Complete List of Accredited Online Degrees in 2024

Want to earn your degree online? Learn about the best accredited online degrees to find the right fit for your needs and career goals.

It’s easy to see why online degrees are popular. They’re a flexible and affordable option for busy students. Today, many top-ranked colleges and universities offer online bachelor’s degrees and online master’s degrees. You can also earn a certificate online or even pursue your doctorate online.

But what’s the best way to choose an online college and find a degree? Our resources will help you identify high-quality, reputable online programs to earn your degree.

Find an Online Degree

Most Popular Online Degree Subjects

Biological Sciences Degrees

In the biological sciences, you can earn a degree in agriculture, environmental science, or biology. Most biological sciences careers require a college degree.

What kinds of jobs can you get with a degree in these fields? You can become an agricultural technician with an associate degree in agriculture, and these careers report a median annual pay of $46,140 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022).

Or become a biology major to work as a microbiologist or prepare for a graduate-level degree. Microbiologists earn a median salary of $81,990 (BLS, May 2022). These degrees also lead to many in-demand green careers.

Overall, careers in the life, physical, and social sciences report a median annual pay of $74,330 (BLS, May 2022). That’s significantly higher than the median pay of $46,310 for all occupations.

Online Biological Sciences Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Agriculture Associate in Agriculture Programs | Bachelor’s in Agriculture Programs
Biology Bachelor’s in Biology Programs | Accelerated Biology Programs
Environmental Health & Safety Bachelor’s in Environmental Health & Safety Programs
Environmental Science Bachelor’s in Environmental Science Programs
Horticulture Bachelor’s in Horticulture Programs
Marine Biology Bachelor’s in Marine Biology Programs | Master’s in Marine Biology Programs

Business and Management Degrees

Business is the most popular major — nearly one in five college graduates earns a degree in business, according to 2020-2021 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Within business, you can earn a career-focused degree in accounting, finance, or marketing. A business administration degree can also lead to high-paying careers.

From certificates to doctoral programs, you can study business and management at every degree level. And these fields report a high median wage. Business and finance jobs earn a median of $76,850 (BLS, May 2022), while management jobs earn $107,360 (BLS, May 2022).

With a bachelor’s in business, you’ll qualify for careers as a financial analyst, project manager, or accountant. At the graduate level, an MBA leads to many six-figure management careers.

Online Business and Management Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Accounting Associate in Accounting Programs | Bachelor’s in Accounting Programs | Master’s in Accounting Programs | Doctorate in Accounting Programs | Certificate in Accounting Programs | Accelerated Accounting Programs
Business Administration Associate in Business Administration Programs | Bachelor’s in Business Administration Programs | Master’s in Business Administration Programs | Doctorate in Business Administration Programs | Accelerated Business Administration Programs | Affordable in Business Administration Programs
Business Management Associate in Business Management Programs | Bachelor’s in Business Management Programs | Master’s in Business Management Programs | Certificate in Business Management Programs
Construction Management Bachelor’s in Construction Management Programs | Master’s in Construction Management Programs | Accelerated Construction Management Programs
Emergency Management Bachelor’s in Emergency Management Programs | Master’s in Emergency Management Programs
Entrepreneurship Associate in Entrepreneurship Programs | Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship Programs | Master’s in Entrepreneurship Programs
Finance Associate in Finance Programs | Bachelor’s in Finance Programs | Master’s in Finance Programs | Accelerated Finance Programs | Affordable in Finance Programs | Certificate in Finance Programs
Forensic Accounting Bachelor’s in Forensic Accounting Programs | Master’s in Forensic Accounting Programs
Hospitality Management Associate in Hospitality Management Programs | Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management Programs + Accelerated Hospitality Management Programs | Master’s in Hospitality Management Programs
Hotel and Restaurant Management Associate in Hotel and Restaurant Management Programs | Bachelor’s in Hotel and Restaurant Management Programs
Human Resources Associate in Human Resources Programs | Bachelor’s in Human Resources Programs | Master’s in Human Resources Programs | Doctorate in Human Resources Programs | Certificate in Human Resources Programs | Affordable in Human Resources Programs
International Business Bachelor’s in International Business Programs | Master’s in International Business Programs
Marketing Associate in Marketing Programs | Bachelor’s in Marketing Programs | Master’s in Marketing Programs | Doctorate in Marketing Programs | Certificate in Marketing Programs | Accelerated Marketing Programs
Nonprofit Management Bachelor’s in Nonprofit Management Programs | Master’s in Nonprofit Management Programs
Organizational Leadership Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership Programs | Master’s in Organizational Leadership Programs | Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs
Project Management Bachelor’s in Project Management Programs | Master’s in Project Management Programs | Accelerated Project Management Programs
Public Relations Bachelor’s in Public Relations Programs | Master’s in Public Relations Programs
Real Estate Associate in Real Estate Programs | Bachelor’s in Real Estate Programs | Master’s in Real Estate Programs
Retail and Sales Management Bachelor’s in Retail and Sales Management Programs
Risk Management Bachelor’s in Risk Management Programs
Sports Management Bachelor’s in Sports Management Programs | Master’s in Sports Management Programs
Supply Chain Management and Logistics Associate in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs | Bachelor’s in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs | Master’s in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs | MBA in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs | Certificate in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs
Sustainability Bachelor’s in Sustainability Programs | MBA in Sustainability Programs

Computer Science and Technology Degrees

Prepare for in-demand careers in tech with a computer science or IT degree. With a computer science degree, you can become a software developer, computer programmer, or information security analyst.

Many computer science careers report six-figure median salaries. For example, software developers earn a median pay of $124,200 (BLS, May 2022). With an IT degree, you can study web development to work as a web developer, where the median wage is $80,730 (BLS, May 2022).

Computer science and technology degrees offer a strong return on investment. Careers in tech report a median annual wage of $100,530 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Computer Science and Technology Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Computer Forensics Bachelor’s in Computer Forensics Programs | Master’s in Computer Forensics Programs
Computer Programming Associate in Computer Programming Programs | Bachelor’s in Computer Programming Programs
Computer Science Associate in Computer Science Programs | Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs | Master’s in Computer Science Programs | Accelerated Computer Science Programs
Cybersecurity Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Programs | Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs
Database Management Bachelor’s in Database Management Programs | Master’s in Database Management Programs
Data Science and Analytics Bachelor’s in Data Science and Analytics Programs | Master’s in Data Science and Analytics Programs | Doctoratein Data Science and Analytics Programs | Certificate in Data Science and Analytics Programs
Industrial Technology Bachelor’s in Industrial Technology Programs
Information Systems Security Bachelor’s in Information Systems Security Programs | Master’s in Information Systems Security Programs
Information Technology Associate in Information Technology Programs | Bachelor’s in Information Technology Programs | Master’s in Information Technology Programs | Doctorate in Information Technology Programs | Certificate in Information Technology Programs | Accelerated Information Technology Programs
Management Information Systems Associate in Management Information Systems Programs | Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems Programs | MBA in Management Information Systems Programs
Network Administration Associate in Network Administration Programs | Bachelor’s in Network Administration Programs
Software Engineering Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Programs | Master’s in Software Engineering Programs
Web Design Associate in Web Design Programs | Bachelor’s in Web Design Programs | Certificate in Web Design Programs
Web Development Associate in Web Development Programs | Bachelor’s in Web Development Programs | Master’s in Web Development Programs | Certificate in Web Development Programs | Accelerated Web Development Programs

Counseling and Social Work Degrees

A counseling or social work degree can help you launch your career in community and social services.

For counseling careers, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, depending on your counseling specialization. A master’s in counseling can lead to careers as a marriage and family therapist or rehabilitation counselor. Marriage and family therapists report a median pay of $56,570 (BLS, May 2022).

With a social work degree, you can become a social worker. Social workers earn a median salary of $55,350 (BLS, May 2022). For clinical social work careers, you’ll need a master’s degree. Overall, the community and social services field reports a median wage of $49,380 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Counseling and Social Work Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Addiction Counseling Bachelor’s in Addiction Counseling Programs | Master’s in Addiction Counseling Programs
Christian Counseling Bachelor’s in Christian Counseling Programs | Master’s in Christian Counseling Programs
Counseling (General) Bachelor’s in Counseling Programs | Master’s in Counseling Programs | Doctorate in Counseling Programs | Accelerated Counseling Programs
Social Work Bachelor’s in Social Work Programs | Master’s in Social Work Programs | Doctorate in Social Work Programs | Accelerated Social Work Programs

Criminal Justice and Law Degrees

With a degree in criminology or paralegal studies, you can launch your career as a police officer, forensic scientist, or mediator. Or consider other criminal justice careers in cybersecurity or emergency management.

How much can you earn with a criminal justice degree? Police officers and detectives earn a median pay of $69,160 (BLS, May 2022). Overall, protective services careers report a median salary of $45,450 (BLS, May 2022).

Legal studies majors can work as a paralegal or go to law school and prepare for higher-paying legal occupations, including attorneys and judges. The legal field reports a median annual wage of $95,170 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Criminal Justice and Law Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Criminal Justice Associate in Criminal Justice Programs | Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Programs | Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs | Doctorate in Criminal Justice Programs | Certificate in Criminal Justice Programs (Safety) | Affordable Criminal Justice Programs | Accelerated Criminal Justice Programs
Criminology Associate in Criminology Programs | Bachelor’s in Criminology Programs | Master’s in Criminology Programs
Cybercrime Bachelor’s in Cybercrime Programs
Forensic Science Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Programs | Master’s in Forensic Science Programs
Homeland Security Associate in Homeland Security Programs | Bachelor’s in Homeland Security Programs | Master’s in Homeland Security Programs
Law Enforcement Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement Programs | Master’s in Law Enforcement Programs
Legal Studies Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Programs | Master’s in Legal Studies Programs
Paralegal Studies Associate in Paralegal Studies Programs | Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies Programs | Certificate in Paralegal Studies Programs | Accelerated Paralegal Studies Programs

Education and Library Degrees

With an education or library degree, you can become a teacher or librarian. And you can earn an online teaching degree in high-demand fields like math, science, and special education. Majors in child development or early childhood education lead to opportunities as a preschool teacher or social worker.

Careers in educational instruction and library science earn a median pay of $57,490 (BLS, May 2022). Librarians, for example, make a median wage of $61,660 and generally need a master’s degree (BLS, May 2022). And teachers can boost their earning potential with a master’s in education.

Online Education Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Child Development Associate in Child Development Programs | Bachelor’s in Child Development Programs | Master’s in Child Development Programs | Affordable Child Development Programs
Early Childhood Education Associate in Early Childhood Education Programs | Bachelor’s in v Programs | Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs | Affordable Early Childhood Education Programs
Education Associate in Education Programs | Bachelor’s in Education Programs | Master’s in Education Programs | Doctorate in Education Programs | Certificate in Education Programs (Technology) | Accelerated Education Programs
Elementary Education Associate in Elementary Education Programs | Bachelor’s in Elementary Education Programs | Master’s in Elementary Education Programs | Certificate in Elementary Education Programs | Affordable Elementary Education Programs
Higher Education Master’s in Higher Education Programs | Doctorate in Higher Education Programs
Library Science Bachelor’s in Library Science Programs | Master’s in Library Science Programs
Math Education Bachelor’s in Math Education Programs | Master’s in Math Education Programs
Physical Education Associate in Physical Education Programs | Bachelor’s in Physical Education Programs
Science Education Bachelor’s in Science Education Programs | Master’s in Science Education Programs
Secondary Education Bachelor’s in Secondary Education Programs | Master’s in Secondary Education Programs
Special Education Bachelor’s in Special Education Programs | Master’s in Special Education Programs | Doctorate in Special Education Programs | Affordable Special Education Programs

Engineering Degrees

Earning an engineering degree can pay off. That’s because engineers rank among the highest-paying careers by degree level. Overall, engineering careers report a median pay of $83,700 (BLS, May 2022).

With an associate degree in aeronautics, you can become an aerospace engineering technician, a field with a $74,410 median pay (BLS, May 2022). And a bachelor’s in electrical engineering leads to high-paying careers as an electrical engineer with a median wage of $104,610 (BLS, May 2022).

Learn about different engineering specialties to discover career paths in civil engineering, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Online Engineering Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Aeronautics Bachelor’s in Aeronautics Programs
Chemical Engineering Bachelor’s in v Programs | Master’s in Chemical Engineering Programs | Doctorate in Chemical Engineering Programs
Electrical Engineering Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering Programs | Master’s in Electrical Engineering Programs
Electronics Engineering Bachelor’s in Electronics Engineering Programs | Master’s in Electronics Engineering Programs
Engineering Bachelor’s in Engineering Programs | Master’s in Engineering Programs | Accelerated Engineering Programs

Healthcare and Health Sciences Degrees

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing fields. And you can launch a healthcare career in as little as two years with an online degree. Healthcare occupations report a median salary of $77,760 (BLS, May 2022), and you can find healthcare career paths at every degree level.

Allied health programs in dental hygiene, radiology, and respiratory therapy lead to high-paying careers. Dental hygienists make a median salary of $81,400 with an associate degree (BLS, May 2022).

Degrees in health informatics, nutrition, and public health also lead to in-demand careers. Nutritionists with a bachelor’s degree can earn a median pay of $66,450 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Healthcare and Health Sciences Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Athletic Training Bachelor’s in Athletic Training Programs | Master’s in Athletic Training Programs
Dental Hygiene Bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene Programs
Exercise Science Bachelor’s in Exercise Science Programs
Gerontology Bachelor’s in Gerontology Programs | Master’s in Gerontology Programs
Health Education Bachelor’s in Health Education Programs | Master’s in EHealth Education Programs | Affordable Health Education Programs
Health Informatics Associate in Health Informatics Programs | Bachelor’s in Health Informatics Programs | Master’s in Health Informatics Programs | Certificate in Health Informatics Programs | Affordable Health Informatics Programs
Health Sciences Associate in Health Sciences Programs | Bachelor’s in Health Sciences Programs | Master’s in Health Sciences Programs | Affordable Health Sciences Programs
Health Services Bachelor’s in Health Services Programs | Master’s in Health Services Programs | Affordable Health Services Programs
Healthcare Administration Associate in Healthcare Administration Programs | Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Programs | Master’s in Healthcare Administration Programs | Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs | Accelerated Healthcare Administration Programs | Affordable Healthcare Administration Programs
Healthcare Management Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management Programs | Master’s in Healthcare Management Programs | Doctorate in Healthcare Management Programs
Kinesiology Bachelor’s in Kinesiology Programs
Nutrition Bachelor’s in Nutrition Programs | Master’s in Nutrition Programs | Affordable Nutrition Programs
Public Health Bachelor’s in Public Health Programs | Master’s in Public Health Programs | Doctorate in Public Health Programs | Accelerated Public Health Programs | Affordable Public Health Programs
Radiology Bachelor’s in Radiology Programs | Master’s in Radiology Programs
Respiratory Therapy Bachelor’s in Respiratory Therapy Programs | Master’s in Respiratory Therapy Programs
Sonography Associate in Sonography Programs | Bachelor’s in Sonography Programs | Certificate in Sonography Programs
Sports Medicine Master’s in Sports Medicine Programs

Nursing Degrees

Nurses are in high demand. You can become a registered nurse in as little as two years. As a registered nurse, you can expect a median annual wage of $81,220 (BLS, May 2022). RNs can also advance their education with online RN-to-BSN programs.

With a nursing degree, you can qualify for nursing careers in specialties like pediatrics, critical care, or nurse informatics. The highest-paying nursing careers typically require a graduate degree.

Nurse practitioners, for example, earn a median pay of $121,610 (BLS, May 2022). Graduate programs also prepare nurses for roles like nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, and nurse manager.

Online Nursing Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Nursing Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs | Master’s in Nursing Programs | Doctorate in Nursing Programs | Certificate in Nursing Programs | Accelerated Nursing Programs | Affordable Nursing Programs
Nursing Administration Master’s in Nursing Administration Programs
RN to BSN Bachelor’s in RN to BSN Programs | Accelerated RN to BSN Programs | Affordable RN to BSN Programs

Philosophy & Religious Studies Degrees

Philosophy and religious studies majors explore faith, belief systems, and the meaning of life. With a degree in ministry, you can also become a clergy member.

Clergy report a median annual wage of $55,550 (BLS, May 2022), while other religious workers earn a median pay of $39,370 (BLS, May 2022). With the analytical skills of a philosophy major, you can pursue careers in law, business, or social services.

At online Christian colleges and online Bible colleges, you can explore theology and Christian philosophy. Or study comparative religion to examine diverse faiths. Plus, theology and religious studies majors qualify for many scholarships and grants.

Online Philosophy & Religious Studies Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Comparative Religion Associate in Comparative Religion Programs | Bachelor’s in Comparative Religion Programs
Ministry Associate in Ministry Programs | Bachelor’s in Ministry Programs | Master’s in Ministry Programs
Philosophy Bachelor’s in Philosophy Programs | Master’s in Philosophy Programs
Theology Associate in Theology Programs | Bachelor’s in Theology Programs | Master’s in Theology Programs | Accelerated Theology Programs

Psychology Degrees

Psychology is one of the most popular majors, according to NCES data. Psychologists need a graduate degree. But if you don’t want to go to graduate school, you can apply their analytical and communication skills as a psych major to work in diverse fields like marketing and social services.

Want to become a psychologist? You’ll need a doctorate for many psychology careers. Psychologists report a median annual wage of $85,330 (BLS, May 2022).

During your graduate studies, you can specialize in child psychology, forensic psychology, or clinical psychology. Or explore organizational psychology to work as an industrial-organizational psychologist. These in-demand roles pay a median annual wage of $139,280 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Psychology Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Applied (Clinical) Psychology Bachelor’s in Applied Psychology Programs | Master’s in Applied Psychology Programs | Doctorate in Applied Psychology Programs
Behavioral Psychology Bachelor’s in ehavioral Psychology Programs | Master’s in ehavioral Psychology Programs
Child and Adolescent Psychology Bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs
Forensic Psychology Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Programs | Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs
Human and Family Development Bachelor’s in Human and Family Development Programs | Master’s in Human and Family Development Programs | Affordable Human and Family Development Programs
Organizational Psychology Bachelor’s in Organizational Psychology Programs | Master’s in Organizational Psychology Programs
Psychology (General) Associate in Psychology Programs | Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs | Master’s in Psychology Programs | Doctorate in Psychology Programs | Accelerated Psychology Programs | Affordable Psychology Programs

Social Sciences and Humanities Degrees

Earning a social sciences or humanities degree strengthens critical thinking, communication, and analytical abilities — and these are in-demand skills in many fields.

You can study communication, public relations, or journalism to work in media and communications roles. For example, public relations specialists earn a median annual pay of $67,440 (BLS, May 2022).

With a political science, sociology, or economics degree, you’ll qualify for high-paying social sciences careers. For example, sociologists make a median wage of $98,590 (BLS, May 2022), while economists earn $113,940 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Social Sciences Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Communication Associate in Communication Programs | Bachelor’s in Communication Programs | Master’s in Communication Programs | Accelerated Communication Programs | Affordable Communication Programs
Economics Associate in Economics Programs | Bachelor’s in Economics Programs | Master’s in Economics Programs
General Studies Associate in General Studies Programs | Bachelor’s in General Studies Programs
Humanities Bachelor’s in Humanities Programs | Accelerated Humanities Programs | Affordable Humanities Programs
Media Communications Bachelor’s in Media Communications Programs | Master’s in Media Communications Programs | Doctorate in Media Communications Programs
Journalism Bachelor’s in Journalism Programs | Master’s in Journalism Programs | Doctorate in Journalism Programs
Liberal Arts Associate in Liberal Arts Programs | Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts Programs | Master’s in Liberal Arts Programs
Political Science Bachelor’s in Political Science Programs | Master’s in Political Science Programs | Accelerated Political Science Programs
Public Administration Bachelor’s in Public Administration Programs | Master’s in Public Administration Programs | Doctorate in Public Administration Programs
Public Policy Master’s in Public Policy Programs
Social Science Bachelor’s in Social Science Programs | Accelerated Social Science Programs | Affordable Social Science Programs
Sociology Bachelor’s in Sociology Programs | Master’s in Sociology Programs | Accelerated Sociology Programs

Visual & Performing Arts Degrees

Hone your creative skills with a visual and performing arts degree. And, despite what you may think, an art degree can pay off. The median annual wage for art and design careers reached $51,150 in 2022 (BLS, May 2022).

You can study fashion, photography, or music to launch your art career. Or specialize in graphic design or video game design to prepare for a design career. As a graphic designer, you can expect a median pay of $57,990 (BLS, May 2022).

A degree in animation or film can lead to opportunities as an animator, special effects artist, or camera operator. Special effects artists and animators make a median wage of $98,950 (BLS, May 2022).

Online Visual & Performing Arts Degrees
Degree Subject Degree Levels
Animation Bachelor’s in Animation Programs
Fashion Associate in Fashion Programs | Bachelor’s in Fashion Programs
Film Bachelor’s in Film Programs | Master’s in Film Programs
Graphic Design Associate in Graphic Design Programs | Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Programs | Master’s in Graphic Design Programs
Music (Music Education) Bachelor’s in Music Programs | Master’s in Music Education Programs
Photography Associate in Photography Programs | Bachelor’s in Photography Programs
Video Game Design Associate in Video Game Design Programs | Bachelor’s in Video Game Design Programs | Master’s in Video Game Design Programs

All About Online Degrees

Online degrees are growing in popularity. In fall 2021, 9.4 million college students took an online class, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That number represents 61% of all students. And 4.4 million, or 28% of students, enrolled fully online.

As online degrees become more popular, there’s also been a positive shift in how they’re perceived. Our 2023 Online Education Trends Report found that 96% of students have seen or expect a positive ROI for their online degree.

Plus, online learning prioritizes affordability and convenience. For many students, that means an online degree can pay off.

Some of our most popular online programs include:

Why Are We the Authority on Ranking Online Degrees?

Our goal is to give applicants the information they need to make an informed decision.

We rank online degrees based on academic quality, affordability, and accessibility of online programs. By drawing on reputable data sources, we’re able to identify the programs that serve students best.

For example, high retention and graduation rates often translate into strong student support services. Similarly, information on how many students take online classes reveals each school’s investment in remote learners.

Types of Online Schools

What schools offer online degrees? You can earn a degree online at a public university, private college, community college, or vocational school. Just make sure to choose an accredited online college.

Public Colleges and Universities

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Many of the best public colleges offer online degrees. Public colleges receive financial support from state governments. They’re also nonprofit institutions. As a result, public colleges usually cost less than private colleges, especially for in-state learners.

When researching online degree programs, it’s a good idea to start with public colleges in your state. These programs are typically the most affordable option for earning an online degree.

Private Colleges & Universities

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Some of the best-known colleges are private colleges. And many top-ranked private colleges offer online degrees. Unlike public colleges, private colleges do not rely on government funds. Instead, they use tuition and endowments to cover operating expenses.

When researching colleges, consider the difference between nonprofit vs. for-profit colleges. Nonprofit colleges prioritize academic quality, while for-profit colleges need to be financially profitable. In most cases, a nonprofit college is a better choice.

Community Colleges

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Community colleges are the most affordable way to earn a college degree. These publicly funded, nonprofit institutions typically offer academic and workforce preparation programs.

At online community colleges, you can earn a certificate or associate degree. After earning a two-year degree, you can transfer to a four-year institution to finish a bachelor’s degree while saving money.

Trade & Vocational Schools

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Trade and vocational schools prepare graduates for in-demand careers in allied health, the skilled trades, and other vocational fields. At the best trade schools, you can study automotive technology, manufacturing, cosmetology, or other trade-focused fields.

The cost of trade school can vary widely. When researching trade and vocational programs, it’s a good idea to look for programs offered at community colleges in addition to trade schools.

Types of Degree Levels

What kinds of degrees can you earn online? In addition to bachelor’s degrees, you can earn a graduate degree online. Or choose career-focused options like a certificate or bootcamp. This section introduces the different degree levels offered online.

Associate Degrees

An online associate degree takes two years to complete, while some accelerated programs take less time. What’s the difference between an associate degree vs. bachelor’s degree? An associate degree takes less time and credits to complete, and many associate programs prepare graduates for vocational careers. You can also transfer into a bachelor’s degree completion program after earning an associate degree.

Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning an online bachelor’s degree can boost your earning potential and job opportunities. These four-year degrees typically include general education courses plus upper-division classes in your major. Choose from the most popular majors, find a unique major, or customize an interdisciplinary degree.

You can finish a bachelor’s degree in less than four years by choosing an accelerated program. Or transfer credits toward your degree to save time and money.

Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree offers advanced coursework in a focused discipline. Some of the most popular master’s programs include an MBA and a master’s in education. Or choose one of the easiest master’s degrees.

While most master’s programs take two years to complete, you can also enroll in an accelerated master’s program to graduate in as little as one year. An online learning format makes it easier to find an affordable master’s degree that fits your budget.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctorate is the highest degree in academia. And you can earn a doctorate online. In addition to Ph.D. programs, you can earn a DBA, DSW, or DNP online. Or earn your Ed.D. or Ed.S. online.

While some doctoral programs require a master’s degree, you can also find direct-entry doctorates for those with a bachelor’s degree. And you can find accelerated online doctorates to finish your degree faster.


Gain specialized skills in an online certificate program. Unlike a degree program, you won’t take general education courses during a certificate. A business certificate can strengthen accounting, marketing, or analytics skills to advance your career. Or choose another professional certificate program at the undergrad or graduate level.


Bootcamps offer focused, quick training. Many bootcamp programs take as little as 12-24 weeks to complete. During that time, you’ll gain career-focused skills, often in tech fields. The best coding and programming bootcamps can launch your tech career without you having to spend four years earning a bachelor’s degree. These accelerated bootcamp programs are a non-degree option.

Online Degree Cost: How to Pay for College

Earning a degree online can save you money. That’s because you can compare colleges to find the most affordable options. Because of in-state tuition discounts, public colleges in your state might be the cheapest route. As an online student, you can also save on living expenses, transportation costs, and childcare expenses.

When it comes to paying for college, it’s a good idea to start with the FAFSA. By choosing an accredited online college, you’ll also qualify for other forms of student financial aid.

Financial Aid and the FAFSA

Most students use financial aid to pay for college. That includes scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. Some financial aid requires proof of financial need. And some support specific student populations, like LGBTQ+ scholarships.

It’s a good idea to start with the FAFSA. Submit the FAFSA every year to qualify for federal student aid, including federal grants and loans. Many colleges also use the FAFSA to determine financial aid packages.

Scholarships and Grants

College scholarships and grants are the best form of financial aid because you don’t need to repay the award. In addition to scholarships and grants offered by colleges, look for private scholarships and state grants. For example, you can find scholarships for adult learners, scholarships for women, and scholarships for Black students.

Federal and Private Loans

After you’ve exhausted your financial aid options that don’t require repayment, you can consider college loans. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay back these loans with interest.

What’s the difference between federal vs. private loans? Federal loans typically offer lower interest rates and more repayment options. Submit the FAFSA to learn about your federal loan options.

What to Know About Online School Accreditation

Accredited colleges meet the highest standards for academic quality. That’s one reason all the schools on BestColleges hold accreditation. We also only include accredited schools so that you’ll qualify for federal financial aid and your degree will meet career and licensure requirements.

You should always look for an accredited institution if you’re earning a degree online, including at trade schools. Since bootcamps aren’t accredited, you’ll need to do extra research to find a quality program.

What to Know About Accelerated Online Programs

By choosing an accelerated program, you can graduate in less time. For example, a fast-track bachelor’s degree can take as little as one year, compared with four years for traditional programs.

You can also earn an accelerated graduate degree. With a one-year master’s program, you’ll complete a graduate degree in as little as 12 months. That means you’ll enter the workforce with your new degree quickly.

Accelerated online programs require a big time commitment, leaving little time for work or other responsibilities. You can find accelerated degrees in fields like business, education, tech, and more.

Below is a list of some popular online accelerated programs:

Everything Else You Need to Know About Online Degrees

Are online degrees respected?

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Yes, online degrees from accredited colleges are widely respected. Accredited schools meet high standards for academic quality. Online programs undergo the same rigorous review process as in-person programs to earn accreditation.

At many colleges, the same faculty teach online and in-person courses. Programs often use the same teaching materials and assessments regardless of the delivery method. And online and on-campus students receive identical diplomas after completing their respective programs. As a result, online degrees are just as valuable as on-campus degrees.

Is an online degree worth it?

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An online degree can get you the training you need for the career you want on the schedule you have. If that's what you're looking for, then an online degree can definitely be worth it.

How much does an online degree cost?

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The cost of an online degree varies widely. While public online colleges cost an average net price of $12,980 per year, private nonprofit colleges cost $15,940 per year on average, according to 2021-2022 NCES data.

The average net price per credit of a degree is around $600, but many online colleges cost $200 or less per credit. You can save money on your degree by researching affordable programs, applying for scholarships, and maximizing your transfer credits.

Our Editorial Policy and Standards

Accuracy and editorial integrity are just a few of the values we at BestColleges pledge to uphold for the students who rely on us. We are committed to providing students with the educational resources they need to achieve their goals.

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