Our 2015 Top Online Colleges were determined based on their selectivity, the range of degree levels they offer, and the quality of their institutional accreditation. These 20 institutions offer online bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs in many subjects to help students obtain a high-quality, flexible education.
Many of these colleges offer an abundance of degree opportunities. Northeastern University Online, for example, has 65 degrees, ranging from a Master of Education program to certificates in Data Science and Health Management. Additionally, military benefits, financial assistance, and job placement help are offered by several of these institutions.
|Rank||College||Annual Tuition||Acceptance Rate||Online Degrees|
|#1 Stanford University||Annual Tuition $19,800||Acceptance Rate 5.69%||Online Degrees 55|
|#2 Columbia University in the City of New York||Annual Tuition $24,323||Acceptance Rate 7.42%||Online Degrees 68|
|#3 Duke University||Annual Tuition $49,486||Acceptance Rate 13.42%||Online Degrees 23|
|#4 Northwestern University||Annual Tuition $46,836||Acceptance Rate 15.32%||Online Degrees 27|
|#5 Georgetown University||Annual Tuition $28,850||Acceptance Rate 16.97%||Online Degrees 20|
|#6 Johns Hopkins University||Annual Tuition $46,200||Acceptance Rate 18.13%||Online Degrees 104|
|#7 University of Southern California||Annual Tuition $23,781||Acceptance Rate 19.84%||Online Degrees 93|
|#8 University of California - Los Angeles||Annual Tuition $14,146||Acceptance Rate 21.99%||Online Degrees 80|
|#9 Carnegie Mellon University||Annual Tuition $49,610||Acceptance Rate 25.49%||Online Degrees 10|
|#10 New York University||Annual Tuition $24,136||Acceptance Rate 26.05%||Online Degrees 14|
|#11 Tulane University||Annual Tuition $20,475||Acceptance Rate 26.43%||Online Degrees 6|
|#12 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Annual Tuition $16,261||Acceptance Rate 27.59%||Online Degrees 24|
|#13 University of Virginia - Main Campus||Annual Tuition $13,360||Acceptance Rate 29.99%||Online Degrees 22|
|#14 Northeastern University||Annual Tuition $15,037||Acceptance Rate 32.31%||Online Degrees 88|
|#15 George Washington University||Annual Tuition $48,700||Acceptance Rate 33.08%||Online Degrees 112|
|#16 Marist College||Annual Tuition $32,000||Acceptance Rate 37.45%||Online Degrees 29|
|#17 Western Carolina University||Annual Tuition $14,825||Acceptance Rate 37.66%||Online Degrees 41|
|#18 University of La Verne||Annual Tuition $16,850||Acceptance Rate 38.95%||Online Degrees 10|
|#19 University of Florida||Annual Tuition $16,580||Acceptance Rate 46.55%||Online Degrees 114|
|#20 SUNY College at Oswego||Annual Tuition $16,320||Acceptance Rate 48.63%||Online Degrees 7|
With approximately 50 online degrees, Stanford University Online is one of the most popular educational institutions for distance learning. Students can choose from 20 master’s degrees and 31 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.
Columbia University offers over 40 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.
Duke University offers career advising and military benefits to its students. Just under 20 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 $49,486, and qualified students may be able to receive military benefits.
Northwestern University offers over 20 online degrees at the master's and certificate levels. 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.
Georgetown University is a well-known college that offers 7 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.
Nearly 4,000 students enroll in Johns Hopkins University’s over 100 online degree programs each year. Degree options include 10 graduate certificates in courses such as geographic information systems, biotechnology enterprise, and nonprofit management. Master’s degrees are also available, including over 60 options for online engineering programs. 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.
The University of Southern California provides over 100 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 over 90 master’s degrees are offered, in areas such as computer science, social work, and gerontology. 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.
The University of California Los Angeles offers 12 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 $14,146, 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.
Carnegie Mellon University offers online degrees in engineering, computer science, business, medical management, and information technology, including 25 total degree options. Students pursuing a Master in Business Administration can choose between 12 different concentrations, including Accounting, Economics, Information Systems, Operations Research, Organizational Behavior, and more. Both the Master of Software Engineering and the Master of Science in Information Technology are 16-month programs, and require students to have one or two years of experience in the respective fields. It is important to note that there are some geographical restrictions to Carnegie Mellon’s distance learning degrees. Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, or Minnesota are not eligible for the online degree programs.
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.
At Tulane University, students can choose from two certificate 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.
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 $16,261, depending on the courses studied, and the lower net cost for students is less than 75% of all online institutions.
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.
With over 80 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.
George Washington University offers 90 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.
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.
Online students attending Western Carolina University can choose from 34 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.
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.
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.
Offering close to 400 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 $17,232 for undergraduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
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.