The Best Online Colleges 2021
More than three million students now take all of their courses online, an indication of the growing popularity of online colleges.
Students seeking an online degree have a large number of colleges from which to choose. To help you find the best accredited online colleges, we evaluated a large number of schools offering online associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.
Each school profile in our list includes a short overview, cost information, admission requirements for undergraduate and graduate students, types of available online degrees, whether the college provides credit for experience, and more.
This ranking is designed for online students to make informed college decisions.
The Best Online Colleges
1.Penn State World Campus
Centre County, PA
Penn State World Campus serves as the online college division of Pennsylvania State University. Penn State World Campus provides over 150 online programs, including a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees and online certifications. Penn State World Campus provides students an array of services.
The online programs provide a career-focused curriculum based on the latest industry trends. The Penn State World Campus online courses are the same courses provided on campus. The Penn State World Campus students receive the same diploma as the on-campus students.
2.University of Florida Distance Learning
The University of Florida, an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university, has a membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU), the association of preeminent North American research universities. The University of Florida, one of the best online universities, has more than 150 research centers and institutes.
The University of Florida has well-regarded graduate programs, including through the Hough Graduate School of Business, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, Levin College of Law and the College of Medicine.
University of Florida Distance Learning provides over 200 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates online. Online students obtain the same degree as traditional students; the online degree programs and the traditional degree programs have the same rigorous admissions standards and the same world-class faculty.
Each online program provides online students the same student support services students in residence on the main campus receive.
Northeastern University, a private, global, experiential research university, houses over 30 federally funded research centers. Northeastern University, is a leading school in cooperative education and experimental learning.
Northeastern University, one of the best online universities, provides a variety of online bachelor, master, doctoral and certificate programs.
Indiana University Bloomington, a public research university, is the flagship institution of the Indiana University system and its largest university. Indiana University has a membership in the notable Association of American Universities. Indiana University Bloomington, attracts students from throughout the world.
IU Bloomington’s numerous graduate-level programs include the highly ranked School of Education, Kelley School of Business, and the Maurer School of Law.
IU Online, one of the top online universities, provides online students courses developed and taught by the same professors who teach on campus. IU Online students receive an Indiana University diploma.
5.Arizona State University
Arizona State University (ASU), a public research university, has one of the largest undergraduate populations in the United States. ASU emphasizes innovation and entrepreneurship.
Arizona State University provides a wide array of highly ranked graduate programs through institutions such as the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
ASU Online, one of the best online schools, offers students an array of services, including careers services and online tutoring.
6.University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Twin Cities, MN
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a public, land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university, is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota system. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is also the oldest and largest campus within the University of Minnesota system.
The university includes the highly ranked College of Education and Human Development, Carlson School of Management, and the law school.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, one of the best online universities in the nation, offers students a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees.
7.University of Arizona
The University of Arizona, a public research university, is one of the elected members of the Association of American Universities, an organization of North America’s premier research institutions.
The University of Arizona includes a wide array of graduate programs, including the James E. Rogers College of Law, the Eller College of Management, and a College of Medicine.
Arizona Online, one of the best online universities in the nation, provides an array of services including academic skills coaching, a student academic success specialist, the Wildcat Career Network, and the Blue Chip Leadership program. Arizona Online provides students the same degree and professors as the University of Arizona.
8.Oregon State University
Oregon State University (OSU), an international, public research university, is the largest university in the state, with a total enrollment exceeding 28,000. OSU is one of only six educational institutions in the nation with a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant designations. OSU also has a sun-grant designation.
OSU, a prominent research school, has nationally recognized programs in areas such as community health, pharmacy, conservation biology, marine biology, oceanography, agricultural sciences, fisheries, forestry, wildlife management and other areas.
OSU Ecampus provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The world-class OSU faculty members who teach on campus develop all of the OSU Ecampus courses and programs. Ecampus graduates obtain the same transcript and diploma as the on-campus students.
Drexel University, a notable private research university, has one of the oldest, largest, and best-known cooperative education programs in the United States. Drexel University has a reputation for its interdisciplinary approach to applied education.
Drexel University served as a pioneer in technology-enhanced education for working adults.
Drexel Online, one of the best online colleges, provides an array of online degree and certificate programs. Drexel University’s schools and colleges on campus provide the online degrees. The notable campus faculty members teach the online students. Drexel Online provides students a variety of services.
The online degree programs have the same accredited curricula as their on-campus equivalents.
Drexel University offers study abroad opportunities for all virtual students – the University has built some of the study abroad opportunities into the curriculum.
10.Florida State University
Florida State University (FSU,) a public space-grant and sea-grant research university, has a wide array of graduate schools. FSU has over 50 individual research centers and institutes. FSU offers a large number of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.
Florida State University, one of the best online schools in the nation, offers an array of undergraduate and graduate programs and professional certificates. All of Florida State University’s undergraduate degree programs are advanced standing degree programs.
11.University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst, a public research and land-grant University and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system, is one of the nation’s top universities for research based on national and international rankings, academic citations, and research funding.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst provides a variety of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.
UMass Amherst’s online classes, degrees, and certificate programs provide the same rigorous academic standards and high quality university faculty as the on-campus programs.
The online degrees are the same as a traditional UMass Amherst degree.
12.Washington State University
Washington State University (WSU), a public research land-grant university, offers more than 200 fields of study. WSU provides online degrees through Washington State University Global Campus.
WSU received recognition for numerous programs, including plant science, animal science, food science, veterinary medicine, architecture, and chemical engineering.
Washington State University Global Campus offers a variety of online degree and certificate programs.
13.University of Missouri, Columbia
The University of Missouri, a public, land-grant Research University and the state’s largest university, provides more than 300 degree programs in 20 academic colleges. The University of Missouri is the flagship campus of the University of Missouri System.
The University of Missouri, one of the nation’s top research institutions, is also one of the public universities which has a membership in the notable Association of American Universities.
Mizzou Online provides an array of online degrees and certificates. The faculty, instructors and staff who deliver on-campus education create online classes and degree programs.
14.University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida (UCF) a public, space-grant University, is the largest college, based on enrollment, in Florida, and the University is the second largest overall among U.S. colleges and universities.
The University of Central Florida provides numerous programs for graduate students, including those through the College of Business Administration, the College of Education, and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
UCF Online, among the best online colleges, offers students online undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. UCF Online provides online students a wide range of student services such as career services, the University Writing Center, online academic resources, academic advising, online access to UCF libraries, and more.
15.Kansas State University Global Campus
Kansas State University (KSU), a public research university, provides over 250 majors and programs. The university has nearly 100 centers and institutes, including the Biosecurity Research Institute and the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility.
Kansas State University Global Campus provides distance education for students throughout the world. Kansas State University Global Campus provides student services specifically for distance education students.
16.George Mason University
George Mason University, (GMU), a public research university, is the largest public research institution in Virginia. GMU provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional degrees.
George Mason University is known for biotechnology, the performing arts, electronic journalism, history, economics and other fields. The University includes the well-regarded George Mason School of Law.
Mason Online, one of the best online schools, provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate and consortia programs. Online students have access to the same services offered to on-campus students. The George Mason University faculty who teach face-to-face teach the online courses.
17.University of Denver, University College
The University of Denver (DU), a private research university, is the oldest independent private university in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. The University provides a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
The University of Denver has numerous centers and institutes. The university houses the well-regarded Sturm College of Law.
University College serves as the college of continuing and professional studies at the University of Denver. University College provides career-focused content for busy adults.
18.Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a private doctoral university, is known for its fine arts, imaging science, computing and engineering, programs. RIT includes the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. RIT is known for its career focused education.
The university offers over 200 academic programs. RIT attracts students from more than 100 countries.
RIT Online, one of the best online universities in the country, utilizes the high quality of RIT and customizes it for online learning.
19.University of Alabama
The University of Alabama, a public research university, is the oldest and largest of the public universities in Alabama. The University of Alabama is the flagship of the University of Alabama System.
The University of Alabama provides a variety of online bachelor, master, doctoral and graduate certificate programs.
20.Colorado State University, Fort Collins
Fort Collins, CO
Colorado State University (CSU), a land-grant, public research university, provides over 150 degrees from eight colleges. CSU is the flagship institution of the Colorado State University System.
CSU Online, one of the best online colleges, has notable programs in biomedical sciences, environmental science, engineering, agriculture, human health and nutrition, and more.
CSU’s online students receive the same education, learn from the same faculty members, and obtain the same degree as students at the Fort Collins campus. CSU Online provides a variety of degrees, credit and noncredit courses, certificate programs, digital badge programs, and MOOCs.
Online students have access to a variety of campus resources made available online.
21.University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati, a comprehensive public research university, based on enrollment, is the second largest university in Ohio, and one of the 50 largest universities in the nation. The National Science Foundation selected the University of Cincinnati as one of the top 25 public research universities.
The University of Cincinnati provides a large number of programs. The University has numerous nationally ranked programs. The University of Cincinnati originated the co-operative education model.
University of Cincinnati Online provides the same programs, faculty and academic excellence as the University of Cincinnati.
University of Cincinnati Online provides students the opportunity to create an academic path which fits their lifestyle and career goals.
New Brunswick, NJ
Rutgers University – New Brunswick, a public institution, is the flagship campus of New Jersey’s state university. The University is one of the United States’ original land-grant institutions.
Rutgers-New Brunswick has over 175 research centers. The university awards one of the highest numbers of doctorate degrees a year among schools in the United States. Rutgers University has a membership in the notable Association of American Universities.
The online degree programs provide all the advantages of an on-campus education – same small classes, same one-on-one attention, and the same world-renowned faculty.
23.University of Arkansas, Global Campus
The University of Arkansas, a public land-grant, doctoral research university, is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System. The University provides over 200 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The University of Arkansas has over 50 research centers.
The University of Arkansas Global Campus, among the best accredited online colleges in the nation, works with units throughout the Fayetteville campus, industry and business leaders, and other institutions to offer people access to educational opportunities which can help them advance in their careers or start new careers.
24.University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), a public research university, provide a variety of bachelor, master, doctoral, and professional degrees in areas such as business, social and behavioral sciences, engineering, the liberal arts, education, and fields related to health.
The UAB Health System, one of the largest academic medical centers in the nation, is affiliated with the university.
UAB provides online programs which provide most or all of the content online with the potential of few on-campus meetings and 100 percent online programs.
UAB provides a variety of online undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. UAB provides eLearning students a variety of resources.
25.Colorado State University Global
The Colorado State University Global, a public university, serves as the online campus of the state-related public Colorado State University System. Colorado State University-Global Campus focuses on providing career relevant education for modern learners.
The Colorado State University-Global Campus provides students an array of online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs. The school provides accelerated eight-week courses and monthly starts.
Students can build their own customized career approach to a bachelor or master degree using certificates and specializations.
Students have 24/7 access to expert tutors for every subject they study and access to an extensive online library. Students also have access to career coaching and job search advice.
26.University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND
The University of North Dakota (UND), a public research university and the state’s flagship university, offers an array of undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can study in more than 200 academic fields, including graduate programs in business, engineering, law, and education. The University of North Dakota has students from more than 80 nations.
The university’s campus includes several national research institutions including the Energy and Environmental Research Center, the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The University of North Dakota provides a variety of online degree programs and online certificate as well as numerous professional development courses to students throughout the world. The University designed the online classes for working adults.
The online students have the same benefits as every UND student. The University provides online tutoring.
27.University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a public research university and a member institution of the State University System of Florida, provide a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The University of South Florida System consists of three separately accredited institutions, USF, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee.
The University of South Florida, among the best accredited online colleges, provides online students an array of student services including academic support and careers services.
28.University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago is Chicago’s largest and only public research university located in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities. With more than 31,000 students and 12,000 employees, the university is an integral part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of Chicago.
The University offers a wide variety of bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs and is involved in a variety of research areas such as bioengineering, sustainability, education and more.
UIC Extended Campus provides a variety of online degrees and individual courses, stackable certificate programs and credit course sequences.
UIC Extended Campus partners with businesses, government offices and nonprofits to provide tailored educational offerings to meet organizational goals.
29.Ohio State University
Ohio State University (OSU), a public university and a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant university, is one of the largest schools in the country. OSU is a member of the notable Association of American Universities.
OSU online, among the best online colleges, provides over 160 undergraduate majors and an array of graduate programs through highly ranked schools as the Max M. Fisher College of Business, College of Education and Human Ecology, and College of Medicine.
The world-class faculty members who teach the on-campus classes also teach the online classes Ohio State Online provides.
30.The George Washington University
The George Washington University, a private research university, provides a variety of degree programs. The University hosts numerous research centers and institutes. George Washington University has connections with the federal government. George Washington University has many research centers.
GW Online provides a wide array of online degree programs and a variety of student services.
31.University of Louisville
The University of Louisville, a state-supported research university and a member of the Kentucky state university system, provides many bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. The University supports numerous research centers and institutes.
32.West Virginia University
West Virginia University, a public, land-grant, space-grant, research-intensive university, provides an array of bachelor, master, doctoral and professional degree programs. Top areas of research for West Virginia University range from STEM education to rural healthcare, natural resources utilization to radio astronomy.
The University partnered with the FBI to establish one of the first accredited forensic science programs in the United States and has the largest crime scene training complex in the world.
WVU Online, among the best online colleges in the nation, provides students a variety of online degree programs.
33.Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University, a public research university, hosts numerous research centers and institutes. The University provides a wide array of graduate programs, including degrees through the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business Administration, and the School of Law.
Texas Tech University, #1 in the collection of the best online colleges in Texas, offers an array of undergraduate and graduate degrees for online students.
34.University of New Mexico
The University of New Mexico, the flagship institution of New Mexico and a public research university, provides bachelor, master, doctoral, and professional degree programs in a wide array of fields.
UNM Online, #1 in the collection of best online colleges in New Mexico, provides online students access to an array of services including to the University of New Mexico’s Career Services Office and the Center for Academic Support (CAPS) which provides a variety of services, including interactive online tutoring.
35.University of Massachusetts Lowell
The University of Massachusetts Lowell (also known as UMass Lowell) is a public research university and part of the University of Massachusetts system. UMass Lowell offers an array of bachelor, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, including nationally recognized programs in engineering, education, criminal justice, music, science and technology.
36.Ball State University
Ball State University, a public research university, consists of eight academic colleges. The school offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Ball State University has nationally ranked and award-winning programs in entrepreneurship, digital media, landscape architecture, telecommunications, music technology, educational leadership, as well as in other areas.
Ball State Online learning provides the same faculty who teach in the main campus programs. Faculty members take certificate courses on sound practices to prepare them to teach online, building course community, as well as other skills to help with their online teaching presence. Online students have access to student services such as career planning services, academic advising services, academic support services, peer mentoring and technology support.
37.Robert Morris University
Robert Morris University (RMU), a private, doctoral university, provides a variety of bachelor, master and doctoral programs. The University also provides an array of professional certificates and customizable programs for corporate and organizational partners.
Online students at Robert Morris University receive the same type of personal attention as traditional students. Online students have a dedicated student counselor, a dedicated career advisor, a financial aid counselor, a wellness counselor, and 24-hour technical support.
38.Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University (NAU), a public research institution, provides students a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. NAU performs significant research in the subjects of land management and climate sciences, astronomy and planetary science, microbiology, and health sciences.
Northern Arizona University online students have access to online tutoring, guidance from professors and advisors, full library access and more.
39.Florida Institute of Technology
The Florida Institute of Technology, a private nonprofit doctoral/research university, consists of four academic colleges: Engineering & Science, Psychology & Liberal Arts, Aeronautics, and Business.
Florida Tech provides bachelor, master and doctoral degrees in aeronautics, business, engineering, science, mathematics, psychology, humanities, communication and education. The school operates a variety of science-focused research centers and institutes.
Florida Tech provides a variety of online associate, bachelor and master degree programs.
40.Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago, a private Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the largest Jesuit universities in the United States. Loyola University Chicago provides numerous undergraduate majors, graduate programs, and professional, and graduate-level certificate programs.
The online students receive an educational experience which emphasizes the Jesuit tradition of a commitment to excellence, service that promotes justice, values-based leadership, and global awareness. Notable Loyola faculty who received training in creating and delivering online courses teach the online courses.
Loyola Online provides student services including the Center for Tutoring and Academic Excellence, the Career Development Center, Library tools for distance education students, and more.
41.Florida International University
Florida International University, a public research university and part of the State University System of Florida, offers numerous bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Graduate students can enroll in the Florida International University College of Education, College of Law, College of Business and more.
Florida International University emphasizes research as a major component in the university’s mission.
At FIU Online, students learn from the same world-class faculty members who teach on campus.
Online Students have access to the University’s Career Management Services, the Evans Library online, and more.
Creighton University, a private, Jesuit, Roman Catholic university, is one of the member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Creighton University consists of nine undergraduate, graduate and professional schools and colleges.
The University has students from throughout the nation and throughout the world.
The small online course sizes provides faculty members the opportunity to give students attention.
43.CUNY School of Professional Studies
New York City, NY
The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), a school of the City University of New York, meets the needs of adults seeking to finish a bachelor’s degree, obtain a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, advance in the workplace, or change careers
The School provides bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, dual degrees, undergraduate and advanced certificates, and professional non-degree programs.
CUNY School of Professional Studies, among the best online colleges, offers an array of online bachelor, master and certificate programs.
Regis University, a private, co-educational Roman Catholic, Jesuit University, is one of the member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Regis University offers an array of undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Regis University has five colleges: Regis College, The Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, the College of Contemporary Liberal Studies, the College of Computer and Information Sciences, and the College of Business and Economics.
Regis University offers career-focused programs to online learners.
45.University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), a public research university and part of the University of North Carolina system, provides a variety of baccalaureate, masters, specialist and doctoral degrees. The College of Arts & Sciences and six professional schools provide more than 125 areas of study and over 100 master and doctoral programs. The University has more than 3,000 faculty and staff to date.
UNCG Online partners with Academic units and faculty to create online courses and degree programs.
46.Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University a land-grant and public research institution, is the largest campus based on enrollment, in the state. The school participates in the National Sea Grant College Program and National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. Mississippi State University provides numerous baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degree programs.
The same faculty teach classes on campus and online. Mississippi State University, one of the best online colleges in the United States, provides distance students numerous student services. The Writing Center provides online tutoring for Mississippi State University distance students. The Center for Distance Education provides a wide variety of library resources. Each distance education student has a distance program coordinator.
47.Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University, a public research university, offers liberal arts, science, technology and professional programs. The University provides a variety of bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.
ODU Online provides more than 100 online programs, including Bachelor, Master, Doctorate & Ed Specialist, endorsement, and certificate programs.
The ODU instructors who teach the classes at the main campus also teach the ODU Online degree programs. The ODU Online programs are the same as programs at the main campus.
48.University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, a public research university, provides numerous baccalaureate, master, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Graduate students may enroll in programs through the Southern Miss College of Business, the School of Criminal Justice, the College of Education and Psychology, and more.
The University of Southern Mississippi, among the best online schools, provides academic support resources for distance learners such library resources, and online tutoring.
49.University of Colorado, Denver
The University of Colorado Denver, a public research university and part of the University of Colorado system, provides degrees in a wide array of academic fields. The university has two campuses, the Auraria Campus, and the Anschutz Medical Campus. The University of Colorado Denver is the largest research institution in Colorado.
The same faculty members who teach the traditional degree programs teach the online degree programs. Online students have access to student resources such as an online writing center, 24/7 librarian, and more.
50.Utah State University
Utah State University, a public space-grant, land-grant, Research University, is Utah’s largest public residential campus. Utah State University provides a large number of majors from eight colleges.
USU-Online, the #1 online college in Utah, provides students a variety of resources including academic advising, career services, E-tutoring, a library and more.
51.New Mexico State University
La Cruces, NM
New Mexico State University, a public, space-grant and land-grant research university, is the oldest public institution of higher education in New Mexico. The National Science Foundation ranks New Mexico State University among United States colleges and universities with high research and development. The University provides a variety of Bachelor, Master and Doctoral degree programs.
New Mexico State University provides bachelor degree completion programs, master and doctorate programs, and numerous Graduate Certificate and K-12 NM educator licensure and endorsement programs.
52.University of Memphis
The University of Memphis, a public research university, provides an array of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The University provides degrees in over 250 areas of study.
The University of Memphis has students from more than 70 foreign countries. The University of Memphis Global, #1 among the best online colleges in Tennessee, provides online degrees.
The University provides a large selection of completely online graduate and undergraduate degrees. UofM Global provides alternative degree pathways and flexible formats.
UofM Global provides student services include learning support, technology support, career services, library services, and more.
53.University of Illinois, Springfield
The University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), a public liberal arts college, is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. UIS offers liberal arts & sciences education and professional programs at undergraduate and graduate levels.
The same faculty who teach the on-campus courses teach the online programs. The online students work directly with an online program coordinator. Online students have access to the UIS Career Development Center and the UIS Brookens Library at a Distance.
54.South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University, a public research university and land-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant university, provides a variety of associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. The school provides more than 200 academic programs.
South Dakota State University, one of the best online schools, provides online undergraduate and graduate degrees, professional development opportunities, certificate programs, conferences and workshops.
The Office of Continuing & Distance Education serves as the center for online learning. The instructors who teach the traditional courses also teach the online courses.
55.University of Minnesota, Crookston
The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC), a public institution and part of the University of Minnesota system, provides academic programs in four departments: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Liberal Arts and Education; Business; and Math, Science and Technology. All the programs are employment-oriented.
UMC provides a variety of online bachelor degree programs and certificate programs.
56.Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY
Western Kentucky University, a public university, provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The University also provides certificate programs. The University has programs of national prominence in journalism and broadcasting, forensics, and engineering.
WKU Online provides online students award-winning online student support.
57.North Dakota State University
North Dakota State University (NDSU), a public, comprehensive doctoral research university, has programs involved in very high research activity. NDSU is listed in the National Science Foundation’s top 100 in several areas, including agricultural sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, computer sciences, psychology and chemistry.
NDSU offers numerous undergraduate degree programs, undergraduate certificate programs, master’s degree programs, doctoral degree programs of study, as well as graduate certificate programs.
58.Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, a public research university, provides many associate, bachelor, master, and Ph.D programs, as well as professional degrees in architecture, law and medicine.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale offers more than 300 academic degree programs. The University enrolls students from more than 100 countries. They offer fully online bachelor’s degrees, as well as bachelor completion programs, in a wide variety of majors. The University also provides online graduate degrees, certificates and certifications, and other types of online programs.
The online student has access to a healthy variety of student services.
Lamar University, a public doctoral/Research University and a member of the Texas State University System, includes the College of Business, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Fine Arts and Communication, College of Engineering and the College of Education and Human Development.
LU Online, among the best accredited online colleges in the nation, provides online undergraduate programs in the fields of Engineering, Arts & Sciences, Fine Arts & Communication, and Business. LU Online also provides online graduate degrees in the fields of Business, Arts & Sciences, Counseling, Education and additional degrees. LU Online also offers Professional Preparation programs.
60.Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University (SHSU), a member of the Texas State University System, offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. SHSU has nationally recognized programs in the fields of banking, mathematics performing arts, and criminal justice.
SHSU Online, one of the best online schools, has a large lineup of online graduate, undergraduate, and graduate certificate programs, as well as professional certifications. Professors who teach on campus also teach their online courses.
61.Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University, an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of the Wesleyan Church, is the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, as well as the largest private university in Indiana. Indiana Wesleyan University provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional educational programs.
IWU offers a comprehensive, liberal arts education through providing online programs for adult students. The University specifically designed the curriculum for the online courses to maximize the learning experience for adults.
IWU Online, among the top online universities in the nation, provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees to online students.
Lewis University, a private Roman Catholic and Lasallian university, provides numerous undergraduate and graduate programs, and accelerated programs for working adults. Lewis University provides a well-rounded liberal and professional education in fields including business, computer science, criminal justice, education, nursing, and aviation.
Lewis University online students have access to the same experienced faculty and customizable curriculum as the on-campus students. The University provides numerous online support services to promote student success and retention.
LeTourneau University, a Christian polytechnic University, provides degree programs in an array of fields. The university has eight schools.
LeTourneau University provides a variety of online undergraduate majors and graduate programs.
Liberty University (LU), a private, not for profit Christian research university, is one of the largest Christian universities in the world and the largest private non-profit university in the United States, measured by student enrollment. Liberty University offers a large number of undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Liberty University teaches all of the courses in the online degree programs from a Christian Worldview. The online students have access to resources such as the Career Center, the Writing Services and Online Writing Center and the Liberty University Online Library.
Huntington University, a Christian school of the liberal arts, has an affiliation with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Huntington University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in over 70 academic concentrations.
Huntington University offers Adult Degree programs on-site and online. The University provides the Adult Degree Programs in an accelerated five-week format.
66.Fort Hays State University, Virtual College
Fort Hays State University (FHSU), a public, co-educational university, offers students a large variety of online undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Fort Hays State University, provides over 200 online programs specifically designed for adult learners.
FHSU provides students online degrees through its “Virtual College”. The Virtual College has strategic partnerships with community colleges across the country, the military, and universities worldwide.
FHSU provides a variety of online student services including a free online tutoring & writing center, career services, academic advising and career exploration, clubs and organizations, and more.
67.California Baptist University
California Baptist University, a private, Christian, liberal arts university, has an affiliation with the California Southern Baptist Convention, an organization affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
California Baptist University is a member of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges. The University offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees.
The University designed CBU Online for the working professional. Three semesters offered year round allows students the ability to graduate faster. The University provides online accelerated courses. CBU Online provides students an array of services including individual advisors who help students throughout their time completing the program, online career services, and the Academic Success Center.
Virginia Beach, VA
Regent University, a private Christian research university, through its eight academic schools, provides a variety of associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees.
The University provides online associate and bachelor degrees from programs within the College of Arts & Sciences and online master and doctoral degrees from Regent University’s seven graduate schools.
Mississippi College, a Christian school of liberal arts and sciences, is the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated College in the nation and the oldest college in Mississippi.
As a Christian institution, the College values the integration of faith and learning throughout the educational process. Mississippi College provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
MC Online offers students a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and graduate/post-baccalaureate certificate programs.
70.Oral Roberts University
Oral Roberts University an interdenominational, Christian, comprehensive liberal arts university, provides undergraduate programs in a variety of areas. The university includes a graduate seminary.
Oral Roberts University offers an array of online Bachelors, Masters, and certificate programs. Achievable seven-week terms with options of part-time (one course per term) or full-time (two courses per term) are available for all online programs. Online students have access to an advisory and success staff who guide them through course selection, registration, financial aid and individual needs.
71.Brescia University – BU Online
Brescia University, a coeducational Catholic, Liberal Arts University, offers a variety undergraduate and graduate programs.
BU Online, one of the best online universities in the nation, offers the majority of the online courses in an accelerated eight-week format, enabling students to earn their degree quickly.
Brenau University, a private, not-for-profit, university has four campuses in Georgia and one in Florida. Brenau University provides doctoral, master, specialist, bachelor and associate degrees, as well as professional certifications, in over 50 areas of study.
Brenau University, among the best online colleges in the United States, designed the completely online programs to accommodate working adults.
73.Concordia University Saint Paul
Saint Paul, MN
Concordia University, a liberal arts university, is an affiliate of the nine-member Concordia University System. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), the second-largest Lutheran church body in the United States, oversees the Concordia University System. The University has numerous corporate partnerships.
The University provides a wide array of programs including undergraduate majors and minors, adult undergraduate degree programs, graduate programs, continuing education classes & certificates, and licensure & colloquy programs. Concordia University Saint Paul also offers many of the programs online.
74.Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University, a public institution, provides students an array of degree programs. The University has prominent programs in the fields of nursing, justice & safety, education, and forensic science.
Eastern Kentucky University provides online students online tutoring, online academic advisors, online career services, online EKU libraries and other resources.
75.Central Washington University
Central Washington University (CWU), a public university, prepares students for a global economy through strong partnerships with 30 colleges and universities throughout the world.
CWU provides online undergraduate and graduate degree programs with hundreds of courses delivered online each quarter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should students get an Online Degree?
Besides flexibility and convenience, online students can obtain a degree not available at colleges in their area. Online degrees allow students to obtain a degree from a college with a good reputation in their selected career without having to move to another in-state location or another state.
What is the cost to get an Online Degree?
The cost of online degrees vary depending on factors such as the college, the degree type, and the area of study. Online degrees aren’t always less expensive than on-campus degrees, but often tuition and fees are less for online degrees due to lower operating expenses. However, at numerous colleges, online degree programs and on-campus degree programs have the same tuition cost and at some colleges online students pay more per credit than on-campus students. Some public colleges provide online students who live in a different state with in-state tuition rates instead of out-of-state tuition rates. Many colleges have a different tuition category for online students. Students should look at all the costs and fees associated with an online degree when comparing the cost of an online degree from various colleges. For example, many online courses include a technology fee, a distance learning fee, assessment fees, and some include an exam proctoring fee.
Can students lower the cost?
Students can lower the cost of their online degree through gaining some credits for prior learning without taking classes. Typically, students must pay for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credits but at a reduced price compared to college courses. All PLA credits may not transfer from one college to other colleges.
Depending on the college, student can obtain credits for work experience, life experience, professional experience, military experience, volunteer experience, Advanced Placement Courses, taking challenge exams, Veterans Education Transfer Systems, certifications, Portfolio-Based Prior Learning Assessments, Training-Based Prior Learning Assessments, and more.
Over 80 percent of online undergraduate students have transfer credits from previous college courses they can use to meet their degree requirements. Students who already competed college courses should review the transfer credit policy of prospective colleges.
Can I get financial aid?
Students should find out if their selected college for an online degree has approval from the U.S. Department of Education to provide federal student aid. Many colleges and universities provide online students financial aid. Online students and traditional students applying for federal financial aid need to attend a school which has accreditation from an accrediting agency which received recognition from the U.S. Department of Education.
Our Financial Aid Guide for Online College Students provides vital information about the various types of financial assistance such as Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Grants, Lifetime Learning Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Parent Plus Loans, Grad Plus Loans, and more.
Are Online Degrees the same as Traditional Degrees?
Typically, accredited colleges and universities provide students the same degree whether they earned it online or on campus.
Do employers respect Online Degrees?
Online degrees have gained respect over the years. As more prominent colleges provide online degrees, employers accept them more than in the past. Many online students seek their online degree while working full-time, many employers view this in a good way. Employers, especially for schools not well known, often seek verification the school has appropriate accreditation. Many employers are more interested about the college and the type of degree graduates obtained than if they acquired the degree online or on campus.
What types of learning environments do Online Colleges provide Online Students?
Most online students log into a Learning Management System (LMS) to take course lectures. Students can view their syllabus and grades; access course materials; contact professors, classmates and support services; and monitor their progress on lessons. Some online courses deliver live lectures using video conferencing tools and also provide students pre-recorded lectures they can download. Online classes typically provide discussion boards which give online students the opportunity to communicate via posts. Many online classes provide a forum for questions. Some online courses provide videoconferencing and students can communicate via email, telephone and social media.
How do instructors interact with students at Online Colleges?
Many online classes provide a discussion board dedicated to faculty questions. Some online instructors also communicate with online students via email, telephone and social media. Some online degree programs utilize a journal assignment to allow students to have private communications with their instructor. They can utilize a journal assignment to provide ideas, concerns and questions about course material to their instructor.
Do Online Students sometimes work in groups?
Some online courses include presentation assignments with students working in groups on their project and communicating through email, telephone and discussion boards. Online students provide their group presentation via Blackboard Collaborate or via other types of live web conferencing tools. In some online classes, students can also provide their presentation on YouTube and similar websites.
How do Online Colleges provide students homework and assignments?
Online instructors provide online students video lectures, book chapters and articles and assign online students a group of questions. The instructors provide prerecorded and/or live video lectures. Many online instructors provide live videoconference sessions where students can directly ask questions. Students at online colleges can read or watch the material at their own pace, but they typically need to meet a deadline for their responses. Online colleges typically use discussion boards as a supplement to weekly coursework. In virtual classroom, online students respond to a prompt and each other. Some online courses include self-paced adaptive assignments especially in math and science. Many online instructors provide students case-based assignments, often an assigned reading or video depicting a real-world example of the concepts or issues the online class is currently reviewing. Students analyze issues, perform research, test and present potential solutions. Many online degree programs require online students to participate in group discussions. Online instructors utilize a Learning Management System (a software application) to create and provide content, assess student performance and monitor student participation. Some online degree programs utilize online platforms such as Pearson MyLab, to organize online class content into tutorials, quizzes and other interactive materials.
How do students take exams at Online Colleges?
Some online colleges require online students to take exams at centers where a proctor can supervise the exam. Some online colleges utilize proctoring services which monitor students via webcams and identity verification questions.
Do Online Students need to attend Online Classes at Specific Times?
It depends if the online classes use a synchronous or asynchronous format. In online synchronous courses students must be present at the same time. Although colleges provide synchronous courses on the Internet, synchronous courses occur in real-time.
Students must adhere to scheduled class times. During synchronous classes, students may watch video lessons and slideshow presentations and have virtual class discussions. Asynchronous online courses don’t require online students to log into their virtual classroom at a specified time. Students can complete their coursework at their convenience.
Students don’t have to adhere to a strict schedule to engage in live classes or discussions. However, typically they have assignment deadlines. Asynchronous courses are basically self-paced courses. Although synchronous courses do not provide the flexibility of asynchronous courses, students typically have more interaction with their instructors and other students.
Are Online College Courses more difficult than Traditional College Courses?
Most online courses utilize the same overall lesson plan utilized in the on-campus classroom. Typically, online courses are just as rigorous and comprehensive as traditional courses. Online students need good study habits and self-motivation.
Do online students and on-campus students get the same type of feedback from instructors?
Instructors for online courses often provide students a higher level of feedback on assignments and papers.
Can Students obtain their Degree faster from an Online College?
In some cases, yes. Students can take online classes on their own schedule. Some students learn faster than other students and because they don’t have to attend a traditional campus classroom on a set schedule, online students can complete their classes at their own speed. However, the number of credit hours required to complete online degrees are the same as traditional degrees.
Are Online Colleges Accredited?
Prospective students should confirm the college providing their online degree has accreditation from an accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Colleges need this type of accreditation to provide U.S. Government student financial aid and loan guarantees. Typically, the regional accreditation a traditional college obtained, covers the online degrees. Prospective online students should also make sure their online school has authorization to operate in their state of residence.
What is the difference between Regional and National Accreditation?
Regional accreditation is the gold standard of accreditation. Regionally accredited colleges and universities typically only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited colleges and universities. The United States has six major regional accrediting organizations along with an accrediting agency for community and junior colleges. Regionally accredited colleges are typically eligible for all corporate tuition reimbursement plans. Regionally accredited schools have recognition for providing a comprehensive education.
Regionally accredited schools allow students to easily transfer credits between them, if a student seeks to change schools or take a graduate degree program at another school. Regional accreditation organizations oversee the quality of public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit higher education institutions such as research universities; liberal arts colleges; state colleges; special-purpose institutions in the arts, sciences, and professional fields; religiously affiliated institutions; military academies; tribal colleges; and community colleges.
Regionally accredit schools typically have higher standards to meet than nationally accredited schools. Nationally accredited schools often prepare students to enter specific skilled careers. National accrediting agencies often focus on approving career, vocational, and trade schools which provide certificates and degrees.
Often students at nationally accredited schools can’t transfer their credits to a regionally accredited school. Regional and national accreditation agencies provide institutional accreditation, thus the accreditation extends to the entire school, not only to individual programs. Some organizations provide specialized or programmatic accreditation, which applies to specific degree programs. In some industries, students need to obtain a degree from a program which has accreditation from a professional organization in the field to obtain a license.
Do some Online Colleges provide Online Bachelor Degree Completion Programs?
Yes, these programs give students with a two-year associate degree or the equivalent of one to two years of college a pathway to complete the remaining credits they need for a bachelor’s degree through online coursework. Students who qualify for an online bachelor’s degree completion program typically already have roughly half or more of the 120 credits required for a typical four-year undergraduate degree program. However, at some colleges the completion programs accept students with only 30 college credits. Students can complete their bachelor’s degree requirements online via a program of study which may include general education courses, elective courses, and/or courses within their major. Students can typically complete these programs in three or four semesters.
Do Online Schools provide Online Master’s Degree Programs which do not require the GMAT or GRE for Admission?
Yes, some online schools look at other factors such as undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, answers to essay questions, a personal goals statement, and professional work experience.
How long does it take to complete an Online Degree?
Online bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete, online master’s degrees typically take two years to complete, and many online PhD programs take three to seven years and longer to complete, depending on the subject, the number of transfer credits and other factors. The length of time to complete an online degree depends on factors such as how many credits an online student has already acquired, if the school provides Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credits, and how many classes they take at one time. Some colleges provide online accelerated bachelor and master degree programs, which students can complete faster than a basic degree program.
What are Accelerated Online Degree Programs?
Accelerated online degree programs allow online students to obtain their degree much faster than a traditional degree. Online colleges provide accelerated undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Some online accelerated programs consist of short online classes.
A traditional college course lasts 16 weeks, but for example, an accelerated bachelor’s program may compress courses into shorter five-week, eight-week or 10-week sessions. Online students in accelerated programs may need to log into their online learning platform every day. In some accelerated programs students take more basic courses at a time or more condensed courses at a time. Students earn their degree faster through studying faster.
Students take just as many courses to complete an accelerated bachelor’s degree as a traditional degree. In some cases, accelerated degree programs are less flexible than other online degrees. Some accelerated online master’s degree programs provide undergraduate students the opportunity to earn credits toward a master’s degree while completing their bachelor’s degree.
These accelerated degrees typically take students four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and one year to complete a master’s degree (instead of the typical two years). Accelerated bachelor-to-master-degree programs have the same number of required credits as basic bachelor and master degree programs. Students can complete several of the master degree courses while they’re completing undergraduate courses.
Do Online Degrees have On-Campus Requirements?
Some online degrees require students to attend a residency on-campus before or during the program. The on-campus requirements vary by the degree program.
How Many Online Courses can a Student Take at the Same Time?
In some online degree programs, students can select the number of online courses they take at one time, whereas in some online degree programs, students must adhere to a set curriculum as part of a cohort, these students progress through the online courses with other designated classmates who begin and finish at the same time. Many cohorts programs require students complete a set number of courses each term.
What are the Advantages of an Online Cohort Program?
The cohort structure provides online students the general flexibility of online education combined with opportunities for networking. Online cohort programs give online students the opportunity to establish stronger relationships with other online students. Cohort programs typically have a high level of academic involvement.
Cohort programs, due to the bonds students often have with their cohort classmates, can help keep online students motivated to complete their degree. Cohort students typically offer their classmates support. They rely on each other as academic resources and sources of encouragement.
Many online cohort programs provide some virtual interaction, with many of the cohort programs providing some online courses held live where students communicate via videoconferencing. Some cohort-based online programs require the students to attend an on-campus residency together, often at the beginning of the online degree program.
Do some Types of Online Degrees Require Face-to-Face Learning Requirements?
Online degrees such as nursing, teaching, social work and other online degrees may require students to complete supervised fieldwork or clinical placements through hospitals, local schools, government agencies, companies and other organizations.
Do Online Colleges Provide Online Student Support Services?
Most schools offer online students support services from pre-admissions support to post-graduate alumni services. Online colleges typically offer array of support services, which may include financial aid advice, online tutoring, Web-based math and reading centers, academic advising, technical support, personal support services, online libraries, alumni support services, and career services. Some online schools offer networking programs which give online students opportunities to connect with and seek support from other students, professional mentors and an alumni community. Many online colleges utilize social and professional networking to connect prospective students, enrolled students as well as alumni to build learning and support communities.
What Technical Skills do Students Need to Attend an Online College?
Most online colleges provide user-friendly online learning platforms. Online students typically need basic computer skills to access and navigate online programs such as using a keyboard and a mouse; using the Internet; running computer programs; using word processing programs; sending and receiving email; and using forums and other collaborative tools. Most online colleges provide requirements on their websites.
What are the Technology Requirements for Online Colleges?
Technical requirements vary among online degree programs, but most online students need, at minimum, high-speed Internet access and a computer capable of running specified online learning software. Online classes utilizing identity verification tools and voice-conferencing or web-conferencing software require webcams and microphones. While online colleges increasingly provide mobile apps for learning on-the-go, tablets and smartphones alone may not be sufficient. Most online colleges provide minimum technology requirements at their website.
Do Online College Students have the Option to Study Abroad?
Some online programs allow students to study abroad. Online students need a plan to integrate their study abroad experience into their course schedules.
Is Class Size Important for Online Classes?
Class size may matter for some online students, especially for interacting with their instructor and classmates. Smaller online classes give students more opportunities to have personal communication with their instructor and receive feedback. Online class size range from small to huge. Some colleges limit online classes to 20 students. According to U.S. News & World Report, average class size ranged from one to 150 at the various online programs evaluated. Massive Open Online Courses, often do not have a limit, some of these courses may have thousands of students taking a single online course.
Can Online College Students Join Clubs and Participate in Extracurricular Activities?
Virtual clubs provide online students opportunities to enjoy a variety of extracurricular activities. Students who want to showcase their academic achievements can join virtual honor societies. Students can participate in volunteer organizations. Online students can also join specific cultural clubs and groups focused on specific interests. Students participate in virtual clubs online. Many virtual clubs use Facebook and Skype.
Do students have to go on campus for their online class?
Some online courses may require students to visit campus for examinations or special events, whereas some online courses only require virtual attendance and other online courses combine online and in-person learning.
Additional Resources for Online College Students
- U.S. Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center
- The website provides information such as the colleges which have the highest and lowest tuition and net prices and cost for career and vocational programs.
- National Center for Education Statistics
- The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) serves as the main federal organization for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the United States and other countries. NCES provides several useful data tools.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
- The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) serves as a major source of information about colleges, universities, and technical and vocational institutions in the United States.
- The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs
- The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education provides the accreditation database. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs contains information from recognized accrediting agencies and state approval agencies provided to the U.S. Department of Education.
- College Navigator
- Part of the National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator, a search tool, consists mainly of the latest data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, which serves as the core postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics. College Navigator gives prospective students the opportunity to research a variety of schools.
Methodology for the Best Online Colleges
We selected the best accredited online colleges based on factors including academic quality, the number and types of online degree programs available, the faculty, online teaching methods, reputation, awards, and available financial aid.
Our list includes traditional colleges providing a sufficient amount of online programs to qualify for our list of the best online colleges.