For our 2017 Top Online Colleges, only schools that are regionally accredited, non-profit, and offer a combination of at least 10 online bachelor's, master's, or doctoral programs were considered. Once meeting these criteria, schools were then ordered based on a proprietary formula involving acceptance rates and entrance exam scores. These ranking factors measure the strength of a student body, as well as the competitiveness of a school.
Available degrees, program data, and tuition rates were collected from the official school websites and reflect the 2016-2017 school year. All annual tuition costs are based on the rate for an online undergraduate degree when available, and in all other cases, the annual graduate rate was used. Acceptance rates and entrance exam scores were collected from the National Center for Education Statistics and reflect the 2015-2016 school year. Accreditation and non-profit status were collected using the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics or from the official websites of the accreditation agencies.