Every year there are more ways to achieve your professional and educational goals online than ever before. Though that doesn’t mean that all online programs will well provide for your needs, strict accreditation measures are more and more being used to ensure the quality of online degree programs. For 2015, we’ve looked at accredited online colleges for what a wide sample of alumni say about the program, as well as the extent of their offerings. Below are 15 truly online colleges–that have comprehensive offerings, oftentimes through the Doctoral level–and many are proving to be valuable innovators in distance education. Whether you’re looking for a program that mirrors a traditional degree, a program you can complete rapidly, or one that’s customized to what you already know and how you best learn, there are a number of offerings with your name on them below.
- Recommendation Rank (.5): the percentage of alumni who would recommend a school to others as compiled by GradReports.com
- Number of Online Offerings (.5):the number of online offerings including certifications, Associates degrees, undergraduate and graduate programs
1. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University offers over 80 online programs including Bachelor’s, graduate programs, and certifications. NAU was the first public university to offer competency-based online degree programs that allowed students to obtain credit for life experience. The University’s online offerings are also personalized, allowing students to progress through self-paced online degrees centered around competencies. The personalized online learning option is offered at a flat tuition rate of $2,500 every six months.
2. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers over 230 online programs at Bachelor’s through doctoral levels. They are noted for a large number of Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and International MBA concentrations. Southern New Hampshire University was at the forefront of offering many of the support services available in traditional programs online, and was named the 12th most innovative organization in the world in Fast company’s “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” edition. Six start dates are available for undergraduate programs and five for graduate programs every year.
3. Bellevue University
Bellevue University offers 110 online programs, with 74 offered at the undergraduate level, and almost 40 Master’s degrees. Many Master’s level offerings center around management, business, and computer and information systems. Bellevue University has a long history of focusing on adult education and educational outreach. As of 2011, 80% of undergraduates at Bellevue University were over the age of 25. Accelerated cohort programs have long been a signature offering at Bellevue, offering undergraduate degrees taken online with the same group of students with many classes being delivered in 6-week bursts.
4. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida currently offers 51 online programs, including 5 Bachelor’s degrees, and over 20 Master’s as well as Certification programs. Unique offerings include a number of Master’s level engineering programs available fully online, as well as a wide range of certifications for working professionals. The University of Central Florida has been recognized as a leader in online education for a number of years, and received a $20 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2010 to help support and expand their offerings.
5. American Public University System
The American Public University System offers almost 200 online programs including Associate offerings, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Certifications and Diplomas. The system is comprised of American Public University as well as the American Military University, which offers a number of learning opportunities for Service Member to obtain degrees in Homeland Security, Intelligence Studies, Emergency and Disaster Management, Criminal Justice, and Management and Business Administration. Class enrollment is currently over 50,000, with over 11,000 graduates in the most recent class. Student experiences and support are geared towards working adults and in particular Service Members.
6. Excelsior College
Excelsior College offers almost 200 online programs include Associate Offerings, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Certifications and Diplomas. A large majority of the College’s offerings are at the Bachelor’s level. Excelsior College is known for its particularly liberal transfer policy, allowing almost all prior credits from regionally accredited institutions to transfer. Their credit by exam credits are a commonly accepted form of credit at other universities similar to CLEP. Programs are built around flexibility with active support for Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, or Veterans through their Center for Military Education.
7. Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University offers over 70 online programs including Associate Offerings, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Certifications and Diplomas. The fields of business administration, fire science, criminal justice administration, occupational safety, and health are particularly well represented in offerings. Students may choose from more traditional term-based delivery methods or Columbia Southern’s Lifepace learning, which allows flexible start dates, due dates, and course lengths. Columbia Southern is known as one of the most affordable online universities, with both undergraduate and graduate per-credit-hour tuition rates set at close to $200.
8. California Coast University Online
California Coast University offers over 40 online programs including Associate Offerings, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees, Certifications and Diplomas. Their largest topical cluster of courses are their Masters in Business Administration offerings. California Coastal University is known for offering a great deal of flexibility in how students progress through courses. This allows for a minimum time until degree of 9 months for undergraduate study, and three years for doctoral study. Courses of study are designed for mid-career working adults, with the average age of students at 41 years of age.
9. Herzing University
Herzing University offers over 50 programs entirely online at the undergraduate, graduate, associates, and certification levels. The largest topical cluster of programs are their business offerings, with other clusters in nursing, healthcare, and technology. With the EdFlex program students may complete coursework online or at one of the University’s 11 campuses as they choose. Programs may be taken on a part-time or full-time basis and are offered with a number of support services similar to the offerings of traditional universities.
10. Full Sail University
Full Sail University offers over 20 programs online at the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree levels. Areas of study are largely vocational and center around creative media, with programs in art, design, film, music, production, business and technology. Live sessions, project-based learning, and social collaboration are hallmarks of Full Sail’s online programs. Most programs are accelerated, taking around half of the time of a traditional college degree to complete. Bachelor’s level offerings generally take 20-36 months, while Master’s level offerings typically take a year to complete.
11. California University of Pennsylvania
California University of Pennsylvania offers over 40 programs entirely online at the Bachelor’s level, Master’s level, and as certifications and diplomas. The largest topical cluster of programs centers on Master’s in Education offerings, as well as a number of Master of Science in Legal Studies programs. A number of nursing programs are also available, including an RN to BSN program and a MSN. Tuition is reduced for online students, bypassing fees for in-person infrastructure and support to keep tuition at around $300 per credit hour for undergraduates.
12. Western Governors University
Western Governors University offers over 50 online programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and certification levels. The University was established by state governors of 19 states in 1997 as a competency-based learning program. The University has since grown with a number of other states joining with the same curriculum, teaching model, tuition, and services for branches in their own state. Four colleges are currently available: the Teachers College, College of Information Technology, College of Business, and College of Health Professions. Though courses are flexible and self-paced, the average time until completion of a Bachelor’s degree is less than 3 years.
13. American Intercontinental College
American Intercontinental College offers over 70 online degree options including Associate degrees, Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, and certifications. Originally founded as the American Fashion College of Switzerland, American Intercontinental offers degrees primarily in business, IT, criminal justice, and fashion design. In 2013 American Intercontinental University became one of the first fully online programs to be granted two-year accreditation by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Intellipath allows students to customize learning presentation based on how they learn best, to push through subjects they already know more quickly, and to spend a greater length of time on topics they need help with.
14. Liberty University
Liberty University offers over 260 fully online programs at the Associate level through Doctoral level, and offers one of the largest collections of fully online graduate programs of any school surveyed. The university is the largest online Christian university as well as the largest Evangelical Christian University in the world. Over 100,000 online students were taking classes as of May 2013. While many online courses are offered in traditional 16-week semesters, a number are also offered in shorter, slightly overlapping 8-week sessions. This allows for greater scheduling flexibility for online students.
15. University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College offers over 240 online programs including certifications, Associates degrees, undergraduate, and graduate programs. UMUC has one of the largest offerings of graduate level programs online of programs surveyed. Since 2005, UMUC offered teaching support on-site and online for the US military in Afghanistan and Africa, and they were ranked as the #1 “Best for Vets: Colleges 2015” by The Military Times. Though their offerings are comprehensive, a number of topical clusters within their offerings include business & management, cyber security, education, healthcare, IT, liberal arts, and public safety.