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2015 Top Online Colleges

Best Value Online Colleges Badge

Our list of top online colleges are some of the most selective institutions in the country. Schools on this list have low acceptance rates and are regionally accredited, which means students are able to receive a high quality education from a prestigious institution without having to sacrifice the flexibility that an online education provides.

In addition to being incredibly competitive, most colleges on this list provide a wide variety of online programs to choose from. USC offers 81 online programs at both the graduate and doctorate levels, while Stanford University, which ranked #1 on our list, offers 46. The majority of these schools also provide the resources students need to succeed academically and after graduation, including career advising, academic counseling, and military benefits.

Rank College Annual Tuition Degree Levels Offered Acceptance Rate
#1 #1 Stanford University Online Annual Tuition $44,184 Degrees: Master's and Certificate Acceptance Rate 5.69%
#2 #2 Columbia University in the City of New York Annual Tuition $24,323 Degrees: Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 7.42%
#3 #3 Duke University Annual Tuition $47,590 Degrees: Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 13.42%
#4 #4 Northwestern University Annual Tuition $46,836 Degrees: Master's and Certificate Acceptance Rate 15.32%
#5 #5 Georgetown University Annual Tuition $28,850 Degrees: Master's and Certificate Acceptance Rate 16.97%
#6 #6 Johns Hopkins University Online Annual Tuition $47,060 Degrees: Master's and Certificate Acceptance Rate 18.13%
#7 #7 University of Southern California Annual Tuition $23,781 Degrees: Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 19.84%
#8 #8 University of California - Los Angeles Annual Tuition $35,574 Degrees: Master's Acceptance Rate 21.99%
#9 #9 New York University Online Annual Tuition $24,136 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 26.05%
#10 #10 Tulane University Annual Tuition $20,475 Degrees: Master's and Certificate Acceptance Rate 26.43%
#11 #11 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Annual Tuition $17,120 Degrees: Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 27.59%
#12 #12 University of Virginia Online Annual Tuition $13,360 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 29.99%
#13 #13 Northeastern University Online Annual Tuition $15,037 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 32.31%
#14 #14 George Washington University Annual Tuition $48,700 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 33.08%
#15 #15 Marist College Online Annual Tuition $32,000 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 37.45%
#16 #16 Western Carolina University - Online Annual Tuition $14,825 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 37.66%
#17 #17 University of La Verne - Online Annual Tuition $16,850 Degrees: Bachelor's and Master's Acceptance Rate 38.95%
#18 #18 California State University-Fullerton Annual Tuition $17,612 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 45.79%
#19 #19 University of Florida Annual Tuition $16,580 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 46.55%
#20 #20 State University of New York Annual Tuition $31,640 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, and Certificate Acceptance Rate 49.71%

2015 Top Online Colleges Highlights

1
Stanford University Online
Acceptance Rate: 5.69%
  • Annual Tuition: $44,184
  • Online Degrees: 46
  • Accreditation: WASC

With 46 online degrees, Stanford University Online is one of the most popular educational institutions for distance learning. Students can choose from 15 master’s degrees, 7 certificates, and 24 graduate certificates, in areas such as statistics, computer science, electrical engineering, and management, and may take classes in constitutional law, chemical engineering, or entrepreneurship, among many other subjects. Career advising is available for all degree programs, and qualified veterans can take advantage of the various military benefits offered by the college. Financial aid is available, and students may also qualify for discounts on graduate courses and corporate education programs.

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Online Master's Degrees (15)

Online Certificate Degrees (31)

2
  • Annual Tuition: $24,323
  • Online Degrees: 39
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Columbia University offers 39 online degrees, including certificates, master’s programs, and doctorates. Master’s degrees are offered in areas such as computer science, applied physics, and actuarial science, while certificates options include actuarial science certification, bioethics, and certification of professional achievement in business. The school is well-known for its online graduate engineering program. Engineering students may choose from several specializations, including electrical engineering, Earth and environmental engineering, or mechanical engineering. Students can expect to pay around $24,000 per year. Financial aid is available at each of Columbia University’s schools.

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Online Master's Degrees (30)

Online Doctorate Degrees (6)

Online Certificate Degrees (3)

3
Duke University
Acceptance Rate: 13.42%
  • Annual Tuition: $47,590
  • Online Degrees: 10
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Duke University offers career advising and military benefits to its students. Ten online degrees are available, including certificates in clinical research and paralegal studies. Students may also receive a Doctor of Nursing Practice or pursue master’s degrees in areas such as nursing, engineering management, or environmental management. Several of Duke University’s online programs require short on-campus sessions for extra instruction. For example, the Master of Environmental Management is an online degree which requires an additional five short on-campus sessions throughout the two-year program, and the Master of Engineering Management Program requires students to attend three week-long on-campus sessions throughout the two-year program. Prospective students should contact each degree for on-campus requirements. Approximately 5% of students receive financial aid annually, and the average award is $40,412. Out-of-state tuition for undergraduates and graduates is approximately $47,500, and qualified students may be able to receive military benefits.

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4
Northwestern University
Acceptance Rate: 15.32%
  • Annual Tuition: $46,836
  • Online Degrees: 15
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Northwestern University offers 15 online degrees, including 2 graduate certificates and 13 master’s degrees. Certificate options include fundamentals of accounting, while those wishing to pursue a master’s degree may select one in areas such as public policy and administration, predictive analytics, and global health. The school boasts regional accreditation and offers career advising and online advising – a rarity among many online schools. Students in approved programs may also utilize military benefits toward the cost of tuition, which can range from $46,800 for undergraduates to between $37,400 and $53,000 for out-of-state graduates. Northwestern provides several resources to its military students and is a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

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5
Georgetown University
Acceptance Rate: 16.97%
  • Annual Tuition: $28,850
  • Online Degrees: 4
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Georgetown University is a well-known college that offers 3 master’s degrees to students who wish to further their education online. Students may wish to take advantage of the career advising office that is available with additional resources and information pertaining to these online degrees. The school also dedicates more than $2 million to make education accessible for the country’s veterans, servicemen, and servicewomen, as well as their dependents, and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. The cost of an out-of-state tuition can range from $17,800 for graduate programs to $28,850 for undergraduate online degrees. It is important to note that the school cannot offer online programs in each state, so interested students should verify that their state is included among those in which the institution can provide degrees.

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6
Johns Hopkins University Online
Acceptance Rate: 18.13%
  • Annual Tuition: $47,060
  • Online Degrees: 26
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Nearly 4,000 students enroll in Johns Hopkins University’s 26 online degree programs each year. Degree options include 10 graduate certificates in courses such as geographic information systems, biotechnology enterprise, and nonprofit management. Sixteen master’s degrees are also available. Students may benefit from online advising and career advising, particularly if they require assistance with networking and interviewing, and military discounts may help to offset the cost of tuition. Tuition costs can range from $47,000 for undergraduates to between $35,000 and $59,000 for graduates. Financial aid is available to those who qualify and meet certain conditions.

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7
University of Southern California
Acceptance Rate: 19.84%
  • Annual Tuition: $23,781
  • Online Degrees: 81
  • Accreditation: WASC

The University of Southern California provides 81 online degree options to its 40,000 students. Approximately 4,120 students choose to take online courses at this institution, making it one of the most popular choices for obtaining an online degree. Three doctorate degrees and 64 master’s degrees are offered, in areas such as computer science, social work, and gerontology. Fourteen graduate certificates, including focuses on astronautical engineering, gerontology, and software architecture are also provided. Career advising is offered for students seeking to gain knowledge and experience in their online degree fields, and financial aid and military benefits are available to qualified students. Tuition costs are approximately $23,700 per year for graduate degrees.

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Online Master's Degrees (64)

Online Doctorate Degrees (3)

Online Certificate Degrees (14)

8
University of California - Los Angeles
Acceptance Rate: 21.99%
  • Annual Tuition: $35,574
  • Online Degrees: 13
  • Accreditation: WASC

The University of California Los Angeles offers 13 online degree programs, including a Master of Science in Engineering. Students in the engineering program may choose from several concentrations, such as advanced structural materials, integrated circuits, and manufacturing and design. The financial aid office at UCLA awards financial support via student loans. Military benefits are also available for qualified students. Tuition for an out-of-state undergraduate is approximately $35,500, annually, while an out-of-state graduate program costs an average of $16,500. Students may also wish to take advantage of the career advising offered by the college.

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9
New York University Online
Acceptance Rate: 26.05%
  • Annual Tuition: $24,136
  • Online Degrees: 16
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

New York University offers 16 online degrees, including 4 bachelor’s degrees, 4 master’s degrees, and 8 graduate certificates, in concentrations such as strategy and leadership, real estate, and human resource management. NYU offers an average of $25,619 in financial aid each year, which may cover more than 50% of the annual tuition, depending on the program. Tuition can cost between $21,800 and $24,000 annually for out-of-state undergraduates and between $17,800 and $50,100 for out-of-state graduates. Should students require additional assistance throughout their time at New York University Online, career advising is also available.

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10
Tulane University
Acceptance Rate: 26.43%
  • Annual Tuition: $20,475
  • Online Degrees: 6
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

At Tulane University, students can choose from two graduate degrees and four online master’s degrees, in areas such as environmental health, public health, and disaster management. Students pursuing the online master’s degree in industrial hygiene will be required to be on campus for one week for an instructional laboratory class. The school is regionally accredited and offers career advising to its students. Tulane University also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program that assists servicemen and women on active duty as well as veterans who have served in the U.S. military. Other military benefits and forms of financial aid are also available. Tuition costs $20,475 for out-of-state graduates.

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11
  • Annual Tuition: $17,120
  • Online Degrees: 19
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

More than 1,200 students are enrolled in the 19 online degree programs offered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are 14 master’s degrees, 2 doctorate degrees, and 3 certificates available, in areas such as core public health concepts, field epidemiology, and global health. Graduate degree programs include doctorates in physical therapy and health leadership and master’s degrees include public administration and public health. Each year, approximately 6% of students at the college receive an average of $13,381 in financial aid, and those who qualify may also take advantage of the military benefits offered by the institution. The tuition for an out-of-state graduate can cost between $3,400 and $17,120, depending on the courses studied, and the lower net cost for students is less than 75% of all online institutions.

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12
University of Virginia Online
Acceptance Rate: 29.99%
  • Annual Tuition: $13,360
  • Online Degrees: 23
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

With 23 online degrees, the University of Virginia Online is one of the most popular choices for an online degree. Available certificates include public relations, human resources management, and public administration. UVA online also offers a master’s degree in engineering, with specializations such as chemical, electrical, and aerospace engineering. UVA provides military benefits and career advising to its students, and the tuition is one of the most affordable in the U.S. Costs for undergraduates can fall between $10,400 and $13,300, depending on whether the student is in-state or out-of-state, and tuition for graduate programs can range from $12,300 to $13,200 annually. When scholarships and financial aid are taken into consideration, students attending the University of Virginia Online statistically pay less than students at 75% of schools that offer online degrees.

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13
Northeastern University Online
Acceptance Rate: 32.31%
  • Annual Tuition: $15,037
  • Online Degrees: 65
  • Accreditation: NEAS CIHE

With 65 online degrees, Northeastern University Online offers one of the highest numbers of online degrees available in the U.S. Its online academic program includes a broad variety of concentrations, such as communications, engineering technology and electronics, and business. The school is a nationally ranked private research university that offers military benefits through its Yellow Ribbon Program, a program designed to work in conjunction with the student’s G.I. benefits. Out-of-state undergraduate tuition can range from $14,700 to $15,000, and out-of-state graduate tuition will cost between $10,200 and $35,500, depending upon the degree pursued by the student.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (13)

Online Master's Degrees (34)

Online Doctorate Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Degrees (16)

14
George Washington University
Acceptance Rate: 33.08%
  • Annual Tuition: $48,700
  • Online Degrees: 87
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

George Washington University offers 87 online degrees, at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Programs are available in security, public health, and business, among many other subjects. The school also offers special consideration for veterans and servicemembers. The online programs are designed to reach students and military personnel around the world to make a seamless transition back into civilian life. Financial aid is also offered by the school for qualifying individuals who need assistance with paying the cost of tuition, which can range from $48,700 for undergraduates to between $14,700 and $24,200 for graduate programs.

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Online Associate Degrees (2)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (7)

Online Master's Degrees (40)

Online Doctorate Degrees (9)

Online Certificate Degrees (29)

15
Marist College Online
Acceptance Rate: 37.45%
  • Annual Tuition: $32,000
  • Online Degrees: 14
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Marist College Online offers 14 online degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Students may pursue a BA/BS in Liberal Studies or take advantage of the school’s 10-week accelerated online courses to complete elective and core requirements. Graduate degrees include master’s degrees in educational psychology, business, and information systems. Career advising is available, and veterans and servicemembers may qualify for military tuition benefits to help fund their education. Tuition can range from $32,000 for out-of-state undergraduates to between $5,328 and $12,000 for out-of-state graduates.

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16
Western Carolina University - Online
Acceptance Rate: 37.66%
  • Annual Tuition: $14,825
  • Online Degrees: 32
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Online students attending Western Carolina University can choose from 32 online degrees to begin or continue their education. Programs include bachelor’s degrees in emergency medical care and criminal justice, while master’s degrees are offered in areas such as nurse leadership, human resources, and project management. The school provides military benefits for U.S. service members, and financial aid is awarded depending on eligibility. Tuition will depend on the courses studied and will cost $4,300 and $14,800 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. Costs for graduate programs will range from $3,600 to $4,300 for in-state students and $11,800 to $13,200 for out-of-state students.

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17
University of La Verne - Online
Acceptance Rate: 38.95%
  • Annual Tuition: $16,850
  • Online Degrees: 9
  • Accreditation: WASC

The University of La Verne – Online is a nonprofit, regionally-accredited educational institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Nine online degrees are available. Financial aid and military training can help to offset the cost of tuition, which can cost $13,500 and up for online undergraduate programs to between $15,800 and $17,200 for online graduate degrees. Depending on his or her application, the average student receives sufficient financial aid to cover 50% or more of his or her tuition, and the school has been consistently recognized as a military-friendly school that supports veterans and service members who are on active duty.

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18
California State University-Fullerton
Acceptance Rate: 45.79%
  • Annual Tuition: $17,612
  • Online Degrees: 20
  • Accreditation: WASC

The public university system of California State University was established in 1857 and is now comprised of 23 campuses. Many of the campuses offer a wide range of online bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and certificate programs, including CSU-Fullerton. For example, the school offers a BA in Business Administration, an RN-to-BSN program, and a master's in education online. Cal State offers student assistance through financial aid, class advising, online support, and military benefits.

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19
University of Florida
Acceptance Rate: 46.55%
  • Annual Tuition: $16,580
  • Online Degrees: 102
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Florida offers a variety of online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs. Degrees include a Master of Science in Forest Resources and Conservation, a Master of Science in Sport Management, a Master Arts in Mass Communication, and a Doctor of Philosophy Classical Studies. In addition to a multitude of degree offerings, the University of Florida offers student assistance such as employment information through the Career Resource Center, financial aid information through the Office of Student Financial Affairs, computing support services, parent resources, and benefits for military students.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (15)

Online Master's Degrees (74)

Online Doctorate Degrees (10)

Online Certificate Degrees (3)

20
State University of New York
Acceptance Rate: 49.71%
  • Annual Tuition: $31,640
  • Online Degrees: 330
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Offering more than 300 online programs, the State University of New York is one of the most popular college choices for students seeking an online degree. SUNY provides $6,800 in financial aid each year as well as military benefits to qualified service members and veterans. More than 40 of the school’s 64 campuses have received a "military-friendly" recognition and offer exceptional experiences for military students. Programs of study include business administration, computer science, and educational studies, to name a few. Tuition costs can range from $6,170 to $15,800 for undergraduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree to between $4,100 and $8,500 for students pursuing an associate’s degree.

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Online Associate Degrees (162)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (50)

Online Master's Degrees (38)

Online Doctorate Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Degrees (79)

Methodology

Only colleges that are regionally accredited, non-profit, and offer fully online degrees were considered. Online degrees with on-campus requirements minimal enough to allow students to maintain current employment were considered fully online degrees. Schools with rolling admissions were omitted from our list; however, systems of colleges and universities which had both traditional and rolling admissions policies were considered. Schools must offer a combined minimum of three online bachelor's and master's degrees in order to have been considered for our rankings. The colleges were then ranked based on acceptance rate. Online degrees offered and college tuition were gathered from the official school websites and reflect the 2014-2015 school year. Accreditation, non-profit status, and acceptance rate were collected using the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Annual tuitions reflect undergraduate tuition, unless only online graduate degrees were offered by the institution; then graduate tuition was used. Tuition for specific degree levels and programs can vary.

Our tuition numbers reflect data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Recommendation rates and review counts are based on student reviews from our partner site, GradReports.