Most Affordable Online Colleges & Degrees Methodology

Most Affordable Online Colleges by Subject

For our Most Affordable Online Colleges by Subject rankings, we determined a base level degree requirement for each subject. This degree level requirement reflects, per subject, which degree is most important for employment within a given subject. Unless listed below or listed explicitly in title of the list, the base level degree requirement is bachelor's.

  • Healthcare: Associate
  • Information Technology: Associate
  • Medical Assistant: Associate
  • Medical Billing & Coding: Associate
  • Paralegal: Associate
  • Physics: Associate
  • Radiology: Associate
  • Social Sciences: Associate
  • Veterinary Technician: Associate

To be considered for these subject rankings, schools needed to offer at least one fully online degree in a given subject for the degree level that was required, or higher. For example, if a ranking required at least an online bachelor's degree, a school with only an online master's degree would still be considered.

Tuitions were manually researched and reflect the degree level requirement tuition if offered, or the next level tuition cost. Out-of-state tuitions were used unless in-state tuition is offered to all online students.

Additionally, if a master’s level ranking list exists for the subject, schools offering only master’s level degrees are excluded from the undergraduate level rankings.

Fully Online Status

Schools with programs that require some on-campus coursework were still considered for our rankings if the amount of in-person work was limited to two weeks or less of in-person requirements. This allows students to retain their current employment or other personal responsibilities.

Data Sources

Program data including available degrees, tuition rates, and details about program coursework were collected from official school websites, reflecting data for the 2016-2017 school year. This data was collected in September of 2016. Acceptance rates, programmatic accreditation, and profit status of schools were collected from official websites of the accreditation agencies or from the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES is the primary governmental entity for gathering and presenting data related to education. The NCES data is updated annually as soon as it becomes available. The NCES does not release data into downloadable formats until it has been approved, so the most currently available data will not be for the most recent academic year.

Recommendation rate refers to the percent of students who said they would recommend this school based on reviews submitted to our partner site, GradReports.com.
This indicates that a school has an annual tuition of $15,000 or less as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics or based on the school's website.