The 25 Best Online Colleges

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Adults with busy schedules that keep them from attending classes at a college or university campus full-time often turn to attending college online. As more adults turn to online colleges, universities realize the importance of making their online programs just as comprehensive as degree programs offered on campus in face-to-face courses. However, adults need to look at the overall picture when deciding which college to choose when completing a degree online.

Featured Online Colleges

These colleges were selected for a number of factors that make them place them among the 25 Best Online Colleges. These factors help place these colleges in the top 25:

* Offering Bachelor degree programs
* Accreditation
* Cost
* Prestige, awards, recognition
* Reputation
* Uniqueness of programs/degrees offered
* Student Satisfaction

25. University of Nebraska – Lincoln

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UNL says it is “Helping You Write Your Story.” Online undergrad tuition is $257.25 for residents and $535 per credit hour for non-residents. UNL is an ideal choice for students with an interest in agriculture or natural resources, who complete the Bachelor of Applied Science degree. Students interested in Early Childhood Education pursue the Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education in a Mobile Society, which focuses on graduates “in early childhood settings with young children whose family members are highly mobile.” The weak point of UNL is that these are the only online Bachelor-level programs. However, students planning to continue beyond the Bachelor’s degree find several degree options at the post-graduate level online. UNL is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

24. Northcentral University

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Northcentral University offers “Unparalleled flexibility” with widespread online learning capabilities for students, and no residency requirement. NCU offers the Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degrees to online students. While NCU offers a limited number of Bachelor Level courses, students wishing to continue their education have the option of completing their Master’s or even Doctoral degrees at NCU.

Undergrad students pay $1,296 tuition per credit hour. Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

23. St. John’s University

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St. John’s University is a private university, ranked among the top 50 Best Online Programs by U.S. News & World Report. St. John’s ranked among the Best Online Programs for Veterans in 2015. St. John’s is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Tuition is $1,262 each credit hour. According to U.S. News & World Report, the new student one-year retention rate for 2014 was 100 percent, a considerable increase over 2013, when the school retained only 64 % of new students.

22. Nova Southeastern University

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Tuition at NSU is $26,910 for the academic year. NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Additional accreditations depend on each department. NSU also offers numerous advanced degrees, giving students wanting to go further in their educational and career pursuit’s the perfect opportunity to continue their education. Nova Southeastern University is the ninth largest not-for-profit, independent university in the United States.

21. Capella University

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Capella University offers a number of Bachelor degree programs as well as the opportunity for students to further their education beyond the Bachelor degree. Tuition is $2800-$5177 per quarter or $630-$728 per credit hour, depending on the program you enroll in. Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Among surveyed employers, 96 percent indicate satisfaction with their Capella-graduated employees.

20. Drexel University

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Drexel University Online programs are accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. DU received the 2010 Sloan – C Awards for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education and is recognized by the 2015 “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. Tuition varies slightly among the programs but by only a small amount. For instance, tuition in the B.S. in Business Administration program is $790 per credit hour, but only $761 for several other Bachelor-level programs. Alumni who return to DU receive a tuition reduction of 15-30 per cent in future online education.

19. Post University

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Post University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. Students have the option of choosing from several specializations when pursuing a B.S. in Business degree, a B.S. in Public Service, B.S. in Education, a B.S. or B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Tuition for Bachelor degree programs ranges from $505 to $570 per credit hour. Post ranks among the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor Programs. Payscale.com ranked the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business #7 nationally for Return onInvestment (ROI) in 2014.

18. Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU features tuition rates at just $320 per credit hour or $960 per course, with no application fee for online students. SNHU offers a wide variety of online Bachelor degree programs. SNHU is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE).
SNHU has an online support community to help online students throughout their degree program and features 24/7 accessibility, so students can take courses whenever they want.

17. Western Governors University

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At WGU, tuition is $2890 per term for several Bachelor-level programs but is higher for B.S. pre-licensing programs, which is $4,250 per term. Tuition stays the same per term, no matter how many credit hours you pursue each term. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. WGU received the 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning, from the United States Distance Learning Association, for every year since 2008.

16. Indiana University – Bloomington Online

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IU Bloomington offers a variety of Bachelor degree programs online. Indiana University charges a flat-rate tuition of $4,543 per term for undergraduate students. Online students also pay a $30 fee per credit hour, “to support online education throughout the university.” Non-resident students pay higher tuition. However, IU offers a unique program called “Finish in Four.” Students on track to graduate in four years receive a financial award that “offsets any increase in tuition and fees for their final two years.”

IU Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Additionally, IU Bloomington ranked #11 by U.S. News & World Report College for Veterans. IU Bloomington also ranked among the top 10 colleges by U.S. News & World Report for its Marketing Program, Elementary Education program, Business Programs and African History Program. IU also ranked #9 in the Newsweek Gay-Friendly Schools ranking.

15. University of Wisconsin–Superior

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The University of Wisconsin-Superior offers several online Bachelor degrees, including the B.A. in Communication Arts and Bachelor’s degree in teacher education. Students can also choose to design their own program with the Self-Designed Major options. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. UW-Superior ranked in the top 25 in the U.S. News & World Report Best Online Bachelor Programs and achieved The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. New student retention rate for 2014 was 92 percent. Online student tuition is a low $305 per credit hour.

14. Liberty University

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Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the world and largest private, non-profit university in the country, according to the Liberty website. Students wishing to continue their education past the Bachelor degree level can do so with the variety of Master’s and Doctoral programs. Students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Liberty University can complete their program completely online. Liberty students choose from several degree programs such as the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, a B.S. in Psychology or B.S. degree specializations in Religion. Tuition for part-time undergrad students is $435 per credit hour. Full-time students pursuing a Bachelor degree pay just $375 per credit hour. Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Several Liberty University programs are also accredited, including the Liberty School of Business, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Exercise Science program, accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

13. Fort Hays State University


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Fort Hays State University Virtual College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. FHSU ranked #16 for Best Online Bachelor Programs by U.S. News & World Report. FHSU tuition for online students is $2,329.68 per semester. Students wishing to continue their education past their choice of 27 online Bachelor degree programs have the opportunity to pursue their choice of 13 online Master’s degree programs. Fort Hays State University also allows students to customize a Bachelor’s degree to suit their educational and professional goals. Those students graduate with the Bachelor of General Studies degree.

12. American InterContinental University

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American InterContinental University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. Students take classes when they want to, not when an instructor indicates class is in session. Tuition is a low $302 for online students. AIU understands your busy schedule, offers 24/7 support and says, “We’re dedicated to helping busy professionals get the degree they need to move forward as efficiently as possible.” AIU says that “4 out of 5” online students give positive feedback on the AIU online learning platform.

11. Herzing University

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Herzing ranked among the 2015 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs for the third straight year and ranks among the list of “military friendly Schools” by G.I. Jobs Magazine. Herzing is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has specialized accreditations by department and program. HU prides itself on its online degree programs, calling HU “The Everywhere Classroom.” Multiple Bachelor degree programs, with specializations to enable students to customize their degree to their career and educational goals give students the opportunity to complete their bachelor degree program. Tuition for online students is $540 per credit hour for students pursuing up to 11 credits and $340 per credit hour for full-time students.

10. Regent University Online

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Regent University Online tuition is $16,188 per year, much lower than many universities. Regent is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regent University is nationally recognized as a Top 15 Best University by the U.S. News & World Report for online bachelor’s programs and ranks #8 for Online Programs for Veterans. The school was named to G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazines’ 2015 list of Military-friendly schools.

9. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students can enjoy courses offered in completely online. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. UNC – Chapel Hill ranks among Princeton Review’s and USA Today’s Top 10 Best Value Public Colleges and ranks among the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Public Universities. Tuition is higher than some other top-ranked online colleges, at $8,562 for residents and $33,604 annually.

8. Pace University

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Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, several of the Pace University programs are also accredited. Pace University is ranked in the #10 position by the U.S. News & World Report “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.” Pace received a score of 91 from U.S. News & World Report in the category “Faculty Credentials and Training.” According to the University site, Pace also ranked in the top 15 percent for “Best Return on College Investment” by payscale.com. This helps push Pace University higher on this list, even with the tuition rate of $555 per credit hour.

7. Central Michigan University

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CMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and places among the top 15 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. CMU is also among the top-ranked U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs for Veterans. Online students choose from programs such as the Bachelor of Applied Arts, Major in Administration, B.S. in Psychology or Bachelor of Science in Integrated Leadership Studies. Tuition is only $395 per credit hour, with U.S. military students paying only $290 per credit hour and veterans of the U.S. military paying a discounted $330 per credit hour.

6. Western Kentucky University

One of the advantages of pursuing your degree at Western Kentucky University is that no matter how many credit hours you take, your bachelor degree program tuition is calculated at the part-time rate of $494 per credit hour. WKU indicates, “There is no full-time distance learning rate.” Students can take all courses online, ranging from bachelor degree programs in criminology to organizational leadership or family & consumer sciences. WKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has accreditations for specific departments and programs. WKU placed #2 in a 3-way tie in the U.S. News & World Report Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Online resources and support available with a single click may lessen fears that prospective students may have about completing their bachelor degree at WKU. WKU ranked #4 for “student engagement,” and received an overall score of 97 from U.S. News & World Report.

5. Walden University

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Recognized by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Walden’s B.S. in Information Technology program is accredited by ABET Computing Accreditation Commission, which WU says is “one of only a few online programs accredited by ABET.” WU offers several opportunities for tuition reductions. WU alumni, active duty members of the U.S. Military and veterans all receive a 15 percent reduction over the life of their studies. If your spouse, child or parent is currently enrolled at Walden, you save 25 percent over the lifetime of your program. If you plan to pursue a degree in nursing, you automatically receive a $1500 grant if you already possess an associate’s degree.

4. Daytona State College

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Daytona State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Ranked in the top 10 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for three consecutive years, Daytona State College received an overall score of 97. The school also received statewide and national recognition for its best learning center practice. Daytona State offers bachelor-level programs ranging from engineering to education.

3. Oregon State University

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With an overall score of 95, the U.S. News & World Report ranked OSU as the #5 university in the Best Online Bachelor’s Program. This is not the only recognition awarded to Oregon State University. OSU ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, among The 25 Best Accredited Online Colleges for 2015 by Create a Career and among The 30 Best Online Colleges by Great Value Colleges. Oregon State University offers over 20 online Bachelor degree programs and gives students the opportunity to further their education past the Bachelor degree level by offering 20 master’s degree programs. OSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition is a low $200-$251 per credit hour, depending on the specific Bachelor’s degree program, plus an $80 Distance Education fee per credit hour.

2. American Public University System

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American Public University System was founded in 1991 by a retired U.S. Marine Corp officer who envisioned a solution to a problem of offering affordable, innovative way to offer a college education to members of the military. American Public University System now serves military and public students in all 50 states and around the world, through the American Military University and American Public University. American Public University System was recognized by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) for “best practices in online education.” APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association. APUS offers a 24/7 online library and the online Center for Teaching and Learning, which gives students access to other learning resources. APUS offers over 40 Bachelor-level programs ranging from a Bachelor of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management, marketing or sociology to the B.S. degree in Accounting, Information Technology or Sports Management on the American Public University side. On the American Military University side, students pursue everything from the student’s choice of a Bachelor’s degree in business management to B.A. in Criminal Justice, a B.S. in Space Studies or 16 other Bachelor degree programs. Undergraduate level tuition is just $270 per credit hour for both schools.

1. Pennsylvania State University

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Penn State Worldwide invites online students to “Distinguish yourself with a respected and recognized bachelor’s degree from Penn State World Campus.” Penn State offers a variety of online Bachelor-level degrees, making it an ideal university for many students seeking to obtain a B.S. or B.A. degree that is the same as if they attended classes on campus. For students taking fewer than 12 credit hours, tuition is $535 per credit hour. For students enrolled in 12 or more credit hours, tuition is a flat rate of $6,506. Penn State ranked #58 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2014-15 for the Top 100 Universities in the World. Penn State ranked #1 in the U.S. News & World Report “Best Online Programs” at the bachelor degree level. Penn State also received numerous top rankings for its programs above the Bachelor degree, making it a great choice for students wishing to continue their education. Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) for all degrees and holds numerous additional accreditations by a specific program.