires a substantial investment. While some students choose to pay for college out-of-pocket using savings or loans from their parents, many must seek financial aid to offset the costs of tuition, housing, food, and other necessary expenses. Many online schools also allow students to pay for tuition and housing in monthly installments, rather than paying one lump sum for each semester or quarter term. These deferred payment plans carry little to no interest, but the balance must be paid off by the end of each term.

Financial Aid

Financial aid opportunities are available through various sources, including the federal government, nonprofit organizations, and private companies, as well as the online college or university the student attends.

  • A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to qualify for federal student loans, as well as many scholarships and grants. The FAFSA form may be completed and submitted online.
  • The FAFSA includes questions about the applicant's financial background, including their family's income, tax history, and current assets. All undergraduate and graduate students must complete the FAFSA form.
  • The student's online college will evaluate the information in the FAFSA form and send them a financial aid offer, including federal loans. The college will also guide them through the process of accepting part or all of the offer.
  • Students who complete FAFSA forms are paid in disbursements from the school they attend. The money is generally disbursed twice per academic year.
  • Some schools automatically deduct tuition and housing payments from the disbursements, and provide students with the remaining balance. Other colleges disburse all of the financial aid, requiring students to make tuition and housing payments themselves. The aid money that is left over may be used for books, food, transportation, and personal expenses.
  • Students may seek loans from the federal government or private lending institutions, such as banks or credit unions. Federal loans carry a fixed interest rate and the interest may be tax-deductible. These loans do not need to be repaid until the student graduates or leaves school, and those who struggle to repay their loans may be able to postpone or reduce their monthly payments.
  • Loans from private lenders, on the other hand, typically carry a variable interest rate -- up to 18% in some cases -- and the interest is rarely tax-deductible. Students are often required to begin repaying the loans while they are still in school. Private lenders may place restrictions on how the aid money is spent, as well.
  • The federal government offers Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The federal government will pay the student's interest as long as they are enrolled in college courses, and during the six-month period after they graduate.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to any undergraduate or graduate student, regardless of their financial need. However, students will be responsible for paying the entire interest.
  • Loan repayments are due each month. The federal government offers several loan repayment options, including structured plans that allow students to pay off the entire balance in 10 to 30 years.
Work-Study Programs
  • Federal Work-Study is designed for students who demonstrate financial need. The program allows them to work part-time while enrolled in courses.
  • Any student attending a school that participates in Federal Work-Study is eligible for the program. This includes those seeking undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees, as well as those enrolled part-time or full-time.
  • Federal Work-Study jobs are often related to the student's field of study. On- and off-campus positions may be available through the program. Those who work on-campus usually work for the school, while off-campus employees often work for nonprofit organizations or public agencies.
  • The college's financial aid office will review the student's academic record and class schedule to determine the number of hours he or she may work per week.
  • All students participating in Federal Work-Study earn at least the federal minimum wage. Skilled positions may offer more compensation. Additionally, earnings depend on the college's amount of available funding and the student's financial need.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs

According to a report from the Society of Human Resource Management, more than half of private organizations offer tuition reimbursement plans to employees who wish to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate. These plans are mutually beneficial. Employees who receive assistance can offset some of the out-of-pocket costs for their education, and employers strengthen their workforce with workers who have advanced training in their field. However, tuition reimbursement will not cover all of the student's expenses. The average organization reimburses roughly $4,600 in tuition expenses per year. Additionally, the employee may be required to work for the organization for a certain length of time after they have received their degree or certificate.

Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships
  • A grant is a form of financial aid delivered to students in a lump sum. The federal government provides grants to low-income students, and many colleges and universities also offer similar grants.
  • Fellowships are a type of grant for students who conduct independent research studies. Scholarships are similar to grants, but these are normally available through private organizations.
  • Some grants, fellowships, and scholarships impose restrictions on how the money may be spent. Recipients who do not follow these guidelines may need to pay back some or all of the award. Otherwise, these forms of financial aid -- unlike loans -- do not need to be repaid.
  • Some grants, fellowships, and scholarships are delivered to students in a single payment. Other 'renewable' awards are available for two or more years of study. Students may need to reapply for renewable awards in order to receive successive payments.
  • Some of these awards require students to attend national conferences, or work or volunteer in their community while attending school.
  • To learn more about finding grants, fellowships, and scholarships, please scroll down to the 'Financing Your Online Degree' section.

Online Colleges by State

Even though one big advantage of an online college or university is the fact that you can take courses anywhere in the world, most online students take classes from a school within 100 miles of where they live. Online programs offer a great deal of flexibility, but enrolling in an online degree program close to your home can offer some big advantages. If you enroll in an online program close to home, you can save money with in-state tuition, easily access campus resources like libraries, gyms or in-person office hours with professors, and you can access hybrid programs, which require you to spend some time on campus in addition to online curriculum.

Ready to learn what online college degrees are available in your state? Select from the map below to learn about online degree programs where you live.


Why Choose Online Education?

A big reason for the growth in online education is demand. Online college programs make college more accessible to a much larger population than traditional on-campus learning. Thanks to technology, you can earn an online associate degree, online bachelor's degree or online master's degree without having to sacrifice your job or time caring for your family.


In a recent survey conducted by BestColleges.com of over 1,000 online learners, an overwhelming 65% of respondents cite flexibility as the top reason for pursuing an online education. These respondents were also less concerned about curriculum specifics or access to on-campus activities. While traditional factors such as affordability, academic excellence and delivery format remain major determining factors, our survey results suggest a majority of students choose to take courses online because they are more convenient.

The advantages of online courses are more than just a sense of freedom. Online courses eliminate the need to commute to a campus, which saves money as well. There are several costs associated with this type of long-term campus commute, and as 29% of respondents report a household income of less than $50,000 a year, affordability matters. In addition, 46% of online students cite choosing the convenience of an online course due to a lack of a local campus or an inability to regularly commute to one.

About 81% of online students are also employed, so the convenience of distance education works in their favor, allowing them to complete classes around their employment schedule. While almost 63% of students say that the courses they took were to further their career, only 17% claim that taking courses was due to a desire to change careers. These responses may suggest that many online students are looking to expand their current professional skills, including the skills needed for a job promotion, rather than shift career paths entirely.

But full or part-time employment is not the only hurdle to completing higher education; nearly 34% of respondents say they chose online classes due to flexibility surrounding their family's scheduling demands. In fact, 33% of those surveyed had dependent children living with them when they took courses, offering some insight into what types of external factors students may have to consider when selecting a learning format, such as childcare arrangements.


Our rankings of the best online colleges and universities are a jumping off point to help you build your own list of prospective programs that meet your needs. Remember, many factors that contribute to the quality of a degree program are intangible. You won't find data points here or elsewhere that fully capture the level of faculty support, peer networking or academic and professional stimulation found in one program versus another. Please contact your schools directly for more information.

How Does Online College Work?

Lectures

Specific requirements vary by program, but most online students log into their school's learning management system (LMS) to participate in course lectures. Asynchronous programs allow students to view lecture recordings on their own time. Alternatively, synchronous programs may require students to watch live-streaming lectures. In some cases, synchronous courses feature video conferencing components that allow students to ask questions and interact with their professors and fellow students.

Peer to Peer Interaction

Online courses often feature discussion boards where students can communicate through written posts. Videoconferencing may be also available, and students may contact one another by phone, email, or social media. Additionally, students who live close to campus may be able to coordinate live study groups with their classmates.

Instructor Interaction

Online courses frequently feature a discussion board dedicated to faculty questions. Many professors will also provide their personal contact information -- including email, phone, and social media -- to ensure their students can easily contact them if they have questions or concerns.

Assignments and Homework
  • The assignments and homework requirements for online courses will usually mirror those of on-campus classes. Depending on the subject, these assignments may include group projects, presentations, and research papers.
  • Many online courses also require students to participate in group discussions on LMS boards. The LMS will feature specific drop boxes for each individual assignment.
  • Synchronous courses often follow a tight schedule. Asynchronous courses allow more flexibility for assignments, though most still have weekly deadlines.
  • Online courses may use online platforms like Pearson MyLab, which organize course content into quizzes, tutorials, and other interactive materials.
Presentations
  • Online courses may include presentation assignments. In most cases, group members communicate and work on their project through discussion boards, email, or phone.
  • The presentations are usually delivered remotely, either through Blackboard Collaborate and other live web conferencing tools or videos posted on websites like YouTube.
Tests and Exams

  • Quizzes for most online courses are completed using the LMS.
  • Tests and exams in online courses may be proctored or monitored remotely. Proctored exams usually require students to visit local testing centers, where onsite proctors can monitor them.
  • For virtually monitored exams, the proctor may observe the student using a webcam. Some courses also use cheating detection software to monitor the student's web activity while they are taking the exam.
  • Online proctoring requires a high-speed internet connection, since the exams are delivered entirely online. The online proctor may also carry certain technical requirements related to a student's computer.
  • Online proctors charge a small fee, which must be paid when the student schedules their exam. Most online proctors will record exam sessions.
Graduation

For many online students, their graduation date marks the first time they set foot on their school's campus. Online students are often invited to participate in cap-and-gown ceremonies with on-campus graduates, where they receive their official diploma. Smaller ceremonies may be held to honor online graduates in specific programs. Some online colleges hold live-streamed commencement ceremonies and will mail diplomas to each graduate at a later date.


Growing Popularity of Online Programs

One in three U.S. college students is now taking at least one class online, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Many leaders in education predict digital learning will become even more of an everyday experience for college students and recommend that high schools require students to take one online course before graduation, a requirement many high schools have already adopted.

In terms of total enrollments nationwide, growth rates of online enrollment have exceeded traditional enrollments since 2002, when fewer than 10% of new students were enrolled in at least one online class.


Digital learning is easily the most dramatic change to sweep higher education in more than a century. Colleges are under pressure to expand their online program offerings to meet the rising demand for distance learning options across the country. Learners can choose to take individual courses online, or to pursue a formal certificate or degree program. In fact, 63% of the students responding to our survey were working towards a degree, with the majority of them working towards a four-year bachelor's degree. The rest were enrolled in online classes for personal learning and growth rather than college credit.

Recent declines in online enrollment can be attributed to an overall, post-recession decline in college enrollment as well as a significant decline in enrollment at online for-profit colleges. Overall, enrollment in online degree programs is growing at a faster pace than general college enrollment.

Growth of Available Online Degree Programs

This is great news for prospective students. Academia, once synonymous with tradition and the slow and careful adoption of all things new, is changing more quickly than ever and for the better. There have never been more opportunities for a more diverse group of degree-seekers.

Consider the rapid growth in the number of online degree programs available between 2012 and 2014. Over the last three academic years, we've seen a 45% increase in the number of online programs offered across the United States, for a total of 13,092 in 2014-2015. You can choose from over 550 individual degree programs alone that are offered by the 4-year colleges featured within our list of the best online universities.



Financing Your Online Degree

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, the need for financial aid is still a reality for most students. Rest assured, loans aren't your only option. Explore our collection of financial aid resources or dig into one of the following guides to read more about financing your education.

An Overview of Financial Aid

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options savvy students can use to reduce the total costs of their education.

Understanding the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most crucial step for any student seeking financial aid. Follow our step-by-step guide for answers to frequently asked questions.

Financial Aid for Online College Students

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 and funding opportunities for online students.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for single parents looking for a more secure financial future for their children. We've compiled a list of scholarships for these hard-working parents.

Scholarships for Military Dependents

Military spouses and children are often faced with uncertainty, making online education a good option for those on the move. We've compiled a list of scholarships specifically for military dependents.

Resources to Help You Succeed

Are you considering a return to school? Do you feel uncertain about your ability to pick up where you left off? Browse our collection of student resources for a little peace of mind. Our guides are designed to help students at any level enter the classroom with confidence. Whether at home or on campus, find the help you need to get the most out of your education. Below you'll find some of our more popular resources.

Guide to Online Research

There's a lot of misinformation circulating online for inexperienced researchers. With the help of our online research guide, you can learn how to find reputable sources and discern fact from fiction.

Guide to Academic Writing

For those returning to school, the thought of academic writing can feel intimidating. From research papers to essay exams, our guide provides a high-level overview of how to tackle the usual suspects.

Information on Choosing a Major

Choosing a major can feel overwhelming, but that doesn't have to be the case. Let us walk you through the process of narrowing your choice and take the next step with confidence.

Understanding Stress

Returning to college? Know that stress comes with the territory, especially if you're trying to also balance the demands of work and family. Let us help you better understand stress and how to manage it.

Living on a Student Budget

Whether it's your first time away from home or you're returning to school, paying for college means living on a tighter budget. Our guide walks you through tracking expenses, establishing a budget, and saving money.