In today’s fast-paced world, 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, colleges and universities are realizing the importance of making their online programs just as high quality as their degree programs offered on campus. The best online programs offer quality education from the comfort of one’s own home or anywhere with an internet connection.
However, not all online bachelor’s degree programs are created equal. This means that students should review school rankings and match results with their personal preferences when deciding which college to choose.
The best colleges for online degrees ranking will delve into what sets these institutions apart and why they have become great alternatives to traditional college for those seeking quality education in the digital age.
25 Best Online Colleges for Aspiring College Students To Consider
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 $268 per credit hour for in-state tuition, or $859 per credit hour for non-residents.
Why It’s a Great Choice: UNL is an ideal choice for students with an interest in:
- Natural resources
- Early childhood education
Other Considerations: The weak point of UNL is that these are the only online bachelor’s degree-level programs. However, 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. National University
Cost: Undergrad students pay $1,383 tuition per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: National University offers “unparalleled flexibility” with widespread online learning options for students and no residency requirements. NCU offers prospective students online courses 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 $1,482 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 the U.S. News & World Report. St. John’s also ranked among the Best Online Programs for Veterans in 2015.
Other Considerations: According to the U.S. News & World Report, the new student one-year retention rate increased by 5% from 2014-2019 and is now at 85%, which is above the national average. St. John’s is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. St. John’s University is a top choice in earning your online degree.
22. Nova Southeastern University
Cost: Tuition at NSU is based on a complete academic year, and the average net cost is $26,530.
Why It’s a Great Choice: NSU offers numerous advanced online 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 ranges from $555 – $825 per credit hour, capped at $4,385 – $5,000, with additional fees.
Why It’s a Great Choice: 94% of alumni agree Capella provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree. (Alumni Outcomes Survey, 2021-2022)
Other Considerations: Capella University offers a number of undergraduate online degrees and online certificates. Additionally, you can earn a master’s degree or doctoral degree from Capella. Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
20. Drexel University
Cost: Tuition varies slightly among the online degree programs. For instance, tuition for the Bachelor of Science in business administration program is $478 per credit hour. The tuition for the bachelor’s in criminal justice is $459 per credit.
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’s 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 $599 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. Post University is an excellent consideration to earn an online degree.
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 Bachelor of Science in business
- A Bachelor of Science in public service
- A Bachelor of Science in education
- A Bachelor of Arts or Science from the College of Arts and Sciences
18. Southern New Hampshire University
Cost: SNHU features tuition rates at just $330 per credit hour or $990 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 online degree program. The online university 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 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 online programs including:
- Elementary education
- African history
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 low at just $319 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. UW-Superior uses the online learning platform Canvas, which provides support 24/7.
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 online 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 Bachelor of Science in:
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 offers low-cost undergraduate tuition at just $242 per credit hour.
Why It’s a Great Choice: FHSU ranked #16 for Best Online Bachelor Programs by the 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 online learners 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 $345 per credit hour for online students.
Why It’s a Great Choice: The online courses at American InterContinental University are not synchronous. Instead, online learners 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 reports 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. The online school also 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 online degrees are available. Online learners can also customize their online degree to their career and educational goals.
10. Regent University Online
Cost: Regent University Online’s tuition is $18,820 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 by 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. It also 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 $600 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 has proven to be a solid choice for students to earn an online program. Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
7. Central Michigan University
Cost: Tuition is only $458 per credit hour, with U.S. military students paying only $290 per credit hour and military veterans paying a discounted $299 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 online degrees such as:
- Applied arts
- Integrated leadership studies
- Computer science
6. Western Kentucky University
Cost: At Western Kentucky University, online bachelor’s degree program tuition is calculated at the part-time rate of $551 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:
WKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has additional accreditations for specific departments and programs.
5. University of Florida
Cost: Cost per credit hour for online learners is $500.
Why It’s a Great Choice: The University of Florida offers UF Online, a fully online school with the same faculty and resources as the residential campus. UF Online is ranked #1 out of 360 in Best Online Bachelor’s programs. UF Online is also ranked as #1 university for veterans.
Other Considerations: UF Online offers online degrees in many popular majors, including:
- Business administration and management
- Computer and information sciences
- Public relations
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 online 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 $350 per credit hour, depending on the specific bachelor’s degree program.
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 prospective 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 $350 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 potential online schools offering bachelor’s degree programs, you’ll need to weigh your individual preferences and priorities against various degree offerings. You’ll want to research various colleges and universities to check factors like:
- Tuition cost
- Graduation rates
- Start dates
- Online learning resources
Learning about these details will allow you to find an online 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many factors that can impact which degree is best for you, from personal interests and career goals to affordability. Here are 10 most popular online degrees to get:
• Business Administration
• Computer Science
• Healthcare Administration
• Health Informatics
• Human Resources
Business Administration has become the most popular online degree to get because of its content and rigor. It’s considered one of the easiest degrees for the right student. In a business program, you’ll cover foundational studies in marketing, management, business, and more. You won’t dig too deep into advanced topics but cover the necessary fundamentals to prepare you for a business career.
Online education can be cost-effective due to savings on commuting, housing, and campus facilities. But tuition costs vary by institution. Online programs offer flexibility for part-time students. Financial aid and scholarships are also available. So, it really depends on which school and program you choose.
Employers have become very accepting of online degrees. They view them as the same as a traditional degree. Degrees from reputable, accredited colleges and universities are well-regarded, and many colleges don’t list the degree as online on your transcript. Of course, it depends on the employer and the industry.
The quickest degrees to get are associate degrees or certificates, often taking two years or less. Some accelerated programs allow completion in a shorter time frame. There are some bachelor’s degrees with accelerated options. But the speed of earning a degree should be balanced with your individual goals and career requirements.
Harvard University consistently shows up on lists as having the lowest acceptance rate. For the class of 2026, the acceptance rate was 3%. The most recent rates have not yet released, according to U.S. News and World Report’s Best National Universities ranking.
Many colleges and universities have a 99% acceptance rate, but Bismarck State College accepts 100% of applicants. It serves about 4,000 students each year, welcoming in everyone that applies. The College of Staten Island CUNY also accepts 100% of applicants.
Yes, online degrees from accredited institutions have earned respect. As the quality of online education has improved, many employers and industries recognize and accept degrees earned online. Some employers appreciate the flexibility and skills developed through online learning.
Earning potential depends on various factors, including the field of study, industry demand, and location. Some online degrees associated with higher earning potential include:
• Actuarial Science
• Data Science or Analytics
• Healthcare Administration
Some students find online learning challenging due to the need for self-discipline and time management, while others appreciate the flexibility. The content and rigor of online courses is comparable to traditional in-person classes. So, if you struggle with in-person instruction, online learning can also be hard.