More and more colleges and universities are opening their doors to online learners. And more and more students are finding that the flexibility and potential savings of time and money make online learning a good choice. Online programs can be just as rigorous and detailed as in-person programs, and hiring managers are increasingly choosing job applicants with online degrees.
The Top 10 Colleges for Earning a Degree Online
1. University of Florida
UF offers a range of highly-rated online programs and is a national leader in online education at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. It is particularly well-suited for veterans and active-duty military members, who benefit from the school’s participation in the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon program. UF offers 24 bachelor’s degrees via online and hybrid formats, including business administration, communication sciences and disorders, and environmental management, taught by the same faculty members that teach the school’s on-campus students. All online students have a personal, assigned academic advisor who stays with them throughout their educational journey.
2. University of Central Florida
UCF has been educating students online for 25 years and currently offers over 100 online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Popular programs include forensic science, civil engineering, and an executive master of health administration. UCF’s Online Connect Center team works with you, serving as your advocates and guides throughout your time at the University and can help you decide if online learning is a good fit for you. The online student resources are robust and help you negotiate every aspect of your education. The staff can help you access financial assistance, find a tutor to help you with challenging subjects and provide career services to find the perfect job after graduation.
3. Pennsylvania State University
Penn State has more than 125 years of experience in distance learning. Currently, it offers more than 175 certificate and degree programs online. Its online platform focuses on convenience, flexibility, and quality, delivering academically-rigorous, accredited programs to students from all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Penn State’s online programs range from undergrad and graduate certificates to doctoral degrees. There are 38 bachelor’s degrees, including popular programs in digital journalism and media and health policy and administration. Online students have full access to Penn State’s support network, with 24-hour technical support and extended hours for support staff and academic advisors.
4. Oregon State University
OSU’s e-campus delivers more than 100 degrees and programs, encompassing 1,750 classes online and in a hybrid format at multiple levels, from certificates to graduate degrees. Popular bachelor’s level programs include crop and soil science, digital communication arts, and supply chain and logistics management. If you’re uncertain of what program you’d like to take, the University Exploratory Studies Program can help you decide on a degree and career path. All classes are taught by OSU’s award-winning faculty, who also teach in on-campus programs. Students interested in taking classes for personal enrichment rather than career success will find a wealth of courses for non-degree students.
5. University of Alabama
University of Alabama’s UA Online features more than 90 online certificate and degree programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, ranging from advertising to early childhood education. It is especially noted for its educational specialist programs, which include special education, educational leadership, and counselor education. There are also non-degree-bearing professional learning programs, including a certificate in executive education and a temporary special education certificate 6-12. UA is a military-friendly institution and an unlimited Yellow Ribbon school, which means that students who qualify under the GI Bill will have out-of-state tuition and course fees covered.
6. Washington State University
WSU’s Global Campus has been working with online students since 1992 and currently has 21 undergraduate majors, 13 graduate degrees, 13 certificate programs, and a teaching endorsement available for online students. Interactive courses are taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus in fields ranging from anthropology to data analytics. Student services include a personal academic advisor for every online student, 24/7 tech support, and free tutoring services online when needed. Students can also access career advisement services when they’re ready to explore career paths. The Office of Veterans Affairs provides dedicated support to military students.
7. University of Arizona
UA’s online programs include certificates and degree-bearing programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. They are especially strong in health sciences and nursing, with programs including a doctor of nursing practice in psychiatric mental health and a master’s in healthcare management. There are flexible pricing options that allow you to pay per credit at your own pace, and there is no surcharge for out-of-state students. Military students and veterans can earn credit for basic training and other military skills. The university accepts up to 30 units of ACE-recommended military credit as a transfer toward a bachelor’s degree.
8. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers more than 300 online degrees and certificates at the certificate through doctoral levels, taught by the same professors who teach on-campus classes. Bachelor’s degree programs include accounting, museum studies, and biochemistry. Courses are short, usually 6-7.5 weeks, and are primarily asynchronous. The school uses a course management system called Canvas that allows for class discussions and easy instructor feedback. Counselors, career advisors, and tutors are available to online students to help them successfully complete their studies. Success coaches provide one-on-one guidance for course registration, organizational tips, and study strategies.
9. Purdue University
Purdue University Global features online classes that are tailored for working adults. It offers more than 175 online programs that range from certificates to doctoral programs. These include programs in aviation, legal studies, and fire and emergency management. Most classes meet for 10-12 weeks. You may be able to apply work experience, transfer credits, and military experience toward up to 75 percent of your undergraduate degree program. Purdue offers a free introductory period of three weeks if you want to try out an undergraduate program without making a commitment. You may also be able to accelerate your degree with the school’s self-paced ExcelTrack programs. One-on-one support from faculty members and coaching staff is available to all students, and online resources are available 24/7.
10. University of Maryland
Distance learning has been part of UM’s Global Campus for over 75 years. Its classes are geared toward working adults and military members and feature programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels in business and management, cybersecurity, public safety, and more. The school accepts up to 90 credits from other sources toward a bachelor’s degree. Personalized advising is available from academic advisors, tutors, and mentors. Online writing feedback and 24-hour tech support make it easy to have a seamless online experience. The school offers extensive financial aid, including $15 million in scholarship funding. There is also 24/7 access to CareerQuest, an employer database that contains job and internship postings and other career tools.
How to Choose an Online College
Choosing the right online program and college for your particular needs doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some of the factors that you’ll want to consider as you search:
- Focus your research on accredited colleges and universities, as their accrediting agencies hold these institutions to the highest standards. You can find out if a school is accredited at the Department of Education website.
- Decide on a major. Not sure what you’d like to specialize in? Many colleges have dedicated staff members who can help you narrow down your major search even before you sign up to be a student.
- Ensure that the program you are looking at is totally online. Many degree programs are held in a hybrid format, with some time spent on campus. If the school you choose is far away, this may be difficult.
- Find out what kind of financial support your chosen institution offers. It’s important to know if they charge a different price for out-of-state students and if online students are eligible for scholarships, grants, and/or loans.
- While reviewing finances, it’s also a good idea to ask if fees are required above and beyond tuition costs. Many colleges have course, lab, or online delivery fees that you need to consider.
- Find out if the faculty members who teach in your chosen program have the right credentials. Are they the same faculty that teach in on-campus classes? Do they have a terminal degree in their field?
- Ensure that your chosen institution has robust student support services, including access to tutors, tech support, and academic mentors.