Consider the rapid growth in the number of online degree programs available between 2012 and 2014. Over the last three academic years, we've seen a 45% increase in the number of online programs offered across the United States, for a total of 13,092 in 2014-2015. You can choose from over 550 individual degree programs alone that are offered by the 4-year colleges featured within our list of the best online universities.
Oregon State University, the state's largest degree-granting institution, offers a wide selection of online programs for undergraduates and graduate students. Many bachelor's degree online options focus on fields related to environmental science and land management, such as environmental economics and policy, fisheries and wildlife sciences, horticulture, and range science; the school also offers a dual degree in sustainability. Online master's programs at Oregon State include four MBA tracks, four teaching pathways, and a master's in public health.
The advantages of online courses are more than just a sense of freedom. Online courses eliminate the need to commute to a campus, which saves money as well. There are several costs associated with this type of long-term campus commute, and as 29% of respondents report a household income of less than $50,000 a year, affordability matters. In addition, 46% of online students cite choosing the convenience of an online course due to a lack of a local campus or an inability to regularly commute to one.
To ensure the best possible outcomes for your education program, the online degree program you choose should be accredited by either one of the six primary regional accrediting boards, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or an accrediting board that specializes in education programs. Examples of these programmatic accrediting agencies include the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Students in an online education bachelor's program study a broad array of curriculum and instructional techniques. Education bachelor's students specialize in a particular grade level or subject area. These programs require about four years of full-time study and include 120 credit hours of coursework. Applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Stanford University was ranked fifth among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2017. The bachelor's degree in biology at Stanford has three degree routes: general biology with or without honors, or the biology major with a field of study and honors. The general biology curriculum consists of courses in biology and core science principles, while the field of study option lets students focus on one of six areas of concentration. Students can enroll in biology courses as early as sophomore year, once they've completed the 1st-year core requirements and prerequisites.
The tech and healthcare industries are dominant players in the job market—and this major combines the two. As a student of biomedical engineering, you can expect to learn about all the ways technology impacts medicine, whether in the development of new biomedical devices such as artificial internal organs or in working with diagnostic machines and rehabilitative exercise equipment. Of course, you need to be comfortable with math and science courses. Some specific classes you can expect to take include anatomy, biomechanics and micromachines and robotics. Also plan to put in plenty of lab time. Many degree programs even include more hands-on experience with co-ops or internships with hospitals or medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.
Fort Hays State University offers a total of 37 online bachelor's programs, including degrees with multiple concentration options in fields such as business education, elementary education, finance, information networking and telecommunications, and management. Other major options for online undergraduates include agricultural business, geography/GIS, organizational leadership, and an RN-to-BSN program. Online graduate students may choose from 17 master's degrees and a doctorate in nursing.
Digital learning is easily the most dramatic change to sweep higher education in more than a century. Colleges are under pressure to expand their online program offerings to meet the rising demand for distance learning options across the country. Learners can choose to take individual courses online, or to pursue a formal certificate or degree program. In fact, 63% of the students responding to our survey were working towards a degree, with the majority of them working towards a four-year bachelor's degree. The rest were enrolled in online classes for personal learning and growth rather than college credit.
Another liberal arts degree proves its worth. Just like with classics majors, American studies majors are attractive to employers in a host of industries because of their proven ability to do in-depth research and perform critical analysis. Developing these skills helps prepare them for work in law, journalism, academics, government, museum curation, business, finance and other fields, as well as further education including law school.
"When a student pursues an online degree, it is often with the assumption of isolation. However, WGU students experience a faculty of mentors who are dedicated to engaging and supporting them in pursuit of their graduation goals. I am honored to work for a university that is student-centric and dedicated to disrupting higher education through a competency-based approach to learning.”
Texas-based Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers many different pathways for students seeking a religious degree. These include online undergraduate programs in fields such as Bible and theology, church ministries, and theological studies. Secular options include online bachelor's degrees in counseling, criminal justice, elementary education, and TESOL. Additionally, the university offers multi-concentration online bachelor's degrees in business administration and human services and 19 online master's and doctoral degrees.
A major is a student's main field of specialization. The student's choice of specialization plays a significant role in the time spent at a university, according to Stanford University. Many universities clearly define the student's coursework, and others may give the student the ability to take other courses within their field of choice. A university typically defines educational courses in core courses for each major.
WGU offers a total of 66 fully online bachelor's and master's degrees. Nearly half of these programs focus on teaching and include nine specialized bachelor's degrees, five graduate-level tracks for educators seeking licensure, and more than a dozen master's concentrations for licensed teachers. Additional offerings include nine bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and an MBA in healthcare management. WGU's remaining degrees focus on business and/or information technology.
That curriculum can help prepare you to become a food scientist, who studies and analyzes food to help ensure that it is safe, healthy and nutrient-rich. And increasing public scrutiny of the food industry and its processing work feeds the demand for these experts, with the number of food scientists and technologists having grown by 53.2% over the past decade and being expected to rise another 8.3% over the next decade. Median annual income is $64,147. Other jobs these majors gravitate toward: biological scientist, chemist and nutritionist.
The University of Illinois at Chicago takes online student engagement seriously. As a student, you’ll take advantage of learning management system tech tools such as videos, audio, blogs, and discussion boards to keep connected to faculty and peers. Courses are taught by the same full-time, expert faculty that teach on campus. And UIC ensures that programs are accredited by top-notch accrediting agencies. Top degrees offered include:
The colleges and schools of University of Phoenix put education in your reach with degree programs and online classes made to fit your life. We’re dedicated to helping working adults achieve their educational and career goals. We offer online college degree programs, on-campus classes in select locations and feature a collection of colleges & schools offering in-demand degrees.
Our rankings of the best online colleges and universities are a jumping off point to help you build your own list of prospective programs that meet your needs. Remember, many factors that contribute to the quality of a degree program are intangible. You won't find data points here or elsewhere that fully capture the level of faculty support, peer networking or academic and professional stimulation found in one program versus another. Please contact your schools directly for more information.
This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you -- and should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. And don't be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don't click with the one first assigned to you.