Aspiring college students with busy schedules may not be able to attend classes at a college or university campus full-time. Completing a college degree through online courses can be a great alternative.
As more adults turn to online schools, universities are realizing the importance of making their online programs just as high quality as their degree programs offered on campus. Not all online bachelor’s degree programs are created equal though, so students should review school rankings and match results with their personal preferences when deciding which college to choose.
25 Best Online Colleges for Aspiring College Students To Consider
Featured Online Colleges
At CollegeRank, our methodology weighs various factors from return on investment to variety of programs, coursework, and more.
In our rankings of the 25 best online colleges, we gave special weight to:
- Prestige, awards, and recognition
- Uniqueness of programs and degrees offered
- Student satisfaction
Using this information, we’ve curated a list of the best online undergraduate degrees to narrow your school search. Whether you’re a high school student looking to the future, or you’ve already completed an associate degree and want to take your education one step further, these schools are a great starting point.
25. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Cost: Online undergrad tuition at UNL ranks high in affordability with a cost of just $257.25 per credit hour for in-state tuition, or $535 per credit hour for non-residents.
Why It’s a Great Choice: UNL is an ideal choice for students with an interest in agriculture, natural resources, and early childhood education.
Other Considerations: The weak point of UNL is that these are the only online bachelor’s degree-level programs. That said, students planning to continue as graduate students will find several graduate programs online. UNL has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
24. Northcentral University
Cost: Undergrad students pay $1,296 tuition per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Northcentral University offers “unparalleled flexibility” with widespread online learning options for students and no residency requirements. NCU offers online students classes ranging from business administration and education to psychology and informatics.
Other Considerations: While NCU offers a limited number of bachelor’s degree online classes, students wishing to continue their education have the option of completing their graduate degree or even doctoral degree at NCU. Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
23. St. John’s University
Cost: Tuition is $1,262 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: 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.
Other Considerations: According to U.S. News & World Report, the new student one-year retention rate for 2014 was 100%, a considerable increase over 2013, when the school retained only 64% of new students. St. John’s is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
22. Nova Southeastern University
Cost: Tuition at NSU is based on a complete academic year and comes in at $26,910 annually.
Why It’s a Great Choice: NSU offers numerous advanced degrees, making it a solid enrollment choice for online learners who want the option to continue their education after completing a bachelor’s degree.
Other Considerations: NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Additional accreditations depend on each department. Nova Southeastern University is the ninth largest not-for-profit independent university in the United States.
21. Capella University
Cost: Tuition is $2,800-$5,177 per quarter, or $630-$728 per credit hour, depending on the program you enroll in.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Among surveyed employers, 96% indicate satisfaction with their Capella-graduated employees.
Other Considerations: Capella University offers a number of undergraduate programs and online certificates, as well as the opportunity for students to further their education after undergraduate degree completion. Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
20. Drexel University
Cost: Tuition varies slightly among the programs. 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.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Drexel University received the 2010 Sloan – C Awards for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education and was recognized by the 2015 “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. Alumni who return to DU receive a tuition reduction on future online education.
Other Considerations: Drexel University Online programs are accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
19. Post University
Cost: Tuition for bachelor’s degree programs ranges from $505 to $570 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Post University ranks among the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor Programs. Payscale.com also ranked the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business #7 for Return on Investment (ROI) in 2014.
Other Considerations: Post University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Students can choose from a B.S. in business, public service, or education, or a B.S. or B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences.
18. Southern New Hampshire University
Cost: SNHU features tuition rates at just $320 per credit hour or $960 per course. There is no application fee for online students.
Why It’s a Great Choice: SNHU has support services to help online students throughout their degree program. It offers asynchronous work with 24/7 accessibility, so students can take courses whenever they want.
Other Considerations: SNHU offers a particularly wide variety of online bachelor’s 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).
17. Western Governors University
Cost: At WGU, tuition is $2,890 per term for several bachelor-level programs but is higher for B.S. pre-licensing programs, at $4,250 per term. Tuition stays the same per term, no matter how many credit hours you pursue each term.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Every year since 2008, Western Governors University has received the 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning from the United States Distance Learning Association.
Other Considerations: WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
16. Indiana University – Bloomington Online
Cost: 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.
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.”
Why It’s a Great Choice: IU Bloomington is ranked #11 College for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report. IU Bloomington also ranked among the top 10 colleges by U.S. News & World Report for its marketing program, elementary education program, business program, and African history program. IU also ranked #9 in the Newsweek Gay-Friendly Schools ranking.
Other Considerations: IU Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
15. University of Wisconsin – Superior
Cost: Online student tuition is a low $305 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: UW-Superior ranked in the top 25 for Best Online Bachelor Programs by U.S. News & World Report and achieved The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. It had a new student retention rate of 92% in 2014.
Other Considerations: The University of Wisconsin-Superior offers several online bachelor’s degrees, including options in communication arts and teacher education. Students can also choose to design their own personalized 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.
14. Liberty University
Cost: Tuition for part-time undergrad students is $435 per credit hour. Full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree pay just $375 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the world and largest private nonprofit university in the country. 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 B.S. in aeronautics, criminal justice, psychology, or religion. Students wishing to continue their education past the bachelor’s degree level can do so through a variety of master’s and doctoral programs.
Other Considerations: Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Several Liberty University programs are also accredited through degree-specific commissions.
13. Fort Hays State University
Cost: FHSU tuition for full-time online students is $2,329.68 per semester.
Why It’s a Great Choice: FHSU ranked #16 for Best Online Bachelor Programs by U.S. News & World Report. They offer 27 online bachelor’s degree programs and 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 a bachelor’s degree of general studies.
Other Considerations: Fort Hays State University Virtual College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
12. American InterContinental University
Cost: Tuition is a low $302 per credit hour for online students.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Classes at American InterContinental University are not synchronous. Instead, students take classes when they want to, not when an instructor indicates class is in session. AIU understands a busy schedule and offers 24/7 support. AIU says that 4 out of 5 online students give positive feedback on the AIU online learning platform.
Other Considerations: American InterContinental University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.
11. Herzing University
Cost: 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.
Why It’s a Great Choice: 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.
Other Considerations: 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’s degree programs are available. Students can also customize their degree to their career and educational goals.
10. Regent University Online
Cost: Regent University Online’s tuition is $16,188 per year.
Why It’s a Great Choice: 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.
Other Considerations: Regent is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
9. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cost: Tuition at UNC is higher than some other top-ranked online colleges, at $8,562 for residents, or $33,604 annually for nonresidents.
Why It’s a Great Choice: 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.
Other Considerations: All UNC-Chapel Hill students, both on-campus and remote, can enjoy courses offered completely online. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
8. Pace University
Cost: At Pace University, the tuition rate is $555 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Pace University is ranked #10 by the U.S. News & World Report for 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 its website, Pace also ranked in the top 15% for “Best Return on College Investment” by Payscale.com.
Other Considerations: Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
7. Central Michigan University
Cost: Tuition is only $395 per credit hour, with U.S. military students paying only $290 per credit hour and military veterans paying a discounted $330 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Central Michigan University places among the top 15 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report. CMU is also among the top-ranked U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs for Veterans.
Other Considerations: CMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Online students choose from programs such as the Bachelor of Applied Arts, Psychology, or Integrated Leadership Studies.
6. Western Kentucky University
Cost: At Western Kentucky University, online bachelor’s 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.”
Why It’s a Great Choice: WKU placed #2 in a three-way tie in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. WKU provides online resource guides to ensure student success. WKU ranked #4 for student engagement and received an overall score of 97 from U.S. News & World Report.
Other Considerations: Students can take all courses online, ranging in fields from computer science and the social sciences to healthcare and social work. WKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has additional accreditations for specific departments and programs.
5. Walden University
Cost: Online courses cost $335 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Walden University offers several opportunities for tuition reductions beyond traditional financial aid. WU alumni, active duty members of the U.S. military, and veterans all receive a 15% reduction over the life of their studies. If your spouse, child, or parent is currently enrolled at Walden, you save 25% over the lifetime of your program. If you plan to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you automatically receive a $1,500 grant if you already possess an associate degree.
Other Considerations: 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.”
4. Daytona State College
Cost: Annual tuition for residents is $3,610 and $18,700 for nonresidents.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Ranked in the top 10 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report 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.
Other Considerations: Daytona State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Daytona State offers bachelor-level programs ranging from engineering to education for both remote learners and on-campus students.
3. Oregon State University
Cost: 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.
Why It’s a Great Choice: With an overall score of 95, the U.S. News & World Report ranked Oregon State University as #5 for 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.
Other Considerations: Oregon State University offers over 20 online bachelor’s degree programs and gives students the opportunity to further their education past the undergrad level by offering 20 master’s degree programs. OSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
2. American Public University System
Cost: Undergraduate level tuition is just $270 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: American Public University System was founded in 1991 by a retired U.S. Marine Corp officer who envisioned offering an affordable, innovative college education to members of the military. American Public University System now serves military and students from the general public in all 50 states and around the world, through the American Military University and American Public University. The American Public University System was recognized by the Online Learning Consortium for “best practices in online education.”
Other Considerations: APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission 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.
1. Pennsylvania State University
Cost: 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.
Why It’s a Great Choice: Penn State ranked #58 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2014-15. Penn State ranked #1 in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs at the bachelor’s degree level. The school has also received numerous top rankings for its graduate programs, making it a great choice for students wishing to continue their education.
Other Considerations: Penn State offers a variety of online bachelor’s degrees, making it an ideal university for many students seeking to obtain a B.S. or B.A. degree that carries the same prestige as if they attended classes on campus. 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.
What To Look for in the Best Online Colleges
If you’re looking for an online college offering a bachelor’s degree program, you’ll need to weigh your individual preferences and priorities against various degree offerings. You’ll want to check tuition, graduation rates, start dates, and more to ensure that you find a program that meets your individual needs.
Be sure to weigh your decision based on independent information from sites like CollegeRank, rather than just on information from college websites. Here, you’ll find a more objective outline of accredited schools, ranging from community colleges to national online universities.