Best Online Colleges


Estimating the cost of a degree comes down to tuition, fees, and financial aid more on this later.

What online college features matter most?

Accreditation not only demonstrates the quality of an online school, but can also determine whether credits are transferable to other accredited online colleges. To find out whether an accreditation agency is legitimate, make sure it is recognized by the U.

Learn more about online college accreditation here. Online learning has come a long way over the years, and distance students today can pursue degree programs that match their interests from the associate to the doctorate level.

Some of the most popular undergraduate majors for online students include:. The flexibility of online learning is particularly beneficial to professionals who want to earn an advanced degree while they continue working. Graduate programs that require students to complete practicum hours or internship experiences typically accommodate students by helping them find sites near their home.

Some of the most popular graduate majors for online students include:. While accredited online colleges are typically cheaper than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, many online students still need financial help to ease the cost of tuition. Fortunately, an increasing number of online colleges now offer aid for distant learners in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and occasionally, work-study programs. The process of applying for student aid at an online college is similar to the application process at a traditional school.

Note that students applying for student aid must be enrolled at an online college that has been accredited by a federally recognized accreditation agency. The status of an online student full time or part time may also affect their eligibility to receive aid. To learn more about paying for online college, review our guide to financial aid for online college , or contact an advisor at your prospective school to discuss financial aid opportunities for distance students.

Get started Thinking of a Career Change? Explore the career path that fits your interests. Get inspired Search By Subject Search our comprehensive school listings by subject. Looking for an affordable degree? As online college enrollment increases, those colleges become attractive propositions for busy working adults and students who enjoy the flexibility and lower cost that online education has to offer. Colorado Technical University was founded in in Colorado Springs. CTU began its venture into online schooling in and now offers several online classes that focus on educating students for the careers they want.

DeVry University is one of the best-known trade schools in the United States. Students can take courses in one of 40 disciplines in order to begin working and earning more money than they do in their current careers. A University of Phoenix degree is fully customizable.

Students can focus on cybercrimes, human services, criminal justice security or criminal justice management with a certificate, or pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree. Founded in , American InterContinental University has expanded to include online courses. With campuses in both Houston and Atlanta, AIU offers personalized curricula to make sure you take classes that fit your schedule. Ashford University's bachelor's in social and criminal justice offers three focuses: Faculty have higher degrees and real-life experience in their areas.

Strayer University allows its program to be tailored to the individual student, with options to enroll online or on campus and to structure a bachelor's degree concentrating on homeland security, forensics or computer security. The College Network has been a leader in distance education since It partners with Indiana State, Lake Superior State, Purdue and Regis universities to offer classes in nursing, health care and professional services. Kaplan University offers a variety of undergraduate-level programs, both online and on traditional campuses.

Students can choose the programs that best meet their needs to earn associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees.

South University offers a wide range of graduate and undergraduate educational programs. It has a variety of locations as well as online coursework; courses offered vary by the location to which students apply. It provides students with flexible online and on-campus courses that are up-to-date on business trends and taught by working professionals. Not every college offers every degree program, particularly with online schools.

Some programs require practicums or internships that are not available online. The goal of university and college accreditation is to ensure that education provided by the institution of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality as determined at the state and federal level. Because there are many ways to achieve it, simply having accreditation is not enough to tell you whether or not a school is legitimate or the best place for you to earn your degree. One of the biggest benefits to online college is the flexibility and student-led scheduling.

It should allow you to work around social and work commitments as you work toward a degree. The schools offer a limited number of degree programs, with no campus for students to study in a more traditional environment. They may be referred to as diploma mills.

Take caution and do your research before enrolling to make sure your degree will be applicable and accepted by employers as legitimate upon graduation.

Traditional schools are starting to expand their distance learning programs to include entirely online degree programs. These online colleges are often highly motivated in their marketing, but they may not offer the best education because they are more focused on selling education as a business rather than actually educating students for success in the real world.

Generally, nonprofit institutions are more interested in excelling their students, not making money, so they are more likely to put education ahead of marketing. Those fresh out of high school looking for a way to attend school on a tight budget or while they seek employment can benefit from the lower cost and flexibility of an online college. To get to the next career level or change career paths, an advanced degree or specialty certification is often necessary.

Many colleges offer continuing education, Masters and PhD programs online. Some people simply enjoy learning about different subjects. They may want to audit a variety of courses or pursue certifications online for personal enrichment. Online colleges are an ideal, flexible solution for those who need to work full time while pursuing their diplomas.

Colorado Technical University is a career-oriented college that has been in operation since Colorado Technical University introduced its online school in to expand beyond its campus in Colorado Springs. It is a regionally accredited university with a robust offering of online education options. American InterContinental University was founded in The College Network partners with universities and colleges to offer a streamlined path to a degree.

Since , they have been an educational partner giving students the opportunity to earn a degree from a respected college. With a 76 year history and one million students each year, Kaplan University has an established reputation as an exceptional educational provider.

With a focus on career-based learning, Everest Institute is the overall name for the brand that includes other colleges like Heald College, Bryman College, Ashmead College and many others.

A study found a flexible class schedule is one of the most important criteria for students choosing an online program. If you have a full-time job or family, self-paced classes — courses with no predesignated meeting times — can be a better fit. But, if you prefer a more traditional classroom experience, consider making time for live classes — courses where you must be online at predesignated times.

The benefit of live classes is an increased opportunity to communicate with your peers and professor. Do a little sleuthing to find out what type of learning experience your potential programs provide. We recommend looking through student reviews and speaking to recent graduates on sites like LinkedIn to get a better idea of how the programs address what you need as a learner.

For example, you may ask whether the professors offer a lot of feedback, or whether there is hour technical support for their learning software. Taking the time to make a checklist of what you need from a program will allow you to identify the colleges that not only provide a thorough education but a great learning experience.

Checklists like this one from Campus Explorer are a good way to get started. Then, compare your list to program websites, online college profiles, and student responses. Before you commit to any program, you should also consider the estimated costs. Estimating the cost of a degree comes down to tuition, fees, and financial aid more on this later. Schools are pretty transparent about tuition and what they charge per credit hour — visiting their websites will lead to the information.

That said, you still want to check and see whether you will be expected to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition for programs located father away.

Fees can cover anything from technology to simply enrolling in an online course. Unfortunately, fees are unavoidable, but learning the fees a program expects you to pay will help you calculate the estimated cost of your degree. Filling out the FAFSA is free and will determine whether you qualify for federal student aid — this can include grants, work-study opportunities, and loans.

Aside from federal student aid, scholarships are an excellent source of financial aid. Many schools offer their own scholarships, but there are a large number of scholarships that can be found online. They can also be major or program specific, which means there will almost certainly be a scholarship to match your needs — our review of the best scholarship search platforms is a great place to start.

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