Choosing your field of study is the first step in your online education, a process that takes time, commitment, and energy. The online degree program you decide to pursue will affect your career path, income potential, and level of employment. Online colleges offer a number of diverse options, and your area of interest may cross over several different degree programs. To help you find the online degree program that matches your interests and gives you best chance of financial success, explore our online degree comparison tool for information about earning potential, degree costs, and time commitments.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

One of three campuses in the world-class University of Illinois, the University of Illinois Springfield is widely acclaimed for their leadership in online learning. UIS offers over 45 degree, certification, and graduate certificate programs for nontraditional students, many of which rank among the best in the country. Students encounter an intellectually rich environment with top-notch faculty and online resources.

Brandman offers a flat tuition rate to all undergraduates regardless of their state residency status. Military veterans and spouses seeking an undergraduate degree qualify for discounted tuition; military veterans also receive six course credits for their service. Online undergraduates at Brandman can connect with enrollment counselors, academic advisers, and career services throughout their studies.

Today’s students should expect convenient access, affordability and academic value from online colleges. That’s why we only consider accredited online colleges for our rankings. The accreditation process guarantees that a school’s facilities, instructors, and curriculum meet a rigorous set of standards established by industry leaders. To ensure they invest in a universally respected degree, students should only consider accredited online colleges, like those on our list.


Why do we focus our work on accredited online colleges? With the expansion of traditionally campus-based institutions into online degree programs, there are more options than ever for prospective online students. This also increases the need for research before committing to an online college. An accredited online college will guarantee that your degree is seen as valuable by other learning institutions and future employers, providing you assurance that your online degree will be a good investment. There are many
St. Paul's Concordia University offers a total of 16 online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in specialized fields such as child development, exercise science, sport management, and pulmonary science -- along with tracks in accounting, information technology, an RN-to-BSN, and other general fields. Additionally, graduate students can pursue online master's degrees in 23 different fields and doctoral degrees in physical therapy or education.
UMKC is renowned for their high-quality online programs and is home to one of the top 20 online Graduate Nursing Programs in the country, as well as highly-ranked online Bachelor’s and Graduate Education programs (U.S. News & World Report). And UMKC has recently been awarded the SANsational award by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) for their online presence in the State Authorization area.
The school also offers bridge programs that enable students to earn a bachelor's and master's in the same field on an accelerated timeline. Ottawa University's generous transfer policy allows students to apply up to 80 previously earned credits toward their undergraduate degrees. Instructors deliver all courses fully online, asynchronously, and in timeframes that span eight weeks.
Photography majors can enjoy a variety of careers from portrait photographers to wedding photographers. Jobs are available in fashion, advertising, journalism and more. Overall, employment growth is projected to be average, but jobs will still be competitive. The most jobs and the highest salaries are found in large metropolitan areas, though photographers work all around the country.
Rutgers University, the largest degree-granting institution in New Jersey, offers several degree programs fully online, including three bachelor's tracks. These include a bachelor's in business administration and an RN-to-BSN program with no onsite requirements. Students may also pursue a bachelor's in labor and employment relations, which qualifies them to earn a master's in the same field in less than one year. Additionally, the university offers an online teaching certificate that consists of four individual courses.

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.
Central Michigan University welcomes transfer students at all stages of their academic careers and from around the country (and even the world). The school simplifies the often stressful work of assessing transfer credit and has a generous transfer policy of 64 credits per degree program. Military students are also well supported at CMU Global Campus, with Military Transfer Credits and various support programs.
Yes! WGU combines rigorous online curriculum with local placement for an in-person field experience in order to complete your teaching degree. Our program allows you to complete most of the program online, and only requires an in-person commitment at the very end of your program. To complete the degree you will be required to do several weeks of observations and a 4-6 month demonstration teaching experience at a local school. WGU’s Field Placement department will help you find a suitable school for this commitment.
Your coursework—and real work potential—looks very similar to that of computer engineering students, a field which is considered a branch of electrical engineering. That’s because of the proliferation of computers being used to operate all sorts of products. But your studies will not be limited to just computer-operated electronics. So you can expect to take courses such as circuit analysis and design, digital systems, electric components and tools and semiconductor technology.
Pace University has a long history of providing access to excellent education and career preparation.  The school utilizes Blackboard—a learning management system which provides easy access to online class resources as well as keeping students in touch with instructors and other students. And online courses at Pace offer an affordability that their campus-based counterparts can’t compete with. Top degree programs include:
Three of the best colleges for undergraduate biology programs are Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. These schools offer students a variety of program options and research opportunities. Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard University offer some of the best degree programs in biology, and all three are highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Biology majors at these universities can participate in classroom instruction and perform research in state-of-the-art campus laboratories. Students might be able to specialize in subjects like ecology and evolution, marine biology, or biochemistry.

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.
Downside: The job market is highly competitive with just 35,275 petroleum engineers working in the U.S. today, even after experiencing an impressive 91.3% jump in their numbers over the past decade. The good news is that growth is expected to continue at a rate of 13.1% over the next 10 years, beating the 9.7% growth for all jobs. But again, your job prospects are limited to certain parts of the country, with Texas housing about half of all the positions in the U.S., according to the BLS. Also, the industry in inextricably tied to notoriously volatile oil prices, so the job market may be just as hot and cold.
The University of Laverne offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies. The program trains students in K-6 methods and content and includes pre-K. Admission requires at least 28 college credits with a minimum GPA of 2.50. Up to 88 credits may be transferred. One of the main focuses is on preparing graduates for the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). Among the courses offered are Learning Technology for Educators, Science for Elementary Teachers, and Teaching K-8 Social Studies. Regular online tuition is $645 per semester hour, with a reduced rate of $250 per semester hour for active military. The school is located in Laverne, California, near Los Angeles.
You'll find little risk in pursuing an actuarial career. These professionals—who work in the insurance and finance industries, analyzing the costs of risk and uncertainty—are in high demand. New and ever-changing health care laws and financial regulations help drive companies' needs for their services, and their usefulness is well compensated: Actuaries enjoy a median salary of $101,566 a year. For even better pay, an actuarial degree can also lead you to becoming a financial manager, who typically earns nearly $122,733 a year (and is one of our Best Jobs for the Future).
In the broadest of engineering fields, these majors study machines, including what they’re made of and how they work, with courses such as circuit analysis, fluid mechanics, materials science and thermodynamics. Sound like a lot to cover? You’re not wrong. Indeed, mechanical engineering students often take five years (or four years including a couple of summers) to complete their degrees because they take on internships for hands-on work experience that complements the theoretical studies. The good news is these cooperative programs do include paid gigs, so you can offset some of those extra educational costs.
The University of Alabama is committed to delivering higher education in innovative and flexible formats—Bama by Distance is fulfilling that mission through diverse and accessible programs. As a distance learning student, you will interact with the same college professors and meet the same learning standards as an on-campus student and have access to the same UA resources. Top online degrees include:

Photography majors can enjoy a variety of careers from portrait photographers to wedding photographers. Jobs are available in fashion, advertising, journalism and more. Overall, employment growth is projected to be average, but jobs will still be competitive. The most jobs and the highest salaries are found in large metropolitan areas, though photographers work all around the country.
Core classes in the education program explore the structure of public education, major topics and issues in public education, cultural effects on student achievement, education around the world, and the political state of education. Other classes explore curriculum development, evaluation techniques, and teaching techniques. To earn a four-year degree in education, students also take a number of general courses in math,biology, the arts, and the humanities.
A public research university, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is a member of the four-campus University of Missouri System and home to an eLearning campus of excellence. UMKC offers well over 50 online degree programs—in diverse areas but with a special emphasis on healthcare degrees—at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.
This engineering field offers slightly less pay than nuclear engineering but far more employment opportunities. That’s because industrial engineers, who develop systems to make products and provide services in the most efficient way possible, are less specialized and can find work in a range of industries, from aerospace and motor vehicle parts manufacturing to natural gas distribution and oil and gas extraction. And jobs for them can be found all across the country, with the highest levels of employment in Michigan, California and Texas. The national median income for industrial engineers is $85,862 a year. But average pay reaches nearly $107,000 a year in Washington and California; in Texas, above $108,000 a year.
Most online courses at Missouri State are asynchronous, and students generally earn their bachelor's in four years or less. All baccalaureate degrees culminate in a capstone assignment that requires students to construct a public affairs project or presentation around their major. The university allows students to transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degrees.
Webster University is a private nonprofit institution that offers five online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in management and data analytics through the university's School of Business and Technology and bachelor of arts tracks in media communications and religion and global society. The school also makes an RN-to-BSN pathway available for nurses. Master's degrees include options in specialized fields such as gerontology, environmental management, advertising and marketing communications, and public relations -- along with nine business-oriented programs and four teaching tracks.
CSU-Global Campus has worked hard to earn a reputation as one of the best online schools for working professionals. The school is constantly pushing innovation in teaching methods, making online learning both rigorous and engaging. And CSU-Global emphasizes individualized support for students from registration to graduation, with a wide range of student resources—from tutoring to tech support. Top online degrees include:
Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.
×