According to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education, "the thoughtful integration of digital technologies into the traditional scheme of education and their use in developing new ways of learning is necessary to ensure students have the tools to thrive in a complex and rapidly changing technological society." In short, the importance of online education continues to impact the way we learn, work, and grow our careers. However, because learning in this format is still relatively new, it has been difficult for students to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of online education options.
Our goal is to hold online schools accountable to the same high standards we expect of traditional institutions. This comprehensive ranking system was created in order to help prospective students make informed decisions about how to invest in their education. Our analysis takes many factors into account, including accreditation status, tuition cost, retention and loan default rates as well as student reviews of the colleges themselves.
The table presented below shows the overall rank of every school that made the cut. By clicking on the college's name, you will be taken directly to the school's information page to learn more about the institution. To understand more about the data and how we arrived at the score you see in the right hand column, check out the methodology section included below.
|Rank||College||School Type||Retention Rate||Annual Tuition|
|#1 Western Governors University||School Type Non-Profit||Retention Rate 75%||Annual Tuition $6,070|
|#2 Iowa Central College||School Type Non-Profit||Retention Rate 51%||Annual Tuition $6,585|
|#3 Abilene Christian University||School Type Non-Profit||Retention Rate 79%||Annual Tuition $28,350|
|#4 Northcentral University||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate ---||Annual Tuition $14,053|
|#5 University of the Rockies Online||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate ---||Annual Tuition Not Provided|
|#6 Northeastern University||School Type Non-Profit||Retention Rate 96%||Annual Tuition $41,686|
|#7 Liberty University Online||School Type Non-Profit||Retention Rate 69%||Annual Tuition $20,768|
|#8 Western International University||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate 18%||Annual Tuition $6,000|
|#9 Saint Leo University Online||School Type Non-Profit||Retention Rate 69%||Annual Tuition $19,920|
|#10 University of Phoenix||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate 39%||Annual Tuition $10,063 - $12,400|
|#11 Grand Canyon University||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate 59%||Annual Tuition $17,000|
|#12 Ashford University||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate 36%||Annual Tuition Not Provided|
|#13 Capella University||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate ---||Annual Tuition $12,348|
|#14 Walden University||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate ---||Annual Tuition $11,460|
|#15 Colorado Technical University - Online||School Type For-Profit||Retention Rate 43%||Annual Tuition $10,531|
The overall purpose of these rankings is to create a standardized and trustworthy method to rank online institutions based on reliable statistics. These ratings will allow potential students to better judge the schools they are considering and make a more educated decision in the end. The statistics used in the online school rankings were gathered from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This site is the primary governmental entity for gathering and presenting data related to education.
The following criteria were used to rank the schools: