The Best Online Colleges & Schools of 2021

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Best Online Colleges and Universities

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With so many online schools to choose from, finding the right one takes time. To aid in the search, we created and frequently update this list of the best online colleges. Using data like graduate success rate, accreditation status, and affordability, we ranked the top 10 schools below.

Enrollment in online colleges continues to rise each year. According to educationdata.org, in August 2020, 39% of incoming college freshman indicated that they would prefer to take all classes online.

Thanks to online learning, students can pursue their career goals from anywhere with wifi. Online learners often benefit from affordable online colleges, avoid paying room and board, and save time on commuting. This convenient learning format suits self-motivated individuals who want flexibility. In the later sections, we discuss the goals and requirements for online degrees, reasons why students often choose this learning format, as well as scholarships for distance learners.

Top 10 Online Accredited Schools

? This represents the average net price of attendance for full-time students as gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics. Individual costs may vary. Costs per credit hour may also vary by program or degree.
Rank School Avg Net Price ? This represents the average net price of attendance for full-time students as gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics. Individual costs may vary. Costs per credit hour may also vary by program or degree.
1 University of Florida $11313
2 California State University-Fresno $6771
3 California State University-Bakersfield $6025
4 California State University-Los Angeles $4403
5 Indiana University-Bloomington $11931
6 California State University-Sacramento $9885
7 University of Connecticut $19650
8 The University of Texas at Austin $14156
9 Colorado State University-Fort Collins $17914
10 Palm Beach State College $3064
Advertisement AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Common Questions from Prospective Online College Students

Question Answer
Can you get a college degree completely online? Yes, many colleges offer completely online degrees. However, some online degrees may require minimal in-person requirements like proctored exams.
How much does it cost to get an online degree? An online degree’s cost varies. Some schools offer reduced tuition for online learners, and distance learners often save on commuting expenses.
Do employers like online degrees? As the popularity of online learning continues to increase, more employers have begun to view degrees from online schools as legitimate. Employers generally respect degrees from accredited online schools.
Is an online degree as good as traditional? Most online degrees cover the same topics as traditional degrees. To evaluate an online program’s quality, consider connecting with a program graduate, verify the school’s accreditation status, and read through course descriptions.

What Are the Goals of an Online College Degree?



Online degrees help students achieve their career goals without sacrificing their current goals and values. For example, many online learners can maintain a full-time or part-time job while earning their degree. Busy parents can still attend online school and complete lessons between school drop off times.

Students can choose an online learning format that caters to their needs and goals. For example, learners who need the flexibility of online learning but want more accountability can enroll in a synchronous online program. These programs require live virtual class sessions. Alternatively, learners who desire even more freedom can select an asynchronous program that features recorded online lectures.

Why Get an Online Degree at Accredited Online Colleges?

Online degrees feature many personal and professional benefits. The list below includes five such perks. Interested students should also talk with current online learners to discover more.

Reduced Tuition
Many online programs feature lower tuition rates. Some colleges even extend the same discounted in-state tuition rate to online learners. Students attending class virtually may avoid paying extra fees, such as campus maintenance and extracurricular activity fees.
No Commute
Students no longer need to relocate to attend their dream program or spend hours a day driving to and from class. Not only can virtual learners save money on bus fare or gas, but they also avoid paying for parking passes.
Convenience
Online learners can listen to lectures and work on assignments during the time of day when they feel most productive. Virtual students can even continue their studies while traveling.
Practice Self-Discipline
Students who attend class online must use self-discipline to log on to class. Since virtual professors can not directly monitor students during class, virtual learners motivate themselves to meet their educational goals.
Avoid Paying for Room and Board
Many colleges prefer or require in-person students to live on campus during their first year of study. Online learners can save money by living with a relative or roommate and splitting rent and grocery bills.

What Are the Requirements for Colleges with Online Courses?



Online schools set their own admission and graduation requirements, so prospective students should contact a school’s admissions department to learn about the specifics.

However, many programs feature similar application requirements. Online applicants can expect to turn in official transcripts and relevant test scores. Graduate students may need to submit recommendation letters and a portfolio.

Before enrolling, pay attention to capstone, thesis, or internship requirements. These program components may include in-person work. Most online colleges require students to maintain a certain GPA to remain in good standing. Undergraduate programs typically include 120-semester credits, and graduate programs feature 36- to 54-semester credits.

How Does College Accreditation Work?

Scholarships for Online Students

Learners can avoid high student loan payments and attend one of their dream online colleges by applying for scholarships. Corporations, foundations, and educational institutions all offer awards to students based on factors like academic merit and financial need. The list below includes five scholarships for distance learners.

Berklee Online Music Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Each year, Berklee offers scholarships to distance learners pursuing an undergraduate-level certificate. The school offers 16 of these scholarships per term. Applicants must possess at least a 3.7 GPA, successfully complete the program’s first course, and submit a recommendation from a professor.
Amount: $1,497

Get Educated Online Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Twice a year, Get Educated awards $1,000 scholarships to students studying remotely at an accredited U.S. university. This organization awards these funds based on academic merit and financial need. To apply, applicants must submit a 500-word essay about what online learning means to them.
Amount: $1,000

No Essay College Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students ages 18 years and older who plan on enrolling in college within 12 months can apply for this scholarship. Individuals can apply online or by mail by filling out a simple form. The application takes less than 10 minutes to complete since it does not require an essay component.
Amount: $2,000

College Greenlight Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This organization aims to make college more affordable for first-generation students and underrepresented students. College Greenlight offers select scholarships exclusively for online learners. This scholarship platform highlights awards with varying requirements and deadlines.
Amount: Varies

Undergraduate Distance Learning Degrees Academic Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Online students pursuing a degree in any major can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must possess at least 30 semester credit hours and permanent U.S. residency or citizenship. Study.com awards these funds based on academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. The recipient must provide a quote and color photograph for Study.com to publish.
Amount: $500

The Best Online Colleges of 2021



  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, Florida

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  2. California State University-Fresno
    Location

    Fresno, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  3. California State University-Bakersfield
    Location

    Bakersfield, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  4. California State University-Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  5. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, Indiana

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  6. California State University-Sacramento
    Location

    Sacramento, California

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  7. University of Connecticut
    Location

    Storrs, Connecticut

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  8. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, Texas

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  9. Colorado State University-Fort Collins
    Location

    Fort Collins, Colorado

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  10. Palm Beach State College
    Location

    Lake Worth, Florida

    Tuition

    $$$$$

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