Best Online Colleges for 2018
Online two-year and four-year colleges represent some of the most affordable ways to enter higher education. Academic programs at the two-year level provide a solid foundation in the liberal arts and basics within certain major paths. Vocational programs take a more career-oriented track, helping students acquire specific skills they can apply on the job day one. Beyond the material itself, many junior and community colleges and universities have embraced online learning, opening their doors to a more inclusive student body – from working professionals and stay-at-home parents to those who may not be able to commute to a physical campus. The following two-year and four-year colleges offer some of the best combinations of online program volume, breadth, and affordability available today. See who stands out for 2018.
Harvard University, a private Ivy League university in Cambridge, Mass., is the top-ranked online college of 2018 due to the high-quality education it provides to students in its 41 online programs. Students enrolled in Harvard’s distance learning programs have access to all the same benefits as their on-campus peers, including counseling services, academic advising, financial aid and tutoring assistance. Just like many of Harvard’s traditional courses, many online classes are transferable to other colleges and universities, giving students the chance to complete their education at whichever location they are most comfortable with. For students enrolled in programs requiring on-campus participation, the Harvard Extension School provides degree, certificate and professional programs in a hybrid format, allowing some credits to still be completed online. For students not pursuing a full degree, Harvard Online Learning offers many free courses open to the public.
Presbyterian College, a Christian institution based in Clinton, S.C., with a reputation for academic rigor, offers a large array of programs online. The school’s ethos is around educating the whole person, which translates into an emphasis on critical thinking and communication in its online courses. Courses are offered in a number of different areas, including unique language courses like Greek and Hebrew. The school’s undergraduate offerings include degrees across 42 majors and nine pre-professional programs, while its graduate school focuses on medical fields. While many students enroll at Presby because it’s one of the best colleges for a Christian-based education, there are numerous courses unrelated to the Bible or theology. Regardless of a prospective student’s religious background, the online courses offered at Presbyterian College are carefully constructed to give all students the knowledge they need for their professional career.
Drexel University is a private research university in Pennsylvania that currently enrolls over 24,000 students. Drexel students have the opportunity to complete their degree on campus or through a variety of online courses. The online university programs offer the same educational opportunities to students as the campus programs, including financial aid, academic advising, 24/7 tech support and career resources. Students pursuing an online degree from Drexel are instructed by the same prestigious faculty as their on-campus peers. Through Drexel’s Online Partnerships program, working professionals at more than 500 companies can benefit from reduced tuition rates to pursue their degree without leaving their current job.
Johns Hopkins University is a well-known elite research university, but it’s not well-known that several degree programs may be completed without attending the school’s Baltimore, Md., campus. In addition, JHU offers dozens of classes online that can supplement traditional in-person courses as part of a degree program. The breadth of options available to online learners is just one aspect of what makes Johns Hopkins one of the best options for online college. Some of its courses and credits are even free and available for all students regardless of enrollment. The JHU admissions office is willing to work with any incoming transfer student to find any applicable areas for transfer credit to be utilized.
Northern Arizona University is a large public university in Flagstaff, Ariz., with a strong reputation in its online offerings. With degree programs available at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, students who do study online are able to work toward their degrees while receiving the same quality education they would get on-campus at NAU. The school offers an innovative Personalized Learning program, where students pay a flat subscription rate over 6 months, with no additional fees, not even for books — an attractive option for many students whose employers are picking up the tuition tab. Students at NAU also benefit from the school’s focus on career readiness in all its degree programs.
Mary Baldwin University — a smaller, private liberal arts institution in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley — has cultivated a niche in helping professional adults earn their degrees later in life. Mary Baldwin’s online courses and programs can help students move forward in their careers without making sacrifices to other obligations. MBU’s online degrees are a popular option with many students due to the university’s credit transfer policy: Mary Baldwin allows transfer of up to 90 credit hours, cutting into the cost of earning a degree.
With over 200 degree programs offered online by Southern New Hampshire University, it’s easy to see why many consider it one of the best online colleges for students looking to improve their careers. Each online degree program is designed to help students improve or change their current professional position. With the aid of affordable tuition and the flexibility to study at their own pace, students find that SNHU not only meets their expectations, but offers more than they thought an online school might: they also get access to the large SNHU alumni network, which can help them secure a new job after graduation. SNHU is among the best online schools in terms of services available to virtual students, which include an online library, tutoring and around-the-clock support.
Many students find that the best online colleges are the ones that allow them to study at their own pace – even if that means completing a degree faster than normal. Concordia University, Wisconsin does just that with their accelerated learning programs, allowing online students to study at a faster pace. For students who have a busy schedule and prefer to study at a more traditional pace, there are over 50 different online degree options offered by Concordia. Concordia is also one of the best online schools in terms of transferring credits, including military and work-related experience. Students can study toward a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or, in some instances both, such as with the RN to MSN program that accelerates nurses to a master’s degree.
At Indiana Wesleyan University, students can receive an affordable and convenient education via the school’s online degree programs. By taking advantage of one of Indiana Wesleyan’s online programs, students will be able to complete their academics at a pace with which they are comfortable. Just like their on-campus peers, online students have several opportunities to receive financial aid to make earning a college education a less stressful pursuit. Online students will also receive all necessary support from the Indiana Wesleyan University faculty and staff. Faculty members have several years of experience in teaching online courses and are prepared to help all incoming online students reach their goals. IWU offers all students a generous credit transfer policy and has degree completion programs which can help students finish their bachelor’s degrees in as little as 10 months.
Graduate students may be interested in continuing their education with an online program offered at Columbia University in the City of New York. The school’s online programs lead to either a master’s degree or a graduate level certificate of professional achievement, and the Columbia also offers many free learning opportunities through MOOCs and other online programs. Online students who wish to integrate with their campus community may wish to consider studying in a hybrid format, which will allow the student to spend half of their time at home and the other half on the Columbia University Campus. Hybrid students will have more schedule flexibility, as well as the option to participate in campus clubs and organizations.
Fitting school into a busy schedule is rarely a simple process; that’s why North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers several of their programs in a format that can be completed from a distance. NC State currently offers more than 90 degrees and certificates and more than 350 different courses fully-online, meaning students can fit earning a degree into their lives more easily. Students taking online courses will have opportunities to make use of facetime with their professor through video chat sessions, and will participate in discussion boards that will allow them to socialize with their peers. Online students are eligible forfinancial aid.
The online degree programs offered at East Carolina University utilize a course management system that ensures convenient accessibility for both the student and their professor. Several programs offered at ECU can be completed without ever attending any traditional, in-person classes, but some students prefer splitting their time between campus and home. This kind of hybrid program is beneficial for its flexibility, but still allows students to build the social connections that make the college experience truly rich. From point of enrollment to graduation, online students will receive academic support from several departments, including academic advisement and online tutoring to aid in their success.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is one of the best online schools with to earn a bachelor’s degree. With over 40 years of experience in teaching through a distance learning program, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods has crafted an online program that works for most undergraduate students. Each degree is created with a busy student in mind, whether working adults or people that have family obligations. Some of the popular undergraduate options include the RN to BSN or health administration. While some programs are offered entirely online, other degrees can be completed through a hybrid of on-campus and online studies. SMWC is also among the best online colleges for graduate degrees, with all of their master’s degree programs being offered entirely online.
Nova Southeastern University’s distance program doesn’t just serve students at one of the remote campuses, but also students that are studying online. Nova Southeastern University offers their online courses as part of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus program, meaning that each course offered online is fully accredited. This rigorous accreditation makes Nova one of the best online colleges in Florida for students that are looking for a high-quality education. Nova offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, some of which have earned the school distinctions. For example, Nova is considered one of the best online schools for graduate nursing, graduate education and criminal justice, all of which are already popular fields for online students.
University of Florida students benefit from some of the best online programs in the country: many of their over 100 online programs consistently rank top in the nation. Incoming transfer students will be able to put many of their previously earned credits to use at the University of Florida, ensuring the completion of their degree will involve as little backtracking as possible. Incoming freshman can get a leg up while easing into college with UF Online’s PaCE Program, which allows them to begin school online and later transfer to on-campus programs.
Saint Leo University’s online program is designed to help nontraditional adult learners succeed by making higher education more accessible. In the virtual classroom, students will receive a comprehensive education in their field of choice that are taught by dedicated instructors who are trained specifically to teach online courses. While the school was built with Catholic roots, online learners are welcomed into this learning community regardless of their religious affiliation. Before beginning their online courses, students may also receive a free e-book that contains tips to succeed in an online learning environment.
One of the goals at George Washington University’s online school is to educate leaders. They understand that the best online schools are the ones that teach students everything they need to succeed, both right after graduation and in the future. Students that do end up studying toward an online degree at George Washington will find that the curriculum goes beyond the degree they’re earning. There are online options in most fields, and degrees are available at various levels. However, the graduate degree options are what sets George Washington apart from other online colleges. George Washington is home to many well-respected online programs, and they are considered one of the best online colleges for earning a master’s degree in public health.
A distance-learning degree earned at Texas A&M University can provide students with the same tools for success that are available to students attending classes on campus. Current, fully-online offerings include 47 graduate degrees and 25 different grad certificates. As one of the best online schools, Texas A&M prides itself on ensuring that virtual students feel as much a part of the Aggie family as their on-campus peers; all online students are eligible for the same school-provided networking opportunities. Financial aid and scholarships are available to online Aggies as well.
Not only does Siena Heights University offer some of the country’s best online degree programs, but students are also able to select from four minors that can be completed online as well. More than 80 full-time faculty members are employed at Siena Heights University, several of which have many semesters of experience teaching online students. A great many of Siena Heights students receive financial aid in some form, be it scholarships, grants, or federal aid, and online students are included in financial aid opportunities. Online students may also wish to study in a hybrid format, and split their time evenly between home and the Siena Heights campus.
Online education should be available to anyone with access to the internet, something that Pennsylvania State’s World Campus understands. Created 20 years ago for students that couldn’t commute to campus, the World Campus has grown into one of the best online colleges for international students. Students from around the world, including military members, can choose from the over 150 degrees and certificates offered, all of which are designed to give students the knowledge they need to succeed in their future careers. As with most online schools, Penn State has many options for those pursuing a master’s degree. However, there are also plenty of online bachelor’s degrees offered as well. With the size and scope of the program, it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the best online schools for students at all levels.
Both bachelor students and graduate students have the opportunity to complete an entire degree online while studying at the University of Denver. These programs are perfect for students with jobs, students in the military, or students who have familial obligations that need to be put first. Online students at the University of Denver will be learning from experienced teachers who are prepared to make learning in a virtual environment as approachable as possible. The school offers certificates, bachelor’s and graduate degrees online, and its University College is dedicated to helping adult learners complete their studies. Online students have the opportunity to take advantage of all resources provided for traditional students.
Fort Hays State University has established itself as one of the best online colleges, largely due to their affordability and quality of education. Each program is designed to give students the knowledge they need to enter the global community as a leader and expert. This can be seen with their online bachelor’s degrees, all of which are fully accredited. Popular bachelor’s degree options include criminal justice, elementary education and accounting. Along with their bachelor’s degrees, Fort Hays also has extensive master’s degree programs that give students the experience and knowledge they need to make a leap in their career. The best online schools are the ones that prepare students for their future, and Fort Hays does just that.
Learning in an online program at Prescott College promotes self-discipline, accountability and a strong sense of initiative. Not only does the faculty in charge of online classes have several semesters of experience teaching in a virtual format, but that also have several years of professional experience, ensuring students will be learning the skills they need to succeed in their future careers. Prescott offers online certification programs, as well as bachelor’s and graduate degrees fully-online. If a student chooses to study in a hybrid program, they may also choose to use their extra campus time to participate in a number of campus activities.
Hampton University helps busy students find the time to further their education with several web-based degree programs. Students studying online can either complete all of their work from home, or they have the option to split their time between in-person classes and online work. While these hybrid students have the opportunity to participate in on-campus activates, online students will be able to make use of all of Hampton University’s student services. Online tutoring is available, and personal academic advisors are ready to provide students with the quickest path to their success.
Webster University offers online programs at the certificate, baccalaureate, and graduate level, all of which vary through several fields of study. Students taking online classes will be able to construct their own schedules and complete their coursework at their own pace. Further freedom of schedule is available for students completing their work part-time. Students also have the choice of completing their classes in a hybrid format, splitting their academic time between home and the Webster University campus. Online students will also be provided with all necessary student services to secure their success, including career counseling and tech services.