Why This Matters

  • 20 MILLION PEOPLE ATTENDED COLLEGE IN 2018

    It’s important to be one of them. Good news: education is more accessible than ever. Nearly 3 million students attended fully online programs, and another 3 million took hybrid courses.

  • THAT MAKES 14% OF ALL HIGHER-ED ONLINE

    Students are turning to online education in growing numbers. With on-campus enrollment declining, more universities are developing their online programs to bring in students everywhere.

  • BUT EMPLOYERS STILL WANT REASSURANCE

    Employers still view online degrees with some wariness; 39% believe online degrees are easier to pass. Finding an accredited, non-profit, reputable college can boost your diploma’s credibility.

Our Research

With the rise of online education, almost every degree is now available as an online course. Hundreds of universities offer fully online programs, making it more important than ever to make sure you find the college that is the best fit for your needs. Even though online degrees are becoming more popular, employers may still be biased against an online program.

To find the top online colleges, we wanted to determine the universities that excel at online education and have the credentials to satisfy any lingering worries an employer might have. To that end, we looked at nonprofit, accredited universities that are frequently recognized for the high quality of their online degrees.

Next we assessed the reputation, online resources, and relative cost of each university to give each school an Intelligent Score. The best colleges scored well in each category and got close to a perfect 100. For a more detailed look into our research, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 524 Colleges Assessed
  • 87 Hours of Research
  • 70 Top Picks

The Top 70 Online Colleges

Best-Colleges-and-Top-Universities-Badge-image
01
University of Florida

intelligent score 98.05

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 352-392-3261

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Eastern New Mexico University

intelligent score 97.4

Award Best for Education Programs

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Education Programs

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 575-562-2165

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Oregon Institute of Technology

intelligent score 97.32

Award Best Technical Institution

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Technical Institution

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 800-422-2017

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Western Kentucky University

intelligent score 97.27

Award Best for Fulbright Scholars

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Fulbright Scholars

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 270-745-0111

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Clarkson College

intelligent score 96.83

Award Best Private Research University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Private Research University

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 402-552-3100

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Troy University

intelligent score 96.4

Award Best for Accelerated Terms

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Accelerated Terms

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 800-414-5756

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Texas A&M International University

intelligent score 96.39

Award Best for MBA Programs

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for MBA Programs

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 956-326-2001

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Millersville University

intelligent score 96.09

Award Best Degree Completion Programs

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Degree Completion Programs

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 717-871-7200

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Champlain College

intelligent score 95.99

Award Best Private University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Private University

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-545-3459

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Mississippi College

intelligent score 94.55

Award Best Christian University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Christian University

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 601-925-7617

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate

01
Best Liberal Arts University
Lindenwood University
01
Best Faculty
UNC Greensboro
01
Best Seminary Programs
Roberts Wesleyan College
01
Best for Management Programs
University of Central Missouri
01
Best for Transfer Students
Colorado State University Global
01
Best for Teacher Leadership
Kennesaw State University
01
Best for History
University of Illinois Springfield
01
Best for Veterans
Liberty University
01
Best for Agriculture
Texas Tech University
01
Best for Business Administration
University of the People
01
Best for Christian Ministry
Lubbock Christian University
01
Best Tutoring Services
Vincennes University
01
Best for Data Science
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
01
Best for International Students
California Polytechnic State University
01
Best for Esports Management
UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education
01
Best for Health and Wellness
Santa Monica College
01
Best for Accounting
Eastern Oregon University
01
Best for Legal Studies
Abraham Lincoln University
01
Best for Nursing
Hallmark University
01
Best for Biology
Kean University
01
Best for Criminal Justice
Wayne State University
01
Best for Liberal Studies
California State University, Chico
01
Best MFA Program
Radford University
01
Best for Supply Chain Management
Central Washington University
01
Best for Economics
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
01
Best Advisors
The University of Texas at San Antonio
01
Best Alumni Network
Simpson College
01
Best for Intercultural Studies
University of Valley Forge
01
Best for Forensic Psychology
University of North Dakota
01
Best in the Northeast
SUNY Buffalo State College
01
Best in the Southwest
Northern Arizona University
01
Best in the Southeast
University of Central Florida
01
Best in the West
Montana State University
01
Best for Active Military
University of North Georgia
01
Best Baptist University
Cedarville University
01
Best in the South
Southeast Missouri State University
01
Best in the Midwest
Kansas State University
01
Best Community College
Northwest Mississippi Community College
01
Best in the Northwest
University of Idaho
01
Best for Ministry Programs
North Greenville University
01
Best Minor Programs
South Dakota State University
01
Most Affordable
University of Southern Mississippi
01
Best RN to BSN Program
Eastern Illinois University
01
Best for Special Education
Greenville University
01
Best for Certificate Programs
Wayne Community College
01
Best for Nursing Programs
Mount Carmel College of Nursing
01
Best Catholic University
Marian University
01
Best for Hospitality Programs
SUNY Delhi
01
Best Mid-Sized University
Rowan University
01
Best Small University
Wayne State College
01
Best for Rolling Admissions
Weber State University
01
Best Faith-Based Curricula
Faulkner University
01
Best for Multiple Start Dates
Eastern Kentucky University
01
Best for Hybrid Programs
Cameron University
01
Best for Divinity Programs
Columbia International University
01
Best for Technology Programs
Big Sandy Community & Technical College - KCTCS
01
Best Global Campus
Webster University
01
Best Small University
Northwest Nazarene University
01
Best for Aviation Programs
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
01
Best for Social Work Programs
Brescia University

 

Our Ranking Methodology

To find the best online colleges, we started with three basic criteria: each college needed to be nonprofit, accredited, and offer fully online degrees. Then, we evaluated each college based on three additional criteria:

Program Strength

In addition to accreditation, we wanted to see how well each university’s program ranked in top college evaluators like U.S. News. We also looked at how many times a college had received awards for its online programs.

Then, we created an algorithm that compares how well each university fared across multiple rankings, as well as giving bonus points for receiving multiple awards. A high score here meant that a program was more widely-recognized for the rigorousness of its program.

Online Readiness

As more students look for flexible study options, more colleges offer online degrees. That said, some colleges are better prepared to teach online degrees than others. We evaluated each school based on student satisfaction surveys — looking for how well students regarded professors and programs — and the online resources provided by the university. This helped us score each school based on how well equipped it is to teach coursework online.

Comparative Cost

While the exact cost for college depends on the degree you choose, we wanted to identify the schools which wouldn’t break the bank. We assessed how much a university charged per credit for undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as how much it charged for online credit, whether in-state or out-of-state. Colleges that charged less per credit for all students earned the highest marks in this category.

This Gave Us Our Intelligent Score

We then used these three scores to calculate our Intelligent Score. The top-scoring universities all have excellent reputations, are known for the rigorousness of their online programs, and offer their degrees at competitive rates.

While some of the schools on our list have lower scores than the others, we still view them as good options. A few, like Drexel University and North Carolina State University, had high marks for program strength and online readiness, but come at a relatively steeper cost. Depending on your choice of degree, these lower scoring schools still might be the right match for you.

This Degree Isn’t For Everyone

The largest caveat to earning a degree online is to not underestimate the amount of work required — and knowing that it’s largely isolated work. While there are programs which incorporate online students into live class sessions, many require you to study independently. Being able to study at any time is a perk for online learning, but it means that your education requires perhaps more self-motivation than average — and you won’t get the networking or teamwork experience of an in-person class.

Taking a moment to identify what you’d like to get out of a degree program can help you decide whether an online college is the best option for you. If networking, tutoring, and group study sessions are important, see which colleges offer an online equivalent.

What’s Next?

As you hone in on the specific degree and college that’s right for you, there are a few details to keep in mind. All of the universities on our list have regional accreditation, which means that the university itself has been recognized to provide quality education. However, there are accrediting organizations on the degree-level, too. Researching if there is an accreditor for your specific degree (whether business, social work, or otherwise) and then checking if a prospective school has that accreditation adds another stamp of approval to your degree.

Additionally, the professors at a given university will be an even larger part of your academic experience than with an on-campus program. Taking a closer look at a department’s faculty, the courses they’ve taught recently, and the research they’re interested in can help you identify whether a program meets your specific interests.

Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye on each prospective university’s state authorizations. Different states can have different requirements for higher education, and this can translate into one state not recognizing another’s authority for awarding a diploma. If you live in a different state than the university, you’ll need to make sure your home state has authorized the university to grant degrees. Most universities have a specific webpage for their information, but you can also check with the admissions office or your local Board of Education for more details.

Find the Best Online Colleges in Your State

Other Online College Rankings