Top 30 Online Universities


The last few years have seen an exponential growth in the number of universities offering online courses and the availability of degrees and programs offered. Obtaining a degree online has become an increasingly popular option with those individuals who cannot attend traditional colleges. Today, prior job obligations and family commitments have resulted in many individuals seeking out the more flexible option of acquiring an education online. This affords them with the opportunity to set their own pace and manage their own time. In 2013, results from research conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group showed that 7.1 million of higher education students were taking at least one online course. Furthermore, the percentage of academic leaders who rated the learning outcomes of online courses as the same or superior to face-to-face instruction grew from 54% in 2003 to 74% in 2013.

Since there are many institutes offering online education, therefore it is important to know the ones that are offering quality online education. Listed below is a compilation of some of the best colleges offering online programs and courses. Their accreditation, tuition fees, and student reviews were all taken into account when considering their place in this list.

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Penn State University

Penn State World Campus is considered one of the top online colleges according to a variety of sources. It has been offering online courses for over 100 years in all 50 states and in over 62 countries worldwide. It offers over 100 degrees and certificates, covering the exact same material as traditional degrees and certificates. Furthermore, it is the PSU’s campus-based faculty that is responsible for creating the online curriculums. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Penn State No. 1 for the best online bachelor’s program in the country.

University of Florida

University of Florida Distance Learning offers a wide variety of degrees in a number of fields including bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees.  This public research institute has over 150 research centers and institutes and is recognized for providing high value and quality education.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University is a non-profit, accredited institute, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a number of fields. With lower tuition costs, its students are less likely to graduate with high debt. WGU provides a number of financial aid and scholarship options to those who qualify.  They currently have over 50,000 students enrolled from all 50 states. Time magazine wrote the following about WGU:  “Let’s not waste anyone’s time or money. You won’t find that phrase emblazoned on a T-shirt, but it’s essentially the motto of Western Governors University (WGU), a private online school that has worked hard to prove it is anything but a diploma mill.”

Liberty University Online

A Christian university, Liberty University claims to be “the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online university.”  It currently has over 90,000 students enrolled in its program from all across the nation and around the world. It offers over 230 online programs and a number of certificates. Liberty consistently ranks high on the list of universities with lowest tuition rates. Degrees are offered in areas including business, criminal justice, nursing, psychology, education, counseling, etc.

University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts was established in 1863 and has successfully moved into the sphere of online education. UMassOnline offers over 70 fully accredited undergraduate and graduate programs. It also offers over 58 certificates online. The programs are taught by the same faculty that teaches on-campus. Areas of study include nursing, public health, business and management, liberal arts, etc.

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University, located in Florida is a private Roman Catholic liberal arts university. There are approximately 40 online degree programs offered at the university and they typically have a teacher to student ratio of 15:1. It is also one of the largest providers of online degrees to the military personnel.

Walden University

Founded in 1970 and located in Minnesota, this university claims to be a “global leader in online education”.  It provides a host of degree options in areas such as psychology, public policy, nursing, criminal justice, business and management, education, etc. Degrees are offered at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. Furthermore, the school offers a relatively low tuition rate; financial aid is provided to those who qualify.

Bellevue University

Located in Nebraska, Bellevue University, since 1996, has been one of the first accredited institutions to offer online degree programs. The University strives to meet the needs of students with innovative learning models and career-oriented degree programs. There are over 70 degree programs offered in fields which are considered high growth. These include business, liberal arts, sciences, technology, etc.

Brandman University

The U.S. News & World Report has ranked several online programs of Brandman University as top programs in the nation.  The university offers an interactive and effective way for students to engage in their learning with tools such as e-classroom and Blackboard. Students are given the opportunity to interact with peers and teachers for a more thorough learning experience.

Colorado State University

The university currently offers 26 bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree programs, which are offered completely online. Degrees can be pursued in areas including healthcare, criminal justice, communication, business, etc.  CSU’s many online programs have been recognized for excellence by various reputable publications such as Forbes.

National University

National University offers over 70 degree programs online and students can choose from over 1200 online courses in a large number of areas. Areas of study include accounting, engineering, sociology, journalism, finance, health sciences, etc. In addition, online resources are available 24/7 and students have access to audio and video lectures, presentations, readings, and discussion boards. Students also have access to virtual open houses, demonstration classes, and unlimited technical support.

Texas Tech

Texas Tech University Worldwide eLearning provides online courses.  Starting in 1967, the school is one of the oldest providers of distance learning programs.  It currently offers over 40 online degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels; TTU offers various certifications as well. The school uses Blackboard online learning technologies, which incorporate elements of traditional classroom. Students have access to lectures, classroom discussion, interactions with instructors, and course materials.

Oregon State University

As of 2013, Oregon State University has seen a 24% rise in its online program applicants. A distinguished research school, the university offers courses in conservation biology, community health, wildlife management, fisheries, agricultural studies, etc. Courses can be taken through the university’s Extended Campus (ECampus) facility that offers over 40 programs including 17 bachelors and over 22 masters degrees.

Arizona State University

According to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 rankings, Arizona State at Temple had the second best online graduate program for business in the entire nation. ASU offers online courses in business, art history, English, history, justice studies, media studies, etc.

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University is emerging as one of the forerunners of quality online education. It was ranked as having one of the best undergraduate courses and third best graduate programs in the country by the U.S. News & World Report in 2014. At CMU, degrees can be pursued in nursing, education, business, administration, etc.

Capella University

This accredited university offers a host of degree options with over 142 areas of specialization. It also boasts a 95% student satisfaction rate.  If students are unsure about applying for an online program, the university offers the unique chance for prospective students to sign up for a free one-week mini course with no obligation.

Drexel University

A private research facility founded in 1891, Drexel University offers over 100 online certificates and degrees in areas such as criminal justice, nursing, engineering, business, communications, technology, etc.  In 2014, Princeton Review included the university in its list of Best 378 Colleges.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the largest fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace studies in the world. Declared the “Harvard of the Sky” in an article in Time magazine in 1979, the university offers over 70 degree programs through its online division. It offers associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in areas such as aviation, aerospace engineering, business, etc.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers over 300 distance learning courses and 68 degrees and certificates. In 2014, the U.S. News & World Report ranked North Carolina State University at Raleigh online master’s program in education as one of the top 20 best online programs in the nation. The college has a very reputable engineering program, which ranks number 9 nationally among online graduate engineering programs. In addition to providing undergraduate and graduate degrees, the university also provides teacher licensure.

Boston University

Boston University’s award winning courses and programs have been the recipients of the Sloan Consortium award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education and the U.S. Distance Learning Association award for 21st Century Best Practices.  Its unique online learning model involves separating students into smaller groups who are then overseen by a faculty member. This stimulates discussion and interactive learning. The university currently offers around 16 online degrees.

University of South Carolina

This public research university offers a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Over 40 programs are offered in the fields of business, nursing, criminal justice, engineering, etc. Class sizes are typically small at 20 students per class. The U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of South Carolina’s online graduate education programs at No. 18 in its latest rankings.

Florida Tech University Online

Florida Tech enjoys a Tier-1 status in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. It is a technical university, which offers academic programs in the areas of technology, mathematics, engineering and science. The university has a long history of educating individuals, some of which are now NASA scientists and top business leaders in the nation.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the entire nation (“in the lowest 2% nationally in terms of online tuition”). The university has a distinguished faculty and its online program is one of the largest of its kind with curriculums that are academically rigorous. It offers over 40 online undergraduate and graduate degrees, which are specifically targeted toward adult professional leaders. FHSU also offer a range of student services, including online academic advising, tutoring, and a library. Furthermore, the university also offers scholarships to eligible online students.

American Public University

American Public University is a private institute based in Charles Town, West Virginia. The school claims 94% student satisfaction rate and an average yearly undergraduate tuition of less than $8,000. APU accepts scholarships from private foundations, employer funding and reimbursements. The university’s programs are also eligible for federal student aid, with 26% of the student body availing federal aid of some kind.

Washington State University

Washington State University is ranked No. 72 on Forbes’ Top Colleges in the West list. WSU offers over 20 fully accredited online undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as 10 certificates. It’s online learning environment features 24/7 access for students so that they may structure their studies according to their schedule.  Areas of study include engineering, business, agriculture, and biosciences, to name a few.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university that offers over 100 online programs to choose from. The university offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. The online division of Grand Canyon University has over 100 online graduate and undergraduate majors in a number of areas. These include business and leadership, teaching, education, administration, psychology, health care, nursing, theology, health sciences, pre-med, liberal arts and more.  Students are taught by a virtual instructor and are placed in a virtual group of students, who discuss educational issues and participate in class projects online.

Trident University International

In the U.S. News & World Report’s latest rankings, Trident University International in listed in the “Top Universities” category. Trident University International offers a range of online learning options for students and is comprised of four affordable online colleges: The College of Business Administration, The College of Education, The College of Health Sciences, and the College of Information Systems. The school offers online bachelor degrees in six areas—Health Sciences, Computer Science, IT Management, Human Resource Management, Leadership, and Business Administration. Masters degrees are offered in eight areas while doctoral degrees are offered in Educational Leadership, Health Sciences, and Business Administration.

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland is a fully accredited university and offers a large range of online programs. It is also known as an institution, which delivers quality education to the military personnel.  The school offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in addition to undergraduate and graduate certificates in over 120 disciplines. Areas of study include: arts and humanities, behavioral and social sciences, business and management, health-related fields, computing, and education and technology, etc.

University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota offers 11 bachelor degrees and 22 master degrees. The areas of study include: business, languages, engineering, education, social sciences, and technology. Two doctoral degrees are also offered within the field of nursing. UND specializes in areas such as aerospace, engineering research, energy and environmental protection, nutrition, and health sciences.

Indiana University

Indiana University offers a number of online educational programs, including high school completion, along with bachelors, masters, and continuing education degree programs. It also offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate certificate options. The areas of study available include: education, humanities, business, health sciences, technology, public administration, library science and social work. The university also provides degree completion programs for those students who started college somewhere else. These are designed for those who already hold an associate degree, and the majors include a range of fields such as nursing, mathematics and psychology.

Online education is becoming increasingly common. As such, it is likely that it will become more common in the coming years, and more and more students and working professionals will turn to online schools to get their education.