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2015 Best Value Online Colleges

Rank College Annual Tuition Repayment Rate School Type
#1 #1 Western Governors University Tuition $5,780 Repayment Rate 93% School Type Non-Profit
#2 #2 American Public University System Tuition $7,500 Repayment Rate 87% School Type For-Profit
#3 #3 Southern New Hampshire University Online Tuition $9,600 Repayment Rate 93% School Type Non-Profit
#4 #4 Brigham Young University-Idaho Tuition $3,750 Repayment Rate 97% School Type Non-Profit
#5 #5 Fort Hays State University Online Tuition $5,782 Repayment Rate 93% School Type Non-Profit
#6 #6 Thomas Edison State College Tuition $8,647 Repayment Rate 95% School Type Non-Profit
#7 #7 South Dakota State University Tuition $9,387 Repayment Rate 96% School Type Non-Profit
#8 #8 Chadron State College Tuition $5,400 Repayment Rate 91% School Type Non-Profit
#9 #9 Colorado State University-Global Tuition $10,500 Repayment Rate 95% School Type Non-Profit
#10 #10 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration Tuition $12,000 Repayment Rate 97% School Type Non-Profit
#11 #11 Fitchburg State University Tuition $8,790 Repayment Rate 92% School Type Non-Profit
#12 #12 Broward College Tuition $6,456 Repayment Rate 88% School Type Non-Profit
#13 #13 Kennesaw State University Tuition $8,666 Repayment Rate 91% School Type Non-Profit
#14 #14 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Tuition $6,508 Repayment Rate 87% School Type Non-Profit
#15 #15 University of Central Missouri Tuition $8,759 Repayment Rate 90% School Type Non-Profit
#16 #16 Crown College Tuition $11,970 Repayment Rate 94% School Type Non-Profit
#17 #17 Columbia Southern University Tuition $5,040 Repayment Rate 94% School Type For-Profit
#18 #18 Liberty University Online Tuition $10,800 Repayment Rate 92% School Type Non-Profit
#19 #19 Columbia College - Online Tuition $7,800 Repayment Rate 87% School Type Non-Profit
#20 #20 Excelsior College Tuition $13,950 Repayment Rate 96% School Type Non-Profit
#21 #21 University of Massachusetts Tuition $11,550 Repayment Rate 92% School Type Non-Profit
#22 #22 University of North Dakota Tuition $9,676 Repayment Rate 96% School Type Non-Profit
#23 #23 University of Maryland University College Tuition $14,970 Repayment Rate 91% School Type Non-Profit
#24 #24 Weber State University Tuition $7,350 Repayment Rate 92% School Type Non-Profit
#25 #25 Utah State University Tuition $8,700 Repayment Rate 94% School Type Non-Profit

Best Value Online Colleges by Program

2015 Best Value Online College Highlights

1
  • Annual Tuition: $5,780
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Almost 80% of Western Governors University graduates would recommend this school to others, making it one of the most highly reviewed online colleges in the US. At an average annual tuition of $5,780, WGU is also one of the most affordable college degree options. WGU provides what it calls “competency-based” education, where students earn credits through assessment and not a set period of time, allowing students to quickly pass through subjects they are familiar with and take more time with newer ones. The university also offers a strong mentorship program for online students, making it a good choice for self-directed individuals looking for a flexible alternative to traditional degree programs. WGU offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees in areas such as business, nursing, information technology, and education, and was the first online-only school to receive accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for its teaching degree programs.

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2
  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • Repayment Rate: 87%
  • School Type: For-Profit

A key sign of American Public University System’s high quality is its impressive student reviews: 86% of graduates would recommend the school and 100% said their degrees improved their careers. One graduate said the school’s financial aid process was “seamless.” The American Public University System includes American Public University and American Military University, the largest education provider to members of the military. At an average annual tuition rate of $7,500, APUS is an affordable option for students seeking to earn their degree. Federal government employees and members of the military can apply tuition assistance to cover the bulk of their degree costs. Students enrolled in undergraduate programs at American Military University also benefit from a university book grant that allows the school to provide textbooks and ebooks at no additional charge. American Public University System offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Students may pursue degrees in areas such as accounting, cybersecurity, and management.

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3
  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Called “a little college that’s a giant online,” by Business Week, Southern New Hampshire University is gaining notoriety as one of the best options available for students seeking an online degree. Graduates of SNHU seem to agree, with 85% willing to recommend the school to others and 90% stating that the degree improved their career. Southern New Hampshire University offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level, at an affordable rate of $9,600 annually. Students may pursue degrees in a wide variety of fields, including accounting, creative writing, and game design and development. Students may also earn a certificate in areas such as justice studies, international sports management, and public administration. Online students at SNHU are given access to a full-service online library and virtual bookstore, and have technical support available 24/7.

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4
  • Annual Tuition: $3,750
  • Repayment Rate: 97%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Graduates of Brigham Young University cite the quality of its academics and the accessibility of its resources as some of the best features of the school. Online students at BYU benefit from free tutoring, technical support, and an extremely affordable tuition rate; at an average cost of only $3,750, it is one of the most affordable options available for those seeking an online degree. Distance learners are also given several course structures to choose from, including self-paced independent study classes and one-on-one mentoring. Students may start an online course at any time, and have up to a year to complete it. The flexible course schedule also allows students to accelerate their learning and earn a degree faster than average. Students may earn undergraduate degrees in business management, computer programming, and web design, among others. Certificates are also available in subjects such as accounting, entrepreneurship, and family history research.

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5
  • Annual Tuition: $5,782
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

The overwhelming majority of online students who received their degree from Fort Hays State University would recommend the school to others and reported very positive experiences. Fort Hays State University’s average annual tuition of $5,782 also makes it one of the most affordable options available for students seeking an online degree. Fort Hays State University offers several resources to its students, including advising, tutoring, and technical support. Fort Hays State University offers additional services for soldiers, including admissions help, drug and alcohol counseling, and financial assistance. Degrees are offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Students may pursue degrees in areas such as business, management, and nursing. Endorsement programs are available in areas such as library media specialist, building leadership, and English for speakers of other languages. FHSU also offers a Bachelor of General Studies, which allows students to customize their own degree program with the help of an advisor.

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6
  • Annual Tuition: $8,647
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Many online students recommend Thomas Edison State College in large part due to the school’s generous credit policy, which allows students to graduate sooner and save money. Transfer credits as well as corporate or military training can be used towards earning a degree at TESC, and all applicants receive a customized academic evaluation so that they may see what previously earned credit can be applied to their degree. The college also offers a “prior learning assessment,” which allows students to earn credits in subjects they are already familiar with by taking an exam or creating a portfolio. With an average annual tuition of less than $8,647, students find this an affordable and flexible option to earn a college degree. TESC offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees in areas such as human resource management, liberal studies, and information technology, among many others. Students may also develop their own major through the Learner Designed Area of Study program.

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7
  • Annual Tuition: $9,387
  • Repayment Rate: 96%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

South Dakota State University’s average annual tuition rate of $9,387 sets it apart as an exceptionally affordable option for students seeking an online degree. As part of its commitment to affordability, SDSU provides several merit-based scholarships to help students pay for their degree. Nearly 88% of South Dakota State University students receive financial assistance of some kind. Online courses are taught by the same faculty as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Students may pursue a variety of degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level, including subjects such as chemistry, mass communication, and nursing. SDSU is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, an academic alliance of 20 public universities. Students are able to choose from a wider array of graduate degree programs taught by high-level faculty through this partnership.

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8
  • Annual Tuition: $5,400
  • Repayment Rate: 91%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Chadron State College’s open admission policy, with no minimum GPA or SAT score, makes it an excellent option for students looking for a fresh start as they pursue an undergraduate degree. With an average annual tuition of $5,400, it is also one of the most affordable options. Out-of-state CSC students pay the exact same tuition as in-state students, and only one dollar more per credit hour. Based in Nebraska, the school offers excellent resources for both its on-campus and online students. Distance learners benefit from a 24/7 student help line, and an 8-week course structure. Chadron State College offers several programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Students may earn a degree in business, education, and psychology, among many other subject areas. CSC also offers endorsements which may be completed partially online for those who already hold an education degree, in areas such as early childhood education and the social sciences.

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9
  • Annual Tuition: $10,500
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Colorado State Global offers its students several ways to earn credits before even taking a class. Through competency based exams, students comfortable in a certain area simply need to pass a test, while the school’s prior learning assessment program allows students to assemble a portfolio to demonstrate their mastery of a subject. CSU Global offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate degree level, in areas such as healthcare administration, information technology, and teaching and learning. Students may also customize their degree by adding a specialization in an additional subject. The average annual cost of a degree at CSU is $10,500. Students in the military may use tuition assistance to cover the bulk of the costs of their degree. CSU Global also offers a special discount rate for active duty service members, veterans, and military spouses and dependants.

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10
  • Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Repayment Rate: 97%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Walsh’s average annual tuition rate of $12,00 makes it an affordable option for students seeking an online undergraduate degree in business. Students may complete bachelor’s degrees in finance, general business, management, and marketing. Walsh College also offers benefits to veterans, including an on-campus student veteran organization, extended payment due dates, and military-specific grants. Walsh College alumni have gone on to achieve major accomplishments in the public and private sphere, like serving as the chief of staff for the city of Detroit or becoming chief operating officers and vice presidents of major companies. Walsh is committed to fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in its students. Its unique Blackstone Launchpad program provides free mentoring to current students and alumni, helping them to grow their ideas into a business.

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11
  • Annual Tuition: $8,790
  • Repayment Rate: 92%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Online students at Fitchburg State University have access to a wealth of resources, including academic advising, 24/7 technical support, and career and counseling services. FSU also offers need-based grants and loans to lower-income students. Degrees are offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and are available in areas such as business administration, nursing, and management. Certificate programs are also available in forensic nursing, business, and behavior analysis, among others. New to 2014 is FSU’s master’s in education program in special education, in which online students may choose from concentrations such as reading specialist, guided studies, and teacher of students with moderate disabilities. At $8,790, FSU provides an affordable option for students seeking an online degree.

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12
  • Annual Tuition: $6,456
  • Repayment Rate: 88%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Broward College’s average annual tuition of $6,546 makes it one of the most affordable options for students seeking an online degree. Broward offers several resources to its students in order to make the transition to undergraduate coursework easier. The college has a free college readiness course that students may take, which serves as an introduction to college-level reading, writing, and mathematics. Technical support is available around the clock, and students may also set up online appointments for one-on-one advising sessions, which can be done in person if they live close to campus. Broward College offers accelerated options for students wishing to complete their degree sooner; several courses are fast track, and can be completed in 8 weeks instead of the traditional 16-week semester. Students may pursue associate degrees and certificates in areas such as criminal justice, business administration, and emergency management. The school also offers an online RN to BSN bachelor’s degree. In addition, Broward College offers accelerated associate degree programs in business administration and computer systems, which can be completed in fifteen months.

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13
  • Annual Tuition: $8,666
  • Repayment Rate: 91%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Kennesaw State University graduates rave about the helpfulness of the school’s faculty and advisors. Several KSU professors have received prestigious Fulbright scholarships, and all educators of distance learning programs have been Online Teaching Certified through the university. KSU offers its online students a wealth of resources, including tech support, academic tutoring, and an online writing center. Veterans and those currently serving are offered additional resources, including counseling and career services. KSU also accepts military training credits. At an average annual tuition of $8,666, Kennesaw State University provides an affordable and flexible option for students seeking an online degree. KSU offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as education, nursing, and psychology.

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14
  • Annual Tuition: $6,508
  • Repayment Rate: 87%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Graduates of Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s online degree program cite the helpfulness of the staff, in addition to the flexibility of the program, as some of the school’s best features. Degrees are offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as education, business administration, and liberal arts. Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s average annual tuition of $6,508 makes it one of the most affordable options available to students seeking an undergraduate degree. As part of its commitment to affordability, NSU does not charge its distance learning students any out-of-state fees. Northwestern State University also has a generous credit policy: students may receive credit for military experience, work training, national exams, and volunteering through the university’s prior learning assessment process.

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15
  • Annual Tuition: $8,759
  • Repayment Rate: 90%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

As part of its commitment to its students, the University of Central Missouri offers nearly $7 million in merit-based scholarships every year. Also, at $8,759, UCM is one of the most affordable options available to students seeking an online degree. The University of Central Missouri’s online program is taught by the same professors who teach on campus, ensuring that students get the most out of their online program. Degrees are available at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and include subjects such as criminal justice, library science, and teaching. Students may also enroll in certificate programs in areas such as crisis and disaster management, online teaching and learning, and geographic information systems. Online courses are paced the same as their campus counterparts, at 8- or 16- week intervals, however students are given the flexibility of choosing when to schedule their classwork.

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16
  • Annual Tuition: $11,970
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Crown College’s average annual tuition of $11,970 makes it one of the top ten most affordable Christian colleges in the midwest. As part of its commitment to affordability, Crown College also offers military scholarships to veterans and active service members.Over 98% of Crown College’s students receive financial aid in some form. Students are offered several resources to help them succeed, including an enrollment counselor, academic advisor, and online tutoring available 24/7. Crown College also offers its student faith counseling and career services, in order to meet students’ needs. Degrees are available at the undergraduate level. Student may pursue an associate degree in business, general studies, or christian ministry. Crown College also offers several bachelor’s degree programs, in areas such as criminal justice, psychology, and disaster management, among others.

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17
  • Annual Tuition: $5,040
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • School Type: For-Profit

88% of graduates from Columbia Southern University would recommend the school to others, citing the quality of the faculty, resources, and curriculum as some of the university’s best features. CSU offers free writing and math tutoring to all its students, and has a number of academic advisors on staff available to help answer any questions or concerns students might have. Columbia Southern University participates in the GoArmyEd program, and offers advising and additional resources as part of its commitment to serving military members. CSU’s average annual tuition is $5,040, making it one of the more affordable options available for students seeking an online degree. Columbia Southern University offers several degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level, in subjects such as human resource management, marketing, and healthcare administration.

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18
  • Annual Tuition: $10,800
  • Repayment Rate: 92%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

The majority of Liberty University graduates say that their degree improved their career. The university offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as aeronautics, politics and policy, and business administration. Liberty University also many certificate options, including programs in gifted education, global studies, and web development. The average annual cost of a degree at Liberty University is $10,800. LU’s generous credit policy provides students with many ways to earn credits. Life experience, job training, and standardized tests may all be eligible for transfer credits to help offset the cost of the degree. As a military friendly school, Liberty University offers several scholarships for active service members and veterans. Military students are also eligible for an additional tuition discount, and may receive credit for military training. In addition, Liberty University’s military affairs department provides many resources to help soldiers and veterans complete their education.

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19
  • Annual Tuition: $7,800
  • Repayment Rate: 87%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Every online student at Columbia College is given an academic advisor, and is offered the same career counseling opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. Columbia College Online’s very affordable average annual tuition rate of $7,800, coupled with the quality of its academic advisors, are some of the major reasons graduates cite for recommending this school to others. Columbia College Online offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees in areas such as business administration, criminal justice, and computer information systems. Columbia College has a long history of being military friendly, with an undergraduate tuition credit hour rate below the military tuition assistance cap, and several scholarships for qualified veterans. Columbia College also has campuses on 18 military installations. Students who complete their degree through Columbia College Online receive a diploma that is indistinguishable from one earned through on-campus learning, and may participate in a graduation ceremony at any one of the college’s 35 campuses across the United States.

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20
  • Annual Tuition: $13,950
  • Repayment Rate: 96%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Excelsior College provides its students with several resources to help them succeed, including a virtual library, academic advising, an online writing lab, and a free grammar check program. Degrees are available at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as global business, liberal arts, and nursing. Students wishing to enroll in a certificate program may do so in the areas of health sciences, nursing, and technology. Excelsior also offers a dual degree program, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA at the same time. The average annual cost of a degree at Excelsior College is $13,950, and the university offers several scholarships to help offset the cost of tuition. As a military friendly institution, Excelsior College provides active servicemembers and veterans with additional financial aid programs and resources.

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21
  • Annual Tuition: $11,550
  • Repayment Rate: 92%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Graduates of the University of Massachusetts overwhelmingly agree that they would recommend the school to others. The University of Massachusetts’ online classes are taught by the same faculty and staff as those on campus. UMass also offers blended degree programs, which are earned through a combination of both online and campus classes. Degrees are offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as counseling, victim studies, and global health. Students may earn a degree through blended learning in areas such as health policy, engineering management, and general studies, among others. Umass provides its students with several resources to help them succeed, including 24/7 tech support, academic advising, and library services. At an average annual tuition of $11,550, the University of Massachusetts offers an affordable option for students seeking an online degree from a well-known institution.

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22
  • Annual Tuition: $9,676
  • Repayment Rate: 96%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

The University of North Dakota’s average annual tuition of $9,676 makes it an affordable option for students seeking an online degree. UND offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as aviation, business administration, and chemical engineering. Students may also earn a certificate in several subjects, including autoCAD, autistic spectrum disorders, and business management. Current teachers and school administrators may be interested in the University of North Dakota’s unique professional development for educators program. The program combines face-to-face workshops and seminars in order to help educators stay current in their field. UND has an exceptional student loan repayment rate of 97%, which means that almost every student who takes out loans for the college is able to pay them back on time, which shows strong employment potential for graduates.

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23
  • Annual Tuition: $14,970
  • Repayment Rate: 91%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

As part of the University of Maryland System, the University of Maryland University College offers online degrees with a reputable, regionally accredited name behind it. 75% of UMUC graduates say that their degrees have improved their career. UMUC offers over 95 different degree programs online, at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Students may pursue a degree in areas such as management, education, and biotechnology. UMUC has an average annual tuition rate of $14,970, making it an affordable option for obtaining a degree. The University of Maryland University College also offers a special tuition rate for service members, so that Military Tuition Assistance can cover up to 100% of undergraduate tuition. UMUC is committed to the success of its students, and offers several resources including academic advisors, career services, and one-on-one writing help.

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24
  • Annual Tuition: $7,350
  • Repayment Rate: 92%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

As part of its commitment to affordability, Weber State University offers over $90 million in financial aid to its students, including both need and merit-based scholarships. At $7,350, WSU is one of the more affordable options available for students seeking an online degree. The online degree program at Weber State University is flexible, allowing students to choose between courses that are either semester-based, which mirror the pace of an on-campus class, or self-paced, which allow students to set their own deadlines. Degree programs are available at the undergraduate level. Students may pursue a bachelor’s or associate degree in areas such as healthcare management, radiologic sciences, and nutrition. Students may also enroll in online certificate programs at WSU in subjects such as healthcare coding and information. Weber State University offers technical support and advising, in order to ensure online students are able to seamlessly complete their degree program.

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25
  • Annual Tuition: $8,700
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • School Type: Non-Profit

Utah State University provides a unique quick admissions policy which allows students to register for up to 12 credits without formally being admitted to the university. Degrees are offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level, in areas such as psychology, instructional technology, and family life studies. USU students may also design their own course of study and earn a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Utah State University’s average annual tuition of $8,700 makes it an affordable option for students seeking an online degree. USU provides extensive resources for active service members and veterans, including free tutoring and financial aid opportunities. The school’s Veterans Resource Office also provides students with additional support when they are called up for duty, and when they return.

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Methodology

We take data integrity seriously. Here are the data points we used to determine our 2015 Best Value Online College Rankings.

Tuition

All tuition numbers are the most up-to-date numbers published by schools on their official website, which represent 2014-2015 annual tuition costs. For our general rankings, tuition numbers represent annual, online bachelor's level tuition. In the case of varying tuitions across programs, we took the average of the range.

For our program rankings, we used the annual, online bachelor's tuition for that specific program, except in the case of counseling, public health, and social work, where we used the annual, online master's level tuition.

Lower annual tuitions were weighed more favorably.

Non-Profit Status

Non- and for-Profit status were determined based on 2014 data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Schools with non-Profit status were weighed more favorably.

Student Loan Repayment Rate

Student loan repayment rates represent the most up-to-date data (2011) from the Federal Student Aid Office. The numbers represent the 3-year official default rates of each school, which is defined as the percentage of borrowers who do not default before the end of the second fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the borrowers entered repayment.

Accreditation

Each school's accreditation was determined based on the 2014 data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. As regional accreditation is generally considered the most prestigious form of institutional accreditation, this status was weighed favorably.

Student Services

We determined whether or not each school offers academic and career advising to its online students based on information provided on the official school's website.

Student Review Rates

We collect student reviews on our partner site, GradReports.com. We considered two rates for each school: the percent of graduates who would recommend the school to others and the percent of graduates who believe that earning their degree at that school improved their career.

We only considered these percentages for schools that had at least 10 reviews from online students (students specify whether they completed their classes online, on campus, or in a hybrid format).

Program Selection

We chose our first 12 subjects (accounting, business, computer science, counseling, education, healthcare, human resources, human services, nursing, psychology, public health, and social work) based on the popularity of these programs among online students. We determined this list through research and experience serving this audience.

College and Program Highlights

All of the information used in our descriptions of colleges and programs is based on the above information or based on the school's official website.

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.