Online College is on the Rise

Today, millions of college students choose to take some or all of their courses online. Even as total higher education enrollment decreases, student enrollment in courses and degree programs at online colleges continues to climb.

  • 25% of College Students take at least one online class
    25%
  • 70.8% of administrators feel online education is critical to their long term strategy
    70.8%
  • 67% of online students attend public colleges
    67%

Students taking at least one online course

The Best Online Colleges for 2016 - 17

As widespread acceptance of online education surges among nonprofit institutions, we predict that the number of accredited online colleges – and their quality – will increase. This rapid growth can make choosing an online college feel intimidating. To develop a short list of options that make sense for you and your goals, you need to compare a wide range of components, such as accreditation, tuition and fees, support services, faculty, and career preparation.

Today’s students should expect convenient access, affordability and academic value from online colleges. That’s why we only consider accredited online colleges for our rankings. The accreditation process guarantees that a school’s facilities, instructors, and curriculum meet a rigorous set of standards established by industry leaders. To ensure they invest in a universally respected degree, students should only consider accredited online colleges, like those on our list.

Rank School Name City Cost
1University of FloridaGainesville$$$$$
2Brigham Young University - IdahoRexburg$$$$$
3Fort Hays State UniversityHays$$$$$
4Dickinson State UniversityDickinson$$$$$
5Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station$$$$$
6Indiana Wesleyan UniversityMarion$$$$$
7University of Nebraska at OmahaOmaha$$$$$
8East Carolina UniversityGreenville$$$$$
9University of Central FloridaOrlando$$$$$
10Saint Mary-of-the-Woods CollegeSaint Mary of the Woods$$$$$

See Full Rankings List

The Rise of Online Colleges Explained

The term "online college" applies to any accredited institution offering a complete degree program fully online. While some colleges operate completely online, most online degrees are from established schools with both campus and online options.

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Explore Online Degrees and Subjects

Choosing your field of study is the first step in your online education, a process that takes time, commitment, and energy. The online degree program you decide to pursue will affect your career path, income potential, and level of employment. Online colleges offer a number of diverse options, and your area of interest may cross over several different degree programs. To help you find the online degree program that matches your interests and gives you best chance of financial success, explore our online degree comparison tool for information about earning potential, degree costs, and time commitments.

Accredited Online Colleges: The Cornerstone of Online Education

Today, millions of college students choose to take some or all of their courses online. Even as total higher education enrollment decreases, student enrollment in courses and degree programs at online colleges continues to climb.

Why do we focus our work on accredited online colleges? With the expansion of traditionally campus-based institutions into online degree programs, there are more options than ever for prospective online students. This also increases the need for research before committing to an online college. An accredited online college will guarantee that your degree is seen as valuable by other learning institutions and future employers, providing you assurance that your online degree will be a good investment. There are many depending on the region, degrees offered and more, but the important thing is that you choose an online college with legitimate accreditation.

The Center for Online Education understands online colleges have a dynamic future as new technologies and new uses for existing tools change the way we communicate, connect, and collaborate. In the coming years, virtual reality, blended program delivery, makerspaces, predictive learning platforms, gigabit Internet speeds, and other emerging technologies will push the limits of what was once thought possible at online colleges. Social media and networking sites will continue to impact online teaching and learning, providing a virtual space for authentic interaction, relationship building, and participation in professional communities. Our in-house team, and panel of contributors, are all graduates of accredited colleges and are here to help inform your online college journey.


COE Resource Library

Online students face a set of unique issues. Whether you’re wondering about online student disability services, LGBT support at online colleges, or paying for your online degree, our library of guides is here to help you. Planning to transfer credits from an online college? We’ll walk you through the importance of enrolling in accredited online colleges to ensure your hard work does not go to waste. We collected questions from parents, educators, and students to discover the most pressing issues they faced, and then put our team of experts to work finding in-depth answers.

Browse our resources