Best Online High Schools

Our education experts at BestColleges have evaluated and rated the best online high school programs currently out there. Read on to explore the learning expectations, admissions requirements, and opportunities available to you at a top online high school.
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Online high schools have helped open the door to more flexible and accessible education for students across the country. Prospective learners can now earn their high school diploma online from the comfort of their own homes. For those who thrive in remote environments, these schools offer more program options and scheduling freedom.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 21% of public schools and 13% of private schools offered learning entirely online in 2017-2018. However, in 2020, the United States Census Bureau found that 91% of households with school-age children reported some form of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Prospective students can choose from public, private, and charter online high schools. They can even access high schools affiliated with many of the top online colleges and universities in the country. Here, we explore the best online high schools, while also highlighting typical online learning expectations, requirements, and opportunities.

Why Attend an Online High School?

Students attend online high schools for many reasons, but it often comes down to flexibility and accessibility. Online high schools offer individual classes, including college prep and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, along with GED classes. Online learners may find schooling options with little or no travel, lower tuition rates, and a greater course selection.

Online high schools also offer online high school diplomas for adults and nontraditional learners. When pursuing an asynchronous or self-paced online high school diploma, learners can maintain a healthy work-life-school balance. They may also accelerate their training or make up missed or failed credits.

Pros of an Online High School

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    More flexible schedules with asynchronous and self-paced study options
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    Greater selection of courses and fewer scheduling limitations
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    More control over the curriculum, learning style, and skills acquired
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    Access to more diverse student groups

Cons of an Online High School

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    Greater reliance on independent learning and self-teaching
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    Higher costs compared to in-person public schools and fewer accessible facilities
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    At-home, parent-, or guardian-led instruction
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    Fewer social opportunities and less intimate interaction with teachers and education staff

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Can I Expect From an Online High School?

Online high schools provide similar training to traditional high school programs with the added benefit of more flexible study schedules and locations. These schools may be a good fit for many learners, including those in need of adult, part-time, and accelerated high school classes. Without being limited to the schools nearby, students can find the programs and topics that interest them most.

Online learning can impact a student's educational pacing as well. Online learners may be able to earn their high school diploma in a shorter period of time overall, and they can also study during the hours that suit them best. This creates room for work and other activities that traditional classes may not accommodate.

Some high schools may run 100% online or hybrid programs for students who want a mix. Online students can access many student and careers services, along with student organizations and events. While programs rarely feature on-campus residency requirements, online students may need to complete practicums or internships at a specific location.

Types of Online High Schools

  • Public: Public online high schools are state- or district-run schools that typically offer free education to residents of that region. These government-funded schools possess institutional accreditation and may offer a more limited selection of core courses than other online schools.
  • Private: Private online high schools have more freedom in what they can offer, but the lack of government funding usually means higher tuition costs. These schools may cater to specific types of students or programs. Because private schools can welcome students across the country, prospective students should carefully research accreditation.
  • Charter: Like public schools, charter schools receive government funding and offer free schooling for students in the area. Charter schools are not bound by school board curriculum guidelines, however, which gives them more flexibility to cater their training to specific types of students and programs.
  • College- or University-Affiliated: College- or university-affiliated schools may be public or private depending on their parent school. These institutions provide high-quality instruction and postsecondary preparation, but they may be more selective and costly than other online high schools.

Coursework at Online High Schools

The type of online high school you attend can influence the type of education you receive. Public schools, for example, tend to feature more rigid core curriculum requirements. These large institutions, however, may also offer a greater selection of electives.

Private and charter schools, conversely, can offer more unique and specialized courses. Private schools with religious affiliations typically incorporate faith-based lessons into their curricula. College- and university-affiliated schools tend to run more postsecondary preparation courses, particularly in the areas their parent schools specialize in.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online High School?

The admission requirements for online high schools vary by institution. In general, they mirror the requirements of traditional high schools. Students usually must possess an eighth-grade education and submit all report cards and transcripts. The best online high schools may require strong GPAs or placement test scores, while others require proof of state residency, essays, letters of recommendation, and the appropriate prerequisites.


The online high school application typically includes the prospective student's personal information. These applications usually include a processing fee as well. Applicants may also need to include proof of residency and their parents' or guardians' information.

Official Transcripts or Report Cards

Most applications require official transcripts and report cards from the prospective student's K-8 studies. These records highlight the student's prerequisites and overall academic strengths. Schools may use transcripts to determine the applicant's GPA and program readiness.

Placement Tests

Online high schools may request results from tests like the High School Placement Test (HSPT) or the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT). These standardized tests help schools identify an applicant's academic level, which can inform an admission decision or help place learners in the appropriate classes.

What Can I Do With an Online High School Diploma?

Colleges and universities value online high school diplomas the same as traditional diplomas. They primarily look for students who come from accredited schools, paying little regard to their training medium. In fact, online public and college- and university-affiliated online high schools follow state- and board-mandated curricula.

Accredited online high schools provide the same quality of training as traditional schools, and the AP classes they offer transfer into colleges and universities the same way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals with a high school diploma make considerably more money and have a much lower unemployment rate than those who do not have a high school degree.

How Do I Choose an Online High School Program?


Choosing the best online high school typically includes looking at cost. Prospective students should compare online and on-campus program costs. They might also look at private vs. public school costs. Some schools may offer payment plans and financial aid options.

Graduation Rates

An online high school's graduation rates can say a lot about how well the school trains and retains its students. Graduation rates show you the percentage of enrollees who complete their training. Prospective students can also look at the percentage of graduates who went on to postsecondary training to identify how well the school prepares its students for college or trade school.

Diploma Offerings

Online high schools may offer several types of online high school diplomas, including a general, college preparation, and career-focused diploma. Each diploma track features unique courses and leads students down different paths. Prospective students should ensure that their school offers the appropriate diploma for their personal goals.

Program Format

Choose an online high school program format that matches your learning style and scheduling needs. Compare the pros and cons of synchronous vs. asynchronous delivery and full-time vs. part-time learning to determine which options work best for you. You can also consider accelerated programs if you want to earn your high school diploma faster.


The best online high schools provide multiple curriculum options for students. For example, learners looking for college preparation in high school should look for programs that offer AP, university-level, and honors classes. Schools may also allow students to personalize their studies with electives to help prepare them for their specific postsecondary goals.


Online learners can access many more high schools than traditional students, but they may still need to think about location when choosing an institution. Online schools may feature on-campus residency requirements that learners need to complete. Prospective students should investigate online schools' in-person requirements before applying.


Prospective students need to pay close attention to accreditation when choosing an online high school. All schools need the appropriate institutional accreditation to provide a widely-accepted and recognized high school diploma online. Colleges and universities only accept and provide transfer credits to applicants from accredited institutions.

Student Support

Schools may offer student services to support learners' education, mental health, and postsecondary and career preparation. You should explore the types of online student services available at virtual high schools to make sure they offer the support you need for your unique goals. Once enrolled, you should prepare questions for your high school guidance counselor to ensure you get the most out of those available services.

Best Online High Schools

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

How We Ranked the Best Online High Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

The 10 best online high schools listed in this ranking are ranked based on their academic reputation, overall academic quality, state test scores, and graduation rates. To learn more about our different rankings, read our ranking methodology.


Stanford University Online High School

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition


Founded in 2006 as one of the first independent online high schools in the country, Stanford University Online High School (Stanford OHS) enrolls more than 900 students in grades 7-12. Learners can pursue a part-time or full-time high school diploma online or take single courses, including 28 university-level and post-AP courses.

Stanford OHS admits students based on their academic achievements, personal essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. While the school usually requires standardized tests, they remain test-optional for the 2022-2023 application cycle. At least 66% of Stanford OHS faculty hold doctorates, and students have access to academic advising and support, counseling, and college preparation services.


George Washington University Online High School

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100% Online | Self-Paced and Scheduled

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition


George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) was founded in 2010 and enrolls more than 700 students in grades 8-12. Learners can complete a full-time 24-credit high school diploma online or take individual classes, such as one of the 16 AP courses.

Nearly 30% of the GWUOHS faculty hold doctorates, and the school offers college and academic counseling. For the class of 2020-2021, the average SAT score was 1260 and the average ACT score was about 29. For admission, prospective students need to submit middle school report cards and high school transcripts and possess the appropriate prerequisites.


The Keystone School

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100% Online | Self-Paced

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition


The Keystone School provides full-time elementary, middle, and high school programs. Students take self-paced courses in pursuit of a 21-credit high school diploma online. They have access to more than 140 courses, including core language arts, math, and science studies and 12 AP courses.

Over 60% of the Keystone School's faculty members have graduate degrees, and the school offers student services that include learning coaches and guidance and counseling programs. For admission, prospective students need a certificate of eighth-grade completion, plus grade reports, transcripts, and standardized test scores.


James Madison Online High School

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100% Online | Self-Paced

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition


Founded in 1996, James Madison High School offers three online high school diplomas: general, college prep, and career-focused. Students can complete the 23-credit diploma or take individual courses in the areas of English, mathematics, science, and social studies.

More than 75% of the school's faculty have a graduate degree, and the school offers its students access to academic support and a 24/7 learning resource center. Learners also receive an individual learning coach and career services assistance. For admission, prospective students need to have completed eighth grade with a minimum GPA of 2.0.


Davidson Academy Online

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100% Online | Scheduled

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition

Free (Nevada residents); $16,410 (out-of-state students)

At the Davidson Academy Online, gifted students join classrooms grouped by ability, not age. Learners complete a 28-credit high school diploma online, with courses based on their specific interests and goals.

Most faculty members at the Davidson Academy Online possess a graduate degree. Learners have access to experiential opportunities within their programs, along with academic, social, and emotional support programs.

For admission, prospective students need to demonstrate social and emotional maturity and post high scores on their academic readiness assessment. They also need to submit an approved placement test, such as the SAT or ACT.


University of Texas High School

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100% Online | Self-Paced and Scheduled

Type of Online High School

Public College-Affiliated

Full-Time Yearly Tuition

Free (Texas residents); $3,640 (out-of-state students)

Opened in 1999, the University of Texas High School (UT High School) allows students to earn a 26-credit high school diploma online, full time. They can also choose individual courses from over 60 subject areas, including 10 AP courses.

UT High School enrolls more than 800 full-time students and hires professional educators, subject specialists, and experts to teach courses. The school offers its learners access to career and college readiness programs, plus academic services and student athlete programs. For admission, prospective students under the age of 21 must possess an eighth grade education.


Brigham Young University's Independent Study

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100% Online | Self-Paced and Scheduled

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition


Brigham Young University Independent Study (BYU Independent Study) allows students to pursue a 24-credit high school diploma online via a semester system or open enrollment. They can also take individual courses, choosing from over 250 classes and 15 AP courses. In addition to core courses, they can take classes in world languages, music, and health and fitness.

Students enjoy access to academic advisors, career planners, and tutoring services, along with student clubs and meet-ups. BYU Independent Study prefers to hire faculty members with graduate degrees. The school admits prospective students based on the strength of their transcripts.


Mizzou Academy

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100% Online | Self-Paced and Scheduled

Type of Online High School

Public College-Affiliated


$300 per course, per semester (Missouri residents); $500 per course, per semester (out-of-state students)

Mizzou Academy enrolls more than 7,000 students in its full-time online high school diploma programs and over 200 courses. Learners have access to core classes in science, math, and English, practical arts classes, and eight AP courses.

Mizzou Academy employs over 75 highly qualified faculty and staff. In 2019, the average ACT score for students at the school was 25.1, well above the Missouri state average. The school offers learners access to extensive student support services, resources, and student organizations. For admission, prospective students need to complete eighth grade and submit transcripts.


Mother of Divine Grace School

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100% Online | Self-Paced and Scheduled

Type of Online High School

Private Catholic

Full-Time Yearly Tuition


Founded in 1995, Mother of Divine Grace School (MODG) serves more than 6,300 students in its homeschooling program. Families gain access to lesson plans, assessment rubrics, and teaching assistance for the programs. High school students move through the dialectic and rhetorical stages of education, taking classes in language, mathematics, and science.

In addition to prescribed lessons, MODG students have access to educational consultants, learning support classes, teacher review services, and a special services program for students with learning disabilities. MODG students post average SAT math scores over 550, critical reading scores over 600, and writing scores over 585. Students at the school post average ACT scores of 25.


Laurel Springs School

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100% Online | Self-Paced and Scheduled

Type of Online High School


Full-Time Yearly Tuition


Laurel Springs School (LSS) provides students with an online high school diploma track, along with individual course options. The school offers over 230 college prep courses, including more than 20 AP courses.

Learners have access to counselors and academic advisors, plus student clubs, activities, and travel opportunities. Of the 225 teachers employed in 2021, 88% held a graduate degree.

In 2021, LSS students scored an average of 609 on the SAT reasoning section and 574 in math. The same year, the average ACT score for LSS attendees was nearly 25. For admission, prospective students need to submit report cards and transcripts from their K-8 education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online High Schools

What is the most popular online high school?

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The most popular online high school depends on the criteria. The Florida Virtual School (FLVS), for example, is one of the largest online high schools in the country. According to the Florida Department of Education, FLVS enrolled 12,567 full-time students during the 2019-2020 academic year.

However, more selective schools may reduce the number of student enrollments even if the institutions themselves are popular. For example, Stanford Online High School and George Washington University Online High School each enroll fewer than 1,000 students. However, they are recognized as two of the best online high schools in the country.

Is high school online a good idea?

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Online high school may be a very good idea for the right student. Online high schools can offer many learners a safe and accessible learning environment. They also limit travel and scheduling conflicts, offer more study options, and employ diverse and well-educated instructors.

Completing a high school diploma online, however, can be challenging for certain students. Online study requires more independence, dedication, and self-teaching. Learning at home offers comfort, but it may require more family support, involvement, and guidance than traditional high schools.

Do colleges care about online high school?

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Colleges and universities care about online high schools as much as they care about traditional high schools. Accredited online high school diplomas carry as much weight as accredited diplomas from in-person schools and lead to the same outcomes.

In fact, colleges and universities may see more value in the perseverance and commitment required by online high school students. Online high school students that take advantage of a greater course selection and more flexible schedules can boost their college applications with extracurriculars and AP courses as well.

Feature Image: svetikd / E+ / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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