The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that Maryland harbors 58 higher education institutions, including public, nonprofit, and private colleges and universities. Students in these schools can study a vast array of subjects. However, those who want to work in Maryland after graduation should consider studying subjects that allow them to work in some of the area’s most prominent industries. Maryland’s policies attract businesses in life sciences, cybersecurity, tech-savvy manufacturing, government services, defense, aerospace, financial services, sustainable energy, and agribusiness.
Before students choose between the many on-campus and online colleges in Maryland, they should learn about the factors that affect the state’s educational landscape. Below, learners can review the types of schools in the Old Line State, how much the institutions charge for tuition, available programs for out-of-state learners, the job landscape, and specific scholarship opportunities.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in Maryland, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in Maryland today.
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A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Maryland
NCES data shows that 29 of Maryland’s 58 higher learning institutions are public. Thirteen of these public schools grant four-year degrees. Sixteen of the public institutions offer only two-year programs, including online community colleges in Maryland. The state also harbors 19 private, nonprofit colleges and universities — all four-year institutions. Finally, 10 for-profit schools educate students in Maryland. The NCES also reports that all of Maryland’s colleges and universities instructed 365,670 learners in the 2015-16 school year.
- 29 public
- 19 non-profit
- 10 for-profit
The College Board reports on each state’s average tuition for public schools. In Maryland, learners who live in the local districts and attend two-year public institutions pay an average of $4,680 per year on tuition and fees. Maryland residents who enroll in public, four-year universities spend an average of $9,900 annually. Where students live, school policies, and the number of hours learners take all affect how much degree candidates spend on tuition and fees. For example, the state’s flagship school, the University of Maryland at College Park, charges residents $10,600 per year and out-of-state learners $32,220 annually.
Many degree candidates receive help paying their tuition bills. The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs reports that in the 2015-16 school year, Maryland students received $75,022,250 from the Howard P. Rawlings grant and $21,685,360 from other need-based grants. Students also earned $2,314,710 from merit-based awards and $2,766,560 from other financial assistance programs, such as service loan repayments.
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The State of Online Higher Education in Maryland
The Distance Education State Almanac 2017 reports on the number of students attending online colleges in Maryland. The survey found that 121,010 students took at least one course through distance education. This number accounts for 32.8% of the state’s postsecondary students — a number higher than the 29.7% national average. About 68,530 degree candidates take all of their classes through online colleges in Maryland. Forty-six thousand of these online-only learners take undergraduate courses and 22,400 attend graduate school. Just under 80% of the exclusively online learners, or 54,350 people, live in Maryland.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
When some students enroll in the best online colleges in Maryland without proving residency in the state, they pay much more than in-state tuition rates. However, learners from specific states who pursue certain degrees can also pay the in-state rates. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has 15 member states, including Maryland. The other states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Together, representatives from these jurisdictions make deals to expand education throughout the region.
The Academic Common Market (ACM) counts as one of the SREB’s most significant initiatives. Students should reside in one of the member states to participate in the ACM. If such learners find that the universities in their states do not offer the programs they want, they pay in-state tuition to earn the degree at a participating university. The SREB pre-approves more than 1,900 degrees. However, learners can apply to use the ACM if their desired programs are not for professional degrees like law and medicine. The ACM allows these learners to attend courses on-campus or through some of the online colleges in Maryland. The SREB also lists other programs as advanced professional degrees.
Best Online Colleges in Maryland
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Maryland. 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 Maryland, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Maryland 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||University of Maryland - University College||Adelphi||$$$$$||3501 University Blvd East|
Adelphi, MD 20783-8010
UMUC's Global Campus offers 32 fully online bachelor's degrees across a variety of majors, such as biotechnology, cybersecurity, gerontology, homeland security, and public safety administration. Students may also choose from 18 master's and two doctoral degrees online. UMUC allows students to earn a second bachelor's degree by taking as few as 30 additional credits.
UMUC's distance learners do not use printed textbooks, which saves on course book fees. Instead, students complete assignments using electronic textbooks, digital library resources, websites, software, and interactive exercises. Learners also interact with instructors and peers through online discussions and group projects.
Undergraduate students take courses in eight-week sessions, allowing them to enroll in fewer classes at a time while efficiently moving through their programs. UMUC offers flexible scheduling, with rolling admission and start dates at eight different points of the year. Nearly all classes feature an asynchronous format, which means students do not need to log in and view lectures at specific times. This gives students the flexibility to further their education while meeting personal and professional obligations.
For those seeking a more traditional higher education experience, UMUC offers hybrid classes that combine online learning with some on-campus coursework available at more than 20 satellite locations nationwide.
The variety of ways UMUC helps students pay for school also makes it one of the best online colleges in Maryland. UMUC offers an interest-free monthly payment plan that enables students to pay tuition over the course of several months rather than all at once. The school also provides assistance managing tax benefits, using veterans' education benefits, and with applying for financial aid and scholarships. UMUC allows community college students to transfer up to 70 credits toward their online bachelor's degrees.
UMUC, located in Largo, Maryland, is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|2||Frostburg State University||Frostburg||$$$$$||101 Braddock Road|
Frostburg, MD 21532-1099
Frostburg State University, located in Maryland's Allegany County, offers an online nursing bachelor's degree and online master's degrees in business administration, parks management, and nursing. Students may also enroll in hybrid graduate programs in computer science and special education. This variety of courses and programs makes FSU one of the top online colleges in Maryland.
All distance learning takes place through the Canvas digital platform, with most classes using an asynchronous schedule. Under this format, students can access videos, assignments, materials, and discussions largely on their own without logging on at a specific time of day.
In addition to fall and spring semesters, FSU offers a variety of online classes during winter break and over the summer months. These courses allow students to expedite progress on their degrees. The summer session includes four-, six-, and 12-week options.
To apply as an undergraduate, a prospective student must provide his or her official high school and/or college transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. An individual may bolster an application with a one-page essay and up to three letters of recommendation. Each graduate program holds its own admission standards and processes.
FSU features a friendly transfer policy, accepting up to 70 credits from a community or junior college and 90 credits from a four-year postsecondary institution. The school accepts those with 24 or more transfer credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA; those with fewer than 24 credits must demonstrate a GPA of 2.5 or higher and provide their ACT or SAT scores. FSU admits transfer students on a rolling basis but encourages them to apply by June 1 (for fall term) or December 1 (for spring term).
The school's distance learners can access a 24/7 help desk, a digital library, academic advising, career services, and a university honors program. Part of the public University System of Maryland, FSU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|3||University of Baltimore||Baltimore||$$$$$||Charles at Mount Royal|
Baltimore, MD 21201-5720
University of Baltimore students can pursue a BS in business administration and master's degrees in accounting, business administration, public administration, and information architecture completely online. The school also offers an online user experience design graduate certificate. All graduate students in these distance education programs pay in-state tuition regardless of their location.
Students at this online college in Maryland can access the same programs and services as their on-campus counterparts. These include a career and internship center and a diversity and culture center, along with academic advising, career services, technical assistance, and tutoring. All incoming undergraduate students must meet with an academic adviser -- in person or over the phone -- before they can register for classes.
UB also offers an accelerated option for undergraduate students who wish to move into a master's program immediately upon receiving their bachelor's degree. These students can take up to nine credits that apply to both a bachelor's and master's degree, saving them about one term of coursework.
UB's undergraduate students can get a semester of free tuition through the school's Finish4Free program. To qualify, an individual must remain a full-time student in all eight semesters and stay on track to graduate with a bachelor's degree within four years.
Application requirements vary depending on the program. Applicants to the master's in business administration must provide official undergraduate transcripts, GMAT scores, a resume, and a personal statement. Those applying for the master's in public administration must provide at least two letters of recommendation and hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
Undergraduate applicants must provide a personal essay, official high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.
A member of the University System of Maryland, UB is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Its campus sits in the historic Midtown neighborhood of Baltimore.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Maryland
Below, you’ll find all of the online schools in Maryland sorted by their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Coppin State University||Baltimore||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Frostburg State University||Frostburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of Maryland - University College||Adelphi||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||University of Baltimore||Baltimore||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Maryland
After graduation, many learners go on to work and live in Maryland. Students who want to do this should understand the local job market, what jobs pay particularly well, and which careers are in high-demand. As of September 2018, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the unemployment rate in Maryland ranks slightly above the national average: 4.2% unemployment in Maryland and 3.7 unemployment in the U.S.
In total, the BLS reports that Maryland harbors 2,664,330 workers. The average hourly wage for these earners reaches $27.50, and the average salary reaches $57,270. These earnings rank higher than the national average of all occupations, which is $24.34 per hour — or $50,620 annually. Like many states, the top earners in Maryland are medical professionals. Sales managers, computer information systems managers, and judges all rank high as well.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Maryland
The Bernie Scholarship
Low-income residents and DACA recipients who live in Montgomery County, Maryland can apply. DACA applicants must have attended a high school in the county for three years.
2+2 Transfer Scholarship
Students who complete two years at a Maryland community college and wish to transfer to a four-year school in the state can apply. Applicants must also demonstrate financial need.
Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship Program
Students accepted to a Maryland school can apply if they served at least 60 days in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts, or if they are the child of someone who served.
Angie M. Houtz Memorial Scholarship Fund
Applicants must be Maryland high school seniors accepted into an institution in the state with 200 hours of community service. Applicants must also possess a 3.0 unweighted GPA.
Hal and Jo Cohen Graduate Nursing Faculty Scholarship
Applicants must hold a 3.0 GPA or higher, be a full-time graduate nursing student at an accredited school, and reside in Maryland to apply.
The Cynthia E. Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund
Applicants must be Maryland residents, juniors or seniors in high school, and the first person in their immediate families to attend college.
Esperanza Education Fund
Students who plan to enroll full time can apply if they or their parents were born outside the United States. Applicants must be seniors at high schools in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia and have a family income below $100,000 per year.
Central Scholarship Program
Maryland residents and students who live within 200 miles of Baltimore can apply if they have a 2.0 GPA or higher.
Kahdine Ann DaCosta Memorial Scholarship
Open to high school students in the Baltimore, Maryland area who possess a 2.5 GPA, demonstrate leadership abilities, and plan to enroll in an accredited institution.
Thursday Network “I Empower” Scholarship
Applicants must hold a 2.5 GPA or above, plan to enroll in a four-year university, have a family income under $45,000, and be of African or Hispanic descent.
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