Explore Online Degrees

We have a new feature! Compare 20 of the top online majors to learn about education and career options in subjects as diverse as accounting, psychology and nursing. Look at the salary, unemployment rate and growth opportunities with an online degree in the most popular fields.

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The Best Online Colleges: Ranked

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 ensures that a school’s facilities, instructors, and curriculum meet a rigorous set of standards established by industry leaders. Students should only consider accredited online colleges to ensure they invest in a universally respected degree.

The Center for Online Education’s rankings are designed to help you quickly identify the schools and programs at online colleges that most closely match your needs and preferences. We spent hundreds of hours reviewing every college listed in government’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Our rankings are thorough, accurate, and trusted.

Best Online Colleges in California

State Rankings
  • California State University - Chico
  • California State University - East Bay
  • University of La Verne
  • California State University - Fullerton
  • California State University - Dominguez Hills
View Rankings

Inside Online Learning with Melissa A. Venable, PhD

An online learning professional since 2004, Melissa A. Venable, PhD, serves as our education editor, curating the best possible resources for current and prospective online students. Through her professional experience as an instructional designer and an instructor at online colleges, she is aware of the advantages of online learning and what is required for success.

If you are new to online education and college decisions, the COE’s Inside Online Learning resources are designed to help you understand how it all works, from admissions and funding to technology and participation. Use this section of the site to assess your readiness for online education, make the most of your time and resources, and set realistic expectations about what it will take to graduate.

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.

Online Colleges:
Looking Forward

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.


Students taking at least one online course

  • 1 in 4 Students currently takes 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%

We Understand the Future 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.

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.


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