2017 Top Online Colleges

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Best value overall

Our 25 top online colleges help students get the most value out of their degrees by offering low-cost programs that still maintain a high standard of academics. All schools on this list have an annual tuition of $15,000 or less, an average academic strength score of 71%, and offer at least 10 fully online degrees. University of Maryland - College Park tops the list with an academic strength score of 82%, one of the highest of the group. Our #5 school, Morningside College, offers the lowest tuition on the list at $4,320.

Please see our school descriptions to learn more about these 25 top online schools. Those interested can also browse our lists by degree level and lists by program. View our methodology.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Academic Strength
#1 #1 University of Maryland - College Park Annual Tuition $6,975 Academic Strength 82%
#2 #2 University of Washington - Seattle Annual Tuition $8,145 Academic Strength 76%
#3 #3 Cedarville University Annual Tuition $7,581 Academic Strength 73%
#4 #4 University of Connecticut Annual Tuition $9,156 Academic Strength 77%
#5 #5 Morningside College Annual Tuition $4,320 Academic Strength 64%
#6 #6 Georgia Southern University Annual Tuition $6,120 Academic Strength 68%
#7 #7 Hamline University Annual Tuition $7,684 Academic Strength 69%
#8 #8 Boston University Annual Tuition $12,288 Academic Strength 80%
#9 #9 University of North Florida Annual Tuition $8,550 Academic Strength 71%
#10 #10 Drury University Annual Tuition $8,970 Academic Strength 70%
#11 #11 University of Central Florida Annual Tuition $10,080 Academic Strength 73%
#12 #12 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Annual Tuition $11,250 Academic Strength 75%
#13 #13 University of Virginia - Main Campus Annual Tuition $15,000 Academic Strength 84%
#14 #14 University of Massachusetts - Amherst Annual Tuition $11,550 Academic Strength 76%
#15 #15 Florida International University Annual Tuition $9,893 Academic Strength 71%
#16 #16 Fort Hays State University Annual Tuition $6,217 Academic Strength 62%
#17 #17 University of Missouri Annual Tuition $10,641 Academic Strength 73%
#18 #18 Salve Regina University Annual Tuition $9,180 Academic Strength 69%
#19 #19 Kennesaw State University Annual Tuition $8,319 Academic Strength 67%
#20 #20 Utah State University Annual Tuition $9,300 Academic Strength 69%
#21 #21 Lamar University Annual Tuition $6,240 Academic Strength 61%
#22 #22 University of Arkansas Annual Tuition $9,976 Academic Strength 70%
#23 #23 James Madison University Annual Tuition $10,650 Academic Strength 72%
#24 #24 Valdosta State University Annual Tuition $7,500 Academic Strength 64%
#25 #25 Mississippi State University Annual Tuition $9,912 Academic Strength 64%

Top Online Colleges by Program

2017 Top Online College Highlights

The University of Maryland – College Park is a public, non-profit university offering a variety of graduate programs in a fully online format through the Office of Extended Studies. Online courses are taught using the Enterprise Learning Management System. Students in these classes complete work on their own time, while also interacting with their classmates and teachers through the use of discussion boards, chat rooms, video conferencing, and other technologies. The university emphasizes the flexibility of online programs for working adults; professors are able to work with students at times that fit students’ busy schedules. The average annual tuition is $6,975, making this an affordable option.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,975
  • Academic Strength: 82%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Online Degrees: 31

Online Master's Degrees (16)

Online Certificate Programs (15)

The University of Washington – Seattle offers 78 online programs at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. A public, non-profit university, the UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and many of its online programs have received prestigious program accreditations as well. Online students can earn degrees and certificates in a variety of subjects, such as early childhood and family studies, public health, engineering, sustainable transportation, nursing, information systems security, and project management. The UW uses the learning management systems Canvas for its online classes. Students complete assignments on their own time and engage in discussions with their teachers and fellow students through the Canvas interface. Some programs also implement various video technologies as part of online courses.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,145
  • Academic Strength: 76%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Online Degrees: 78

Online Bachelor's Degrees (2)

Online Master's Degrees (21)

Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (53)

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Cedarville University is a private, non-profit, Christian university offering seven online master's degree programs and four online certificate programs. The online programs are fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Higher Learning Commission. Online students can earn their degrees in subjects such as ministry, business administration, education, and nursing. Cedarville prides itself on providing students who need a more flexible education with the same Christian-centered education that they would receive from the university's campus programs. Many of the online programs have flexible completion options, such as being able to choose between full or part-time learning, or taking classes in an accelerated format. Online tuition is affordable, with annual tuition starting at $7,581 per year.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,581
  • Academic Strength: 73%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 11

The University of Connecticut offers six online master's degree programs and 16 online certificates. It is a non-profit university accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Distance education classes are taught by the same professors who teach on-campus classes and students are given many opportunities to work with their professors through tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and discussion boards. With annual tuition for an online master's degree starting at $9,156 a year, the University of Connecticut is one of the more affordable options for prospective online master’s degree students.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,156
  • Academic Strength: 77%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
  • Online Degrees: 22

Online Master's Degrees (6)

Online Certificate Programs (16)

Morningside College is a private, non-profit university that offers seven online master's programs and 12 online certificates. Online programs are offered in the academic disciplines of education and nursing. Students pursuing online master’s degrees in education at Morningside can choose between several different concentrations as well as a variety of online teaching endorsements. Though students are attending class online, they are given the opportunity to interact with their fellow classmates and their teachers. In the nursing program, students occasionally have the option to visit campus for valuable hands-on experiences and face-to-face interactions. Students also receive mentoring from faculty members. Annual graduate tuition for these online programs starts at $4,320, making Morningside College the most affordable on our list.

  • Annual Tuition: $4,320
  • Academic Strength: 64%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 19

Georgia Southern University is a public, non-profit university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. This university offers several fully online bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate programs. Online degree subjects include education, accounting, business, sports management, and computer science. Georgia Southern is committed to providing a flexible online education to those who need to fit school in around other commitments, while still giving students a rigorous learning experience that will help them advance in their careers. This university is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and utilizes the SREB Electronic Campus. The online undergraduate programs at Georgia Southern are some of the more affordable on our list, starting at $6,120 per year.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,120
  • Academic Strength: 68%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 40

Online Bachelor's Degrees (3)

Online Master's Degrees (17)

Online Doctoral Degrees (3)

Online Certificate Programs (17)

Hamline University gives students access to nearly 20 fully online programs, with degree offerings at the master's and certificate level. The online master's degrees are offered in the areas of law and education. The university's fully online certificate programs are also offered primarily in the field of education, and include licensure programs and other programs designed for those working in that field. Students enrolled in these online programs will use the Blackboard online learning system. Students often have to work together and participate in class discussions so, even though learning is done online, they are still able to feel connected to their classmates and professors. Graduate tuition for these online programs is affordable, at less than $8,000 per year.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,684
  • Academic Strength: 69%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 18

Boston University (BU) offers nearly 50 online degree programs. Options are available for master's and doctoral degrees, as well as certificate programs. BU is a private, non-profit university accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The university has also received several program-specific accreditations, such as from the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Boston University aims to create interactive online courses that are tailored to the specific needs of the online student.

  • Annual Tuition: $12,288
  • Academic Strength: 80%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
  • Online Degrees: 49

Online Master's Degrees (24)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (23)

The University of North Florida (UNF) offers 11 online degree programs. Programs are available at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate level. UNF is a public, non-profit university fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Online program degree subjects include education, nursing, and sports management. At the bachelor's level, UNF offers an affordable online RN to BSN program, which takes 12 months to complete and costs $8,550. Other than this RN to BSN program, UNF's online offerings are at the graduate level, including the certificates. UNF has designed its online courses around the Quality Matters standards, which is a set of standards for online learning set up by an independent, non-profit organization. By following these standards, the school hopes to create interesting and effective online programs for its students.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,550
  • Academic Strength: 71%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 11

Drury University is a private, non-profit school regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Drury offers students the opportunity to choose from over 30 fully online programs, including associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certificates. Drury strives to create a positive online learning environment that best meets the needs of online learners and faculty members continuously receive additional education to learn how to best conduct an online class. A notable online program offered through Drury university is the Bachelor of Business Administration, which has received programmatic accreditation through the AACSB. Other subjects that students can study online include psychology, emergency management, history, criminal justice, and education. Online undergraduate tuition is $8,970 annually.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,970
  • Academic Strength: 70%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 32

Online Associate Degrees (10)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (13)

Online Master's Degrees (6)

Online Certificate Programs (3)

The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers more than 80 fully online degree programs. Online programs are available at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Online tuition at UCF is less than the school's campus tuition, starting at $10,080 per year for undergraduate degrees, making UCF an affordable option. Online classes are taught by campus-based faculty who have gone through special training in order to learn how to best conduct an online course. There are a variety of subject areas available for students to study online at UCF, including Latin American studies, nursing, education, English, social work, and aerospace engineering. UCF utilizes the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,080
  • Academic Strength: 73%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 83

Online Bachelor's Degrees (19)

Online Master's Degrees (25)

Online Doctoral Degrees (3)

Online Certificate Programs (36)

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public, non-profit university offering students more than 30 fully online degree options at the master's and certificate levels. Online programs are fully accredited. Students can pursue online graduate-level education in the fields of agricultural and life sciences, political science, engineering, and local government management, among many others. The online programs boast small classes and a flexible learning environment, as well as faculty members who are very experienced in their fields. Virginia Tech uses the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus, which is utilized by schools from 16 states.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • Academic Strength: 75%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 31

Online Master's Degrees (21)

Online Certificate Programs (10)

Students at the the main campus of the University of Virginia can earn a bachelor's, master's, or certificate entirely online. There are around 20 fully online degree options at this public, non-profit school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. At the bachelor's level, students who have completed at least 60 credits of college work can pick from two degree-completion options. Master's-level online programs can be found in education and nursing. The university also offers a wide array of online certificate programs that are intended to help individuals advance in or change careers. Certificate topics include project management, eMarketing, accounting, and federal acquisition. The university strives to create a learning environment where students can easily work together and collaborate. Classes are held through the university's course system called UVaCollab and include the use of online chats, video conferencing, discussion boards, and other technologies to encourage students to work together.

  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Academic Strength: 84%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 22

University of Massachusetts - Amherst is a public, non-profit school accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Online degree options are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Programs that are available online include nutrition, public health, casino management, sustainable food and farming, nursing, journalism, and many others. In addition to the existing online degree programs, students can meet with their faculty advisors to develop personalized academic concentrations. Students can also receive up to 100 credits for courses completed prior to enrollment at UMass and work and life experiences. The university uses the Blackboard online learning system. Online students will also have access to the university's online research databases.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,550
  • Academic Strength: 76%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
  • Online Degrees: 48

Online Associate Degrees (1)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (18)

Online Master's Degrees (14)

Online Doctoral Degrees (5)

Online Certificate Programs (10)

Florida International University (FIU) offers over 40 fully online degree programs. Students can pursue online degrees at the bachelor's and master's level, as well as earn undergraduate and graduate certificates. FIU is a public, non-profit school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Online classes are taught by the same teachers who teach campus-based classes, ensuring that online students are receiving the same quality education that they would get if they were attending a traditional campus class. The online programs are focused on giving students an education that focuses on real-world skills that will help the advance in their career.. Online program subjects that students can choose from include real estate, business, music education, engineering, hospitality management, religious studies, forensic science, and many others.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,893
  • Academic Strength: 71%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 47

Online Bachelor's Degrees (22)

Online Master's Degrees (18)

Online Certificate Programs (7)

Fort Hayes State University (FHSU) offers over 100 online degree options. A public, non-profit school, FHSU is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Online programs are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels in the fields of business, education, counseling, information networking, sociology, and many more. FHSU has been offering distance courses for over 20 years. Online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. Online students also have access to an array of support services, such as tutoring, technical help, and library access. With undergraduate online tuition starting at $6,217, FHSU is one of the most affordable schools on our list.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,217
  • Academic Strength: 62%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 106

Online Associate Degrees (3)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (26)

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Online Master's Degrees (25)

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Online Certificate Programs (52)

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The University of Missouri is a public, non-profit school accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Students have the opportunity to choose from over 90 online programs, which are available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. There are also many undergraduate and graduate certificate options. Classes are either taken through Mizzou Online's course platform, which has been created specifically for the school, or through Blackboard. An online bachelor's degree starts at $10,641 a year.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,641
  • Academic Strength: 73%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 91

Online Bachelor's Degrees (8)

Online Master's Degrees (48)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (8)

Online Certificate Programs (27)

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Salve Regina University offers online master's and certificate programs. The university is a private, non-profit school accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Online courses are interactive in nature and delivered asynchronously, meaning that there is no specific time during which a student must log on. The annual cost of an online master's degree from Regina Salve starts at $9,180. Students have the option to study a variety of subjects through the online certificate and master's programs, including international relations, strategic management, homeland security, digital forensics, and nonprofit management.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,180
  • Academic Strength: 69%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
  • Online Degrees: 10

Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public, non-profit university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. KSU is also a part of the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus. This school uses Desire2Learn Brightspace as its online classroom system, and students can view a sample of how an online course is structured prior to enrolling. Subjects that are available to study online through KSU include education, quality assurance, geography, nursing, civil engineering, and international policy management. KSU is an affordable option, with undergraduate online tuition starting at $8,319 annually.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,319
  • Academic Strength: 67%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 69

Online Bachelor's Degrees (9)

Online Master's Degrees (32)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (26)

Utah State University (USU) is a public, non-profit university accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Online USU programs are offered at the associate, bachelor's, and master's level. Certificate programs are also available. Academic fields available to study online include economics, family life studies, science in agribusiness, communicative disorders and deaf education, technical communication, and human resources. Courses are taught in a traditional semester format, but there are also alternative, flexible options available. Online students have to opportunity to take FLEX Condensed Online Courses or FLEX Open Entry Courses. The condensed courses take either four or seven weeks to complete, and the open entry classes can be started during any week. The open entry classes are entirely self-paced but must be finished before the semester ends.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,300
  • Academic Strength: 69%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Online Degrees: 22

Lamar University (LU) is a public, non-profit university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The university offers more than 30 online degree options at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, as well as certificates. Online programs are delivered using the Blackboard online learning system and the school is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus. Online undergraduate tuition starts at $6,240per year, making this an affordable option. LU Online also has a Center for Military Services which is dedicated to helping military students, both veterans and active duty students. This department extends its services on online students, ensuring that veterans and active duty students attending LU feel supported throughout their academic journeys.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,240
  • Academic Strength: 61%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 36

Online Bachelor's Degrees (13)

Online Master's Degrees (19)

Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Programs (3)

The University of Arkansas is a public, non-profit university accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Over 30 degree options are offered through U of A Online, with programs available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level, along with undergraduate and graduate certificates. Students can study a wide array of subjects online, including education, food safety, engineering, social work, nursing, child advocacy, and business. The university strives to make online students feel like they are a part of the school's community by giving online students access to the same types of university services that campus-based students do. Students enrolled in online programs will pay in-state tuition regardless of their residency, so average annual online undergraduate tuition comes in at under $10,000.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,976
  • Academic Strength: 70%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC
  • Online Degrees: 35

Online Bachelor's Degrees (4)

Online Master's Degrees (20)

Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (9)

James Madison University (JMU) is a public, non-profit university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. JMU offers an online RN to BSN program, as well as online master's degrees and certificates. Online degree subjects include education, computer science, and speech-language pathology. JMU boasts a commitment to helping working adults design degree programs which fit their education around their schedules. In addition to regional accreditation, JMU online programs have received several programmatic accreditations, such as from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which attests to the academic rigor of the the university's programs.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,650
  • Academic Strength: 72%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 12

Valdosta State University (VSU) is a public, non-profit university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and a member of the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and certificate degrees through VSU’s online programs. Degree subject options include French language and literature, legal assistant studies, criminal justice, library and information sciences, and public administration. VSU also offers online degrees through its YOUSucceed program which allows students to accelerate their educational paths through demonstration of academic mastery without due dates or schedules. Online undergraduate tuition at VSU starts at $7,500 a year.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • Academic Strength: 64%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 48

Online Bachelor's Degrees (8)

Online Master's Degrees (23)

Online Doctoral Degrees (3)

Online Certificate Programs (14)

Mississippi State University is a public, nonprofit university offering a variety of online programs at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate level. Online degree programs are offered in a variety of fields, including education, engineering, business administration, and forestry. All online students will take part in a four-day, five-hour orientation course designed to introduce students to the distance learning experience. Online students have access to a variety of resources, such as tutoring, technical help, and library services.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,912
  • Academic Strength: 64%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Online Degrees: 31

Online Bachelor's Degrees (6)

Online Master's Degrees (16)

Online Doctoral Degrees (6)

Online Certificate Programs (3)

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