2013 Online College Rankings
Each year, we rank online schools to help prospective students get the most for their education dollar. Quality and affordability are the two main yardsticks by which we evaluate schools. In a time of rising costs, these are the factors we feel students should weigh most heavily when selecting a school.
Our rankings aren’t a beauty contest – we don’t rely on soft metrics like "reputation" to assess quality. We rely instead on the actual experience of students during and after school, plus objective factors like retention and repayment. For a full description of our ranking methodology, see below.
As a result of this approach, our top online schools may surprise you, and that’s an important goal as well. No ranking is or ever can be perfect for each and every prospective online student, so we hope our online school ranking makes you think, consider a wide range of schools, and find the one that is truly best for you. We also hope to broaden your horizons geographically, since the freedom of truly online learning may mean your best option is in a location you never would have thought of!
For 2013, we have created 4 unique rankings categories; best overall, best non-profit, and best for-profit colleges as well as best associate and certificate programs. The table below shows the top 25 online colleges and universities. Click a school’s name and you will be directed to an informational page where you can read more about available programs, accreditation, financial aid, and request admissions information. If you would like to learn about the data we used to arrive at our rankings check out our methodology section below.
|Rank||School||School Type||Repayment Rate||Retention Rate||Tuition|
|1||Western Governors University||Non-Profit||51%||76%||$5,780|
|2||South Dakota State University||Non-Profit||76%||77%||$4,491|
|3||California University of Pennsylvania Online||Non-Profit||54%||74%||$9,288|
|4||Dakota State University||Non-Profit||72%||64%||$4,491|
|6||University of Massachusetts at Lowell||Non-Profit||69%||78%||$8,567|
|8||University of Nebraska at Kearney - Online||Non-Profit||66%||82%||$9,855|
|9||Columbia Southern University||For-Profit||14%||84%||$4,895|
|10||Park University Online||Non-Profit||47%||72%||$8,848|
|11||Texas Tech University-University College||Non-Profit||64%||82%||$11,736|
|12||University of Illinois-Springfield||Non-Profit||52%||76%||$9,432|
|13||Minnesota State University at Mankato||Non-Profit||76%||76%||$12,680|
|14||California State University-East Bay||Non-Profit||58%||74%||$11,160|
|17||University of Minnesota||Non-Profit||39%||69%||$17,500|
|18||Saint Leo University Online||Non-Profit||39%||69%||$17,500|
|19||Columbia College - Online||Non-Profit||36%||63%||$5,875|
|20||Eastern New Mexico University||Non-Profit||41%||52%||$5,430|
|21||Western Carolina University - Online||Non-Profit||61%||74%||$12,413|
|22||Fort Hays State University Online||Non-Profit||59%||69%||$11,431|
|23||Sam Houston State University Online||Non-Profit||54%||72%||$11,352|
|24||Northern Arizona University||Non-Profit||47%||71%||$11,691|
|25||University of South Florida||Non-Profit||45%||80%||$14,132|
It is important that students make an informed decision when considering the possibility of pursuing an online education. The goal of these rankings is to create a standard by which to judge the quality of online educational institutions using criteria that is important to the average student. The data and statistics used in these rankings have been compiled from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—the primary governmental department responsible for gathering education-related data.
The following criteria were used to rank the schools (in order of weight):
- Recommendation Rates:
Student feedback was the primary criterion used to rank online schools. We examined all reviews, by institution, on our comprehensive reviews database and adjusted rankings based on how students reported feeling about the school and/or program.
- Cost of Tuition (including textbooks):
College tuition is a deciding factor for many students when choosing a school. Our rankings take into account this consideration and weigh a college’s overall tuition heavily.
- Retention Rate:
According to FAFSA, a school’s retention rate is the percentage of a school’s "first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year". Retention rate is an effective indicator of the overall quality of an institution. An online college with a poor retention rate likely indicates student dissatisfaction.
- Repayment Rate:
Compiled by the U.S. Government, this metric shows the percentage of students that pay back their loans within the allotted time and without resorting to default. Considering the current economic situation, this statistic is particularly useful.
Regional accreditation is widely regarded as the most selective and prestigious of all accreditation types. Students may also transfer credits between regionally accredited institutions more easily. All schools on our 2013 online college rankings are regionally accredited.
- For-Profit vs. Not-For-Profit Status:
For-profit schools educational institutions are run by private, profit-seeking companies while non-profit schools are more typical of traditional private and public colleges and universities. This metric was not weighted in our calculations for rankings, but is provided in our data tables. To learn more about for-profit institutions, please visit the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities.
Ask an Expert
Questions & Answers
You probably want a university accredited regionally. Nearly every university you have ever heard of has regional accreditation, which allows you to transfer credits to other schools. National accreditation, which has become more prevalent with the rise of online learning, primarily applies to career training schools such as DeVry University. Regional accreditation is given by one of six regional agencies, but does not mean the degree is only acceptable in that region, which is a common misconception.
For an online master's degree in this field, we recommend the regionally accredited University of Denver. Its online courses toward the 12-course master's degree are designed to fit the schedules of working professionals.
We recommend the distance learning PhD in Education and Human Resource Studies, with a Higher Education Leadership specialization, from Colorado State University. The university is accredited regionally by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Regional accreditation is more prestigious than national accreditation, which does not allow credit transfer to other schools and primarily exists to accredit online vocational programs.
We found this university in Texas but not in Dallas, in Georgetown.
The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the NAtional Association of Schools of School of Music.
When looking for a school you want to make sure it is accredited. Accreditation is important for transferring credits and for employment.
Argosy University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. There are two types of accreditation, regional and national, and regional is preferred. Meaning that any coursework and degree recieved from a regionally accredited institution will be recognized by other colleges and universities along with emplyers.
For more information on accredtation, you can visit our site here.
We have 4 schools on from our list that match your criteria. They are all accrdited and offer Doctorate programs in Counseling.
They are , in no paricular order: Capella University, Libery University Online, Walden University and Northcentral University.
Please visit our page here that lists these universities and you can more detailed information to fit your educational needs.
Kaplan University is one of the top 20 online universities in the United Sates. It offers associates,bachelors and masters degrees along with many certificate programs in a wide range of subject ares.
Kaplan is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commision and is a member of the North Central Association of colleges and schools.
A good place to look would be our student reviews of Penn Foster College. These will give you a picture of how current and former students perceive their education, and whether they have been able to find a job with their degrees, including marketing degrees. One advantage of Penn Foster is that it is very inexpensive compared to other online colleges. It also holds national accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). One drawback is that national accreditation, which is less prestigious than regional accreditation, usually does not allow graduates to transfer credits to other schools; so if you want to turn that AA in marketing into a BA in business elsewhere, you may be out of luck.
We don't know what school would be best for you but we have found 4 colleges that offer this degree. They are University of Phoenix, National American University Online, Ultimate Medical Academy Online Learning and Pinnacle Career Institute Online.
You can access more information on degrees offered here on our page.
The listed tuitions are annual.
Penn Foster Career School has a great track record of training students to become veterinary assistants and technicians, giving them the same advantage in finding employment as a campus-based degree.