The world of education is always changing. From the days of small lecture halls, to the big lecture halls, to online education. And with those changes it becomes harder to make truly educated decisions on your own. And so every year we research and compile the list of the best online colleges.
Who We Are
The team at College Reviews has over 100 years collective experience in the education industry. Using that experience alongside our team of researchers we have compiled this research. The research is meant to help you make good decisions about the future of your education.
Overall Selectivity (25%)
Though selectivity is not a perfect proxy for college or major/program quality, it is highly correlated with student ability/achievement and institutional expenditures per student–both contribute significantly to the undergraduate learning experience. We looked to a college’s freshman admission rate and average SAT/ACT score (as reported by the College Board) when measuring selectivity.
Major Emphasis (25%)
If a (relatively) high percentage of students at a particular college are studying a specific major, it is likely that the major attracts a relatively high amount of resources. Moreover, if a college enrolls a relatively high percentage of all students (in the U.S.) studying a particular major (i.e. it has a large market share), it is likely that the college has been identified (by both prospective students, employers, and other stakeholders) as a leader in that subject area. Though the latter may appear to encourage bias against smaller institutions or programs, it is important to account for the fact that larger programs may attract more tuition revenue, have a better ability to meet fixed costs, and thus greater opportunity to invest in program/major offerings.
In order to measure major emphasis (i.e. the percentage college’s students enrolling in a particular major) and market share (i.e. the percentage of all students studying a major that are enrolled in a particular college), we relied on data collected by National Center for Education Statistics and as reported by WebCaspar.
In our general rankings we take a look at the top degree programs for that school and compare it to schools with similar demographics to determine it’s 25% consensus.
Peer Review (25%)
In order to derive a peer review score, we look to rankings and “strong programs” data published by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Fiske Guide. Each utilizes thousands of student, faculty, and/or administrative surveys/questionnaires to identify colleges that offer strong majors/programs within a particular field. Alone, peer assessment surveys are subject to a fair amount of bias. However, when evaluated in sum and when considered along with more objective data–such as that examining selectivity, earnings, emphasis, and productivity–they can provide more complete and corroborative insight into the strength of a particular program/major.
Graduate Earnings (25%)
To measure graduate earnings, we relied on data provided by PayScale.com, which indicates both early-career and mid-career wages of students by college and by category of major. For example, PayScale provides salary data for student attending Boston University and majoring in engineering, which is different from salary data for students attending Boston University and majoring in business.
Both early-career wages and mid-career wages were analyzed, given that the former is typically an indicator of how employers perceive the quality of a particular major/program, while the latter indicates how well a major/program may have prepared students for work.
Though PayScale provides important insight into earning differences across institutions, it has significant limitations–data ere self-reported and encompass major groupings rather than specific majors. For example, all social science majors are grouped together, as are majors within the humanities, physical and life sciences, and other broad academic categories. Thus, distinctions between political science and economics or biology and physics are not possible. Nevertheless, given PayScale’s massive sample size (nearly 1.5 million different individuals across approximately 1000 institutions) and ability to gather earnings information for both early-career and mid-career graduates, we believe the use of such data in our analysis was justified.
Best Online Colleges for 2018
Attending a four-year college to earn your bachelor’s degree is not always a simple thing to do. If you already work a full-time job or you have children at home, the logistics behind attending brick-and-mortar university might be unfeasible.
Thankfully we live in a brave new world where the best online colleges can help you earn your bachelor’s degree from the comfort of your own home and within your own time constraints.
The publication’s rankings are based on four important categories at each online university: Student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, and peer reputation.
University of Nebraska Omaha
U.S. News score: 90 / Cost per credit: $409 (out-of-state), $257 (in-state)
Most popular major: Business/commerce
At the University of Nebraska student can work through 20 different online college degree programs. Programs are highly specialized and range from architectural engineering and gerontology to aviation studies. This program is part of a military-friendly school. UNO provides extra benefits to veterans, including participation in the Yellow Ribbon Post 9/11 GI Bill.
U.S. News score: 90 / Cost per credit: $395 Most popular major: Business administration and management Regent University uses the same on-campus teachers to instruct students who participate in online college courses. The school offers class discussions via online threads which allows students to chat among each other while maintaining their own personal class schedules.
Charleston Southern University
U.S. News score: 90 / Cost per credit: $490 Most popular major: Business administration, management and operations
Charleston Southern University offers three bachelor’s degree programs for students who have no college experience up to those holding associate’s degrees.
If your schedule is really squashed for time this university offers classes on a rolling enrollment schedule. That means you can complete two accelerated seven-week courses per semester.
West Texas A&M University
U.S. News score: 92 / Cost per credit: $284 (out-of-state), $253 (in-state) Most popular major: Business administration and management
This online university program is part of the Texas A&M University system. WTAMU offers easy credit transfers to numerous colleges across the US. This is a great option if you want to start online and eventually jump to a more traditional university setting.
The school’s education on demand program allows both full-time students and those who want to continually learn more enroll in self-paced courses at any time of the year.
University of Florida
U.S. News score: 92 / Cost per credit: $500 (out-of-state), $112 (in-state) Most popular major: N/A
University of Florida offers online college classes at a very reasonable $112 per credit hour.
UF Online offers college degrees across 15 subjects, including nursing, psychology, sports management, and computer science.
If money is a big consideration this is a great option that will save you on tuition and still provide you with a full college education.
U.S. News score: 92 / Cost per credit: $555 Most popular major: Telecommunications technology
Pace University’s online college degree program, iPace, offers various curriculums and real-world experience.
Students have access to the university’s career services department, which helps place students in thousands of internship, co-op, and practicum placements in New York City every year.
Pace graduates have gone on to work for Apple, Google, NBCUniversal, and Goldman Sachs, among many other top-tiered companies.
CUNY School of Professional Studies
U.S. News score: 92 / Cost per credit: $275 Most popular major:Business/commerce
CUNY SPS students can take classes day or night from anywhere in the world.
Like many of the other online university degree programs on our list, students still get to interact with other classmates through emails, blogs, webinars, discussion boards, and other pieces of modern communication.
Colorado State University — Global Campus
U.S. News score: 92 / Cost per credit: $350 Most popular major:Business administration and management
At CSU-Global, Students can explore a second area of study and supplement their skills through a specialization, with options ranging from cyber security to organizational leadership to criminology.
This online college degree program offers a tuition guarantee which says a student’s tuition won’t increase over time. This is a great option if you want to know exactly how much your new education will cost over time.
Arizona State University
U.S. News score: 92 / Cost per credit: $490 Most popular major:Registered nursing
ASU offers more than 50 online university degree programs covering everything from nutrition communication to art history.
This program also offers virtual networking events, 24/7 tutoring, and success coaches.
While you might not be on campus, the hands-on approach at ASU’s online courses is definitely top-notch.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
U.S. News score: 93 / Cost per credit: $389 Most popular major: N/A
At the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater there is emphasis placed on giving online students access to the same resources as on-campus students.
Career resources include résumé development, cover letter writing, and interviewing services.
Students can easily access lecture notes, assignments, and reference material online anytime they want.
Oregon State University
U.S. News score: 93 / Cost per credit: $200 Most popular major:Computer science
OSU’s Ecampus offers online college degrees across 20 different subjects. From anthropology to horticulture to women, gender, and sexuality studies, you’ll find plenty to study from home or on the go.
The University Exploratory Studies Program will even allow you to test out different options to find your true passion before you move forward with your degree of choice.
Ohio State University
U.S. News score: 93 / Cost per credit: $387 (out-of-state), $382 (in-state) Most popular major:Registered nursing
Want to become a nurse? OSU offers a top-notch online program that allows students to complete coursework completely online while still gaining valuable practical skills.
There is a varied range of classes for this program included such programs as “Evolving Concepts in Leadership and Management” and “Concepts in Community Health Nursing.”
This is our top pick for an online college nursing program from a major university.
Daytona State College
U.S. News score: 93 / Cost per credit: $560 (out-of-state), $92 (in-state) Most popular major: Business administration, management and operations
Daytona State uses a 2+2 model, students earn an associate’s degree during their first two years of study, before completing a bachelor’s after four.
If you have already earned your 2-year degree you can still apply to DSC’s online college bachelor’s programs.
U.S. News score: 94 / Cost per credit: $752 Most popular major:Business administration and management
Temple is great if you want to experiment with numerous class formats, including hybrid online/on-campus courses, virtual classrooms, and video conferencing. There is also plenty of virtual support opportunities from email-based writing tutors to résumé and cover letter help.
University of Georgia
U.S. News score: 95 / Cost per credit: $562 (out-of-state), $312 (in-state) Most popular major: Special education and teaching
University of Georgia makes sure to keep class sizes small, which is not something you always find in online programs. The goal here is to make sure even online students receive the one-on-one help they may desire and need.
University of Illinois at Chicago
U.S. News score: 96 / Cost per credit: $519
Most popular major: Registered nursing
UIC keeps online learning flexible, allowing students to log in anytime to complete their coursework. You still have to keep up with deadlines but otherwise you can work during your own schedule requirements.
The university offers certification in subjects ranging from disaster management to electromagnetics technology — just in case you don’t want to earn your online college degree but want to show your employer or potential employers that you are continuing your education in a responsible way.
Western Kentucky University
U.S. News score: 97 / Cost per credit: $474 Most popular major: General studies
Western Kentucky University offers 13 online bachelor’s degrees, eight of which can be completed entirely online with no prior credits required. The university has developed an online university degree program that offers more than 100 on-demand courses. Because its programs are not semester based, students can sign up any day of the year based on what works best with their schedule.
Pennsylvania State University Global
U.S. News score: 100 / Cost per credit: $535
Most popular majors:Registered nursing, psychology
Penn State’s online degree programs feature the exact same courses that are offered on campus, so students receive the same caliber of education no matter where they’re studying.
When you earn your online degree from Penn State there is no distinction made between who earned a degree online and who earned a degree on campus.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
U.S. News score: 100 / Cost per credit: $355 Most popular major: Aeronautics/Aviation/Aerospace Science and Technology
All of Embry-Riddle’s bachelor’s programs start with general education classes before narrowing down to a focused major.
Regardless of background, you can earn your degree in everything from aerospace, aviation, fire science, or technical management.
Embry-Riddle currently provides access to 15 specific degree tracks.
If you want to earn your online college degree from a reputable program be sure to check out all 19 of these universities before you make your final choice.
US News & World Report Princeton Review Fiske Guide
Best Online Colleges In Every State
Best Online Colleges In Alabama
University of Alabama
Best Online Colleges In Alaska
University of Alaska- Fairbanks
Best Online Colleges In Arizona
University of Arizona
Best Online Colleges In Arkansas
Arkansas State University
Best Online Colleges In California
University of California – San Diego
Best Online Colleges In Colorado
Colorado State University – Global
Best Online Colleges In Connecticut
Best Online Colleges In Delaware
Best Online Colleges In Florida
Best Online Colleges In Georgia
Best Online Colleges In Hawaii
Best Online Colleges In Idaho
Best Online Colleges In Illinois
Best Online Colleges In Indiana
Best Online Colleges In Iowa
Best Online Colleges In Kansas
Best Online Colleges In Kentucky
Best Online Colleges In Louisiana
Best Online Colleges In Maine
Best Online Colleges In Maryland
Best Online Colleges In Massachusetts
Best Online Colleges In Michigan
Best Online Colleges In Minnesota
Best Online Colleges In Mississippi
Best Online Colleges In Missouri
Best Online Colleges In Montana
Best Online Colleges In Nebraska
Best Online Colleges In Nevada
Best Online Colleges In New Hampshire
Best Online Colleges In New Jersey
Best Online Colleges In New Mexico
Best Online Colleges In New York
Best Online Colleges In North Carolina
Best Online Colleges In North Dakota
Best Online Colleges In Ohio
Best Online Colleges In Oklahoma
Best Online Colleges In Oregon
Best Online Colleges In Pennsylvania
Best Online Colleges In Rhode Island
Best Online Colleges In South Carolina
Best Online Colleges In South Dakota
Best Online Colleges In Tennessee
Best Online Colleges In Texas
Best Online Colleges In Utah
Best Online Colleges In Vermont
Best Online Colleges In Virginia
Best Online Colleges In Washington
Best Online Colleges In West Virginia
Best Online Colleges In Wisconsin
Best Online Colleges In Wyoming
Best Online Colleges – Statistics
5,750,417 enrolled students or 28.5% of all students take online classes. 2,926,083 enrolled students or 14.5% take at least one online class. 2,824,334 enrolled students or 14.0% take exclusively online classes. Source: NCES