According to a U.S. News & World Report study done in 2016, the number of students currently enrolled in online courses continues to increase, with 5.8 million students enrolled nationwide in at least one distance learning course in the fall of 2014, up 3.9 percent from the previous year. This is no surprise, as an online degree offers many advantages compared with a traditional one where students must attend all classes in a strict time frame.
The ability to pursue a profession and go to school simultaneously, opportunities to improve technical skills, and the chance to save money are just a few of the benefits of an online degree.
Luckily, there are several online programs available in the state of Maryland that understand the need for young students to pursue a degree in non-traditional ways. The Maryland State Department of Education operates under the mission of providing effective, inclusive, innovative, accountable, and a safe learning experience for all. It is home to a wide range of historic private colleges and universities, known for their contribution to research and service to the community.
What are the best online colleges in Maryland?
Below is a list of the best colleges that offer online programs and degrees in Maryland. College Choice researches each school based on its institutional excellence and student success rate using data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, Payscale, individual college websites, and US News & World Report. Excellence is measured taking into account a variety of factors such as graduation rate, reputation, and admitted students’ test scores, while success is measured by amount of average financial aid given, tuition costs, and expected starting salary for graduates.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $65,496
Founded in 1876 under the vision that teaching and research should go hand in hand, John Hopkins University located in Baltimore is the nation’s first research university that has produced 36 Nobel laureates to date. It is currently the leading U.S. academic institution in total research and development spending, having spent $2.306 billion in medical, science, and engineering research in the year of 2015. John Hopkins offers nine academic divisions, as well as a nonacademic division for the purpose of other civilian research and development.
- 6 Bachelors, 46 Masters, and 9 Doctoral online programs
- Online courses in the School of Arts & Sciences, the Carey Business School, School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Public Health
- Free courses and materials for students and the general public offered through Coursera and OpenCourseWare
Any online program with John Hopkins comes with full support from its faculty and professors. Students are engaged via interactive labs, live video sessions, discussions with their classmates, and opportunities to apply what they have learned in a real-life setting. For information about class schedule and how to enroll, applicants must inquire on the individual colleges’ online school homepages.
Loyola University Maryland
College Choice Score: 94.10
Average Net Price: $61,550
Loyola University Maryland is a Jesuit Catholic university founded in 1852 in downtown Baltimore committed to the traditions of the Society of Jesus. Inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, students are empowered to perform well academically under Loyola’s rigorous education and grow spiritually as an individual. With 150-years of history, Loyola is a leading national liberal arts university with its strong traditions and vision statement rooted in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.
- Limited summer online courses offered yearly. 2017 courses covered topics from math, information technology, accounting, etc.
- Graduate degrees in Montessori Education, Teaching, School Counseling, Education, Speech-Language Pathology, Psychology, Emerging Media, Liberal Studies, Theological Studies, Business, and Data Science
- Loyola’s graduate degrees in Psychology consistently ranked top 10 for Psy.D. programs
Although only for graduate studies, Loyola’s online programs allow for a more flexible schedule and the ability to work more at one’s own pace. While some programs require traditional classes along with the online option, students can experience as much face-to-face interaction as they please. Students are encouraged to develop strong time management and communication skills. Loyola’s Department of Technology Services is also available to assist in times of technology difficulties that one may encounter during the process.
University of Maryland, College Park
College Choice Score: 92.2
Average Net Price: $46,285
The University of Maryland, College Park is located just outside Washington D.C. and is the flagship campus for the University System of Maryland founded in 1856. Starting with only 34 students as an agricultural school, UMD has grown to over 38,000 students today from around the world. Its mission is to provide excellent teaching, research, and service to the community at large. UMD also is proud to play a critical role in the state’s economy, giving $3.16 billion in annual impact and graduating thousands of scientists, scholars, engineers, and entrepreneurs who serve in the Maryland workforce.
- Summer and winter online sessions, and traditional professional graduate online programs
- Graduate programs for Business Ethics, Regulation, & Crime, Chemical and Life Sciences, Communication, Computer Science, Economics, Entomology, Entrepreneurship, Journalism, Public Health, and Psychology
ELMS is the online environment where most UMD online courses are taken. Once the instructor loads the course 24-48 hours prior to the start date, the student is able to login and access the course. While some courses do not require students to be online at a specific time, other courses do and will take roll. Summer programs consist of multiple sessions with varying lengths, as well as non-standard session dates to accommodate all schedules. In addition, a winter session is offered for three weeks in January for up to four credits.
College Choice Score: 86.24
Average Net Price: $32,442
Starting as a two-year teachers college in 1922 on the state’s Eastern Shore, Salisbury University has grown into a nationally accredited, four-year university offering 58 graduate and undergraduate programs. This university maintains a standard of excellence where people of all different backgrounds can engage in higher education. Because of their commitment to academic rigor, almost all students have the opportunity to undertake research with a faculty member. SU is also a member of the University System of Maryland.
- Both undergraduate and graduate online courses
- 100% online accredited MBA program
- Diverse program, from courses in education to nursing
SU uses GullNet as their online learning directory; online courses have section numbers in the 700 range while hybrid courses have section numbers in the 600 range. Courses are offered each semester with subjects varying. MyClasses is the campus system for all class activities. The university also offers online learning support such as an IT help desk, library resources, and disability support services.
College Choice Score: 83.33
Average Net Price: $36,274
As the second-largest university in the University System of Maryland, Towson University was founded in 1866 with the mission of preparing students to think critically and serve as leaders in the world. The U.S. News & World Report 2017 America’s Best Colleges ranked TU as the 14th best public regional university in the north out of 62 institutions. Towson was also the safest university in the Maryland system in 2013 with the lowest crime statistics. The university is defined by six colleges: The College of Business and Economics, The College of Education, The College of Fine Arts and Communication, The College of Health Professions, The Departments and Programs of the College of Liberal Arts, and The Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.
- Online undergraduate B.S. in Allied Health (two tracks completely online)
- 6 online graduate degrees: Applied Information Technology, Human Resource Development (Educational Leadership Track), Integrated Homeland Security Management, Kinesiology, Occupational Science, and Nursing
- Online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate programs
Online courses are offered through the system called Blackboard, which is free for students. Students are recommended to have a broadband connection (DSL, cable modem, etc.), as well as other technology requirements for certain classes such as Microsoft Office. Discounts are available for most applications via the university store. TU also offers workshop training sessions to teach students how to use the Blackboard system.
College Choice Score: 82.91
Average Net Price: $47,622
Formerly known as the Villa Julie College, Stevenson University founded in the 1940s is a private, coeducational institution located in the Greenspring Valley of Baltimore County. This university seamlessly offers a traditional liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on career exploration and development, offering a unique program called “Career Architecture” where students are coached from the first year all the way to their senior year on tips on how to obtain a career. In fact, 91 percent of Stevenson graduates find a job or continue their education within six months of their graduation.
- Online Bachelors, Masters, Adult Undergraduate, and Post-Baccalaureate Certification programs
- Associate to Bachelors (ATB) Nursing program
- S. to M.S. option for qualifying students
- RN to BS in Nursing program
A typical week allows for one to two hours of coursework on weekdays, and three to four hours of coursework on weekends, giving working adults the flexibility to finish their degree and maintain a full-time job. The university uploads tutorial videos on how to use their online system, Blackboard, as well as providing one-on-one career advising and the Online Career Connections system that is available 24/7 to more than 3,000 employers. For graduate programs, students can expect to complete it in as little as 18 to 24 months. In addition, online students are still encouraged to maintain a traditional college experience as much as possible by offering resources to student life, alumni relations, athletics, etc.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
College Choice Score: 82.08
Average Net Price: $39,270
Established in 1966, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is an American public research university that is part of the University of Maryland System. It became the first public collegiate institution in the state to be inclusive to all races, with the recent 2016 first-year class demographics being 45% ethnic minorities. UMBC’s vision is to redefine excellence in higher education by fostering an inclusive culture to advance knowledge, economic prosperity, and social justice for all. In 2017, UMBC was again named one of the nation’s top public universities by Business First’s ranking, and is now ranked 56th of 499 overall of four-year public institutions included.
- Online Masters and Certificates only
- Education, Emergency Health Services and Emergency Management, Information Systems, ISD, and Non-Credit Training programs
- Summer online courses
- Nationally recognized for technology, science and engineering programs
An online UMBC Masters degree has many advantages such as: 100% virtual experience from application to graduation to allow the perfect school and work life balance, graduation in as little as two years for some degrees, and continued support from UMBC’s campus-based research faculty. Using the Blackboard system, students can expect to easily manage their coursework as well as be plugged in to college life and news.
Frostburg State University
College Choice Score: 78.87
Average Net Price: $32,668
Founded in 1902 with only 57 students, Frostburg State University has grown to an enrollment of over 5,600 students with over 30 facilities. FSU became part of the University System of Maryland in 1988, continuing its legacy of excellence in education. In 2015, it was ranked the number one university in the system of Maryland schools for lowest average student debt per borrower. In addition, FSU was named one of the best colleges in the nation for its return on education in MONEY’s 2016 Best Value Colleges edition. It was also named the 2016 Public Institution of the Year by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.
- Online MBA program ranked number 48 of the most affordable programs of 2017 by Top Management Degrees
- 100% online Undergraduate Nursing program
- Online and hybrid Graduate programs: MBA, Recreation and Parks Management, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Applied Computer Science, and Master of Education (Special Education)
- Summer courses
- Summer Online Freshman Initiative (SOFI) for incoming freshman to get a head start
Online learning at FSU is designed to reach every student’s academic and professional goals, therefore programs are designed to meet the scheduling needs of working professionals. For this reason, courses follow the regular academic calendar that can be found online. Using the Blackboard system, students are expected to attend course orientation either on-site or online, attend online class at specific times if necessary, maintain communication with the instructor, and develop strong time management skills. A test on their online learning website is designed to see if online courses are indeed right for you.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
College Choice Score: 72.88
Average Net Price: $30,801
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is the state’s Historically Black 1890 Land Grant Institution. It is known for its nationally accredited undergraduate and graduate programs as well as its commitment to research. Starting in 1886, it was originally founded under the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1926 passed its ownership and control over to the State and the University of Maryland. Today UMES offers 26 B.A. and B.S. degrees, 13 teaching degree programs, and eight pre-professional programs.
- Online program leads to a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering Technology
- Offered three times per year: fall, spring, and summer
- 33 credits: 12 hours of core and 21 hours of elective courses
- Focuses: network security, mobile wireless networking and security, system integrity for cybersecurity, and cybersecurity administration
This program is perfect for people who are working yet wish to receive the same high-quality education as if they were on campus. Professors who teach the traditional face-to-face classes teach this online program, and access to course material is available 24/7 to allow students to pick the time that is most convenient. In order to apply, students must have a bachelors degree in a technology-related field, such as Engineering Technology, Computer Science, or Information Technology. In addition, a complete application will include a strong academic record, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and completion of the GRE or GMAT.
Notre Dame of Maryland University
College Choice Score: 71.29
Average Net Price: $47,920
Established in 1895 as the first Catholic college for women in the U.S. to award four-year baccalaureate degrees, Notre Dame of Maryland University continues the legacy of pioneering educational tradition and social justice as the only women’s college in the state of Maryland. Although traditionally focused on the needs of women, in 1975 the college started meeting the needs of employed men and women, and currently offers certificate, undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. programs for all. NDM is rated the sixth best women’s college of 2017 by Best Colleges and the fourth best four-year college in Maryland by Learn How to Become.
- Has the 15th most affordable online masters degree in Communications
- Bachelor of Arts in Business, Certificate in Risk Management (Graduate), Master of Arts in Leadership in Teaching, Master of Science in Analytics, MA in Contemporary Communication, Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations, and RN to BSN program
An online experience at NDMU includes a 24/7 help desk available via phone, email and chat box, personal success coaches, on-campus tutoring services, access to the alumni network, and resources on time management. In addition, with a rolling application and multiple start dates, students can get their degree without following a traditional school timeline. Undergraduates are also able to transfer up to 90 units.
Coppin State University
College Choice Score: 70.53
Average Net Price: $26,672
As a HBCU (Historically Black College and University) founded in 1900, Coppin State University is a liberal arts school in the city of Baltimore that provides degrees in the arts and sciences, teacher education, nursing, graduate studies, and continuing education. The university was named after Fanny Jackson Coppin, a woman who was born a slave and gained her freedom by graduating from Oberlin College. With over 100 years of history, CSU is committed to provide excellent education to the community at large.
- Online degree in Business Management
- Sloan-C certified
- Scholarships available
CSU understands that not everyone is able to commit to learning in a traditional classroom setting, so the Business Management online degree under the College of Business is designed for working professionals and/or students with families. Backed by a partnership with Pearson Learning Solutions, students can except the incorporation of technology in classes by using technologies such as Skype, Lync, Blackboard, and Tegrity. Students will also receive one-on-one interaction from professors who teach the traditional on-campus classes. This program is specifically designed to prepare students for the real business world.
College Choice Score: 70.13
Average Net Price: $56,922
Originally founded as the Woman’s College of Baltimore in 1885, the college was renamed in 1910 and established as a strong, innovative liberal arts college. It offers 33 majors with a 10-to-1 student-faculty ratio. Goucher is proud to be known as a college that prepares students for 21st-century careers, being named one of the top 10 most innovative colleges in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. In addition, 96 percent of the Class of 2-13 is employed and/or in graduate/professional school.
- Online and hybrid Graduate programs for MA in Arts Administration, MA in Environmental Studies, MFA in Digital Arts, MA in Digital Arts, MA in Cultural Sustainability, Education, MA in Management, MA in Historic Preservation, and MFA in Creative Nonfiction
Goucher utilizes the Learning Management System called GoucherLearn, a Joule Course Management site designed for collaboration and multimedia. Through this platform, students are able to connect with faculty simultaneously via a live chat tool as well as with other students via blogs, wikis, and discussion boards. All teachers are trained to make use of the technology in an efficient manner. An IT helpdesk is available via phone and email if any problems are to arise.
Bowie State University
College Choice Score: 70.07
Average Net Price: $32,022
As a member of the University System of Maryland, Bowie State University is the oldest Historically Black College/University in the state of Maryland and the tenth oldest in the country. Established in 1865, its purpose was to provide education for blacks that the state historically failed to do. Today the college is committed to preparing students for the fast-pace, technological world with its 22 undergraduate majors and 35 masters, doctoral and advanced certification programs.
- Diverse set of courses: education, nursing, communication, sociology, etc.
- Hybrid and 100% online courses
BSU Online uses the Blackboard 9.1 system; through this service, other programs such as Blackboard Collaborate, SmarThinking, and iCAN (Starfish) are used. Course shells are generated during the early registration period and students can enroll one to two weeks before the new semester starts. In most cases, students will only have access to the coursework on the first official start day. There are several online video tutorials on how to use the technology, as well as training sessions on campus for faculty and students.
Morgan State University
College Choice Score: 67.02
Average Net Price: $33,623
Morgan State University was founded in 1867 by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, originally established to train young men in ministry. Today with over 140 years of history, MSU is a coeducational public institution that has served the public with its strong vision to maintain itself as a public urban research university. MSU offers a wide array of Bachelors, Masters, Doctorates, and online programs.
- Community College Leadership Doctoral Program, Community College Administration and Instruction, Electrical & Computer Engineering 2+2 Program, Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, MBA, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Sustainable Urban Communities and Master of Social Work
- ED2GO: over 400 online non-credit and career training programs on various topics such as how to start your own business
With a strong emphasis on workforce development, MSU’s online program contains four graduate degree programs, post-baccalaureate certifications, and other specialized courses. All courses are taught by the same faculty that teach traditional classes and are committed to offering the same support. Online students can expect to receive library and technology services, academic resources, advising and career counseling, and technical support. Students are also encouraged to maintain involved in the community by visiting the Division of Student Affairs page for updates.
College Choice Score: 66.48
Average Net Price: $52,320
McDaniel College is an independent liberal arts college founded in 1867. Valuing diversity, McDaniel challenges students to be well-rounded in all aspects to prepare them for the fast-pacing workforce. The McDaniel Plan, an interdisciplinary approach to learning in the liberal arts and sciences, is one program that demonstrates the academic excellence at the college. The school has expanded in recent years to also include post-baccalaureate and online masters programs. According to the former New York Times editor, McDaniel College is nationally recognized as one of the eight colleges in the Northeast that changes lives.
- Master of Science M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction
- Master of Science M.S. in Gerontology
- Undergraduate summer classes
The M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction is a 34.5 credit program created for educators to develop skills in curriculum creation and implementation. With over 20 years of being implemented, this program is highly regarded throughout Maryland with 40% of graduates being conferred from years 2003-2011. Applications are accepted throughout the year, but students are encouraged to submit all their applications at least three weeks before the start of the session (two sessions in fall, two sessions in spring, and one summer session). The M.S. in Gerontology is a 30 to 36 credit program that trains students to understand the bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of aging. The post-baccalaureate graduate certificate requires only 18 semester hours: 12 in core courses and six in electives. Application acceptance procedures are the same.
University of Baltimore
College Choice Score: 60.39
Average Net Price: $40,298
From the beginning, the University of Baltimore has provided access to education for a wide range of students such as working adults, first-generation college students, etc. Located in the heart of the city, the University of Baltimore is a public school that is member of the University System of Maryland. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees/certifications and is made up of the College of Public Affairs, Merrick School of Business, School of Law, and Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Graduate Certificate in User Experience Design (12 credits), Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration, and Master of Science in Interaction Design and Information Architecture
- Online M.P.A. one of only 23 NASPAA-accredited online programs in the nation
Designed with the same rigor and preparation as the traditional class, the University of Baltimore’s online graduate programs allow students to develop the hands-on skills needed for the real world. Although all programs offer slightly different schedules, a typical program has six opportunities to enter (two sessions in fall, spring, and summer). Fall and spring session lasts a total of 15 weeks, while the summer session lasts eight weeks.
Capitol Technology University
College Choice Score: 56.43
Average Net Price: $34,772
With the goal of equipping students with the knowledge of advanced technology, Capitol Technology University was founded in 1927 by Eugene H. Rietzke, a Navy veteran and radio operator who saw the need for students to understand radio and electronics pre-WWII. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs. Capitol Technology University currently has a partnership with NASA, offering academic programs in astronautically engineering and practical training at the Space Operations Institute. The university is recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
- Online graduate engineering programs ranked high by the U.S. News and World Report
- BS in Business Administration, Cyber and Information Technology, and Management of Cyber and Information Technology students can complete last two years of degree entirely online
- 6 Master’s Programs: MBA, Computer Science, Cyber and Information Security, Electrical Engineering, Information Systems Management, and Internet Engineering
- Partial online Post-Baccalaureate programs
The Masters programs are accelerated courses that offer eight-week or 16-week options. Interested students should meet the admission requirements (GPA, related undergraduate major, etc.) as well as possess relevant related knowledge before applying. An online class demo can be accessed to see if this type of learning style is right for you.