How to Find the Right Online College for You

We used an objective methodology to create this ranking of the best online colleges. We looked at data from multiple sources, including the National Center for Education Statistics, Peterson’s, and PayScale.

We also consulted with educators and industry experts to find the most important factors that make an online college great. Our methodology takes into account factors such as accreditation, reputation, affordability, and flexibility.

If you want to find the right online college for you, it’s important to consider your goals, budget, and schedule. You should also make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a reputable agency. To get started, take a look at our list of the best online colleges in the country.

How to Find the Right Online

Know Your Time Commitment

Before you enroll in an online college, it’s important to consider your goals and your schedule. Do you want to earn a degree, or do you just want to take some classes? Are you looking for a part-time or full-time program?

Some online colleges offer flexible scheduling, which means you can take courses at your own pace and complete your degree on your own timeline. However, other schools require students to follow a more traditional semester schedule.

It’s also important to consider how long you want to spend in school. Some degrees can be earned in as little as two years, while others may take four years or more. Make sure you choose a school that offers a program that fits your timeline.

Consider Your Budget

Another important factor to consider is your budget. Tuition at online colleges can vary widely, from a few hundred dollars per semester to tens of thousands of dollars per year. It’s important to choose a school that fits your budget and offers financial aid options.

You should also consider the cost of living in the area where you’ll be attending school. Some cities are more expensive than others, and you don’t want your living expenses to outweigh your tuition costs.

Make Sure the School Is Accredited

When you’re choosing an online college, it’s important to make sure the school is accredited by a reputable agency. Accreditation ensures that the school meets certain standards of quality, and it can make a big difference in the rigor of your education.

There are many different accreditation agencies, but not all of them are created equal. The most important accreditation agency for online colleges is the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The DEAC is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), so you can be sure that your degree will be respected by employers and other schools.

Another important accreditation agency to look for is the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The ACCSC accredits schools that offer career-oriented programs, such as nursing, business, and information technology.

Check the School’s Reputation

When you’re choosing an online college, it’s important to check the school’s reputation. Make sure the school is respected by employers and other colleges. You can also look for reviews of the school online.

Be sure to check out our list of the best online colleges in the country. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

Choose a Program That Fits Your Career Goals

When you’re choosing an online college, it’s important to choose a program that fits your career goals. There are many different types of programs offered by online colleges, so you’ll want to make sure you choose one that offers the courses you need to advance in your chosen field.

For example, if you want to become a registered nurse, you’ll want to make sure the school you choose offers a nursing program. Or, if you want to become a teacher, you’ll want to make sure the school offers a teaching program.

You should also make sure the school you choose is accredited by a reputable agency. This will ensure that your degree will be respected by employers and other schools.

Make Sure the School Offers Support Services

When you’re choosing an online college, it’s important to make sure the school offers support services. Many online colleges offer academic advising, tutoring, and career services. These services can help you succeed in your courses and prepare for your career.

Some schools also offer counseling services, which can be helpful if you’re struggling with the transition to college life. Make sure you choose a school that offers the support services you need to succeed.

Now that you know what to look for in an online college, you’re ready to start your search! Be sure to check out our list of the best online colleges in the country. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

Cost of an Online College Degree

The cost of an online college degree varies depending on the school you choose and the program you enroll in. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports average tuition and fees for online colleges as follows:

Undergraduate Degrees

Average tuition and fees per academic year for full-time undergraduate learners are as follows, according to the NCES.

  • Public, four-year, in state: $9,375
  • Public, four-year, out of state: $27,091
  • Private, four-year: $32,825
  • Public, two-year, in state: $3,501
  • Public, two-year, out of state: $8,256

Graduate Degrees

The average graduate student pays the following tuition and fees per academic year, according to NCES data.

  • Public: $12,410
  • Private: $26,597

Methodology

We scored 16 of the largest online colleges in the U.S. using 17 data points across five categories. We looked at the cost of tuition, the average student debt load, graduation rates, retention rates and career placement services to identify schools that are doing the best job of preparing students for success after graduation.

We then applied our own ranking methodology to come up with a final list of the top online colleges in the country. This list is a great starting point for your search for the best online college for you. We chose the 10 best to display based on those scoring 61% or higher.

Student outcomes: 30%

​​Affordability: 25%

Student experience: 25%

Application process: 10%

Credibility: 10%

Ranking of Top Online Colleges

To find the best online college for you, it’s important to consider your career goals and choose a program that will help you achieve them. It’s also important to make sure the school you choose is accredited and offers support services like academic advising, tutoring, and career services.

With these factors in mind, we’ve ranked the 16 largest online colleges in the U.S. based on our methodology. These schools are doing the best job of preparing students for success after graduation.

  1. Arizona State University
  2. Liberty University
  3. Colorado State University-Global Campus
  4. Walden University
  5. Kaplan University
  6. University of Florida
  7. Washington State University
  8. Trident University International
  9. Bellevue University
  10. Drexel University
  11. Grand Canyon University
  12. Regis University
  13. Strayer University
  14. Capella University
  15. South University-Online
  16. Liberty University Online Academy

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges

How long does it take to get an online bachelor’s degree?

As with on-campus programs, the length of time it takes to earn an online bachelor’s degree varies by school and by major. Generally, students can expect to complete their degrees in four years or less.

Is an online degree as good as a traditional degree?

There is no difference in the quality of an online degree and a traditional degree. In fact, many employers prefer candidates with online degrees because they are able to demonstrate mastery of digital tools and technologies.

Can I transfer my credits to an online degree program?

Most online colleges accept credits from regionally accredited schools. However, it’s important to check with the school you’re interested in to make sure they will accept your credits.

Do online degree programs have accreditation?

All of the schools on our list are accredited by agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This means they have undergone a rigorous review process and are held to high standards of quality.

Conclusion

Earning an online degree from one of the schools on our list is a great way to save money on your education and prepare for a successful career. These schools are doing the best job of preparing students for success after graduation. With affordable tuition rates and strong student outcomes, they are a great value for your investment.

If you’re looking for the best online college for you, we recommend starting with our top 10 list. These schools are accredited, offer support services like academic advising and tutoring, and have strong student outcomes. With these factors in mind, they are a great value for your investment.

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