Best Online Colleges: Ranking Top Universities for 2016

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Best Online Colleges - 2015 - 2016

Hundreds of respected colleges and universities now offer many degree programs – from certificate to bachelor’s to doctorate – entirely online. These courses have the flexibility synonymous with online learning while maintaining academic rigor and student supportive services at a distance. Some schools, however, go above and beyond to ensure students in their online programs have all the tools and opportunities that on-campus students do. They not only provide a top-tier education in an online format, but they hire outstanding faculty and cultivate an administrative support system to facilitate student success. See which colleges have made earning an exceptional education online a reality with our list of the Best Online Colleges for 2015 - 2016.

Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 96% State: Illinois Cost:

The online bachelor degree programs at the University of Illinois at Springfield consistently receive top national rankings for small class sizes and personalized attention for students. The most popular online undergraduate majors at the university include computer science, business administration, mathematics and liberal studies. Its faculty also receives top rankings for its academic credentials and level of preparation for teaching online. At the graduate level, the university has garnered top rankings for more than 10 years for its online education and business schools, where more than 90 percent of the students hold jobs while completing their degrees.

AC OnlineSCORE: 98.21
Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 96% State: North Carolina Cost:

All of FSU’s highly regarded online undergraduate offerings are degree-completion programs delivering upper-division courses to students who have already completed the program core and university graduation requirements. Students may also be concurrently enrolled in lower division courses at community colleges partnering with the university. The online courses follow FSU’s eight- and 16-week formats. Because majors are academically identical to campus-based degrees, students must follow a strict schedule rather than completing the program at their own pace. The 120-unit bachelor degrees are offered entirely online with popular majors in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, business administration, nursing (RN to BSN), fire and emergency services, and elementary education.

AC OnlineSCORE: 97.5
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 95% State: Virginia Cost:

Liberty University consistently receives high marks for its 100 percent online undergraduate degrees backed by a credit-transfer program that accelerates time to graduation. Students can petition for transfer credits for undergraduate work previously completed at another institution, as well as receive credits for professional experience in their major field. The extensive range of online undergraduate degrees include bachelor programs in aeronautics, business administration, communications, criminal justice, education, healthcare, history, information technology, nursing, paralegal studies, psychology, social work and religion. The university also offers highly-ranked graduate programs leading to online master’s degrees and doctorates. Students can enroll online or by telephone.

AC OnlineSCORE: 97.31
Student-Teacher Ratio: 6:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Oregon Cost:

Marylhurst University’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs give students the flexibility to take courses entirely online, on campus, or through a hybrid of both formats. Incoming undergraduate students may earn up to 45 credits toward their online degree for previous work completed at an accredited school. The accelerated online undergraduate programs of note include the BS in business management, BS in real estate studies, and BAS in business management. Students can also opt to complete a BA in interdisciplinary studies or BA in English literature and new media entirely online. Marylhurst’s accelerated graduate degree programs include an online Master of Business Administration, MBA in health care management, MBA in real estate, and MBA in sustainable business.

Student-Teacher Ratio: 8:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 55% State: Missouri Cost:

Washington University in St. Louis’ award-winning professional and continuing education programs can be completed entirely online or through a hybrid combining distance classes with on-campus activities. Its specialized hybrid Master of Science in biology for science teachers is a two-year program created with the assistance of 90 biology teachers. For undergraduates, Washington University’s “back to back” system allows hybrid students to take two evening classes on the same night while completing all other instruction online. Top-ranked online bachelor degree programs include majors in communications, English, global leadership, history, international studies, mathematics and psychology. The university employs the Blackboard online learning system with 24/7 support.

AC OnlineSCORE: 97.05
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 99% State: Florida Cost:

At Hodges University, the “Upower” degree programs allow students to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees entirely online at their own pace. Upower majors center around technology and lead to online Bachelor of Science degrees in computer information technology, computer networking, cybersecurity and forensics, digital design and graphics, and software development. Students seeking an online degree with a firm meeting structure can pursue Bachelor of Science degrees in management, marketing and branding, legal studies, health services administration and business administration. Noted Upower courses at the graduate level lead to Master of Business Administration, Master of Information Systems, and Master of Public Administration degrees.

AC OnlineSCORE: 96.85
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Missouri Cost:

Two online undergraduate degree programs at Missouri Valley College have gained considerable recognition: the Bachelor of Arts in business administration and Bachelor of Arts in psychology. The online business administration degree focuses on small business development, building student knowledge in accounting, taxation, finance, labor management, economics, consumer behavior, policy, leadership and business law. MVC’s online bachelor degree program in psychology culminates with a final project based on student research and implementation of psychological methodology. The online psychology curriculum includes studies in statistics, ethics, history, and core classes in developmental, abnormal and experimental psychology. MVC also offers an online degree program leading to an Associate of Applied Science degree in health information systems.

AC OnlineSCORE: 96.79
Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 77% State: Massachusetts Cost:

With more than 75 degrees offered entirely online, Northeastern University has received acclaim for the flexibility of its bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and graduate certificate programs. Degrees such as the interdisciplinary bachelor’s program in environmental studies allows students to choose from core science concentrations and electives in diverse topics such as urban ecology, wetlands and coastal ecology, physical anthropology, health issues, and environmental disasters. Northeastern’s online Bachelor of Science in Leadership offers accelerated, fast-track course options for students holding associate degrees and culminates in a leadership practicum in the student’s community. Established in 1898, the university is comprised of nine campuses and three graduate schools.

AC OnlineSCORE: 96.78
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Mississippi Cost:

Online students seeking a Christian-based education can choose among nine online bachelor degree programs along with 20 master’s degrees and advanced certificates at Belhaven University. The online business education programs have received national recognition for blending the study of business with a Christian point of view. The four-year online Bachelors of Business Administration degree features studies in operations management, marketing, finance, business law, computer applications, business communications, organizational behavior and international business. Electives and core courses complete the 124-credit major. Belhaven’s online Masters of Business Administration degree program is comprised of eight-week terms to accommodate the demands on working students.

AC OnlineSCORE: 96.61
Student-Teacher Ratio: 11:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 97% State: Kentucky Cost:

Online students at the University of Louisville are taught by the same faculty that lecture on-campus, ensuring an across-the-board quality of education. The school offers online bachelor’s degrees in nursing, communication, criminal justice, and organizational leadership and learning. Online master’s degrees are available in criminal justice, social work, special education, higher education administration, computer science, civil engineering, engineering management, and human resources and organizational development. Students seeking graduate certificates and endorsements can undertake programs in data mining, autism and applied behavior analysis, network and information security, and classroom reading.

AC OnlineSCORE: 95.85
Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 99% State: Georgia Cost:

Three fully-online bachelor degrees and three online master’s programs are available for distance students at Albany State. Online bachelor programs include the Bachelor of Applied Science in fire service administration, Bachelor of Science in business information systems, and a nursing RN to BSN degree. Grad students can earn a Master of Education in early childhood education, Master of Science in criminal justice, and Master of Science in nursing. The eCore general education system can speed up time to degree for undergraduate students regardless of their major. Whether students are new, or are transfer students needing a few courses to complete their general education requirements, all core coursework can be completed entirely online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 95.25
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: South Carolina Cost:

Online students integrate their learning by practicing new skills in workplace internships through NGU’s highly-regarded hybrid bachelor degree programs. Students complete six hours of internships as part of their 120-hour programs in criminal justice and legal studies, business administration, psychology and education studies. All courses are conducted online, including required general education core studies in religion, mathematics, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences. Online graduate programs include the Master of Arts and Teaching, Business Administration (MBA), Master of Music Education, Christian ministry, and Master of Education. Students logging in to the College of Adult Professional Studies use the Blackboard course management system to complete and submit assignments, take exams, and participate in threaded discussions.

AC OnlineSCORE: 94.96
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 95% State: Texas Cost:

Recognized for its online course delivery system and faculty engagement, Dallas Baptist University provides an extensive range of certificate and degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. The university’s undergraduate program offers online courses leading to a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Business Administration, or Bachelor of Business Studies degree. Popular online undergraduate majors include business administration, Christian ministries, criminal justice, health care management, management information systems, and interdisciplinary studies. Students wanting to merge online studies with face-to-face instruction can opt for a hybrid program structure. Online courses engage students in discussions with faculty and their peers several times each week throughout the semester.

Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 90% State: South Carolina Cost:

Recognized for the excellence of its online degree programs, USC now allows students to complete an online bachelor degree through its educational partner, Palmetto College. One of the flagship offerings is the University of South Carolina Aiken’s Business Administration degree completion program. Online students complete 60-68 hours at Palmetto, then complete 54 hours of upper-division courses online at USC to earn the degree. Other online bachelor degree completion programs are offered in criminal justice, elementary education, human services, organizational leadership, and an RN to BSN degree. The university’s nationally-ranked online graduate degree programs can lead to a master’s in nursing, public health, health information technology, and education.

AC OnlineSCORE: 94.91
Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 99% State: Mississippi Cost:

With a 16:1 student to faculty ratio, Mississippi College offers more than 80 undergraduate majors focusing on personalized instruction. Three accelerated degree programs speed students to a BS in business administration or communication, or an MS degree in applied communication. The School of Business, founded in 1946, directs the streamlined online business administration baccalaureate that allows students to choose among concentrations in marketing, accounting or finance. Courses are offered in eight-week sections. Other online bachelor degrees (non-accelerated) include majors in nursing, paralegal studies, homeland security and loss prevention. MC also holds wholly-online master’s degree programs in education, health services, communication, athletic administration, health informatics, business administration (MBA), finance and accounting.

AC OnlineSCORE: 94.78
Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 94% State: Tennessee Cost:

The blue ribbon online bachelor degree programs at Bethel University feature a generous college credit transfer program that accepts up to 80 hours toward the 128-unit degree. Students can reduce their time to graduation through college credit transfers, military experience, standardized placement tests and challenge examinations. New online students lacking previous college experience can complete required core courses in less than two years through Bethel’s College Start program. Online bachelor degree programs include majors in organizational management, criminal justice and general studies. In addition to its online RN to BSN degree program, Bethel offers graduate degrees in education, business administration and criminal justice.

AC OnlineSCORE: 94.37
Student-Teacher Ratio: 11:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 99% State: North Dakota Cost:

Students can choose from fully online or hybrid degrees at Valley City State University. Online bachelor’s degree programs include technology education, business education, history education, music, professional communication, business process integration management, career and technical education and music education. The school also offers a Master of Education and online minors and certificate programs in psychology, library media, technology education, enterprise applications, teaching English language learners, and customer relationship management. The programs offered as hybrid degrees require some campus visits to the school’s North Dakota campus.

AC OnlineSCORE: 94.23
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Texas Cost:

Online students learn via a variety of platforms at Southwestern Adventist University, including video lectures and weekly conferences with instructors. Numerous degree offerings ensure students can find a program matched to their needs. In addition to an online certificate in church ministry, the school also offers bachelor’s degrees in social science, business, general studies, elementary education, business, psychology, religion, history, and theology. For teachers who didn’t obtain certification during their undergraduate degree, a post baccalaureate Alternative Certification Program is also available fully online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 94.14
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 97% State: Tennessee Cost:

It’s all about options at the University of Memphis. Online students can take every course online or undertake a hybrid degree by completing some coursework on campus. Bachelor’s degree offerings range from a Bachelor of Arts in African and African-American Studies to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduate degree offerings range from a Master of Science in Applied Computer Science to a Doctorate of Education in Higher & Adult Education. A wide selection of graduate certificates are also available fully online. The University Memphis is proud to note that its online courses are equivalent to on-campus classes in terms of quality and devotion to students.

Student-Teacher Ratio: 10:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 95% State: Florida Cost:

Online bachelor degree programs in nursing, radiologic sciences and diagnostic sonography are based on 100 percent online courses with clinical studies at professional locations convenient to the student’s home location. The self-paced, accelerated degree programs can be completed by full-time students in five terms. The Adventist University of Health Sciences’ RN to BSN degree program is suited for professional, licensed nurses looking to upgrade their credentials for advancement. They may reduce time to graduation by transferring completed credits from regionally accredited nursing schools and community colleges. Diagnostic medical sonography students must hold current national certifications for entry into the online bachelor degree program.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.59
Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 91% State: North Dakota Cost:

With 10 undergraduate and seven undergraduate degrees available fully online, many students enrolled at Minot State University need never to set foot on campus. A human services program is available at the associate level, while bachelor’s degrees include topics ranging from marketing to applied business information technology. Master’s degrees are quite specialized, with the Master of Science in Special Education offering a deaf or hard of hearing concentration. One graduate and three undergraduate certificates are also available in topics including web development and application software.

Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 92% State: North Carolina Cost:

This university makes a special effort to ensure online students have the same access to academic services as on-campus students, including academic advising, library services, online tutoring, and technical assistance. The school offers online bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice, management, sociology, finance, professional studies, information technology, economics, and public and nonprofit administration. Online master’s degree programs are available in elementary education and public administration. For students pursuing a bachelor’s degree online, the school suggests earning as many general education credits as possible before starting the program because core classes are not always offered fully online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.53
Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 93% State: Georgia Cost:

From online discussions to online readings, Columbus State University allows the online student several ways to connect and learn. The school has several online degrees, including bachelor’s degree programs in nursing, sociology, communication, business, information technology, liberal arts and international business. There are many graduate degrees offered online, ranging from a Master of Science in applied computer science (information assurance track) to a Master of Education in teacher leadership. Online courses at Columbus State University can be completed fully-online, partially-online (51-94 percent online) or a hybrid of the two (1-50 percent online). Non-Georgia students may be limited to online offerings and are advised to check with the school.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.42
Student-Teacher Ratio: 9:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Arkansas Cost:

With seven bachelor degree programs offered entirely online, Ecclesia College has developed a reputation for offering students a Christ-centered education in the arts and sciences. Three well-regarded bachelor degree programs in business offer online students the choice of a well-rounded business degree or options focusing on management or marketing. Other top programs include the Bachelor of Arts in leadership, Bachelor of biblical studies, Bachelor of Christian leadership, and a Bachelor of Science in psychology and counseling. At the graduate level, Ecclesia offers a Christian Executive MBA and Master of Christian leadership degree. For students seeking a single course to complete a requirement or build specific knowledge, the college offers individual classes online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.29
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 86% State: Illinois Cost:

One of Chicago’s oldest progressive schools with more than 65,000 living alumni, National Louis University offers widely recognized online degree programs through its National College of Education and the College of Professional Studies and Advancement. Notable online bachelor programs include applied communications (BA), criminal justice administration (BA), healthcare leadership (BS), human services (BA), management (BS), and management information systems (BS) degrees. The National College of Education has been recognized for its master’s degree programs in early childhood administration; teaching, learning and assessment; technology in education; and specialized endorsements (ESL, bilingual, reading, early childhood education and middle-level mathematics).

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.28
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 94% State: Georgia Cost:

Clayton State University ensures that the online student’s academic needs will be met with optimum faculty to student ratio and online academic assistance. There are eight programs offered entirely online. The three Bachelor of Applied Science programs offered online are in administrative management, homeland security/emergency management and technical management and information technology (a collaborative project of five Georgia colleges). Other online bachelor’s degree programs are offered in liberal studies and integrative studies. The school also has an RN to BSN program for current nurses and a degree completion program for registered dental hygienists.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.2
Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 97% State: Georgia Cost:

Offering both fully online courses and hybrid classes that meet on-campus once a week, Fort Valley State University is focused on providing high-quality education to a variety of students. Programs offered entirely online include a bachelor’s degrees in organizational leadership, criminal justice, political science, psychology, and technical and professional writing. A Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management is also available. Online courses incorporate readings, visuals, calendars, quizzes, and other learning techniques and formats. Online students are also given access to an academic advisor to help guide them and answer questions along the way.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.18
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: North Carolina Cost:

The 120-hour online bachelor’s degree in business administration is designed to combine strategic business planning, management, human resources, marketing, and entrepreneurial courses with a minor in biblical studies. One of the most popular online programs at Mid-Atlantic Christian University is the non-credit continuing education program for teachers, provided through the self-paced Virtual Education Software. The bachelor’s degree in family studies prepares graduates for the Certified Family Life Educator (Provisional) designation. Online students are supported by 24/7 live chat and telephone assistance, ensuring all students are able to access required web pages, multimedia and class tools in a timely manner.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93.15
Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 79% State: Washington Cost:

At Washington State University, online students have access to the same services as on-campus students, including an academic advisor, 24/7 tech support, tutoring, live streamed events, off-campus social events, and even a student government. Bachelor’s degree programs are offered online in accounting, hospitality business management, information systems, management, criminal justice, social sciences, psychology, human development, and humanities. There are many online master’s degree offerings, ranging from a Master of Arts in Sports Management to a Master of Science in Agriculture. Many certificates are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including an online program leading to teacher endorsement.

AC OnlineSCORE: 93
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Virginia Cost:

Bluefield College boasts an 11:1 student to faculty ratio, and students are in regular contact with faculty, who also teach the college’s on-campus courses. Bluefield College offers 14 online degree programs. Many of these are undergraduate degrees, such as degrees in criminal justice, human services, entrepreneurship, e-business and nursing. There are also master’s degree offerings, including a Master of Arts in education. Through their School of Nursing, Bluefield gives students already holding an RN the chance to continue on to earn their BSN in a fully-online program.

Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 88% State: Illinois Cost:

A number of unique offerings make up the online degrees available at Southern Illinois University. For students who have completed core classes, there are numerous bachelor’s degree completion programs, including studies in accounting, business administration, radiology management and education, fire service management, technical resource management, health care management, and mortuary science and funeral service. Online master’s degree programs are available in medical dosimetry; business administration; architecture; fire service and homeland security; rehabilitation administration and services; ecological urban landscaping; and quality engineering and management. Online certificates, non-degree diplomas and professional development courses are also available fully online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.83
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 92% State: Tennessee Cost:

Prospective students of King University have a spectrum of online degrees and professional certificates available to them, including accelerated programs and degree completion options. An AS in General Studies is available for those seeking a two-year degree, while bachelor’s level students can enroll in programs in English, business administration, applied science, communication, healthcare administration, criminal justice, health informatics, history, nursing, interdisciplinary studies, religious studies, and psychology. At the graduate level, students can earn a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Education in Teacher Leadership, or a Master of Science in Nursing.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.75
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 97% State: Nebraska Cost:

Nursing and healthcare professionals looking to complete a degree fully online are frequently drawn to Nebraska Methodist College, with offerings including both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Each class lasts five weeks and incorporates a variety of learning platforms, ranging from discussion boards to online tests. Undergraduate degree offerings include a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare management, while popular postgraduate degrees include an RN to MSN, Nurse Educator; RN to MSN, Executive; MSN, Nurse Educator; and MSN, Nurse Executive. Online master’s degree programs are offered in academic program administration and leadership, health promotion management and healthcare operations management. A number of certificates are also available fully online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.63
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 99% State: Wisconsin Cost:

Online students at Viterbo University are guaranteed an “on-campus feel from an online course,” with a spectrum of resources available, including academic advising, career services, online libraries, an IT help desk, and 24/7 online tutoring. Students can complete many associate or bachelor’s degree programs entirely online, with topics available including accounting, nursing, arts, science, criminal justice administration, health care management, management information systems, professional studies, organizational management, and service leadership.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.53
Student-Teacher Ratio: 11:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Michigan Cost:

With a focus on the adult learner, Grace Bible College offers a variety of wholly online courses that meet once a week in an accelerated format. Programs available online include associate and bachelor’s level degrees in leadership and ministry, business, business management, and human services programs. Students from a variety of cultures and ministry backgrounds are invited to apply. It’s a Bible college, but also offers many programs that aren’t directly ministry-related.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.47
Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 98% State: Oklahoma Cost:

At Oral Roberts University, students experience a truly holistic education focused on preparing graduates both professionally and beyond. A range of online programs is available to meet the needs of many different types of students. Undergraduate offerings include business administration, church ministry, Christian care giving and counseling, liberal studies, leadership studies, government, communication, biblical literature, and an RN to BSN completion program. A variety of minors are also available, ranging from church history and theological studies to general business and evangelism.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.45
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 98% State: Ohio Cost:

If small class sizes, accelerated degree programs, and flexible start times are important, then Tiffin University may be a great fit. A range of degrees and certificates are available to meet the needs of a variety of students. At the bachelor’s level, programs include professional studies; psychology with a concentration in applied-human services; government and national security with a concentration in intelligence and security studies; accounting; marketing; organizational management with a concentration in entrepreneurship; management with concentrations in managerial studies and human resources management; healthcare administration; information technology with a concentration in systems administration; and numerous criminal justice topics.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.43
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 94% State: Tennessee Cost:

Online students at Lee University are given the opportunity to learn via numerous different platforms, ranging from video lectures to online discussions. While much work is done asynchronously, students may sometimes need to attend scheduled online lectures. Courses last eight weeks, with each taking an average 14-17 hours of work per week to complete. Online undergraduate degrees are offered in liberal studies, Christian studies, ministry leadership, and bible and theology. Online graduate degrees are offered in business administration and ministry studies. Students seeking online certificates can undertake programs in bible, Christian education, pastoral studies, intercultural studies, and Christian leadership.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.4
Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Kentucky Cost:

It’s all about flexibility and acceleration for online students enrolled at Midway College. Some online programs can be completed in as few as 18 months if students have significant prior credits to transfer. The school offers online associate degree programs in business, medical coding and medical assisting. Bachelor’s degrees are available in psychology, elementary/middle school education, public safety administration (with concentrations in corporate security, criminal justice or emergency management), health care administration, interdisciplinary studies, and mining management and safety. The school also offers a Master of Business Administration and numerous free open enrollment courses.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.25
Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 83% State: New Jersey Cost:

Online students at Rowan University are exposed to a variety of learning formats and mediums throughout their coursework, ranging from digital slide shows to videos. The school offers both fully online programs and hybrid degrees for students who wish to blend online coursework with face-to-face interaction. A sampling of online undergraduate degrees include Bachelor of Arts programs in Law and Justice, Psychology and Liberal studies and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. At the postgraduate level, offerings include a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and a PhD in Educational Leadership. Certificates are also available at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.23
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Kentucky Cost:

Brescia University offers several online degrees, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some of the most popular online associate degree programs include an Associate of Science in business; Associate of Arts or Science in integrated studies; Associate of Arts in graphic design; Associate of Arts in liberal arts; and an Associate of Arts in human services. Some of the most popular online bachelor’s degree programs include a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Bachelor of Social Work. The school also offers online certificates and master’s degree programs, such as its Master of Science in management. The majority of Brescia’s classes are offered on an eight-week schedule, allowing students to earn their degrees at an accelerated pace.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.21
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Illinois Cost:

With a focus on providing a holistic education, faculty at MacMurray College engage students in ethical, philosophical and historical analysis to address controversial topics within academic disciplines. Online programs include bachelor’s degrees in business administration, criminal justice and nursing. Within the business administration program, students can select a concentration in organizational leadership, management or human resource management. Within criminal justice, students can either study general criminal justice or specialize in homeland security. The nursing program is an RN to BSN degree, meaning it’s targeted to those who are already registered nurses.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.2
Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 97% State: Kentucky Cost:

The online offerings at Eastern Kentucky University are comprehensive, providing a range of degree levels and subject areas for varied student interests. The same faculty leading on-campus classes teach online programs, ensuring high levels of academic quality are maintained.

With six different start dates each year, students can earn their degrees at times best suited to their needs. Associate degrees are available in police studies, paralegal studies, general studies, and science paramedicine. A wide spectrum of bachelor’s degrees is available, in subjects ranging from emergency medicine to political science. Students can also earn online graduate degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels or undertake certification or endorsement programs.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.08
Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 96% State: Florida Cost:

The slogan embodied by the University of Florida’s online offerings states that “you don’t have to come to UF to go to UF.” The school solidifies this statement by offering dozens of online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Bachelor’s programs range form a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management to a bachelor’s completion program in fire emergency services. At the graduate level, students can earn everything from a Master of Music in Music Education to a doctorate in audiology. Students can also choose from several online certificate and specialist programs. International students are welcome to apply for numerous online offerings as well.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.06
Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 84% State: New York Cost:

With a commitment to social justice, intellectual pursuits and philanthropic duty, students at Touro University receive a truly holistic educational experience. At the undergraduate level, students can earn an associate’s degree in general studies or a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, psychology, social work, healthcare administration, or health education. Master’s level degrees include business administration, psychology, health sciences, marriage and family therapy, and industrial and organizational psychology. For the potential student seeking a doctorate level program, the school offers a PhD in Organizational Psychology.

AC OnlineSCORE: 92.04
Student-Teacher Ratio: 9:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Pennsylvania Cost:

Cedar Crest College has as many online programs as other colleges have on-campus programs, all taught by the same faculty teaching the on-campus courses. The school offers over 50 online degree programs, many of which will lead to a bachelor’s degree. Subjects including marketing, healthcare management, human resources management, criminal justice and general management. At the graduate level, Cedar Crest offers a number of online master’s degrees, such as a Master of Education in the art of teaching. There are also many online certificate programs offered, ranging from public accounting to school nurse.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91.95
Student-Teacher Ratio: 11:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 70% State: New Hampshire Cost:

The list of programs that can be earned entirely online from Granite State College is a long one. Students can earn associate degrees in business, general studies, behavioral science, early childhood education, and communication sciences and disorders. There are nearly 30 online bachelor’s degree programs offered, in subjects ranging from marketing to nursing. Students can also earn master’s degrees in management, leadership or project management, and several post-baccalaureate certifications and endorsements. A variety of minors are also available online, in subjects such as adult learning and development, family studies, human resources, finance, human services, health care, information technology, management, and human development.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91.88
Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Georgia Cost:

Toccoa Falls College has quite the diverse list of online offerings, with programs available including associate, bachelor’s and master’s level degrees. Students can earn an Associate of Art in Business Administration or an Associate of Art in General Studies. At the bachelor’s level, programs are offered in biblical studies, counseling psychology, general studies, ministry leadership, nonprofit business administration, organizational leadership, sport management, and youth ministries. There are also certificate programs available entirely online in biblical studies and cross-cultural studies.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91.62
Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Texas Cost:

The college’s FLEXCampus program gives students the opportunity to complete four Christian-oriented undergraduate degrees completely online, including Practical Ministries and the Bible, Interdisciplinary Studies and the Bible, Business and the Bible, and Psychology and the Bible. Associate degrees in business and humanities are also available. Courses begin every six weeks, providing students with the flexibility to enroll at a time that’s convenient for them. Classes are offered during the evening, one night per week. These live classes are fully interactive, allowing students to participate and ask questions as though they were attending in-person. If a student is unable to attend a live class, video recordings are available. Programs can be completed in two years of full-time study.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91.35
Student-Teacher Ratio: 8:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 92% State: Florida Cost:

With an offering of eight bachelor’s and four master’s degrees, students at Everglades University have a wide selection of online programs. These include fields such as aviation and aerospace, alternative medicine, and crisis and disaster management. Students in the aviation and aerospace program have eight concentrations available, providing both the general knowledge and specialized skills needed to excel in the industry. Assignments and lesson plans are posted online and students can interact with faculty and classmates through live chats, email and group discussions. Graduates earn the same credits and credentials as those studying on-campus, with most programs requiring 123 credits to graduate.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91.27
Student-Teacher Ratio: 10:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Pennsylvania Cost:

Chatham offers innovative online degrees of all levels to students who need to balance getting an education with their career. The school has a variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, ranging from business administration to creative writing to nursing. Many of the programs focus on public health, and nursing students can complete everything from their undergraduate degree to their doctorate completely online. Courses are offered over seven-week sessions during the fall, spring and summer semesters. A three-credit course takes about three to six hours of work each week, with classes offered asynchronously. Students complete their work on their own schedule while interacting with their classmates and instructors online.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91.1
Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 95% State: Missouri Cost:

At UM St Louis, students can complete seven undergraduate degrees without ever setting foot on campus. Available programs include business administration, nursing, and an assortment of programs in the arts and humanities departments. The business administration degree is distinct from others offered locally, given its focus on real-world career success. Along with current programs, the school also plans to roll out an online political science degree in the near future. UM St. Louis provides a consistent, year-round schedule, making it easy for those enrolled to plan their education months in advance. Students can learn when and where it’s convenient, with 24-hour access to online resources such as program mentors, online forums, Net Tutor, and technical support.

AC OnlineSCORE: 91
Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 % Receiving Financial Aid 100% State: Oklahoma Cost:

With the adult learner in mind, Oklahoma Wesleyan University makes it easy for students to balance work and family obligations while obtaining a degree. For students looking to pursue a theological education, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership and a Master of Theology in Apologetics. Other undergraduate and graduate programs include nursing, criminal justice, and business administration. Students are able to take one course each term, making it easy to continue working full-time while enrolled. Classes are attended asynchronously, meaning students can complete their coursework on a schedule that best suits them.

Search Today's Best Online Colleges

For prospective students, navigating the different types of online programs and finding the right school can be challenging. The search tool below provides a way to easily filter through our comprehensive database of college and program options, taking into account tuition, location and various academic criteria. Students can also use the "ACO's Best Colleges" filter to see which schools stand out in 2015 for quality, cost and student support.

Degree Level:
Student Population:
School Type:
see map
University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida Four or more years
  • Criminal Justice B.A./B.S.
  • Technical Education and Industry Training, B.S.
  • Health Services Administration, B.S.
  • RN to B.S.N Program
  • English Creative Writing B.A.
  • English Literature B.A.
  • English Technical Communication B.A.
  • Latin American Studies B.A.
  • Religion and Cultural Studies B.A.
  • Anthropology B.A.
  • History B.A.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies, B.A. or B.S.
  • Political Science B.A.
  • Psychology B.S.
  • Sociology B.A.
  • International and Global Studies B.A.
  • Educational Leadership, M.A.
  • Nonprofit Management, M.N.M.
  • Criminal Justice M.S.
  • Digital Forensics M.S.
  • Applied Learning and Instruction M.A.
  • Career and Technical Education, M.A.
  • Exceptional Student Education M.Ed.
  • Instructional Design & Technology M.A.
  • Aerospace Engineering M.S.A.E.
  • Civil Engineering M.S.
  • Civil Engineering M.S.C.E.
  • Environmental Engineering M.S
  • Environmental Engineering M.S.Env.E.
  • Health Care Informatics P.S.M.
  • Industrial Engineering M.S.
  • Industrial Engineering M.S.I.E.
  • Materials Science and Engineering M.S.M.S.E.
  • Mechanical Engineering M.S.M.E.
  • Executive Health Services Administration M.S.
  • Nursing, M.S.N.
  • English, M.A.
  • Hospitality and Tourism Management M.S. (coming in Fall 2015)
  • Forensic Science, M.S.
  • Research Administration M.R.A.
  • Nursing Practice D.N.P.
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Sport Management
  • Bachelor of Science Interdisciplinary Studies in Environmental Management in Agriculture And Natural Resources
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminology & Law
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Education And Behavior
  • Bachelor of Health Science in Communication Sciences And Disorders
  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Geology
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire And Emergency Services
  • Bachelor of Science in Microbiology And Cell Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication Media & Society
  • Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts & Sciences
  • Master of Arts in Mass Communication - Web Design And Online Communication
  • Master of Music in Music Education
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education Curriculum And Instruction - Teacher Leadership For School Improvement
  • Master of International Construction Management
  • Master of Science in Environmental Engineering Sciences - Water Resources Planning And Management
  • Master of Science in Industrial And Systems Engineering - Logistics And Transportation Systems Engineering
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Applied Pharmacoeconomics
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Institutional Pharmacy Leadership
  • Master of Science in Sport Management
  • Master of Arts Art Education
  • Master of Education Curriculum And Instruction - Education Technology)
  • Master of Education Special Education - Teach Well
  • Master of Science in Agricultural Education And Communication
  • Master of Arts in Urban And Regional Planning - Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Engineering Aerospace Engineering
  • Master of Engineering Electrical And Computer Engineering
  • Master of Engineering Environmental Engineering Sciences - Water Resources Planning And Management
  • Master of Engineering Industrial And Systems Engineering
  • Master of Engineering Materials Science And Engineering
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering
  • Master of Science in Computer Engineering
  • Master of Science in Computer Engineering - Bioinformatics
  • Master of Science in Electrical And Computer Engineering - Communications
  • Master of Science in Electrical And Computer Engineering - Semiconductor Device Technology
  • Master of Science in Environmental Engineering Sciences - Systems Ecology & Ecological Engineering
  • Master of Science in Environmental Engineering Sciences - Water, Wastewater, And Stormwater Engineering
  • Master of Science in Industrial And Systems Engineering - Communication Systems Engineering
  • Master of Science in Industrial And Systems Engineering - Environmental Systems Engineering
  • Master of Science in Industrial And Systems Engineering - Information Systems Engineering
  • Master of Science in Industrial And Systems Engineering - Manufacturing Systems Engineering
  • Master of Science in Material Science And Engineering - Electronic Materials
  • Master of Science in Material Science And Engineering - Metals
  • Master of Science in Material Science And Engineering - Polymers
  • Master of Science in Material Science And Engineering - Structural Materials
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering - Dynamics, Systems & Controls
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering - Solid Mechanics And Design
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering - Thermal Fluids Transport
  • Master of Public Health - Public Health Practice
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Clinical Pharmacy)
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Forensic Dna And Serology
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Forensic Drug Chemistry
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - in Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Medication Therapy Management
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Patient Safety & Medication Risk Management
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Pharmaceutical Regulation & Policy
  • Master of Science in Pharmacy - Clinical Toxicology
  • Master of Science in Pharmacy (Concentration in Clinical Pharmacy)
  • Master of Science in Veterinary Medical Sciences - Forensic Toxicology)
  • Master of Arts Latin
  • Master of Science in Master of Latin
  • Master of Science in Agronomy - Agroecology
  • Master of Science in Forest Resources And Conservation - Ecological Restoration
  • Master of Science in Forest Resources And Conservation - Geomatics
  • Master of Science in Forest Resources And Conservation - Natural Resource Policy And Administration
  • Master of Science in Soil And Water Science - Environmental Science
  • Master Arts in Mass Communication - Social Media
  • Master of Arts in Mass Communication - Global Strategic Communications
  • Master of Science in Family, Youth And Community Science
  • Master of Arts in Urban And Regional Planning - Sustainability
  • Master of Science in Entomology And Nematology - Entomology
  • Master of Science in Entomology And Nematology - Pest Management
  • Master of Science in Fisheries And Aquatic Science
  • Master of Sustainable Design
  • Doctor of Education Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education Curriculum And Instruction - Educational Technology
  • Doctor of Education Higher Education Administration
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum And Instruction - Curriculum Teaching And Teacher Education
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Pharmacy Distance Pharm.D. Campus Sites
  • Doctor of Pharmacy Working Professional Pharm.D.
  • Doctor of Audiology
  • Doctor of Philosophy Classical Studies - Classical Civilization
  • Doctor of Philosophy Classical Studies - Latin And Roman Studies
New York University New York, New York Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Science in Leadership And Management Studies With A Concentration in International Business, Human Resource Management, Or Organizational Management And Development
  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences With A Concentration in Organizational Behavior And Change
  • Master of Science in Human Resource Management And Development
  • Master of Science in Management And Systems
  • Master of Science in Professional Writing
  • Master of Science in Translation
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, Michigan Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Science in Accelerated Second Career Bsn
  • Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
  • Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree Completion On Campus
  • Bachelor of Science in Traditional Bsn
  • Health Systems, Nursing Leadership, And Effectiveness Science
  • Master of Science in Computerized Dentistry
  • Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner & Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Master's Program in Health Management And Policy
  • Master of Science in Dental Hygiene
  • Master of Science in Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Master of Science in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Master of Science in Pediatric Dentistry
  • Master of Science in Restorative Dentistry
  • Master's Concentration in Occupational Health
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Midwife And Family Nurse Practitioner (Combined)
  • Nurse Midwife And Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Combined)
  • Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Biomaterials
  • Master of Science in Endodontics
  • Master of Science in General Practice Residency
  • Master of Science in Orthodontics
  • Master of Science in Periodontics
  • Master of Science in Prosthodontics
  • Master's International Program (Pcmi)
  • Md/Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Md/Master in Public Policy (Mpp)
  • Md/Master of Arts (Education)
  • (Post-Masters) Doctor of Nursing Practice (Dnp)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Oral Health Sciences
  • Md/Master of Public Health (Mph)
  • Md/Mscr (Master of Science in Clinical Research)
  • Medical Scientist Training Program (Mstp); Md/Phd
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Phd)
  • Md/Master of Science in Information (Msi)
Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Bs
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Safety And Security in Law Enforcement Intelligence
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Safety And Security in Law Enforcement Operations
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Rn/Bsn
  • Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Social Science, Bs
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Safety And Security in Police Science
  • Educational Leadership/Administration, Specialist
  • Master of Business in Administration - Real Estate
  • Master of Business in Administration, MBA
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership/Administration, Ms
  • Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in Management of Orthotics And Prosthetics
  • Master of Science in Management Information Systems, Ms
  • Master of Science in Management, Ms
  • Master of Science in Criminology in Criminal Justice Studies
  • Master of Science in Instructional Systems And Learning Technologies, Ms
  • Master of Science in Learning And Cognition, Ms
  • Master of Science in Special Education Studies, Ms
  • Master of Science in Information Technology, Ms
  • Master of Science in Nurse Educator, Ms
  • Master of Science in Nurse Leader, Ms
  • Master of Science in Communication Disorders, Ms
  • Master of Social Work
  • Library And Information Studies, Specialist
  • Master of Science in Library And Information Studies, Ms
University of Georgia Athens, Georgia Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Special Education (B.S.Ed.)
  • Specialist of Education in Educational Psychology, Gifted And Creative Education (Ed.S.)
  • Master of Education in Human Resources And Organizational Development (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Science in Financial Planning, Housing And Consumer Economics (M.S.)
  • Master of Education in Adult Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Education in Educational Psychology, Applied Cognition And Development (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Education in Educational Psychology, Gifted And Creative Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Education in Learning, Design, And Technology, Instructional Design And Development (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Education in Reading Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Education in Workforce Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Avian Health And Medicine (Mahm)
  • Master of Science in Pharmacy, Biopharma Regulatory Affairs (M.S.)
  • Master of Food Technology (Mft)
  • Master of Internet Technology (Mit)
George Mason University Fairfax, Virginia Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Bas) - Health, Wellness, And Social Services
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Rn To Bsn)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Bas) - Technology And Innovation
  • Master of Education Leadership, Med
  • Curriculum And Instruction, Med - Assistive Technology
  • Curriculum And Instruction, Med - Integration of Online Learning in Schools
  • Curriculum And Instruction, Med - Transformative Teaching
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master of Science in Applied Information Technology
  • Master of Science in Bioinformatics And Computational Biology
  • Master of Science in Systems Engineering
  • Master of Science in Biodefense
University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia, South Carolina Four or more years
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Services
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Teaching
  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education And Behavior
  • Master of Health Information Technology
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida Four or more years
  • BBA Accounting
  • BBA Management
  • BBA Marketing
  • BS in Civil Engineering
  • Registered Nurse - to - Bachelor of Science in Nursing, RN to BSN
  • Bachelor of Public Safety Administration
  • Master of Accounting
  • Master of Science degree in Nursing Administration and Financial Leadership?
  • Master of Tax
  • Exceptional Student education: Early Childhood, M. Ed.
  • Higher Education Leaders Program, Masters
  • Master of Education in Social Foundations of Education - Instructional Technology, M. Ed.
  • Master's Degree (M.Ed.) in Social Foundations of Education: Educational Psychology
  • MS in Nursing Education
  • School Leaders (K-12), Masters
  • Computer Engineering, MS
  • MS Computer Science
  • MS Electrical Engineering
  • MS in Civil Engineering
  • MS Ocean Engineering
  • Master of Science degree in Advanced Holistic Nursing, MSN
  • Master of Science degree in Clinical Nurse Leader, MS
  • Master of Science, Exersice Science and Health Promotion, MS?
  • FNP
  • MS in ANP/GNP
  • PhD in Nursing
  • PhD in Nursing Practice
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The Best Online Colleges 2014-2015

Hundreds of colleges have online programs with the same academic rigor as their campus courses. Tenured faculty teach material designed to both educate and prepare students for successful careers after graduation. Yet some clearly stand out above their peers. They offer the widest selections of online programs, have great student-faculty ratios and provide outstanding academic and career counseling services. They also take care of their students financially, making sure they have access to affordable programs and can secure loans that won’t break the bank in the near- or long-term. Simply put, these schools are some of the top online colleges around, and have earned a well-deserved place on our list of the Best Online Colleges for 2015.

For a more in-depth breakdown of our criteria and scoring system, please visit our methodology page.

ACO Score: 98.83 Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 City:University Park State:Pennsylvania

Penn State University’s World Campus offers multiple online programs at levels ranging from associate to doctoral degrees. Topics of study include business and management, education, engineering, health and family services, homeland security, law and public policy, liberal arts and communications, nursing and information sciences. There are also options many students might not find elsewhere, such as geospatial technology, sustainability studies and turfgrass science.

Online courses at Penn State are asynchronous, so students can complete coursework whenever they wish before its due date. There are no set times that students need to log in. However, there are weekly assignments and discussions, as well as required group work and peer-to-peer interaction. Programs may include a short residency on campus lasting from a few days to two weeks. Examples of blended offerings are the master’s programs in business administration, finance, health administration and supply chain management.

ACO Score: 98.29 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Amherst State:Massachusetts

The School of Continuing and Professional Education at UMass Amherst offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs delivered entirely online. Undergraduates can choose bachelor’s degrees in business administration, nursing, and hospitality and tourism management, as well as degree completion programs in a wide variety of disciplines, including business studies, criminal justice, journalism studies, and arts administration. Graduate degree programs are offered in nursing, public health and health sciences, education, engineering, and management.

Students who engage in any online learning through UMass Amherst use the Blackboard learning platform and receive the benefits of other University of Massachusetts students, such as student services, technical support, and access to vast library holdings. A student validity process helps ensure honesty and integrity among all online students. Keep in mind that those who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, and Kansas cannot currently be accepted for online enrollment at UMass Amherst.

ACO Score: 98.03 Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 City:Marion State:Indiana

Indiana Wesleyan University, an evangelical Christian University, provides a range of online degree and certificate programs designed for working adults. Online courses and flexible study options leverage cloud-based resources such as the LearningStudio learning management system, CourseSmart e-reader and VoiceThread application for electronic communications.

Online degree seekers can build on college courses taken elsewhere, complementing that experience with at least 30 credit hours taken from IWU. The university allows students to focus on a concentration of their choice in the web-based associate and bachelor’s degree programs in general studies.Online associate degrees are also available in majors like accounting, business, computer information technology, criminal justice and Christian ministries. Distance learners can choose from several programs at the bachelor’s degree level, with more subjects available at the master’s level.

ACO Score: 97.77 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:Lynchburg State:Virginia

A Christian university, Liberty University offers more than 230 online degree programs, from high school dual enrollment through doctorates. Most of Liberty University Online’s coursework is available online through eight-week or 16-week classes. Distance learners have the opportunity to attend one-week intensive on-campus classes and also have access to online resources such as a writing center, tutoring and ministries.

Liberty University’s online programs run the gamut of subjects, including associate degrees in paralegal studies, criminal justice, religion and Christian counseling. Choices range from an online bachelor’s degree in aviation maintenance management to master’s degrees in sports marketing and media, information systems or project management. Degrees in the field of education are found at several levels. Web-based doctoral degree programs explore disciplines such as business administration, educational leadership, curriculum and instruction, and theology/ministry.

ACO Score: 97.18 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Bloomington State:Indiana

Indiana University has a variety of online choices—from high school completion to master’s degrees and continuing education programs. For example, Indiana University High School allows students to earn their secondary school diploma online, from across the country and abroad.

IU offers more than 100 online programs, including numerous bachelor’s degrees, nearly 30 online master’s degrees, and more than 50 undergraduate and graduate certificate options. Two online associate degrees are available, in disciplines such as labor studies. Other fields of study include education, humanities, business, health sciences, technology, public administration, library science and social work.

IU Online also provides degree completion programs for students who have started college elsewhere. These are designed for students who already hold an associate degree, and the majors span diverse fields such as nursing, mathematics and psychology.

ACO Score: 95.77 Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 City:Minneapolis State:Minnesota

The Digital Campus at the University of Minnesota offers students the opportunity to pursue many levels of education, including undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certificates. Distance learners have 15 online undergraduate programs from which to choose, including accounting, health management, communication, information technology management, and marketing. Master’s degree programs include those in computer science, family education, maternal and child health, electrical engineering, and licensure in parent and family education. Applied biostatistics, finance, and taxation are a few of the ten certificate programs offered through University of Minnesota.

Numerous additional programs are available in a hybrid format, with the vast majority of courses completed online but some campus meetings required. Clinical lab sciences, healthcare administration, public health, and manufacturing operations management are a few examples of these hybrid programs.

All students enrolled in the Digital Campus have access to the same resources as on-campus students, with additional specialized resources designed to assist them with the unique needs of the online learner.

ACO Score: 95.41 Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1 City:Gainesville State:Florida

Routinely ranked one of the top online colleges in the U.S., UF Online offers a huge catalog of online opportunities, including over 100 programs for students who prefer distance learning. Bachelor’s degrees include those in business administration, journalism and communications, agricultural and life sciences, health and human performance, and liberal arts. Bachelor completion programs are also available for those who have already earned their associate degree.

The bulk of online degrees at University of Florida are at the master’s level, with dozens of possibilities in almost every field. Specialist degrees are available in education. UF also offers numerous doctoral degrees in education, public health and health professions, nursing, pharmacy, and liberal arts.

Students who choose to enter the online degree program must first enroll at University of Florida, and then choose to pursue the online degree. UF offers self-assessment survey for those students who might be on the fence about whether online education is right for them.

ACO Score: 95.21 Student-Teacher Ratio: 25:1 City:Tempe State:Arizona

Arizona State University’s growing collection of online programs and resources makes it one of today’s top online colleges. ASU offers more than 40 undergraduate and 30 graduate degrees online, in addition to graduate certificate programs. Options available through the distance learning platform include bachelor’s degrees in in art history, business communication, electrical engineering and graphic information technology. Some of the master’s degree programs are business analytics, construction management and early childhood education. Admissions criteria depend on the major — for example, online degree completion programs are built for those who already hold an associate degree.

Certain distance education programs could include labs or other in-person elements as well as digital instruction. MyASU is the school’s portal and stores data such as online class schedules, recorded lectures and course assignments. Distance learning study resources include library guides and a digital library. Introduction to the web-based learning system is conducted for new students through an online orientation.

ACO Score: 95.06 Student-Teacher Ratio: 12:1 City:Ann Arbor State:Michigan

Distance learning programs at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor cover a wide range of possibilities, from degrees to certificates to individual, required classes. The School of Dentistry offers a two-year degree program in dental hygiene, as well as the master’s program in dental hygiene. The College of Engineering offers a 30-credit-hour program in integrated systems and design, created specifically for working professionals.

The School of Public Health is home to a 16-hour certificate program in foundations of public health, a 55-hour executive master’s program in health management and policy, and the graduate summer session in epidemiology. Students in the Medical School can take the advanced medical therapeutic course online, fulfilling a four-hour requirement. This allows students who are traveling for residency interviews to keep up with their fourth-year studies while planning their future career.

ACO Score: 94.94 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Troy State:Alabama

Students can pursue online education through the eTroy branch of Troy University. Associate degrees in general studies and aviation operations are offered, with areas of emphasis such as criminal justice, psychology, computer science and military operations. The university has more than a dozen online bachelor’s degree programs, including those in business administration, anthropology, criminal justice, applied computer science and the like. Most bachelor’s programs feature several concentrations as well.

Troy University is home to 15 online master’s degree programs and numerous certificate programs. Web-based programs include those in sport and fitness management, strategic communication, social science, management, history and education. The nursing department has additional online study options. Even high school students can take online courses through dual enrollment. The eTroy programs use the Blackboard learning system for online courses, and examinations must usually be proctored.

ACO Score: 94.69 Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 City:Columbia State:South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is a public research university that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Online bachelor’s degrees are offered through USC’s Palmetto College, while master’s and doctoral degrees are offered through the graduate school. At the graduate degree level, five programs are offered online—Master of Education in Teaching, Master of Education in Educational Administration, Master of Health Information Technology, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction.

All online courses at USC Columbia are taught by their award winning staff and are delivered in a variety of formats. In addition to online degrees, USC also offers a range of individual online courses.

ACO Score: 94.12 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Cleveland State:Ohio

Cleveland State University’s eLearning initiative allows students to take individual courses or academic degree offerings and certificate programs online. The university has 15 online degree programs as well as more than 250 courses each semester. The same instructors who teach on-campus classes also teach the online courses. CSU has been offering online courses and programs for 10 years.

Undergraduate online degree completion programs include business administration and organizational leadership. Also available are an RN to BSN program and a bioethics certificate. Students may earn a master’s degree online in health sciences, nursing, information technology, community health promotion and other fields. Graduate-level certificates and courses are available for professionals such as gifted intervention specialists or chemical dependency counselor assistants.

ACO Score: 93.94 Student-Teacher Ratio: 24:1 City:Lubbock State:Texas

Through its Worldwide eLearning department, Texas Tech University has emerged as a top online college for 2015. The school offers a number of flexible online programs and courses, including four bachelor’s degrees, 15 master’s degrees and four doctorates. Choices for web-based undergraduate majors include multidisciplinary studies or plant and soil sciences. Distance students can also complete graduate certificate programs or undergraduate minors, ranging from wind energy studies to human resource development. In addition to fully online programs, hybrid programs in disciplines such as education combine on-campus and online courses.

Distance education offerings from Texas Tech use the Blackboard online learning platform. This system brings traditional elements of a classroom online, with access to course materials, lectures and presentations, classroom discussions, and communication with other students and instructors. Distance students also have remote use of IT support services, including a help-line phone number, and library resources such as assistance from reference librarians.

ACO Score: 93.84 Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 City:Newark State:Delaware

The University of Delaware offers two undergraduate and seven graduate degrees online through the department of Professional and Continuing Studies. Students can choose the associate in arts, the RN to BSN program, or master’s degrees in the following:

  • Business administration
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical and computer engineering
  • Economics and entrepreneurship for educators
  • Social studies in world history
  • Teacher leadership
  • Nursing (including six specialties)

The university offers over 200 courses through online learning, all taught by UD campus faculty. In addition to the degree programs, students can choose to take individual courses online or earn certificates in areas such as nursing, business essentials, and composite materials.

The University of Delaware makes use of the Sakai learning system to deliver all virtual courses. Students can expect to learn through videoconferencing, discussion threads, chat rooms, guided readings, interactive web activities, and more. Professors are routinely available via email, phone, and in person on the campus for local students.

ACO Score: 93.55 Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 City:Denver State:Colorado

UC Denver has a booming online presence, including 24 online and hybrid degree programs, 15 certificate programs, and over 450 online courses, including those on the non-degree continuing education track. Students can choose between numerous degree options in the fields of nursing, engineering, business, pharmacy, health, education, public affairs, arts and media, and liberal studies. These degree programs range from bachelor’s degrees to doctorates, and each comes backed with the strong history and accreditation of UC Denver.

The courses taught through the distance learning arm of University of Colorado Denver are helmed by the same professors who teach at the brick-and-mortar institution. Students can try out the courses before applying by enrolling as a non-degree-seeking student. Those who want to pursue classes in continuing and professional education can do so without being formally admitted to the university; they can later use accumulated credits if they want to attend as an enrolled student.

ACO Score: 93.54 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Birmingham State:Alabama

UAB Online is the distance learning arm of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, offering several degree and certificate programs. Resources for distance education include the UAB mobile app, complete with class schedules, and online tutorials for the Canvas learning management system.

Students can choose from eight web-based bachelor’s degree programs in fields like health science and business. These undergrad programs are fully online with the exception of the RN to BSN program, which requires some on-campus work to fulfill degree requirements.

Master’s degree programs are found in disciplines such as sociology, education, engineering and public health. Many graduate programs are fully online, but some blended offerings incorporate on-campus attendance. Doctoral programs are offered in nursing, health professions, engineering and education. Various graduate certificates are available, as well as professional programs aimed at certification and continuing education requirements.

ACO Score: 93.53 Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1 City:Kennesaw State:Georgia

Students at Kennesaw State University can earn an online degree in a variety of disciplines, using technologies such as the Desire2Learn platform. In addition to degree programs, individual courses are available online or in a hybrid format. The university categorizes courses as online if they deliver 95 percent of content electronically. There may also be in-person requirements such as orientation or proctored exams.

Online bachelor’s degree programs include information and security assurance, management, marketing and sociology. An online undergraduate program in integrative studies focuses on business leadership. Students may pursue a master’s degree in fields like early childhood education, nursing or international policy management. Those wishing to take distance education even further can earn a doctorate in educational leadership or teaching endorsements as well as graduate certificates in areas such as online teaching, digital and social media, and autism spectrum disorder.

ACO Score: 93.51 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Hattiesburg State:Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Online at Southern Miss offers online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate degree level, with students enrolled from 44 states and various countries around the world.

Online bachelor’s degrees can be earned in applied technology, business administration, construction engineering technology, elementary education, industrial engineering technology, library and information science, nursing, and special education. Graduate degrees are offered in child and family studies, music education, nursing, nutrition and food systems, political science, and sports management.

The application deadlines are as follows: January 9th for spring, May 22nd for summer, and June 30th for fall. Freshman applicants must provide ACT/SAT scores and official high school transcripts. There is a $35 application fee.

ACO Score: 93.44 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Logan State:Utah

Utah State University students can earn certificates, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees online. One associate’s degree, in general studies, is available, as well as eight bachelor’s degrees. The bachelor’s degrees are in the areas of agribusiness, communicative disorders & deaf education, family life studies, liberal arts, communicative disorders, economics, interdisciplinary studies, and psychology. Students interested in a master’s degree can choose from agricultural systems technology, career & technical education, instructional technology & learning sciences, technical communication or natural resources.

USU Online’s classes are administered in a variety of ways. Some are semester based, following the same timeline as a traditional class. Others are Flex Condensed Online Courses, lasting for either four or seven weeks, and still others are Flex Open Entry Online Courses, which means students can start the course at any time and work at their own pace, though there is an end-of-term deadline.

ACO Score: 93.42 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Raleigh State:North Carolina

North Carolina State University offers online and hybrid programs covering nearly 70 degrees, certificates and professional courses for teachers. Distance education graduate degree programs range from business administration to computer networking, with a doctorate in adult and community college education. Students can choose online undergraduate certificates in areas such as microbiology and soil science or graduate certificates in fields like educational technology.

The school’s bachelor’s degree programs are not fully online. For some, students need to complete the first two years of college credits on-site. For others, classes use a combination of online and on-site delivery.

Courses are given through the Moodle online learning management system, as well as through WolfWare Classic, a learning platform developed at NC State. Online students have access to a virtual orientation, as well as advising, library and technology assistance services.

ACO Score: 93.39 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Tuscaloosa State:Alabama

Numerous online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels help qualify the University of Alabama as one of today’s top online colleges. Degrees and courses cover subjects such as law, nursing, education, human environmental sciences, commerce and business administration, and communication and information sciences. Students who have already earned some college credit and want to complete their bachelor’s degree can do so online through the Back to Bama program. High school students can also take web-based courses through the ACCESS or UA Early College initiatives.

Though many degrees and courses are offered entirely online, the University of Alabama also has blended degree programs, for example, social work and mechanical engineering, with required participation at the Tuscaloosa campus or in the field. Online students can take advantage of many of the same services that on-campus students have, including dedicated technology assistance around the clock.

ACO Score: 93.22 Student-Teacher Ratio: 11:1 City:La Jolla State:California

National University offers over 70 online programs, with choices such as an associate degree in professional golf management, a bachelor’s degree in pre-law studies or a master’s degree in strategic communication. Online programs are available in various areas:

  • School of Business and Management: accounting, finance, economics, leadership, human resource management, marketing and management
  • School of Education: special education, teacher education, educational administration and school counseling
  • School of Engineering and Computing: applied engineering, computer science, media systems
  • School of Health and Human Services: community health, health sciences
  • School of Professional Studies: criminal justice, digital journalism
  • College of Letters and Sciences: arts and humanities, psychology, mathematics and natural sciences, social sciences

Instruction uses a variety of methods, including audio or video lectures, readings and presentations. Students are encouraged to collaborate with one another through email and chat. Courses also include online evaluations, quizzes and exams.

ACO Score: 92.88 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Grand Forks State:North Dakota

The University of North Dakota offers online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of arts, humanities, and languages; business; education; engineering; nursing, nutrition, and health; social sciences; math and natural sciences; and technology.

Undergraduate students have 11 bachelor’s degrees from which to choose. Examples of such degrees include chemical engineering, civil engineering, general studies, nursing, and psychology. The university also offers 22 master’s degrees in a range of disciplines and two doctoral degrees in nursing (PhD) and nursing practice (DNP). All online and distance degrees are institutionally accredited and designed to offer convenience and flexibility.

ACO Score: 92.86 Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 City:Memphis State:Tennessee

The University of Memphis eCampus brings online learning to students everywhere, including numerous graduate, undergraduate, doctoral, and certificate programs that can be completed entirely online. Undergraduate degrees are offered through the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, College of Communications and Fine Arts, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, Loewenberg School of Nursing, and University College. Examples of degrees at the bachelor’s level include journalism, sociology, history, criminal justice, management, accounting and more. Online graduate degrees that result in a master’s degree include business administration, health promotion, educational psychology, journalism, applied computer science and many more.

Students attending the University of Memphis eCampus use eCourseware to complete their online assignments and interact with peers. Courses are taught by University of Memphis faculty. Some instructors require on-campus orientation or class meetings, while others require students to log onto their online classroom at a specific time. Students should check with the professor before registration to learn the exact requirements. An online student orientation site is offered for those who have questions on exactly how to start their distance learning journey.

ACO Score: 92.73 Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1 City:Springfield State:Missouri

Missouri State University offers online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and certificate levels. Programs cover a wide array of fields including finance, education and project management. Master’s degrees and certificates are generally provided completely online, with no on-campus time necessary. Required courses for bachelor’s degrees are delivered online for students who hold an associate degree. There are also minors that can be earned fully online or through a combination of web-based and evening courses, as well as a hybrid doctoral program in nursing.

The school offers services to online students, including career counseling, tutoring and the computer services help desk. Online classes use the Blackboard learning management system, a platform for distribution of course materials, communication between students and instructors, and submission of assignments and assessments.

ACO Score: 92.54 Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1 City:Brookings State:South Dakota

South Dakota State University offers numerous online programs for distance students: an associate degree in general studies, five different majors for bachelor’s degrees, nine undergraduate minors, 12 master’s degrees and eight certificates. Several programs are offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a collaborative effort with other colleges in the region to provide online graduate degrees taught by field experts.

Courses are supported by the Desire2Learn online learning platform. Through this system students can view course materials and lectures, participate in discussions, and submit questions, projects, papers and exams. The university suggests that students view an introductory course called “Student Desire2Learn 101” to familiarize themselves with the features that may be used in their web-based classes. Resources such as a “virtual laboratory” are available to support online students in the health sciences.

ACO Score: 92.53 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:University State:Mississippi

Ole Miss Online is home to all the distance learning programs offered through University of Mississippi. Bachelor’s degrees include those in clinical laboratory sciences, dental hygiene, health informatics and information management, health sciences, and radiologic sciences. Twelve master’s degrees are offered through the schools of business, nursing, education and health sciences. A Doctor of Health Administration is also available, as is an education specialist degree in counselor education. Certificate programs include the graduate certificate in teaching English as a second language and the geospatial information science and technology certificate.

Semester-based courses follow the same schedule as the usual 15-week semesters, allowing students to complete coursework on a weekly basis. Self-paced study is also available for students who want to earn their credits in up to twelve months of focused independent study.

University of Mississippi maintains a comprehensive list of online programs available in certain states; keep in mind that not all programs will be available in all areas.

ACO Score: 93.52 Student-Teacher Ratio: 24:1 City:Hammond State:Louisiana

Southeastern Louisiana University has online and blended programs for distance students and working professionals. Hybrid programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science, feature both on-campus and online classes. Some courses have a hybrid format, with reduced face-to-face time and many distance learning components. Fully online programs include:

  • Bachelor’s degree: Nursing (RN to BS), organizational leadership/disaster management
  • Graduate degree: Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Post-baccalaureate certificate: English as a second language, special education (birth to age 5)
  • Post-master’s certificate: Family nurse practitioner, psychiatric nurse practitioner

The university suggests that students considering online learning should be highly self-disciplined and proficient communicators. Web-based courses at the university typically have strong reading and writing requirements. For academic support, distance students can access resources including tutoring, the writing center and live chats with a librarian for reference assistance.

ACO Score: 92.45 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Mount Pleasant State:Michigan

Central Michigan University administers online courses through its Global Campus, and six undergraduate and seven graduate distance learning degrees are available. Potential majors for bachelor’s degrees cover administration, political science and psychology. Online offerings include the Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Master of Arts in Education and Master of Business Administration, which features several choices for concentrations.

The school also offers more than a dozen certificates in subjects that range from information resource management to philanthropy and fundraising to engineering management. An online orientation introduces students to the distance education platform, which uses tools and services such as a digital resource center, CMU Online, campus email and chat. A virtual classroom portal allows students to access class assignments and submit course work.

ACO Score: 92.34 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:Johnson City State:Tennessee

East Tennessee State University has a variety of online programs and course delivery methods, with options that are completely, mostly or partly online. Several programs are aimed at applicants who have some college experience, such as the online degree completion programs in allied health. Online bachelor’s degrees are available in areas such as dental hygiene, nursing or professional studies with an emphasis in information technology.

Students can pursue online master’s degree programs in educational leadership, allied health, digital marketing or public health, among other disciplines. There are a variety of online programs for graduate-level certificates as well as a doctorate in nursing and teaching endorsements.

Web-based courses use asynchronous or synchronous formats, depending on the program of study and course. Content is delivered via ETSU’s D2L online learning platform.

ACO Score: 92.25 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:Mississippi State State:Mississippi

Mississippi State University (MSU) offers online degree programs through its Center for Distance Education. Students can choose from four bachelor’s degree programs, for example, a major in technology for teachers. Also available are at least 16 master’s degree programs — with multiple options in engineering and education — and four doctoral degree programs. Five certificates can be earned through online courses as well.

Online courses use the Blackboard learning management system as a virtual classroom. Through this platform, professors and students can interact via emails and forum discussions, faculty can post course information and materials, and students can submit papers and assignments. Students in MSU’s online programs can apply to pay in-state tuition, regardless of their location. Many services are available online, including tutoring, library resources, advising and the career center.

ACO Score: 92.23 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:Columbus State:Ohio

Ohio State University’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning offers several distance degree programs. At the bachelor’s level, programs for registered nurses and licensed dental hygienists lead to undergraduate degrees. At the graduate level, students can choose from seven master’s degrees and a doctor of nursing program.

While the university considers programs that are at least 50 percent online to be distance offerings, many programs require less on-campus time or can be completed fully online. Web-based courses are typically divided into week-long modules that focus on a topic or task. Each module includes supporting materials, discussions with classmates and instructors, and assessments or opportunities to practice skills. Classes are asynchronous, so students can complete coursework at any time during the week, and do not need to log on at a specific time.

ACO Score: 92.22 Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 City:Honolulu State:Hawaii

Students can choose from a wide variety of programs through the University of Hawaii including opportunities at every degree level. Degree programs offered specifically through the Manoa campus include bachelor’s degree programs in special education, elementary education, and the statewide nursing consortium. Post-baccalaureate programs are available in secondary education and special education, as well as graduate certificates in online learning and teaching, disability and diversity studies, and reading on the K-12 level.

UH Manoa offers thirteen master’s degree programs, including those in computer science, human resources management, and social work. On the doctoral level, UH Manoa offers studies in nursing.

While most courses through University of Hawaii at Manoa can be taken entirely online, some have a laboratory component that requires hands-on work at the campus. Others can be taken through ITV, The Hawaii Interactive Television Service System. Students can also watch select courses in live or recorded format on cable television.

ACO Score: 92.21 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:Missoula State:Montana

UM Online is the distance learning arm of the University of Montana, offering several academic paths. The bachelor’s degree in media arts is available online, as well as master’s degrees in public administration, educational leadership or curriculum studies. Students can also choose online minors in anthropology and communication studies, as well as certificate programs and teaching endorsements.

Distance education students use the popular Moodle learning platform and have access to technical support through the UM Online Team as well as other services. In addition to the fully online options, some hybrid programs require short sessions on campus — examples include an associate degree in energy technology and master’s degrees in music education and public health. For those seeking courses that do not lead to a degree, the School of Extended and Lifelong Learning offers web-based courses on topics such as beekeeping.

ACO Score: 92.15 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Lincoln State:Nebraska

UNL is a public research university that offers online degree programs for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Undergraduate students can choose from an online bachelor’s degree in applied science or an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood in a mobile society. The applied science degree allows students to complete all required courses at a pace that is convenient for them and the university notes that many of the students in this program hold full-time jobs while working towards the degree. The early childhood in a mobile society program prepares educators to teach and work with young children who have family members that are highly mobile, such as family members in the military.

In addition to undergraduate degrees, UNL also offers several graduate degrees and certificate programs.

Online courses are administered via the BlackBoard learning management system. Candidates can apply online and will be required to provide all official transcripts, ACT/SAT scores, and a personal statement.

ACO Score: 92 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Las Cruces State:New Mexico

New Mexico State University (NMSU) offers distance education programs for bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. Online bachelor’s degree completion programs — for example, in business administration or criminal justice — are designed for students who have completed prior college course work.

Students can expect to spend 7-10 hours per week on each technology-based course. Most programs can be completed fully online through electronic tools such as the Canvas learning platform; however, some include a brief stay on the NMSU Las Cruces campus. Some courses require proctored exams, which can be administered off-campus for students who live more than 75 miles away. Distance students have full access to the school’s digital library resources. Online advising and technology support services are also available.

ACO Score: 91.95 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Jacksonville State:Florida

At UNF, online programs are offered on a traditional semester schedule, or an eight-week modular schedule for students interested in business, design/media, healthcare and fitness, IT programming, or hospitality. While most of the university’s online offerings are at the graduate degree level, the school does offer one online bachelor’s degree—the RN-BSN Bridge Track. This eight-week program is for licensed registered nurses in Florida who want to further their education and broaden their career opportunities.

Online master’s degrees and graduate certificates are offered in a range of areas.

Distance learning at UNF utilizes several delivery options, such as audio, video, and multimedia communications. Courses may be offered synchronously or aschnchronously.

ACO Score: 91.76 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Morgantown State:West Virginia

West Virginia University offers three bachelor’s degrees, 14 master’s degrees, and several undergraduate and graduate certificates online. Bachelor’s degree students can major in multidisciplinary studies, RN to BSN, or they can earn the Regents Bachelor of Arts, which gives credit for life, work, and military experience. Online students can earn master’s degrees in a variety of areas, including elementary education, instructional design and technology, nursing, and public health.

Students take online classes via WVU eCampus. WVU Online offers online information sessions for prospective students, as well as an eCampus tutorial. Additionally, online students have access to WVU libraries and a new student orientation manual.

ACO Score: 91.75 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Lafayette State:Louisiana

Students who participate in distance learning at University of Louisiana at Lafayette can choose from a variety of degree programs. Health services administration and kinesiology is offered at the bachelor’s degree level, as well as the RN to BSN program. Master’s degree students can choose from programs in curriculum and instruction, nursing, and systems technology. The doctor of nursing practice, or DNP, is the only doctorate degree currently offered online. Students seeking a graduate certificate can pursue those in business administration, professional writing, and instructional coaching.

Fully online courses through University of Louisiana at Lafayette do not require any face-to-face meetings. Hybrid programs may require anywhere from some courses taken on campus to the occasional face-to-face meeting, depending upon the needs and requirements of the instructor or department. Online students can take advantage of round-the-clock technical support, student services, library services, and much more.

ACO Score: 91.73 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Bozeman State:Montana

Montana State University offers online classes and degree programs through Montana State University Online, including a bachelor’s degree completion program in liberal studies and an undergrad minor in business administration. Also available are nine graduate degree programs and seven graduate certificates. The school has two programs online to prepare professionals for licensure: Northern Plains Transition to Teaching or Principal and Superintendent Endorsement.

Online courses follow the same semester schedule as face-to-face courses, with start dates in the fall, spring and summer. Students should prepare to spend about 9-12 hours each week for a typical 15-week, 3-credit course. Most courses use the Desire2Learn online learning management system. A specific program might require a campus visit or video conferences with faculty. Distance students have access to the MSU Library online, as well as the Help Desk for technical questions about the learning platform.

ACO Score: 91.72 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Dekalb State:Illinois

Northern Illinois University offers a range of degrees that can be earned online. The method of instruction varies, with some classes in an asynchronous format, where students can complete coursework at any time, and others in a synchronous format — meaning that students log on at a specific time to participate in virtual classes. The university provides tools for students considering online learning, including a readiness survey, browser test and sample online lesson.

Fully online options include undergraduate and graduate certificates in geographic information systems as well as a general studies bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and sciences. Master’s degrees available online include:

  • Industrial Management and Technology
  • Public Health
  • School Business Management

Other degrees can be earned through a combination of online and in-person classes, including a bachelor’s degree in health and human services or master’s degrees in geography and nursing.

ACO Score: 91.54 Student-Teacher Ratio: 23:1 City:Denton State:Texas

At the University of North Texas, a majority of online degree offerings are master’s degree programs and graduate academic certificates. There are two bachelor’s degrees available online, however—a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (degree completion) and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Applied Technology and Performance Improvement. All online courses are conducted using Blackboard Learn, which allows convenience and flexibility for students with busy work schedules.

The application deadline for first year freshmen is March 1. All applicants are required to complete an online application through ApplyTexas as well as provide official transcripts, essay, and ACT/SAT scores.

ACO Score: 91.35 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Syracuse State:New York

Syracuse University offers a number of online programs through which distance and non-traditional students can earn degrees or certificates. These programs include master’s degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, as well as graduate certificates in data science and information security management. Hybrid programs utilizing both online and on-campus classes include the MBA and master’s degrees in library science, telecommunications and networking management, or social science.

Syracuse University also has a wide variety of individual courses online. Students can take online “Winterlude” courses during the winter break in subjects ranging from business to philosophy. Other online classes follow the same semester schedule as face-to-face classes. For distance education, interaction with peers and instructors is stressed, and communication methods include email, discussion forums and chat tools. Distance students have access to services like digital library resources and academic advising.

ACO Score: 91.27 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Richmond State:Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University students have a number of choices when it comes to earning a degree online. While most of the program offerings are at the graduate level—10 master’s degrees, two masters of education, and two doctoral degrees—students interested in an undergraduate degree can pursue VCU’s online B.S. in nursing or online B.S. in clinical laboratory sciences. A number of master’s certificates can also be earned online.

Online@VCU students have access to many of the same resources that on-campus students can take advantage of. Academic resources include the Career Center, library, and the Campus Learning Center.

ACO Score: 90.97 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Adelphi State:Maryland

UMUC is an accredited university offering more than 95 degree and certificate programs entirely online. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in more than 30 areas, including in-demand fields such as business administration, graphic communications, gerontology and aging services, cybersecurity, computer networks and security, digital media and web technology, and nursing. Students can also choose to specialize with over forty minor programs of study.

Those on the master’s degree track can choose from degree programs in health care administration, environmental management, data analysis and ten others, including several specializations. The master’s of business administration is available, as well as three degree tracks in education and dual master’s degree programs. Those seeking doctoral degrees will find two at the University of Maryland University College: the doctor of management and the doctor of management in community college policy and administration.

In addition to a range of degree programs from which to choose, online learners can also take advantage of various student support services such as 24-hour tech support, online writing feedback, academic and career advising, job search assistance, and an online library.

ACO Score: 90.91 Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1 City:Albuquerque State:New Mexico

UNM Online offers degree completion programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergrad students can complete an online bachelor’s degree in a range of fields, such as business administration, communication, dental hygiene, liberal arts and integrative studies, medical laboratory studies, nursing, and radiologic sciences.

Master’s degree completion programs are offered in dental hygiene, elementary education, secondary education, educational leadership, engineering, nursing, and organizing information and learning sciences.

UNM online courses are predominately asynchronous, however faculty members teaching styles may include synchronous components. All UNM Online courses are taught by UNM faculty and online students receive the exact same credit as their campus-based peers.

ACO Score: 90.54 Student-Teacher Ratio: 28:1 City:Hayward State:California

Students have a choice of online programs from California State University East Bay. Available degrees range from master’s in health care administration to recreation and tourism as well as educational leadership. Another web-based master’s program in education focuses on best practices for teaching and learning online. Undergraduates can pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration, ethnic studies, human development, recreation, hospitality and tourism through the distance learning department. Online continuing education for teachers is also available, in addition to a variety of courses.

The university operates on a quarterly basis, and although program participants can study and access course materials on a flexible timetable, they must stick to course schedules when submitting assignments. Online courses and study materials are provided using tools like the Blackboard electronic learning platform, MyCSUEB, NetID, campus email and digital textbooks. Registration for distance learning programs is conducted through Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment.

ACO Score: 90.53 Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1 City:Tallahassee State:Florida

Florida State University offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as web-based elective classes. Online programs follow the traditional academic calendar, and most classes are delivered asynchronously to allow flexible scheduling for study sessions. Testing modes include online assessments via the Blackboard learning platform as well as proctored exams off campus.

Undergraduate students choose from seven online bachelor’s degree programs, including criminology, interdisciplinary studies, public safety and security, and computer science. Typically, bachelor’s degree completion programs are built for those who have satisfied liberal course requirements in areas such as computation, English composition, humanities and natural sciences.

FSU Online graduate degree programs include library and information studies, nursing leadership, business administration and management information systems. In addition to undergraduate and graduate certificate programs for subjects such as multicultural marketing and youth services, there are also post-master’s specialization options online.

ACO Score: 90.41 Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1 City:Miami State:Florida

Students of Florida International University have several online options, including undergraduate and graduate degree programs, professional and personal enrichment classes, or free enrollment in massive open online courses (MOOCs). FIU Online offers more than 10 bachelor’s degrees in fields like the following:

  • Recreation and sports management
  • Nursing
  • Marketing
  • International business
  • Early childhood education
  • Finance

Graduate students can choose from 17 web-based programs, including real estate, special education, hospitality management, criminal justice and an MBA specialized in healthcare. In addition, the continuing and professional education division provides individual courses and certificate programs online.

Most online courses are accessible through the Blackboard Learn platform. Students make use of online tutorials about the learning management system as well as technical support, including live chat services. Non-credit MOOCs offered at FIU Online are condensed versions of traditional classes, designed for an accelerated schedule.

ACO Score: 90.36 Student-Teacher Ratio: 24:1 City:Rexburg State:Idaho

Brigham Young University-Idaho provides associate and bachelor’s degrees through its distance education program. Associate of Applied Science degrees are available online in areas like administrative assisting and business management. Among the majors for online bachelor’s programs are applied management, healthcare administration and software engineering. It generally takes 60 credits to complete an online associate degree and 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree, and some programs have an option for a practicum or internship to gain field experience.

The school also offers online certificates in specializations such as business fundamentals, professional sales and information systems. There is a minimum GPA for admission into the online programs, among other requirements. To conduct classes and connect students and instructors, the school relies on resources like video streaming, digital textbooks and an online support center.

ACO Score: 90.35 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Wilmington State:North Carolina

At the University of North Carolina Wilmington undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Research online, as well as an online Bachelor of Arts in Elementary in Education, and an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduate degrees are offers in clinical research, chemistry, elementary education, instructional technology, middle grades education, and liberal studies.

UNCW offers its distance learning programs in three formats—online (also called Internet or web-based), which has no on-campus requirements and may be taken from anywhere with an Internet connection; fully online, in which courses are synchronous, requiring students to be online at specific dates and times; and blended (or hybrid), where at least one-third of course instruction and assessment is done online and the rest is conducted face-to-face.

ACO Score: 90.28 Student-Teacher Ratio: 23:1 City:Arlington State:Texas

Students looking for online academics can find standalone courses, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and professional certificates through the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). UTA delivers web-based offerings through digital tools like the Blackboard learning system. For students who have finished some college course work, bachelor’s degree completion options include the criminology and criminal justice major or Finish@UT, which provides a choice of concentration.

Graduate students have access to master’s degrees in public administration and education from the University of Texas at Arlington. Qualified nursing students can earn their bachelor’s degree through the RN to BSN program or pursue different master’s programs. Online master’s degrees are available in disciplines such as industrial and mechanical engineering. UTA is part of the University of Texas Online Consortium, which offers even more degree programs and courses.

ACO Score: 90.15 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Statesboro State:Georgia

Online undergraduate and graduate programs from Georgia Southern University encompass majors like business, technology, education and health services. The web-based bachelor’s degree program in information technology is intended for candidates who have already completed core education requirements, for example, math, science and English. The online general studies degree lets students choose from areas of emphasis such as justice studies, sociology and writing.

Georgia Southern students can earn one of nearly 20 online master’s degrees or seven doctorate degrees. Degree programs include early childhood education, applied economics, sports management, nursing and computer science. There are also certificate and endorsement programs for professional educators.

Students access most online course materials through the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus. Courses are typically delivered asynchronously, giving students the flexibility to “attend” classes at their convenience—as long as they meet homework and assessment deadlines.

ACO Score: 90.12 Student-Teacher Ratio: 13:1 City:Louisville State:Kentucky

The University of Louisville (UofL) is home to numerous bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, as well as certificate programs, all offered through online or hybrid formats. Online bachelor’s degree programs are offered in the fields of communication, justice administration, organizational leadership and learning, and nursing. Online master’s degree programs dig deeper into the fields of justice administration, social work, computer science, human resources, civil engineering, engineering management, special education, and higher education administration. Those who want to pursue a graduate certificate can choose from three options: network and information security, data mining, and autism and applied behavior analysis.

Distance learning students at UofL make use of Blackboard to take their courses, interact with teachers and peers, and submit assignments. All classes follow a regular semester schedule. Online learners can take advantage of technical support, an online bookstore, the Distance Learning Library Service, and more.

Before enrollment, students are required to speak to an academic advisor or attend an on-campus orientation.

ACO Score: 90.08 Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1 City:Fullerton State:California

Online degrees are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels from California State University Fullerton. The university has two online bachelor’s degree completion programs: sociology and business administration. Online master’s degrees focus on teaching and educational techniques, for example, a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology. The online master’s in education offers concentrations such as educational technology, elementary curriculum and instruction, and secondary education.

While most courses are fully online, certain subjects use a hybrid format involving distance learning and in-person attendance, such as the educational administration program or a specialization in teaching mathematics. Instructors develop online courses with the assistance of Oasis, the school’s support service for digital instruction. Tools used to deliver distance learning content include campus email, a virtual portal, video conferencing and recorded videos.

ACO Score: 89.74 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Saint Louis State:Missouri

The University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) is a public research university that is a part of the University of Missouri System. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association and offers online degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. All courses are taught by award winning faculty using the best technology and distance learning methods.

They offer online bachelor’s degrees in business administration, communication, criminology and criminal justice, education, liberal studies and nursing.

Candidates can apply online and must provide a $35 non-refundable application fee, ACT/SATs cores, and official transcripts.

ACO Score: 89.52 Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1 City:Carbondale State:Illinois

Southern Illinois University Carbondale offers online degree programs through its Extended Campus. Applicants can find a wide range of bachelor’s degree completion programs, including a university studies major that allows for a customized curriculum. Other online options for undergrads include:

  • Accounting
  • Business administration
  • Health care management
  • Industrial technology
  • Information systems technologies
  • Mortuary science and funeral service
  • Fire service management
  • Technical resource management

Master’s degree programs delivered electronically include business administration, fire service and homeland security, architecture, quality engineering and management, medical dosimetry, and rehabilitation administration and services. Online certificates, specializations, professional development sequences and non-degree diploma programs are also available.

Online classes use an asynchronous format, with no specific time or day that students must log on or participate in a class. Instead, students can view course materials on their own schedule, while meeting deadlines for assignments and participation.

ACO Score: 89.39 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Ellensburg State:Washington

Central Washington University offers distance learning programs that include six bachelor’s degrees and five master’s degrees to complement the additional online courses available. Majors for online bachelor’s degrees include professional and creative writing, law and justice, sociology and interdisciplinary studies. Online students can earn masters’ degrees in school administration, literacy, information technology and administrative management, and other disciplines.

There are also hybrid programs available in paramedicine, health and physical education, and athletic administration. These programs are designed for students living near the main campus in Ellensburg, Washington, who wish to pair online and on-campus learning. Support services are available for all students, regardless of their program delivery method.

ACO Score: 89.38 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Athens State:Georgia

UGA Online is the home of distance learning at University of Georgia. Undergraduate programs include those in business administration and special education, both of which result in a bachelor’s degree. Graduate degrees include several in education, food technology, internet technology, financial planning, pharmacy, avian health and medicine, and a residency program in fine arts.

Students who are seeking certificate programs can find several offered through UGA Online, including those in teaching and education, health and pharmacy, English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and more. Students can also find other online opportunities through University of Georgia, such as dual enrollment for high school students or non-credit courses for those who want to learn but are not looking to earn a degree.

Though almost all the courses offered through UGA Online are distance courses, a select few have laboratory or hands-on components that demand a hybrid approach. Additionally, students who choose online education should be aware that proctoring of examinations is required for some classes, either through an online proctoring program or face-to-face proctoring.

ACO Score: 89.25 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Big Rapids State:Michigan

Ferris State University offers numerous classes and degree programs completely online, while some of its other options include a face-to-face feature for interaction at various Michigan campuses. Online bachelor’s degree completion programs are suited for candidates who already have some college education and experience. For example, applicants to the allied health program can transfer up to 50 credits of their professional course work.

Online bachelor’s degree programs include integrative studies, nuclear medicine technology, dental hygiene, automotive management and health information management. Those looking to earn a master’s degree can study business administration or nursing, which offers specializations such as informatics. Students who wish to explore a particular field without committing to a degree program can choose from more than 15 online undergraduate and graduate certificates. Tutorials introduce distance learners to the FerrisConnect platform, used for electronic instruction and interaction.

ACO Score: 89.07 Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1 City:Atlanta State:Georgia

Georgia Institute of Technology offers online master’s degrees in areas like aerospace engineering, electrical and computer engineering, medical physics, operations research, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and more. Each program is designed to allow students to apply coursework to real-world problems. Courses with lab components may include online and in-person attendance. For the professional master’s degree program in applied systems engineering, a hybrid delivery format blends online instruction with activities at Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus.

Courses are delivered asynchronously through recorded on-campus lectures that students can access on demand or via download. There are specified due dates for assignments and proctored exams. Program participants communicate with instructors and peers via chat rooms and discussion boards, networking while studying.

ACO Score: 89.01 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Fairfax State:Virginia

George Mason University has a variety of distance learning programs for degree completion, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, or certificates. Some courses allow students to complete assignments at their own pace as long as they follow the deadlines for submission. Other courses require scheduled class meetings and interaction over the Internet. Course content is delivered using fully online or hybrid formats. Although many components of these programs are available online, some courses require face time on campus or in an internship.

Mason Online’s bachelor’s degree completion programs allow students to choose their concentration: health, wellness and social services or technology and innovation. These offerings are designed for adults who already hold an associate degree in a similar field. Other online bachelor’s programs include majors such as applied information technology, while graduate programs extend across areas including educational leadership, transportation policy and logistics, and biodefense.

ACO Score: 88.77 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Ogden State:Utah

Weber State University offers both semester-based and self-paced online classes. Semester-based classes are similar to on-campus courses, while self-paced courses can be started at any time and students have up to six months to complete them.

WSU Online offers 16 degree programs. Bachelor’s degrees include health information management, medical laboratory science, professional sales, and radiologic sciences. Students can earn an associate’s degree in general studies, medical laboratory technician, health information technology or computer science. There are also two certificates available online: Health Care Coding & Classification and Health Information Management. Some programs require minimum on-campus time; for example, B.S. in Professional Sales students are required to make one three-day visit.

ACO Score: 88.76 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Cedar Falls State:Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa is a public university that offers more than 90 majors through their College of Business Administration, College of Education, College of Humanities, Arts & Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Graduate College. The Princeton Review has recognized the school as one of the “Best in the Midwest” and for the past 12 years U.S. News & World Report has ranked it 2nd for best “Regional Universities.”

UNI has a Distance Education Program that offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees online, as well as certificates and endorsements, in a range of subject areas. Distance programs are offered through the following delivery methods:

  • Arranged – Instructor arranges how coursework is completed and submitted
  • Blended – Where courses are administered in multiple ways, usually in a manner that reduces face-to-face sessions
  • Guided Independent Study (GIS) – With this method, students work independently and at their own pace, but are guided by a UNI faculty member

Other methods include online eLearning and interactive video conferencing.

ACO Score: 88.61 Student-Teacher Ratio: 24:1 City:Mankato State:Minnesota

Minnesota State University – Mankato offers a variety of online degree, certificate and licensure programs for students who want to continue their education but need to attend classes away from a traditional on-campus setting.

Aspiring teachers can earn licensure credentials in library media education, reading, teaching English as a second language, and business education. Bachelor’s completion programs are available in dental hygiene, nursing, international business, urban studies, technical communication, and applied organizational studies. Both undergraduate and graduate certificates are available in nonprofit leadership and technical communication, along with several graduate certificates. Students can also earn online master’s degrees in a variety of fields, including communication studies, Spanish for the professions, technical communication, forensics, and educational technology.

Students access online course materials through D2L, MSU’s online course management system.

ACO Score: 88.54 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Fort Myers State:Florida

Florida Gulf Coast University offers online degree, degree completion and certificate programs. FGCU provides the upper division courses needed to complete an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, health sciences or legal studies. Five online options for master’s degrees include special education, health science, public administration and business administration. For another graduate program focused on educational technology, the digital instruction methods match the course content. And students who are not interested in a degree can pursue an online certificate, for example, in health services administration or local government management.

Online courses are delivered over the Internet, typically using the Canvas learning management system — however, programs in areas like education could include a practicum. FGCU students also have access to academic offerings through Florida Virtual Campus and the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus.

ACO Score: 88.53 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Houston State:Texas

The University of Houston offers 23 online degree and certificate programs, including those in business, education, liberal arts and social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, engineering, and technology. Though most online offerings are for certificates, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, and master’s degree programs, there are three bachelor’s degree completion options—Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, and Bachelor of Science in Retailing and Consumer Science. These undergraduate options are ideal for online learners who have already completed an associate degree or a significant amount of college credit and wish to earn a full degree.

Students can take advantage of hybrid degree programs, with some courses taught on the University of Houston campus, but many courses can be completed online. Interactive television is also an option for students in the Houston area. Courses are completed via Blackboard, CourseWare, CourseCompass, or through the instructor’s dedicated website. Courses that are taught in a fully online format may still require students to have occasional meetings on campus; the frequency of such meetings is dependent upon the particular department and instructor.

ACO Score: 88.5 Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1 City:Chico State:California

Both undergraduate and graduate online degrees are offered by California State University Chico, as well as individual online courses. Web-based bachelor’s degree programs include majors in liberal studies, sociology and social science. Another undergraduate degree, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is tailored to the needs of registered nurses. The university has two online master’s degree programs: agricultural education and nursing. Those interested in providing career guidance could earn a career and life planning certificate through distance education.

Most courses associated with the programs are taught fully online. Electronic resources include campus email, discussion groups and portal accounts. Online course schedules generally follow the same timetable as courses taught in the classroom. The school uses a digital admissions process, allowing students to complete entrance applications over the Internet.

ACO Score: 88.3 Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1 City:Northridge State:California

California State University Northridge offers online programs in a range of majors, including a bachelor’s degree completion program in liberal studies. Online graduate degrees are available in public health, public policy, social work and other disciplines. The web-based public administration degree program has options to specialize in government, nonprofit or health care organizations. Graduation requirements could vary, with up to 75 credits and a minimum GPA for master’s degree level programs.

Most courses are provided fully online and using asynchronous technology, although a specific program, such as social work, could have scheduled “live” meetings. Multiple platforms are used to deliver distance learning courses, display test scores, and connect students with their classmates and instructors. Among these systems are MyNorthridge, a virtual campus portal, campus Gmail accounts, CSUN, Moodle and Box.

ACO Score: 88.01 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Murfreesboro State:Tennessee

Middle Tennessee State University offers online programs for students seeking flexibility. Online undergraduate minors and majors are available in areas like psychology and organizational communication. A professional studies degree features choices of emphasis, for example, healthcare administration or information technology. Web-based programs such as integrated studies allow participants to build on prior college course work and create a customized, interdisciplinary curriculum. Registered nurses can complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing online. Options for graduate degree programs include human resources, education and aviation.

Hybrid programs are also offered for both undergraduate and graduate programs, designed to give students face-to-face time in addition to online instruction. Distance learners have access to the resources traditional on-campus students have, including military and veteran services, summer school, library resources and advising.

ACO Score: 88.01 Student-Teacher Ratio: 29:1 City:Sacramento State:California

California State University Sacramento serves the community through online offerings such as a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice. An online bachelor’s degree completion program in career and technical studies targets individuals with professional expertise. At the graduate level, there is the Master of Science in Accountancy program. Additional distance learning options include courses and certificates in American Sign Language, fire service management and dropout prevention.

Express delivery library services are open to students who live 30 or more miles away from campus. References and textbooks are listed in Eureka, an online library catalog, and may be available digitally through the campus bookstore. The university uses a customized version of the Blackboard learning platform, campus email, recorded webcasts and video conferencing to deliver class lectures and to store student exam scores, course schedules and upcoming assignments.

ACO Score: 87.84 Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1 City:Nacogdoches State:Texas

Stephen F. Austin State University offers online degree programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels, using the Desire2Learn platform. Instruction is delivered in a variety of formats, including audio and video lecture, web conferencing, reading materials and presentations. The school has orientation tutorials for the learning management system and digital library resources.

Online bachelor’s degree offerings have prerequisites: the nursing program is for registered nurses, while the business administration degree completion program targets candidates who have an associate degree. Online programs in education — for example, special education — are designed for individuals with experience in the field who have completed 45 college credit hours.

Web-based master’s degree programs include public administration, human science, forestry and resource interpretation, education, and music theory and composition.

Online certificate programs are also available in fields like hospitability administration.

ACO Score: 87.82 Student-Teacher Ratio: 38:1 City:Columbia State:Missouri

Columbia College’s offerings include hundreds of online undergraduate courses and over 25 online degrees—associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs. Bachelor degree programs include general studies, political science, public administration, management information systems, business and other fields. Students may choose from a variety of master’s programs including educational leadership, criminal science, military studies and business administration. CC has several certificate programs in areas such as crime scene investigation, human resource management, management and marketing management.

CC’s online classes are taught in eight-week sessions starting five times throughout the year. Students access course materials through CC’s online course management system and can complete assignments at any time of the day or night—so long as they meet specific course deadlines. Some programs offer the chance for an internship or practicum in addition to online instruction.

ACO Score: 87.82 Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1 City:Carson State:California

Online programs available at California State University Dominguez Hills include undergraduate and graduate degrees ranging from Master of Business Administration to Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Web-based master’s degree offerings also cover subject areas such as public administration, conflict resolution and quality assurance. A bachelor’s degree in applied studies is available via TV and Internet. Blackboard, MyCSUDH, campus email and video conferencing are among the resources that are used to deliver distance learning courses.

Students need at least a 2.0 high school GPA and passing college entrance exam scores for admission into undergrad distance education programs from CSU Dominguez Hills. Application requirements may depend on the discipline — for example, the online master’s in nursing program requires a registered nurse license and a prior degree in the field.

ACO Score: 87.81 Student-Teacher Ratio: 23:1 City:Saint Cloud State:Minnesota

St. Cloud State University offers undergraduate and graduate programs through online and blended course delivery. At the undergraduate level, students can complete fully online minors in subjects such as community psychology. At the graduate level, students can choose from online degrees in areas like applied behavior analysis or criminal justice studies. Licensure preparation programs are also available online for driver education and teaching English as a second language.

Other options include blended programs that combine online learning with face-to-face time at the Minnesota campus. Examples of hybrid programs are the bachelor’s degree in land surveying and mapping or the master’s degree in information media, with an emphasis in instructional design and training. SCSU’s distance education programs use a variety of tools for online learning and communication, including web conferencing, podcasts, interactive television and media. Many courses are taught by tenured, on-campus faculty.

ACO Score: 87.5 Student-Teacher Ratio: 14:1 City:Saratoga Springs State:New York

SUNY Empire State College, part of the State University of New York, offers online degree programs through its Center for Distance Learning and the Open SUNY initiative. Students work with a faculty mentor to design degree programs that can be completed entirely through distance courses. Concentrations are available in diverse areas:

  • Arts and humanities
  • Business, management and economics
  • Community and human services
  • Cultural or historical studies
  • Education or human development
  • Labor studies
  • Public affairs
  • Science, mathematics and technology
  • Social science

Programs are structured so that no on-campus time is required, and orientation materials can be viewed online. Instruction is delivered through methods such as readings, videos and discussion forums. Students submit assignments and assessments, including research papers, projects and tests, online. In addition to online graduate and undergraduate offerings, SUNY students have access to hundreds of individual web-based courses.

ACO Score: 87.46 Student-Teacher Ratio: 9:1 City:Daytona Beach State:Florida

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide is an online campus that allows students from all over the globe to earn degrees. Online options include everything from undergraduate to graduate degrees and certificate programs. Specialized master’s degree programs available through distance education range from unmanned systems to aeronautical science with an emphasis in airport management.

Web-based degree programs from Embry-Riddle target specific aspects of the aviation industry such as business administration, finance, maintenance and security. Additional majors focus on leadership, engineering fundamentals, technical management, transportation, information security and assurance, management information systems and more.

Embry-Riddle’s undergraduate online programs have 12 term starts each year while the graduate programs begin five times per year. Distance learners have access to the resources that students find at the school’s campuses, including academic and career advising, library access, and veteran and military support services.

ACO Score: 87.15 Student-Teacher Ratio: 41:1 City:Salt Lake City State:Utah

Western Governors University offers a number of online degrees for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students can earn their bachelor’s degree in a number of teaching, business, information technology, or health professions areas, including business management, accounting, nursing, health informatics, and software development. Graduate students also have numerous choices for master’s degrees, including elementary education, science education, healthcare management, information technology management, and nursing.

WGU tailors their programs for working adults, and provides flexible classes and faculty mentors. Classes have assignments and tests, but are in a large part based on student competency and self-paced. Students are able to take tests when they feel ready, based on course work or knowledge they’ve gained from life and professional experience.

ACO Score: 86.99 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Boone State:North Carolina

Appalachian State University offers more than six undergraduate and four graduate degrees via distance learning as well as web-based certificate programs. The schedule for online offerings can vary, but typical undergraduate degrees that the school confers include advertising, business management, business education and communication studies. Among the school’s online graduate options is a master’s degree in educational media, focused on either new media or instructional technology.

The Appalachian Learning Alliance, Open Door and AppONLINE are some of the resources that support online courses. Some degree programs are fully online while others require students to complete laboratory work on campus or internships at schools. Appalachian State University also has a partnership with the University of North Carolina through which it gives students access to additional online course options.

ACO Score: 86.46 Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1 City:Charlottesville State:Virginia

The University of Virginia offers various online programs through its School of Continuing and Professional Studies. There is one degree program available, while the remaining options are certificates in various fields.

Students wishing to earn an online degree have one choice—The Bachelor of Professional Studies in Health Sciences Management, which can be earned full-time or part-time. The degree is targeted to those already holding a healthcare position. Students can complete the online degree in as little as 10 terms, or 3.3 years, but they have up to 21 terms, or 7 years. While most of the coursework can be completed online, four courses do have short in-person requirements that must be completed in Charlottesville.

ACO Score: 86.16 Student-Teacher Ratio: 23:1 City:Bend State:Oregon

Oregon State University’s Ecampus offers undergraduate and graduate programs online, including 17 bachelor’s degrees, nine master’s degrees, two doctorates, undergrad minors, individual courses and certificate programs. Some programs may include on-campus instruction or have special prerequisites, like the computer science degree designed for those who already hold a baccalaureate.

Students who complete a distance degree program at Oregon State receive the same diploma and transcript as on-campus students, and distance students can request in-state tuition rates. Services available to online learners include remote access to libraries, student success counseling, the OSU computer help desk, career services and 24/7 tutoring help. Online classes are supported by the Blackboard learning management system. OSU offers an Ecampus demo course where students can take an online tour and learn how to use the tools and features necessary for their classwork.

ACO Score: 85.98 Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1 City:Oshkosh State:Wisconsin

Students at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh have several choices for online bachelor’s degrees. Bachelor of Liberal Studies students can major in leadership development, liberal studies or organizational administration, while Bachelor of Applied Studies students can choose from fire and emergency response management, leadership and organizational studies, aviation management or public safety. Those interested in human services leadership and criminal justice have the choice of a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Each degree has its own graduation requirements, though for the degrees listed all classes can be taken online. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh uses the Desire2Learn platform for delivering classes, through which students are able to interact with one another, watch class lectures, participate in class discussions, and more.

ACO Score: 82.34 Student-Teacher Ratio: 23:1 City:Greenwood Village State:Colorado

Colorado State University’s Global Campus aims to provide higher learning opportunities for students within the state and beyond. It offers online programs such as bachelor’s and master’s degrees, an Education Academy for practicing teachers and organizational training for professionals.

Degree programs from CSU-Global include business, marketing, healthcare administration, organizational leadership, criminal justice, information technology and other fields. Students may choose an area of specialization — for example, online accounting students could focus on criminal forensics or data management and analysis.

All programs are 100 percent online and delivered asynchronously, allowing students the flexibility to log in and “attend” class on their own schedule. Applicants to CSU-Global can also explore alternative credit options, including competency-based testing, self-guided learning and transfer credits.


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.

Fordham University
Total Cost: $42,057 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Harvard University
Total Cost: $39,966 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Yale University
Total Cost: $42,300 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

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

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.

Stanford University
Total Cost: $42,225 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Chicago
Total Cost: $45,609 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Duke University
Total Cost: $43,623 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Total Cost: $42,050 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Pennsylvania
Total Cost: $43,738 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

California Institute of Technology
Total Cost: $39,588 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Johns Hopkins University
Total Cost: $43,390 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Northwestern University
Total Cost: $43,779 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Brown University
Total Cost: $43,758 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Cornell University
Total Cost: $43,413 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Vanderbilt University
Total Cost: $42,118 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Rice University
Total Cost: $37,292 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Notre Dame
Total Cost: $42,971 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Emory University
Total Cost: $42,980 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Georgetown University
Total Cost: $42,870 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of California-Berkeley
Total Cost: $12,874 School Type: Public Website:

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.

Carnegie Mellon University
Total Cost: $45,760 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of California-Los Angeles
Total Cost: $12,692 School Type: Public Website:

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.

University of Southern California
Total Cost: $44,463 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Virginia-Main Campus
Total Cost: $12,216 School Type: Public Website:

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.

Wake Forest University
Total Cost: $43,200 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Tufts University
Total Cost: $44,666 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Total Cost: $12,994 School Type: Public Website:

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.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Total Cost: $7,693 School Type: Public Website:

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.

Boston University
Total Cost: $42,994 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Brandeis University
Total Cost: $44,294 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

New York University
Total Cost: $43,204 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Rochester
Total Cost: $43,666 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Total Cost: $10,098 School Type: Public Website:

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.

Case Western Reserve University
Total Cost: $40,490 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Total Cost: $16,444 School Type: Public Website:

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.

University of California-Davis
Total Cost: $13,877 School Type: Public Website:

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.”

University of California-San Diego
Total Cost: $13,217 School Type: Public Website:

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.

Lehigh University
Total Cost: $42,220 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of California-Santa Barbara
Total Cost: $13,671 School Type: Public Website:

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.

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Total Cost: $10,378 School Type: Public Website:

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.

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

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.

Northeastern University
Total Cost: $40,086 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

The University of Texas at Austin
Total Cost: $9,790 School Type: Public Website:

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.

Pepperdine University
Total Cost: $42,772 School Type: Private not-for-profit Website:

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.

University of Connecticut
Total Cost: $11,242 School Type: Public Website:

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.


Finding the Best Online Colleges for You

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 best online colleges can be a tough task. What makes an online college great? How do today’s online colleges differ and why? Which one is right for you? The following article addresses these questions, 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?

So 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. It’s all about perspective.