The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that approximately 2.6 million college students enrolled in fully online degree programs, while more than 5.5 million students were taking at least one online class. In 2013, according to AASCU, 65 percent of online students attended a nonprofit college and of those students, 45 percent attended public colleges and 20 percent attended private nonprofit institutions.

Like classroom learners, online students need to be motivated. Beyond the desire to learn you need to be self-disciplined, have good time management skills, and be comfortable in an environment where it's just you and your computer. You need to be proactive and access the course frequently so you stay on top of the work. You’ll also need to be at ease communicating and interacting with other people without face-to-face contact.
The University of Florida is committed to removing barriers to higher education.  And their tuition and fees—which are the lowest among public universities who are members of the prestigious American Association of Universities—reflect that commitment. UF online programs combine rigorous academics in an accessible platform with access to student supports (like peer tutoring and career services) that will help you succeed. Top degree programs include:
Available online master's degrees include 12 programs in specialized fields such as biomedical engineering, government accountancy, music education, and supply chain management. In addition to full degrees, Rutgers students can also draw from three Rutgers campuses for individual online courses. The university hosts an annual online learning conference that includes panel discussions and demonstrations on emerging technology, learning management software, and related topics.
Founded in 1870, Missouri University of Science and Technology was one of the earliest technological post-secondary schools built west of the Mississippi. It currently enrolls nearly 9,000 students who can choose from nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. MUST has been ranked among the nation's top-100 best online colleges and received acclaim for its online engineering degree program, ranked 3rd in the country by USA Today. The distance degree program at Missouri S&T offers 17 graduate degrees and more than 50 graduate certificate programs. Graduate degrees require 10 courses or 30 course hours for completion. Graduate certificate requirements are comprised of four courses for a total of 12 credit hours.
The University of Cambridge offers online courses for free through iTunesU. Apple offers downloadable course materials from a broad selection of universities around the world for free, giving you the chance to learn what you want on your own time. The university boasts that more than 300 audio and video files are now available for free download through the software, which you can access on a Mac or Windows computer as well as on Apple and Android mobile devices. Cambridge’s entire catalog of free educational material has been put in this one convenient place so that students like yourself can take advantage of all they have to offer.
OSU Ecampus students have access to a wide range of student supports—vital resources like success counseling, library services, free online tutoring, and career guidance. And OSU Ecampus is currently ranked among the top five best online bachelor’s programs for veterans—  advisors collaborate with veterans to maximize their military education benefits and find programs that work well for military service members.

The University of Florida is committed to removing barriers to higher education.  And their tuition and fees—which are the lowest among public universities who are members of the prestigious American Association of Universities—reflect that commitment. UF online programs combine rigorous academics in an accessible platform with access to student supports (like peer tutoring and career services) that will help you succeed. Top degree programs include:
Vanderbilt University also has a partnership with Coursera and Class Central, which allows students to take free MOOCs and take individual courses online. Certificates of completion are available for a small fee. Committed to providing all students with a high quality and rigorous education regardless of their financial status, Vanderbilt University does meet 100% of the demonstrated financial needs of their students. To qualify for entirely free tuition, the family of the student must have an annual income of less than $60,000.
As the oldest college in the state of Mississippi, Mississippi College is well aware of how challenging and busy life can be for students, especially adult learners. To help with this, they've crafted one of the best online schools in the state of Mississippi. The degree programs at their online school are available to students around the world, not just those who live in-state or in the country. As long as students have access to the internet, they can learn wherever, whenever they please. MC does offer some undergraduate degrees online, but their master's degree programs are the most popular. Many students choose to study toward a master's degree in education, communication or business administration with different focuses being available for all three.
If you have credits to transfer to a university program, Pace University may be a good fit. Pace University Online maintains a generous transfer credit policy that aims to give students the maximum amount of transfer credit from previous college experience towards your desired program. And U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Pace University’s online Bachelor’s program as one of the top ten best programs for veterans.
The university offers rolling admissions for online students with six enrollment periods throughout the calendar year. In addition to these traditional degree pathways, Saint Leo is home to the Flexible Learning EXperience program. This initiative invites educational institutions in Florida to enroll students in online courses at Saint Leo to supplement their on-campus studies.
Some online students prefer the self-paced schedule of asynchronous programs, along with the possibility of early graduation. Others appreciate the structure of synchronous programs and the idea of taking multiple courses with the same cohort of students. With this in mind, you should choose programs based in part on your preferred learning format.
A private institution with religious affiliations, LeTourneau University offers several online pathways for students seeking degrees in aviation science. The school offers online undergraduate degrees in aircraft dispatch, aviation management, aviation security, and remotely piloted aircraft. Other online degree options include a bachelor's in business administration with multiple majors/concentrations, several theology pathways, and an RN-to-BSN track. The school also offers 12 online master's degrees, most concentrated in teacher education, that cater to online students.
Columbia University is a private Ivy League Research University, which is officially known as Columbia University in the City of New York. It is one of the most exclusive and prestigious universities in the country, and in the Ivy League, with a very rich history. It was the first school in America to grant a Doctor of Medicine degree; was the birthplace of inventions such as the laser and the FM radio; and is also where the first uranium atom was split on North American territory.
OSU Ecampus courses and programs are developed by world-class OSU faculty who use innovative course delivery strategies. Through cutting-edge technology, students are actively engaged in virtual labs, interactive language-acquisition exercises, engaging videos, and interactive lectures. OSU uses Canvas as its learning management system, so online interaction through discussion boards and web conferencing keeps students in touch. Top online degree programs include:
UF online programs have three start dates per year (in August, January, and May), and the school offers multiple pathways (like degree completion programs) for students depending on their educational background. In addition to the many degree programs offered online, the University of Florida also offers a number of professional development courses online for working professionals.
Some schools automatically deduct tuition and housing payments from the disbursements, and provide students with the remaining balance. Other colleges disburse all of the financial aid, requiring students to make tuition and housing payments themselves. The aid money that is left over may be used for books, food, transportation, and personal expenses.
Three types of accreditation are awarded in the U.S. The first two types, regional and national, are institutional accreditations bestowed on the college or university as a whole. Regional accreditation is typically reserved for nonprofit schools that offer degrees in the liberal arts and sciences. A total of seven regional accrediting agencies evaluate schools in all 50 states and U.S. territories. National accreditation, on the other hand, is generally offered to for-profit schools, vocational learning centers, and religious institutions. A total of 10 national accrediting agencies — including the Distance Education Accrediting Commission — assess schools nationwide.

When looking for the right place to pursue their higher education goals, students often examine a variety of factors. One of the most important tends to be affordability. Those colleges that create a rigorous educational experience for a reasonable, affordable price are obviously quite attractive to fiscally-minded students. The schools below have met that goal of blending a high-quality education with a manageable cost. Our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Colleges for 2018 takes into account which schools provide the most programs, financial aid options with lower rates and services necessary for online students while also keeping tuition and fees at a reasonable level.

Do you know how many courses you can take at a time and still remain sane? Enroll part-time and find out. Plan on each course requiring about five hours of study time per week. Some courses, especially ones where you may need tutoring, can require up to seven hours of study time per week. If you plan to enroll in two courses, be prepared to put aside 10 to 14 hours of study time each week.

Central Michigan University is a public research university—the largest university in Michigan—and a highly regarded provider of online education. CMU Global Campus (which houses their online programs) offers 27 degrees and multiple professional certificates from undergraduate through doctoral levels. CMU has been highly ranked for their online Bachelors, Graduate Education, and MBA programs (U.S. News & World Report).
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.
UMass Amherst also offers these majors in degree completion pathways for transfer students. Additionally, those with previously earned credits may choose the University Without Walls track, enabling them to complete degrees in fields such as advocacy and social justice, children's learning and development, human services, and writing. The school's transfer policy allows incoming students to apply up to 105 credits toward their bachelor's degrees.
Regent Online students participate in each course with an average of 17 other classmates (an impressively small class size). A faculty member—with training in online learning—oversees each course, guiding students through the learning process. Ranked No. 1 for Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Virginia, Regent’s online bachelor degree programs and online master’s degree programs provide students with a quality education from a Christian worldview.
Regent Online students participate in each course with an average of 17 other classmates (an impressively small class size). A faculty member—with training in online learning—oversees each course, guiding students through the learning process. Ranked No. 1 for Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Virginia, Regent’s online bachelor degree programs and online master’s degree programs provide students with a quality education from a Christian worldview.
While most schools prepare students for their career right after they graduate, East Carolina University prepares students for a changing world. This means that their degree programs are designed to give students the knowledge to adapt to changing fields so that they can advance throughout their life. This is particularly true for students who earn an online degree from ECU. Residents of North Carolina and students from across the nation can complete their bachelor's degree online, but what really makes ECU one of the best online colleges in the nation is their master's degree program. With dozens of degrees and focuses available at the graduate level, ECU prepares students for a long, prosperous future in their career.
*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.
Tuition rates vary by degree subject, but most courses cost the same per credit regardless of the student's state residency status. Military servicemembers and veterans qualify for discounted tuition rates and fee waivers. Additionally, prospective students with a military background seeking a non-nursing degree do not need to submit an application in order to earn admission.
The Savannah College of Art and Design eLearning experience balances flexibility with structure. Students can access lectures and course materials on their own schedules (in an asynchronous format) while completing assignments by designated due dates and participating in online class sessions. And students have access to cutting-edge technology and extensive student services like the Writer’s Studio, Academic Advising, and Counselling Services.

Columbia University has no upper limit for financial aid eligibility for any of its students and the financial aid packages present students with grants as opposed to loans, so they will not have to be paid back at any point. In addition to that, Columbia will not charge students any tuition or fees if their family has a calculated annual income under $60,000. Families bringing in under $100,000 see significant reductions in their tuition and fees as well.


City University of Seattle (also known as CityU) is a private, nonprofit university that offers accredited degrees from the undergraduate through doctoral level. With a commitment to serving working adults and transfer students, CityU is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top schools for online bachelor’s degree programs, and among the top online programs for veterans in the U.S.
CityU has an exceptionally generous transfer policy which allows students to transfer up to 135 credits into a program. The University also offers discounted military tuition, scholarships and credit for prior learning (like work experience or military service). And CityU partners with national, regional, and local organizations to ensure that current and former U.S. service members and their families have the support they need while attending school.

Online students attending Lehigh University can receive a well-rounded education that will help them to obtain a position in their field of interest. Online learning at Lehigh is characterized by specialized virtual programs, experienced faculty members, and convenient accessibility. Students will be able to stay in contact with their peers and professors through video chats, discussion boards, and emails. If a student is looking to experience a more traditional college experience, but also wants to maintain the flexibility of online learning, they may wish to consider dividing their study time between home and school with a hybrid program.
One in three U.S. college students is now taking at least one class online, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Many leaders in education predict digital learning will become even more of an everyday experience for college students and recommend that high schools require students to take one online course before graduation, a requirement many high schools have already adopted.
Those looking for a creative degree will appreciate our comprehensive list of degrees and colleges that offer fully online degrees in art & design related areas. Graphic design degrees are a popular route for online art & design students, with online graphic design degrees available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and certificate levels. Prospective online art students will also find a number of fine arts degrees available, as well as degrees in music and film production. An online art & design degree can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities, from positions in art education, to roles in advertising, web design, and media. Whatever your talents and interests, Guide to Online Schools has information about the online degree programs best suited to meet your career goals as an artist, fashion designer, or even architect.
Missouri State University offers a handful of online bachelor's degrees suitable for first-time undergraduates or transfer students. A total of 10 major options include criminology and criminal justice, finance, health services, hospitality leadership, and an RN-to-BSN. The school also offers two undergraduate certificates and 12 bachelor's degree minors fully online. Graduate students can choose from 14 online master's programs, including seven pathways for teachers, and two doctorate in nursing tracks.
If you have children, you’ll need to plan for their care when you return to college. For most working adults, the option of professional childcare is an expensive one. Moreover, most professional daycare centers are not open weekends or late at night, the times when most adults are in classes. Be creative when scouting for childcare options. Use these tips for success.
Judson College is a private institution in Alabama that draws from its Baptist roots to form high standards of education and conduct. Being an undergraduate school with limited degree options, Judson College is best for students that want to earn a bachelor's degree in arts and sciences. However, the degrees that Judson College offers are well-regarded, and their track record has led them to become a respected institution. The online school at Judson College is also worth noting as it is one of the best online schools for an undergraduate degree. Just because students can study and earn their degree online doesn't mean that the courses or requirements are any easier, though. By earning an online degree from Judson, students will be just as prepared as any other graduate to begin their career.
Admissions requirements for international students vary depending on the program. Students must meet the English Language Proficiency requirement and, if in the U.S., provide an acceptable visa that does not prohibit educational studies at the University of Phoenix. Please speak to an Enrollment Representative to learn about program-specific requirements.

Several online programs, ranging from certificate to graduate, are available to students enrolled at Southwestern College. Online students may choose to complete one of these programs without ever having to actually be present on the Southwestern College campus. Other students interested in online learning may wish to consider a hybrid learning format, where they will split their academics between online and in-person learning. Hybrid students can make use of the flexibility afforded through online learning while also participating in many of the extracurricular activities available on the Southwestern College campus. Online classes are just as likely to be covered by financial aid as traditional courses.


All schools included above were required to offer at least 10 online degrees. Degree coverage was determined based on data from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and from schools' official websites, collected in 2018. Annual tuition data was collected from the NCES or a school representative. Recommend rates reflect internal data, which is calculated based on student reviews submitted to our partner site, GradReports.com.
UMKC Online makes the educational process both collaborative and supportive. As an online student, you’ll be able to take advantage of a wide range of student supports like online tutoring, academic advising, and disability services. And all faculty who teach online at UMKC must complete UMKC Online Teaching Certification, so you know that not only are your instructors experts in their area of specialization but are specifically trained to teach in an online environment. Top online degree programs at UMKC include:
A distance-learning degree earned at Texas A&M University can provide students with the same tools for success that are available to students attending classes on campus. Current, fully-online offerings include 47 graduate degrees and 25 different grad certificates. As one of the best online schools, Texas A&M prides itself on ensuring that virtual students feel as much a part of the Aggie family as their on-campus peers; all online students are eligible for the same school-provided networking opportunities. Financial aid and scholarships are available to online Aggies as well.
If you're considering online college, you have many school options available to you. Browse our list of fully accredited, U.S.-based colleges offering quality education in a broad variety of subject areas that can lead you to your next rewarding career. Below our school listings, learn more about the basics of online education, including how to find a match among the different types of college and learning styles offered by degree programs.
Northeastern divides its schedule into two standard semester terms and two condensed summer terms. Incoming freshmen may begin taking courses in the fall, spring, or summer. The school prices tuition according to course instead of according to a per-credit rate. Northeastern University receives regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
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