New Jersey boasts two of the nation’s oldest universities. Princeton University and Rutgers University, founded in 1746 and 1766 respectively, stand out as two of the original colonial colleges. Each institution began teaching prior to the American Revolution.
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), New Jersey is home to more than 70 postsecondary institutions, including 13 public four-year colleges and universities, 28 total nonprofit schools, and 19 two-year colleges. Along with Rutgers, the state’s flagship university, Rowan University in Glassboro and the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark account for the state’s three public research universities.
This guide explores both higher education in New Jersey and the state of New Jersey’s economy. It reviews the best cheap online colleges in New Jersey and provides a better understanding of the job market that awaits you upon graduation.
Before we look at the best online colleges in New Jersey, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in New Jersey today.
Overview of Higher Education in New Jersey
With a population of just more than nine million, New Jersey ranks 32 in the nation. When it comes to higher education, the state ranks 19th in the country, boasting 73 degree-granting colleges and universities — which account for 1.5% of all such institutions in the U.S. Among these institutions, students can choose from 32 public, 28 nonprofit, and 12 for-profit schools. For the best online colleges in New Jersey, the state’s public colleges and universities break down into 13, four-year schools and 19 New Jersey community colleges online and on campus.
- 32 public
- 28 non-profit
- 12 for-profit
NCES reports that enrollment at postsecondary institutions in New Jersey in 2016 remained steady year over year, though numbers fell 5% from 2011. According to the state, enrollment at junior colleges slipped 2.4% from 2015-2016 but rose 0.7% at senior institutions.
While tuition continues to trend upward for the nation, cheap online colleges in New Jersey present students with an alternative to traditional learning and associated on-campus costs. A survey of tuition costs by College Board also illustrates the difference between the average tuition for in-state and out-of-state students attending a public four-year school in New Jersey. Note that out-of-state students pay a premium of more than 45%. As for financial assistance, New Jersey for the 2015-16 academic year provided $367,610,160 in need-based grants to 70,290 recipients. For non-need-based grants, the total amounted to $7,310,020 awarded to 2,700 students.
State of Online Higher Education in New Jersey
According to findings from an online learning survey conducted by Digital Learning Compass, enrollment in New Jersey online colleges and universities rose 9% from 2012-2015. The survey found that in 2015, about 21% of all New Jersey students enrolled in at least one online course — 7% of which took online courses exclusively. The survey also found that of the 30,350 students in New Jersey who attended courses exclusively online in 2015, nearly 60% lived in New Jersey. This rate stands 4.5% higher than the nation (55.1%). Further, New Jersey saw an increase of 0.6% of students who took a mix of on-campus and distance courses.
Best Online Colleges in New Jersey
See below for our rankings of the best online four-year programs in New Jersey. Our profiles examine how schools approach online education and then list their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in New Jersey, explore our state resources, such as a database of every college and university in New Jersey and 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||$$$$$||83 Somerset St|
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281
Established in 1766, Rutgers University ranks among New Jersey's premier public universities and stands as the country's eighth-oldest institution of higher learning. Rutgers serves more than 69,000 students at its flagship campus in New Brunswick and through satellite locations in Newark and Camden. Best known for its medical, environmental, and cultural research, Rutgers also hosts more than 300 institutes and research centers worldwide.
Rutgers offers 26 online degrees, including tracks in business, education, engineering, nursing, and social work. The school also features hundreds of individual online undergraduate and graduate courses and career-focused courses and training through its continuing education portal. Students complete courses using a suite of electronic platforms and learning management systems, including Sakai, Canvas, Moodle, and eCollege.
Online learners can access a variety of educational tools in the virtual classroom, including video tutorials, webinars and workshops, and a comprehensive help desk for tech support. Online students follow the same course schedule as on-campus students, taking classes during fall, winter, and spring terms. As part of an institution-wide effort to streamline its IT resources, the school's division of teaching and learning with technology manages all online and hybrid programs, designing and implementing virtual courses.
Undergraduate applicants must submit a high school diploma (or GED equivalent) and SAT or ACT scores if currently enrolled in high school or recently graduated. Transfer applicants who graduated from high school more than two years prior to application, or those who have completed at least 12 college-level credits, do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores.
|2||Rowan University||Glassboro||$$$$$||201 Mullica Hill Road|
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Opened in 1923 in Glassboro, Rowan University began as a teacher training facility in southern New Jersey. Today, Rowan offers over 125 degrees and serves more than 18,000 students across its four campuses. The university is known for its affordable online education programs, and the school ranks among the best online colleges in New Jersey.
Rowan offers 30 online degrees through its online learning branch -- Rowan Global. The university emphasizes degree completion programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. Learners may complete some programs entirely online in an accelerated format, while other students take hybrid coursework. Available majors include business, engineering, health professions, and performing arts. Rowan Global also offers dual-credit programs to high school juniors and seniors.
Online programs at Rowan feature user-friendly technologies and a comprehensive learning management system. Students enrolled in Rowan Global programs use multimedia tools, including interactive slideshows and streaming video, to complete assignments. Distance learners can communicate freely with instructors and peers using email, online discussion boards, and live chat rooms. Rowan also provides counseling options to distance students and comprehensive tech support through its help desk.
New undergraduate applicants should submit their high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores through the Common Application, while transfer students with 12 or more college-level credits should submit college transcripts to the admissions office. Accepted students must take an online immersion training course before beginning a distance program. The university also hosts an annual online learning symposium on campus, which provides advanced training to Rowan's online educators and faculty.
|3||Thomas Edison State University||Trenton||$$$$$||111 W State St|
Trenton, NJ 08608
Chartered in 1972, TESU represents one of the oldest universities in the U.S. that focuses on adult education. Students interested in cheap online colleges in New Jersey should look into TESU, which strives to make higher education more accessible to students in all geographical areas. TESU also offers students the option to "test drive" an online course before committing to enrollment at the university.
TESU hosts nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates online, including programs in accounting, nursing, and sociology. Overall, TESU offers more than 250 individual courses online. Each distance course lasts 12 weeks, and students can choose from a variety of self-directed study options, accommodating learners who prefer less interaction/oversight and those who require frequent input from mentors and advisers. However, regardless of an online classes format, TESU requires active participation in the virtual classroom through interactive forums like class lounge brainstorming meetings and private mentor counseling sessions.
Distance learners can access electronic textbooks, the state university library database, and disability support services through a dedicated student portal. Distance learners can also search for institutional scholarships and view financial aid services online.
Undergraduate applicants should submit high school transcripts (or GED equivalent) for admission consideration. Graduate applicants typically need to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution -- earned with a minimum 2.75 GPA -- and 3-5 years of professional experience; however, each graduate program uses different requirements for entry. Transfer applicants from regionally accredited community colleges or four-year colleges may transfer up to 80 or 117 credits, respectively.
|4||Saint Peter's University||Jersey City||$$$$$||2641 Kennedy Blvd|
Jersey City, NJ 07306-5997
One of the best online colleges in New Jersey in terms of performance, value, and creative transformation, Saint Peter's University hosts a main campus in Jersey City, an additional location in the Meadowlands, and a host of online programming. The university offers more than 60 academic programs across five schools and colleges, each taking advantage of a Jesuit perspective.
Saint Peter's offers four programs online. Students can earn a bachelor's in business administration, an Ed.D. in higher education, an RN-to-BSN, or a master of higher education in general education. Many distance courses follow Saint Peter's traditional course schedule, although the majority of courses in the online RN-to-BSN program follow an accelerated eight-week format. Students may take courses during the university's winter intersession in addition to during the spring and fall terms.
Students complete courses online through the Blackboard learning management system. The university provides extensive training and tutorials for Blackboard through its IT services, along with comprehensive tech support. Distance learners at Saint Peter's can access a variety of services, including financial aid help, library resources, a bookstore, and career services. They can also pursue internships, peer education programs, counseling, and student ministry services online.
While requirements vary by program, Saint Peter's typically requires undergraduate applicants to submit high school transcripts (or GED equivalent) and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants should also submit letters of recommendation. The university participates in the NJ Transfer Program, designed to simplify the transfer of credits from community colleges in New Jersey to four-year universities in the state. Saint Peter’s considers transfer applicants on a case-by-case basis.
|5||Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus||Teaneck||$$$$$||1000 River Rd|
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Founded in 1942, FDU stands as the state's largest private university and ranks as one of the best online colleges in New Jersey. The university offers more than 100 academic programs to an enrollment of 11,500 students. In addition to its Metropolitan campus, it boasts a sister location in Madison and locations in Canada and England through its Vancouver campus and Wroxton College, respectively.
FDU also offers two programs online: a bachelor of arts in individualized study and an associate of arts in liberal arts. The BA track offers students a choice of five specializations in communication, business, public service administration, liberal arts, or business and technology. Both the AA and BA emphasize broad career skills for working adults, including core coursework in management, communication, business, and applied technology in the workplace. Students completing these fully online programs pay a special tuition rate and can access multiple financial aid options, including deferred payment and employer reimbursement options. Students can also choose to enroll in dozens of individual online undergraduate courses.
Distance learners complete asynchronous coursework online. The university also recognizes a variety of transferable credits, enabling students to accelerate their degree completion times based on prior professional study, military training, proficiency exams, and experiential learning. FDU delivers online courses through WebCampus, which features a variety of support resources for distance learners, including tech support, access to the FDU library and bookstore, and a comprehensive online student manual.
Applicants to associate-level programs may apply up to 30 college-level credits from previous coursework, and students with less than 24 credits must submit high school transcripts with their applications. Students applying to the online BA program may transfer up to 90 previously earned credits. FDU's online bachelor's track targets students seeking a degree-completion program -- especially graduates of the university's online AA program.
|6||Rider University||Lawrenceville||$$$$$||2083 Lawrence Road|
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-3099
Established in 1865 as a private business school, Rider University now offers nearly 100 academic programs in education, liberal arts, science, human services, the arts, and business administration. The university serves an enrollment of more than 5,000 students hailing from more than 40 U.S. states and 80 countries. Rider holds institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, as well as specialized accreditation for its business, education, counseling, music, and psychology programs.
Rider offers a variety of online bachelor's and master's degrees. Students can also complete STEM graduate courses and certificates online or study choral music through the distance learning division at the school's Westminster Choir College. Students complete online courses through the Canvas learning management system. Online coursework follows a weekly cycle, with most courses offered in a self-paced format. Rider provides a comprehensive online orientation to students newly enrolled in distance programs, including tips for registration and advising options, links to student support services, and "netiquette" rules.
Rider's student support offices provide critical services to online students, including academic tutoring, personal counseling, and career development. The university also supports services for students with disabilities and military service members and veterans. Distance learners can access online resources through the myRider web portal, which connects learners to course lists, financial aid options, transcripts, and billing.
Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts (or GED equivalent), along with a letter of recommendation and an essay. Rider recently adopted a test-optional policy for both admissions and scholarships, enabling incoming freshmen to choose whether or not to submit ACT and/or SAT scores. The prerequisites for graduate programs vary depending on the specific degree track.
|7||Caldwell University||Caldwell||$$$$$||120 Bloomfield Avenue|
Caldwell, NJ 07006-6195
Located in the northeast corner of the state, Caldwell University provides higher education programs based in the Catholic Dominican tradition. The university develops all of its curriculum to uphold four core values: respect, integrity, community, and excellence. Caldwell University offers dozens of undergraduate majors and minors, including seven online degrees.
Distance learners can complete an RN-to-BSN degree online, pursue online graduate degrees in educational administration or higher education, or enroll in an online MBA program. Caldwell University also offers post-master’s certification for superintendents, supervisors, and principals. However, students should note that the university does not offer distance education to residents of California or Massachusetts at this time. Caldwell University boasts one of the lowest tuition rates for private education in the state and ranks as one of the best online colleges in New Jersey.
Caldwell University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The university offers a full range of traditional support services and benefits for online students and invites distance learners to attend commencement on campus. Caldwell University's online programs do not require campus visits, although students may customize their course of study to include hybrid coursework if they desire. Distance learners complete courses through Blackboard, and incoming students receive guidance from a dedicated adviser through the school's student success center.
Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts (or GED equivalent), with preference given to students with a minimum 3.3 GPA, and SAT or ACT scores. Graduate applicants must include transcripts of all previous college coursework and/or military training. Transfer applicants may apply up to 90 credits toward a degree, provided these were earned with a "C" or better.
|8||Centenary University||Hackettstown||$$$$$||400 Jefferson St|
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Based in New Jersey’s historic Skylands region, Centenary University hosts a main campus in Hackettstown, as well as multiple satellite learning centers and an equestrian school. The university serves an enrollment of roughly 1,100 undergraduate and graduate learners. Centenary University offers dozens of bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs, including several that students can complete online.
Students can earn an online MBA at Centenary University in just 14 months. Additionally, the school offers an AA in business and BS degrees in accounting, business administration, and social media marketing. Centenary University also offers certificates in social media marketing and health administration and leadership. Learners can complete distance programs entirely online or choose to complete some coursework through hybrid classes, if they prefer.
Online programs at Centenary University feature two terms per semester, each lasting eight weeks. Distance programs incorporate practical skill building for lifelong learning. Upon enrollment, online learners work with a dedicated student adviser to plan their course of study. They can also access academic tutoring options and other types of counseling support. Centenary University offers an orientation at the start of each semester specifically for veteran students.
Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Although not explicitly required, Centenary University recommends that students submit a letter of recommendation and a 250-word essay with their undergraduate application. Graduate applicants should submit college transcripts for all previous coursework and consult individual programs for additional application requirements. Transfer applicants may apply up to 72 junior college credits or up to 96 credits from a four-year institution toward their degrees at Centenary University.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in New Jersey
See below for all of the online schools in New Jersey sorted by their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Thomas Edison State University||Trenton||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Saint Peter's University||Jersey City||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus||Teaneck||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Rowan University||Glassboro||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in New Jersey
For New Jersey college graduates, the job outlook in the coming years looks positive. The state’s unemployment rate continues to trend downward, posting at 4.2% for September 2018, a year-over-year decrease of 0.5%. While New Jersey’s rate is 0.5% higher than the nation’s at 3.7%, the state continues to keep a good pace. In September 2017, the U.S. unemployment rate hovered at 4.2%.
Meanwhile, the mean annual wage for all occupations in New Jersey remains above the U.S. average. The state’s mean annual wage of $56,970 rests 11% higher than the nation’s. As for employment growth in New Jersey, the state added more than 58,000 new jobs from 2017-2018. The professional and business services industry accounted for the most growth during the year, with 16,500 new jobs added. Education and health services followed right behind, adding more than 16,100 jobs.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in New Jersey
Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media Contest
Must be a New Jersey high school student and submit original content (a video, photo, or computer graphic) on Instagram or Facebook for consideration.
Lew Williams & Leila Sulkes Scholarship:
Women at least 25 years old enrolled in a bachelor’s degree qualify. They must live in Colts Neck, Freehold Borough or Freehold Township, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Howell, Manalapan, Marlboro, Monroe Township, or Morganville to apply to this scholarship for on-campus and online schools in New Jersey.
Champion Energy Services Scholarship
Current high school seniors or full-time undergraduate students from or attending college in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey with a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply may qualify.
Diverse Minds Writing Challenge
High school students in grades 9-12 from Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, or Salem qualify.
NJCPA Scholarship Fund
Must be a U.S. citizen, a New Jersey resident, and a college-bound high school senior with a cumulative 3.5 GPA or higher to apply.
Roothbert Fund Scholarship
Must be a resident of one of 16 east or Atlantic states. Recipients may apply for scholarship renewal of the same amount if continuing their studies the following year at an on-campus or online school in New Jersey.
Young Christian Leaders Scholarship
Must be a high school senior or an active college student, an active member of the local church, and possess a 3.0 GPA.
Must be a beneficiary of an NJBEST 529 College Savings Plan that is at least four years old and holds a minimum of $1,200.
Direct Energy Live Brighter Scholarship
Must be 18 years old, registered for college in one of 15 states (including New Jersey), and hold a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship
Must be an environmental student from New Jersey pursuing studies focused on New Jersey or the surrounding waters.
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