Rankings expand to include a greater number of eligible institutions as online learning expands and grows with more schools and students.

January 26, 2017 (Seattle WA) - BestColleges.com, a leading provider of higher education information and resources, today published its annual ranking of America's Best Online Colleges Offering Associates Degrees. The list of 25 accredited, not-for-profit schools is topped by Florida Institute of Technology, Southern New Hampshire University, and Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

BestColleges.com expanded the requirements for eligible schools to reflect the increasing interest and opportunities students are seeking when it comes to online higher education. Each institution included in the rankings must now offer at least six associate degree programs online. Four-year colleges that offer associate degrees were also considered for the first time. Furthermore, affordability metrics, which utilize National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data to show a school's return on investment for potential students, played an expanded role this year.

“The Best Online Colleges ranking is intended to inform and guide prospective students toward institutions that provide a quality education and a meaningful learning experience at an affordable cost. As online higher education demand grows and more schools bring programs online, it's important and necessary to hold institutions to a standard of excellence that students can depend upon when making their college choice,” said Stephanie Snider, General Manager of BestColleges.com.

Adds Snider: “Like so many institutions, higher education is undergoing significant disruption from a technological and access perspective. At BestColleges.com, we believe distance learning is a powerful educational opportunity for schools and students. It serves as a flexible option for students who cannot attend traditional campus classes, like those working full-time or with childcare restrictions. We want to give those individuals who might miss out on an opportunity to go back to school, or advance their career, the information needed to start their college search.”

In addition to the ranking of top online schools, BestColleges.com also equips prospective students with a guide for how to navigate their college choice, covering the importance of accreditation, career considerations, and the costs and types of online colleges available to them.

2017 Best Online Colleges offering Associate Degrees:

  1. Florida Institute of Technology
  2. Southern New Hampshire University
  3. Minnesota West Community and Technical College
  4. Northcentral Technical College
  5. University of Alaska Fairbanks
  6. Thomas Edison State University
  7. Foothill College
  8. Excelsior College
  9. Pennsylvania State University – World Campus
  10. Liberty University
  11. Wake Technical Community College
  12. Northwest Iowa Community College
  13. Bismarck State College
  14. Shoreline Community College
  15. Western Wyoming Community College
  16. Surry Community College
  17. Southwest Virginia Community College
  18. Hodges University
  19. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
  20. Tiffin University
  21. West Kentucky Community and Technical College
  22. Alexandria Technical & Community College
  23. Hutchinson Community College
  24. Gateway Community and Technical College
  25. Allen Community College

View the complete ranking at: https://www.bestcolleges.com/features/top-online-schools/

BestColleges.com Methodology

The methodology behind our rankings is grounded in statistical data and a few consistently applied guiding principles. Our 2017 rankings reflect the most recent data compiled from IPEDS and the College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Our goal is to objectively assess relative quality based on academic outcomes, affordability, and the breadth and depth of online learning opportunities. The following criteria was used to make these assessments:

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Accredited Online Associate Degree Programs: Each school must offer at least six online associate degree programs.

Ranking Factors

All eligible institutions are ranked on a 100 point scale. A perfect score of 100 is earned by ranking #1 for all ranking factors.

Academic Quality - 50% of total score

  • Admissions Rate
  • Full-Time Retention Rate
  • Part-Time Retention Rate
  • Graduation + Transfer Rate
  • Number of associate degree graduates in the given program

Affordability - 25% of total score

  • Average Net Price
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans
  • Retention Rate
  • Loan Default Rate

Online Programming - 25% of total score

  • Number of Online Programs Offered
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Online Courses

BestColleges.com helps prospective students find the school that best meets their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides, and hundreds of unique college rankings. They also provide a wide array of college planning, financial aid, and career resources to help all students get the most from their education and prepare them for the world after college.