According to recent data, roughly 6.3 million U.S. college students took at least one online course during the fall 2016 term. This figure represents an annual increase in distance learner enrollment over the past 14 consecutive academic years. But finding great online colleges can be difficult because each institution is so different. To help find the best online college for you, we cover important topics like accreditation, financial aid, and other baseline considerations to make when choosing from top-rated online colleges below.
Harvard is far from an online university and it is highly residential. Which is why you may find it surprising that you can earn your degree through this esteemed institution online. At the undergraduate level, the only choice the university currently gives you is a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree. Only four courses must be taken on campus and the school has three-week and weekend intensive options to help make that easier. There are more than 20 masters degrees online that you can earn this way and just under 40 professional certificates. This blended format helps you to earn the degree you want from this top university with the flexibility you need while providing you with some awesome traditional instruction along the way.
With more than 20 years of experience in online learning, the University of Denver has honed the art of distance education. Online classes are asynchronous, so students are not required to be online at the same time, instead logging into online class when their schedule permits. And all classes are available both online and on campus (or in a hybrid format), so students can choose the format that works best for them.
Due to its religious affiliations, students at LeTourneau must complete courses in biblical study and other related fields as part of their general education requirements; weekly chapel services are also required. The school boasts a graduation job placement rate of 95% or higher for all academic programs. LeTourneau University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Although enrollment in online degree programs has continued to tick upwards during the past decade, it has recently slowed in the past few years. However, both public and private not-for-profit colleges and universities continue to experience respectable increases. From 2012 - 2013, research from the Babson Institute shows that enrollment in online classes rose nearly 5 percent at public institutions and almost 13 percent for private nonprofits. Here’s a closer look at the growth numbers by volume for online learners by institution type in 2013.
Auburn University, chartered in 1856 and closed during the Civil War, Auburn University is Alabama's oldest 4-year, coeducational institution. Today it enrolls 29,776 students who attend degree programs at Auburn's College of Agriculture; College of Architecture, Design & Construction; Raymond J. Harbert College of Business; College of Education; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Graduate School; College of Human Sciences; College of Liberal Arts; The School of Nursing; James Harrison School of Pharmacy; College of Sciences and Mathematics; College of Veterinary Medicine; University College; and Honors College. Auburn Online is one of the region's best online schools. It garners top-20 national rankings in the categories of best online MBA programs and best online graduate computer information technology programs. Students can earn one of four online baccalaureate degrees as well as undergraduate certificates in education, and pharmacy studies.
Duke University is a private research university that is based in Durham North Carolina. Though Duke now has a campus including 254 buildings spanning 8,691 acres, it began in one building in the year 1838, a private subscription school called Brown’s Schoolhouse. It has also grown to serve more than 16,000 students from every corner of the world. The university has ranked among the top 10 in America in publications such as Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.

Most online bachelor's degrees at SNHU are fully online and consist entirely of asynchronous coursework, and the school also makes some blended options available. The university allows transfer students to apply up to 90 credits toward their bachelor's degrees. Additionally, the school does not require a minimum GPA for undergraduate admission. Students with lower-than-average GPA scores qualify for provisional admission and may be placed in smaller classes to ensure more individualized attention.
If your goal is to apply scientific skills to real world problems, engineering is a field you should explore. Online engineering programs are available at the introductory level for new students, with a number of options at both the associate and bachelor’s level. For those more experienced in the field, online master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering are available as well. Interested students should also research what engineering specializations appeal them, as online programs are available in areas such as electrical engineering, civil engineering, software engineering and mechanical engineering. Graduates of an online engineering degree program may find work at research labs, governmental agencies, large corporations, construction sites, or small companies.
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.

Educators can use continuing education for license renewal, for professional development, toward endorsements and pay scale increases, and for personal growth. Our credit-bearing teacher curriculum is designed for new and seasoned educators who want to develop or reinforce their knowledge of classroom concepts and techniques, or to enhance their career.
MIT is among the top universities in America and they have something called OpenCourseWare, which is a web-based publication created by the school. There are materials from over 2,000 of their courses accessible entirely online and at no cost to you. MIT wanted to provide this resource to educators in order to help them teach more effectively and to independent learners to enrich their lives. There are scholar courses, audio/video courses, online textbooks, and plenty of supplemental resources curated into this one place coming from some of the top educators in the world. MIT continuously updates the database so that all of those who use it have access to the most relevant and in-depth information. No diploma or certificate is offered for free or otherwise; however, this is an incredible way to educate yourself on things you’re curious about. The majority of the material is presented in a self-paced format and also gives you the opportunity to choose what modules to take or skip according to your needs.

Although enrollment in online degree programs has continued to tick upwards during the past decade, it has recently slowed in the past few years. However, both public and private not-for-profit colleges and universities continue to experience respectable increases. From 2012 - 2013, research from the Babson Institute shows that enrollment in online classes rose nearly 5 percent at public institutions and almost 13 percent for private nonprofits. Here’s a closer look at the growth numbers by volume for online learners by institution type in 2013.

A pioneer in distance learning, Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has been offering online programs since the school first launched their online portal in 1993. The school, which is one of the top-ranking STEM-focused universities in the country, uses cutting-edge technology to deliver its undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs to nontraditional students.
Mary Baldwin University -- a smaller, private liberal arts institution in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley -- has cultivated a niche in helping professional adults earn their degrees later in life. Mary Baldwin’s online courses and programs can help students move forward in their careers without making sacrifices to other obligations. MBU’s online degrees are a popular option with many students due to the university’s credit transfer policy: Mary Baldwin allows transfer of up to 90 credit hours, cutting into the cost of earning a degree.

Arkansas State University-Main Campus, founded in Jonesboro in 1909, has graduated more than 80,000 alumni in the succeeding years and has a current enrollment of 14,085. As Arkansas' second-largest university, A-State offers more than 150 degrees and is ranked one of the best online colleges in the region. The university was ranked among the of the 2018 Best Colleges, Regional Universities South, by U.S. News and World Report. Online students can choose from eight wholly online bachelor degrees, 13 master's programs, five Ed.S. education degrees, and eight certificates. Nursing students can complete the online RN-to-BSN degree program in as little as one year. Other online baccalaureate fields include communication, criminology, political science and social media management. The average class size at the university is 29, with a student/faculty ratio of 17:1.
Online degrees are available in popular subjects that cover unique programs from online schools. They are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Every school on our website is accredited by an organization recognized by the Department of Education. This list provides the number of online colleges offering degrees in every subject as well as any program-specific accreditation students should pay attention to and average salary statistics.
Founded in 1890, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus serves more than 35,000 at its main campus in Stillwater, online through OCampus, at campus locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and the OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee. Popular majors include agriculture operations; business (management and marketing); biological and biomedical sciences; and engineering. OSU also serves distance students as one of the best online colleges in the region, with more than 32 online degree programs leading to baccalaureate and master's degrees through OCampus. Certificate students can select among 10 online programs in the fields of business, engineering, finance, and online teaching.
Since a large part of online coursework will be in written form, there is an opportunity to submit well-written, polished work that will positively impact your grades. Good grammar and correct punctuation will help convey your message accurately, and it’s always a good idea to be clear and concise in your writing. I suggest reading Write to the Point by Bill Stott for direction in good writing.
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.
Online courses are popular ways for students to earn college credit while balancing working and other time commitments. Since you are working through the course on your own time, it is important to follow a specific schedule and to complete your reading and assignments online. You may be taking an online class through your two or four year college or through an online college program. Regardless of the class type, there are specific things you can do to ensure that you succeed.
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.
There are many different ways students can pursue an excellent education at the University of Virginia. Students who study on campus have access to many different schools, each with their own set of accredited degrees. Also useful for students is the online education offered by UVA. Because of the size and scope of the school, UVA offers different types of online programs. One popular option is their School of Continuing and Professional Studies, best for students that want to further their career either with a bachelor's degree, graduate degree or certificate. Also available is a master's degree in engineering. UVA is considered to be one of the best online schools in the nation for an online master's in engineering, so students who want to earn a graduate degree that fits their schedule may find this is the perfect fit.
As an online student at Creighton University, you’ll  experience both the academic rigor of campus-based courses as well as the benefits of Creighton’s exceptional sense of community. Courses provide online discussions and activities to ensure that you regularly interact with classmates. And course sizes are small so faculty can give you personalized attention. Top online degree programs include:
Students may seek loans from the federal government or private lending institutions, such as banks or credit unions. Federal loans carry a fixed interest rate and the interest may be tax-deductible. These loans do not need to be repaid until the student graduates or leaves school, and those who struggle to repay their loans may be able to postpone or reduce their monthly payments.
Oregon State University has done an excellent job of creating one of the best online colleges in the nation. With over 1,100 courses offered entirely online, there’s no shortage of options for students. Most students who study through the online school choose to pursue one of the 45 online degree programs. However, online is also a popular option for students that want to combine online courses with on-campus courses, either to bolster their education or finish their degree faster. OSU has a proven track record with their online education as well, and they have over 21,000 students worldwide who are studying online. Whatever students are looking for out of their college experience, OSU has made itself one of the best online schools for people from all walks of life.
Fitting school into a busy schedule is rarely a simple process; that’s why North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers several of their programs in a format that can be completed from a distance. NC State currently offers more than 90 degrees and certificates and more than 350 different courses fully-online, meaning students can fit earning a degree into their lives more easily. Students taking online courses will have opportunities to make use of facetime with their professor through video chat sessions, and will participate in discussion boards that will allow them to socialize with their peers. Online students are eligible forfinancial aid.

In order to be one of the best online colleges, an institution must provide the tools students need for success. Western Kentucky University does just that by providing an in-depth orientation through its Online Learning 101 program-where students learn how to use the school's learning management system-and a robust Student Resource Portalwhere people can get the extra help they need with research, writing, and math. In addition, the school offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate degree programs. On the undergraduate level, students can get an associate's degree in interdisciplinary studies and early childhood education and a bachelor's degree in sociology, criminology, health sciences, and organizational leadership. On the graduate level, students can earn master's degrees in biology, recreation and sport administration, history, mathematics, and social work.
To keep my research organized, I created an online flashcards account and keep the tab open while online. I created a folder for each class and made a set of cards for the various study topics. When I find interesting content, I copy the data to a flashcard and include a link back to the source. Because the flashcards are stored online, they can be accessed at any time, even when I am reading online material using my phone.

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.
Located in Orlando, Florida, the University of Central Florida  (UCF) is an emerging preeminent research university and home to one of the top online programs in the country. UCF has been offering online programs for over 20 years and now serves over 8000 students online. Over 80 accredited online degree programs are now available at the undergraduate through postgraduate level.
Cornell University offers two fully-online degree programs at present. These are a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering and a Master of Human Resource Management. The Master of Engineering is offered year-round in a self-paced format and the Master of Human Resource Management is an executive program that is only available over the summer. Both programs can be completed in a relatively short timeframe and are designed to meet the needs of a working adult. There are more than 70 certificate programs you can complete online at Cornell, spanning 16 different fields. In addition to this, the university also operates eCornell, their online counterpart that provides students with various certificates and professional development courses entirely online but not directly through the university.
UIC offers a range of student supports to ensure your success as an online student. Live technical support is available, as well as access to tutorials on how to access information within your online courses. And students can access learning software from computers and mobile devices. UIC also offers flexible scheduling so students can attend lectures, complete assignments, and engage in discussions at their convenience.

Duke University is a private research university that is based in Durham North Carolina. Though Duke now has a campus including 254 buildings spanning 8,691 acres, it began in one building in the year 1838, a private subscription school called Brown’s Schoolhouse. It has also grown to serve more than 16,000 students from every corner of the world. The university has ranked among the top 10 in America in publications such as Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.
UIC offers a range of student supports to ensure your success as an online student. Live technical support is available, as well as access to tutorials on how to access information within your online courses. And students can access learning software from computers and mobile devices. UIC also offers flexible scheduling so students can attend lectures, complete assignments, and engage in discussions at their convenience.
Columbia Southern University offers 28 online undergraduate degrees and 12 online graduate degrees. CSU also partners with over 2,500 organizations to offer a 10% tuition discount for working professionals. The recommendation rate for this university is 80% by the 164 students who review their experiences there. Columbia Southern University offers two track schedules to give students flexibility in when they begin their coursework. Track A and Track B dates overlap but have different start and end dates for more flexibility. CSU also offers a program called LifePace Learning that offers even more flexibility where students can either complete a course in four weeks or extend up to 18 weeks. Tuition is an affordable $6,600 per year or $225 per credit hour for undergraduates and $300 per credit hour for graduate courses. Textbooks are included in these tuition costs for online students.
Kennesaw State University offers several online undergraduate programs for business majors. These include bachelor's degrees in information security and assurance, marketing, manufacturing operations, and supply chain logistics. Other options include online degrees in cybersecurity, information technology, and five social sciences fields. Online graduate students at Kennesaw State can choose from 19 master's pathways and two doctoral degrees, most of which concentrate in business and/or technology. The school offers many of its online programs as on-campus degrees and/or in hybrid formats.
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.

Many of America's top colleges have launched online degree programs. Investments in technology have allowed colleges to create affordable and flexible programs for students. Online classes have significantly improved over the past 10 years and are more respected and accepted by top academics. Universities such as MIT and UC Berkeley now offer a wide variety of classes online. Find programs by clicking your state below.


Online students face a set of unique issues. Whether you’re wondering about online student disability services, LGBT support at online colleges, or paying for your online degree, our library of guides is here to help you. Planning to transfer credits from an online college? We’ll walk you through the importance of enrolling in accredited online colleges to ensure your hard work does not go to waste. We collected questions from parents, educators, and students to discover the most pressing issues they faced, and then put our team of experts to work finding in-depth answers.
As part of an agreement with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), Old Dominion offers guaranteed admission to all degree-holding VCCS graduates. Students may transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degrees. Additionally, some bachelor's programs enable students to earn graduate-level credits while pursuing their undergraduate degree. For example, those enrolled in the online bachelor's in business administration can take credits toward an MBA or master's in public administration degree.
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