The demand for online education continues to grow — roughly 33.5% of students in higher education now take at least one online course. To keep up with this growing demand, 98% of public colleges and universities surveyed now offer online programs, while 76% of private schools surveyed have distance-based programs.
While it is undoubtedly good news that online students now have more online options, the sheer number of programs to consider can be daunting. Your choice will have an impact on what you pay, how long it takes to complete your degree, and your success after graduation.
Our database includes more than 1,300 accredited colleges and universities that offer online programs. You can search by school or filter by program name, degree level, location, and admissions requirements.
You should consider these when comparing institutions:
Accreditation. Accreditation indicates that a school has met a set of quality criteria determined by an outside accrediting agency. These independent agencies evaluate schools based on factors like faculty training, program curricula, and student resources. All of the schools in our database have been accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, many employers and graduate schools will only accept degrees from accredited institutions.
Type of distance format. There are two main kinds of distance learning: fully online and hybrid. Fully online programs have little to no campus-visit requirements, as the name suggests. Students can usually complete the entirety of their program without ever setting foot in a classroom. Hybrid programs, on the other hand, require some level of campus interaction, or may even require you to take specific classes on campus.
Cost. Cost is, of course, a major consideration when choosing a school, but your financial aid options are equally, if not more, important, as aid will ultimately determine the total cost of attendance.
Academic programs. If you already know what you want to major in, you need to look at the quality of the specific programs offered by the schools on your list. Some may have more resources, professors, and prestige than others.
Before diving into your applications, you need to consider what career you want, what fields are in high demand, and what your timeframe looks like for completing your education. For instance, factors like research opportunities and internships will have a tremendous impact on your job prospects or your ability to get into a graduate school. Make sure that the programs you consider have a sound plan in place to transition students from the classroom to the professional world.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate the merits of different programs:
How do students interact with each other and the professor? You need to know what level of engagement you'll get with your classmates and professors.
How is work evaluated? Will your professors personally grade the bulk of your assignments? Or are most exams and assignments multiple choice, and therefore able to be graded automatically? The level of student review in a given class can make a significant difference in what you take away from the course.
What resources does the school offer? High quality courses and professors are a wonderful asset to an online program, but you'll also want access to academic advisors, career advisors, and research tools, such as scholarly databases.
Explore accredited online colleges with our comprehensive database of more than 1,200 not-for-profit schools. Sort the results based on your criteria for program, degree, location, and more so that you may find the best colleges online for your education goals and preferences.
Connect with our higher education expert Melissa Venable and keep on top of the latest trends in education strategy and classroom technology. In addition, learn how to get the most out of attending colleges online with effective study tips and professional advice.