Best Online Colleges

It's an ideal time to pursue an online degree. With the future of social distancing uncertain, enrolling in an online college may be an investment on your safety.

Best Online Colleges

Are you ready to find your fit?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 7,313,623 students enrolled in at least one distance education course at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2019. The year 2021 is an ideal time to pursue an online degree. With the future of social distancing uncertain, enrolling in an online program ensures a smooth, uninterrupted educational process.

If virtual learning seems like a good fit for you, keep reading to discover the best online college for your goals. In addition, we offer information on how online college works, scholarships, and online college resources.

Why Study Online?

The best online degrees offer many benefits. Distance learners can save money on education, living, and commuting expenses. Most schools charge a lower tuition rate for distance learners, and online students can live at home to avoid high room and board costs. In addition, online learners do not need to pay for gas or parking passes.

Virtual learning also provides pacing flexibility. Many online courses follow an asynchronous format. Students can watch pre-recorded lectures and engage in online discussion boards at their own convenience. People with full-time jobs can earn their degrees outside of traditional business hours.

Students wanting more accountability can look for a synchronous online program. Synchronous classes include set virtual meeting times and live chats with professors and classmates.

Popular Questions About Online Schools and Degrees

How long does it take to earn an online degree?

Timing depends on the education level pursued. An associate degree online takes learners about two years to complete. A bachelor's degree online takes about four years to finish.

What kinds of degrees can I earn online?

Schools nationwide offer online degrees for nearly any major. Some programs may include a few mandatory in-person requirements for licensure purposes, like clinical rotations for nurses.

How can I check if an online school is accredited?

Many online colleges and universities publish accreditation information online. However, you can quickly verify a school's accreditation status by using the U.S. Department of Education's lookup tool.

Can online credits be transferred?

Yes. Most schools accept transfer credits from other accredited schools. Credits tend to transfer best between schools with accreditation from the same agency.

Can I go to online college in a different state?

Yes. Learners can attend an online college located in any state to pursue an online degree. Most schools charge a rate similar to in-state tuition for distance learners.

Are admissions different for online college?

No. Colleges typically feature the same application process and admission requirements for both online and in-person learners. However, this varies by school.

Accreditation for Online Schools

The best online colleges all hold accreditation. An institution earns this accolade for regularly receiving quality assessments from a third-party organization that the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee.

Schools can earn regional or national accreditation. Employers generally view regionally accredited schools as more prestigious than schools with national accreditation. Individual degrees can earn programmatic accreditation. The best online universities offer programs with accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Scholarships for Online Students

To reduce college expenses and avoid high student loan debt, learners can apply for scholarships. Some schools, organizations, and private companies offer scholarships reserved for online learners.

Scholarships usually feature competitive applicant pools, so consider applying for multiple awards each year to increase your chances of earning one. Most scholarships require recommendation letters, essays, and official transcripts, so applicants must start the process early.

Each year, we update a list of the top 50 college scholarships with their award amounts and requirements. Refer to this list to find current college scholarships.

Best Online Colleges and Universities

Finding the best online college often poses a challenge. To help students find the right school for their needs, we create and frequently update this ranking of top online colleges. By gathering data on accreditation status, graduate success rates, and cost, we evaluate these schools rigorously. Learn more about our methodology.

#1

University of Florida

School Information
Location Gainesville, Florida
Admission Rate 32%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

From its main campus in Gainesville, the University of Florida provides top-ranked online degree programs to distance learners.

A leader in online education, the university offers 21 online bachelor's programs. Students attend lectures and complete coursework through a virtual classroom environment, alongside classmates and faculty. While enrolled, students can customize their coursework, select electives, and pursue experiential learning opportunities. Throughout their program, distance learners can connect with academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources to prepare them for success after college.

Students seeking to apply should connect with the financial aid office or their program of interest to learn about degree requirements, application materials, and other information. Depending on eligibility, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid awards to offset the costs of study. The institution notes that 90% of incoming students receive financial aid awards.

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#2

Florida State University

School Information
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

From its main campus in Tallahassee, Florida State University provides top-ranked online degree programs to 19,802 distance learners. Distance learners can pursue 17 online degree programs.

A leader in online education, the university offers 13 online master's programs. Distance learners join a supportive online learning community, connecting with fellow classmates and faculty through a virtual classroom setting. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced classes relevant to their field of interest, and can pursue experiential learning opportunities, like internships, to deepen their knowledge. The school connects students with institutional resources geared towards student success, such as career services and academic advising.

Interested applicants can schedule a meeting with the admissions office to discuss application materials, admission requirements, and other information. Students seeking to defray educational costs can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities. The institution reports that 97% of enrollees benefit from some form of financial aid.

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#3

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Central Florida provides flexible online study options for degree-seekers from all walks of life. The school supports 41,097 distance learners across 47 online degree programs.

The institution provides 19 remote bachelor's degree programs and 26 remote master's degree programs. Degree-seekers benefit from a supportive online learning community, where they connect with fellow distance learners and faculty through a virtual classroom setting. Distance learners benefit from well-rounded curricula, completing foundational and advanced classes, and pursue experiential learning opportunities such as internships. Enrollees can receive guidance through career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources.

Prospective enrollees can meet with the admissions office to discuss admission requirements, application materials ,and other information. Students can contact the financial aid office to determine eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid awards. An average of 92% of all enrollees are awarded financial aid during their studies.

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#4

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provides online degree options for distance learners worldwide. The public institution supports 33 degree programs from its main campus in Champaign, Illinois, attracting 20,199 distance learners across the globe.

A leader in online education, the school offers one online bachelor’s program and 30 online master’s programs. Degree-seekers benefit from a supportive online learning community, where they connect with fellow distance learners and faculty through a virtual classroom setting. Students gain knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their field through classes, internships, and other learning opportunities. Throughout their program, distance learners can connect with academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources to prepare them for success after college.

Interested applicants can meet with an admissions officer to discuss admission requirements and degree eligibility. Eligible students can apply scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid toward their learning expenses. Typically, 64% of incoming students are awarded financial aid.

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#5

University of South Florida

School Information
Location Tampa, Florida
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 75%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of South Florida is a public university, supporting online degree options from its main campus in Tampa, Florida. The school boasts 34 online degree programs, reaching 24,241 distance learners worldwide.

The institution reaches online undergraduates and graduate students, supporting five online bachelor's programs and 27 online master's programs. Distance learners join a supportive online learning community, connecting with fellow classmates and faculty through a virtual classroom setting. Students receive a well-rounded education through general and advanced coursework, with the option to pursue experiential learning opportunities such as faculty-driven research projects and internships. Students can also benefit from personal and professional development by connecting with academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources.

Prospective students can connect with the admissions office, or speak with their program of choice directly, to learn more about the application process. Students can meet with the financial aid office to determine eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid awards. The institution notes that 93% of incoming students receive financial aid awards.

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#6

San Diego State University

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 34%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students from all walks of life will benefit from San Diego State University's flexible online degree programs. The institution supports 17,691 distance learners across numerous learning tracks.

Undergraduates can choose from one of two online bachelor's programs, with graduate students benefiting from six online master's program tracks. Students connect with faculty, peers, and staff through a virtual learning environment, where they receive support and guidance. While enrolled, students gain industry-relevant knowledge through coursework, internships, and other learning opportunities. Learners can receive guidance throughout their studies by connecting with academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources.

Applicants should consult the admissions office to discuss degree requirements and application materials. Students seeking to defray educational costs can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities. Approximately 60% of all enrollees receive financial aid awards.

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#7

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Florida International University is a public school, supporting online degree options from its main campus in Miami, Florida. Distance learners can choose from 67 online degree programs and join its 39,863 online learners.

Students can choose from 36 online bachelor's programs and 31 online master's programs. Distance learners join a supportive online learning community, connecting with fellow classmates and faculty through a virtual classroom setting. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced classes relevant to their field of interest, and can pursue experiential learning opportunities, like internships, to deepen their knowledge. Students also receive guidance from academic advising, career services, and other resources.

Interested applicants can meet with the admissions office to discuss admission requirements and degree eligibility. Eligible students can apply scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid toward their learning expenses. The institution notes that 90% of incoming students receive financial aid awards.

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#8

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

School Information
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Admission Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students from all walks of life will benefit from the flexible online degree programs from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The school boasts seven online degree programs, reaching 15,401 distance learners worldwide.

A leader in online education, the university offers three online master's programs. Students benefit from a supportive learning community, while connecting with colleagues and faculty through a virtual classroom environment. Enrollees complete general and advanced coursework, with the option to modify classes and select major electives, minors, and degree concentrations. The institution can connect enrollees with academic advising, career services, and other learning resources.

Prospective enrollees can meet with the admissions office to discuss admission requirements, application materials, and other information. Students can contact the financial aid office to determine eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid awards. Of all students, 81% benefit from financial aid.

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#9

The University of Alabama

School Information
Location Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Admission Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Alabama, a public school, supports flexible online learning opportunities for students worldwide. Presently, the institution boasts 43 online degree programs, reaching 5,041 distance learners across the globe.

Students can choose from 11 online bachelor's programs and 23 online master's programs. Upon enrolling, students connect with faculty, colleagues, and staff through a virtual classroom environment. Students receive a well-rounded education by completing industry-relevant coursework, with the option to pursue internships, faculty-led research projects, and other experiential learning opportunities. While enrolled, students can benefit from academic advising, career services, and other learning resources.

Prospective students can meet with the admissions office to discuss admission requirements and other application materials. To defray the costs of education, students can speak with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities. The institution notes that 79% of incoming students receive financial aid awards.

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#10

Louisiana Tech University

School Information
Location Ruston, Louisiana
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 60%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Louisiana Tech University, located in Ruston, Louisiana, provides online degree options for distance learners worldwide. The public university provides learning opportunities to 1,908 distance learners across 15 online degree programs.

A leader in online education, the institution boasts online bachelor's and master's degree programs. Students connect with faculty and staff through a virtual classroom environment, while learning alongside classmates and attending remote lectures. Students benefit from a well-rounded education, completing foundational and advanced classes. A leader in student success, the school connects students with academic advising, career services, and other success-oriented resources.

Applicants should consult the admissions office to discuss degree requirements and application materials. Enrollees can connect with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities to make their education more affordable. On average, 98% of enrollees receive financial aid.

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