2017 Top Online Colleges & Degrees

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These 25 schools represent SR Education Group’s 2017 Top Online Colleges for students seeking a competitive, prestigious, and academically-challenging college experience. The average acceptance rate of these schools is 32% and all schools have academic strength scores of 79% or higher. The top school, Stanford University, accepts only 5% of applicants and offers 15 online master’s programs. The average SAT score of Stanford’s student body is in the 99th percentile, and 19 of its faculty members are Nobel laureates.

You can read more about our ranked schools below where we feature data points that highlight impressive academic achievement, top-tier research opportunities, and distinguished alumni. View our methodology or learn more about SR Education Group.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank College Annual Tuition Acceptance Rate Academic Strength
#1 #1 Stanford University Annual Tuition $32,200 Acceptance Rate 5% Academic Strength 92%
#2 #2 Columbia University in the City of New York Annual Tuition $27,870 Acceptance Rate 7% Academic Strength 92%
#3 #3 Northwestern University Annual Tuition $19,806 Acceptance Rate 13% Academic Strength 92%
#4 #4 Duke University Annual Tuition $39,000 Acceptance Rate 11% Academic Strength 91%
#5 #5 Johns Hopkins University Annual Tuition $22,037 Acceptance Rate 14% Academic Strength 88%
#6 #6 Georgetown University Annual Tuition $21,471 Acceptance Rate 17% Academic Strength 88%
#7 #7 University of Southern California Annual Tuition $27,118 Acceptance Rate 18% Academic Strength 86%
#8 #8 Northeastern University Annual Tuition $15,120 Acceptance Rate 28% Academic Strength 86%
#9 #9 New York University Annual Tuition $27,436 Acceptance Rate 32% Academic Strength 85%
#10 #10 Case Western Reserve University Annual Tuition $26,610 Acceptance Rate 36% Academic Strength 85%
#11 #11 Brandeis University Annual Tuition $48,720 Acceptance Rate 34% Academic Strength 84%
#12 #12 University of California - Los Angeles Annual Tuition $15,400 Acceptance Rate 17% Academic Strength 81%
#13 #13 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Annual Tuition $14,079 Acceptance Rate 31% Academic Strength 81%
#14 #14 George Washington University Annual Tuition $17,400 Acceptance Rate 46% Academic Strength 81%
#15 #15 Georgia Institute of Technology Annual Tuition $16,300 Acceptance Rate 32% Academic Strength 84%
#16 #16 University of Miami Annual Tuition $24,750 Acceptance Rate 38% Academic Strength 82%
#17 #17 University of Maryland - College Park Annual Tuition $16,470 Acceptance Rate 45% Academic Strength 82%
#18 #18 Villanova University Annual Tuition $50,554 Acceptance Rate 48% Academic Strength 81%
#19 #19 Boston University Annual Tuition $12,288 Acceptance Rate 33% Academic Strength 80%
#20 #20 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign Annual Tuition $28,156 Acceptance Rate 66% Academic Strength 83%
#21 #21 Southern Methodist University Annual Tuition $20,250 Acceptance Rate 49% Academic Strength 81%
#22 #22 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Annual Tuition $13,096 Acceptance Rate 45% Academic Strength 80%
#23 #23 American University Annual Tuition $23,685 Acceptance Rate 35% Academic Strength 79%
#24 #24 University of Florida Annual Tuition $15,000 Acceptance Rate 48% Academic Strength 79%
#25 #25 Fordham University Annual Tuition $15,192 Acceptance Rate 48% Academic Strength 79%
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  • School Highlight: 19 Nobel laureate faculty members
  • Annual Tuition: $32,200
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Academic Strength: 92%
  • Through the Stanford Center for Professional Development, distance learners can complete online graduate courses, earn a graduate or professional certificate, or pursue a master's degree. Students interested in the master's degree program must be admitted as fully matriculated students, which gives them accessibility to the Stanford campus library, and allows them to sit in on classes, if desired. Degree topics include statistics, mechanical engineering, and biomedical informatics, among others. Individuals taking graduate courses for professional development can choose from programs such as advanced computer security, strategic decision and risk management, and leadership for sustainability. Another option for professionals and employers is to collaborate with the university to create a unique program to meet a specific business learning objective. The program can be tailored to fit a budget and timeframe to address challenges a company may be facing or to provide breadth and depth of knowledge for employees. 

Online Master's Degrees (15)

Online Certificate Programs (31)

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  • School Highlight: Alumni include 34 presidents and prime ministers
  • Annual Tuition: $27,870
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Academic Strength: 92%
  • Columbia Online offers graduate and professional development programs for its students and alumni in engineering, business, and social work. The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences boasts world-renowned professors who are respected in their field and bring their working knowledge to the online classroom learning environment. With the personalized attention that comes with a small class size and the extensive resources of a major research institution, students receive the same curriculum and are held to the same standards as traditional students. Professionals seeking to acquire specialty technical skills and the opportunity to network with other leading professionals can enroll in a variety of business education courses, including Mastering Your Self, Managing Corporate Entrepreneurship, and Driving Strategic Impact.

Online Master's Degrees (38)

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Online Certificate Programs (28)

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  • School Highlight: Has one of the highest National Merit Scholar enrollment rates
  • Annual Tuition: $19,806
  • Acceptance Rate: 13%
  • Academic Strength: 92%
  • The Northwestern University School of Professional studies affords students the opportunity to engage in the same prestigious curricula taught by well-known professors from the convenience of an online interface. Online certificates include unique programs such as museum studies and pre-speech pathology. Online master's degrees include sports administration, predictive analytics, and information systems, among others. Online support is available to students 24/7, and the online learning environment supports discussion between students, peers, and professors.  

Online Master's Degrees (29)

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Online Certificate Programs (13)

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  • School Highlight: 84% of graduates pursue advanced degrees
  • Annual Tuition: $39,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%
  • Academic Strength: 91%
  • Duke University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing and Health Care Leadership and a Master of Science in Nursing Education degree to its graduate students. Their nursing program has been delivering online coursework for over 20 years, and prides itself on using innovative, top-quality education approaches for nursing students. In addition, graduate students can complete a Master of Environmental Management degree online to gain an in-depth understanding of the multidisciplinary environmental issues including engineering, policies, and business. Faculty members support students throughout the program by bringing academic research and practical expertise to the online classroom, creating an environment where professionals can network and learn.

Online Master's Degrees (14)

Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Programs (6)

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  • School Highlight: Received the most federal research funding out of all U.S. academic institutions for the last 37 years
  • Annual Tuition: $22,037
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%
  • Academic Strength: 88%
  • A world-renowned teaching and research institution, Johns Hopkins offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certifications. Among other accomplishments, 36 researchers from this university have earned Nobel Prizes. Highly-accomplished professors lead the online courses, facilitating discussions amongst students and supporting students throughout their academic career. Areas of study include education, arts and sciences, business, medicine, public health, nursing, and engineering. Johns Hopkins also offers online continuing medical education courses for working professionals. 

Online Bachelor's Degrees (2)

Online Master's Degrees (73)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (8)

Online Certificate Programs (71)

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  • School Highlight: 95% of students complete an internship before graduation
  • Annual Tuition: $21,471
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Academic Strength: 88%
  • Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies combines theoretical and applied learning with their world-renowned academic standards to bring quality curriculum to online courses. Students can enroll in part-time or full-time course loads depending on what their schedule allows. Some unique offerings include a master's in sports industry management, a master’s in nurse-midwifery, and a master's in technology management. Georgetown Law now offers an Executive LL.M. degree in taxation and a Masters of Studies in Law with a concentration in taxation. Both options are fully online to provide working professionals with increased flexibility in their academic career. 

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (17)

Online Certificate Programs (6)

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  • School Highlight: Received $697 million in research funding in one year
  • Annual Tuition: $27,118
  • Acceptance Rate: 18%
  • Academic Strength: 86%
  • The University of Southern California offers a breadth of master's degrees and graduate certificates online in areas including geographic information science, gerontology, and library science. Online students are held to the same rigorous admissions and academic standards as traditional students, and receive identical curriculum and classroom support. Online learning is facilitated through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous methods to offer students unique interaction opportunities. Military students and veterans may receive course credit for prior learning in the service, as USC has been a proponent of supporting service members since World War I. Programs offered for military students include a MSW in Military Social Work, and a MS in Cyber Security Engineering.

Online Master's Degrees (72)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (20)

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  • School Highlight: 92% of students are employed or enrolled in a graduate program within nine months of graduation
  • Annual Tuition: $15,120
  • Acceptance Rate: 28%
  • Academic Strength: 86%
  • Northeastern University offers over 60 online undergraduate and graduate programs and degrees, including doctoral degrees in education, and transitional physical therapy. Each program fosters critical thinking and practical application of learned knowledge. Students are encouraged to customize their program to best fit their personal and professional goals. Accelerated bachelor's degrees are available in health management, leadership, management, and organizational communication, which can be completed in 18 months with a prior associate degree. Students interested in online courses at Northwestern can take a demo course to understand how the course is run and how they can craft their schedule. 

Online Bachelor's Degrees (23)

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Online Master's Degrees (134)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (5)

Online Certificate Programs (45)

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  • School Highlight: Faculty members have received 11 MacArthur Fellowships
  • Annual Tuition: $27,436
  • Acceptance Rate: 32%
  • Academic Strength: 85%
  • What started out as a small university with 158 students in 1831, has grown into a leading non-profit research university, offering hundreds of courses online for distance learners. Among the undergraduate and graduate degrees offered fully online is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, a Master of Science in Bioinformatics, and a Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders. Programs include live classes where students can view lectures and interface with peers, online course work and discussion boards. Programs also include clinical field externships which students can find in their local area. Courses are delivered by distinguished faculty, and curriculum is held to the same academic standards as traditional coursework on campus. 

Online Associate Degrees (1)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (4)

Online Master's Degrees (39)

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Online Certificate Programs (12)

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  • School Highlight: 71% of incoming students were in the top 10% of their class
  • Annual Tuition: $26,610
  • Acceptance Rate: 36%
  • Academic Strength: 85%
  • Established in 1826, Case Western Reserve University hosts students from 91 different countries. Internationally renowned for its research in numerous disciplines, it also places strong emphasis on athletics and the arts. In addition to offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in diverse disciplines such as management, law, and dentistry, Case Western also offers online master’s degrees in engineering, as well as online master’s of science degrees in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and systems and control engineering. It also offers an online master’s of science in social administration in one of three concentrations: community practice for social change, direct practice (children youth and families), and direct practice (adult mental health). Hands-on experience can be integrated into the coursework for this major, if desired. Online degrees can be obtained in as few as 2 years, with scholarship opportunities for qualified students.

  • School Highlight: 95% of faculty members hold the highest degree in their field
  • Annual Tuition: $48,720
  • Acceptance Rate: 34%
  • Academic Strength: 84%
  • Brandeis University is a nonsectarian, medium-sized, private research university that offers a variety of majors in four areas: creative arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Many of these majors are interdisciplinary, and almost half of all undergraduates pursue double majors. The Rabb School of Continuing Studies offers online undergraduate degrees in a wide range of courses including, but not limited to chemistry, calculus and public speaking. Part-time master’s degrees are available online in subjects ranging from bioinformatics, information security leadership, and strategic analytics.

  • School Highlight: 140 companies founded and 3,000 inventions created using technology developed at the university
  • Annual Tuition: $15,400
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Academic Strength: 81%
  • With almost 45,000 students, the ever-popular UCLA is a powerhouse in the University of California school system. While particularly well known for its healthcare, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs, it is also strong in its online course offerings. Its online summer session offers classes in subjects ranging from atmospheric and ocean science, to engineering, film, and television. The university also offers an online Master of Science in Engineering, with over a dozen programs to choose from, as well as an online certificate program in screenwriting and television writing.

Online Master's Degrees (16)

Online Certificate Programs (41)

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  • School Highlight: 49 Rhodes scholars since 1904
  • Annual Tuition: $14,079
  • Acceptance Rate: 31%
  • Academic Strength: 81%
  • Chartered in 1789, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the nation’s first public university. Three centuries later, the university now offers 78 Bachelor's, 112 Master’s, 68 Doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. It offers Spring, Fall and Summer distance courses via Carolina Courses Online. Classes cover liberal arts subjects such as history, music, philosophy, geography, and religion. In addition, some online classes are self-paced. Distance students are given nine months to complete self-paced classes, and may start them at any time.

Online Master's Degrees (21)

Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (8)

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  • School Highlight: 9 alumni currently serve in the 115th U.S. Congress
  • Annual Tuition: $17,400
  • Acceptance Rate: 46%
  • Academic Strength: 81%
  • With over 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students hailing from all 50 states and well over 100 countries, the George Washington University (GW) is renowned for offering over 12,000 internships annually - including internships at the White House, Bloomingdale's and the World Bank. GW's many schools and colleges offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in subjects ranging from business, to international affairs, to nursing. GW also has over 100 online programs. Featured online programs include business administration, paralegal studies, public health, and engineering management.

Online Associate Degrees (2)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (9)

Online Master's Degrees (65)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (12)

Online Certificate Programs (51)

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  • School Highlight: 70% of students accept jobs or are accepted to graduate school before graduating
  • Annual Tuition: $16,300
  • Acceptance Rate: 32%
  • Academic Strength: 84%
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech as it's commonly known, is a leading science and technology research university. It offers online summer classes for undergraduate students, as well as master's of science degrees in eight different subjects, including aerospace engineering, medical physics, and operations research. It also offers online professional master's degrees in applied systems engineering, manufacturing leadership and occupational safety and health. Its online courses allow students to learn on their own time and on their own schedule, while still getting a degree from an outstanding university.

  • School Highlight: More than 640 students participate in the Honors Program
  • Annual Tuition: $24,750
  • Acceptance Rate: 38%
  • Academic Strength: 82%
  • Boasting 11 different schools and colleges, the University of Miami offers more than 180 programs and majors. This private research university is renowned for its outstanding graduate programs and its Miller School of Medicine. It offers many online courses, including free classes and online training. Through its U Online portal, it offers seven online master's degrees, including MBAs with several different focus points, MPAs and a Master's of Education in Sports Administration. Financial aid is available for online degrees, with numerous scholarships being offered to qualified students.

  • School Highlight: Faculty includes 3 Nobel laureates, 2 Pulitzer Prizer winners, 3 Emmy winners, and 2 Tony winners
  • Annual Tuition: $16,470
  • Acceptance Rate: 45%
  • Academic Strength: 82%
  • Founded in 1856, the University of Maryland is a public research institution of national renown. Boasting 38,000 students and 9,000 faculty, it is located just outside Washington, D.C. It offers extensive online classes via its Office of Extended Studies. A wide variety of undergraduate degrees are offered online, with its summer and winter sessions offering both synchronous and asynchronous online classes. Online graduate degrees include a Master's in Chemical and Life Sciences and a Master's in Technology Entrepreneurship.

Online Master's Degrees (21)

Online Certificate Programs (18)

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  • School Highlight: $59,000 average starting salary among employed graduates
  • Annual Tuition: $50,554
  • Acceptance Rate: 48%
  • Academic Strength: 81%
  • Founded in 1842, Villanova University is a Roman Catholic institution that offers a comprehensive liberal arts education. Over 10,000 students attend the university's six colleges. An extensive array of online undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as professional certificates, are available. Undergraduates can obtain a bachelor’s degree in leadership studies, public service and administration, or general studies. Graduate students can choose from a wide selection of offerings, including a Master's in Engineering, an MBA, or a Master's of Laws in Taxation.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (5)

Online Master's Degrees (16)

Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (96)

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  • School Highlight: Received $345 million in grant and contract awards in one year
  • Annual Tuition: $12,288
  • Acceptance Rate: 33%
  • Academic Strength: 80%
  • Founded over 150 years ago, Boston University is a private research institute with nearly 10,000 faculty and staff offering over 250 fields of study to 33,000 students on two campuses. Since 2002 it has offered undergraduate and graduate online degree and certificate programs. Boston University takes online learning to a new level by connecting instructional designers with faculty to create and design purpose-built, online instructional materials. Online degrees include master's and doctoral degrees in a wide number of fields including criminal justice, business analytics, computer information systems, social work, and occupational therapy. Certificates can be obtained in subjects ranging from clinical investigation to supply chain management.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (38)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (31)

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  • School Highlight: Home of one of the largest public university libraries in the world
  • Annual Tuition: $28,156
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Academic Strength: 83%
  • Founded in 1867, University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign is now celebrating its 150th year. Boasting 15 colleges and 44,000 students, it is particularly proud of its role as a world-class research institution. Its Illinois Online web portal offers a multitude of online degrees, including Doctoral programs, undergraduate and graduate degrees, and certificates. Undergraduates can obtain an online BS in Sustainability and the Environment, while graduates can earn online degrees in subjects such as business administration, computer science, food science and human nutrition, and mechanical engineering. Online doctoral programs range from diversity and equity in education, to learning design and leadership. Financial aid is available to qualified students.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (40)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Programs (54)

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  • School Highlight: Alumni include U.S. ambassadors, members of Congress, a first lady, a state governor, and state Supreme Court justices
  • Annual Tuition: $20,250
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Academic Strength: 81%
  • Southern Methodist University is a nonsectarian research institution with a strong and longstanding liberal arts tradition. It proudly offers a wide range of hands-on research opportunities to its diverse student body. Its Continuing and Professional Education programs offer online courses and certificate programs. Online courses include language intensives in French, German and Spanish, project management classes, certificate programs in a number of different subjects, and test preparation classes.

Online Master's Degrees (17)

Online Certificate Programs (9)

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  • School Highlight: #6 among public universities in the number of Fulbright recipients
  • Annual Tuition: $13,096
  • Acceptance Rate: 45%
  • Academic Strength: 80%
  • Boasting over 16,000 students and 17,000 faculty and staff, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities is dedicated to providing outstanding education, and to preparing its graduates for the real-life work world. Through University of Minnesota Online, it offers world-class online academic programs to students who want the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Online undergraduate degrees can be obtained in subjects such as manufacturing operations management, international business and medical laboratory sciences. Graduate degrees range from an Executive Master of Healthcare Administration and a Master of Tribal Administration and Governance, to doctorates in adult health and health innovation and leadership.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (2)

Online Master's Degrees (11)

Online Doctoral Degrees (14)

Online Certificate Programs (10)

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  • School Highlight: 94% of faculty members hold the highest degree in their field
  • Annual Tuition: $23,685
  • Acceptance Rate: 35%
  • Academic Strength: 79%
  • Chartered by Congress in 1893, American University is a private liberal arts college with a long history of academic success. It offers an expanding number of online degrees which maintain the same high standards as its traditional programs while allowing students to pursue their education at their own pace. While American University currently offers four online graduate certificates, its online graduate degree offerings are more robust. It offers online Master of Arts degrees in subjects including economics, international relations, teaching, and strategic communication. Online Master of Science degrees are available in subjects such as analytics, nutrition education and measurement and evaluation.

Online Master's Degrees (40)

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Online Certificate Programs (6)

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  • School Highlight: 190 startups launched using researchers' technologies
  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 48%
  • Academic Strength: 79%
  • With over 52,000 students, the University of Florida is a nationally recognized research institution. A leader in online education, UF Online offers over 100 doctoral, specialist, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It offers fully online, four-year undergraduate majors in 19 subjects. Its diverse offering of online master's degrees includes fire and emergency sciences, gerontology, pharmaceutical sciences with numerous specializations, and veterinary forensic sciences. Online doctorates are available in nine subjects including audiology, nursing practice and pharmacy.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (21)

Online Master's Degrees (94)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (9)

Online Certificate Programs (85)

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  • School Highlight: 119 Fulbright Scholarships since 2003
  • Annual Tuition: $15,192
  • Acceptance Rate: 48%
  • Academic Strength: 79%
  • Fordham University is a tight-knit, Catholic community that boasts 15,286 students in 10 different schools. With strong Jesuit ideals, it seeks to challenge, awaken and transform each and every student. To that end, it offers a wide variety of online courses, including six fully online degrees. These online degrees include a Master of Social Work, four different Master of Arts with religious focuses, and an advanced certificate in faith formation. While some online classes are synchronous, its online undergraduate summer session courses are asynchronous.

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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.