Why This Matters

  • MORE THAN A THIRD OF JOBS REQUIRE FOUR-YEAR OR HIGHER DEGREES

    Around 34% of jobs in the nation require at least a bachelor’s degree. Without college, you could be missing out on some big opportunities. Those figures include all jobs in the United States, so in your industry, the percentage of positions requiring bachelor’s or master’s degrees may be even higher.

  • HIGHER DEGREES EQUAL REDUCED UNEMPLOYMENT

    Among those with only a high school diploma, unemployment rates in 2020 averaged 9%. For those with a bachelor’s degree, the average was 5.5%, and for those with a masters, it was only 4.1%.

  • EARN 40% MORE WITH A BACHELOR’S

    In 2020, people with a high school diploma made $781 per week on average. Those with a bachelor’s degree made $1,305 per week on average, an increase of 40%.

Our Research

Our list of best online colleges for working adults covers a wide range of options, including schools that offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. You’ll find degree programs for STEM, liberal arts, business, and many other interests and career paths.

It’s important to choose well-respected schools that meet your educational needs. That’s why we looked at colleges that were accredited by regional organizations. Accreditation from bodies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Higher Learning Commission (HLC), New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), or Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) helps you know you’re attending a high-quality school that meets rigorous education requirements.

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 100 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 190 education programs we compared

The Top 49 Online Colleges for Working Adults

Best Online Colleges for Working Adults Badge
01
Intelligent Pick
Charter Oak State College
01
Best in the Midwest
Davenport University
01
Best Baptist Option
Wayland Baptist University
01
Best for Healthcare
Daemen College
01
Best in the Mid Atlantic
Marywood University
01
Best Large Urban University
The City University of New York
01
Best Community College Option
Three Rivers Community College
01
Best Private Non-Profit, Northeast
Metropolitan College of New York
01
Best in the South
Keiser University
01
Best for the Liberal Arts
Thomas Edison State University
01
Best for STEM
Southern New Hampshire University
01
Best Christian Option
Regis University
01
Most Flexible
Excelsior University
01
Best for Career Education
Capella University
01
Best in the Southwest
Grand Canyon University
01
Best Credit for Prior Learning
University of Maryland Global Campus
01
Best for Non-Traditional Learners
North Central University
01
Best Evangelical Option
Colorado Christian University
01
Best Evening Option
Post University
01
Best in the West
Umass Global
01
Best for Education
University of St. Francis
01
Best for Human Development
Pacific Oaks College
01
Most Innovative
The University of Arizona Global Campus
01
Best Large Public Research Institution
University of Central Florida
01
Best for Ministry
World Mission University
01
Best Large Private Institution, Northeast
Boston University
01
Best for Biblical Studies
God's Bible School and College
01
Best for Business
Purdue University Global
01
Best Bible College, South
South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary
01
Most Customizable
Western Governors University
01
Best Small Private Institution, South
Averett University
01
Best Certificate Options
Colorado State University Global
01
Best Small Liberal Arts School, Midwest
Notre Dame College
01
Best for Vets
Trident University International
01
Best Small Private Institution, Midwest
Trine University
01
Best Christian Graduate School
Crown College
01
Best Accelerated Option
Regent University
01
Best Regional Public Institution, Midwest
University of Illinois Springfield
01
Best Self-Paced Option
Columbia Southern University
01
Best Mid-Sized Public Option, South
University of West Florida
01
Best for Professional Writing
Webster University
01
Best Christian Liberal Arts Option
Anderson University
01
Best Pre-Professional Programs
George Washington University
01
Best Seminary Option
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
01
Best Small Healthcare School
Mercy College of Ohio
01
Best for Transfer Students
Antioch University
01
Best Hybrid Option
Granite State College
01
Best Mid-sized Catholic School, South
Saint Leo University
01
Best Christian Professional Education
Indiana Wesleyan University

What You Should Know About This Degree

When you’re considering online degree programs, you should compare them with in-person and hybrid programs. In-person programs offer all instruction in the classroom and hybrid programs provide instruction both online and in-person depending on your needs and the type of learning required. The best option for you depends on what you’re studying and your personal needs. Online degrees are great for working adults because they offer flexibility, but if you’re looking at getting something like a nursing degree, you may need a hybrid approach that supports in-person clinical and lab learning.

Another consideration is whether you want a synchronous or asynchronous program. Many working adults enjoy the flexibility of asynchronous programs, which let you learn at your own pace and accommodate your work schedule.

Earning a degree can help you improve your job outlook, particularly if you’re angling for a promotion. Some organizations require people who are in leadership positions to have at least a bachelor’s degree, for example.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online colleges for working adults:

  • Am I eligible for this program? To take advantage of an online degree program, you need to qualify for admission. Requirements depend on the program, but you may need to have a high school diploma or equivalency and meet other requirements, such as having minimum scores on standardized tests or passing a placement exam with a community college. If you’re looking at a graduate degree program, you might need to have completed a relevant undergrad program with a certain CPA.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? As a working adult, you’ll want to know how much time will be taken up with your schoolwork as well as the timeline of the degree program. An online bachelor’s degree can take three to four years to complete for full-time students or six to eight years for part-time students. Some online master’s programs are designed to fast-track working professionals, allowing you to earn the degree in as little as two years.

Start your journey to better credentials and higher pay by researching the best online colleges for working adults. You should contact financial aid offices to find out about scholarships, grants, and other financial aid programs, and check with your human resources office to see if your employer offers education reimbursement benefits.