Accredited Online CollegesYour Complete Guide for 2018

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A college degree is the best way to advance your career and increase your earning potential, but family, work, and where you live can make school feel out of reach. Online colleges, however, allow more people than ever before to earn a degree while balancing life's other responsibilities. These programs offer the academic quality and flexibility you need to get ahead. There have never been more or better choices for earning an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree online.

The following guide is meant to answer some of the most common questions and concerns about online education, including cost, the application process, and the challenges associated with online studies. Our list of this year's best online colleges and universities is a good place to start as you research options for earning your degree.

We review hundreds of colleges every year to help you find an online program that best meets your needs. Our final list includes 50 of the best online schools in the country. Each ranked school is a fully accredited, nonprofit institution that offers at least ten online bachelor's degrees and three online master's degrees. Our assessments use qualitative measures and data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Review our complete methodology here.

Use this list of the 50 best online colleges to begin your search for a program that works with your budget, your schedule, and your learning style. Each school profile includes information about available subjects and majors, as well as notable student outcomes. Following our ranking, you can learn more about choosing an online college that fits your unique needs.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Location Description
1 University of Florida RANKING SCORE 89.79 COST Graduation Rate 87% LOCATION Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida was launched in 2014 to provide both new and transferring students full-time, high-quality baccalaureate degree programs. Prospective Gators have an opportunity to study in one of 200 online programs with flexible learning options, world-class faculty, and a worldwide alumni network of 415,000 Gators.

Florida offers bachelor's of arts degrees in anthropology, biology, criminology, geography, geology, psychology, and sociology. Students can also pursue BS degrees in fields such as business administration, computer science, environmental management, fire and emergency services, nursing, public relations, sports management, and telecommunication, media, and society.

Florida has a comprehensive list of master’s degree offerings, including programs in art education, business administration, educational leadership, aerospace engineering, fire and emergency services, and gerontology. Notable online programs include the 30-credit master’s in veterinary forensics science, a program for professionals working in veterinary medicine and forensic science. Areas of study include animal crime scene processing, scientific and legal principles of forensic evidence, cruelty to animals, and interpersonal violence. The school’s 32-credit master of science in pharmaceutical sciences has several areas of emphasis, including forensic science, pharmaceutical regulation, and forensic DNA and serology. The school also offers a selection of undergraduate and graduate certificates in various fields.

Most courses are delivered asynchronously. Students may enroll full-time or part-time and can even take time away from their studies. Other notable school features include affordable tuition and comprehensive financial aid offerings, virtual career fairs, and access to job boards.

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2 University of Central Florida RANKING SCORE 75.49 COST Graduation Rate 69% LOCATION Orlando, FL

Founded in 1963, this Orlando-based university is the largest postsecondary institution in the United States by overall enrollment, as well as undergraduate enrollment. UCF currently serves more than 63,000 students, many of whom are enrolled in online courses and degree programs through the school's robust distance learning program.

All online courses at UCF are led by the same professors and faculty members that teach the same subjects on campus. A total of 18 fully online bachelor's degrees are available for undergraduate distance learners. These include Bachelor of Arts degrees in core subjects like history, English and political science, as well as niche fields like communication and conflict and Latin American studies. A BSN program is also offered for prospective nurses. In addition to full degrees, online undergrads can also choose from 29 minors in five academic areas: arts and humanities; education and human performance; health and public affairs; hospitality management; and sciences. All of these options are available as '2+2 baccalaureate completion' programs for students who have completed some college in the past without earning a four-year degree. As an extra perk, UCF Online students are not charged administrative fees for resources exclusively used by brick-and-mortar students.

UCF also features 24 fully online master's degrees for graduate-level students. These programs cover a wide range of academic subjects. Master of Arts (M.A.) options include degrees in applied learning and instruction, educational leadership and English-technical communication. Alternatively, online students at UCF can earn Master of Science (M.S.) degrees in fields like criminal justice and digital forensics. UCF also offers web-based master's degrees in seven specialized engineering fields, a dual public administration and criminal justice master's, and an MSN option for nurses. Some UCF Online master's programs are 30 to 35 credits in length, and may be completed in as little as one year of full-time enrollment.

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3 Northeastern University RANKING SCORE 72.14 COST Graduation Rate 86% LOCATION Boston, MA

Northeastern University Global Network is the name given to the school's collective satellite campuses and worldwide research partnerships. The online degrees/certificates themselves are offered through Northeastern University.

Established in 1898, this institution of nearly 25,000 students functions as a private research university. In addition to four Boston-area campuses, the university's 'Global Network' extends to satellite campuses in Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley and Toronto. Northeastern also holds partnerships with education and research facilities in more than 150 countries.

Northeastern currently offers 10 online bachelor's degrees for distance learners. Three management-related bachelor's degrees are offered -- general management, finance and accounting management and health management -- as well as a leadership degree. Other undergraduate degrees are available in human services, information technology, liberal studies, political science, professional communication and psychology. All of Northeastern's online bachelor's degree programs are 120 credits in length, and designed to be completed with four years of full-time enrollment or seven years of part-time enrollment. Each degree follows a comprehensive curriculum consisting of one-credit labs and three-credit foundational, major-related and professional elective courses. The psychology degree program culminates in a senior research seminar. Most of the remaining programs culminate in a final project; human services majors must also complete an on-site practicum course, where they will receive supervised training from experienced professionals at a working human services facility. As of Fall 2016, all bachelor's programs at Northeastern follow a semester-based schedule.

Online graduate students enrolled at Northeastern can choose from 37 master's degree pathways. These include nine degrees in business- and management-related fields, seven in health and human services and five in education. The university also offers several highly specialized programs for online master's students, including tracks in energy systems, geographic information technology, homeland security, security and resilience studies and two degrees concentrated in regulatory affairs. Doctorates in education and transitional physical therapy are also available in a primarily online format. Additionally, two undergraduate certificates and 30 graduate certificates can be earned entirely online within one year of full-time study.

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4 University of Alabama at Birmingham RANKING SCORE 71.99 COST Graduation Rate 53% LOCATION Birmingham, AL

Established as an extension center in 1936, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has added a robust virtual college internationally recognized for academic excellence, research, and innovation. The school offers a comprehensive catalog of fully online and hybrid degree and certificate programs. With working adults in mind, the virtual college offers students flexible learning options. Bachelor’s degrees offered fully online include programs in accounting, criminal justice, marketing, information systems, and finance. The school’s Department of Human Studies offers a BS in community health and human services, a program that prepares students for a career as a community coordinator, outreach specialist, or drug abuse counselor. The BS in industrial distribution has two tracks: engineering and medical equipment and supplies.

Master’s degrees are available in accounting, criminal justice, sociology, and engineering, each with corresponding concentrations. Master’s programs offered in a blended format include the MS in health informatics, the MAED in special education-collaborative teacher, and the MS in health information-executive format. Notably, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online master’s of public health has several concentrations delivered fully online, including epidemiology, health behavior, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. The 44- to 45-credit master of science in nursing— nurse practitioner provides nurses with specializations in women’s health, family healthcare, and psychiatric-mental health.

UAB's online programs are delivered through Canvas, and eLearners have access to expansive support services such as the Access Success Center, libraries, and technical support. Those graduating from this institution become part of an alumni network of more than 115,000 graduates around the globe.

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5 Liberty University RANKING SCORE 71.63 COST Graduation Rate 51% LOCATION Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University is a private, not-for-profit Christian doctoral research university with its main campus located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Launched in 1985, the school's distance learning program, Liberty’s online programs, follows a non-traditional academic timetable. Classes are 8 weeks in length, and there are eight start dates each year.

Nearly all online programs are offered nearly 100% online. Only one bachelor's program requires a one week, on-campus class, and that is the B.S. in social work; the remaining bachelor's degree programs are delivered fully online, and are designed to be completed in four years or less. Liberty’s Online programs bachelor's programs span 16 academic departments, and tout tuition that is considerably lower than the on-campus degree programs at $9,360 instead of the traditional $20,300. The online bachelor's degree programs also have no additional fees, and are completely free to apply.

The school's options for business administration degrees are particularly extensive; students may choose from degree concentrations in 16 different fields, including digital marketing and advertising, entrepreneurship, financial planning, green and sustainable management, marketing analytics and project management. Criminal justice majors may also pick a degree specialization from fields like homeland security, juvenile justice and public administration. As a faith-based university, Liberty’s Online programs also offers degrees in religion (with four concentrations), biblical and educational studies and Christian leadership and management, as well as a Christian counseling concentration for psychology majors. A total of 24 online minors are also available to undergraduates, four of which are focused on Christian studies. There also are undergraduate degrees in aviation, communications, education, history, information technology, nursing, and more.

Graduate students enrolled at Liberty’s online programs also enjoy a wide range of online master's degree selections. Aspiring teachers seeking a Master of Education can choose from more than 15 different degree specializations, including obtaining licensure if needed. The school's MBA programs include 36-hour and 45-hour tracks that have 16 possible specializations. Online counseling options are also quite robust. For example, the master of arts (M.A.) degrees in human services counseling and pastoral counseling each feature 11 possible concentrations. Online grad students pursuing a religious master's can also earn degrees in seven different fields through the Rawlings School of Divinity. Finally, Liberty’s online programs offers web-based and blended doctoral degree programs in business, counseling, education, music, nursing and religious studies. The application fee is $40 for master’s degree programs and $50 for doctoral and postgraduate degrees.

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6 Florida International University RANKING SCORE 71.46 COST Graduation Rate 56% LOCATION Miami, FL

The second largest public university in the state of Florida, FIU's main campus is situated in the heart of downtown Miami. According to the school's website, more than 200,000 students worldwide have successfully completed web-based degree and certificate programs through FIU Online coursework. FIU's online business, engineering, MBA and bachelor's degree programs also earned spots on 2016 best-of rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

FIU Online features a total of 21 online bachelor's degree programs. These include degrees in eight business-oriented fields: organizational communication studies; finance; hospitality management; human resource management; international business; logistics and supply chain management; management; and marketing. Bachelor's programs in core academic subjects include degrees in criminal justice, early childhood education, health services administration, psychology, religious studies and sociology, as well as an RN to BSN track for registered nurses. The university also offers bachelor's pathways in less traditional areas of study, including sustainability and the environment, women's and gender studies and two tracks in recreation and sports management. All online bachelor's degree options at FIU are 120 credits in length, and are typically completed after four years of full-time study; each online student is paired with a 'success coach' to ensure they meet key deadlines and complete their degree requirements in a timely, cost-effective manner. With the exception of the RN to BSN program, all bachelor's degree pathways at FIU are delivered fully online.

Most of the online master's programs available through FIU Online are fully online, and many are available in accelerated formats that allow students to earn their degree in 12 to 18 months. Options for business students include corporate and healthcare MBA tracks, as well as master's degrees in hospitality management, human resources management and international business. The university also features master's degrees for teachers in curriculum/instruction and special education. Additional online master's options include degrees in construction management, computer engineering/network security, forensic science, music education and real estate.

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7 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities RANKING SCORE 69.79 COST Graduation Rate 78% LOCATION Minneapolis, MN

Founded in 1851, UM-Twin Cities currently boasts more than 34,000 enrolled students and a campus in the heart of Minneapolis that covers 1,204 acres. The school's online campus is also impressive: a total of 69 fully, primarily and partially online degree and certificate programs for undergraduate and graduate-level distance learners.

Bachelor's degree programs for online undergrads are primarily compartmentalized in two broad areas of academic study: business and science. In addition to a bachelor's in general management, business-savvy students can also earn degrees in accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, international business and marketing. Students interested in pursuing a science-related bachelor's can take their pick from programs in applied health, information technology management and medical laboratory science. Other undergraduate options include degrees in specialized fields like tribal administration and governance, sports and recreation management and social work. All 20 online bachelor's degrees offered through UM-Twin Cities consist of 120 credit hours, and are designed to be completed after four years of full-time enrollment. Sixteen are delivered in a fully online format and four are partially online. Undergraduates can also earn fully online certificates in the following fields: applied business; autism spectrum disorders; business administration; finance; manufacturing management; and taxation.

Online master's programs at UM-Twin Cities are mostly concentrated in healthcare, science and technology. These include degrees in computer science, health informatics, healthcare administration, public health, dental hygiene and electrical engineering. An executive MPH in Public Health Administration and Policy is also available. The online MBA is 57 credits in length, while the master's in occupational therapy runs 78 credits. Otherwise, the online master's degrees at UM-Twin Cities range from 30 to 42 credit hours, and can be completed in one year to 18 months of full-time study. Seven are partially online, five are fully online and three are primarily online.

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8 Arizona State University RANKING SCORE 69.05 COST Graduation Rate 67% LOCATION Tempe, AZ

With nearly 52,000 students during the 2015-16 academic year, ASU is currently the sixth largest university in the U.S. by total enrollment. The Tempe institution also took first place in the 2016 'Most Innovative National Universities' ranking published by U.S. News & World Report. This recognition is largely due to ASU's groundbreaking distance learning program; currently the university offers more than 100 fully online degree programs.

Undergraduate online students can choose from 63 different bachelor's degree programs. These include 28 B.A. and 26 B.S. degrees, as well as applied science bachelor's degrees in health sciences, Internet and web development and operations management. A total of 22 online minors are available, as well; these include niche fields such as family and human development, global health and sustainability. ASU Online also features 'exploratory' undergraduate degrees in four areas: health and life sciences; humanities, fine arts and design; math, physical sciences, engineering and technology; and social and behavioral sciences. These programs are geared toward students who have an interest in certain academic areas but have not yet chosen a major. In 2015, ASU Online announced a new partnership with EdX titled the 'Global Freshmen Academy'. This program is open to all incoming freshmen; candidates do not need to formally apply for enrollment in GFA, and will only asked to pay for courses that they complete with a passing grade.

Online degree programs for graduate students at ASU are also extensive. A total of 47 online master's degrees are available. These options include seven degrees in engineering, six in education and two hybrid MBA/engineering degrees, as well as programs in cutting-edge fields like biomimicry, health innovation and sustainable tourism. Doctorate degrees in education and behavioral health are also offered through ASU Online. In addition to degrees, online students can also choose from 18 undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Most certificates range between 15 and 20 credit hours, and can be completed in six courses or less.

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9 Excelsior College RANKING SCORE 68.94 COST Graduation Rate 45% LOCATION Albany, NY

Established in 1971, this private non-profit school is based in the capital city of Albany, New York. Excelsior, along with Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey (see #15) and Charter Oak College State College in Connecticut, are collectively known as the 'The Big Three' due to their lenient residency requirements for online students.

Online bachelor's degrees at Excelsior fall into six academic departments. The school's most robust online branch is 'Technology', with multi-concentration bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity, electrical engineering, information technology, technology management and general technology. An innovative dual program also allows students to earn a bachelor's in nuclear engineering and an MBA in just 151 credits. Online liberal arts options are also extensive, with a total of 15 online degrees in humanities, liberal arts, natural science and social science subjects. Business students can pursue a web-based degree in general business, as well as seven concentrated subjects. Additionally, eight B.S. to MBA dual tracks span 147 credits in length. The bachelor's in health sciences option includes possible concentrations in health and wellness, health education, health care management and public health. Online degree tracks in the 'Public Service' department include bachelor's degrees in criminal justice and national security -- each with five possible concentrations -- and a B.S. in military leadership. Finally, an RN to BSN pathway is available to registered nurses.

At the graduate level, Excelsior allows business students to take their pick from 10 MBA specializations and four management specializations. Specialized Master of Health Sciences degrees are also available in health professions education, public health and healthcare informatics. In addition to the RN to BSN pathway, registered nurses may also enter an RN to MSN track with three specializations; these specializations are available in the standard MSN program, as well. Additional possibilities for online grad students at Excelsior include master's degrees in criminal justice, public administration and cybersecurity.

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10 Regis University RANKING SCORE 68.73 COST Graduation Rate 68% LOCATION Denver, CO

One of 28 Jesuit colleges in the nation, Regis University emphasizes a rigorous, Jesuit-conscious curriculum delivered by award-winning faculty both online and on campus. The school offers bachelor's degrees in applied science, communication, computer science, global studies, and health information management, among others. The 120- to 128-credit BS in business has several specializations, including management, marketing, public administration, and project management. The 120-credit BA in global studies draws from coursework in the humanities and sciences, with classes available in human trafficking, global health, animal exploitation, and a senior capstone in global citizenry.

Regis offers master's degrees in accounting, criminology, data science, education—with several areas of specialization—human resource management, and information assurance. The 36- to 42-credit online MBA program has several options, including specializations in finance and accounting, health industry leadership, and strategic management. The 30- to 31-credit MS in nursing also has several specializations, including family nurse practitioner and neonatal nurse practitioner. The 33- to 35-credit MA in education: teaching the linguistically diverse provides educators with the training necessary to help bilingual learners learn how to overcome challenges faced in English-speaking classrooms.

Courses are taught asynchronously, some with varying start dates throughout the year. Many of the school’s online degree programs give students the option to complete their degree in an accelerated timeframe. Additionally, the school allows students to transfer up to 90 credits from a regionally accredited institution. Support services include free tutoring through Smarthinking, a writing center, and academic success workshops. Whether studying on campus or online, students at Regis University are taught by faculty who incorporate real-world experience into the classroom curriculum.

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11 Brandman University RANKING SCORE 67.12 COST Graduation Rate 45% LOCATION Irvine, CA

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Brandman was founded in 1958 as a residential education center for Chapman University. Brandman's online programs are developed using the innovative Instructional Design for Engaged Adult Learning (iDEAL) model, which takes student flexibility and preferred learning methods into account. As a result, many of the school's courses are exclusively online and follow an asynchronous (or self-paced) timetable. A demo course created with iDEAL is available.

Brandman's online bachelor's degree programs are categorized into four core academic departments. The 'Arts and Sciences' branch features 25 B.A. degree options, including seven in criminal justice, five in psychology and four in applied studies. In the 'School of Business and Professional Studies', students can choose from three online bachelor's in organizational leadership, 11 in business administration and three in computing technology. Undergrads seeking a teaching degree can earn a B.A. in liberal studies (multiple subjects teaching), as well as two educational credentials and five authorizations in the online format. Finally, the 'Nursing and Health Professions' branch features an online RN to BSN program, as well as three BSN to Doctor Nursing Practice (DNP) pathways. The nursing and B.S. in social work tracks feature practicum course components, which require students to receive onsite training. Several of the other online bachelor's programs at Brandman culminate in a capstone project.

All of Brandman's online master's degree programs are offered through the 'School of Business and Professional Studies' and 'Education' branches. A total of 10 MBA specializations are available online; these options include degrees in e-business strategic management, entrepreneurship, human resources and international business. Additional online master's in this department include an M.A. in organizational leadership, an M.S. in human resources and two Master of Public Administration (MPA) tracks. Aspiring teachers can earn a Master of Education in six specialized tracks, as well as degrees in school counseling, educational leadership and four special education concentrations.

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12 Texas Tech University RANKING SCORE 67.01 COST Graduation Rate 60% LOCATION Lubbock, TX

Texas Tech University began administering distance learning with "flying professors" who, in 1966, brought education to students spread across Texas. In the school's modern iteration of distance learning, students all around the country and the world are now a part of a learning community with more than 100 degree programs available fully online and through regional teaching sites.

TTU offers bachelor's programs online in fields like communication studies, political science, architecture, general studies, biology, and early childcare. Notable programs include a bachelor of applied arts and sciences in applied leadership, which has an occupational specialization that incorporates coursework already completed in an associate of applied science degree. The BS in plant and soil sciences hybrid program prepares students for careers in golf course management and environmental consulting; students take most of the courses online but attend on-campus classes for labs.

As one of the best colleges in the state, graduate programs at Texas Tech vary widely and include master's degrees in education, civil engineering, public administration, family and consumer sciences, horticulture, and software engineering. The school has a strong MA education program with master's degrees including higher education administration, special education, instructional technology, and educational leadership and principal professional certification preparation.

The professional science master's degree focuses on sustainability science and prepares graduates for science careers in government, business, or nonprofits. The school offers tuition for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency, comprehensive support services for online learners, and the freedom to transfer scholarships from community colleges.

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13 Cleary University RANKING SCORE 66.95 COST Graduation Rate 48% LOCATION Ann Arbor, MI

Founded in 1883, Cleary University is a Michigan-based business college that prepares students with the real-world knowledge and skills businesses want in new employees. The institution offers BBA and MBA programs for nontraditional learners, traditional students, and transfer students in small class sizes with faculty who serve as mentors. All programs focus on increasing critical thinking, intuition, and leadership skills. Some programs are offered online to give students an opportunity to enroll no matter where they live. The bachelor of business management contains a well-rounded curriculum that prepares students for careers in business or for entry into graduate school.

One of the BBA's fully-online specializations in business management integrates a business education with hands-on learning in order to prepare students for entry-level supervisory roles in management, marketing, finance, and human resources. The BBA's accounting and finance specialization is ideal for students seeking to move into managerial roles with a Certified Management Accountant title.

Students hoping to become leaders in global business have the option of pursuing Cleary's MBA in global leadership. This program prioritizes group learning projects that reflect real-life collaborative business practice. The MBA in healthcare leadership prepares a cohort of problem-solvers and leaders trained to develop sound business practices that enhance patient care. Project work is an essential part of the curriculum, and most of it is done virtually. Cleary University also offers a seven-course graduate certificate online in financial planning.

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14 Western Governors University RANKING SCORE 66.61 COST Graduation Rate 26% LOCATION Salt Lake City, UT

Western Governors University was founded in 1997 by 19 governors seeking to reinvent higher education. The result is an exclusively virtual college for busy working adults hoping to earn a bachelor's or a master's degree entirely online. The school is one of the only online colleges offering programs in all 50 states and boasts approximately 80,000 enrolled students. Programs require that students meet certain competency standards for graduation, hence the school's use of "competency units" instead of "credits."

The school offers bachelor's degrees in business with specializations in business management, healthcare management, and accounting. The school has an extensive teacher preparation program, including BA degrees with licensure in special education, math, science, and interdisciplinary studies. Bachelor's degrees are also available in fields like software development, data management/data analytics, health information management, and RN to BSN. The school offers an extensive catalog of master's degrees in education, including MA teacher preparation programs in English, math, science, social science, and elementary education. Notably, the school's teaching degrees are recognised in all 50 states. Other graduate programs include master's degrees in information assurance, business administration (MBA), accounting, and nursing.

Once students enroll at the college, they are assigned a mentor with whom they develop a personalized degree plan. The mentor can be contacted by phone, email, or web conferencing to ensure competencies are being met and students are given support. The school works to keep education affordable with flat-rate tuition fees made possible by low operation costs and overhead. Students can complete as many courses as they like each term and pay the same price. Western Governors University also has a generous transfer policy for undergraduate programs and maintains transfer agreements with many community colleges across the nation.

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15 Colorado State University-Global Campus RANKING SCORE 66.19 COST Graduation Rate 67% LOCATION Greenwood Village, CO

Created by the Colorado State University System Board of Governors in 2007, this institution was the first and only 100% online state university in the country. The online courses offered by CSU-Global Campus are led by professors who teach the same subjects in the university's classrooms. Using the Canvas learning platform, web-based courses may contain a mix of audio, video and text-based components, as well as proctored and unproctored exams.

A total of 13 bachelor's degrees are offered to CSU-Global Campus undergrads in an exclusively online format. Students seeking a B.S. degree can choose from five fields: agricultural business, fire and emergency services administration; horticulture; human development and family studies; and psychology. B.A. degrees in anthropology, economics and interdisciplinary liberal arts are also available online. All of CSU-Global's online bachelor's programs run 120 credits in length, and are meant to be completed within four years of full-time study. In addition to traditional courses, some degree programs carry additional requirements.

At the graduate level, a total of 11 online master's degrees are offered in different academic fields. The engineering master's field is particularly robust, with degree pathways available in seven specialized subjects. Six other disciplines feature multiple online master's options: agriculture; arts leadership and music; computer science and technology; higher education and student affairs; human resources and organizational development; and natural resource management. Additional online master's programs at CSU-Global include degrees in adult education, business administration, dietetics, social work and tourism. Most of CSU-Global's online master's tracks consist of 30 to 40 required credit hours, and can be completed within one to two years.

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16 The University of Alabama RANKING SCORE 65.83 COST Graduation Rate 69% LOCATION Tuscaloosa, AL

Considered the largest and oldest public university in the state of Alabama, UA first opened its doors in 1820 and today boasts an enrollment of more than 37,000 students. The school's Bama by Distance program features a wide selection of degree and certificate programs delivered in fully online and hybrid formats. The university also strives to make online education more accessible through the GoArmyEd program aimed at military personnel re-entering civilian life, as well as the Back to Bama and New College LifeTrack programs geared toward adults who have completed college courses in the past without earning a degree.

Bama by Distance offers a total of 13 online bachelor's degree pathways. These include a B.S. in human environmental sciences with eight possible concentrations: food and nutrition; general studies; consumer sciences; family financial planning and counseling; early childhood education; child development; child life; and restaurant, hotels and meetings management. All of these fully online programs are 120 credit hours in length, and full-time students typically complete all of their degree requirements within four years. An online B.A. or B.S. in interdisciplinary studies is also available through the New College LifeTrack program. Other Bama by Distance options for undergrads include a B.S. in commerce and business administration and a hybrid B.S. in mechanical engineering. Nursing students may also choose from online RN to BSN and RN to BSN/MSN pathways.

UA online students seeking a master's in education can select from fully online programs in four subjects: educational psychology learning and assessment; elementary education; secondary education (with a preschool to 12th grade reading specialist certification); and secondary education English language arts. Blended M.A. programs in educational psychology and special education are also available. Other fully online opportunities for master's students are available in business, communication and information sciences, aerospace engineering and mechanics, human environmental sciences, nursing and social work.

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17 Dallas Baptist University RANKING SCORE 65.15 COST Graduation Rate 59% LOCATION Dallas, TX

The integration of Christianity and learning is central to the academic programs at Dallas Baptist University. The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in classrooms with an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. While Dallas Baptist's urban location is home to multinationals, global ministries, and artistic and athletic venues, students don't have to live in Dallas to enroll. Using Blackboard LMS, DBU delivers class content asynchronously, including baccalaureate degrees in Biblical studies, communication, criminal justice, psychology, and sociology.

The school has a strong online bachelor of business administration program with majors in management, management information systems, and marketing. The school also offers an online bachelor of business studies program with majors in business administration, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing. Both programs require students to complete 120 credits.

The virtual college has several master's degree programs in fields like education, business administration (MBA) in several concentrations, student ministry, and liberal arts. Notably, the 30-credit MA in professional development has several concentrations, including managerial accounting, fraud and forensic accounting, and advanced auditing. Those seeking to enroll in accelerated programs leading to both a bachelor's and a master's degree have several options; among them are the 150-credit BBA/MBA in management and the 150-credit BBS/MBA with concentrations in finance and project management. Students may also earn two master's degrees at once, as in the case of the 60-credit MA in children's ministry/MBA and the 60-credit MA in student ministry/MBA. Support services for online students include access to the library, paper-writing assistance at the writing center, and tech support. The school’s tuition rate is identical for in-state and out-of-state students. In addition to financial aid, the school accommodates student needs by offering several payment plan options.

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18 Rutgers University-New Brunswick RANKING SCORE 65.13 COST Graduation Rate 80% LOCATION New Brunswick, NJ

Located just outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey, Rutgers University has approximately 69,000 on-campus and eLearners around the globe. The school's Division of Continuing Studies brings both BA and MA degrees to students in several disciplines.

Baccalaureate programs include the 120-credit RN to BSN, a fully online program that equips registered nurses with the skills required for advancement in healthcare; the program allows nurses to transfer up to 90 credits from a regionally accredited institution. The school's 120-credit BA in business administration is also offered fully online and includes a specialty in hospitality management to students from schools with AACSB accreditation. Both programs are offered asynchronously and can be earned full-time or part-time.

Rutgers offers master's degrees in engineering, liberal studies, public administration, social work, and business administration. The 36-credit master of information integrates the theory and practice of library and information science; students learn to safeguard and distribute intellectual, cultural, and technological records. The 30-credit master of accountancy in governmental accounting prepares professionals for careers in government financial management, auditing, and accounting, and meets the 150-hour CPA exam requirement. The school is lauded for its world-renowned faculty, many of whom are Guggenheim or MacArthur Fellows and Pulitzer Prize or Fulbright Scholars winners.

Just like on-campus programs, Rutgers delivers online learning in small classes with personalized learning. In addition to flexibility, online learners enjoy video and library resources, undertake group projects, and simulate real situations to enhance learning.

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19 Indiana Wesleyan University RANKING SCORE 65.00 COST Graduation Rate 65% LOCATION Marion, IN

Founded in 1920, this private, evangelical university is both the largest university in the state of Indiana and the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. IWU currently offers 100 degree and certificate programs online. The university follows an asynchronous curricular timetable; students usually take courses sequentially, one at a time, and can advance to the next course as soon as their current course has been successfully completed. This schedule allows students to earn a degree at their own pace -- and, often, in less time than other structured degree programs.

A total of 18 online bachelor's programs are available to undergrads at IWU. Seven bachelor's options are concentrated in business; these include two business administration tracks and a degree in marketing with four possible concentrations. All of the university's business bachelor's options range from 40 to 50 credit hours in length. Aspiring teachers may pursue an online bachelor's in early childhood education; this program is offered with a licensure track that includes a practicum student teaching component, or as a non-licensure track with no on-site requirements. Clinical degree options include a bachelor's in counseling and an RN to BSN pathway for nursing students; both of these programs feature on-site practicum requirements. Other online bachelor's programs at IWU cover fields like computer science, criminal justice, communication, psychology and social work. As a faith-based university, IWU also provides an online bachelor's degree in biblical studies.

The majority of IWU's online degree opportunities are available at the graduate level. The university's seven online MBA pathways include a general MBA, as well as dual-study MBA tracks in school administration, healthcare administration and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Other master's programs carry multiple specialization options, as well. These include a master's degree in counseling with six areas of concentration; a master's in education with 10 specialized tracks (many of which are subject-specific); and a master's in nursing track with seven possible specializations. Finally, grad students seeking a religious studies degree from Wesley Seminary can pursue a master's in four areas: divinity (with seven specializations); Maestría en Divinidad (Spanish-language divinity); ministry; and practical theology.

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20 East Carolina University RANKING SCORE 64.92 COST Graduation Rate 61% LOCATION Greenville, NC

Established in 1907, this Greenville-based school is currently the third-largest university in North Carolina by overall student enrollment. In 2007, ECU became the first postsecondary institution to feature an accredited online MBA degree program; today, the university offers more than 80 web-based degree and certificate options for distance learners.

Undergraduates seeking an industrial studies program can select from several online bachelor's degree options. B.S. in industrial technology degrees are available in six specialized fields: bioprocess manufacturing; health information logistics; industrial distribution logistics; industrial supervision; information and computer technology; and manufacturing systems. A B.S. in industrial distribution and logistics is also offered. Business majors can take their pick from multiple degrees, as well. These include a B.S. in business management with concentrations in general business, management, management information systems and operations and supply chain management, as well as B.S. degrees in health services management and hospitality management. ECU's online options for teachers include a hybrid 'part-time cohort' program for students transferring from community colleges; elementary education, middle grades education and special education degrees are available with this track. Other online bachelor's programs include degrees in communication, university studies and an RN to BSN pathway for registered nurses.

Online master's degree opportunities at ECU are even more extensive. A total of 26 master's degrees are delivered fully or partially online. Students pursuing a Master of Education degree can choose from 13 different teaching concentrations. Additionally, an online alternative licensure program is offered to students who have received a bachelor's in education and wish to become fully licensed. The master's in nursing track features five specializations: clinical nurse specialist; neonatal nurse practitioner; nurse midwifery; nurse education; and nurse leadership. The remaining master's options include degrees in core subjects like criminal justice and computer science, as well as niche fields of study like communication sciences and disorders, construction management, music education and occupational safety.

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21 Thomas Edison University RANKING SCORE 64.62 COST Graduation Rate 45% LOCATION Trenton, NJ

Established in 1972, Thomas Edison State University is located in the New Jersey capital of Trenton. In addition to standard online courses delivered through the school's MyEdison portal, distance learners at TESU may also choose to take asynchronous guided study courses utilizing DVDs and streaming video, 'e-pack' self-assessment courses and TESU’s own credit-by-exam program, TECEP exams, aimed at students who wish to prepare for rigorous final exams.

TESU offers a total of 27 online bachelor's degrees. One-third of these programs are concentrated in business administration; these include degrees in accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, human resources, management and marketing. For undergrads seeking a technology-oriented online degree, TESU features programs in electronics systems engineering, information technology and nuclear engineering. The online BSN program features is offered completely online, and is reserved for students who have already obtained licensure as a registered nurse. For adults who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and are interested in becoming registered nurses, TESU offers an Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN program that prepares graduates for the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX). This rigorous program includes an online and on-site component. Other BS pathways include degrees in two cutting-edge fields, homeland security/emergency management and organizational leadership. BA degrees are available in eight different subjects, including communications, computer science, international studies, psychology and sociology. In addition to standard degree programs, 16 online undergraduate certificates are offered through TESU. With the exception of a 15-credit gas distribution certification and a 33-credit certification, these programs are 18 credits in length and can be completed in one year or less of full-time study.

At the graduate level, online Master of Science degrees are available in seven fields: applied science and technology; hospitality management; human resources management; information technology; international business finance; management; and nursing. Other affordable web-based master's options include an MBA, two degrees in education and a Master of Public Service Leadership (MPSL). A dozen online graduate certificates are also offered, including programs in niche fields like clinical trials management, digital humanities, geropsychology, industrial-organizational psychology and online learning and teaching; all of these certificate programs are 15 credits in length.

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22 Webster University RANKING SCORE 62.73 COST Graduation Rate 59% LOCATION Saint Louis, MO

Students attending Webster University study in small classes where personalized learning takes center stage. Combined, Webster's on-campus and eLearning students total approximately 17,000 students. The school has offered distance learning programs since 1999, with both undergraduate and graduate degree programs offering classwork content asynchronously to both full-time and part-time students.

BA degree programs are offered in fields such as criminology, educational studies, general studies, management, and religion in a global society. The school also offers baccalaureate degree completion programs in data analytics, media communications, and nursing. In order to enroll in one of the degree completion programs, students must have at least 64 transferable credits or an associate degree from a regionally accredited school. Webster University's graduate degree offerings are extensive. Areas of study include legal studies, environmental management, business administration (MBA), finance, and public relations. Of note is the 36-credit MA in gerontology, a program that addresses the needs of an increasingly aging U.S. and world population.

Webster has a full roster of graduate teacher/administrator preparation programs in areas such as special education, communication arts, educational leadership, and superintendency and leadership. The school also offers two dual degree options online: the 48-credit MBA/MS in finance and the 45-credit MBA/MS in science management and leadership. Transfer students into Webster University can expect a generous transfer policy and a course equivalency database. Webster University charges one tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency, and those in the military receive reduced tuition.

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23 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide RANKING SCORE 62.12 COST Graduation Rate 25% LOCATION Daytona Beach, FL

Founded in 1926 as a private flying school, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University today operates brick-and-mortar campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. The school's online degree and certificate programs are concentrated in seven core areas: applied science; aviation; business; computers and technology; engineering; security, intelligence and safety; and space.

Online undergraduate students seeking a bachelor's degree can choose from several B.S. options. Five bachelor's programs are grounded in aviation-related fields: aeronautics; aviation business administration; aviation maintenance; aviation security; and unmanned systems (or drone) applications. Those interested in business studies can pursue bachelor's degrees in logistics and supply chain management, project management or technical management. Other options for bachelor's-seekers include degrees in communication, emergency management, engineering technology and homeland security. Embry-Riddle offers online 4+1 bachelor's to master's degree tracks in aeronautics, technical management and project management. Additionally, 22 online bachelor's degree minors are available; these include nine minors in business-related fields, eight in aviation and transportation and two in security. Recently, Embry-Riddle partnered with Microsoft to create the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy; this bachelor's in technical management degree program focuses on Microsoft's proprietary designs, and is geared toward military personnel who are transitioning to civilian life.

Many online bachelor's degree fields at Embry-Riddle are also available at the master's level, including aeronautics, aviation maintenance, project management and unmanned systems. Online degrees offered exclusively to master's students are concentrated in disciplines like aerospace engineering, cybersecurity management and policy, human factors, leadership and systems engineering. A rigorous online Ph.D. in Aviation program is available, as well; the Ph.D. consists of 12 weeks of fully online coursework and a three six-day residencies conducted at faculty-designated sites. Distance learners can also earn professional certificates in aviation maintenance and information assurance; both certificates are attainable within one year or less.

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24 University of Massachusetts-Amherst RANKING SCORE 62.01 COST Graduation Rate 76% LOCATION Amherst, MA

One of the country's top public universities, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, enrolls approximately 30,000 students both on-campus and online and is experienced in helping non-traditional learners complete a bachelor's degree. Its renowned University Without Walls (UWW) program was established in 1971 to give non-traditional learners increased access to traditional and online higher education.

With the UWW program, students design baccalaureate programs that can be taken fully online or in a blended format. Working with an advisor, students choose a concentration and build a plan of study from among more than 40 different departments. Some program options include criminal justice studies, business studies, human services, journalism studies, applied psychology, and early childcare and education. Students can transfer up to 75 credits toward their bachelor's degree and earn up to 100 credits from prior learning, work, or life experience.

Other online bachelor’s programs (with degree completion options) are offered in business (BBA), hotel and tourism management, sustainable food and farming, and RN to BS in nursing. Online graduate degrees are offered in accounting (MS), business (MBA), engineering (MSEM), nursing (MS and DNP), and public health (MPH). UMass Amherst also has fast-paced learning options with two six-week accelerated summer sessions and one three-week winter session.

As one of the best online colleges in the nation, the University of Massachusetts Amherst charges one tuition for online learners, regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.

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25 Kennesaw State University RANKING SCORE 61.31 COST Graduation Rate 43% LOCATION Kennesaw, GA

Originally founded as a junior college in 1963, this Georgia institution's main campus is located roughly 20 miles from downtown Atlanta. Kennesaw State's extensive distance learning program includes a mix of fully-online, hybrid and 'mixed-model' learning formats. Some of the university's courses are 95% online, with a single on-campus requirement (typically an exam or an orientation session); other courses are delivered 100% online.

Business degree-seeking students at Kennesaw State can choose from six online bachelor's degree options. The B.S. in business administration features three possible concentrations: information security and assistance; management; and marketing. Additionally, the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in logistics and operations features concentrations in manufacturing operations and supply chain logistics; a Bachelor of Business Administration in information security and assurance is also available. Computing students also have multiple online degree options; these include both a B.S. and B.A.S. in information technology, as well as a B.S. in industrial engineering technology. Other online bachelor's programs at Kennesaw State are available in integrative studies, geography and sociology. Undergrads may also pick from 15 online minors. Minor choices include some core academic subjects, as well as specialized areas of study like African and African-American diaspora studies, engagement marketing, quality principles and sports marketing.

At the graduate level, online master's degrees are available in five engineering fields: engineering management, software engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering and systems engineering. A fully online Georgia MBA program is offered through Kennesaw State's Coles College of Business, and the university also offers an online MSN program for nursing students. Other online master's options include degrees in first-year college studies, information technology, international policy management and quality assurance.

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26 Appalachian State University RANKING SCORE 61.19 COST Graduation Rate 72% LOCATION Boone, NC

Located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian State University enrolls approximately 18,000 undergraduates and graduate students. Students are taught in classrooms with a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and have more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors from which to choose, many of which are available online.

All of the baccalaureate degrees offered online are degree completion programs where students transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions to complete their upper-division courses at Appalachian State. The school's course equivalencies database allows students to determine which courses will transfer into each program. BS degree programs can be earned in career and technical education, child development, communication studies, communication-advertising, elementary education, middle grades education, and special education. The school offers a 122-credit BSBA in management with 52 credits taught at the school and a minimum of 70 transferable credit hours. The program can be completed full-time in two years or part-time in four and a half years.

Online graduate degree offerings at Appalachian State include the MA in educational media, MA in higher education, MA in elementary education, and hybrid MA in reading education. The 33-credit hybrid master of social work is a part-time program that prepares graduates for management or supervisory roles in social work services; on-campus classes are taught during the evening to provide flexibility. The 46-credit master of health administration is offered online full-time or part-time with two areas of focus: health information systems and healthcare leadership. Appalachian State also offers a series of graduate certificates online in areas of study such as instructional technology leadership, strategic communication, and gerontology.

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27 Oregon State University RANKING SCORE 60.95 COST Graduation Rate 63% LOCATION Corvallis, OR

The largest public university in the state of Oregon by total enrollment, OSU is a land-, sea-, space- and sun-grant institution located in the town of Corvallis. All online courses offered through the university are developed and taught by on-campus faculty members, and the university's current catalog includes more than 1,000 fully or partially online courses.

OSU has a long history of eco-minded education, and many of the school's current catalog are concentrated in environment-related fields. These include degrees in agricultural sciences, environmental economics and policy, fisheries and wildlife sciences, horticulture, natural resources and sustainability. Online bachelor's degree programs are available in three foreign languages: French, German and Spanish. Other web-based undergraduate degrees focus on core academic subjects like business administration, computer science, economics, history, psychology and sociology. Online students who are unsure about which major to pursue are invited to enroll in OSU's University Exploratory Studies Program (UESP), a non-degree plan that allows them to try out different majors while completing standard baccalaureate courses. Additionally, students who hold a degree in certain fields (such as agriculture or natural resources management) or have relevant work experience may be eligible for the Interagency Fire Program Management plan; this primarily online interagency program enables students to earn the GS-401 fire management specialist credential.

At the master's level, online business students can choose two MBA specializations: business analytics or organizational leadership. Aspiring teachers also have multiple options; these include a master's in education with two specialization tracks (Adult or K-12), as well as degrees in art education, school counseling and English as a Second Language (ESL). And like OSU's online bachelor's programs, the master's list includes three environment-oriented degrees: natural resources, environmental sciences and fisheries/wildlife administration. Other online master's tracks include degrees in industrial engineering, radiation health physics, data analytics and public policy. A total of 11 online graduate certificates are offered, as well; seven are focused on environmental subjects.

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28 University of Illinois at Springfield RANKING SCORE 60.19 COST Graduation Rate 50% LOCATION Springfield, IL

Each year, more than half of the 5000 students enrolled at the University of Illinois at Springfield take at least one online class each term or participate in fully online programs. The school's top five undergraduate majors are computer science, business administration, accountancy, psychology, and biology. Students can earn bachelor's degrees in fields like computer science, business administration, psychology, political science, and liberal studies. The BS in healthcare informatics is a two-year program in which students earn their general education requirements at local community colleges and complete upper-level courses online at UIS The 120-credit BS in information systems security is delivered fully online and immerses students in the study of computer science and problem solving.

UIS offers graduate degrees online in fields such as education, data analytics, political science, and public administration. The school offers three graduate programs in environmental health/science online: the MPH in environmental health concentrating in public health, the MS in environmental science – general environmental sciences, and the MA in environmental studies – sustainable development/policy or environmental planning/management. The school also offers several graduate certificate and certification programs in fields such as education, emergency preparedness and homeland security, community planning, and business intelligence.

The school is dedicated to accommodating transfer students by helping them transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions. As one of the top online colleges in the nation, the University of Illinois at Springfield offers support services that include access to the library, online bookstores, and career services.

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29 Midway University RANKING SCORE 60.08 COST Graduation Rate 65% LOCATION Midway, KY

Originally established as a school for orphaned girls, Midway University is now a co-educational liberal arts college with career-focused majors. Located on 200 acres in Midway, Kentucky, the college offers a range of programs including accelerated learning, evening, and eLearning undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Online programs are delivered asynchronously through the Moodle LMS in an eight-week accelerated format. Five start times are available each year to give students greater flexibility.

Midway offers a roster of baccalaureate teacher preparation degrees fully online with specializations in elementary education, middle school science, education studies-science, and secondary math and English. Some of the teacher preparation programs lead to certification. The 120-credit bachelor's degree in communications offers a general field-study option and two areas of specialization: graphic design and writing. Online baccalaureate students work with their advisors to augment their program with an online minor.

Other baccalaureate degree programs are available in fields like marketing, healthcare administration, and nursing. Three master's degree programs are offered online: business administration (MBA), master of education teacher leader program (M.Ed.), and master of science in nursing. Notably, the 30-credit M.Ed focuses on educational leadership to the degree that students participate in the educational development of Midway itself. The program is delivered fully online with problem-based inquiry learning, job-embedded projects, action research, and community engagement learning.

Online learners have access to support services such as tutoring and access to the library. Students seeking to transfer to Midway University with more than 24 credits must have a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. One of the top online colleges in the nation, Midway charges one tuition for online learners regardless of where they live.

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30 Minot State University RANKING SCORE 58.62 COST Graduation Rate 43% LOCATION Minot, ND

Distance learning options at Minot State University are an integral part of its academic programming. Minot State Online offers nine undergraduate and three graduate degrees entirely online. Courses are delivered asynchronously using the Blackboard LMS. BS degrees are offered in management, management information systems, marketing, and international business. The fully online 120-credit bachelor of applied science in applied business information technology is open to students holding an associate of applied science degree hoping to develop the technical competence, communication, and professional skills that lead to managerial positions.

In addition to a BSN completion program and a bachelor's in general studies, the school offers a 120- to 126-credit BS in human services with an emphasis in intellectual and developmental disabilities. For 30 years, Minot State has been a leader in preparing professionals in the field of human services; this online program continues that tradition by helping students nationwide develop the skills necessary to deliver services to individuals with developmental challenges.

Graduate degree programs at Minot State include an MS in special education with several areas of emphasis, such as specific learning disabilities and early childhood special education. The school also offers an MS in information systems, an MS in management, and online graduate certificate programs in knowledge management, management concepts, and deaf/hard of hearing education, among others.

Ensuring student success at Minot State is achieved through comprehensive support services like online tutoring, a student success center that assists career exploration and employment options, and access to the bookstore and textbook rentals that save money.

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31 Northwestern State University of Louisiana RANKING SCORE 58.58 COST Graduation Rate 35% LOCATION Natchitoches, LA

Based in the town of Natchitoches, this public four-year university was established in 1884 and was the first Louisiana school to feature a degree program in nursing. Students who enroll in the eNSU Global Campus pay the same tuition rates regardless of their state of residence, and the university has also been recognized as a top online academic destination for veteran students.

eNSU's current selection features a total of 16 online bachelor's degrees. These options include a B.S. in unified public safety administration with four available concentrations: law enforcement administration; fire and emergency medical service administration; emergency management; and public facilities management. Psychology majors can also select prevention specialist or substance abuse concentrations for their online bachelor's studies. A hybrid RN to BSN pathway offered for registered nurses features online coursework supplemented with onsite clinical training, and a similar transitional program is available for radiologic technologists seeking a B.S. in radiologic science. Additional healthcare-related options include online degrees in allied health and addiction studies. Students pursuing a liberal arts education may choose from degrees in fields like criminal justice, history, psychology and social work. eNSU also features a blended Bachelor of Applied Science degree in resource management with two possible concentrations, culinary science or environmental science.

Opportunities for online grad students at eNSU are even more extensive -- 20 degree programs in all. Fourteen of these options are concentrated in education studies. Three master's tracks for teachers feature multiple specializations: adult learning and development; curriculum and instruction; and special education. Additional education master's programs include seven grade-specific specializations, as well as degrees in student affairs in higher education, early childhood education and educational leadership. Nursing students may choose from five different MSN concentrations; master's degrees are also available in health and human performance (with a health promotion concentration) and radiologic science.

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32 University of Southern Mississippi RANKING SCORE 57.75 COST Graduation Rate 45% LOCATION Hattiesburg, MS

The University of Southern Mississippi is a haven for the arts, rigorous academics, and an athletic department that, combined, enroll approximately 15,000 students in 180 programs. Courses are delivered in classrooms with a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online baccalaureate degree programs are offered in applied technology, business administration, construction engineering technology, and library information science. The school's BS in child and family studies prepares students for careers working in educational and human service organizations and has two areas of emphasis: child development and family relations. The BS in industrial engineering technology is offered in both hybrid and fully online formats, with an emphasis in logistics focused on supply chain management. Southern Mississippi also offers two teacher preparation programs fully online: a BS in elementary education and a BS in special education.

The institution's catalog of graduate degrees are extensive, covering fields such as education, public health, human capital development, sports management, and nutrition and food systems. The business administration program (MBA) offers a concentration in sport security events management, combining a business core foundation with hands-on security experience. The executive master of public health in health policy and administration helps experienced healthcare professionals learn to apply best practices and business principles in the delivery of healthcare services. Several graduate certificate programs are offered online such as business foundations, archives and special collections, TESOL, and sports security management. As on of the best online schools in the nation, the University of Southern Mississippi offers support services for online learners such as tutoring, workshops, and 24/7 tech support.

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33 Drexel University RANKING SCORE 57.56 COST Graduation Rate 70% LOCATION Philadelphia, PA

Named for its founder, this Philadelphia-based private research university first opened its doors to students in 1894. Long touted as a national leader in technology-oriented education (and named among the top 20 most innovative national universities in a 2017 ranking by U.S. News & World Report), Drexel Online currently offers more than 140 web-based degree and certificate programs.

Drexel Online features two web-based options for undergraduate nursing students: a B.S. in health services administration, and an RN to BSN pathway reserved for students who are already registered nurses. The latter program supplements onsite clinical courses with an innovative Health Assessment Simulation Lab, which allows students to interact with virtual patients and diagnose different medical conditions. The B.S. in general studies also includes a customizable 'individual studies' plan, and a bachelor's in general studies track with a business minor. Additionally, fully online bachelor's degrees are available in five core academic areas of study: business administration; communications; criminal justice; psychology; and computing and security technology. A blended bachelor's of education degree with student-teaching components is also offered. Most of Drexel Online's bachelor's degree programs are roughly 180 credits in length; since the school operates on a quarter schedule, this means students can generally complete all degree requirements after four years of full-time study.

Master's degree programs available through Drexel Online include two MBA tracks: a 42-month 'flex' program and a 24-month 'accelerated' program. An additional 13 Master of Science degrees are available online through Drexel's business and management department. Grad students with an interest in clinical/medical research can pursue master's degrees in six niche fields, including laboratory animal science, drug discovery/development and molecular medicine. Other specialized master's options at Drexel Online include degrees in television management, cyber security, project management, sports management and 14 education specialization tracks. Many of Drexel's master's programs include practicum or field-based components.

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34 Missouri State University-Springfield RANKING SCORE 57.37 COST Graduation Rate 55% LOCATION Springfield, MO

With an emphasis on public affairs, Missouri State University-Springfield trains students to become culturally competent and community-engaged, ethical leaders. While the school has a four-year campus in Springfield, two-year campus in West Plains, and a campus in China, it is also among the top accredited online colleges in the country, boasting baccalaureate degrees in fields like communication studies, criminology and criminal justice, health services, and psychology.

The BS in information technology service management prepares students for the workforce in careers like database administration, systems development, and tech support. The BS in health services is a clinical service option that allows allied health professionals with an associate degree to transfer credits toward the program.

Graduate degree programs are offered fully online in fields like history, communications, business administration (MBA), early childhood and family development, education, and professional studies. The online MS in education, special education/blindness and low vision is a unique program that prepares residential, resource, and itinerant teachers to work with students and adults with blindness or poor vision. The program is approved by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Note that some degree programs, particularly in the sciences, have prerequisite courses that may not be available online. Support services for online learners include tutoring, access to the library and writing center, and career services. The school facilitates the seamless transfer of credits from regionally accredited colleges and awards credits for military service and exams such as CLEP, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced Placement.

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35 University of Nebraska at Omaha RANKING SCORE 57.06 COST Graduation Rate 45% LOCATION Omaha, NE

Located in the heart of Omaha, the University of Nebraska at Omaha provides an accessible education to approximately 15,700 students taught in classrooms with a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Whether students study on campus or online, being a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha means you'll have access to hands-on learning, internships, and applied research opportunities.

Baccalaureate degrees can be earned in library science, criminology and criminal justice, sociology, and management information systems, among others. For example, the 120-credit bachelor of multidisciplinary studies (BMS) is a flexible degree that enrolls nontraditional students, transfer students, and military students. The program offers dozens of concentrations around which students develop a course of study that corresponds to their career or graduate school aspirations. Areas of study include aviation, civic leadership, computer science, emergency management, engineering physics, and cybersecurity. Up to 64 credits can be transferred into the program from regionally accredited two-year institutions; students may also earn credits for military experience and education.

One of the best online schools in the nation, the University of Nebraska at Omaha offers several graduate degree programs in criminology and criminal justice, critical and creative writing, political science, public administration, special education, and writing. The 36-credit MA in social gerontology gives students in-depth knowledge of the aging process and the needs of the elderly. Online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs can also be earned in fields such as gerontology, information assurance, systems development, and American government. The school has a long history of serving military-affiliated students with support services like the writing center and the math-science learning center.

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36 Concordia University-Saint Paul RANKING SCORE 56.61 COST Graduation Rate 52% LOCATION Saint Paul, MN

A college of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod, Concordia University-Saint Paul provides students with an educational experience steeped in career preparation and challenging academics. Concordia's online programs are delivered asynchronously over the course of seven weeks for maximum flexibility and accelerated learning.

The school offers bachelor's programs in business, child development, criminal justice, healthcare administration, and information technology management. Respiratory therapists can work full-time and still complete the 44-credit, accelerated BS in pulmonary science. The 40-credit BA in organizational management and leadership immerses students in study of group behavior, and how it impacts organizational effectiveness.

At Concordia, educators have a number of graduate teacher preparation options from which to choose, including master's programs in educational leadership, special education, early childhood education, and differentiated instruction. Non-education-related master's degrees are offered in fields such as human resource management, sports management, and creative writing. The 42-credit MBA program offers a general track and a healthcare management concentration that studies trends in healthcare and business principles. A designated faculty member supports MBA students throughout the program.

Students seeking to transfer into Concordia from one of its partner institutions may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship to go toward a baccalaureate degree. Because students can transfer credits seamlessly, many distance learners can complete the bachelor's degree in two years or less. One feature that makes Concordia one of the top online schools in the nation is the identical tuition rates for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. Likewise, active duty service members are eligible for discounted tuition rates, and all students can expect no change in tuition throughout their time school.

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37 University of Massachusetts-Lowell RANKING SCORE 56.53 COST Graduation Rate 56% LOCATION Lowell, MA

The second largest school in the UMass system (behind Amherst), this institution first opened its doors in 1898 and currently hosts more than 18,000 enrolled students. UMass-Lowell's distance learning branch features more than 50 degree and certificate programs, most of which are delivered in an exclusively online format.

A total of seven online bachelor's degrees are available through UMass-Lowell. Students seeking a web-based degree in liberal arts can choose from nine concentrations: art history, economics, English, history, legal studies, political science, philosophy, psychology or gender studies. Program length for this pathway varies by concentration. In addition to a standard bachelor's degree in information technology, the university also offers an IT bachelor's degree with a business minor, as well as a 30-credit IT specialization for students who have already earned a bachelor's in a different field. The university recently unveiled its latest online program, a 120-credit bachelor's degree in English that culminates in a capstone project. Other new additions to UMass-Lowell's web-based lineup include online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice and business administration. Additionally, 11 undergraduate certificates are available online; eight of these options are concentrated in IT and digital design.

UMass-Lowell's online programs also feature 11 master's degree tracks. These include master's in securities studies degrees with five cutting-edge specialization options: cybersecurity; critical infrastructure protection; homeland defense; international security; and industrial and economic security. Multiple areas of focus are also available for MBA students, who can choose from degree specializations in accounting, finance, IT or marketing; standalone master's degrees in accounting, IT and finance are also offered online. Master's in education students can pick from five specializations, as well. Other opportunities for online grad students include degrees in engineering management and criminal justice. Thirteen online graduate certificates are offered, including four new programs in network security, new venture creation, systems models and management, and victim studies.

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38 Champlain College RANKING SCORE 56.33 COST Graduation Rate 62% LOCATION Burlington, VT

Established in 1878, this Vermont institution maintains an annual enrollment of roughly 2,000 full-time students. Most of Champlain's online degree programs are asynchronous, or self-paced; in addition to standard degree plans, many courses follow an accelerated seven- or eight-week schedule that enables students to complete their program requirements ahead of schedule.

Undergraduates enrolled at Champlain can choose from a list of 11 online bachelor's degree programs. Some of these programs are highly specialized, and concentrated in cutting-edge fields of study. Degrees in cybersecurity and computer forensics focus on strategies for investigating and preventing digital crimes, while a degree in economic crime investigation covers fraud, identity theft and other crimes that result in financial losses. Other tech-related options for undergrads include online bachelor's degrees in computer and information systems, management information systems, software development and web design/development. Champlain also offers online bachelor's programs in accounting, business management, integrated studies and health care administration. All of the college's online bachelor's tracks are 120 credits in length, and standard courses are 15 weeks in length; choosing the accelerated seven-week option when available can allow students to complete their bachelor's requirements in as little as two to three years. A total of 27 online undergraduate certificates are also available, including 14 in technology/computer science and nine in business-related fields.

Champlain's distance learning options also include nine online master's degrees. In addition to a standard MBA, master's programs also include three specialized fields: executive leadership, health care administration and mediation/applied conflict studies. Additionally, three online master's degrees focus on the tech fields of digital forensic science, emergent media and information security operations. Master's degrees in early childhood education and law are available online, as well. All master's programs at Champlain range from 30 to 42 credits in length, and may be completed in as little as 12 months with an accelerated curriculum plan. A total of 11 online graduate certificates are also available, including nine related to business studies.

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39 LeTourneau University RANKING SCORE 56.19 COST Graduation Rate 53% LOCATION Longview, TX

Located in the town of Longview, Texas, this interdenominational Christian institution was primarily founded in 1946 to provide education and specialized for returning WWII veterans. LeTourneau's online programs are centered around the philosophy that higher education shouldn't interfere with the lives of working adults; many degrees and courses are available in accelerated web-based formats, and most follow an asynchronous schedule that allows students to complete degree requirements at their own pace.

The school's online bachelor's selection offers a mix of technical, business, liberal arts and religious studies. Two bachelor's degrees, aviation studies and aviation management, are offered through LeTourneau's aviation and aeronautical science department; these options are geared toward military veterans and retired personnel seeking a college degree as they transition back to civilian life. Business-minded undergrads can select from bachelor's programs in business administration, business/nonprofit management, computer information systems, health care management and health care systems. Aspiring educators can also pursue two bachelor's pathways -- early childhood to 6th grade, and 4th to 8th grade -- that result in full certification in the state of Texas. Other online bachelor's degrees are available in biblical studies and ministry, criminal justice, human services and psychology. LeTourneau's accelerated course structure allows students to complete most courses in three to seven weeks.

All of LeTourneau's online master's programs are concentrated in three academic departments. The 'Business and Technology' branch features five online master's degrees, including two MBA tracks with five possible specializations and innovative management pathways in engineering, strategic leadership and health care administration. The online Master of Education program includes four possible specializations: curriculum and instruction; education administration; teaching and learning; and teacher leadership. Finally, the 'Psychology' branch features a general Master of Psychology degree, as well as a Master of Counseling with specializations for licensed professional counselors, marriage/family therapists and school counselors.

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40 Indiana University-Bloomington RANKING SCORE 56.10 COST Graduation Rate 76% LOCATION Bloomington, IN

Established in 1820, Indiana University-Bloomington is a world-class hub of innovation, creativity, and research. The university's virtual campus features approximately 100 degree and certificate programs from the Indiana University system, with approximately 7,950 students in the system participating in full-time distance learning. Indiana University-Bloomington has a catalog of degree completion baccalaureate programs for students with transferable credits. Fields of study include math, nursing, criminal justice, communication studies, psychology, and English technical and professional writing.

The 120-credit BS in business administration gives students a broad business foundation. Students take courses in areas such as accounting, commercial law, human resources, and international business and have the option of a finance concentration. The 120-credit BA in natural science and mathematics requires 30 credits in mathematics and liberal arts courses; students with 60+ credits may complete the degree in less than two years.

The school offers a full complement of graduate programs online. Master's degree programs are available in fields like adult education, business administration (MBA), data science, educational leadership, marketing, and literary science. Notable programs include the 30-credit MS in stewardship, a unique degree only available at Indiana University-Bloomington. The program prepares professionals versed in product design, manufacture, sale, and disposal to reduce environmental impact while ensuring profitability.

Home to the world's first school of philanthropy, the school offers a 36-credit MA in philanthropic studies focused on the socio-cultural, economic, and political roles of nonprofit organizations. The institution's Credit Transfer Service makes Indiana University-Bloomington one of the best online colleges in the nation by facilitating up to 64 credits from start to finish.

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41 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus RANKING SCORE 55.93 COST Graduation Rate 25% LOCATION University Park, PA

With the launch of Penn State's web-based World Campus in 1998, the State College institution became one of the first accredited universities to provide online courses. Today, the World Campus features more than 125 degree and certificate programs, and serves students from all 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide.

Penn State's online bachelor's degree programs cover a wide range of academic fields, from core subjects to less traditional areas of study. Students can pursue bachelor's degrees in more than a dozen business-related fields, including accounting, agribusiness management, finance, marketing and security and risk analysis. Registered nurses can also complete their four-year education through the World Campus's RN to BSN online degree program. Eco-minded undergrads can also earn online bachelor's in biobehavioral health, energy and sustainability policy or turfgrass science. Online degrees in four different fields are available as either a B.A. or B.S.: economics, labor and employment relations; organizational leadership; political science; and psychology. In addition to degree fields of study, a total of 18 online minors are available. These include nine minors in business-related fields and six in liberal arts subjects. Seventeen online undergraduate certificates are also offered, including three nursing options.

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42 California Baptist University RANKING SCORE 55.85 COST Graduation Rate 60% LOCATION Riverside, CA

California Baptist University enrolls more than 9,000 students who are privy to an educational experience that integrates academics and Christian development. The school designed its virtual college with the needs of nontraditional learners in mind. Online degrees are delivered asynchronously via Blackboard to students around the country.

Baccalaureate degrees are offered in fields such as accounting, Christian ministries, criminal justice, human services, public administration, sociology, and organizational leadership. The degree completion 48-credit BA in business administration provides a business foundation in one of two concentrations: logistics and operations or management, both of which require the transfer of general education credits and can be completed in as few as 16 months. Students seeking an education degree can choose the 48-credit BA in early childhood studies with a focus on childhood social and emotional growth and development.

California Baptist, one of the best online schools in the nation, offers a 36-credit online MBA program with emphasis areas in accounting and management. Educators may enroll in the 30- to 33-credit MS in education with specializations in early childhood studies, educational leadership, and teaching. Other master's degree programs are also available in public relations, public heath, accounting, and counselling psychology.

The school offers an interactive online learning community that is supportive and affordable. California Baptist allows students to transfer 100 credits into a baccalaureate degree, including a maximum of 30 credits allowed for examinations like CLEP and IB. Students may use Transferology, a nationwide network, to determine the transferability of credits into California Baptist University.

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43 Southwestern Assemblies of God University RANKING SCORE 55.70 COST Graduation Rate 41% LOCATION Waxahachie, TX

The Southwestern Assemblies of God University was established when three Bible schools merged into one. The school now administers 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including several delivered entirely online. Students seeking to earn a baccalaureate degree from the Texas-based institution can do so in fields like Bible and theory, communication studies, history, and social studies. The school also has several undergraduate business degrees. Students ages 22 and over can enroll in the fully online bachelor's in accounting, where they explore business law, advanced accounting, finance, or international business. Students focus on management communication, project management, operations management, venture management, and organizational behavior.

Students older than 22 can also enroll in the school's fully online human services bachelor's degree program in which they study general education, the Bible, and pick one of four specializations: counseling, social work, psychology, or criminal justice. Master's programs are offered online in fields like counseling and psychology, education (with several areas of emphasis, including curriculum development and middle and secondary education), and a master of divinity with eight specializations, including chaplaincy, family ministry, and biblical languages.

Virtual learners at Southwestern Assemblies of God University have access to personalized learning, a Career Center, and the Counseling Center. Students may also earn up to $25,000 toward a bachelor’s degree through experiential learning credit for knowledge and life experiences. As one of the top online colleges in the nation, Southwestern Assemblies of God University charges one tuition for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.

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44 National University RANKING SCORE 54.96 COST Graduation Rate 38% LOCATION La Jolla, CA

With a total of four colleges and schools, California-based National University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs delivered by world-class faculty. At National University, approximately 70 degree programs are delivered asynchronously fully online to eLearners. Students are given access to interactive tools and a wide range of support services.

Baccalaureate degree programs can be earned in fields like digital journalism, global studies, integrated marketing communications, psychology, sports psychology, and strategic communications. Those seeking to become educators also have a number of degree programs from which to choose, including BA degrees in early childhood education, elementary education, English education (Nevada secondary licensure only), and mathematics (California middle and secondary school licensure). The BA in pre-law studies provides students with the educational foundation needed for admission into law school. Two programs are offered for those seeking to enter the construction industry: BS in construction engineering technology and BS in construction management.

National's graduate programs include education, health informatics, sustainability management, engineering management, gerontology, and film studies. The MA in performance psychology is a unique program that delves into the theory, research, and applicability of psychological techniques across disciplines including sports, the arts, and military combat. The school also offers a number of certificate programs online such as marketing, criminal justice administration, and autism. In keeping with the best online colleges in the nation, National offers affordable tuition and provides discounts for military personnel and their dependents. The school charges the same tuition for online learners regardless of where they live.

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45 Arkansas State University RANKING SCORE 54.64 COST Graduation Rate 45% LOCATION Jonesboro, AR

Home to the Red Wolves athletics teams, Arkansas State University is a learning community of 14,000 students privy to world-class faculty, research, and student-friendly instruction. The school offers academic programs in classrooms with a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Arkansas State is one of the oldest virtual colleges in the state. Courses are delivered asynchronously to both undergraduates and graduate students. Distance learners can earn bachelor's degrees in fields like general studies, communication studies, nursing, sociology, and political science.

The 120-credit BS in strategic communications - social media management empowers students to maximize future employer’s online impact; completion of the program certifies students in both Google Analytics and Hootsuite. The 120-credit bachelor in applied science gives students the expertise needed to pursue leadership roles in technical fields. The program builds on technical coursework taken in an associate of applied science curriculum and offers concentrations in renewable energy technology and technology.

Those seeking to attend graduate school have an even larger catalog of degree programs from which to choose. Fields included are business administration (MBA), the MSE in early childhood education or reading, media management, public administration, and sports administration. The 36-credit MS in college student personnel services prepares professionals hoping to enter residential life, career service, or admissions positions in higher education.

One of the top online colleges in the nation, Arkansas State ensures that its faculty members are trained in the online mode of delivery. Online learners have access to a diverse network of peers and support services, including tutoring and a help-desk. Note that online degrees are only available in some states, so students should check availability.

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46 University of Arizona RANKING SCORE 54.19 COST Graduation Rate 60% LOCATION Tucson, AZ

An innovator in education and research, the University of Arizona continues to make advances in fields like bioscience, art and humanities, business, and medicine. The institution offers approximately 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, 80 of which can be taken online.

Bachelor's degrees are delivered asynchronously and can be earned online in fields like Africana studies, business administration, economy and industry, geographic information systems, meteorology, informatics, and sustainable built environments. Among other notable programs is the BAS in intelligence studies, a 2+2 program in which students transfer an AAS into the program and complete the last two years at Arizona. The program provides students with a historical, political, social, and cultural understanding of national and international intelligence agencies. The BAS in cyber operations is also a transfer-only program and immerses students in hands-on study of offensive and defensive cyber security techniques they practice within the institution's Cyber Virtual Learning Environment.

Graduate students have a plethora of options from which to choose, including master's degrees in accounting, nutrition, electrical and computer engineering, business administration, optical sciences, and photonic communications engineering. The school has one of the nation's top nursing programs; among offerings is the online 44-credit RN to MS, an accelerated degree with a focus on clinical systems leadership. Nurses can elect to take the program full-time or part-time.

Hands-on experience is one of the hallmarks of learning at the University of Arizona. All students have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork internships and student leadership. The school is transfer-friendly, and the Transfer Credit Guide -- while not a complete list of all transferable courses -- gives students an idea of which courses transfer to the University of Arizona. The school charges the same tuition for online learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.

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47 Northern Arizona University RANKING SCORE 54.19 COST Graduation Rate 53% LOCATION Flagstaff, AZ

The faculty at Northern Arizona University provides students with personalized mentorship in order to help them reach their potential. Whether learners are high school students heading for college or working professionals, the school's 151 degree programs offer many options. Northern Arizona's virtual campus is home to more than 80 fully online and hybrid bachelor's and graduate degree programs. While most courses are delivered asynchronously, students also have the option to select class delivered synchronously.

Bachelor's degree programs can be earned online in fields like communication studies, business administration, the liberal arts, logistics and supply chain management, nursing, and health sciences. Master's degree programs can be earned in fields like administration -- with several areas of specialization, education -- with several areas of specialization, English, communication, and counselling. Students seeking to earn a degree at their own pace can do so with a catalog of personalized learning programs.

One of the top accredited online colleges in the state, NAU offers five baccalaureate programs leading to BA or BS degrees. Busy professionals in any of the five programs -- management, RN to BSN, computer information technology, liberal arts, and small business administration -- study courses broken down into modules in which their real-world knowledge can be applied to learning. The programs are competency-based with no set classes or schedules.

The school is transfer-friendly, and students can transfer between 64 and 90 credits into baccalaureate programs. NAU offers comprehensive support services for online learners including tutoring through the school's Student Learning Centers, online library resources including journals and ebooks, and tech support.

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48 Bellevue University RANKING SCORE 54.15 COST Graduation Rate 13% LOCATION Bellevue, NE

Founded more than 50 years ago with the goal of serving the needs of career-motivated working adults, Bellevue University is widely recognized for its expertise in online learning and commitment to prepare students with essential workplace knowledge and skills. For example, the university has been named as a "Top 10 University for Adult Learners" by Washington Monthly each year since the ranking was started.

The mission of Bellevue University is to enable students to compete in a connected world, with an emphasis on making it possible for busy, working adult learners to earn a degree. Bellevue University offers more than 50 online bachelor’s degrees that focus on career advancing areas like: business administration, computer information systems, cybersecurity, emergency management, criminal justice, business analytics, IT operations management, healthcare management, health communication, nursing, legal studies, marketing, supply chain and logistics management, and non-profit management.

Essential to Bellevue University’s commitment to serving adult learners is acceptance of prior learning that students bring. Bellevue University considers many forms of previously earned college credit for transfer into its degree programs, including associate degrees, previous college classes, military and corporate training, and for-credit exams like CLEP and DSST. This helps accelerate completion, while keeping it affordable.

Graduate students can choose from 25 fully-online master’s degrees, including the MBA, available with 19 different career-focused concentrations. Other online master’s degrees available from Bellevue University include a master of project management, master of public administration, master of healthcare administration and master of science degrees. Concentrations available for these degree include cybersecurity, clinical counseling, industrial and organizational psychology, intelligence and security studies, business analytics, finance, and computer information systems.

Bellevue University is a non-profit, private university, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission through the U.S. Department of Education. More information is available at Bellevue.edu.

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49 Washington State University RANKING SCORE 54.07 COST Graduation Rate 67% LOCATION Pullman, WA

Since 1890, Washington State University has attracted problem-solvers. The institution's 30,000 learners have access to 95 undergraduate majors and 79 master's degree programs delivered in classrooms with a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Many of the school's students are distance learners, who study in one of the school's 11 undergraduate or 11 graduate programs online.

One of the nation's top online colleges, Washington State offers bachelor's degrees in fields like accounting, criminal justice, data analytics, economics, humanities, and management information systems. The bachelor’s program in hospitality business management is a flexible program that allows students to enroll full-time or part-time. Students can transfer at least 60 credits into the program and study upper-level coursework in hospitality systems, operational analysis, foodservice systems and control, and human resource management.

Graduate students have several master's degree programs from which to choose: agriculture, electric power, engineering, business administration (MBA), and special education. The state of Washington has a rich history of agricultural education including the 30-credit MS in agriculture in food science management, with coursework dedicated to statistics, toxicology, organizational management, and microbiology. The 30-credit MS in agriculture in plant health management includes coursework in entomology, plant pathology, crop and soil science, and economics.

Online students at Washington State University have access to 24/7 tech support, online tutoring, a writing lab, and access to webinars and live-streamed events. The school partners with a number of two-year schools in western states, helping students transfer their associate degree credits. Students in states not on the school's "direct agreement" list can still transfer credits on a course-by-course basis.

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50 Eastern New Mexico University RANKING SCORE 53.64 COST Graduation Rate 35% LOCATION Portales, NM

Since its establishment 80 years ago, Eastern New Mexico University has served students in New Mexico and beyond with academic programs emphasizing the liberal arts. Students have the option to be part of a global learning community enrolled in one of 30 online programs offered fully online or in hybrid format. As one of the best online colleges in the nation, Eastern New Mexico University offers programs delivered asynchronously using the Blackboard LMS. Note that some programs are delivered synchronously.

Bachelor's degrees are available in aviation science, business, criminal justice, hospitality management, nursing, and social work. The school's bachelor of business administration has several concentrations, including applied economics and finance, hospitality and management, information systems, and financial planning. Eastern New Mexico University also offers several bachelor of applied arts and science (BAAS) degrees in areas like aviation science, culinary arts, fire and emergency services administration, and electronic engineering technology.

Those seeking a master's in education can do so with emphasis in special education, education administration, career and technical education, pedagogy and learning, or elementary education. Other graduate degree areas of study include business administration, nursing, and communication.

Online resources for students include the library, online writing center (OWL), counselling services, and library services. The Transfer Evaluation System has made transferring into its baccalaureate programs easy by providing students with information about which classes transfer. Online students attending Eastern New Mexico enjoy the second-lowest tuition rate in the state and one of the most affordable in the country.

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WHAT IS ONLINE COLLEGE LIKE?

Online colleges allow students to take courses through an online learning management system. Online courses provide flexibility for nontraditional students who have obligations outside school, such as raising a family or working full time. Read more here.

CAN YOU REALLY EARN A DEGREE ONLINE?

Yes. There are thousands of online schools in the U.S., many of which offer degrees and certificates. Some schools only teach online and do not have physical campuses. Read more here..

HOW MUCH DOES AN ONLINE DEGREE COST?

Online college tuition varies depending on a variety of factors, including residency status. Check with your school to get accurate tuition estimates. Read more here..

IS ONLINE COLLEGE HARD?

The difficulty of online college programs is comparable to that of traditional, on-campus programs. You can check for student reviews for an accurate description, which the school may offer. Read more here..

ARE ONLINE DEGREES RESPECTED?

Online degrees from regionally accredited colleges are respected. In fact, on paper, there's no need to differentiate between a degree earned online versus one earned through a more traditional classroom experience. Employers understand the value of distance learning for those who need to balance the demands of work and family while finishing a degree program. This initiative and drive should be commended.

IS FINANCIAL AID AVAILABLE?

Yes! Accredited online college programs are subject to the same financial aid and student loan guidelines as on-campus programs. You can learn more about your financial aid options here or in our guide, Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students..

WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS?

Hundreds of degrees and certificate programs are available online from accredited colleges and universities across the country. If you're unsure about what to study, browse our list of some of the most popular programs. We also have information about how to choose an online degree program.

ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS
Online Associate in Crminal Justice
Online Associate in Business Administration
Online Associate in Accounting
Online Associate in Information Technology
Online Associate in Medical Billing & Coding

ONLINE BACHELOR'S DEGREE PROGRAMS
Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice
Online Bachelor's in Accounting
Online Bachelor's in Psychology
Online Bachelor's in Human Resources
Online Bachelor's in Information Technology

ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAMS
Online Master's in Business Administration
Online Master's in Project Management
Online Master's in Healthcare Administration
Online Master's in Human Resources
Online MBA in Marketing

ONLINE DOCTORATE DEGREE PROGRAMS
Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership
Online Doctorate in Business Administration
Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership
Online Doctorate in Higher Education
Online Doctorate in Psychology


Accreditation verifies the legitimacy and quality of colleges, universities, and their degree programs. A school's accreditation status should be a top priority for any student applying to college because it can have a major impact on the ability to apply for financial aid or transfer credits. This information is 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 national or regional agencies. Regionally accredited colleges are typically nonprofit and state-operated. Most nationally accredited colleges are for-profit and often have to meet lower academic standards than their regional counterparts. Students considering a nationally accredited online college should research that school's reputation and to understand how academic standards differ from regionally accredited schools.

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

It's also 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.

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. It's good to 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 - you just have to know what questions to ask. 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?

The rapid growth in online colleges and universities means that you have more choices than ever before - and therefore you have to think even more carefully about which online school is right for you. If you know exactly what you want out of a particular degree, then 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:

Business Careers

Technology Careers

Healthcare Careers

Education Careers

Criminal Justice Careers

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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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%

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 to Choose an Online Associate Degree Program

When we talk about the importance of a college education, most people immediately think of a bachelor's degree. But a bachelor's degree isn't the only educational route you can take to qualify for a high-paying career. For many people, earning an associate degree can provide you with the training you need in just two years for jobs that are rewarding and high-paying. If you have a full-time job or have other commitments that make it difficult to attend a traditional on-campus, 2-year college, there are more online associate degree programs than ever before for you to choose from.

associate-faq

Use the tips below to find the best online schools offering associate degrees in the subjects you are researching.

SALARY FOR ASSOCIATE DEGREE GRADUATES

The typical salary for a professional with an associate degree is $41,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professionals with an associate degree enjoy higher average salaries and lower unemployment rates than those who only have a high school diploma. By choosing an associate degree from an online community college, you can earn the degree you need to increase your salary without giving up your full-time job.

As with other degree levels, different subjects and majors can have different impacts on your post-graduate earning potential. In general, associate degrees in healthcare, technology, and engineering have the highest return on investment and lead to the highest-paying jobs. According to PayScale.com, professionals with an associate degree in management information systems, construction management, and economics can earn over $70,000 a year.

TOP PAYING ASSOCIATE DEGREES
Major Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay
Instrumentation Technology $42,900 $92,500
Radiation Therapy $57,900 $87,500
Management Information Systems (MIS) $44,200 $78,800
Nuclear Medicine Technology $57,900 $74,600
Construction Management $43,100 $73,400
Electrical Engineering (EE) $41,500 $73,200
Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) $41,900 $72,600
Engineering $39,700 $72,500
Economics $35,500 $72,400
Nursing Science $54,900 $72,400
ONLINE TRADE SCHOOLS, TECHNICAL COLLEGES, AND CAREER COLLEGES

Online associate degrees are particularly useful for those pursuing a career in a specific trade or one that requires a narrow and specialized set of skills, such as paralegal, nursing assistant or information technology (IT) professional. Many two-year schools offer degrees specifically for these industries that prepare graduates to pursue entry-level jobs. These schools, often known as trade schools, technical schools, or career colleges, tend to center around industries like healthcare, IT, and specific trades such as computer drafting. As online education becomes more common, more online trade schools and online career colleges have emerged. Our rankings can help you find the best online technical education options.

THE FIRST STEP TO A 4-YEAR DEGREE

In addition to what was mentioned above, earning an online associate degree can also be the first step towards a bachelor's degree. Before you enroll in an online community college, make sure to confirm that the credits you earn are transferable and will count toward other programs you plan to pursue, such as a bachelor's degree at a four-year university. This can reduce the amount of time needed to earn a bachelor's degree in the future.

You should also ask admissions counselors if their school has any transfer agreements with colleges or universities that offer bachelor's degrees. It's common for a community college, even an online community college, to have relationships with other schools that give students priority acceptance to bachelor's degree programs after they earn an associate degree.

Start your research by visiting our ranking of the best online community colleges to ensure that you find an associate program that offered transferable credits. We've done the research to identify which accredited two-year colleges offer the best quality education to help you reach your academic and career goals.

Earning a bachelor's degree requires a large commitment of time and money. Therefore, it is in your best interest to be careful when choosing which programs to apply to. To help you make the best choice, we recommend focusing your search on the best accredited online schools that offer online bachelor's degrees in your subject of interest.

bachelor-faq2

CHOOSE YOUR MAJOR BEFORE YOU CHOOSE YOUR SCHOOL

There are many reasons why it is important to know which subjects you want to study before you pick a school. Even though there are more online colleges than ever before, most schools only offer a select number of bachelor's degrees entirely online. Knowing what you want to study ahead of time will help you narrow your choices to schools that offer online bachelor's degrees in your area of interest. There is also evidence that what you study in college has a much bigger effect on post-graduate income than which college you attend.

If you are uncertain what you want to major in, do some research and consider what you want to do after you earn your degree. Find out what other people in that position or industry studied and what kinds of degrees they have. In short, talk to people who have the kinds of jobs you want.

TOP PAYING BACHELOR'S DEGREES
Major Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay
Petroleum Engineering $94,600 $175,500
Actuarial Mathematics $56,400 $131,700
Actuarial Science $61,200 $130,800
Nuclear Engineering $69,000 $127,500
Chemical Engineering $70,300 $124,500
Marine Engineering $73,900 $123,200
Economics and Mathematics $60,000 $122,900
Geophysics $54,100 $122,200
Cognitive Science $54,000 $121,900
Electrical Power Engineering $68,600 $119,100

EXPLORE MORE OPTIONS FOR ACCREDITED ONLINE BACHELOR'S DEGREE PROGRAMS

Our list of the best accredited online bachelor's programs is a good place to start your search of the online education space. However, if you already know what you want to study, then you may wish to browse our collection of online program rankings or read up on some of the more popular programs for undergraduates.

How to Choose an Online Master's Degree Program

An online master's degree is an ideal choice for those who want to jumpstart their career or make a career change without having to give up their full-time job. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost one quarter of graduate students were enrolled in exclusively online courses in 2013, and the number of online courses offered has grown since then.

master-faq

WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER GOALS?

It is important to know exactly what your career goals are and what you want to get out of a graduate degree before you begin applying to online master's programs. Most people who earn online master's degrees do so with the goal of getting a higher-paying job. If you fall into this category, it's important to have a solid understanding of the job market in your industry. For some fields, like social work or psychology, a graduate degree is required for even entry-level jobs. In other fields, like business, online master's programs and MBAs can prepare you for significant salary increases or senior leadership roles. Finally, in fields like education, a master's degree can automatically qualify you for a higher salary, and choosing one of the best online master's programs can allow you to earn that degree while you work full-time. Graduate school may not be the best choice for all career paths. For example, the typical salary of a worker with a master's degree in petroleum engineering is only $5,000 more per year than the salary of a worker with only a bachelor's degree in the same subject.

Once you know what you want from your education, spend time networking with people in your desired field and doing online research to find out what kind other professionals in your situation chose to do. You could look at the kinds of companies you want to work for and see where their employees went to school. One big benefit of going to graduate school, even through an online program, is the relationships you develop with other students and instructors. These relationships will results in a strong professional network, which can help you out in a variety of ways for years to come.

TOP PAYING MASTER'S DEGREES
Major Median Salary
Nurse Anesthesia $165,000
Telecommunications Engineering $141,000
Finance and Economics $134,000
Electrical Engineering $130,000
Computer Engineering $129,000
Biomedical Engineering $129,000
Mathematics and Statistics $129,000
Technology Management $127,000
Computer Science $126,000
Corporate Finance $126,000

EXPLORE MORE OPTIONS FOR ACCREDITED ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAMS

Most people researching online master's programs already have a good idea of what they want to study. Whether you're looking to change careers or advancement your current career, it's prudent to research your options. You can either browse our broader collection of rankings or go directly to one of our most popular program pages below.

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.

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.


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.

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.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Colleges of 2017
Rank School Location
Accredited Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
3 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
4 Northeastern University Global Network Boston, MA
5 Colorado State University Greenwood Village, CO
6 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Daytona Beach, FL
7 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
8 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
9 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
10 Brandman University Irvine, CA
11 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
12 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN
13 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
14 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA
15 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
16 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
17 Florida International University Miami, FL
18 Excelsior College Albany, NY
19 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
20 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
21 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
22 Champlain College Burlington, VT
23 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
24 Anderson University Anderson, SC
25 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
Best Online Colleges of 2017 - Honorable Mentions
Rank School Location
26 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati. OH
27 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
28 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
29 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA
30 Concordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
31 Dakota State University Madison, SD
32 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
33 Eastern New Mexico University Portales, NM
34 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
35 Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs, NC
36 Missouri State University - Springfield Springfield, MO
37 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
38 Park University Parkville, MO
39 Regis University Denver, CO
40 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
41 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
42 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
43 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
44 Southwestern College Winfield, KS
45 Troy University Troy, AL
46 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
47 University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie, WI
48 Washington State University Pullman, WA
49 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
50 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
Best Online Colleges of 2016
Rank School Location
Accredited Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
1 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
2 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
3 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
4 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL
5 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
6 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY
7 Asbury University Wilmore, KY
8 Minot State University Minot, ND
9 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
10 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
11 Colorado State University - Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO
12 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
13 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA
14 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
15 Florida International University Miami, FL
16 California State University - Chico Chico, CA
17 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
18 Buena Vista University Storm Lake, IA
19 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
20 Indiana University - East Richmond, IN
21 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
22 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
23 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
24 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
25 Florida Institute of Technology - Online Melbourne, FL
Accredited Online Associate Degree Programs
1 Mitchell Technical Institute Mitchell, SD
2 Alexandria Technical & Community College Alexandria, MN
3 Northwest Iowa Community College Sheldon, IA
4 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
5 Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
6 Western Wyoming Community College Rock Springs, WY
7 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE
8 Olney Central College Olney, IL
9 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI
10 Citrus College Glendora, CA
11 Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Curtis, NE
12 Santiago Canyon College Orange, CA
13 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN
14 Seward County Community College and Area Technical School Liberal, KS
15 Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield, ME
16 Casa Loma College - Van Nuys Van Nuys, CA
17 Big Bend Community College Moses Lake, WA
18 Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
19 North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton, ND
20 City College of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
21 West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah, KY
22 Palomar College San Marcos, CA
23 Ridgewater College Willmar, MN
24 Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI
25 Gateway Community and Technical College Florence, KY
Best Online Colleges of 2015
Rank School Location
Accredited Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 George Washington University Washington, DC
3 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
4 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
5 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
6 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
7 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
8 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
9 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
10 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
11 Mississippi State University Starkville, MS
12 University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC
13 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
14 Asbury University Wilmore, KY
15 Florida International University Miami, FL
16 University of Oklahoma Norman, OK
17 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
18 University of Missouri - Kansas City Kansas City, MO
19 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
20 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
21 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
22 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
23 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO
24 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
25 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
Accredited Online Associate Degree Programs
1 Mitchell Technical Institute Mitchell, SD
2 Alexandria Technical & Community College Alexandria, MN
3 Northwest Iowa Community College Sheldon, IA
4 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
5 Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
6 Western Wyoming Community College Rock Springs, WY
7 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE
8 Olney Central College Olney, IL
9 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake
10 Citus College Glendora, CA
11 Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Curtis, NE
12 Santiago Canyon College Orange, CA
13 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN
14 Seward County Community College and Area Technical School Liberal, KS
15 Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield, ME
16 Casa Loma Collge - Van Nuys Van Nuys, CA
17 Big Bend Community College Moses Lake, WA
18 Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
19 North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton, ND
20 City College of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
21 West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah, KY
22 Palomar College San Marcos, CA
23 Ridgewater College Willmar, MN
24 Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI
25 Gateway Community and Technical College Florence, KY
Best Online Colleges of 2014
Rank School Location
Accredited Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
3 Fashion Institute of Technology New York, NY
4 Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord, NC
5 University of Georgia Athens, GA
6 George Washington University Washington, D.C.
7 Oakland City University Oakland, CA
8 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
9 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
10 World Mission University Los Angeles, CA
11 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa AL
12 Villanova University Villanova, PA
13 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
14 Bethesda University of California Anaheim, CA
15 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
16 Northeastern University Boston, MA
17 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
18 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
19 Lancaster Bible College Lancaster, PA
20 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
21 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
22 University of Delaware Newark, DE
23 Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI
24 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
25 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
Accredited Online Associate Degree Programs
1 Virginia College Montgomery, AL
2 Sumner College Portland, OR
3 JFK Medical Center, Muhlenberg Harold B. and Dorothy A. Snyder Schools-School of Nursing Plainfield, NJ
4 Southwest Institute of Healing Arts Tempe, AZ
5 Pima Medical Institute-East Valley Mesa, AZ
6 FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Orange County Irvine, CA
7 Advanced College South Gate, CA
8 College of Health Care Professions - Northwest Houston, TX
9 Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro Murfreesboro, TN
10 Dade Medical College - Miami Miami, FL
11 Pinnacle Career Institute North Kansas City, MO
12 North Central Kansas Technical College Beloit, KS
13 Vista College Clearfield, UT
14 Concorde Career College - Aurora Aurora, CO
15 Bryan University Columbia, MO
16 West Virginia Junior College - Morgantown Morgantown, WV
17 Daytona College Ormond Beach, FL
18 Heald College Salinas, CA
19 Community Care College Tulsa, OK
20 Eagle Gate College-Salt Lake City Salt Lake City, UT
21 Daymar College-Chillicothe Chillicothe, OH
22 Valley College-Beckley Beckley, WV
23 Western Wyoming Community College Rock Springs, WY
24 Career Point College Tulsa, OK
25 Wright Career College Overland Park, KS