2019 Most Affordable Overall Online Colleges & Degrees Methodology

To be considered for our 2019 Most Affordable Online Colleges, schools needed to meet the following requirements:

  • Overall list: offer at least five fully online degrees at the bachelor's level and at least five fully online degrees at the master's level
  • Bachelor's list: offer at least 10 fully online degrees at the bachelor's level
  • Master's list: offer at least 10 fully online degrees at the master's level
  • Doctoral list: offer at least three fully online degrees at the doctoral level

Tuitions were manually researched and reflect the lowest tuition rate available at the specified degree level. Out-of-state tuitions were used unless in-state tuition is offered to all online students. Tuition was calculated assuming full-time status. Unless otherwise stated, bachelor’s programs were assumed to require four years to complete and associate and master’s programs were assumed to require two years to complete.

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 required was limited to less than two weeks. 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 2018-2019 school year. Each degree specialization or concentration is counted as a distinct program. These data were collected in August of 2018.

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.