Rankings: Best Online Colleges for 2014

RANKINGS NAVIGATION

A look at the best online colleges in U.S. Who they are, whom they benefit, and the numerous ways they continue to change the post-secondary landscape.

Introduction

For years, distance learning stood on the fringes of formal education. Working professionals enrolled mostly at for-profit institutions, or, when available, took correspondence classes from the few colleges that gave the option. Most students were over 30, married and looking for a specific career-focused credential (“The Home Study Inheritance,” Lambert, 2000).

The growth of broadband Internet and mobile technology quickly opened distance learning to a larger post-secondary student population. Colleges and universities of all types began to add online classes to their curriculum, followed soon by full-fledged degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The average distance learner became younger, more diverse, and motivated by a wider range of college and career goals. In Fall 2002, an estimated 578,000 students enrolled in at least one online class. Ten years later, the number topped seven million (“Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States – 2013,” Sloan-C, 2013).

With so many distance-learning options now available, finding the right college can be a tough task. What makes an online college great? How do today’s online colleges differ and which one is best for you? The following page addresses these questions and more, and looks at institutions of higher learning that continue to raise the bar when it comes to online education.

Which Types of Colleges Offer Online Programs?

Once a landscape dominated by for-profits, hundreds of community colleges, public universities, private non-profits and faith-based institutions have developed extensive online catalogs. Academic options range from introductory certificates and associate degrees to professional degrees and doctorates. Let’s take a look at how these types of institutions compare, and the primary benefits they bring to online learners.

Community Colleges

Online learning benefits: Diversity and cost. These two-year schools offer a variety of academic options, with many students falling into one of three categories: (1) those who want to explore college education at its most basic level, (2) those looking for a cost-effective way to earn credits before transferring to a four-year school, and (3) those who wish to earn a career-focused certificate or degree.

This diverse student body calls for a wider variety of class and learning mode options. In many cases, this means more online courses and degree programs available to students. And because it’s a community college, the cost remains relatively low in comparison to universities.

Public Colleges and Universities

Online learning benefits: Program breadth, support, cost. The most popular post-secondary option in the U.S., public colleges have the largest student populations and usually the widest range of academic options. They also boast extensive human and technological resources to facilitate learning on multiple levels and in myriad learning modes.

Therefore, many public universities have more online learning options — from introductory 100-level courses to those at the doctorate level. Near-24/7 tech support and other resources also make it easier for online students to get help when needed. And while more expensive than their community college counterparts, the cost of an online course or degree program often runs less than those at private institutions.

Private, Non-Profit Institutions

Online learning benefits: Personal attention, specialization, academic rigor. Many private, non-profit institutions offer students a more personal academic experience, even when studying online. For some colleges, lesson plans revolve around a certain faith or focus, which allows students to interact with professors and peers with similar ideals or goals. For other colleges, academic rigor takes center stage. Universities such as Harvard and MIT have world-class online degree programs that rival their campus offerings.

Private, For-Profit Colleges

Online learning benefits: Experience, support. Private for-profits have experience on their side. Each year, hundreds of thousands of students enroll in their programs seeking a certificate or degree. Many of these schools have time-tested support systems and processes designed to help first-time online learners acclimate to the virtual classroom. They can, however, be more expensive than other distance learning options. Before enrolling at a private, for-profit college or university, make sure the price point works for you, and that the institution has proper accreditation.

Is an Online College or Degree Program Right for You?

It seems like everyone is taking an online class nowadays, but should you? Read the following questions before enrolling in (or even considering) a distance-learning program. If you answer “yes” to at least six, online education may be a good move.

  1. Do you have access to a computer and Internet connection?
  2. Can you work independently with little direction?
  3. Are you comfortable with simple technologies, including email and word processing?
  4. Are you motivated to succeed?
  5. Do you have solid communication skills, especially in writing?
  6. Do you have a high school diploma or GED?
  7. Are you comfortable participating in online discussion?
  8. Can you work on a computer multiple hours per day?

What Are the Best Online Colleges?

Simply put, the best online college depends on the student. Each learner has a unique set of wants and needs that dictates his or her ideal academic environment. A student looking for a cost-effective introduction to online learning may find a community college the best option. Conversely, one with eyes on world-class distance learning at the doctorate level may feel a top private university to be the best choice.

The following three rankings lists look at the “best online colleges” in somewhat complementary ways. The first list, The 45 Best Colleges for Online Learning, focuses on academic rigor, program quantity, program diversity and accreditation. In other words, which colleges are currently making the largest impact when it comes to distance learning?

Colleges Revolutionizing Online Education concentrates on pushing the envelope. What new ideas, technologies and other breakthroughs place them among the best? Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of institutions, ranging from small private colleges to large public universities.

The final list takes a close look at the Best Public Online Colleges. Here, special emphasis was placed on both online catalog and cost. Which four-year institutions offer the most top-notch, accredited online learning options at an affordable price?

Although “best” remains subjective, the right data and information can help potential distance learners find the best online college for them.

The 45 Best Colleges for Online Learning

The days of online education residing solely at for-profit institutions have disappeared. In fact, many world-renown colleges and universities have extensive collections of online courses available to undergraduates, graduate students, and even to the general public via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). When examining distance-learning options at the post-secondary level, however, not every top school offers equal quality and quantity. AC Online leveraged multiple government data sets and a ton of research elbow grease to find the 45 U.S. colleges where online learning is a clear priority.

1
Fordham University
Total Cost: $42,057 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.fordham.edu

Fordham University provides a Master of Social Work degree via online coursework to students that reside in NY, NJ, or CT. The admission requirements are just as rigorous as they are for on-campus students. Students are expected to complete fieldwork, and so Fordham’s Field Instruction Department assists students in finding geographically appropriate agencies for field instruction.

2
Harvard University
Total Cost: $39,966 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.harvard.edu

Harvard University offers students distance education courses in three formats, including video courses, live web-conference courses, and hybrid courses. Hybrid courses combine an intensive weekend class on-campus with online lectures throughout the semester. Though the extension school does not offer strictly online degrees, adding online classes is an excellent way to maximize one’s Harvard education.

3
Yale University
Total Cost: $42,300 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.yale.edu

Yale University offers its students rigorous online courses throughout the summer. But, even more impressive is Yale’s commitment to making education accessible to all. Through Open Yale Courses (OYC), anyone can partake in free introductory Yale courses that are available online through video, audio and text transcript formats.

4
Columbia University in the City of New York
Total Cost: $47,246 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.columbia.edu

Columbia University now offers distance learning Master’s degrees through their School of Engineering and Applied Science, CVN, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Many e-courses are available for enrolled undergraduates. Columbia’s website also boasts a collection of “e-seminars” which are 3-5 hour multimedia versions of offered classes, available for free to Columbia students, faculty, and staff.

5
Stanford University
Total Cost: $42,225 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.stanford.edu

Stanford University is a leader in the world of distance learning, offering online courses to enrolled students, professional certificates, and even providing free content to the public. Stanford also has online courses for high school students who are enrolled in the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY). Ever committed to early education, Stanford also runs a fully accredited diploma-granting high school program known as the “Online High School” available to 7th-12th grade students around the world.

6
University of Chicago
Total Cost: $45,609 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.uchicago.edu

The University of Chicago is a newcomer to distance learning, but has recently added some certificate programs that can be completed entirely online. Through the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, students can now be certified in “Clinical Trials Management” and “Medical Writing and Editing” through distance learning. The school is currently planning more online courses and expects to have these available within the next couple of years.

7
Duke University
Total Cost: $43,623 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.duke.edu

Duke University has partnered with Coursera to offer an array of free online courses available to the public. Topics currently include astronomy, engineering, philosophy, human physiology, and cell biology. Duke also offers online certificate programs through their Continuing Studies department and credited summer online courses to enrolled students.

8
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Total Cost: $42,050 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: web.mit.edu/student

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recognizes that in today’s current workforce, many teams must collaborate remotely. To prepare students for these real world complications, many programs offer point-to-point video conferencing and stored lectures. These programs include the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Singapore MIT Alliance, MIT International Science and Technology Initiative, and System Design and Management.

9
University of Pennsylvania
Total Cost: $43,738 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.upenn.edu

University of Pennsylvania (PENN) has an extraordinary catalogue of online classes, with over 15 full credit courses currently offered. PENN’s distance learning also services other categories of education. PENN boasts “Open Learning,” offering free classes to the public. Penn also offers continuing education for Dental, Medical, and Nursing professionals and online English language programs for international students.

10
California Institute of Technology
Total Cost: $39,588 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.caltech.edu

California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) has pioneered the world of “Massive Open Online Courses.” The school was one of the first to offer free education via YouTube, and iTunes U. And while CALTECH already offers free, open-access courses to the public through Coursera, the school is further expanding access to a similar online learning initiative called EdX in October of 2013.

11
Johns Hopkins University
Total Cost: $43,390 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.jhu.edu

John Hopkins University offers dozens of free courses to the public through their “OpenCourseWare” website. And for their enrolled students, even more courses and certificate programs are available. John Hopkins even offers unique courses for younger students all over the world, from Pre-K to 12th grade, through their Center for Talented Youth Online curriculum.

12
Northwestern University
Total Cost: $43,779 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.northwestern.edu

Northwestern University takes distance learning seriously, even offering complete Master’s degrees through online courses. In keeping its prestigious reputation, Northwestern’s admissions standards are just as rigorous for their online students as for their on-campus students. Online certificate programs are also available in accounting, CPA preparation, and Museum Studies.

13
Brown University
Total Cost: $43,758 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.brown.edu

Brown University offers many online pre-college courses for accelerated students from grades 6-12. For the enrolled Brown student there are a variety of blended online programs for The Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership and the IE Brown Executive MBA. Blended programs combine online classes with intensive on-campus sessions.

14
Cornell University
Total Cost: $43,413 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.cornell.edu

Cornell University recognizes the importance of distance learning and has made many lectures and professors’ live chats available to the public through their open-access “Cyber Tower” website. For the enrolled student, Cornell offers summer credit-bearing courses in many disciplines. And for the professional, eCornell boasts online project-based certificate programs.

15
Vanderbilt University
Total Cost: $42,118 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.vanderbilt.edu

An early adopter of distance learning, Vanderbilt University has offered digital classes for over a decade through their School of Nursing. In 2013 the school began providing free open-access courses through Coursera. In partnership with the Nashville Public Library, the school also posts academic lectures and talks on YouTube.

16
Rice University
Total Cost: $37,292 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.rice.edu

Rice University utilizes Blackboard Collaborate to offer fully online courses that meet in virtual classrooms. Furthermore, Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies provides online and hybrid certificate programs. Rice also prepares high school students through their AP Exam Prep classes online.

17
University of Notre Dame
Total Cost: $42,971 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.nd.edu

University of Notre Dame offers numerous free non-credit courses to the public through their “OpenCourseWare” initiative. For the professional, Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business provides many certificate programs complete with interactive practice sessions. Certificates available include the Executive Certificate in Negotiation, EC in Leadership and Management, EC in Business Administration, and Advanced Specialized Certificate in Intercultural Management.

18
Emory University
Total Cost: $42,980 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.emory.edu

Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health has been offering distance learning for fifteen years. This program allows busy professionals to earn a Masters level public health degree. Students must have a minimum of three years professional experience and can choose between Applied Epidemiology, Applied Public Health Informatics, and Prevention Science programs.

19
Georgetown University
Total Cost: $42,870 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.georgetown.edu

Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies gives students the ability to earn a Master’s degree in Nursing online. The coursework is combined with clinical experiences near where the student lives. For other interests, Georgetown has partnered with EdX and offers free open access online classes within a number of departments.

20
University of California-Berkeley
Total Cost: $12,874 School Type: Public Website: www.berkeley.edu

University of California – Berkeley operates the UC Berkeley Extension program that provides online courses applicable towards college credit. Programs include Art and Design, Behavioral Health Sciences, Business, Education, Humanities, Sciences, Biotechnology and Mathematics, Technology, and Writing. UCB Extension also offers courses with both, year-round continuous enrollment, and fixed date enrollment during terms.

21
Carnegie Mellon University
Total Cost: $45,760 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.cmu.edu

Carnegie Mellon University has an array of distance learning choices focused on executive and professional education such as management, entrepreneurship, business, and Computer Science. Most programs are either online, or a hybrid format of online and on-site learning. Furthermore, Carnegie Mellon supports an Open Learning Initiative where online courses are available to the public, and also to anyone who wants to teach.

22
University of California-Los Angeles
Total Cost: $12,692 School Type: Public Website: www.ucla.edu

University of California – Los Angeles supports the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science – Master of Science Online program that enables students to work on the same courses and under the same instructors as students on-campus. UCLA also boasts the UCLA Extension program that offers numerous online courses in almost every field. UCLA Extension also provides certificate programs for professionals, which are taught online via the iPad Learning Center.

23
University of Southern California
Total Cost: $44,463 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.usc.edu

University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering offers over 40 online Master’s degree programs, in addition to certificate and non-credit professional programs. In fact, Viterbi is ranked the #1 Online Graduate Engineering Program in the ’13 U.S. News and World Report findings. Furthermore, USC’s Price School also provides students the ability to earn an online Master of Public Administration degree.

24
University of Virginia-Main Campus
Total Cost: $12,216 School Type: Public Website: www.virginia.edu

University of Virginia’s School of Continuing Education offers a variety of non-credit certificate programs for professionals. Classes with course credit are also available for many graduate degrees. Master’s degrees can be earned in Physics, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Aerospace Engineering, some of which are completed entirely online and others combine online classes with intensive residencies.

25
Wake Forest University
Total Cost: $43,200 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.wfu.edu

Wake Forest University provides certificates in financial planning through an interactive online education. Wake Forest’s counseling program also has online options for earning either a Master of Arts degree in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health, School Counseling, or Human Services. Looking to the future, Wake Forest will be joining Semester Online to also offer for-credit undergraduate courses in 2014.

26
Tufts University
Total Cost: $44,666 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.tufts.edu

Tufts University offers for-credit summer online courses. These classes are taught by the same professors who teach on-campus, and with the same rigorous expectations. To further increase online education, Tufts has also joined the OpenCourseWare movement, where a plethora of free online classes are offered to the public.

27
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Total Cost: $12,994 School Type: Public Website: www.umich.edu

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor offers an online Master’s degree in engineering. US News and World Report currently rank this impressive online engineering program #5 in the country. The university has also partnered with Coursera to offer the public free access to online classes, taught by U-M professors.

28
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Total Cost: $7,693 School Type: Public Website: www.unc.edu

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill offers numerous for-credit undergraduate courses through their “Carolina Courses Online” (CCO) program. These classes are available to the public, and even available to high school seniors pending their guidance counselor’s written recommendation. Online courses are accessible during spring, fall, and an extended summer semester.

29
Boston University
Total Cost: $42,994 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.bu.edu

Offering a decade of distance learning, Boston University leads the pack of schools boasting distance education. Ranked in the top 25 schools for online learning, Boston University offers many for-credit classes in seven-week intervals. In fact, BU not only has Certificate programs, but also has online-only tracks for students to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees.

30
Brandeis University
Total Cost: $44,294 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.brandeis.edu

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies focuses on online learning for active professionals. Courses use “LATTE,” the school’s online learning environment, to guide students through Certificate or Master’s degree programs. Brandeis University is also looking to the future of online learning, and will be offering undergraduate for-credit courses via Semester Online starting in 2014.

31
New York University
Total Cost: $43,204 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.nyu.edu

New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers both Graduate and Undergraduate degree programs via the Internet. NYU’s reputation for excellence also applies to their online teachings, and therefore the admissions criteria are rigorous. NYU also offers Certificate Programs in the humanities, financial planning, and marketing, none of which require acceptance by admissions.

32
University of Rochester
Total Cost: $43,666 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.rochester.edu

University of Rochester supports many categories of distance learning. Through their School of Nursing they offer “Fast Track” courses that are 100% online, and are more affordable than on-campus classes. The Eastman School of Music provides an online “e-Theory Course” that prepares incoming freshmen for their theory placement exams. And for everyone else, the University of Rochester has partnered with Coursera to offer free online classes to the public.

33
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Total Cost: $10,098 School Type: Public Website: www.gatech.edu

Georgia Institute of Technology has recently increased their educational formats to include online undergraduate summer courses for enrolled students. Furthermore, in 2014 Georgia Tech will off a Master’s degree in computer science, via the Internet, at a fraction of the cost of on-campus tuition. In the spirit of MOOCs [Massive Open Online Course], the public will also be able to take the same courses, for non-credit, at no cost.

34
Case Western Reserve University
Total Cost: $40,490 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.case.edu

Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is ranked in the top ten nationally by US News & World Report. This school now offers a Master’s of Science in Social Administration entirely online. Case Western is also partnered with Coursera to provide select classes online and at no cost to the public.

35
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Total Cost: $16,444 School Type: Public Website: www.psu.edu

Pennsylvania State University – University Park offers 100% online classes known as “Web Courses.” For students who are interested in combining online work with on-campus work, there are also blended classes known as “Hybrid Courses.” Graduate and Undergraduate degrees can be earned entirely online through Penn State’s “World Campus” program, and are considered identical to degrees earned on-campus.

36
University of California-Davis
Total Cost: $13,877 School Type: Public Website: www.ucdavis.edu

University of California – Davis offers many online classes through UC Davis Extension. These include a variety of Certificate programs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, Equine Event Management, Paralegal Studies, Website Design, and Winemaking. For even more flexibility, Davis offers both “Self-Paced Courses,” and scheduled “Cohort Courses.”

37
University of California-San Diego
Total Cost: $13,217 School Type: Public Website: www.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego’s Extension program brings the classroom to you via online courses. Many online classes earn continuing education credit, and can be applied towards areas of study such as Business, Digital Arts, Education, Engineering, Foreign Languages, Law, and Life Sciences. And to make education even more accessible, UC San Diego offers select online courses for free to the public.

38
Lehigh University
Total Cost: $42,220 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.lehigh.edu

Lehigh University offers online courses to enrolled students during summer sessions. These classes carry the same credit as on-campus courses and also cost equivalent in tuition fees. In the spirit of continuing education, Lehigh University offers free online professional development courses to their alumni.

39
University of California-Santa Barbara
Total Cost: $13,671 School Type: Public Website: www.ucsb.edu

University of California – Santa Barbara now offers many summer classes for enrolled undergraduate students that can be completed entirely online. These classes include History of Dance, Biochemistry, Living with Global Warming, and Probability and Statistics. Note that some classes involve proctored exams, though numerous proctoring locations can be found outside of campus.

40
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Total Cost: $10,378 School Type: Public Website: www.wisc.edu

Through University of Wisconsin’s “eCampus” program, distance learners can graduate from UW– Madison with the same degrees and certificates earned by those students on-campus. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, UW’s eCampus classes are taught by the same UW professors found in the classrooms. Note that some degrees mandate an annual week long residency on-campus.

41
University of Miami
Total Cost: $41,220 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.miami.edu

University of Miami offers their enrolled students a variety of courses, for both credit-earning undergraduates and non-credit earning continuing education. These classes include Calculus, English Composition, Genetics and Society, Screenwriting, and many more. Miami also allows high school students to earn credits towards college via their online courses.

42
Northeastern University
Total Cost: $40,086 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.northeastern.edu

Northeastern University offers over sixty online programs, including Bachelor’s, Master’s, and even Doctoral degrees. Fully accredited, Northeastern’s online degrees are equivalent to the degrees earned on-campus. Furthermore, online students can receive the same financial assistance as on-campus students.

43
The University of Texas at Austin
Total Cost: $9,790 School Type: Public Website: www.utexas.edu

University of Texas – Austin’s Extension program offers nearly fifty self-paced online classes with up to five months given to complete coursework. These classes earn credit, are transferable to other institutions, and do not require UT admission. For those students who work best with more structure, UT Austin also offers online courses that follow the semester schedule.

44
Pepperdine University
Total Cost: $42,772 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.pepperdine.edu

Pepperdine University is one of the few prestigious schools that offer Doctorate degrees via online coursework. Students can earn a Doctor of Education in Learning Technologies through the 55-unit program. This program involves formal research, a dissertation, and five intensive on-campus meetings per year.

45
University of Connecticut
Total Cost: $11,242 School Type: Public Website: www.uconn.edu

With over a hundred online classes available, University of Connecticut’s “eCampus” boasts a huge selection of undergraduate and graduate courses. Fully accredited, the UConn credits earned are transferable and are identical to those credits earned on-campus. In fact, the same esteemed UConn faculty found in the on-campus classrooms teaches the online courses.

EXPAND LIST +

Best Colleges Revolutionizing Online Education

The fact that avid learners can find just about any course online is amazing in itself. Perhaps more amazing, the distance-learning landscape continues to evolve as far and as fast as the technology it uses. Colleges and universities across the nation routinely invent new ways to engage, assess and teach students at multiple levels. But which schools are taking the biggest leaps forward - distancing themselves from the pack in either method or mode, or both? AC Online has researched thousands of colleges in the U.S. to answer that very question. Here's what we found.

1
Tufts University
Total Cost: $44,666 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.tufts.edu

Tufts University offers a revolutionary online course called “Simple Robotics” to enrolled and visiting students. In this course, students are loaned the tools necessary to build and program robots at home. Assignments include uploading videos of the robots and sharing projects with their cohort.

2
Washington University in St Louis
Total Cost: $43,705 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.wustl.edu

Washington University in St. Louis has the unique distinction of offering one of the only top-tier law degrees that can be earned entirely online. Prospective students must pass the same rigorous admissions standards as on-campus law students. However, once they’ve completed the program, they earn an identical diploma.

3
Wellesley College
Total Cost: $42,082 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.wellesley.edu

Wellesley College offers “Introduction to Human Evolution,” a free open-access Anthropology course through EdX that relies on cutting-edge technology to create a virtual excavation. Students are able to examine 3-D fossils and “virtually” visit archeological sites around the world.

4
University of Florida
Total Cost: $6,143 School Type: Public Website: www.ufl.edu

With over one hundred online programs offered, University of Florida is committed to online learning, with credited undergraduate and graduate courses, in addition to non-credit professional development classes. In fact, their online business MBA program is ranked #1 in the state. Looking to the future, University of Florida plans on opening the country’s first online-only public university in 2014.

5
Berklee College of Music
Total Cost: $36,490 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.berklee.edu

Berklee College of Music offers a twelve-week Jazz Improvisation course with Grammy winning musician, Gary Burton. Using audio recording equipment, students can turn in assignments and gain feedback on their improvisation work via the Internet. This course can be taken for credit or non-credit.

6
Clarkson College
Total Cost: $12,562 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.clarksoncollege.edu

Clarkson College provides many online degrees, and even offers dual degree choices. But, what sets Clarkson apart is the “externships” that the Nursing programs rely on for field experience. With a majority of online students holding employment while enrolled, Clarkson encourages them to complete their externships while they work.

7
Princeton University
Total Cost: $39,537 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.princeton.edu

Princeton University boasts a free, open-access class, via Coursera called “Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes” that explores technology and networking. Structured around twenty commonly asked questions about the internet, this course has a rare added element of involving venture capitalists to judge assignments for potential funding.

8
The New School
Total Cost: $39,368 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.newschool.edu

The New School in New York City now offers transfer students and those that have let a few years lapse in their educational pursuits, earn a bachelor’s degree online. Through their New School for Public Engagement nontraditional students can even enroll in a combined and accelerated Bachelors-Master’s degree.

9
Washington State University
Total Cost: $12,300 School Type: Public Website: wsu.edu

Washington State University is leading the way in online education regarding healthy food. Washington offers the nations’ first undergraduate certificate in “Organic Agriculture” in order to prepare students for future employment within the organic food industry.

10
Michigan State University
Total Cost: $12,622 School Type: Public Website: www.msu.edu

Michigan State University offers a Master of Science in Packaging degree that can be earned through online classes. The program focuses on topics such as tamper evident packaging, permeability, and shelf life. This course can be completed in approximately three years and does not require a thesis.

11
Utica College
Total Cost: $31,930 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.utica.edu

Utica College provides enrolled students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Economic Crime Investigation through their online courses. The only online BS Economic Crime Investigation program in the country, students have a further choice of two concentrations, Financial Investigation or Fraud Prevention and Detection.

12
Purdue University-Main Campus
Total Cost: $9,900 School Type: Public Website: www.purdue.edu

Purdue’s “Extended Campus” offers distance learning through a variety of master’s level online programs. Graduate programs include Master of Science in Building Construction Management, Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering. Purdue even offers dual degrees, in collaboration with Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business to offer a Dual Master of Science in Engineering- Master of Business Administration.

13
Ferris State University
Total Cost: $10,354 School Type: Public Website: www.ferris.edu

Ferris State University boasts the #1 ranked online Nursing program in the country according to US News and World Report. A public institution, these graduate level programs are 100% online and specialize in Nursing Administration, Nursing Informatics, or Nursing Education.

14
Daytona State College
Total Cost: $3,371 School Type: Public Website: www.DaytonaState.edu

Daytona State College offers many associate degrees and certificate programs online. But, what sets Daytona State apart is the 2+2 track for students earning an online Bachelor of Science degree. Students can complete an associate of science degree via distance learning, and then continue to baccalaureate degree courses, all via the Internet.

15
Pace University-New York
Total Cost: $36,614 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.pace.edu

Pace University has been ranked the best Online Bachelors Program in the country by US News & World Report. Through their iPace Degree Completion Program students can gain the same degree online as the on-campus students earn. Pace also provides their online students with a Career Services team to develop interviewing skills and a strong resume.

16
Yeshiva University
Total Cost: $36,500 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.yu.edu

Yeshiva University now provides students the ability to earn a Master’s degree in Jewish education online. Note that students must have access to an approved Jewish day school or yeshiva to complete student teaching requirements. Yeshiva also offers a thirty weeks long online program for Jewish educators to learn how to teach and design their own online learning environments.

17
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago
Total Cost: N/A School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.thechicagoschool.edu

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a not-for-profit accredited graduate school that offers Master’s degrees in Psychology to students earning credits online. The school offers many concentrations including Child and Adolescent, Sport and Exercise, Organizational Leadership, and Gerontology. Note: Applicants must already have a Bachelor’s degree and at least five years of relevant work experience.

18
Western Governors University
Total Cost: $6,070 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.wgu.edu

Western Governors University is the first exclusively online university to offer an accredited Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). Using a competency –based approach instead of accumulated credit hours, Western Governors is changing educational formats.

19
University of California-Irvine
Total Cost: $13,122 School Type: Public Website: www.uci.edu

The University of California, Irvine provides many online courses through UC Irvine Extension, their continuing education unit. In fact, more than 40 of Extension’s certificate programs, such as Investor Relations, Medical Product Development, and Personal Financial Planning, are completely online. UC Irvine is dedicated to accessible education, and its director of OpenCourseWare is the current president of the global OpenCourseWare Consortium. The school offers unique classes, such as a course based on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” TV show.

20
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Total Cost: $14,740 School Type: Public Website: www.njit.edu

New Jersey Institute of Technology offers many degrees and certificates online, such as Construction Management, Data Mining, and Engineering Leadership. Significant is NJIT’s tuition for these online classes. New Jersey residents can pay in-state tuition, and all other students can avoid out-of-state tuition via the new online tuition pricing.

21
The University of Tennessee
Total Cost: $9,092 School Type: Public Website: www.tennessee.edu

The University of Tennessee Extension – Department of Family and Consumer Sciences offers a unique online program called “Love Your Money” for students to explore personal finance. Topics include 401k programs, identity theft, and building wealth. Free and open to the public, the University of Tennessee is supporting open access education.

22
Ohio State University-Main Campus
Total Cost: $10,037 School Type: Public Website: www.osu.edu

Ohio State University recognizes the importance of flexibility for online students and so their Fisher College of Business offers classes in colored “Belt” certification levels. These tracks allow the student full control over schedule, progress, and on-demand access to all multi-media course content.

23
Clemson University
Total Cost: $12,674 School Type: Public Website: www.clemson.edu

Clemson University boasts an eight-week online course titled, “Sustainable Energy Innovation” that asserts it gives students the chance to change the course of history. The assignments are built around the development of students’ sustainable energy solutions.

24
Southern Methodist University
Total Cost: $41,750 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.smu.edu

Southern Methodist University is broadening its educational reach by offering approved enrolled students a chance to participate in live, online courses from other prestigious universities. SMU, a pioneer in this format, is a Charter Affiliate Partner with Semester Online. The classes will be taught via other universities, but are awarded as SMU credits.

25
University of Georgia
Total Cost: $9,842 School Type: Public Website: www.uga.edu

University of Georgia has instituted a revolutionary way of transitioning non-traditional students into their collegiate careers. Through their electronic core-curriculum [eCore] students can complete their first two years of coursework via online learning. With transferable credits, low tuition rates, and flexibility, eCore is an innovative educational format.

26
Syracuse University
Total Cost: $39,004 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: syr.edu

Syracuse University has been a part of the online education movement from the inception. In fact, their School of Information Studies has been offering online courses for twenty years. The “iSchool” program offers identical degrees as those earned on-campus, and access to the “WISE” consortium, which allows students to take classes from other partner schools.

27
Texas A & M University-College Station
Total Cost: $8,506 School Type: Public Website: www.tamu.edu

Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension program offers many online certificate programs for busy professionals. But what makes this program even more unique is a system that allows employers to verify earned certificates. Through the website, employers can confirm certificates by entering a certificate code.

28
University of Minnesota-Duluth
Total Cost: $12,785 School Type: Public Website: www.d.umn.edu

University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education recognizes that learning is a lifelong endeavor. To support continuous education, Minnesota offers residents, who are 62 and older, the ability to audit classes free of charge. If the enrolled senior would like to earn credit, tuition is reduced to $10 per credit.

29
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Total Cost: $10,923 School Type: Public Website: www.vt.edu

Virginia Tech is a leader in online education, offering a staggering 356 courses online. Just as impressive is the 79 entire programs that can be completed via the Internet. But the most revolutionary element of Virginia Tech’s online format is the “Math Emporium.” Virginia Tech’s largest classroom, where 8,000 students a year complete self-paced online introductory math classes.

30
Graceland University-Lamoni
Total Cost: $22,680 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.graceland.edu

Graceland University is dedicated to early education that is exemplified in their ACE program for approved 11th and 12th grade high school students to earn college credit through online classes. In fact, ACE students are given automatic acceptance into Graceland University and up to a 50% discount on tuition.

31
Harvard University
Total Cost: $39,966 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.harvard.edu

Harvard University has partnered with EdX to offer free, open-access courses online. One of these groundbreaking programs includes a course called “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science” where scientists and chefs work together to explore scientific principles that can be examined in the kitchen.

32
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Total Cost: $13,073 School Type: Public Website: www.rutgers.edu

Rutgers University, offering one of the first “iSchool” programs, is continuing to revolutionize online learning. Rutgers Center for Management Development now provides the first ever online “Mini-MBA” program, with unique courses such as “pay-per-click” advertising classes.

33
University of Vermont
Total Cost: $15,284 School Type: Public Website: www.uvm.edu

University of Vermont is leading the green movement with 100% online Sustainability Training certificate programs. These courses concentrate on sustainability in business settings, and also in Campus Operations.

34
University of Colorado Boulder
Total Cost: $9,482 School Type: Public Website: www.colorado.edu

University of Colorado – Boulder’s Center for the Advanced Engineering and Technology Education (CAETE) offers a pioneering program teaching “Cable-Supported Pedestrian Bridge Design” via the Internet. Providing this type of course to online students, CU is empowering those in developing and rural populations, and teaching them how to build access within their community.

35
Drexel University
Total Cost: $36,090 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website: www.drexel.edu

Drexel University offers a variety of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certificate programs through online learning. However, it is Drexel’s Educational Partnerships program that sets it apart from other institutions. Drexel currently works with over 250 corporations, schools, and professional associations to offer their employees and members reduced tuition rates.

EXPAND LIST +

Best Public Online Colleges

School/Source Licence Author
University of Illinois Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Raymond Cunningham
Pennsylvania State University Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported George Chriss
University of Florida Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported WillMcC
University of Missouri Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported AdamProcter
University of Massachusetts Amherst Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic Eraboin
University of Nebraska Lincoln Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic David Keyzer
University of Kansas Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported InaMaka
Oregon State University Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States Gregkeene
Arizona State University Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic N/A
University of Cincinnati Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Adam Sofen
University of Alabama Birmingham Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Aves
University of Maine Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Jalnet2
Mississippi State University Shared with Public on Facebook N/A
West Virginia University Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Swimmerguy269
University of North Dakota Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported MatthewUND
Bowling Green State University Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Bhockey10