Best Online Colleges and Universities 2020

Best Online Colleges

Technology has altered virtually every level of the academic arena. Many types of learners, including recent high school graduates and experienced professionals, pursue online programs. In addition to offering flexible scheduling options, online learning allows students to attend out-of-state institutions without relocating.

Earning a college degree often leads to advanced career opportunities and higher earning potential. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that higher levels of education correlate with increased salaries and lower unemployment rates.

Because learners have so many academic options, prospective students should carefully research schools and programs. This guide provides a list of accredited, high-quality online universities to help learners begin their search. The online colleges below are ranked based on factors including variety of degree offerings, graduation rates, and affordability.

Best Online Colleges and Universities for 2020

Learners should consider their personal needs and preferences when selecting an institution. The ranking below factors in aspects many students value, including accreditation and affordability. Students can use this list as a starting place when researching the best online colleges and universities.

See our rankings methodology page.

1

University of Florida

College Choice Score: 100.00

Average Net Price: $4,477

School Website

Founded in 1853 and now the third-largest university in Florida by student population (over 55,000 in 2018), the University of Florida (UF) offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and over 200 graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks UF’s online bachelor’s programs among the best in the nation (No. 4 out of 353 schools).

This online college offers online undergraduate programs in popular fields like psychology, business administration, health education, and computer science. Just like their on-campus counterparts, online students can access the Career Connections Center (CCC), one of the top-ranked career centers in the country. CCC services include career counseling, resume and interview preparation, and online workshops.

Every year, UF holds one of the largest job fairs in the southeastern U.S. that online students can participate in from anywhere in the world.

University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

2

Judson University

College Choice Score: 99.06

Average Net Price: $28,834

School Website

Although Judson University became an independent entity in 1963, it traces its roots back to 1913 with the founding of the Northern Theological Seminary. Today, the university ranks among the top regional universities in the Midwest (No. 72 out of 162 schools), enrolls more than 1,250 students, and offers over 60 undergraduate programs.

Judson offers online degrees through its Adult Professional Program. Students can pursue a bachelor of arts in applied psychology, business administration, human services, or organizational leadership. The length of time it takes to earn an online bachelor’s degree depends on a student’s educational background at the start of their program.

Transferees with an associate degree from an accredited institution and a cumulative 2.0 GPA meet the general education requirements of the school and can take junior-level courses.

Judson University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3

LeTourneau University

College Choice Score: 98.70

Average Net Price: $29,630

School Website

Founded in 1946 on the site of a former Army hospital, LeTourneau University (LETU) began as an all-male institution. Today, it enrolls more than 3,150 men and women and offers two- and four-year degrees and graduate programs across eight academic schools. U.S. News & World Report includes LETU among the top regional universities in the West (No. 25 out of 128 schools).

Like other online universities, LETU offers online degrees in several fields of study, including computer information systems, criminal justice, human services, and aviation management. Just like on-campus students, online enrollees can access the services offered at the Student Success Center including academic and career counseling.

Students can transfer prior learning credits earned from recognized programs such as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, Advanced Placement Exams, and College Level Examination Program.

LeTourneau University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4

University of Central Florida

College Choice Score: 98.48

Average Net Price: $4,478

School Website

The University of Central Florida (UCF) was established in 1963 as the Florida Technological University with an initial graduating class comprising 423 students. Today, UCF enrolls nearly 59,000 undergraduates and offers more than 220 majors across 13 colleges. The university ranks among top universities offering online bachelor’s programs (No. 16 out of 353 schools).

UCF offers more than 20 bachelor’s programs completely online. Students can choose from a variety of disciplines including health informatics and information management, social sciences, technical education and industry training, and legal studies. The online bachelor’s programs at UCF only accept students transferring from another accredited institution. The length of time it takes to complete an online undergraduate degree depends on a student’s academic background at the start of their program. Many programs offer asynchronous classes, making online classes even more flexible and convenient.

University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

5

Maryville University

College Choice Score: 93.92

Average Net Price: $26,070

School Website

Maryville University started out in 1872 as an academy for young women. Today, the university enrolls more than 10,200 young men and women who come from all 50 states and 58 countries. Maryville University offers more than 90 programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

The university also offers over 30 online degrees, many of which can be completed without any campus visits. Students can earn a degree in one of several available academic arenas such as management information systems, organizational leadership, forensic psychology, and sustainability.

Maryville University adheres to a liberal transfer credit policy; however, students must have earned the credits (with a grade of C- or higher) from an institution with regional accreditation. Some online programs validate licenses or industry-recognized certification programs, which can then be transferred as credit hours toward a degree.

Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

6

Kansas State University

College Choice Score: 93.52

Average Net Price: $9,375

School Website

Kansas State University (K-State) began in 1863 as Kansas State Agricultural College, the country’s first land grant university and the only one in the state. K-State currently enrolls more than 22,000 students and offers more than 250 undergraduate majors and over 165 graduate degrees and certificate programs. U.S. News & World Report includes K-State in its rankings of the best schools for online bachelor’s programs (No. 58 out of 353 schools).

Students can choose an online bachelor’s program in fields such as nutrition and health, human development and family science, educational studies, and food science and industry. K-State offers online learners the same comprehensive student services that they offer on-campus students. Online enrollees can avail of career counseling, academic advisement, and one-on-one tutoring assistance. K-State’s career center also helps online students in their job search after graduation.

Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7

Florida International University

College Choice Score: 93.19

Average Net Price: $4,721

School Website

Florida International University (FIU) began in an abandoned airfield in 1972 with an initial enrollment of 5,667 students. FIU now enrolls over 48,000 students and comprises 10 academic colleges offering more than 190 degrees. U.S. News & World Report includes FIU in its list of schools offering the best online bachelor’s programs in the country (No. 52 out of 353 schools).

Students can select from over 100 online degrees offered by FIU in a variety of disciplines, including health services administration, logistics and supply chain management, public policy and service, and public relations, advertising, and applied communication. FIU assigns success coaches to specific online programs to help participants maximize their educational experience and define their career objectives. Online students can also take online leadership workshops to increase their chances of employment after graduation.

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

8

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

College Choice Score: 92.56

Average Net Price: $29,510

School Website

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) began in 1840 as an all-women’s school known as Saint Mary’s Female Institute. It started admitting men to its distance learning programs in 2005 and became fully coeducation in 2015. Today, SMWC enrolls over 1,700 men and women, offers more than 30 associate and bachelor’s programs, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one the top regional institutions in the Midwest.

SMWC offers 13 online bachelor’s degrees in several academic disciplines, including health administration, human resource management, professional writing, and information technology. SMWC follows a generous transfer credit policy. Students can transfer up to 30 credits toward an undergraduate program from an accredited school. SMWC also accepts credits from the College Level Examination Program and other standardized tests.

Online students can access the services offered at the Student Resource Center, such as tutoring sessions, career counseling, and writing assistance. SMWC assigns an academic counselor to online students to help keep them on track.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9

Johnson University

College Choice Score: 90.69

Average Net Price: $14,880

School Website

Johnson University (JU) began as the School of Evangelists in 1893 before becoming Johnson Bible College in 1909. It achieved university status in 2011 when it finally took on its current name. Johnson University offers more than 70 programs in its Tennessee and Florida campuses as well as online.

JU offers online bachelor’s degrees in the following fields: applied linguistics, business administration, intercultural studies, ministry leadership, and pastoral care and counseling. JU participates in the Tennessee Transfer Pathways Program. Resident students with an associate degree from a Tennessee community college can transfer their associate credits toward an on-campus or online JU program.

The Academic Support Center offers a variety of services to both on-campus and online students including term paper writing assistance, how to perform college-level research, tutorials, and career and academic counseling.

Johnson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10

Peirce College

College Choice Score: 90.58

Average Net Price: $14,400

School Website

Established in 1865 as Union Business College, Peirce College began as a school focused on providing educational opportunities for soldiers returning to the state after the Civil War. Today, Peirce exclusively serves the unique educational needs of working students. Peirce enrolls over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 92% of whom are over 21 years old.

Peirce offers online bachelor’s degrees in 11 fields of study, including health information administration, human services leadership, technology management, and human resource management. The college supports a flexible transfer credit policy. Some programs accept up to 102 transfer credits from an accredited institution or a community college partner. Most programs accept up to 90 transfer credits. Students can also submit professional certifications and results from credit-by-exam programs for consideration as college credits.

Peirce College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

11

University of Mary

College Choice Score: 89.42

Average Net Price: $16,800

School Website

When the University of Mary opened in 1959, it was known as Mary College and offered undergraduate programs in nursing and education. Today, Mary offers 60 undergraduate majors, 14 master’s degrees, and four doctoral programs to its approximately 3,800 students.

Mary offers all their undergraduate programs either completely or partially online. Upon enrollment, students have the option of pursuing a degree online, on campus, or through a combination of both delivery formats as a hybrid program. The University of Mary offers online bachelor’s programs in several popular majors, including information technology management, business management, criminal justice, and healthcare administration.

Online students receive the same support services as on-campus enrollees, which includes academic advisement, career or personal counseling, and tutoring services. Additionally, the university’s writing center provides one-on-one reviews of academic papers and research materials.

University of Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

12

Purdue University Global

College Choice Score: 88.97

Average Net Price: $9,208

School Website

Founded in 1869, Purdue University opened with 39 students and a six-member faculty. Today, Purdue University enrolls more than 32,000 undergraduate students and comprises 10 academic colleges. U.S. News & World Report ranks it among the best universities in the country (No. 57 out of 399 schools).

Purdue University offers more than 170 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can pursue an online bachelor’s degree in fields like health and human sciences, law and legal studies, business and economics, and nursing. Online learners can access the same services as on-campus students, including one-on-one mentoring, academic and financial support, and career planning.

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University provides free writing assistance and resources for both students and instructors. OWL services include ESL guidelines, help with subject-specific and general writing, research and citation techniques, and job search writing.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

13

Oklahoma State University

College Choice Score: 88.72

Average Net Price: $5,366

School Website

Founded on Christmas Eve in 1890, Oklahoma State University (OSU) started out as a land-grant institution called the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. The initial class comprised 22 men and 23 women. Today, OSU enrolls more than 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Students can choose an online bachelor’s program from several disciplines such as early childcare and development, business administration, computer science, nursing, and psychology. OSU offers online students the same support services as on-campus enrollees. The LASSO Center offers tutoring services, supplemental instruction, and academic coaching. In addition, online students can also seek assistance from the OSU Writing Center and the OSU Career Services.

Online students with credits to transfer toward their OSU program can find out which of their credits will transfer to OSU by using the transfer equivalency self-service guide.

Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

14

Kennesaw State University

College Choice Score: 88.65

Average Net Price: $4,341

School Website

Founded in 1963 and now the third largest university in Georgia, Kennesaw State University (KSU) enrolls nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers more than 150 programs of study across 13 colleges. KSU attracts students from all over the region and the nation and from 92 countries around the world.

KSU offers more than 150 fully online programs. Students can choose to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in one of seven areas: business, computer and software engineering, education, engineering and engineering technology, integrative studies, logistics and operations, and social sciences.

The online programs in computer and software engineering and in logistics and operations are degree completion programs that have been specifically designed for students with an associate in applied science degree. Students pursuing the online undergraduate degree in education can complete general education classes off campus, but most courses in the major are only offered on site.

KSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

15

Drexel University

College Choice Score: 87.98

Average Net Price: $50,874

School Website

Starting out in 1891 as a non-degree granting institution called the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, Drexel University now offers more than 200 programs across 15 academic colleges and schools. The university supports a population of more than 24,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. U.S. News & World Report includes Drexel University among the top-ranked schools offering some of the best online undergraduate programs in the country.

Students can select from online bachelor’s degrees in a variety of academic disciplines including behavioral science counseling, criminal justice, nursing and health professions, and education. Just like on-campus enrollees, online students can access the Steinbright Career Development Center where they can receive career counseling and cooperative education services. Online learners can also access the extensive digital resources of the W.W. Hagerty Library.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).

16

University of Alaska Southeast

College Choice Score: 87.55

Average Net Price: $6,552

School Website

The restructuring and consolidation of three state institutions resulted in the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) becoming part of the University of Alaska System in 1987. UAS currently enrolls more than 5,300 undergraduate and graduate students and offers more than 75 degrees and certification programs across three colleges.

UAS offers many online programs including bachelor’s degrees in health sciences, social science, power technology, and marine biology. A transfer-friendly institution, UAS encourages students to submit prior learning experience in a variety of professional, military, and training programs for college credit consideration.

The Finish College Alaska Program offers incentives and support for Alaskans to return to college and earn a degree online. Students can take advantage of the services of knowledgeable degree completion specialists to craft a college completion plan that supports their educational and career objectives.

University of Alaska Southeast is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

17

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

College Choice Score: 85.88

Average Net Price: $19,008

School Website

Established in 1977, Keiser University offers more than 100 programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. It supports a total student population of approximately 20,000 and comprises 10 academic colleges. Keiser is Florida’s third-largest nonprofit postsecondary institution and primarily serves returning students by offering career-focused programs that students can complete entirely online.

Students can opt to pursue online bachelor’s programs in one of several academic areas, including applied engineering, health services administration, cyber forensic/information security, and sport management. The Department of Student Services assists online students by offering the following services: professional development workshops, resume preparation, and job interviewing coaching. Keiser University maintains a digital career center that online students can access while they enrolled at the university and even as an alumna.

Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

18

Oregon State University

College Choice Score: 85.58

Average Net Price: $9,390

School Website

Oregon State University (OSU) started out in 1868 as the Corvallis State Agricultural College. It now enrolls close to 32,000 students and offers more than 200 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. OSU attracts students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU as one of the top providers of online bachelor’s programs in the country (No. 5 out of 353 schools).

OSU offers more than 30 online bachelor’s programs through the e-campus. Students can choose from several academic fields including environmental human development and family sciences; economics and policy; geography and geospatial science; and women, gender, and sexuality studies. Most of OSU’s online degrees maintain four starting dates each year and can be pursued without any campus visits. Online students can take advantage of several support services, such as success coaching, online tutoring, career guidance, and academic counseling.

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

19

Mercer University

College Choice Score: 84.92

Average Net Price: $24,822

School Website

Mercer University began in 1833 as a preparatory school for boys known as Mercer Institute. It opened with just 39 students. Now a coeducational, top-ranked national university, Mercer supports over 8,700 undergraduate and graduate students, comprises 12 schools and colleges, and offers more than 130 academic programs.

Mercer offers more than 30 online programs that can be completed without any campus visits. Students can choose to pursue online bachelor’s degrees in fields like homeland security and emergency management, information technology and informatics, organizational communication, and software application development and human-computer interaction.

Mercer’s online programs feature multiple start dates throughout the year and most follow eight-week delivery formats. Online students can take advantage of the services offered at the Academic Resource Center, which includes tutoring, academic counseling, writing assistance, and career advisement.

Mercer University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

20

Eastern New Mexico University

College Choice Score: 84.27

Average Net Price: $3,842

School Website

Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) opened in 1934 as the newest member of the state university system. It enrolls close to 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students and offers over 60 degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels.

Students can pursue an online bachelor’s degree in one of several academic fields, including aviation science, electronics engineering technology, social work, and sports and recreation management. ENMU provides the same support services to its online students as it does to its on-campus enrollees including free online tutoring services and academic and career counseling. The online writing center provides writing assistance services exclusively for online learners.

Students can find out which credits from another accredited institution will transfer toward their online program by using ENMU’s transfer evaluation system. The university also maintains transfer partnerships with several community colleges to help students transition to a four-year program.

Eastern New Mexico University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

21

University of South Dakota

College Choice Score: 83.76

Average Net Price: $7,451

School Website

Founded in 1862, the University of South Dakota (USD) is the oldest university in the state. It is composed of seven academic colleges and schools and enrolls more than 10,000 students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

USD offers more than 50 online programs. Students can pursue an online degree in business administration, criminal justice, health sciences, addiction studies, and many more. Out-of-state students enrolled in an online program at the university pay the same tuition as resident on-campus or online enrollees.

USD follows a flexible transfer credit policy and generally accepts college credits earned at another institution with regional accreditation. Online students can access several support services such as ESL assistance and academic counseling. USD’s writing center also provides training videos and online workshops on academic writing and research paper formatting.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

22

Webster University

College Choice Score: 83.10

Average Net Price: $27,700

School Website

Founded in 1915 as Loretto College, Webster University was among the first institutions in the region to provide higher education to women. It currently enrolls close to 12,000 men and women and comprises five schools and colleges. U.S. News & World Report ranks Webster University among the best regional universities in the Midwest (No. 17 out of 162 schools).

The university offers more than 50 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can pursue a fully online bachelor of arts degree in the following academic areas: criminology, educational studies, general studies, management, psychology, and religion and global society. Webster University also offers online degree completion programs in data analytics, media communications, and nursing.

Students can consult the course equivalency database and community college transfer guides to find out which of their credits transfer.

Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

23

Missouri State University

College Choice Score: 81.71

Average Net Price: $6,360

School Website

Founded in 1905, Missouri State University (MSU) started out as a school for teacher education known as the Fourth District Normal School. Today, MSU comprises seven academic colleges and offers programs in several academic areas, including business, humanities and public affairs, health and human services, and agriculture.

Most of MSU’s online programs comprise bachelor of science degrees in fields such as communication studies, criminology and criminal justice, information technology, and hospitality leadership. Depending on their academic background when starting their program, students can typically complete an online program without any campus visits.

Online students can take advantage of the same support services as on-campus enrollees including academic advising, career and personal counseling, and tutoring services and writing assistance from the Center for Learning and Writing. The Center also provides workshops that supplement course materials to help ensure student success.

Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

24

University of Cincinnati

College Choice Score: 80.96

Average Net Price: $9,322

School Website

The University of Cincinnati (UC) can trace its origins back to1819 with the founding of Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio. UC currently enrolls more than 38,000 students and offers over 400 degrees across 11 academic schools and colleges. U.S. News & World Report ranks UC among the top providers of online bachelor’s programs in the country (No. 73 out of 353 schools).

Students can enroll in an online program in one of several academic areas, including early childhood education, health information management, fire science technology, and criminal justice. UC assigns enrollment services advisors and student success coordinators to online students to help them with admission and graduation requirements.

Online students can take advantage of a variety of support services and resources, such as career development resources, academic advising, tutoring services, and academic writing assistance.

University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

25

Southern New Hampshire University

College Choice Score: 79.44

Average Net Price: $30,756

School Website

Starting out in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) received its college charter in 1961 and achieved university status in 2001. SNHU currently enrolls approximately 3,770 students and ranks among the top regional universities in the North.

SNHU offers more than 150 online bachelor’s programs, many of which can be completed without any campus visits. Students can pursue a degree in fields such as environmental science, fashion merchandising and management, management information systems, and human services. Online programs at SNHU follow eight-week delivery schedules and maintain six start dates throughout the year. Additionally, most online classes follow an asynchronous delivery format for increased flexibility.

Online students can transfer up to 90 credits toward their bachelor’s degree as long as they were earned at another regionally accredited institution.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Why More Students Are Choosing College Online

Among the many reasons students choose to attend online programs, flexibility is a common consideration, according to the 2019 National Student Satisfaction and Priorities Report. Working professionals and busy students with personal responsibilities often need scheduling flexibility to earn their degree while fulfilling other obligations.

Cost is another important consideration for online students. Distance learning is often more affordable than on-campus programs, since online learning typically reduces or eliminates costs associated with housing and transportation. Many states participate in reciprocity agreements through which students can qualify for in-state tuition rates at certain out-of-state schools.

Students with health problems or mobility issues can also benefit from online education, which allows learners to study from home and in environments where they can access necessary medical services. Additionally, many online programs allow learners to enroll part time or complete coursework at an accelerated pace.