Below, we’ve ranked the top online colleges in New Jersey. Many of the state’s largest schools, including Rutgers, Rowan and Fairleigh Dickinson, feature prominently on our list and you’ll find quality programs at both large research universities and small liberal arts schools. Rutgers is particularly renowned for their online offerings, with a mix of online bachelor’s and graduate programs, as well as several hybrid options. The school is also partnered with Coursera, a service that allows students to take courses from top schools from around the country.
But before we look at the best online colleges in New Jersey, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in New Jersey today.
Overview of Higher Education in New Jersey
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that New Jersey had 70 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 33 public schools, 27 nonprofits and 10 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 29,658 at public schools, 9,846 at private nonprofits and 791 at private for-profits. New Jersey’s first-year retention rate sits at 84.3%, the 9th highest state in the nation, and the graduation rate sits at 67%, the 7th highest rate amongst states.
- 33 public
- 27 non-profit
- 10 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 $13,300, growing only 4% over the last five years, while the out-of-state average was $25,960.
At the community college level, as of 2012, New Jersey was reported to enroll over 400,000 students each year. Over 60% of the state’s undergraduates enrolled in a public school attend one of the state’s 19 community colleges.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that New Jersey awarded $385.2 million in need-based grants and $7.7 million in nonneed grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 19.7% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education; 9th largest percent amongst states. New Jersey also awarded $191.7 million in loans over the same period; the most, by far, by any state. Students interested learning more about grant support can go to HESAA.org, the state’s dedicated web portal for grant services.
New Jersey has an excellent system of public and private colleges and universities, which explains its high yet stable tuition costs. Add to that strong retention and graduation rates and truly excellent financial aid services and it is clear New Jersey is well poised for the next decade of higher education.
State of Online Higher Education in New Jersey
The NCES estimates that at least 7.4% of students enrolled in New Jersey’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 84.1% were reported to be undergraduates and 60.4% were found to be living in New Jersey, suggesting the state does a good job of drawing a sizable body of out-of-state distance students.
Two New Jersey organizations that stand out for their commitment to online education are the New Jersey Learning Management Network (NJLMN) and the New Jersey Distance Education Affinity Group (NJDEAG). The NJDEAG, formerly known as the New Jersey Virtual Community College Consortium, consists of 19 New Jersey community colleges and is dedicated to ensuring access to the best technological resources, as well as providing the support necessary to host quality distance education courses. Students at any of the 19 schools are readily able to identify and pursue distance courses from the various NJDEAG institutions. Prospective distance students can quickly filter through their community college choices thanks to the NJDEAG site.
Meanwhile, NJLMN captures the subject specific distance learning efforts taking place in the state. Distance courses maintained by the organization deal exclusively with public health, including many professional, post-degree certificate courses and training modules. The organization also maintains a digital library, a peer to peer forum and an online exchange of public health statutes and procedures specific to online colleges in NJ.
Best Online Colleges in New Jersey
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in New Jersey. 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 NJ, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in New Jersey 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||Rutgers University||New Brunswick||$$$$$||83 Somerset St|
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281
Rutgers University is one of the premier online colleges in New Jersey. Founded in 1766, this public research institution serves nearly 60,000 students in three locations.
Rutgers’ online programs are available through the Division of Continuing Studies’ Center for Online and Hybrid Learning and Instructional Technologies (COHLIT). The university offers online bachelor’s programs in nursing, business administration, and labor and employment relations. Master's degree programs include education, business administration, engineering, liberal studies, and science.
Rutgers uses the Canvas learning management system to facilitate online coursework, along with platforms like MindTap, VoiceThread, and Kaltura MediaSpace to deliver media-rich materials like audio or video. Online materials are available 24/7. Rutgers University Libraries, which contains more than five million volumes and thousands of digital materials, is accessible by distance learners as well.
|2||Rowan University||Glassboro||$$$$$||201 Mullica Hill Road|
Glassboro, NJ 08028
One of the best online colleges in New Jersey, Rowan University is a public research institution that first opened in 1923 as a teacher training college. It was renamed Rowan College of New Jersey in 1992, and became a university in 1997.
Rowan University offers fully online programs and hybrid programs through the Division of Global Learning & Partnerships, also known as Rowan Global. The school offers certificate programs and undergraduate, master, and doctoral degrees, which can be earned online, in a hybrid format, an accelerated online format, and through off-campus partnerships. Online students can pick from 30 subjects, including business, communication, creative arts, education, engineering, health, humanities and social sciences, performing arts, science, and mathematics.
Rowan uses the Blackboard learning management system, and technical support is available 24/7. Out of state students pay the same tuition as New Jersey residents, although Rowan cannot admit students from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington D.C., or Wyoming.
|3||Thomas Edison State University||Trenton||$$$$$||111 W State St|
Trenton, NJ 08608
Prospective students looking at online colleges in New Jersey should check out Thomas Edison State University. Chartered in 1972, this public university was created for adult learners and currently educates about 17,500 students.
Online students can enroll in 13 associate of arts, science, applied science and technology, and natural sciences and mathematics degree programs. For prospective bachelor’s degree students, 29 programs in business, arts, sciences, and applied science and technology are available. There are also 13 graduate degree programs and multiple certificate courses. The applied sciences are a specialty, with majors including nuclear engineering technology and energy systems technology, as well as more traditional subjects like communications and finance.
Courses last 12 weeks, and are led by mentors who communicate with students via email or telephone. Class materials include texts, study guides, and audio and video content. Most students obtain their degree within three years, and financial aid is available.
|4||Saint Peter's University||Jersey City||$$$$$||2641 Kennedy Blvd|
Jersey City, NJ 07306-5997
Saint Peter’s University is one of the top online colleges in NJ. Established in 1872, Saint Peter’s Catholic tradition emphasizes “care for the entire person.”
Located in Jersey City just across the Hudson River from New York, the school began serving adult learners in 1975. Today, the school enrolls more than 3,400 students from all over the world and has been noted for its ability to promote upward mobility among students.
Online students can study for a BS in business administration, an RN to BSN degree, or a doctorate of education. Online courses are delivered asynchronously through Blackboard, and 90% of the school's full-time faculty hold the highest degrees available in their respective fields. The average financial aid package is $22,000.
|5||Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus||Teaneck||$$$$$||1000 River Rd|
Teaneck, NJ 07666
No list of online colleges in New Jersey would be complete without Fairleigh Dickinson University. The largest private university in the state currently enrolls more than 11,500 students on its Madison and Teaneck/Hackensack campuses in addition to online learners.
Undergraduates can study for an associate of arts in liberal arts or a BA in individualized studies. The school also offers 11 master’s programs, including MS degrees in service innovation and leadership, student services administration, and sports administration. Fairleigh Dickinson offers three master's programs for educators, five graduate certificate programs, and a postdoctoral degree. The university uses Blackboard to deliver course materials.
The school’s online library contains more than 20,000 academic journals, periodicals, newspapers, and more than 115,000 ebooks that can be accessed remotely. Fairleigh Dickinson also has a partnership with College of St. Elizabeth, and the two share an online library catalog totaling approximately 450,000 volumes.
|6||Rider University||Lawrenceville||$$$$$||2083 Lawrence Road|
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-3099
Rider University, with campuses in Lawrenceville and Princeton, was founded in 1865, and merged with Westminster Choir College in 1992. The school has approximately 4,100 undergraduate and 950 graduate students.
Online students can enroll in the RN to BS in nursing degree program, another BS program like business administration or allied health studies, or a BA program like psychology. Graduate degrees accountancy, business administration, and organizational leadership are also available, and the school has a certificate program for educators.
Rider uses the Canvas learning management system, and students receive assistance from the Academic Success Center, the Office of Career Services, and the Office of Information Technology.
The university's library boasts more than 450,000 volumes, 50,000 periodicals, and 661,000 microforms, while the Talbott Library’s music collection includes scores, books, recordings, and periodicals.
|7||Caldwell University||Caldwell||$$$$$||120 Bloomfield Avenue|
Caldwell, NJ 07006-6195
Founded in 1939 by the Catholic "Sisters of Saint Dominic," Caldwell University took its current name in 2014. Today, Caldwell serves more than 2,200 students, most of whom live off campus.
Online undergraduate degrees include an RN to BSN program, while graduate students can enroll in a MA program like educational administration or higher education. Additionally, educational professionals with an MBA can pursue one of several post-master's certificate options.
Most online courses are worth three credits and are offered throughout the year in seven- or eight-week sessions. Coursework is delivered through Blackboard, and all students receive guidance and support from academic advisers at the Center for Student Success. The school library offers tutorials, an ask a librarian service, citation guides, and access to 150,000 ebooks, in addition to print volumes, and databases.
Caldwell currently accepts applicants from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
|8||Centenary College||Hackettstown||$$$$$||400 Jefferson St|
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Hackettstown is home to Centenary University, one of the smaller online colleges in New Jersey. The school enrolls 1,100 undergraduates and hosts about the same number of adult and graduate students.
Centenary has met the needs of adult online learners since 1999. Online courses start six times per year and usually last eight weeks. Students can pursue an associate of liberal arts degree, a BS in business administration, a BA in sociology, an MBA, and certificates in health administration, social media marketing, and leadership. Some classes are offered in a hybrid format, requiring some type of in-person component.
The Adult Studies Center offers academic coaching and tutoring services, and there’s also a writing center. The Taylor Memorial Library has multiple research guides and an online chat feature. While students are enrolled at the school, the cost per credit does not increase.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in New Jersey
Below you’ll find another ranking of the top online schools in New Jersey, sorted according to their tuition rates.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in New Jersey
Open to incoming freshmen and transfer students at Caldwell University. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at the university, and demonstrate financial need (FAFSA submission required). Award amounts vary based on applicants’ need. The maximum award is $12,000.
Open to freshmen entering the Newark College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. Applicants must have a combined SAT score of 1750+, and rank in the top 15 percent of their graduating high school class. Recipients are admitted to Rutgers’ Honors College.
Educational Opportunity Fund Grant
State grants from the Educational Opportunity Fund are available to New Jersey students from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The awards may be used at New Jersey institutions of higher education. Maximum award is $2,500 per year. Selection and award amount is determined by financial need.
Francis B. and Paige D. L’Hommedieu Scholarship
Provided by the Douglass College Alumnae Association at Rutgers. One award is open to undergraduate science majors; another award is open to students who earned an associate’s degree at a New Jersey community college. Selection is based on academic merit and financial need. Maximum amount is $1,000.
Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship
Available to students enrolled in a community college who will transfer to Rutgers University. To be eligible, applicant must be a full-time student and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Award is $8,000 per year for 2 years. A GPA of 3.0+ is required.
Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship
Open to incoming transfer students at Caldwell University who are members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. The maximum award is $2,000 per year.
Caldwell University’s Presidential Scholarship is awarded to full-time freshmen who demonstrate outstanding high school achievement. An SAT score of 1200 or higher is required. The award ranges from $20,000 to full tuition for 4 years of undergraduate study.
The Rutgers Presidential Scholarship is available to students who rank in the top 1 to 2 percent of the incoming freshman class. Recipients of the award are admitted to Rutgers’ Honors College. Selection is based on academic performance and merit. Award is $25,600 per year for 4 years.
Open to incoming freshmen and transfer students at Caldwell University. Applicants must demonstrate exceptional leadership skills, or significant commitment to community service or extracurriculars. The maximum award is $5,000 per year for 4 years.
Shannon Foundation Scholarship
Available to out-of-state undergraduate students at Douglass College of Rutgers University. Recipient is selected based on financial need and academic merit. The award ranges from $300 to $1,000, depending on applicants’ financial need.
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