Ohio Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

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Online Colleges in Ohio: A Guide

In all states, including Ohio, private for-profit institutions dominated online learning for years. For over 10 years, traditional colleges in Ohio have been incorporating distance learning into their curricula, giving students the option of working toward certificates and degrees remotely. That trend is continuing, with an increasing number of Ohio schools entering the online education market or expanding their current programs.

The leading providers of online learning in the public college sector are the 14 universities of the University System of Ohio, whose biggest two campuses are Ohio State University in Columbus and the University of Cincinnati. Among programs of note offered by private, not-for-profit online colleges in the state are the University of Dayton in Dayton, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Tiffin University in Tiffin. Distance learning programs are also offered by more than 25 2-year Ohio public community colleges.

One of the best methods of gauging a state’s current college environment is to take a look at what is happening in education in its biggest cities. Located in the center of the state, Columbus is both Ohio’s capital and its largest city, with approximately 800,000 residents. Its size and importance makes it one of the state’s postsecondary education centers. The next two sections focus on higher education in the Columbus metropolitan area.

Colleges and Universities in Columbus

Ohio’s state capital and largest city, Columbus has a celebrated past in higher education, primarily for its flagship campus of the Ohio State University (OSU). OSU offers 137 undergraduate degrees and hosts 57,466 undergrad students with the largest percentage of enrollments in engineering, business, arts and sciences, and education. OSU was ranked 16th among the best public universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The other public college in the city, Columbus State Community College, features 2-year degree programs targeting industries such as human services, business, health, information systems, technology, law and paralegal assisting.

Among private institutions, Ohio Dominican University has a Catholic foundation but serves students of all backgrounds. ODU provides a selection of 45 undergraduate and 11 graduate degree programs as well as a degree-completion program offered at night school. Columbus is home to several independent colleges and universities, including Franklin University, Ohio Business College, Capital University Law School, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio Institute of Health Careers, and Bradford School.

Plugging In: Columbus Colleges Online

Columbus residents can complete a college degree without ever stepping on campus. Columbus State Community College is the largest Ohio provider of distance education, delivering offerings in entirely online or blended (hybrid) formats. Its extensive selection of associate degree programs include accounting, architecture, business management, digital design, environmental health and safety, finance, health information management, marketing, nursing and supply chain management. OSU has been nationally recognized for its digital programs: U.S. News & World Report has ranked them among the best online offerings for bachelor’s programs and graduate programs in education, engineering and nursing.

Columbus is a city built of neighborhoods with diverse cultural and educational opportunities such as the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), the zoo, the Columbus Museum of Art and festivals throughout the year. Many of the city’s 810,000 residents enjoy the Short North Arts district, the bar crawl in the Arena District or the German Village Book Loft with over 32 display rooms, in addition to Buckeyes football games.

Cost Matters: Paying for College in Ohio

College hopefuls looking to study in Ohio need to be mindful of the numerous costs that come with higher education. At the most basic level, tuition serves as the principle college-related expense, and varies depending on school, location and residency. In 2012, Ohio students who had established residency in the state paid an average of $13,665 per year in tuition, placing Ohio 14th nationally when it comes to the priciest in-state tuition.

On top of tuition, most colleges and universities have fees associated with attendance, which can include parking, technology fees, lab fees and a small fee to secure access to the recreational facility. In 2012, fees at Ohio colleges averaged $479 per student per year, bringing the total tuition + fees for Ohio students to $14,144 per school year.

While tuition and fees make up the primary education costs for students, they also need to think about living expenses, most notably room and board. In general, the state of Ohio has a cost of living approximately 7 percent lower than the national average, a great sign for students on a budget. Here’s a closer look at the cost of living (COL) for Ohio’s major metropolitan areas compared to the national average (100).

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Akron 100.21 99.68 105.09 107.94 107.08 86.81 95.99
Ashland 88.54 72.11 100.70 92.06 98.19 88.78 94.19
Cincinnati 93.81 81.94 96.41 103.82 97.99 95.83 98.66
Cleveland 101.05 93.32 108.07 109.03 101.45 104.26 102.07
Columbus 92.00 86.21 91.59 100.20 99.11 107.65 90.65
Dayton 91.43 74.54 89.17 106.12 103.07 93.24 99.02
Findlay 94.26 76.98 102.26 95.80 100.62 91.24 104.35
Lima 93.13 69.81 101.94 102.47 100.69 107.66 103.22
Troy-Miami County 95.40 83.89 96.42 123.27 99.20 89.20 96.21
Wooster 92.64 72.12 99.49 123.42 103.00 94.59 95.21
Youngstown-Warren 90.35 77.65 92.55 110.22 92.42 86.85 94.40

When it comes to making college affordable, Ohio students have a number of national, state and school-based options. Federal financial aid, for instance, can make a serious difference for students at all college educational levels. Federal aid starts with filling out the required FAFSA® forms so Uncle Sam can distribute funds based on need. In Ohio, 71 percent of undergraduate students received federal aid in 2012, putting the state 16th in the nation.

Scholarships offer students another avenue of financial assistance, many of which can be used in conjunction with federal aid. In Ohio, students can receive scholarships from the schools themselves, or from top non-profit organizations, private companies and local governments. Some of Ohio’s major entities that offer scholarships include:

  1. AA Plumbing
  2. Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
  3. Kiwanis Club of Sydney, OH
  4. McColloch-Baker Insurance Agency
  5. NTA Ohio
  6. Ohio Baptist Education Society
  7. Ohio Safety Officers
  8. Ohio Travel Association
  9. PMI-NEO Leadership Institute
  10. Ratermann Insurance Agency
  11. RCF, Inc.
  12. Robert E. Grubbs Foundation
  13. Shelby County, OH – Law Student Assistance Fund
  14. The Ohio Academy of Science

Accreditation for Ohio Online Colleges

Whether receiving federal aid, a scholarship or another sort of funding, every Ohio college hopeful needs to consider accreditation. In order to receive financial assistance of any kind, the school you plan to attend must meet certain quality standards, often set by a regional or a national accrediting agency. The primary accrediting body active in Ohio is the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.This private agency visits post-secondary institutions in Ohio (and elsewhere in the region) to ensure they adhere to peer-reviewed quality criteria. Also, Ohio universities may seek accreditation for special programs or schools within the institution. For example, Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law receives accreditation from the American Bar Association.

Best Online Colleges in Ohio for 2015-2016

Online distance education options in Ohio have created new opportunities for students wishing to pursue a college degree. By helping to alleviate some of the past issues students faced, such as proximity to a campus and balancing work, family and school work, these Ohio programs have been ranked as the best in the state when it comes to accessibility and excellence. Find out who made the list of Best Online Colleges in Ohio for 2015-2016.

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCost MORE INFO
1 Tiffin University 99.2018:198%

Established in 1888 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, Tiffin University offers completion programs in four online undergraduate degrees, four graduate degrees and two certificate programs. Online students can choose between a BA or BS degree with a focuses in business, criminal justice, security, information technology or healthcare. Classes begin at six different times throughout the year and are taught by expert faculty with real-world experience. Online students receive the same accredited degrees as on-campus students. Students must have completed some coursework at another institution before enrolling in Tiffin University.

2 Ohio University-Lancaster Campus 98.7522:179%

Ohio University-Lancaster Campus offers bachelor, master and certificate level degrees. Beyond traditional format, the Lancaster Campus offers a variety of online and hybrid courses, and as well as workshops and summer programs. Bachelor degrees can be everything in everything from applied management and communication studies, to human biology, social work and lifestyle studies. Graduate program offerings are designed for the working professional, with flexible schedules, nearby locations and technology-enhanced delivery. Master degrees are offered in arts and sciences, business, communications, education, engineering and technology and health sciences.

3 God’s Bible School and College 97.9312:192%

This nondenominational Bible college offers bachelor and associate level degrees. The curriculum provides students with ministry skills and a deep understand of scripture and theology, offering a unique, value-oriented education. The academic programs span across five divisions, and provide lifelong learning experiences for students to apply through life and ministry. The school offers 12 majors, six at the baccalaureate level and six at the associate. Degrees programs are offered in education and professional studies, ministerial education, intercultural studies and world missions, as well as music. Through the Aldersgate Distance Education Program (ADEP) undergraduates can earn a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies, Ministerial Education or in Church and Family Ministries entirely online.

4 Cleveland State University 97.2019:192%

The online study program at Cleveland State University contains 10 graduate and five undergraduate programs. The college focuses on degree completion programs, helping students with existing experience or college credit complete their bachelor's degrees. Students may also take individual online courses without pursuing an official degree. All online coursework is completed through the Blackboard system, and CSU offers some self-paced coursework combined with traditional semester-based coursework. Students are expected to complete assignments by specified due dates, and class discussions must take place within a set time frame - usually one to two weeks. All online programs are taught by the same instructors as traditional, face-to-face courses.

5 Kettering College 97.1310:194%

Online education at Kettering College requires the same amount of time and focuses on the same studies as comparable courses of learning in the traditional, on-campus setting. Not only will students register online, but they will access their syllabus, coursework, grades and transcripts, and even pay for their education completely virtually. Depending on the individual, students can expect to commit between 12 and 18 hours a week in order to complete six to nine credits - or two to three courses - per semester. Online tutoring is available to students, and all books can be purchased online through the college's bookstore.

6 Kent State University 97.0426:176%

Students can pursue graduate and undergraduate degrees as well as certificate programs completely online at Kent State University at Geauga. Online students will receive the same quality education that students receive at the physical university, but distance learners have the added benefit of learning from - and alongside of - a global network of instructors and peers from around the world. In addition, the Office of Continuing and Distance Learning also offers credit and non-credit workshops and conferences for working professionals seeking career advancement or further job-related training and education. These workshops can be taken completely online.

7 Youngstown State University 96.5717:196%

Both undergraduate and graduate students can pursue degrees at Youngstown State University completely online. All courses are fully-accredited and offered fully online. The Distance Learning program serves around 1,500 students per year. The web-based instructional system delivers learning materials in a variety of formats and caters to students who might need to balance work or family schedules. All degree programs must meet the YSU general education degree requirements, and all academic programs and course developments are based on the Best Practices for Online Education, the National Education Technology Standards and Quality Matters Rubric.

8 Union Institute & University 96.508:190%

This private, non-profit university offers an interdisciplinary education for students to earn their bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees, as well as programs for professional studies and continuing education. The curriculum focuses on helping students pursue their professional goals, as well as help them to develop creative and critical thinking skills, scholarship and theory practices for real-world applications. Online bachelor programs are offered through the e-Learning platform in business administration and management, criminal justice, education, leadership, psychology and social work. Master degree programs, which can also be earned online, are offered for creative studies, health and wellness, literature and writing, leadership, public policy and social issues, as well as clinical and mental health counseling.

9 University of Toledo 96.3821:196%

The University of Toledo offers associate and bachelor's degrees, and at the graduate level, students may pursue both master's and doctoral degrees. There are also several post-baccalaureate certificate programs available fully online. Students learn from tenured faculty and receive comprehensive support services from UC Online, as well as from Learning Ventures, which is a department that exists solely to support online students. The university welcomes students from other schools, and maintains a "Transferology" page to guide incoming students through the process of transferring previously earned credits. All programs are fully-accredited.

10 Franklin University 95.2413:174%

Among the 36 undergraduate and nine graduate programs at Franklin University are accounting, healthcare, marketing, public relations and social sciences. Students may transfer up to 84 semester hours of credits earned at other qualifying colleges. Online graduates will receive the same degree as Franklin University students educated through campus-based instruction and online course instructors are the same faculty who teach traditional, campus-based courses. Online students also have the opportunity to interact with instructors from all over the world.

11 Wright State University-Main Campus 94.2621:188%

The Wright State University Distance Learning program strives to maintain the structure and level of academic activity associated with traditional courses, while providing students the needed flexibility of scheduling. In 2014, the university instituted an interactive video program that moves beyond traditional e-learning. Courses and programs are completed through the Pilot learning program. Wright offers a range of completion programs, bachelor's programs, master's programs and doctoral programs. Students can always receive technical support for online coursework through the CaTS system. The university, which is named after the famous aviation pioneers, is fully-accredited.

12 Hiram College 92.9911:1100%

Online students can pursue two different online bachelor degrees at Hiram College, both of which have six different start times throughout the year: two each in the spring, summer and fall. Up to 60 credits may be transferred from accredited, qualifying programs from other institutions, contingent on the student having received a C or better in the course. All courses are offered completely online through the Moodle program, and students receive instruction exclusively from approved Hiram faculty, many of whom also teach traditional classes on campus. Online students receive an on-campus ID card and may attend on-campus graduation. Students should expect to spend between 10 and 15 hours per week on each class.

13 Malone University 92.2311:1100%

With course materials available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the Learning House Online Learning system, Malone University offers online degree programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. Malone's programs include a BA in Business Management with degree programs in accounting, management, health services, organization and project management. Graduate student can obtain a master's degree in business administration or organizational leadership. Malone University Online students follow a specific course schedule and are expected to complete assignments by a deadline. They are not, however, required to be online at a specific time of day to complete assignments.

14 Mount Vernon Nazarene University 91.5217:1100%

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Stark Campus of Kent State University, the largest regional campus of the eight-campus system, offers three master degree programs, 12 bachelor degree programs and three associate degree programs. Undergraduates can study applied communication, business management, English, history, Criminal Justice, and a number of health related degree courses as well. Master's degrees are offered in business administration, curriculum and teaching studies, as well as mathematics for secondary teachers.

15 Ohio State University-Main Campus 91.1119:183%

The Ohio State University Main Campus College of Nursing offers undergraduate degrees - as well as master's and doctoral - through online programs. Each level of study offers students the ability to choose from several different concentrations and minors. Aside from programs available through the College of Nursing, the university maintains an Office of Distance Education and eLearning, which offers extended education programs for adult learners, and Program 60, which enables students to take classes offered by OSU completely online. The nursing programs at all degree levels are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

16 University of Akron Main Campus 89.9020:190%

The University of Akron offers a wide range of bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and certificates completely online. All courses are taught by the same faculty who teach traditional courses at the university's campus. Online courses begin and end on the semester schedule and all coursework is expected to be completed by a set deadline. Courses are taken through the Springboard system, which provides complete interaction with instructors and other students. Students are advised to log in regularly to keep up with any changes to their curriculum or learning materials. An online orientation is available to students who are interested.

17 University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College 89.0615:181%

This center for higher learning provides undergraduates with over 50 degree and certificate programs from which to choose. Small classes offer individualized attention, with each course taught from expert faculty. Bachelor's degrees are offered in applied administration and radiation science technology, which can be earned entirely online, as well as a wide range of associate's degrees in healthcare, social science, technology, education, business, leadership and administration, as well as arts and sciences. The curriculum at Blue Ash focuses on workforce development and prepares students for leadership positions in healthcare settings.

18 The University of Findlay 87.6514:1100%

The University of Findlay's distance learning programs are offered completely online and aimed at working professionals who require flexibility in scheduling. All online classes are designed to mimic the coursework of the same classes taken in the traditional on-campus setting, with students learning from the same faculty who teach on-campus courses. When they aren't teaching, the university's instructors conduct research, author books and lead professional organizations. Students may pursue master's degrees, bachelor's degrees and associate degrees in a range of different fields completely online. Admission requirements vary depending on the chosen program.

19 Notre Dame College 87.5115:1100%

This Catholic college, accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, is a small institution of higher education that awards associate, bachelor's and master's degrees. Students can earn their degrees in a wide range of fields, with 30 undergraduate majors in areas including nursing, criminal justice, education, business and psychology all of which are offered online. Students can conveniently and flexibly earn credit for their online degrees through Moodle course management system, a system to provide students with video lectures, online discussions and an interactive learning environment to meet the needs of a career-oriented education. Special and interdisciplinary programs are also offered.

20 Mount St. Joseph University 87.2611:1100%

Mount St. Joseph University accepts students from nearly three dozen states, including Ohio Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania and Washington. Mount St. Joseph online offers one online bachelor's degree program in nursing, one master's degree program in reading sciences and several endorsement and certificate programs. Students must have completed an associate degree in nursing before applying to the online bachelor's program. Some credits earned through traditional, on-campus coursework may be transferred to the school's online program. Students may transfer from online to on-campus study after they complete one semester, or two courses.

Search Accredited Ohio Online Colleges

The most effective way to find the online college program that best suits one’s needs is to start by itemizing the most important points. For most students, the list will include items such as field of study, ultimate degree level and career goals, total cost and time available, both long-term and within one’s daily schedule. After that, it becomes a matter of matching the individual’s list with the program that best satisfies the items on it. The search tool below is designed to help students in Ohio quickly and effectively do just that.

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Ohio Online Colleges Spotlight

Online Departments in Ohio

Youngstown State University

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

YSU's approach to online learning is to support the delivery of high-quality, accredited, fully online degree programs, and provide world-class customer service to assist in the gainful employment of YSU online learners. Additionally, YSU's approach is to supports and assist in the creation, delivery, training, and student support for our faculty teaching distance learners in all online degree programs offered.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

At YSU, we offer both high quality and highly sought after degree programs. We have world-class faculty and top-notch student service being offered out of the office of Distance Education. This will ensure current and future service an unparalleled experience in pursing their online degree.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

In the next five years, we at YSU expect more online program offerings and for those to be unique, media rich and state-of-the-art in terms of design, development, and delivery. We also expect them to remain affordable and be exceptionally diverse in our student population by hopefully seeing enrollments from all 50 states and many other countries.

Great Resources for Online Students in Ohio

The internet is responsible for the biggest explosion in education innovation in several generations. Not only is it now possible to earn a quality, fully-accredited postsecondary degree from a well-established and reputable college or university, anyone with a high-speed internet connection has access to an impressive number of education-related resources to support his or her academic success. The range of these resources is incredible, with databases, applications, books and other reference materials only a Google search and mouse click away. The list below offers a small but representative sample of the tools and resources available today, online and free of charge.

Major Ohio Educational Resources: