The advantages to earning a bachelor degree are seemingly endless which is why many students elect to begin their college studies by pursuing a four year degree. Attending college for advanced learning opportunities and expanded experience not only enhance a student’s academics but their future professions and salaries as well. In fact, studies from Georgetown University have proven students that achieve a bachelor’s degree earn 84 percent more than those with only a high school diploma. Plus bachelor degree holders generally have half the unemployment than their nondegree holding counterparts.
The benefits of completing a bachelor degree inarguably yield higher job satisfaction, reduced stress, better healthcare coverage, and stronger job stability. Which is why many educational institutions offer degrees at this level and beyond. The added factors of advancing technology and increased interest in alternative learning formats has led to a sharp increase in online degree programs. In the past decade, online bachelor degree programs have nearly doubled and more than 3.5 million students are now realizing the advantages of a college education at their own pace, without uprooting their careers or family lives.
However, just like with conventional college degree programs, not all online colleges are created equal. When choosing an online bachelor’s degree program, it is essential that students ensure that the program has been properly accredited. Accreditation guarantees that the college upholds the highest standards for education, so that the degree will be recognized by other academic institutions, the federal government for financial aid, and future employers. The following schools have been chosen as the Top 15 Accredited Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in the United States for being the best of the best in terms of academic excellence, accreditation, affordability, reputation, ranking, awards, faculty credentials, student support services, and diversity of degrees offered.
1. Penn State Online
In 1998, Penn State also became one of the first major accredited universities with online distance education courses. Not only is Penn State ranked as the eighth best public university in the country and the 16th best online bachelor’s program, it was named as the number one institution for producing the best-prepared graduates by The Wall Street Journal. Penn State offers more than 90 in-demand degree programs, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Students who take less than 12 credits per semester must pay $518 per credit, while those taking 12 or more will be charged a flat tuition rate of $6,353 a semester. As a member of the Penn State World Campus, online students are granted the exclusive chance to join the largest alumni association in the world, with more than 169,000 members.
To learn more about Penn State Online’s Bachelor programs, go here.
2. UMass Online
The University of Massachusetts President and Board of Trustees first created UMass Online in 2001 to offer educational programs via interactive, virtual learning environments. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, UMass is currently ranked as the 40th best public university in the nation. With more than 100 undergraduate degree programs and 1,500 courses available online, students are able to receive the same high-quality education as those on-campus from anywhere with Internet access. UMass Online also provides a unique program called University without Walls (UWW) for students who want to complete a degree through a blend of online and on-campus courses. Undergraduate courses vary according to the type of course, but they usually range from $125 to $1980.
To learn more about UMass Online’s Bachelor programs, go here.
3. Colorado State University
Since it first opened its doors in 1870, Colorado State University has grown into a world-class institution that has educated Olympic gold medalists, state governors, artists, CEOs, and many more leaders of our society. Colorado State is ranked as the 60th best public university in the nation and 7th for the best online bachelor’s program. CSU OnlinePlus offers bachelor’s degree programs accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges in agricultural business, fire and emergency services, human development, liberal arts, and psychology. Tuition rates for undergraduate courses cost $379 per credit hour. Students in OnlinePlus programs have the same access to university resources, including career services, advisement, community organizations, and library services.
To learn more about Colorado State University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
4. Post University
Interestingly, Post University was first founded in 1890 as the Matoon Shorthand School for commercial education training, such as typing, bookkeeping, and shorthand writing. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, it became the first college to offer accredited degree programs fully online in Connecticut in 1996. Post University is ranked today as the 19th best online bachelor’s degree program in the nation. Tuition rates are $550 per credit hour for undergraduate work. One of the most unique features of Post’s online programs is that they are offered in eight-week modules, six times in the year. Therefore, students are able to earn a bachelor’s degree in over 35 different majors in as little as eighteen months.
To learn more about Post University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
5. American Public University
Acknowledged by the Sloan Consortium for best practices in online education, American Public University is currently ranked as the 22nd best online bachelor’s degree program by U.S. News and World Report. The university traces its roots back to 1991, when James P. Etter retired from active service in the Marine Corps and launched the online American Military University. Today, American Public University, accredited by the North Central Association, has evolved as one of the leading private institutions for online education worldwide with more than 100,000 students in more than 180 degree programs. At just $750 per three-credit course, American Public University offers tuition rates that are 42 percent lower than other online education providers.
To learn more about American Public University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
6. Columbia College
Founded in 1851, Columbia College has a long history of being among the first colleges to try daring experiments in higher education, such as enrolling females and adult learners in evening classes. Today, nearly 16,000 students take at least one online course each year from the ranked 35th best online bachelor’s program in the nation. Columbia College offers more than 800 online classes and 27 degree programs that are accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. After a $35 application fee, the undergraduate tuition rate is $245 per credit hour. With very small student to faculty ratio of 14:1, students in the online program are granted the special opportunity to learn one-on-one with experienced instructors and diverse peers.
To learn more about Columbia College’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
7. Baker University
Named for the Osmon Cleander Baker, a bishop of the United Methodist Church, Baker University was charted in 1858 as the first university in Kansas. Today, the private liberal arts school is ranked as the 62nd best university in the Midwest and the 147th best online bachelor’s program in the entire nation. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Baker offers online bachelor’s degrees in business administration, business, business leadership, and RN to BSN nursing. Full-time undergraduate tuition rates are $12,600 per semester, while part-time undergraduates pay $765 per credit. Online programs depend on Moodle, a virtual classroom platform for discussing course concepts, reading assignments, and taking examinations.
To learn more about Baker University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
8. Grand Canyon University
Established in 1949 by the Southern Baptist Convention, Grand Canyon University has developed a strong reputation as a premier Christian institution in Arizona. It also currently possesses the 63rd best online bachelor’s program in the country. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Grand Canyon University enables students to choose from nearly 100 different degree programs in liberal arts, health sciences, education, business, and nursing concentrations. Although tuition rates depend on the program of study, undergraduate students can expect to pay between $350 and $465 per credit. Unlike most other schools, Grand Canyon University online students take just one course at a time for more in-depth understanding and focus.
To learn more about Grand Canyon University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
9. Liberty University
A pioneer for distance education since 1985, Liberty University has since become the nation’s largest private nonprofit university. Ranked as the 89th best college in the South and the 109th best online bachelor’s program, Liberty shows consistently high student satisfaction with high retention and graduation rates. As a nonprofit institution, Liberty University is able to provide some of the lowest tuition rates for online higher education. Part-time undergraduate students pay $385 per credit, while full-time undergraduates pay just $340 per credit. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Liberty offers more than 160 degree programs, ranging from criminal justice and counseling to education and Christian ministry. Liberty University also provides a unique ability to receive credit for prior work and life experience.
To learn more about Liberty University Online Bachelor programs, go here.
10. Keiser University
As one of the largest independent career universities in Florida, Keiser University is ranked as the 57th best college in the South. After being founded in 1977 by the Keiser Family in Fort Lauderdale, has expanded to 13 campuses throughout the state and online. In 2005, Keiser University was named the “College of the Year” by the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges. The Keiser University eCampus, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, starts new courses conveniently each month. Students also have the unique chance to choose between pursuing one of the 15-plus bachelor’s degree programs in English or Spanish. Although tuition rates are high at $6,356 per semester for full-time undergraduates, more than two-thirds of the student body receives financial aid.
To learn more about Keiser University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
11. Kaplan University
In the late 1930s while the nation was still suffering from the effects of the Great Depression, Stanley H. Kaplan started a small business to provide tutoring to immigrant families and improve their education. Over the subsequent decades, Kaplan University grew into one of the leading worldwide institutions for distance higher learning. Accredited by the North Central Association, Kaplan is currently ranked as the 17th best online university by the Online Education Database. It is also a very military-friendly school, with more than 9,000 active military, veterans, or military spouses receiving online degrees annually. For bachelor’s degree programs, online tuition rates are $371 per quarter credit hour.
To learn more about Kaplan University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
12. Walden University
In 1970, Walden University was founded by two professors, Bernie and Rita Turner, who were seeking a way to help adults in the workforce earn a doctoral degree. Since celebrating its 40th anniversary, President Bill Clinton addressed the graduates at the 2011 commencement ceremony. Walden’s online business program is ranked the 109th best in the nation, while the online education program is ranked 80th. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Walden University offers 19 different bachelor’s degree programs fully online. Although tuition rates are tailored to fit the individual degree program, most undergraduate students pay between $300 and $450 per credit hour. Enrolled online students benefit from a Student Support Team for guidance through the program, including a unique Student Readiness Orientation.
To learn more about Walden University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
13. Ashford University
Ashford University was first founded in 1918 by the Sisters of St. Francis as the Mount St. Clare Junior College for Women in Clinton, Iowa. Today, Ashford University has been transformed into the fifth best online university by MyCollegesandCareers.com. It is accredited by the North Central Association to award bachelor’s degrees fully online in the fields of business, human services, health sciences, education, and liberal arts. According to alumni survey provided by the university, 92 percent of graduates were satisfied or very satisfied with their Ashford experience. In addition to a $50 technology fee per course, the tuition rate for online students is $413 per credit. Amazingly, students that are seeking a bachelor’s degree at Ashford are welcome to transfer up to 90 approved credits from other institutions.
To learn more about Ashford University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
14. Lone Star College
Since the college opened in 1973, it has expanded to include eight on-campus and online schools to become the largest institution for higher learning in Houston. Lone Star College has been ranked as the third top producer of degrees among community colleges in the nation, as well as third in the nation for the number of enrolled international students. It is an open-enrollment institution, which means all students are accepted once their admissions application has been submitted. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Lone Star College offers hundreds of online certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees. Tuition rates are based on residency, but those that live within the district can pay as little as $88 per credit hour.
To learn more about Lone Star College’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.
15. Capella University
Founded in 1993 by Dr. Harold Abel and Stephen Shank, Capella University is owned by the publicly traded Capella Education Company. Accredited by the North Central Association, Capella offers bachelor’s degrees in business, psychology, technology, health care, nursing, and public safety. For a bachelor’s degree, Capella University tuition rates are between $305 and $360 per credit. One of the most unique features of a Capella online education is its latest FlexPath learning format, which enables students to complete courses at their own pace during the course without weekly deadlines. Graduate surveys also indicate that 84 percent of Capella alumni advance professionally within 5 years of completion.
To learn more about Capella University’s Online Bachelor programs, go here.