To go to college or not…that is the question! With more and more people shedding their high school caps and gowns and heading straight into the workforce instead of spending another four years in college, it’s not surprising that online degree programs are becoming more and more popular. Once in the workforce, many people realize that a college degree can double their earning potential while setting them apart from other candidates vying for the same positions. In other words, having a degree pays!
Once established in the workplace, it’s often hard for people to even consider going back to college for a variety of reasons from the lack of time to being far too expensive. As a result, online schools have established themselves as affordable, convenient and trustworthy alternatives for non-traditional students looking to earn their degree. While some of these schools have earned quite the reputation as “for profit” colleges where they exchange a diploma for money, others have hopped on board the online bandwagon and distinguished themselves as some of the country’s finest!
If you’re considering going back to school for your bachelor’s degree or perhaps your master’s degree, then you’re in the right place! We looked at some of the nation’s leading universities and found 10 of the highest ranked online schools, what they offer and the price of tuition. Leaving out all of the hokey for-profit schools and getting down to the nitty gritty, you’re sure to find your next alma mater on our list!
#10 – Central Michigan University
With a total of 93 colleges and universities across the state of Michigan, the heated rivalry between schools like the University of Michigan and Michigan State is well known. However, when it comes to online learning, Central Michigan University rivals no other college in the state as it takes center stage. Recognized as one of the largest universities in Michigan, CMU has over 20,000 students enrolled at its home campus in Mount Pleasant with another 7,000 students from around the globe enrolled in its online program.
CMU offers 18 different online programs ranging from administration to psychology and political science that have been rated among the best by U.S. News because of their eight, 12 and 16-week completion schedules. Another huge draw for students to the CMU online program is its affordability with the entire MBA degree averaging $28,185 with credit hours for undergraduate coursework coming in at just under $400. CMU degrees carry their own weight since the university is not only one of the nation’s largest but is also a heavy hitter in the Mid-American Conference.
#9 – Southern New Hampshire University
Originally established in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science, several name changes and expansions over the next seven decades culminated in 2001 when the college was renamed Southern New Hampshire University. Earning the title as one of the most innovative organizations in the world alongside notable giants like Apple and Google, the private SNHU has seen incredible growth thanks in part to its blossoming online program that currently boasts an impressive 60,000 students enrolled worldwide.
Located between the towns of Manchester and Hooksett, SNHU offers four distinct schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and the College of America to its nearly 4,000 students on campus while offering over 200 degrees in its online program. With tuition at $320 per credit hour for undergraduate coursework and $627 for graduate programs, SNHU’s nearly 64,000 students can study everything from accounting to criminal justice in the college’s award-winning and affordable academic program.
#8 – Washington State University
Affectionately known as Wazzu to its nearly 30,000 students, Washington State University has called the city of Pullman home for over a century after being founded five months after Washington became a state in 1890. With a prominent and rich history, WSU has consistently ranked among the top 50 in the nation and was one of the first major colleges to offer online degree programs when they created their Global Campus in 1992 for students looking to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Earning dozens of awards and accreditations, tuition at WSU may not be as cheap as the first two colleges on our list but it is still affordable at $494 per credit hour for undergraduates with an even bigger price break at $509 for graduate coursework. Online students can pursue a variety of degrees such as accounting, hospitality and criminal justice while enjoying an outstanding online community that offers free online tutoring and a writing lab. Global Campus students even benefit from the full Wazzu experience with virtual meet and greets as well as an online student government! How great is that?
#7 – UCLA
As one of the most well-known and respected colleges in the world, the University of California has ten campuses in the state with its second oldest coming in at number seven on our list, the University of California Los Angeles. Founded in 1919, the sprawling urban campus has seen its enrollment continue to rise over the years with over 43,000 students currently benefiting from the college’s 337 different degree programs in addition to a flattering reputation for its online program that runs neck and neck with the campus.
While UCLA offers a variety of online and hybrid courses taught by world-renowned professors, the illustrious public research university is ranked at the top in the field of engineering and even offers an online Masters of Engineering degree. Students interested in other disciplines have no reason to worry, however, as the college offers hundreds of courses and a variety of degree programs with online tuition around $31,000 for California residents and $61,000 for non-residents. Though tuition is higher, nearly 120,000 students continue to apply each year to join the ranks of notable alumni like Francis Ford Coppola, Carol Burnett, Jack Black and dozens of others.
#6 – Oregon State University
Traveling back to the Pacific northwest for our next college, Oregon State University is the third college in a row on the list from the Pac 12 Conference. Established in Corvallis nearly 150 years ago in 1868, OSU has a reputation as one of the nation’s leading doctoral universities with exceptional research activity. Additionally, the college opened its doors to the future in 2007 when it established its online learning branch, Ecampus, which is now one of the fastest growing programs in the country that offers the exact education as its flagship campus.
With over 230,000 graduates passing through its doors since its founding, OSU currently has more than 30,000 students with many taking advantage of Ecampus, which was ranked as the fifth best online program in the country by U.S. News. Online students benefit from over 40 degree and certificate programs as well as nearly 1,000 courses taught by OSU’s award-winning faculty. Tuition is modest at $280 per undergraduate credit hour and $521 for graduate coursework but the greatest benefit is that all Ecampus graduates earn the same OSU diploma and transcript as traditional students, giving them the same competitive advantage for future success!
#5 – UMass
Much like the University of California and its ten campuses, the University of Massachusetts is also one of the most well-known and respected in the country. First established in 1863 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the system grew into what is now affectionately known as UMass with over 72,000 students enrolled across six campuses and in its reputable online program. UMass is not only ranked in the top 100 universities in the world, it is also known for its research after becoming one of the largest research spending schools on the planet.
Running the full alphabet from accounting all the way down to women’s studies and writing, UMass’s online program has plenty of options when it comes to attracting a variety of students and their interests. Currently offering over 100 degree programs and continuing to add new degrees and courses each year, online tuition varies greatly and depends on the course itself, the degree program and the level of credit received. UMass’s online students also benefit from live chat rooms and access to a virtual campus that has strengthened the student community and helped solidify the college’s world-renowned reputation.
#4 – Arizona State University
Hot sunny days, crazy college parties and one of the best looking student bodies in the country – sounds just like life at Arizona State University, doesn’t it? Founded in 1885 and located in the bustling metropolis of Phoenix, ASU is ranked by U.S. News as the “Most Innovative School in America” and is also the largest public university in the country with over 82,000 students across five campuses. Among these campuses is ASU Online, which is recognized as one of the largest online programs in the country with nearly 14,000 students.
While ASU Online students may not experience the desert heat and crazy college parties like most of their peers at the college’s four other campuses, they still benefit from ASU’s pristine reputation and highly talented faculty. Offering over 100 degree programs that students can finish without ever stepping foot in the desert, ASU Online has been ahead of the curve when it comes to online learning as they offer courses to potential freshmen without an application or transcript for only $200. Students who pass the courses are one step closer to their degree as they can take the credits and enroll full-time with ASU. That isn’t a bad deal at all!
#3 – Indiana University
With nine campuses stretching as far north as South Bend and as far south as New Albany, Indiana University is easily one of the best and biggest university programs in the entire Midwest with an impressive population of over 110,000 students. Founded in 1820, the flagship of the college and one of its two main campuses is Indiana University Bloomington which is home to the Hoosiers and over 46,000 students who benefit from some of the University’s finest programs in music, computer science, law, business and education.
Ranked 22nd in the country for online master’s degree programs, second for online MBA programs and first in online graduate business programs (MS), Indiana University has set the bar high. Seeing a drastic increase in enrollment over the last two years as more than a quarter of their students moved online, Indiana’s online program offers over 100 degrees and certification programs in addition to hundreds of classes from each of their nine campuses. Leading the Midwest in online education, U.S. News ranked Indiana University as the “Best Online Bachelor’s Program” in 2016.
#2 – University of Florida
One of only 62 schools in the entire country named to the Association of American Universities and the only member in Florida, the University of Florida has a lot to be proud of when it comes to their stellar reputation. Located in Gainesville and founded in 1853, UF is one of the nation’s premiere research universities where nearly 50,000 students benefit from 16 academic colleges and over 150 research centers and institutes. Also home to the “Florida Gators” of the Southeastern Conference, UF offers more than varsity sports after being named by U.S. News as the top online school for graduate degrees.
Students around the globe benefit from the University of Florida’s leading online program that offers a variety of degrees in everything from anthropology and business administration to geology, sports medicine and nursing. In terms of affordability, the UF is hard to beat with undergraduate tuition at $200 per credit hour. Like many other colleges on our list, the UF doesn’t distinguish its online students from traditional students on their transcripts or their diplomas because they believe “once you’re a Gator, you’re a Gator all the way!”
#1 – Penn State
Ending our list takes us to the illustrious Pennsylvania State University that is home to big-time football, amazing academics, an engaged student body and alumni who stand tall with pride for their alma mater. Founded in 1855 in University Park and better known as Penn State or PSU, the 150-year-old university boasts a population of nearly 100,000 students who enjoy one of the best educational systems in the world in what many consider to be a “Public Ivy” of equal value to notable Ivy League schools like Yale and Harvard.
Consistently ahead of the game in terms of innovation and education, Penn State launched their online program known as World Campus in 1998. Today, the college offers over five dozen degree programs and is tied for the number one spot in the country because of its outstanding program for bachelor’s degree candidates. Praised for their exceptional ability to engage with students across their 24 campuses and online at the World Campus, it’s no surprise why Penn State is one of the most competitive schools in the country when it comes to academics and university sports.