The soaring popularity of online degree programs means there’s been a huge increase in the number of online colleges and universities.
Given so many online schools to choose from, whose quality ranges from excellent to poor, you need some guidance. We’ve done extensive research of online colleges and universities to guide you in selecting the right online school for you.
We base our rankings on the following factors: Academic quality, reputation, online teaching methods, awards, affordability, student satisfaction (measured by retention and graduation rates), and student-to-teacher ratio.
Check out our recently updated list: The 50 Best Online Colleges for 2015-2016.
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In 2012, Penn State University was ranked #12 by U.S. News & World Report in its “Top Public Schools” list. In 2011, the school was ranked #12 nationally by SmartMoney Magazine in its “Colleges That Help Grads Get Top Salaries” list.
Penn State University World Campus has a combination of high research (as measured by peer-reviewed publications) and instructional quality of faculty, excellent student satisfaction indicators, and a world-class reputation.
Penn State University World Campus provides the same high-quality instruction as traditional, campus-based classes.
The University of Florida was named one of the top performers in online bachelor’s degree programs by U.S. News & World Report. In 2010, it was ranked #2 in Kiplinger’s “Best Values in Public Colleges” list, and in 2010, it was ranked #19 by U.S. News & World Report in its “Top Public Schools” list.
The University of Florida was ranked #3 in the 2011 SmartMoney magazine’s list of colleges and universities that help graduates obtain top salaries and #32 in the 2011 Princeton Review‘s “Best Value Public Colleges” list.
The school offers online certificates and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as specialist programs.
3. UMass Online
The University of Massachusetts, a highly respected school, was ranked #42 by U.S. News & World Report in its 2012 list of “Top Public Schools.” The Times Higher Education Supplement of London ranked UMass as the 45th best university in the world and 22nd best in North America.
UMass provides online degrees through UMass Online, which won the Sloan Consortium Award for the Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program.
UMass Online offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs and over 1,500 online courses in education, liberal arts, nursing, business and management, information technology, public health, and many other fields.
The online students learn from the same world-class instructors as students who attend campus-based classes. The school has reasonable tuition rates.
Colorado State University—Global Campus provides several online degrees designed for professionals in the fields of management, business, technology, and education, all backed by the standards and reputation of the Colorado State University (CSU) System.
Graduate degrees, undergraduate degree, completion programs, and individual courses are available. The school ranks high in quality and student satisfaction.
In 2012, Florida State University ranked #46 by U.S. News & World Report in its “Top Public School” list. In 2010, Florida State University was named a “Budget Ivy” university by the Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College. In 2010, The Princeton Review and USA Today ranked Florida State University #4 in their list of public “Best Value Colleges.”
The school also has nationally ranked programs in many academic areas, including engineering, sciences, medicine, social policy, political science, business, and law.
Florida State University Online provides a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as certificate programs. The school ranks high in student satisfaction and completion. The school is affordable.
Arizona State University was named one of America’s Best College Buys” by Forbes magazine. In 2010, ASU was ranked #81 in the world and ranked #45 in the United States by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, a publication established by the Shanghai Jiaotong University.
ASU online is the online school of Arizona State University.
ASU online offers an array of online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates.
The University was chosen for the 2010 Sloan Consortium Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education. In 2011, Drexel University was ranked among the top 100 colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report and ranked among the “Best Online Graduate Programs” in the fields of engineering, business administration, and library science by U.S. News & World Report.
The school has a high student-satisfaction rating. The university received the 21st Century Best Practice Award for Distance Learning from the United States Distance Learning Association.
Drexel University Online offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates.
BusinessWeek named Rochester Institute of Technology among the top programs in North America. The school was rated a “Best Buy” in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012. Rochester Institute of Technology has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the #1 comprehensive university in the North for reputation and as one of the nation’s “Best College Values”.
In 2008, the university received the Center of Excellence Award for outstanding online education from The New-Media Consortium.
The institute has a high student satisfaction rating. The school offers more than 50 online undergraduate and graduate programs.
Boston University was ranked #71 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, a publication established by the Shanghai Jiaotong University.
Boston University Online has a good reputation and provides a quality education. The school received a 2010 Silver Best Practices Award for Distance Learning programming from the United States Distance Learning Association, as well as the 2010 Sloan-C Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education.
Boston University Online mostly provides graduate degree programs. It also offers an undergraduate degree completion program, as well as certificates. The university also provides professional courses.
The school has high completion and graduation rates. Boston University Online has a selective admissions, ensuring a high quality online learning experience. The school also has a very low student-to-teacher ratio.
The school was named one of the top performers in online bachelor’s degree programs by U.S. News & World Report. The Washington Post called it “One of the leading schools in America for helping students to transform their prospects in life.” BusinessWeek stated Pace was “Among the top 50 colleges in the nation whose graduates have the highest earnings potential.”
Pace University Online has been providing online degree programs since 2004. Online courses are offered by all of Pace University’s schools:
- Dyson College of Arts & Sciences
- Lubin School of Business
- College of Health Professions
- School of Education
- Seidenberg School of Computer Science & Information Systems
Online undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available.
Western Governors University was named “the best and cheapest university you’ve never heard of” by Time Magazine. The school also won the Sloan Consortium’s 2010 Ralph E. Gomery Award for Excellence in Online Education.
Established in 1995 by the governors of 19 western states, the institution was the first school founded by a group of state governors.
Western Governors University Online provides bachelor’s and master’s degrees in subjects such as education, business, health, and information technology.
The school offers programs at a very affordable price.
12. Utica College
Utica College has been ranked among the top “Best Values” regarding comprehensive colleges in the northeastern U.S. by U.S. News & World Report. Utica College was ranked as one of the top colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report.
The school ranks well in terms of affordability and has a very low student-to-teacher ratio.
The private institution provides online undergraduate and graduate degrees in an array of healthcare fields, as well as business administration and economic-crime management.
Utica College was established by Syracuse University in 1946 and has close ties with the university.
In 2012, the University of Missouri ranked #39 by U.S. News and World Report in its “Top Public Schools.” In 2009, the Health Management Executive program ranked #5 among the “Top Business Graduate Schools for Physician Executives” by Modern Physician magazine. The health services administration master’s-degree program has been ranked for over a decade in the top 20 by U.S News & World Report.
The university provides numerous online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in a variety of subjects.
Mizzou Online is the online school of the University of Missouri.
In 2012, North Carolina State University was ranked #46 by U.S. News & World Report in its “Top Public Schools” list.
North Carolina State University, a major research institution, has a worldwide reputation for leadership and innovation in engineering, education, science, and mathematics. The school provides the same high-quality education in the online undergraduate and graduate degree programs as provided in the traditional on-campus programs.
North Carolina State University Distance Education offers programs at affordable prices and ranks high in student satisfaction.
Saint Leo University, a catholic university, has been selected by U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Top Universities in the South.”
Saint Leo University Online offers a variety of online associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs, as well as graduate certificate programs.
The school is open to people of all faiths.
Oregon State University has nationally recognized programs in many fields, including agricultural sciences, conservation biology, forestry, nuclear engineering, community health, fisheries and wildlife management, and pharmacy.
Oregon State University Online offers a wide range of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
Oregon States University Online rates well according to overall student-satisfaction metrics.
17. Lewis University
Lewis University was named one of the “Best Midwestern Colleges” by The Princeton Review and is included in the top tier of U.S. News & World Report‘s rankings.
Lewis University, a non-profit, Catholic university, welcomes students of all religious faiths and cultures.
Lewis University Online offers numerous bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as continuing education programs.
Portland State University (PSU) is an internationally recognized university.
PSU is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the nation’s best colleges in five categories that lead to student success.
PSU Online provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs, special endorsements, certificate programs, and independent study programs.
The college was named as one of the “top up-and-coming schools in America” by U.S. News & World Report in 2010. Champlain College has been placed among the “Best colleges” by The Princeton Review.
The school rates high in instructional and peer quality.
Champlain College has 12 separate graduate and undergraduate degrees you can earn 100% online, including in the fields of business, technology, and healthcare.
In 2011, the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) was ranked as a top-10 public midwest regional university by U.S. News & World Report. UNK is widely recognized as one of the best public universities in the Midwest.
UNK serves a global market with online students in 47 states and several foreign countries. The UNK eCampus offers undergraduate and graduate programs in history, education, organizational communication, business, and other subjects.
Liberty University Online is one of the world’s largest online educators, with over 25 years of experience in distance education. It is also the world’s largest Christian University.
Training champions for Christ since 1971, and pioneering distance learning since 1985, Liberty University now enrolls more than 90,000 students from around the world in its thriving online program. With more than 160 fully accredited programs of study, Liberty University Online offers degrees from the certificate to the postgraduate level.
Liberty University Online offers excellent online library resources, as well as advisers specific to each discipline. It is known for its high student satisfaction, and its tuition rates are among the lowest in the nation.
Fort Hays State University was placed on the Online Education Programs Honor Roll by U.S. News & World Report. For student services and technology, the school has been ranked #10 by U.S. New & World Report for bachelor’s programs, #5 nationally for master’s business programs, and #6 nationally for master’s nursing programs.
The university has relatively strong graduation and retention rates.
Fort Hays State University Virtual College has graduates in every U.S. state, as well as in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and other areas.
Its affordability makes the school attractive to students throughout the world.
The not-for-profit university provides undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The university has strengths in business, aviation, alternative medicine, and management.
Graduates of the online degree programs earn the same course credits and degrees as those students who complete equivalent courses and programs on campus.
Everglades University has impressive retention and graduation rates.
Founded in 1971, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California and among the largest in the United States.
The University offers a wide range of approximately 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including more than 70 programs available online.
Undergraduate and graduate degree programs offer areas of study in:
- Business and Management
- Engineering, Technology and Media
- Health and Human Services
- Liberal Arts and Sciences
- Professional Studies
25. Northeastern University
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University, which is located in Boston, Massachusetts, is a global, experiential research university.
Northeastern University Online offers more than 70 degrees.
The school has high retention and graduation rates as well as a very low student-to-teacher ratio.
Selective admissions ensure a high-quality online learning experience.