Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees

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Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Online bachelor degrees are offered all over the country at four-year colleges and universities in various fields of study. With so many opportunities for distance learners to complete their online bachelor’s degrees, it may be difficult to know what school is the best option for them. With factors such as tuition costs, graduation rates, and resources available for online learners, we have analyzed schools that offer online bachelor degrees and ranked the top institutions. Explore the best online bachelor degree programs for 2016-2017 here.

Rank University Location ScoreTuition# of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND 99.79$6,05020 63% 11:1 35% Yes Yes Yes
2 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI 99.29$22,74038 99% 11:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
3 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 99.22$4,46921 72% 17:1 41% No Yes Yes
4 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI 98.47$15,07221 89% 14:1 40% Yes Yes Yes
5 Judson College Marion, AL 98.30$16,25815 95% 9:1 37% Yes Yes Yes
6 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 98.05$8,72823 66% 18:1 49% No Yes Yes
7 East Carolina University Greenville, NC 97.95$6,14318 50% 18:1 58% No Yes Yes
8 Columbia College Columbia, MO 97.34$6,58222 24% 34:1 42% Yes Yes Yes
9 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL 97.31$20,11016 99% 15:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
10 Granite State College Concord, NH 97.20$7,06535 N/A 12:1 50% Yes Yes Yes
11 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA 97.16$6,96320 56% 21:1 37% No Yes Yes
12 University of Memphis Memphis, TN 97.01$8,61917 40% 14:1 40% Yes Yes Yes
13 Baker College Center for Graduate Studies Flint, MI 96.77$8,28016 72% 13:1 25% Yes Yes Yes
14 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY 96.59$9,14021 37% 18:1 50% No Yes Yes
15 Southwestern College Winfield, KS 96.35$24,83519 95% 8:1 51% Yes No Yes
16 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH 96.35$21,53518 92% 18:1 33% Yes Yes Yes
17 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 96.21$21,00020 78% 18:1 46% Yes Yes Yes
18 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO 96.09$20,93513 97% 14:1 40% Yes Yes Yes
19 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY 95.84$17,76619 88% 19:1 34% Yes Yes Yes
20 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 95.72$6,31315 29% 21:1 85% No Yes Yes
21 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 95.70$9,12216 55% 19:1 61% No Yes Yes
22 Florida International University Miami, FL 95.62$6,49714 48% 26:1 49% No Yes Yes
23 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN 95.56$20,20015 85% 15:1 47% Yes Yes Yes
24 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX 95.41$19,45016 73% 16:1 38% Yes Yes Yes
25 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN 95.40$8,41615 75% 20:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
26 Troy University Troy, AL 95.26$7,56412 45% 15:1 35% Yes Yes Yes
27 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE 95.24$6,75012 49% 16:1 46% Yes Yes Yes
28 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX 95.07$23,65012 86% 13:1 54% No Yes Yes
29 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA 94.93$6,78613 48% 20:1 36% Yes Yes Yes
30 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE 94.81$6,45036 51% 32:1 31% Yes No Yes
31 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN 94.58$24,10215 50% 16:1 70% Yes Yes Yes
32 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX 94.34$9,68513 54% 20:1 80% No Yes Yes
33 Penn State World Campus University Park, PA 94.24$17,50215 37% 17:1 86% Yes Yes Yes
34 University of Houston-Downtown Houston, TX 94.16$5,59413 34% 22:1 12% Yes Yes Yes
35 Northern State University Aberdeen, SD 94.01$7,56311 67% 18:1 46% Yes Yes Yes
36 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX 93.94$5,48310 92% 17:1 N/A No Yes Yes
37 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 93.93$6,36812 44% 31:1 65% Yes Yes Yes
38 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 93.93$8,97015 41% 20:1 49% Yes Yes Yes
39 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 93.84$10,55611 63% 16:1 53% Yes Yes Yes
40 Dakota State University Madison, SD 93.73$7,50611 58% 16:1 42% Yes Yes Yes
41 Wayland Baptist University Plainview, TX 93.59$12,96012 33% 10:1 36% Yes Yes Yes
42 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA 93.51$12,44712 59% 18:1 54% No Yes Yes
43 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL 93.07$16,93610 77% 12:1 60% Yes Yes Yes
44 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 92.77$7,92010 41% 15:1 37% No Yes Yes
45 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO 92.76$7,00810 51% 20:1 55% No Yes Yes
46 National University La Jolla, CA 92.70$12,38439 1% 20:1 23% Yes No Yes
47 Goodwin College East Hartford, CT 92.58$19,40010 91% 10:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
48 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 92.56$7,74111 30% 19:1 52% No Yes Yes
49 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD 92.51$6,74427 3% 22:1 4% Yes No Yes
50 Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, HI 92.47$21,13010 78% 13:1 40% Yes Yes Yes

Guide to Online Bachelor Degrees

Online bachelor’s degree programs give students the opportunity to earn a baseline four-year credential with maximum flexibility. Originally, students earned online bachelor’s degrees from private schools that focused solely on distance learning. Over the past decade, however, traditionally campus-based colleges and universities have added both online and hybrid programs to their collections to attract and serve a wider student base. For those interested in earning a bachelor’s online, the following page offer three helpful resources? First, the search tool makes it easy for anyone to find accredited online degree programs fast. For prospective students who want a more comprehensive look, the page includes a listing of the top colleges for online bachelor’s degree volume. Finally, the student’s guide to online bachelor’s explains in detail what they are, how they work and, perhaps most importantly, how to identify a quality program.

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Ins and Outs of Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs

The ability to work, submit materials and access resources 24/7makes online bachelor’s degree programs a popular choice among distance learners. Self-paced programs offer maximum flexibility, allowing students to view online lectures, post to message boards and collaborate with peers when and where convenient. Real-time, or synchronous, bachelor’s programs are flexible as well, but for some students, have a more “college feel”. They can turn in assignments and take exams at varying times, but may have scheduled meetings and discussion sessions with professors or peers.

Most online bachelor’s programs focus on earning the four-year degree itself. In other words, students get their diplomas and transition directly into their chosen career. However, more and more online degrees at the four-year level bridge with advanced master’s degree study. Students earn their online bachelor’s but some of their coursework applies to a master’s in the same discipline.This occurs most notably in medical- and education-related majors.

The Intangibles: Hybrid Solutions

Some higher educational tracks will always require hands-on training. It’s unavoidable. For example, no one can earn an online bachelor’s degree in teaching without first-hand experience with students; same with nursing and patients. Therefore, many colleges have developed hybrid solutions, which allow submission of academic materials online, but involve scheduled visits to classrooms, medical centers or other appropriate physical locations to focus on tactile knowledge and skills. If a school purports to offer a fully online program in a subject area that undoubtedly requires hands-on work, research its requirements thoroughly.

Yet online programs at the bachelor’s level may call for an in-person meeting anyway, even if it’s a purely academic degree. For example, business programs may require students to visit a campus once per semester (or per year) to meet professors, fellow classmates and other important faculty and staff. This occurs in the more collaborative fields where group projects happen regularly or close communication is a must.

Intangible #2: Resources

Great online bachelor’s programs have a winning combination of affordability, flexibility and quality. The best ones offer all that and more, including top-notch resources to help students succeed. For example, a growing number of colleges are giving online students free laptops, tablets and other tech tools. These devices not only help online learners stay connected, but they also facilitate access to digital libraries and similar online research materials.

Earning an Online Bachelor’s Degree: A Timeline

Regardless of the reason for pursuing a bachelor’s degree online, it’s important to understand how it works from start to finish. In addition to diving into the reasons to earn a bachelor’s degree, this section dissects each step of a four-year education, from admission to graduation.

The Application Process

The college application process actually begins the first day of high school. It’s then that students begin building an academic track record along with hobbies, summer jobs, and community activities that all go into creating a successful college application. For potential online learners, this is prime time to assess whether distance learning is the right move. Questions to ask before considering an online education (or even a hybrid one) include:

  1. Can I learn independently (self-determination)?
  2. Do I have the organizational skills to create a schedule and stick to it?
  3. Am I somewhat tech-savvy? Enough for email, basic documents and chat?
  4. Do I have other commitments that require attention?

Whether choosing an online program or a campus one, every student needs to follow a schedule to ensure college application goes smoothly. They also need to think about how their education might progress as they enter year one and move toward graduation. The following timeline offers a clear start-to-finish look at the bachelor’s degree education.

The College Application Timeline

High School

  • Freshman Year

    Focus on math, science and English skills

  • Spring of Sophomore Year

    Work with an advisor to choose college prep courses. Work harder, if necessary, to get grades up. Take the PSAT exam (optional).

  • Fall of Junior Year

    Take first SAT/ACT exam as a baseline for improvement. If necessary, consider SAT/ACT mentoring.

  • Fall of Junior Year

    Search for scholarships.

  • Spring of Junior Year

    Second SAT/ACT exam.

  • Spring of Junior Year

    Start compiling a college list. Visit schools while in session.

  • Fall of Senior Year

    Round up recommendation letters from high school faculty.

  • Fall of Senior Year

    Review and check off high school graduation requirements.

  • Winter of Senior Year

    Fill out college applications.

  • Winter of Senior Year

    Complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® ).

  • Winter of Senior Year

    Submit all applications by school deadlines. Confirm that materials were received.

  • Spring of Senior Year

    Second visits to schools that have sent acceptance letters.

  • May of Senior Year

    Compare financial aid packages. Make a final decision and inform the college.

Summer After High School

  • High school sends final transcripts to the college.

  • Review the Student Aid Report statement and submit it to the college.

  • Meet with a college advisor to plan first-year fall courses.

Year 1 (Freshman Year)

The first year is organized around arming students with the core skills in navigating college, along with introductory courses in the arts and sciences. Students develop research skills, explore critical thinking and writing, and assimilate to the college-style of learning. Students attending college for the first time should already begin looking forward toward defining their educational and career goals. Those who are already focused on a major and professional goal should be planning for next year’s classes.

Year 2 (Sophomore Year)

Students typically complete the requirements for general education this year, developing plans to finish incomplete courses as early as the upcoming summer. It’s not too soon to be thinking about a college major. Since upper-division courses may be limited in size, this year may be essential in fulfilling pre-requisites for courses in the major.

Year 3 (Junior Year)

By junior year, students should commit to their major. Full-time students should expect to devote more than half of their classes toward fulfilling major requirements. To graduate on schedule, students should assess progress and make any mid-course corrections immediately with the assistance of a departmental academic advisor. In the fall of the junior year, students may want to apply for career-related internships, volunteer opportunities, study abroad programs or work studies. Students in degree programs that require senior projects should map out their plans now.

Year 4 (Senior Year)

The senior year moves fast. Students may focus their work on senior research projects, arts presentations, or take comprehensive exams in their major. At the beginning of the fall semester/quarter, students should begin compiling a portfolio, resume, or vitae ahead of graduation. For those entering the workplace, it’s a strategic time to explore career services at their college for help with resumes, cover letters, employment applications and job placement. Students heading directly into graduate work should start the application process for grad school in September (see Master’s Degree page for more details).

Online Bachelor’s Degree Q&A

Do students need to be computer experts to earn an online bachelor’s?

No. If the student knows how to use email, the Internet and some basic document programs, they’re prepared. Many schools offer introductory training in using their online interface.

Are online bachelor’s classes “dumbed down” for ease of presentation and rapid advancement?

While online classes can be accelerated toward completion, they are not cupcakes. Students find course requirements as rigorous online as in campus-based counterparts.

Can students log on whenever they want?

Yes, but there’s two sides to the ease of access: Getting to class materials is a breeze, but online students who do not develop consistent study habits can easily fall behind.

Do employers respect an online bachelor’s degree?

Yes, and in increasing numbers. The top criterion for acceptance is whether the college/program is accredited, according to Ed Tech Magazine. Employers may be more interested in the candidate’s level of skills and experience than where they earned their degree.

Can I get financial aid with an online bachelor’s program?

Grants, scholarships, loans and military education benefits are part of the financial aid packages offered to qualified students by online bachelor’s degree programs. Students should inquire about financial aid at their prospective college as well as complete their FAFSA® application. However, only programs from accredited colleges quality for aid.