Best Online Colleges in Your State

Find the top-ranked online college for every state this year from BestColleges. See our picks for the 50 best online schools by state and find the right match for you.

portrait of Stefanie Grodman
by Stefanie Grodman

Published on March 3, 2022

Edited by Kristina Beek
Share this Article 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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As of 2019, about 42% of Americans over the age of 25 held a college degree. Many individuals invest in higher education to enter more lucrative fields and access more expansive career opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that, when comparing median salaries, workers with bachelor's degrees earned 67% more per week than those with only high school diplomas.

While choosing an online college, prospective students may believe that a college's geographic location is irrelevant, but there are numerous advantages to attending an online college in your home state. In-state learners often pay more affordable tuition rates and can access resident-specific scholarships and financial aid options. As of the 2018-19 school year, out-of-state students at public colleges paid an average annual tuition of $26,382, while in-state students paid an average tuition of $9,036 per year. Some students also embrace the advantages of having physical access to their campus.

When ranking the best postsecondary institutions in each state, BestColleges only evaluates accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities. School rank depends on empirical indicators of academic excellence, such as full-time retention rate and graduation rate; indicators of affordability, such as net price and loan default rate; and the number of programs offered remotely.

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Featured Online Programs

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

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Studying at an Online College?

Advantages of Online College

Lower Cost of Tuition

For many students, pursuing an online degree can be more affordable. Learners attending colleges while living at home may avoid expenses related to room and board, transportation, dining services, and student activity fees. Their savings can be significant. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in-state students living on campus at a public school paid an average of $6,459 in housing costs and $4,927 in board fees in 2018-19.

Online programs may also charge on a per-credit basis, which may appeal to students interested in part-time options.

Higher Acceptance Rate

Online programs, particularly those affiliated with large state colleges, may have high acceptance rates. Remote learning, particularly asynchronous learning, can help faculty handle larger class sizes, so institutions may be able to accept more students. High acceptance rates can be advantageous for students looking for a more streamlined application process or who may be missing some of the qualifications needed to get into more selective schools.

Postgraduate Job Opportunities

Before the availability of remote learning, proximity dictated graduates' access to jobs and internships to a greater degree. Colleges in large metropolitan areas, such as New York or Los Angeles, often partner with prominent companies through alumni networks, career centers, or corporate recruitment infrastructures. Now, online students in even the most remote areas have access to well-connected institutions. Online learning can lead to job, co-op, and internship opportunities across the nation.

Disadvantages of Online College

Nontraditional College Experience

For many students, one of the most significant disadvantages of online college is the lack of a "traditional" college experience. Learners often view college as a time to build connections and engage in socio-emotional learning. Some virtual students might experience a sense of isolation or lack of community.

Remote learners who live within commuting distance can arrange to socialize with classmates through study groups or clubs. Those who live further away can connect with local college students who are also enrolled in online programs.


Online coursework may require a higher level of self-discipline. Students must attend lectures, read course materials, respond to forums, and complete writing assignments without the external structure and classroom setting of traditional courses. Learners can structure their coursework independently by setting weekly goals, adhering to a study schedule, using checklists, and reaching out to professors or classmates who can help hold them accountable.

Lack of Accreditation

Colleges and universities earn institutional or programmatic accreditation by undergoing a voluntary, standardized evaluation process. Accrediting bodies assess whether schools meet industry standards of academic excellence and deliver adequate learning outcomes.While all colleges appearing in BestColleges rankings are accredited, some online colleges may be unaccredited. It is important to verify accreditation to ensure the legitimacy of one's online education.

How to Choose an Online College

When choosing an online college, students should research program costs, including in-state and out-of-state tuition, additional fees, and whether they qualify for financial aid opportunities. Students should also consider program format and whether they would like to take synchronous or asynchronous courses. The best online colleges also offer student support infrastructures, such as tutoring centers and career services.

Best Accredited Online Colleges in Each State

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank 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.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

The Best Online Colleges and Universities in Each State

  • Alabama

    University of Alabama,

    The University of Alabama — the state's flagship university — blends online learning with the structure of a traditional classroom experience. Online learners complete the same coursework as their on-campus peers and use Blackboard to communicate in real time with professors and students.Students can pursue fully online bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in fields like criminal justice, marketing, and journalism.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Alabama.

  • Alaska

    University of Alaska Southeast,

    The University of Alaska Southeast is based in Juneau with additional campus locations in Ketchikan and Sitka.Online undergraduate learners can choose from bachelor degrees in fields like liberal arts, education, social science, and business administration. Additionally, online graduate programs give students the opportunity to earn master's degrees in education, teaching, and public administration.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Alaska.

  • Arizona

    University of Arizona,

    The University of Arizona offers over 100 fully online programs with popular bachelor's degrees in business, computer engineering, and applied science.

    Online students can communicate with student academic success specialists to access additional course tutoring and seek out library consultations for help with academic research.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Arizona.

  • Arkansas

    Arkansas State University,

    As the state's flagship university, Arkansas State University provides one of the most established online degree programs in the state.Currently enrolling over 5,000 distance learners, A-State online allows students to pursue more than 35 degrees and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Arkansas.

  • California

    San Diego State University,

    Established in 1897, San Diego State University offers eight fully online degrees and a hybrid program in rehabilitation counseling. Undergraduate students can pursue two majors: business administration and criminal justice. Graduate students can earn a master's degree in a variety of online programs, including educational leadership, hospitality and tourism management, and public administration.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in California.

  • Colorado

    Colorado State University Global Campus,

    Based in Aurora, Colorado State University Global Campus is an online public university that offers bachelor's and master's degrees in fields such as criminal justice, finance, and human resource management.CSU-Global provides online learners with a variety of customized student success services, including specialized advisors, academic tutoring, and a 24/7 librarian chat service.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Colorado.

  • Connecticut

    Charter Oak State College,

    Charter Oak State College, located in New Britain, is an online liberal arts college offering associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. While most BS and MS degrees are delivered through15-week terms, Charter Oak also offers accelerated programs in five- and eight-week formats. The college features online academic programs in healthcare administration, health information, and business administration.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Connecticut.

  • Delaware

    Wilmington University,

    Based in New Castle, Wilmington University combines the quality academics of traditional on-campus curricula with a flexible online format. The university aims to prepare online students for leadership positions and career advancement.Students at WilmU can explore bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in over 125 programs in the arts and sciences, education, and technology fields.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Delaware.

  • Florida

    University of Florida,

    The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, is a national leader in online education with over 200 programs and certificates. UF is also one of the few institutions in the country that claims the trifecta of land-, sea-, and space-grant status.UF Online students can access a wealth of support services such as pre-admission coaching, academic advising sessions, online workshops, and counseling services.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Florida.

  • Georgia

    University of Georgia,

    As one of the oldest public universities in the country, the University of Georgia offers several of the best online business and education programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.Graduate students can choose from about 20 fully online master's degrees in subjects like journalism, educational psychology, business and technology, and nutrition.

    Learn more about top-ranked schools in Georgia.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in Each State

What states have the cheapest online college tuition rates? true

Many students who attend college in their home states benefit from less expensive in-state tuition, and certain states offer exceptionally low rates for in-state learners. NCES reports that residents attending four-year public schools in Florida and Wyoming paid an average of $4,443 and $4,596, respectively, in tuition and fees during the 2018-19 school year.

Students looking to attend public colleges outside of their state may not be able to access the subsidized tuition granted to residents. However, certain states still offer relatively inexpensive tuition for out-of-state learners. Non-resident learners at four-year public schools in the District of Columbia and South Dakota paid an average of $12,416 and $12,465, respectively, in tuition and fees during the 2018-19 school year.

Which state has the best colleges? true

When ranking the best online colleges, there are numerous metrics that can be used to assess the educational quality and learning outcomes. These include graduation and job placement rates, the median salary of graduates, and the typical return on investment. However, there is no "best" state or college — what's best for one learner is not necessarily best for another.

However, the New England and mid-Atlantic states are well-known for their many prestigious postsecondary institutions. Additionally, the California State University System is widely recognized for delivering exceptional public education.

What state has the most colleges? true

According to IPEDS, California is home to more than 500 two- and four-year colleges, including 160 public institutions, 183 private nonprofit schools, and 171 for-profit colleges. Texas also contains many schools — more than 250 two- and four-year colleges. This includes 107 public institutions, 81 private nonprofit schools, and 78 for-profit colleges.

Is it better to go to college in-person or online?

Both online and in-person options have their own advantages and may suit different individuals' learning needs. For example, in-person learning can be more engaging and lead to a stronger sense of community. Many students prefer forming face-to-face connections in traditional classroom settings.

Online learning, on the other hand, can offer more flexibility for students who hope to balance their coursework with family or employment obligations. Many remote learners take self-paced or asynchronous courses. Attending college online can also be less expensive. Remote learners can save on costs like on-campus room and board or commuting expenses.

Is college easier online than in-person?

Virtual learning can make higher education more accessible. In certain ways, it may feel like a less demanding commitment than in-person learning. For example, students may be able to learn at their own pace and watch lectures at their convenience.

However, although individuals may be tempted to assume that attending college online is a "shortcut," there are some challenging elements to virtual learning. Although students can enjoy increased flexibility, they must exercise more self-discipline and initiative while learning. More self-directed course formats require learners to absorb key concepts independently.

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Learn how you can pay for an online degree. Explore financial aid and scholarship options for college students. This guide breaks down the research methods students should use when choosing an online degree program. This landing page acts as an introduction and overview of online college planning resources for students. 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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