Annual tuition numbers for these schools were manually researched and represent the bachelor's degree level if the school offers at least one online bachelor's degree or the master's degree level if the school offers at least one master's degree and no online bachelor's degrees. Out-of-state tuitions were used unless in-state tuition is offered to all online students. Tuition was calculated assuming full-time status. Unless otherwise stated, bachelor’s programs were assumed to require four years to complete and master’s programs were assumed to require two years.
To be considered for the 2017 Top Online Colleges for Student Economic Mobility list, schools must have a mobility rate in the top 20 percent of schools offering 10 or more online degrees at the associate level or higher.
Schools on our 2017 Top Online Schools for Economic Diversity and Upward Mobility list were ranked based on their mobility rate and the percentage of undergraduate students receiving Pell Grants. Schools were eligible if they had a mobility rate in the top 20 percent of schools offering 10 or more online degrees at the bachelor's level or higher.
Schools with programs that require some on-campus coursework were still considered for our rankings if the amount of in-person work was limited to less than two weeks worth of in-person requirements. This allows students to retain their current employment or other personal responsibilities.
Mobility rate data is provided by The Equality of Opportunity Project and is publicly accessible on their website. Pell Grant data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES is the primary governmental entity for gathering and presenting data related to education. The NCES data is updated annually as soon as it becomes available. The NCES does not release data into downloadable formats until it has been approved, so the most currently available data will not be for the most recent academic year.
Program data including available degrees, tuition rates, and details about program coursework were collected from schools' official websites, reflecting data for the 2017-2018 school year. Programmatic accreditation and profit status of schools were collected from official websites of the accreditation agencies or from the National Center for Education Statistics.