Best Online Colleges in Virginia 1Updated: August 1, 2017

Long renowned for its history of excellent educational institutions, Virginia is a great choice for the student looking for a solid online program.  Virginia’s tradition of great education passes naturally to the state’s wonderful selection of 100% online four-year programs of study.  Many prestigious schools including George Mason, James Madison, and even Virginia Tech all boast a variety of online programs, from the entirely online to hybrid programs, with credit applying to both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

On the whole, Virginia is ranked fourth in graduation rates in the nation, with 49.1% of Virginia students completing their degrees within 4 years, according to 2013 data.  In 2012, CollegeMeasures.org issued a report that found that after graduation, 36% of those who held bachelor’s degrees were in full-time employment, with another 13% pursuing higher degree programs in other Virginia schools.  The same report went on to say that students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree earn 67% more on average than comparable professionals in the state who are only high school graduates.

What Are the Best Online Colleges in Virginia?

Our Methodology:

In the following section, you will find our rankings of what we believe to be the best four-year online programs in Virginia.  Our profiles take a look at the way these schools approach their online programs, and explore how they serve their distance education students.  As you review these best online schools in Virginia, consider what they have to offer, the programs of study that they specialize in, and whether one of them may be the perfect school for you to get your online degree from.

Our ranking system is based upon three standard factors:  institutional excellence, student satisfaction, and return on investment, otherwise known as student success.

The first of these, institutional excellence is measured across a variety of data points, including the school’s graduation rate, the school reputation, entering test scores of students, student-faculty ratios, and the size of endowment.

Second, student satisfaction considers the weight of reviews from actual students from across a variety of publications and websites.

Finally, return on investment is considered by measuring tuition costs, financial aid availability, average debt after graduation, and expected salaries after graduation.  This data comes from the National Center of Education Statistics at their IPEDS database, and also from sources including Payscale, US News & World Report, and actual college websites.

1

University of Virginia-Main Campus

College Choice Score: 100

Average Net Price: $14,539

School Website

Overview

The University of Virginia, located in Charlottesville, is a beloved Virginia educational institution, and for good reason.  It was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819.  Since then, the school has consistently provided excellent education to many students in Virginia, and today it expands that opportunity to distance education students with the opportunity to earn recognized degrees via online programs.  Online students at the University of Virginia can pursue bachelor’s programs in health sciences management or in interdisciplinary studies.  Both of these programs accept transfer students, who will enter the program as Juniors and must finish at least 60 credit hours.  An on-campus orientation is required, but otherwise these programs can be done entirely online.

Program Features

UVA’s goal has always been to deliver an excellent experience to every students, both in the classroom or via one of their online programs.

  • Accounting
  • IT
  • Public Administration
  • HR Management
  • Project Management
  • Health Sciences

Students in online courses have a collaborative environment in which instructor interaction, and interaction with other online students from across the country and the world, is encouraged and required.  The diversity of UVA’s online student body adds to the rich experience of online learning, as many different experiences are voiced and shared with each other during the course of the program.

Notables

Students at UVA can also earn undergraduate or graduate certificates in a wide variety of disciplines, including IT, accounting, public administration, human resource management, project management, health sciences, and more.  The coursework for these certificates is done wholly online, or in hybrid formats, either synchronously or asynchronously.  The course formats and your educational experience as an online UVA student is up to you.

2

James Madison University

College Choice Score: 92.94

Average Net Price: $16,683

School Website

Overview

Founded in 1908, James Madison University is consistently ranked among the best Colleges in the south, and is ranked in the top ten southern universities of 2017.  While its 721 acre campus and enrollment of nearly 20,000 students are often cited among its notable traits, the online student will be more impressed by the affordable tuition rates of around $10,000 for in-state and $25,00 for out-of state students.

Program Features

James Madison University offers an Adult Degree Program which takes place entirely online, and is a customizable program intended to help adult students meet career goals by crafting their own entirely online program ending in a Bachelor’s degree.  The Adult Degree Program also allows the students to document experiential learning, receiving credit for your past experience and work history.  Via online course, prior experience, CLEP exams, and various independent study classes, you will be able to finish your degree quickly, without sacrificing your work, family or other obligations.

Featured online programs include

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate
  • Adult Degree Program
  • N. To B.S.N.
  • Higher Education Assessment Specialist Certificate
  • K-12 Gifted Education Endorsement Certificate
  • Computer Science: Information Security, M.S.
  • Speech and Language Pathology, M.S.

Notables

James Madison University’s courses span from seven schools and colleges serving students of any interest, including the College of Education, College of Business, College of Integrated Science and Technology, and even graduate studies.  While James Madison University’s all online Adult Degree Program isn’t for everyone, if you are a working adult looking to get your degree without disrupting your work or family life, this program allows you to customize your education experience, use your own real life and work experience as a part of your educational credits, and can help you to finish your degree quickly and easily.

3

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

College Choice Score: 91.21

Average Net Price: $18,398

School Website

Overview

When it comes to Virginia’s educational institutions, few are more iconic than Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – better known as Virginia Tech.  Virginia Tech’s Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning, or IDDL for short, provides exceptional distance education to a wide variety of students under the VT umbrella.  Through these online educational efforts, Virginia Tech is expanding its campus to communities worldwide, providing an open environment for students learning anytime, anywhere, applying their efforts to a wide variety of programs.

Program Features

Accounting for around 12,000 enrollment a year, offering 486 courses and 21 graduate degree programs, certificates, and various licensures.

  • Business Information Systems
  • Computer Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Systems Engineering

Virginia Tech is a participant in the Electronic Campus of Virginia, where he delivers distance degree programs alongside other Virginia colleges and universities.  Unsurprisingly, Virginia Tech’s online programs have a focus on engineering via the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program along with the Virginia Consortium of Engineering and Science Universities.  VT is also a member of the Southern Region Electronic Campus, as well as the Natural Resources Distance Learning Consortium.  Suffice to say that an online student at Virginia Tech has no shortage of courses to pursue with excellent resources behind them.

Notables

Among Virginia Tech’s other online certificate programs are certificates in business information systems, computer engineering, communication, natural resource, decision support systems, software development, and networking.  VT also offers several online Master’s degree programs in instructional technology, political science, civil engineering, environmental engineering, electrical or computer engineering, ocean engineering, systems engineering, health promotion, and more.  For the engineering student seeking certification, licensure, or a graduate degree, Virginia Tech is an excellent choice for the online or distance education student.

4

Hampton University

College Choice Score: 85.30

Average Net Price: $23,404

School Website

Overview

A historically black college, Hampton University’s history dates back to the Civil War when the school was founded with the intention of providing education to recently freed slaves.  Today its online course options span a wide range of options, including religious studies programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Consistently ranked among the highest regarded historically black institutions in the country, Hampton University is an excellent choice for online students from anywhere in the nation – particularly those who don’t live in Virginia.  Out of state students at Hampton pay the same tuition as Virginia residents, but there are some restrictions, so out of state students should make sure they are eligible to apply on their website.

Program Features

For students whose education was interrupted by personal events, family emergencies, financial reasons, or another reason beyond your control, who have been out of school for at least five years, Hampton University offers generous reentry scholarship programs to help these students come back and finish their degree programs, including the online programs.

  • Religious Studies
  • Business Management
  • Counseling
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Paralegal Studies
  • Human Resource Management

Hampton University’s Online program gives students the chance to earn an entire undergraduate degree remotely, and its online degree offerings have consistently grown over the years to now encompass eight bachelor’s programs for students to pick from.  Hampton also offers online certificates in entrepreneurship, paralegal studies, and human resource management, and the credits associated with these certifications can transfer directly into a degree program.  In addition, Hampton offers many non-credit personal or career development courses.

Notables

For those interested in what Hampton University has to offer, note that Hampton’s programs are only available to students who live in certain states – check the website for details, but if you live in one of the states Hampton University provides distance education to, the benefits of choosing Hampton are certainly formidable, making it a prime choice for those who are eligible.

5

George Mason University

College Choice Score: 84.29

Average Net Price: $17,316

School Website

Overview

The largest public research university in Virginia, George Mason University is located near the nation’s capitol and is known for its law, business, computer science, and creative writing programs.  In fact, George Mason University boasts two recent recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics, making it an excellent and appealing choice for the economics, law, or business student.  Here, online students pursue over 50 completely online and hybrid educational programs, with hybrid programs taking place over 51% online.  Online degree and certification programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Program Features

Many of the resources enjoyed by George Mason’s on-campus students are also available to online students, including an online library, an online writing center, and a fully developed Mason Online Team supporting the over 33,000 students of the university.  Offering programs in a wide variety of disciplines from finances to technology to counseling, George Mason’s online programs are some of the most fully developed we have seen.

Featured online programs include:

  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Creative Writing
  • Law

Notables

As students pursue undergraduate degrees in George Mason’s online programs, they will encounter a variety of course delivery options.  Students seeking 100% online programs will be able to complete their degree that way, while students who wish to attend classes on campus part time will find the hybrid course programs very attractive.  George Mason’s online programs is one of the most diverse in the state, so students of nearly any subject can find a program of study at George Mason Online that suits their skills and interests.  Importantly, everyone who graduates from George Mason receives a regular George Mason University diploma, with no mention of the online or hybrid format of the program.  Even learners from outside the United States will be able to complete hybrid programs without face-to-face attendance requirements.

6

Lynchburg College

College Choice Score: 82.33

Average Net Price: $21,997

School Website

Overview

A private school founded in 1903, Lynchburg College is located in Lynchburg, VA and has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 2,000, making it one of the smaller schools on the list.  It is unique among the colleges listed here in that about 60% of Lynchburg College’s student body is female.

Program Features

Lynchburg College also offers students both online classes and complete online degree programs in order to supplement its on-campus requirements.  The online degree programs at Lynchburg College are all graduate level, comprising of an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, and an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.

Featured online programs include

  • Master of Business Administration, M.B.A
  • Master of Science in Nursing, M.S.N.

Notables

For undergraduates, online classes are offered as a supplement to on-campus classes, but students hoping to attend Lynchburg College at the undergraduate level entirely online are due for disappointment: Lynchburg College actually requires all undergraduate students to live on-campus until their senior year.  Still, for the professional seeking to complete an MBA or MSN program, Lynchburg’s educational standard are very high, their courses are good, and the delivery is top notch.  Online courses at Lynchburg College can be taken synchronously or asynchronously, and interact with instructors and other students across a wide variety of communication media.

7

Longwood University

College Choice Score: 80.63

Average Net Price: $17,020

School Website

Overview

Farmville isn’t just a game you used to play on Facebook – it’s also a city in Virginia and the home of Longwood University, a liberal arts university whose history stretches back to the Civil War.  In fact, but Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grand marched past the Longwood University campus near the war’s end.  Longwood’s educational offerings are on par with the richness of its history, with over 100 major and minor courses of study, with notable programs in sociology with family studies, an acclaimed archaeological field school, a school of nursing, and an excellent English and modern language department.

Program Features

Longwood University’s online offerings are a bit more limited, however, but if you are a student seeking an online program in Communication Disorders and Speech and Language Pathology, Longwood offers an online Master’s degree in this field of study.  Students who either have a bachelor’s degree, or are currently in a bachelor’s program who wish to continue their study in speech and language pathology will find a welcome home at Longwood.

Featured online programs include:

  • Communication Disorders
  • Speech & Language Pathology

 Notables

Course content for the online program includes an intro to communication disorders which outlines may different disorders affecting speech, hearing, language, and swallowing, as well as covering language development, phonetics,  morphology and syntax, speech science, and the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing.

8

Marymount University

College Choice Score: 79.06

Average Net Price: $25,008

School Website

Overview

Founded in 1950, Marymount University is a small private Catholic university with an enrollment of just over 2,000 students.  It has a cozy, 21 acre campus and a lovely setting in Arlington, VA, about five miles from Washington, D.C.  While undergraduates at Marymount choose from over 25 fields of study, online students will be most interested in Marymount’s studies in the field of healthcare.

Program Features

Online education at Marymount reflects the Catholic university’s dedication to exceptional education, with an emphasis on intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, service to others, and the importance of a global perspective.

Featured online programs include:

  • Administration and Supervision, M.Ed.
  • Cybersecurity, M.S.
  • Master of Business Administration, M.B.A.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice, D.N.P.

All of the online programs are Master’s programs, but the fields of study are unique among online degree programs, warranting their inclusion on this list, along with Marymount University’s dedication to academic excellence and student-centered learning experiences.

Notables

Marymount University offers a Masters of Education degree in Administration and Supervision with a focus on Catholic School Leadership which takes place entirely online.  It also offers online Master’s programs in Cybersecurity – a unique field among online programs, and a very good Master of Business Administration online program.  In the healthcare field, Marymount offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.  Courses for their online programs can be taken entirely online, on campus, or in any combination, making this a fairly versatile program as well.

9

Virginia Commonwealth University

College Choice Score: 79.01

Average Net Price: $19,898

School Website

Overview

Virginia Commonwealth University was founded in 1838 and is one of the leading public research schools in the country.  It earned top marks from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, and is considered to be among the most innovative colleges in the commonwealth of Virginia, thanks to its many course delivery options, including synchronous and asynchronous online courses.

Program Features

VCU’s online programs include a Master’s degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and a Master of Education degree in Sports Leadership, two very unique fields of study for an entirely online program.  In addition, out of state students find a welcome home at Virginia Commonwealth University, with very few states (California, Florida, and Massachusetts) excluded.  Students in online programs at VCU also are eligible for the same financial aid benefits as traditional students.

Featured online programs include:

  • Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, M.A.
  • Sports Leadership, M.Ed.

Notables

One of the factors that really sets Virginia Commonwealth University apart from other online colleges in VA is the way they structure their tuition and fees.  No matter if a student is in a degree program or is just taking a few classes, VCU’s online course fees are $55 per credit hour, up to a maximum of three credit hours, on top of the standard tuition that all online students pay, a welcome change from the confusing and expensive fee structures at other online colleges in Virginia.

10

Liberty University

College Choice Score: 78.87

Average Net Price: $23,468

School Website

Overview

Liberty University is the largest Christian higher education institution in the world, and also has the benefit of having among the lowest tuition rates in the country.  Liberty has long been an innovator in the fields of education, and was among the first colleges in the US to embrace online learning, beginning its distance education efforts as far back as 1985.  Today, online students enjoy the same low tuition rates regardless of their state of residence, and may choose from a wide variety of programs leading to certificates or associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.  These factors combined make Liberty University one of the top online schools in Virginia.

Program Features

Liberty University’s online program includes over 250 fields of study – easily one of the most comprehensive catalogs of all Virginia colleges.  Online applicants need to have a 2.0 cumulative GPA in all previously completed educational efforts.  Liberty also maintains a very accessible and inclusive admissions policy for members of the military, which includes discounts on tuition, vouchers for textbooks, and a wide array of other support services for students who have armed forces service in their background.

Featured online programs include:

  • Accounting
  • Criminal Justice
  • Religion
  • Information Systems
  • Psychology
  • Early Childhood Education

 Notables

While some online colleges can make a student feel a little bit like a single number in a sea of others, Liberty University tries to make their online courses intimate.  They preserve a 17:1 student-professor ratio for online courses, much lower than the ratio found in other online programs.  Liberty also offers a broad range of academic services via their website, including library access, a writing center, exam prep, note taking tips, and study aids.  For accessibility, affordability, and the broad range of offerings, Liberty University is a top choice for online colleges in VA.

11

Old Dominion University

College Choice Score: 77.30

Average Net Price: $15,236

School Website

Overview

Long considered one of the most reputable online colleges in Virginia, Old Dominion University boasts very high student satisfaction rates, with 96% of online students stating that they were ‘very satisfied’ with their experience in a 2015-16 poll conducted by the school.  There are dozens of online degree programs available at both undergraduate and graduate levels, including synchronous and asynchronous options.  ODU’s synchronous online courses are streamed live from classrooms via web conferencing, and the platform allows for live interaction between instructors and online students, a boon for online classes.  Asynchronous courses, on the other hand, are done on the student’s own time, giving the student the ability to complete coursework on their own schedule.

Program Features

Like some of the other top choices, at Old Dominion University out-of-state students can be eligible for tuition rates that are quite comparable to on-campus students, often less than 10% higher – quite a bit less than other out-of-state tuition discrepancies.  For applicants who are inside the Virginia community college system, as well as those in certain schools in Arizona and Washington State, will enjoy guaranteed acceptance and a generous, streamlined credit transfer system.

Featured online programs include:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Business Administration
  • Community College Leadership
  • Computer Science
  • Human Services
  • Nursing
  • School Librarianship

Notables

In order to help students plan their academic life, Old Dominion pairs each prospective student with an Enrollment Coordinator, an adviser who guides the way through the process of enrollment, acceptance, and class registration.  ODU online students also enjoy free online tutoring, and technology support 24 hours a day.  For these reasons, we find Old Dominion University to be one of the best online colleges in Virginia.

12

Regent University

College Choice Score: 71.97

Average Net Price: $17,986

School Website

Overview

Located in beautiful Virginia Beach, Regent University is a Christian college with a vast online study program.  Distance education students can choose their course of study from over 60 online degree programs, including both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Regent offers degrees in business, information systems technology, film and animation, international studies, and more.  Courses at Regent have a compressed, 8-week format, a good bit shorter than traditional 15-week semesters, which requires a little more intensive study, but with the benefit of faster progress toward your degree.

Program Features

Regent is one of just 23 universities in all of the US to have earned a grade of “A” from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  The compressed, 8 week course structure make it easier to balance online education with ongoing work and family commitments, and like some of the other top online colleges in Virginia, students in other parts of the country, will be happy to know that out-of-state online students pay the same tuition rate as Virginia residents.  44% of Regent’s online graduates report getting a promotion, a new job, or otherwise finding gainful employment thanks to Regent’s online program. Featured online programs include:

  • Business
  • Information Systems Technology
  • Film & Animation
  • International Studies
  • Nursing
  • Psychology

 Notables

Regent in particular excels at Christian leadership education, and their College of Arts and Sciences features more than 30 all-online undergraduate degrees ranging from theological studies and biblical concepts to subjects like early childhood education.    Every student is required to take courses integrating Christian teachings into the curriculum, so perhaps a Regent University education isn’t for everyone, but for the Christian student seeking online education, the benefits of Regent are many.

13

Bluefield College

College Choice Score: 69.91

Average Net Price: $19,617

School Website

Overview

Bluefield College is one of Virginia’s most popular online colleges for the fields of business, management, nursing, and criminal justice.  Bluefield is a liberal arts college with a strong focus on Christian values offering 14 different all-online degree programs.  Bluefield graduates report salaries that are over 20% higher than the state average for college grads.

Program Features

Bluefield offers online programs across many fields of study including education, human services, entrepreneurship, and management and leadership, among others.  Bluefield College is also a leading provider of higher education for veterans and members of the armed forces, maintaining a dedicated department of Veterans Services certifying students in a wide range of military focused programs.  With classes beginning every 8 weeks on a rolling schedule, students enjoy an accelerated path to completion of their degree.

Featured online programs include:

  • Business
  • Management
  • Nursing
  • Criminal Justice

 Notables

Bluefield’s online programs enjoy a very intimate student-professor ratio of 11:1 – one of the smallest among all of the online colleges in Virginia.  Each of Bluefield’s online degree programs are also taught by exactly the same faculty members who teach those classes on-campus.  Online students also enjoy reduced tuition compared to on-campus learning, making an online degree from Bluefield a more affordable option for students seeking an online degree.  Students can choose from online bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, Criminal Justice, and a wide variety of other fields.  Online courses at Bluefield are not restricted to certain states, or times, so students can learn from anywhere, at any time.  Thanks to its intimate ratio, affordability, and the variety of programs, Bluefield snags this spot on the best online colleges in Virginia.

14

Averett University

College Choice Score: 65.86

Average Net Price: $23,414

School Website

Overview

Averett University is one of the leading online colleges in Virginia, and for good reason, Averett uses the online digital learning program Moodle, in contrast to other schools which use platforms like Blackboard.  Moodle is an open source learning platform, and is known for its ease of use compared to more common, commercial options.  Averett is also the home of the IDEAL program, designed to help adult students looking to finish their undergraduate degrees online.  Students in this program enjoy discounted tuition whether they are in state or out, making this program a very attractive, intuitive, and affordable option for distance education adult students.

Program Features

Averett offers its students bachelor’s degrees in business administration, criminal justice, nursing, and more.  The school’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is one of the most popular online programs in the school, geared toward moving registered nurses toward a BSN degree.  Featured online programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Nursing
  • Criminal Justice
  • Eduction
  • Leadership

Online courses at Averett also easily work into the work and life schedules of virtually any student, and online students enjoy access to Blount Library, Averett’s online library resource providing access to thousands of books, journals, periodicals, and more to support learning and research.

Notables

Requirements for admission for Averett include a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 in all previous educational experience, pretty standard for online colleges in Virginia.  The ease of use of its learning platform, the robust online library, the courses of study available, and the affordability of the program for adults seeking an online degree program solidify Averett University’s place our list of the top online colleges in Virginia.

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