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Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees

The bachelor’s degree serves as the basic minimum for many professions. It’s also the first step to professional advancement when pursuing a graduate degree. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the bachelor’s degree is among the most popular online degrees available. With so many students seeking this very important degree, schools have developed curriculums and programs to meet the demand and give students as many options as possible for their online education. But all this comes at the expense of simplicity: Various online delivery methods, multiple majors and accelerated programs can make choosing the right online bachelor’s degree program confusing or intimidating. That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the online bachelor’s degree and help students find the best program for their needs.

What Are the Highest Paying Online Bachelor’s Degrees?

The bachelor’s degree is the foundational degree for most careers. It provides a strong basis for future professional growth and advancement; however, the level of growth and compensation potential will depend on the chosen field. The following table gives aspiring students a general idea of what a few popular academic subject areas typically pay upon graduation.

Subjects 2014 Median Pay
Graphic designer $47,640
Computer Programmer $79,840
Emergency Management Director $70,500
Financial Analyst $81,760
Social Worker $46,890

The 50 Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in 2018

Students looking for a quick list of schools where they can earn their bachelor’s degree should begin with these rankings. Taking multiple school characteristics into consideration, we decide which schools should be ranked higher than others. These characteristics are clear and ready for browsing by interested students, allowing them to better to understand our methodology and how we decided on the final rankings.


To find the best colleges of 2016-17 for earning an online associate degree, our researchers and higher education experts collected and analyzed data from every accredited postsecondary institution in the United States. The goal? To see which colleges offered the most notable balances of academic rigor, program availability, student support and affordability for online learning. The specific criteria and scoring metrics for the ranking are as follows:

  • Accredited, 4-year public or private not-for-profit institution
  • Must offer at least 10 online bachelor’s degree programs
  • Annual in-state tuition & fees below $25,000
  • In-state tuition & fees for undergraduate students
  • Count of online bachelor’s degree programs available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • 6-year graduation rate
  • Percentage of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college
  • Average amount of scholarship/grant aid students receive from the college
  • Availability of academic/career counseling services
  • Availability of job placement services
  • 3-year loan default rate
  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV: is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or “bang for your buck” – of an online degree.

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND 99.79 $6,050 20 63% 11:135%Yes Yes Yes
2 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI 99.29 $22,740 38 99% 11:143%Yes Yes Yes
3 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 99.22 $4,469 21 72% 17:141%No Yes Yes
4 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI 98.47 $15,072 21 89% 14:140%Yes Yes Yes
5 Judson College Marion, AL 98.30 $16,258 15 95% 9:137%Yes Yes Yes
6 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 98.05 $8,728 23 66% 18:149%No Yes Yes
7 East Carolina University Greenville, NC 97.95 $6,143 18 50% 18:158%No Yes Yes
8 Columbia College Columbia, MO 97.34 $6,582 22 24% 34:142%Yes Yes Yes
9 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL 97.31 $20,110 16 99% 15:143%Yes Yes Yes
10 Granite State College Concord, NH 97.20 $7,065 35 N/A 12:150%Yes Yes Yes
11 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA 97.16 $6,963 20 56% 21:137%No Yes Yes
12 University of Memphis Memphis, TN 97.01 $8,619 17 40% 14:140%Yes Yes Yes
13 Baker College Center for Graduate Studies Flint, MI 96.77 $8,280 16 72% 13:125%Yes Yes Yes
14 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY 96.59 $9,140 21 37% 18:150%No Yes Yes
15 Southwestern College Winfield, KS 96.35 $24,835 19 95% 8:151%Yes No Yes
16 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH 96.35 $21,535 18 92% 18:133%Yes Yes Yes
17 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 96.21 $21,000 20 78% 18:146%Yes Yes Yes
18 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO 96.09 $20,935 13 97% 14:140%Yes Yes Yes
19 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY 95.84 $17,766 19 88% 19:134%Yes Yes Yes
20 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 95.72 $6,313 15 29% 21:185%No Yes Yes
21 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 95.70 $9,122 16 55% 19:161%No Yes Yes
22 Florida International University Miami, FL 95.62 $6,497 14 48% 26:149%No Yes Yes
23 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN 95.56 $20,200 15 85% 15:147%Yes Yes Yes
24 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX 95.41 $19,450 16 73% 16:138%Yes Yes Yes
25 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN 95.40 $8,416 15 75% 20:143%Yes Yes Yes
26 Troy University Troy, AL 95.26 $7,564 12 45% 15:135%Yes Yes Yes
27 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE 95.24 $6,750 12 49% 16:146%Yes Yes Yes
28 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX 95.07 $23,650 12 86% 13:154%No Yes Yes
29 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA 94.93 $6,786 13 48% 20:136%Yes Yes Yes
30 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE 94.81 $6,450 36 51% 32:131%Yes No Yes
31 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN 94.58 $24,102 15 50% 16:170%Yes Yes Yes
32 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX 94.34 $9,685 13 54% 20:180%No Yes Yes
33 Penn State World Campus University Park, PA 94.24 $17,502 15 37% 17:186%Yes Yes Yes
34 University of Houston-Downtown Houston, TX 94.16 $5,594 13 34% 22:112%Yes Yes Yes
35 Northern State University Aberdeen, SD 94.01 $7,563 11 67% 18:146%Yes Yes Yes
36 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX 93.94 $5,483 10 92% 17:1N/ANo Yes Yes
37 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 93.93 $6,368 12 44% 31:165%Yes Yes Yes
38 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 93.93 $8,970 15 41% 20:149%Yes Yes Yes
39 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 93.84 $10,556 11 63% 16:153%Yes Yes Yes
40 Dakota State University Madison, SD 93.73 $7,506 11 58% 16:142%Yes Yes Yes
41 Wayland Baptist University Plainview, TX 93.59 $12,960 12 33% 10:136%Yes Yes Yes
42 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA 93.51 $12,447 12 59% 18:154%No Yes Yes
43 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL 93.07 $16,936 10 77% 12:160%Yes Yes Yes
44 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 92.77 $7,920 10 41% 15:137%No Yes Yes
45 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO 92.76 $7,008 10 51% 20:155%No Yes Yes
46 National University La Jolla, CA 92.70 $12,384 39 1% 20:123%Yes No Yes
47 Goodwin College East Hartford, CT 92.58 $19,400 10 91% 10:1N/AYes Yes Yes
48 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 92.56 $7,741 11 30% 19:152%No Yes Yes
49 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD 92.51 $6,744 27 3% 22:14%Yes No Yes
50 Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, HI 92.47 $21,130 10 78% 13:140%Yes Yes Yes

What Are the Most Popular Bachelor’s Degrees to Earn Online?

Online learning is very popular at the bachelor’s level, and this growth has been steady over the years. In 2003, 13.5 percent of college students at public four year colleges took at least one course online. Ten years later, that percentage rose to 32.7.

However, not all degree programs attract the same level of interest among students. Some are more difficult to complete, while others provide better job prospects at graduation. Also, there are some offered only in a blended or hybrid format, with in-person requirements that can’t be met online. The following chart lists a few of the most popular subject areas and links to additional information about online degrees in those subjects.

Search by Subject

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree Online?

The online bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete, although with the self-pacing available in most online programs, students can change that expectation a bit. For instance, some students may choose to take an extra few years to complete the program. On the other hand, some might shave a full year off their time in college if they’re willing to overload on courses and attend summer classes. However, for the typical bachelor’s degree timeline, students should expect to take four years to complete the 120 to 130 credits needed to graduate.

Are Online Bachelor’s Degrees Cheaper?

Though the cost of an online bachelor’s degree can vary widely depending upon the school, student’s location and chosen field of study, it isn’t unusual to find online programs are cheaper than their brick-and-mortar cousins. Despite often being more affordable, online bachelor’s degree programs will often have costs not normally associated with the on-campus programs. Let’s take a look at the various costs—or lack thereof—for an online program.

Can You Get Financial Aid for Online Bachelor’s Programs?

Students seeking the bachelor’s degree online will generally have the same opportunities for financial aid as their on-campus counterparts. This means tuition discounts for military service, private scholarships, grants and federally subsidized loans are fair game. There is one caveat, however: the school must be accredited in order for students to receive the maximum amount of financial aid available to them. Practically all financial aid, even private scholarships, will include eligibility rules that require students to attend a postsecondary institution that’s accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.

The financial aid application process will revolve around completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This is the official application for those seeking federal financial aid, such as subsidized loans, grants and work study. Students interested in learning more about federal financial aid can check out the official government website, Federal Student Aid.

Though the FAFSA is great for obtaining federal aid, it’s also an integral part in almost all other forms of financial aid. Most schools and states require students to complete the FAFSA in order to receive financial aid that is specific to that state or school. Even many private scholarship organizations will want applicants to complete the FAFSA. In situations where the FAFSA is not directly needed to apply for a specific scholarship or grant, many grants or scholarships are “last dollar” awards. This means they only pay for what federal financial aid or other forms of financial aid won’t cover. And to get these other forms of financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA. So, one way or another, a FAFSA is necessary and should be considered as important as the college application itself.

How Can I Find the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs?

Students looking for the best bachelor’s degree programs have a number of things to consider. What’s best for one student may not be best for another. That’s why we developed the following rankings. These rankings examine multiple factors, such as cost of attendance, programs offered and location of the school. This makes it easier for prospective college students to find the best bachelor’s degree program to meet their needs.

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