Cheap Online Colleges with Quality Programs – 2014

The continued rise in tuition and fees has many students and parents wondering if cheap online colleges are the way to go. Can I save money by learning online? Do the cheapest online colleges provide quality education? Finding low-cost opportunities can be the key to more students getting the higher education they deserve. However, every family preparing to take the post-secondary plunge should make sure all college options on the table, especially the most affordable ones, meet specific academic standards. The following resource page examines cheap colleges in detail — with a keen eye on online colleges — and ranks some of 2014’s top online schools by cost AND quality.

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While it may seem like an affordable opportunity, the price of online education depends on the institution and the degree program. For example, many non-profit colleges — traditional colleges and universities — now have full-length, fully online degree programs at multiple academic levels. Community colleges often have dozens of relatively short-term online programs that end in a specialized diploma, certificate or associate degree. And four-year schools, whether public or private, routinely offer online or hybrid programs for students working toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These online learning options come with price tags comparable to those of a traditional face-to-face program, which usually means the cheaper the school, the cheaper the online program.

For-profit colleges, however, which specialize in distance learning, can possess very different cost-related pros and cons. For instance, many of these schools are a business, so they do not receive state or federal funding like public colleges or universities do. This can mean higher-than-usual tuition and fees than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Yet taking an online class offers students a unique set of cost-saving benefits, including the lack of commuting, parking fees and other campus-specific costs that may arise. Bottom line, when looking at online colleges, whether traditional or for-profit, analyze the school and program carefully to make sure you get the education you need at the price you want.

Two-Year Colleges: Cheapest Path to an Online Degree

When it comes to cost, non-profit versus for-profit is only part of the online college equation. Students looking for a quality program for cheap should also consider institutional level. Two-year colleges with distance learning options, which includes online community colleges and junior colleges, offer a pair of distinct advantages not always found at four-year universities:

  • Cheaper tuition rates: Two-year schools often cost far less than their four-year counterparts. These more cost- and community-friendly institutions keep tuition lower to ensure a wider variety of students can afford a degree. Many students also use two-year colleges to earn as many pre-requisites as possible before transferring to a university – a much cheaper two-year option.

  • Targeted learning: Two-year colleges allow students to earn online associate degrees, certificates and diplomas in very specific areas. For example, a medical assistant may need special training in medical coding in order to qualify for promotion.

One student’s idea of a cheap online college may be different from another’s. Each college hopeful has a unique set of monetary needs that shape what he or she can and can’t afford. Yet in general, the cheapest online colleges provide their students with quality distance learning opportunities at an affordable price. A great place to start researching such colleges is by getting a better handle on their cost structures.

A Closer Look at Cost

On the surface, cost may seem simple. If tuition at College A is more than tuition at College B, then College B is cheaper, right? Not necessarily, especially with distance learning. In addition to standard tuition and fee differences between colleges, students need to think about secondary costs that may seem less important, but that surely contribute to the bottom line. Here’s a look at the entire cost spectrum when it comes to online education.

Understanding Tuition & Fees

Tuition serves as the primary cost of a college education, campus or online. Post-secondary institutions usually set tuition rates by credit and academic period. For example, a university may charge $200 per credit to attend graduate school for a full semester. Therefore, if a student takes 10 credits per semester, that’s $2,000 per semester and $4,000 per year.

Of course, certain elements influence the price of tuition for each student. Residency, for instance, can dictate whether someone pays in-state tuition or out-of-state tuition. Many state colleges and universities require applicants to live in the same state as the institution for a minimum of six months before enrollment to qualify for the cheaper in-state rate. Applicants who moved to the state to attend the college specifically may need to pay the out-of-state amount. Some schools with distance learning alternatives allow students to take online programs and pay in-state tuition – a big money saver. Others, however, charge all students the same amount regardless of where they live.

While not as hefty as tuition, fees can add up. Some college bills include charges for lab use, library access, parking, health insurance and, when the time comes, graduation. Although both campus and online programs come with fees, they can differ rather significantly. For example, a parking pass for a campus-based student can run up to $500 per year, something an online student won’t need to pay. In contrast, many online programs charge technology fees for every single class, no matter the subject, which can reach into the triple digits. Tech fees for campus students are usually reserved for tech-oriented courses. Potential fees to watch out for with online learning include:

  • Technology fees
  • Assessment fees (English and math) to gauge aptitude before enrollment
  • Graduation fees
  • Travel fees (hybrid programs, or online programs at the graduate level, may require campus visits at the student’s expense)

Some students may also avoid certain fees by learning remotely. The parking pass is the most ready example, but others include computer fees, campus/service fees and recreation/activity fees. Always keep in mind that when researching programs and courses, account for all fees that could occur from day one to commencement. It’s always good to overestimate.

Room & Board

Students enrolled in campus-based programs often live in a dormitory – at least during their first year or two. According to The College Board, the cost of on-campus housing ranged from $9,500 to $10,830 in 2013, depending on the type of college (public or private) and the package chosen by the student. Online learning, however, allows students to select from a wider variety of living options, including room and board farther away from campus and/or in a place with cheaper rent and amenities.

Others Costs to Consider

It’s also important to account for the often-overlooked costs that can creep up and bite you in the wallet. For campus commuters, this means one or more travel-related expenses, including car maintenance, gas and tolls. For online learners, heftier Internet bills, Skype and other tech-based education solutions could mean less money for leisure time. The good news is, although colleges serve as the source of many of these costs, they also provide myriad ways for students to save.

Online College on the Cheap: Ways to Save

Many students qualify for some sort of financial assistance to help pay for college. Student loans are the most popular, but need to be paid back with interest after the student leaves school – with diploma in hand or not. One of the best ways to defray college costs lies in funding that doesn’t require payback during or after program completion. The following “ways to pay” give students (and parents) a chance to make the college experience manageable when it comes to money.

  • Scholarships: Numerous types of scholarships exist. Each year college students receive money for tuition based on academics, athletics, family history, race, gender and more. Even those who may not qualify for these traditional scholarships can (and should!) research creative scholarships to see what’s out there. Private companies, research firms, non-profits and other organizations offer scholarships for things as offbeat as being left-handed or having the best duck call.

  • Grants: Grants are another type of financial aid award that does not have to be repaid. Federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, are awarded based on need. States and college also award student grants. There are even career-specific grants, such as the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, which provides up to $4,000 to students who agree to teach in low-income school districts upon graduation.

  • Assistantships: This form of financial agreement usually occurs at the graduate level. Students work for a professor (grading papers or running discussion groups or labs) in exchange for discounted tuition. Some assistantships allow students to apply their earnings to housing, fees or any other way they see fit.

In addition to big-ticket money items, there’s a ton of ways students (and parents) can make college cheaper. Some may be common sense, but others could be difference makers. Ways to save a little hard-earned cash include:

  • Buying or borrowing used textbooks: Amazon has a strong collection of used books, and if you’re a Prime member, some can be borrowed at no additional cost. And if you’re a history major, some texts may be available online for free.

  • Eat in: Seems easy, but grabbing coffee and a bagel in the morning and a sandwich in the afternoon adds up. Take your breakfast and lunch as much as you can.

  • Cheap transportation: If you have a bike, use it. Live near a bus line? Get a pass. Taking an online program? You don’t need to go anywhere.

  • Take advantage of student discounts: Many businesses on or around a campus will give ANY college student a discount. If you’re an online student, it still applies. See which restaurants, department stores and other business help students save.

Making a college education cheaper should be the goal of every student. No one wants to pay more than required. Yet when researching cheap online colleges, or even campus-focused colleges, no education should come at the expense of quality.

The Importance of Quality

Cost is important, but it isn’t everything. A cheap college or university carries zero academic and professional value without quality programs for students. But how do students and parents know an institution has sufficient quality standards? It starts with accreditation, but other factors should be weighed, as well. Learn what to look for to ensure all colleges on the short list have the right cost and quality balance.

  • Accreditation:  The first step to assessing the quality of an online college or program is checking its accreditation. Accreditation means that an independent agency endorsed by the Department of Education has thoroughly vetted a college and/or program for academic excellence, faculty credentials, student support, available resources and more. Earning full accreditation can take years to achieve, and usually entails multiple visits to an institution. For a complete look at the types of accreditation and how the process works, visit our new, expert-driven online guide to college accreditation.

  • Graduation rates:  If you start a degree program, you want to finish it. Dropping out can mean a huge loss of time and financial investment. If an online college has a high graduation rate, it often means they support their students and provide top-notch education and career services. Low rates can be a huge red flag. It could mean many things, among them that students can’t get the courses they need to complete their degree, that the online classes are falling below what students expected, that students are discovering the online school is actually a degree mill pumping out useless diplomas, and more.

  • Reputation with employers:  Getting a job is a main reason students pursue a degree. Knowing a school’s reputation with employers can help you gauge how well you might do in the job market after graduation, and how much you might earn. However, it is also an indication of the value of the degree and how much students learn. If eager students are failing in the workplace time and time again, it could be a reflection of the online program, not of the students themselves. Or it could be an indication that students are allowed into the program too readily and are given a great amount of leniency during the course. Remember: Just because a course or program is online, or just because it is an inexpensive option, doesn’t mean that the quality should be any less than in-person classes.

Some people think cheap equals weak. That attending a college with a small price tag means receiving a mediocre education. Yet more and more institutions nationwide have made tuition affordable while maintaining (or even increasing) the quality of their distance learning programs at every level. The following not-for-profit colleges and universities have solid price tags, healthy student services, respectable graduation rates, generous aid packages and a wealth of online programs from which to choose.

For a detailed breakdown of why each college made the list, please visit our methodology page.

Tuition and fees: $129.18 per credit hour % Students receiving aid: 89% 6-year grad rate: 87%

UF Online offers nine bachelor’s degrees, four “two and two” bachelor’s degrees (students must earn their associate degree before earning the bachelor’s), and 69 master’s degrees in areas such as engineering, agricultural and life sciences, pharmacy, education and journalism, among others. Students can expand their education even further with 10 doctorate degrees. International programs are available in audiology, clinical pharmacy, forensic science and international construction management, and the college offers three specialist degrees in education.

UF Online also has numerous non-degree courses, certificates and continuing education available:

  • Flexible Learning Courses are offered to those who are seeking undergraduate credits, but are not enrolled as a student at the university. These self-paced courses must be completed within 16 weeks.
  • Distance Learning Courses do not require students to be enrolled at UF, but they do require a non-degree application. Most of these courses follow the traditional UF semester calendar.
  • Professional Development or CEU courses are designed for those who need certain certifications, advanced training or continuing education units. There is no degree credit earned for these courses.

Non-degree certificates are available in three undergraduate areas and 11 graduate areas, and may or may not offer degree or transfer credit. There are also many non-credit courses available to anyone who is interested.

University of Florida uses two platforms for online learning: Canvas and Sakai. Some courses are asynchronous, while others are a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning. The school also uses many virtual teaching and research tools, including VoiceThread discussion boards, Qualtrics survey software and Turnitin plagiarism checker. UF Online students have full access to all virtual teaching and research tools. Students admitted to UF Online also have access to all student support services, including webmail, online bookstores and libraries, online course management systems and more.

Tuition and fees: $215.55 per credit hour + fees based on program % Students receiving aid: 80% 6-year grad rate: 77%

FSU Online offers seven bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed entirely online, including interdisciplinary social science, criminology, the BA or BS in computer science and three concentrations in public safety and security. These are advanced standing degree programs, meaning that a student must have completed at least 60 hours of transferable credit and meet junior-level transfer requirements. Students must have also completed liberal studies requirements and any specific program prerequisites before applying.

Certificate programs are available in multicultural marketing and emergency management. Entry into a certificate program begins with the non-degree-seeking student application. FSU Online also offers a set of specialized study courses for those interested in criminology.

FSU Online has 16 graduate degrees in seven major areas, including business, education, nursing, engineering, social work, criminal justice and communications. Post-master’s programs include specialist degrees in educational leadership/administration and library and information studies.

Sixteen graduate certificate programs are also available, as well as three post-master’s certificate programs. Specialized studies on the graduate level include business professional specialization and blended and online learning and teaching (also known as the BOLT program).

FSU Online uses the popular Blackboard platform. Course materials are available for purchase or rent through the FSU Bookstore or Bill’s Bookstore. Most courses are asynchronous and follow a regular semester schedule. Assessments are performed either online or at an external site via proctored exam. In addition to interacting with instructors and fellow students, academic coordinators are also on hand to help, and some programs make use of mentors who act as online teaching assistants. Online students at FSU have the access to the same support services as on-campus students, including libraries, banking services, the career center and more.

Tuition and fees: $221 per credit hour % Students receiving aid: 65% 6-year grad rate: 49%

Pittsburg State University offers six online degree programs. Two undergraduate online programs taught at the university concentrate on nursing and technology and workforce learning. Students who complete these two programs earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Workforce Development; the latter degree gives students the chance to specialize in supervision and leadership or human resource. At the graduate level, Pittsburg State University confers Master of Engineering Technology, Master of Science in Health, Human Performance and Recreation, Master of Science in Education, Master of Science in Teaching and Master of Science in Reading online degrees. Students enrolled in online programs can also earn a Master of Science in Human Resource Development or a Master of Arts in Special Education Teaching.

Depending on their major, students need to complete 30 to 37 credit hours to graduate. For example, if students pursue a Master of Arts in History online and enroll in the Option 1 program, they are required to submit a thesis and complete 30 credits to graduate. Under Option 2, students must pass two history seminars and earn 32 credit hours to graduate.

Pittsburg State University uses Canvas, a digital learning platform, to administer its undergraduate and graduate online programs. Canvas is compatible with some mobile devices and works with Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems. Students use Canvas to submit coursework, access their grades, communicate with classmates, and respond to inquiries from their professors.

In addition to being fully approved to offer online programs in more than 25 states, Pittsburg State University allows non-resident, part-time students enrolled in its online programs to pay in-resident tuition rates. Students enrolled in undergraduate online programs must not take more than 9 hours of coursework; graduate students are limited to taking 8 hours of coursework to qualify for the lower tuition.

Tuition and fees: $284  per credit hour % Students receiving aid: 63% 6-year grad rate: 60%

Ball State University is located in Muncie, IN, but students can complete undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates without ever setting foot on campus. Ball State’s Department of Online and Distance Education coordinates wholly online or blended (hybrid) degree programs that offer maximum scheduling versatility for distance learners. Key offerings are in the fields of business, communications, technology, education, nursing, counseling and healthcare.

Online Degrees at Ball State

Online degrees require no on-campus attendance during the semester, enabling students to complete entire degree programs from wherever they live or work. Currently the university offers associate degrees in radiology and in general studies. Online undergraduate degrees include:

  • Bachelor’s in Business Administration
  • Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education
  • Bachelor’s in General Studies
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (RN to BS)

Wholly online graduate degrees include:

  • Master’s of Educational Psychology
  • Master’s of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master’s of Elementary Education
  • Master’s of Executive Development
  • Master’s of Nursing
  • Doctoral Specialist in Education (EdS) in School Superintendency
Blended and Hybrid Degrees at Ball State

Online degree programs that require visits to campus or clinics and off-campus schools are called “blended” or hybrid degrees. At Ball State, some online degree programs allow students to select from wholly online or blended formats. Hybrid programs include studies leading to a:

  • Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master’s in Public Relations
  • Master’s in Urban Design
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) in Adult, Higher, and Community Education
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Administration and Supervision
  • Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Distance Learning Systems at Ball State

Students pursing online and blended degrees conduct their class interactions via the Blackboard interface using email, chats, media streaming and other communications tools. Presentations are delivered through the Mediasite program, allowing students to view and listen to classroom lectures at their convenience. Note: Some of Ball State’s online courses include fixed-time sessions where students must log on at a scheduled interval to view live media presentations, lectures and discussions.

Tuition and fees: $274.00 per credit hour + $76.00 per credit hour distance learning fee % Students receiving aid: 61% 6-year grad rate: 70%

The University of Missouri – Columbia currently offers more than 90 online college degrees and certificates through its Mizzou Online program. Students attend more than 900 online classes leading to bachelor, master’s, doctoral degrees and professional certificates. Almost all of the University of Missouri academic departments provide degree programs through Mizzou Online.

Fully Online Degrees

Mizzou’s 100-percent online degree programs require no campus participation and are administered by the university’s major schools, including:

  • College of Agriculture
  • College of Arts & Science
  • College of Education and Educational Technology
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Human Environmental Sciences
  • College of Veterinarian Medicine
  • Health Management and Informatics
  • Public Health
  • School of Health Professions
  • School of Journalism
  • Sinclair School of Nursing Truman School of Public Affairs
  • Trulaske College of Business

Semester and course requirements will vary. For example, wholly online courses can include both synchronous and asynchronous discussion requirements. Asynchronous (self-paced) sessions are available at the students’ convenience, while synchronous (real-time) meetings are scheduled. Self-paced courses can be completed in just over a month. Longer courses can take up to 9 months. New programs this year include a graduate certificate in positive psychology, an M Ed in mathematics education and an M Ed in English education.

Hybrid Programs

Nearly 40 programs combine online education with required college campus, K-12 schoolroom or laboratory settings. These hybrid programs are primarily found in health, education, business, nursing and environmental degree programs. There are also courses defined as “web assisted”, establishing face-to-face meetings with professors over course of the semester.

Learning Systems

Mizzou Online semester-based classes are offered to distance learners through the Blackboard software system, including email, chat, Tegra lecture capture, Winba voice tools and Blackboard Scholar. Self-paced courses are conducted through the myZou campus system for enrollments, materials, and academic calendar of delivery dates.

Tuition and fees: $330.50 per hour + $43.50 per credit hour in fees % Students receiving aid: 65% 6-year grad rate: 43%

Students at University of Illinois Springfield online can choose between undergraduate, graduate, certificate and certification programs. UIS offers eight bachelor’s degree programs, as well as five minors. Undergraduate programs include business administration, computer science, liberal studies, history, English, management information systems, mathematics and philosophy. The graduate side offers 10 online degrees, including programs in legal studies, human services administration, computer science, public health and more. Ten graduate certificates are also available online, as well as one post-master’s certificate for Chief School Business Officer. The certification program in mathematics, teacher education is available online, as well.

All students who want to take online courses through UIS must be enrolled at the university. Once admitted, students receive an Enterprise ID, which is used to log into the registration system of the University of Illinois System. Upon enrollment in an online course, a student is automatically granted access to Blackboard, the platform on which the majority of the school’s online courses are administered. Those who need help with Blackboard can turn to tutorials, online guides and the UIS Tech Support for assistance.

The instructor decides whether a class is in “real-time” or self-paced. In many cases, a blend of both types of learning is required for the course. For instance, students might complete homework on their own schedule, and then meet with their class at a predetermined time once a week. Though some course examinations can be taken entirely online, others might require proctored examinations in a classroom location – this requirement will be made clear to students upon enrollment in the course. Most teachers choose to use email or a conferencing system as the main delivery method of class information, and books and other materials are readily available through online bookstores. Students will also have access to online technical support, libraries, career services and much more.

Tuition and fees: $362 per credit hour + $8 per credit hour information technology fee % Students receiving aid: 64% 6-year grad rate: 49%

Adults can enroll in over 80 blended and fully online programs at Northern Arizona University. The programs are administered through the school’s Extended Campuses. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are conferred in subjects like administration, technology management, educational technology, justice studies, logistics and supply chain management, administration leadership and small business administration.

Fully online degrees include a Master of Education in Educational Technology, Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, Master of Arts in English with an emphasis on General English, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with an emphasis on Allied Health, Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Sciences and a Master of Education in Career and Technical Education. Northern Arizona University’s blended degree programs include a Bachelor of Applied Science in Administration, Master of Administration in Construction Management, Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management and a Master of Administration in Project Management.

Other options open to adults at Northern Arizona University include undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in areas such as emergency management, educational technology, teaching English as a second language and speech-language pathology assistant. It takes about 21 credits to finish undergraduate certificates and 30 credits to complete graduate certificates.

Students need an estimated 120 credit hours to graduate from bachelor’s degree programs, and a minimum of 30 credits to graduate from master’s degree programs. It is possible to transfer credits from many of the programs into other classroom and online courses. For example, up to 90 units or credits from the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Technology Management can be transferred.

Online courses are taught using Blackboard Learn. Some courses are self-paced. However, the majority of the classes in real-time, requiring students to sign into classes at specific times. Types of support offered to students include the NAU Cline Library, AZTutor Online and a Student Technology Center. Technology support is offered 24/7 through the Student Technology Center. Students gain access to resources like digital journals, Google Scholar and e-books with the NAU Cline Library.

Tuition and fees: $480 - $543 per credit hour, depending on program % Students receiving aid: 75% 6-year grad rate: 47%

Arizona State University offers online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can earn degrees in fields such as business, art, education, communications, criminal justice, engineering, film, family and human development, history, nursing and technology. Approximately 18 credit hours are needed to graduate with a certificate, while 120 credits are needed for bachelor’s degrees. The school requires students to complete an estimated 30 credits to earn a master’s degree.

Arizona State University also gives students the change to earn certificates online in various subjects, most notably clinical research management, English as a second language, and supply chain management. Several undergraduate online degrees are offered, including a Bachelor of Art in Art History, Bachelor of Art in Food Industry Management, Bachelor of Art in Retail Management, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Sciences. Options like a Master of Applied Science in American Media and Popular Culture, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Construction Management, Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Information Management are open to graduate students.

The degree programs are designed with a mix of blended and fully online classes. Some programs taught completely online depend on simulation tools. For example, the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering program is designed with a combination of online courses and simulated laboratory assignments, the latter used to provide students with a practical, real-world learning experience.

Courses are taught using Arizona State University’s LearningStudio. Students access the LearningStudio to get course materials, review case studies, submit assignments and communicate with professors. Materials are set up on a week-by-week format. Other resources available include Library One Search, Google education applications, iWork and the Windows Media Player. It takes about 18 hours a week to complete assignments associated with a three-credit hour course.

Tuition and fees: $479 per credit hour + $18 per credit hour fee for distance tech & support % Students receiving aid: 67% 6-year grad rate: 56%

The University of Maine is comprised of seven campuses spread across the state. The university system operates a one-stop, inclusive online degree and certificate educational program called Online Maine. Students located anywhere can attend classes and complete degree programs from a University of Maine campus that specializes in the student’s major. Online Maine has 70 majors leading to associate, bachelor’s, master’s degrees and certificates. The broadest online degree options are in business, computers and information technology, education and the social sciences. Courses and programs can be taken entirely online or in blended modes requiring campus visits.

Online Maine Distance Degrees

For students who cannot attend campus at all, fully online programs at the University of Maine fit the bill. For some majors, there may be an initial on-campus orientation. Online Maine undergraduate degrees include:

  • Associate of Arts in Accounting
  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Certificate in Healthcare Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • The State of Maine Special Education Certification
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems
  • Bachelor in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Adult and Higher Education
Blended Online Maine Degrees

More than 15 of Online Maine’s undergraduate, graduate degree and certificate programs are in majors that require institution-based practical learning. In blended programs, students often undertake classroom studies, tests and projects online, while attending sessions in classrooms or clinical locations. A good example is the graduate certificate in business program where students must demonstrate their leadership and communications skills in a real-time setting. Online Maine’s blended programs include:

  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor’s in Nursing Degree (RN to BS)
  • Bachelor’s in Business Administration – Management and Accounting
  • Bachelor’s in Applied Science (completion degree)
  • Master’s in Education – Literacy
  • Master’s in Computer Engineering
The Online Maine Course Delivery System

Courses are delivered to distance students in online and blended programs using the Blackboard software system. Students receive assignments and turn them in via Blackboard. They also use the interface to virtually attend class meetings, discussions and lectures. The system includes chat tools, email, and voice/video conferencing.

Tuition and fees: $585 per credit hour + $325 in fees % Students receiving aid: 92% 6-year grad rate: 27%

Thomas University, a small private college in Georgia, today offers 70 percent of its courses entirely online or in hybrid formats that combine online learning with face-to-face class meetings. The Thomas faculty helped to develop the “high-touch” learning environments designed for the university’s online programs. Online degree options are offered at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels in fields such as nursing, criminal justice, education, biology and counseling.

Thomas University 100% Online Degrees

Thomas distance students can complete these degree programs entirely from the online location and schedule of their choice:

  • Associate of Science in Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Community Counseling
  • Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling

Online course requirements are established by the academic departments and faculty members to suit the distance student. The total number of courses varies by specialization. For example, students in the online law enforcement program can choose to complete the full, 60-unit associate’s degree program. However, the requirements change whether the end-goal is a degree with law enforcement certifications (seven core classes) or correctional officer certifications (12 core classes).

Hybrid Programs at Thomas University

Hybrid programs combine self-paced online learning with required attendance at campus or professional training settings.

Thomas’ hybrid degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Campus sessions are at: Thomasville, GA; Capital Regional Medical Center, Tallahassee, Florida; Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Tallahassee, Florida; Colquitt Regional Medical Center, Moultrie, Georgia.
  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Master of Science in Community Counseling
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Certificate in Religion Studies
Learning Systems

Online students still receive close contact with educators and peers through the Blackboard+Learn course platform and Softchalk interactive tools. The Blackboard Collaborate system provides online tools for live web conferencing, voice authoring, instant messaging, and mobile-device connectivity. New online students can enroll in free interface training courses.