It is no surprise that Alabama colleges and universities are reaching distance learners both within state boundaries and nationwide. The state education system cultivates a culture of online learning through ACCESS Virtual Learning. The Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide program offers Alabama public school students opportunities to attend virtual classes online. This initiative provides access to courses and advanced placement electives otherwise unavailable to many. This appreciation for distance learning continues into upper education, with colleges and universities across the state offering a wealth of online programs.
But before we look at the very best online colleges in Alabama, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Alabama today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Alabama
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Alabama had 77 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 39 public schools, 20 nonprofits and 18 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 22,746 at public schools, 3,594 at private nonprofits and 3,537 at private for-profits.
- 39 public
- 20 non-profit
- 18 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $9,750, while the out-of-state average was $23,370.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Alabama awarded $6.554 million in need-based grants and $2.985 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up just 0.7% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education.
In an effort to boost per-student spending, Alabama increased higher education funding for the ‘13-’14 school year by 3.4%, a rate higher than 16 other states. This financial commitment indicates Alabama values higher education and the development of strong degree programs.
The State of Online Higher Education in Alabama
Thousands of students take advantage of Alabama’s online learning programs each semester. The NCES estimates that at least 16% of students enrolled in Alabama’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 64.7% were reported to be undergraduates and 44.1% were found to be living in Alabama, indicating the state does an excellent job of attracting out-of-state distance students.
To ensure all students in Alabama have educational opportunities, the state’s Department of Education created the Alabama Career Information Network as part of the College Access Challenge Grant Program. This resource aims to strengthen the number of low-income students who are prepared to succeed in postsecondary online and on-campus programs.
Alabama is also a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, an initiative that lets students sift through an impressive directory of online programs throughout the southeast U.S. SREB also has strong aid initiatives. Services like the Academic Common Market/Electronic Campus and the Regional Contract Program for Health Professions let students fully enroll in a selection of out-of-state programs while paying in-state rates. While the program selection is small and the admissions criteria strict, for qualified students these are incredible opportunities.
Best Online Colleges in Alabama
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Alabama. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in AL, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Alabama or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||$$$$$||739 University Blvd|
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0166
UA, located in west Alabama, is one of the oldest, public higher education institutions in the state. The school officially opened in 1831, providing 52 students with a professional, educational experience. The university has expanded to include nearly 300 buildings and currently serves more than 37,000 students annually. Included among its many programs are the Bama by Distance online bachelor’s degree programs. Students attending one of the leading online colleges in Alabama find out that UA’s many online programs are easily accessible through the Blackboard online learning platform. Coursework is delivered asynchronously and through live videoconferences. Online learning is powered by digital technology, and the minimum requirements for students to attend class online include access to high speed internet, a personal computer, and a headset with a microphone. Online programs include a master’s in operations management, a bachelor’s in commerce and business administration, and a BA or BS in interdisciplinary studies.
|2||Troy University||Troy||$$$$$||University Avenue|
Troy, AL 36082-0001
Troy is a world-wide institution, with campuses across Alabama and distance learning programs accessible across the globe. The university strives to cultivate a world-class learning environment that reflects diversity, cultural sensitivity, student success, and a desire for lifelong learning. Troy, one of the leading online schools in Alabama, offers a variety of bachelor’s degrees fully online. Programs include human resources management, interpreter training, and managerial accounting. Online offerings include associate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs. For students outside of the United States, an array of international programs are offered. Troy University has been providing distance education for 20 years, and its community partnerships, veterans programs, and seamless credit transfer process make Troy appealing. The school is considered a military friendly institution. Online learning is powered by Blackboard, and students have access to several online support services, including student resources and Blackboard student training.
|3||University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham||$$$$$||Administration Bldg Suite 1070|
Birmingham, AL 35294-0110
UA - Birmingham was established in 1969 when the University of Alabama System was instituted. It is one of three public universities included in the system. Alabama at Birmingham is the city’s largest employer, and the state’s largest research school. Its online degree programs comprise one of the top online colleges in Alabama. The school offers eight fully online bachelor’s degree programs that incorporate the university’s mission to provide an enriching academic experience that benefits students personally and professionally. The online programs are led by experienced faculty with training in teaching online. Online education adheres to the standards set forth by the Online Learning Consortium, an organization designed to equip online educators with the best tools in online learning and instruction. Online students have access to a variety of online learning resources, including One Stop Student Services and Canvas course navigation tutorials.
|4||Amridge University||Montgomery||$$$$$||1200 Taylor Rd|
Montgomery, AL 36117-3553
Amridge, located in Montgomery, is one of the leading online colleges in Alabama. The university was established in 1967 and offers an education rooted in Christian values. Amridge’s programs provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become productive members of society while also instilling a sense of spiritual wellness that promotes a commitment to community service, faith practices, and family. Online programs are designed to develop leaders who value lifelong learning. The school’s distance learning curriculum is flexible and accessible. Students enrolled in Amridge’s online bachelor’s degree programs receive individualized support from knowledgeable faculty and the school’s support staff. More than 30 online programs are offered, including business administration, ministry and family, web development, and marriage and family therapy. The university’s unique corporate alliance program allows working adults to pursue professional goals while receiving additional financial support through employers.
|5||Auburn University||Auburn University||$$$$$||Auburn, Alabama|
Auburn University, AL 36849
Auburn is one of the state’s largest universities, serving over 25,000 students annually. Its programs reflect the university’s mission to provide an education that emphasizes research, community outreach, and professional growth for students and faculty. Auburn is one of the top online schools in Alabama. The university’s online bachelor’s degrees are designed to meet the needs of students across the globe. Programs include poultry and food science, accounting, rehabilitation counseling, and nutrition and health. Online offerings include undergraduate, graduate, professional credit, and personal enrichment programs. Distance learners have access to a number of services, including Auburn’s information technology help desk, the writing center, and the Office of Accessibility. The university’s faculty are experienced in online instruction and have access to the school’s media production services, where instructors can create engaging videos of lectures and incorporate graphics into their online curriculum.
|6||Judson College||Marion||$$$$$||302 Bibb St|
Marion, AL 36756
Judson is located in Marion, and is among the online schools in Alabama that offers an education rooted in the Alabama Baptist Convention. The school was founded in 1838 to provide women with a post-secondary education. Judson serves women in the South and across the world by offering a variety of academic programs in a single-gender environment, where women are leaders, mentors, educators, and learners. Judson, one of the leading online colleges in Alabama, has online programs available to all genders that are accessible online. The programs promote professional advancement through the development of critical thinking skills, faith-based ethical reasoning, and the dissemination of career-relevant knowledge and skills. A distance learning bachelor’s degree requires students to complete a minimum of 128 credits. Programs include business administration, criminal justice, and psychology. Course content is delivered by Moodle, and students engage in learning through online discussions, emails, online written assignments, and online exams.
|7||University of Mobile||Mobile||$$$$$||5735 College Parkway Drive|
Mobile, AL 36613-2842
Mobile was constructed in 1959 by the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is one of the best online colleges in Alabama. Programs are designed to prepare students for a life of service to society through the cultivation of spiritual growth and professional development. Since its beginnings as a one-building college, Mobile has grown into a fully accredited, world-class purveyor of Christ-centered higher education that serves more than 1,400 students from across the U.S. and globally. Distance learners can choose from several completely online bachelor’s degree programs with coursework that is offered in eight-week intervals. Programs include marketplace ministry, general studies, psychology, education, nursing, and business administration. The master’s in education is also taught in a blended format. Online offerings include associate, bachelor’s, and graduate studies. The school’s programs are affordable, with undergraduate credit hours starting at $200 per credit hour.
|8||University of West Alabama||Livingston||$$$$$||Station One|
Livingston, AL 35470
West Alabama, located in Livingston along the Alabama-Mississippi border, serves more than 5,000 students annually. The university began as a women’s school in 1839. The school evolved into an inclusive, public learning institution designed to promote personal advancement through professional studies. The university offers four online bachelor’s degrees that have an engaging online learning environment. Programs include accounting, management, marketing, business administration, and early childhood development. West Alabama has two hybrid programs and 12 online education certifications. UWA is among the online schools in Alabama that offers web-accessible coursework. Full-time students complete six credits per eight-week session. Students can complete up to six sessions or terms each year and have the option to cease coursework for up to one year. Ethical conduct of online learning is facilitated by Securexam Remote Proctor, which allows students to complete exams without having to travel to a testing center.
|9||Athens State University||Athens||$$$$$||300 N Beaty St|
Athens, AL 35611
Athens State is located in northern Alabama along the Alabama-Tennessee border and caters to upper-level transfer students. The university provides an academic experience designed to promote supportive learning environments that are student-focused and emphasize diversity, ethical behavior, and lifelong learning. Athens’ online bachelor’s degree programs reflect their mission to encourage the development of skills in critical thinking, communication, and professional development. Programs include global logistics and supply chain management, human resource management, management of technology, and religious studies. Online offerings include undergraduate, graduate, minor, and certificate studies. Students have access to digital articles and Ejournals through the school’s online library. Online learners participate in group discussions that are designed to expose them to a variety of perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. The experienced faculty ensure that each student’s academic needs are met. Financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available to online learners.
|10||University of South Alabama||Mobile||$$$$$||307 N University Blvd|
Mobile, AL 36688-0002
South Alabama, located in Mobile, was founded in 1963 as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum. Community leaders recognized a need for greater accessibility to higher education, and South Alabama was the solution. The university serves more than 16,000 students and continues to provide accessible education to students in the region and across the globe through its distance learning programs. USA, one of the leading online schools in Alabama, is dedicated to enriching the lives of its online students by offering more than 450 online courses that are accessible 24/7. The university’s online bachelor’s programs are part of school’s cutting-edge online learning platform, USAonline, and prepare students for rewarding careers in interdisciplinary studies and nursing. South Alabama also has master’s programs in education, including early childhood education and elementary education. Students have access to the USAonline help desk and weekly online learning tips.
|11||University of North Alabama||Florence||$$$$$||One Harrison Plaza|
Florence, AL 35632-0001
North Alabama is located in Florence along the Alabama-Tennessee border. Established in 1830, North Alabama is the oldest four-year, public university in the state. The university is one the most affordable online colleges in Alabama, and a third of students receive scholarships from the university. The online bachelor’s programs prepare students for rewarding careers in a variety of areas, including history, political science, interdisciplinary studies, and sociology. Distance learners must be self-motivated, independent workers, who can regularly check online assignments. The online courses are powered by Canvas, an easily navigable online learning platform. Online students have access to Canvas resources, including a student orientation course, discussion forums, and Canvas for mobile devices. Online students have access to the university’s writing center and advising services. Students are required to participate in online discussions and adhere to assignment due dates.
|12||Faulkner University||Montgomery||$$$$$||5345 Atlanta Hwy|
Montgomery, AL 36109-3390
Faulkner, located in Montgomery, is a private Christian college that takes a holistic approach to higher education with a mission to nurture each student’s personal growth, professional aspirations, and spiritual development. The university was founded in 1942 and is affiliated with the Church of Christ. Faulkner is one of the top online schools in Alabama. The online bachelor’s degree programs are designed to meet the demands of busy adult learners, and the academic programs emphasize flexibility, ease of access, and affordability. Programs include counseling psychology, sports psychology, criminal justice, and forensic psychology. Online offerings include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate studies. The university provides competitive degree programs that are more affordable than face-to-face learning. Distance learning at Faulkner eliminates the expense of commuting, and students can enroll in more credit hours, allowing them to complete their degree faster than on-campus.
|13||University of Alabama in Huntsville||Huntsville||$$$$$||301 Sparkman Dr|
Huntsville, AL 35899
Alabama - Huntsville is located in north Alabama and serves students from across the U.S. and more than 80 countries. Students experience an education rooted in integrity and innovation. The university emphasizes research and technological advancement through its award-winning programs that inspire critical thinking and promote inclusion through diversity. Alabama - Huntsville, a leader among online colleges in Alabama, has programs that are crafted to reflect the most appropriate methods for online instruction. The university offers 21 online programs, including human resource management, supply chain and logistics management, aerospace systems engineering, and civil engineering. Only two online programs are for undergraduates: nursing and professional studies. Online offerings also include an autism spectrum disorders certificate. Alabama - Huntsville's online classes are powered by Canvas, and students have access to discussion forums that help create an online community. Video streaming and videoconferencing enhance the online environment to create an engaging learning experience.
|14||Auburn University at Montgomery||Montgomery||$$$$$||7440 East Drive|
Montgomery, AL 36117-3596
Auburn - Montgomery was founded in 1967 to serve adult learners. The university serves students of all ages with varying levels of academic and career experience. The programs at Auburn - Montgomery emphasize practical skills training led by experienced faculty. The online bachelor’s degrees offered by the university equip students with knowledge and skills necessary to compete and excel in the workforce. Programs include physical education, elementary education, nursing, and homeland security and emergency management. Many of the school’s online degrees are in graduate studies. Distance learning at Auburn - Montgomery is powered by Blackboard, and online programs are flexible and easy to navigate. Faculty members are versed in the nuances of instruction through technology. Self-motivation is a critical component of successful online learning. Online students have access to Blackboard support, online tutoring, and research support. Hybrid courses are also available.
|15||Jacksonville State University||Jacksonville||$$$$$||700 Pelham Road North|
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Jacksonville State, located in northeastern Alabama, has been a leader in higher education since its establishment in 1883. The university strives to empower its students by providing an academic experience that emphasizes diversity, leadership development, and personal and professional growth. Jacksonville State, one of the best online schools in Alabama, offers a variety of online bachelor’s programs designed to meet the needs of its students. Programs include family and consumer sciences, emergency management, elementary education, and mental health counseling. The school also offers graduate certificates online. The distance learning programs at Jacksonville State are delivered through Blackboard, and the online classroom includes discussion posts, online lectures, and slideshows. Students are required to complete reading assignments and online quizzes and exams. Online student support is available 24/7 through Blackboard and the university’s IT center.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Alabama
Below you’ll find the best online education programs in Alabama, sorted by affordability.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Athens State University||Athens||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Amridge University||Montgomery||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of North Alabama||Florence||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Jacksonville State University||Jacksonville||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||Troy University||Troy||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||University of West Alabama||Livingston||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||Auburn University at Montgomery||Montgomery||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||University of Alabama in Huntsville||Huntsville||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||School profile||$$$$$|
|11||Auburn University||Auburn University||School profile||$$$$$|
|12||Judson College||Marion||School profile||$$$$$|
|13||Faulkner University||Montgomery||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Alabama
Athens State University provides this scholarship for newly admitted students with a GPA of 3.5 or above. Applicants must be enrolling full time at Athens State, and must demonstrate financial need.
Andrew J. Taft Endowed Academic Walk-On Scholarship
This scholarship is for undergraduate students at the University of Alabama who have completed at least three semesters on campus, are enrolled full time, and have a minimum UA GPA of 3.5.
Board of Trustee’s Scholarship
This award is for Auburn University undergraduates who are Alabama residents, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Entering freshmen, transfer students, and currently enrolled students are eligible. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
Each year, University of Alabama Birmingham awards the Collegiate Scholarship to one incoming freshman. To be eligible, students must be Alabama residents. A high school GPA of 3.5 or higher is required, as well as an ACT score of 28 OR a SAT score of 1250–1280 (critical reading and math).
Available to freshmen entering the University of Alabama with a minimum GPA of 3.8, and a minimum 32 ACT or 1400 SAT. Applicants must have a demonstrated commitment to leadership. Preference is given to students in the top 2% of their graduating high school class.
Gov. Frank Dixon Memorial Scholarship
Jacksonville State University offers the Governor Frank Dixon Memorial Award to full-time students who demonstrate academic achievement. Alabama residents only.
Each year, University of Alabama Birmingham awards the Presidential Scholarship to one incoming freshman. To be eligible, students must reside in Alabama. A minimum GPA of 3.5 is required, as well as an ACT score of 30-36 OR a SAT score of 1330-1600 (critical reading and math).
The University of South Alabama Presidential Scholarships are available to entering freshmen. The highest award amount is $44,000 (in-state) or $48,000 (out-of-state), distributed over four years. To qualify for the top tier Presidential Scholarship, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and a minimum ACT of 33.
Available to entering freshman at Auburn University Montgomery, the Recognition Scholarship requires an ACT score of 20 or higher, and a high school GPA of at least 3.5.
The Trustee Scholarship is available to incoming transfer students at Dominican University of California. The award is renewable for up to 3 years, or until recipient completes their undergraduate degree. A minimum GPA of 3.5 is required.
Transfer Student Scholarship
Auburn University at Montgomery offers the Transfer Student Scholarship to incoming students who completed their sophomore year at an Alabama community college with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. No separate application is required.
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