Can I Afford to Earn My Degree?
One of our 30 Top Accredited Online Colleges with Low Tuition can be your key to unlocking $2.8 million in additional earnings. That’s the lifetime value of a bachelor’s degree, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Georgetown University has shown that higher education’s long-term salary benefits greatly outweigh the cost of a degree. And this makes going back to school a no-brainer. Paying for tuition before you get a promotion or pay raise, however, can be difficult. That’s why we’ve compiled the most cost-effective schools for online degrees.
Is an Online Degree Cheaper Than an On-Campus Program?
The biggest benefit of an online program is flexibility. In a majority of online programs, you’ll get to choose when you study, making it easier to balance work and school. As an online student, you won’t need to quit your job, which means you’ll keep bringing home a paycheck to help with your tuition costs.
Additionally, online learners are not limited to institutions within an arm’s reach. You can enroll in a program that is five states away, completing all of your assignments without visiting campus. This means you have more choices, and with more choices comes more opportunities to find a program that fits your budget.
Lastly, while online students’ per-credit tuition rates are not necessarily less than their on-campus counterparts, distance learners are not expected to pay expenses like room-and-board or meal plans.
Will My Diploma Show That I Studied Online?
Universities don’t distinguish between online and on-campus students, because their academic achievements are equal. To graduate, all students need to exhibit that they’ve mastered the topics covered in their degree programs. The expectations are the same; it’s just the way information is delivered that differs.
What Are the Best Low-Tuition Online Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. To learn more, visit our methodology page.
At American Public University, all students benefit from affordable tuition rates. But with this school’s long-standing service to the U.S. military, active-duty members get a special deal at APU. These students pay just $250 per undergraduate or graduate credit hour. Plus, their textbooks are free, and technology fees are waived.
APU was created in 1991 by a former Marine Corps officer. Today, service members and veterans make up 80% of its student body. Since mobility is a trademark of the military, all of APU’s degree programs are offered online in eight- or 16-week courses. And courses start monthly rather than following a traditional semester-bound schedule.
Here, you can find degrees of all academic levels, from associate’s to doctoral. Some of APU’s most popular programs include its Associate of Arts in General Studies, its Bachelor of Arts in Management, and its Bachelor of Science in Sports and Health Sciences.
Similar to APU, National University was established by a retired U.S. Navy captain in 1971. As a Yellow Ribbon school, NU offers a nearly free education for veterans and active-duty military. And all students benefit from a low cost of attendance with an undergraduate tuition rate of just $370 per quarter unit.
National delivers both online and in-person classes at its San Diego campus and at a host of military bases. Especially dedicated to helping online learners focus, its online courses follow a unique four-week format. This shorter duration allows students to concentrate on one topic at a time, which can be particularly beneficial to students with competing work and family responsibilities.
Featuring eight areas of study, including programs in healthcare, engineering, technology, and criminal justice, National delivers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Its Language Institute also provides English Language Learning certificates for students seeking to master their communication skills.
At the University of the People, students do not pay tuition. Rather, they pay an assessment fee of only $100 for undergraduates and $200 for graduate students after each course is completed. UoPeople also offers several scholarships that cover these minimal costs.
So, how does UoPeople operate as a tuition-free institution? This school keeps costs low through donations and partnerships with world-leading companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard. Founded in 2009, UoPeople firmly believes in the power of higher education to elevate communities out of poverty. UoPeople serves 27,000 students, 1,000 of whom are refugees.
UoPeople offers eight online programs, including associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. These fall into four academic disciplines: business administration, computer science, health science, and education. Additionally, students can take part in the school’s mentorship program, gaining career and life advice from an industry professional who is part of the UoPeople community.
At Great Basin College, Nevada-based students can get an incredible deal on their education, with lower-division courses costing approximately $108 per credit hour. But students who live outside the Sagebrush State can benefit from this low tuition too. Non-residents enrolled in an online program pay just $159.50 per lower-division credit hour.
GBC serves around 4,000 students online and at campuses across the state. This institution is entirely dedicated to undergraduate studies, offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and certificate programs. Sample programs include a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Communication.
What’s more, through GBC’s Prior Learning and Experience program, prospective students can get a headstart on their degree by receiving up to 15 credit hours for learning that occurred outside the classroom. For example, previous students have earned credits for military training.
Minot State University is a North Dakota-based public university offering an affordable, undergraduate per-credit rate of approximately $316. Better yet, MSU provides a small-school experience for this low price. Here, the student-to-faculty ratio is just 12:1, and MSU serves a little over 3,100 students in total.
Minot State’s online programs let students from around the country take advantage of its personalized educational experience. Undergraduates can pursue several bachelor’s degree majors online, including those in early childhood education, international business, and human services. General studies is also an option, allowing students to customize their own major by choosing from more than 100 academic disciplines.
Graduate students have five online options at MSU, covering areas of study like education, business, and information systems.
Chadron State College sits on Nebraska’s High Plains, and this school’s locale is not the only thing that’s flat – CSC offers flat-rate tuition. So whether you live by the sea or high in the mountains, you can profit from Chadron State’s affordable cost-of-attendance. Here, undergraduates pay around $296 per credit hour, and graduate students pay $370.
Enroll online at CSC, and you can choose a bachelor’s degree program in subjects ranging from psychology and education to geoscience and family and consumer sciences. You can also develop your own major with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Graduate students have four online master’s options, too. True to CSC’s history as a teacher’s college, many of these graduate programs focus on educational studies.
You can begin one of CSC’s online programs at three different start dates throughout the year. Online courses last eight weeks, and students can access material 24/7 with no set class times.
If you want an affordable faith-based education, then Amridge University is a great option. This private university has more than 35 online degree programs, each imbued with Christian values and beliefs. If this is your first time pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you’ll receive a discount at Amridge, paying only $250 per credit hour. Additionally, first-responders seeking an undergraduate degree pay this same low tuition.
On top of its affordable cost of attendance, Amridge offers several scholarships to students from unique backgrounds. For example, the Home School Student Award is granted to a home-schooled student who is a first-time freshman. Alternatively, the Dr. Rex and Barbara Turner Ministerial Award provides financial assistance to students in the Turner School of Theology, pursuing degrees like its Master of Divinity.
In addition to religious studies, Amridge offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in business, general studies, and education and human services.
It’s never too late to go back to school, and Thomas Edison State University is specifically designed for older students who want to do just that. The average student age at this public university is 35.
If you enroll at TESU, you can choose to pay per credit or flat-rate tuition. If you can take ten credits or more each term, then the latter will save you money in the long run. For New Jersey residents, the per-credit rate is $399. If an in-state student takes 18 credit hours in a term, then they pay a flat-rate tuition of $3,963, saving as much as $3,219!
The bottom line is that the more time you’re able to dedicate to your studies at TESU, the less you’ll pay in total. TESU’s online programs range from associate’s degrees to Ph.D.s., spanning areas of study like nursing, business, and engineering.
This Alabama-based school was started by a group of U.S. governors who sought to make higher education more accessible to a wider populace. Why? They recognized that higher education levels would lead to more wealth in their states.
Since its founding, WGU has developed four colleges in information technology, business, health professions, and teaching. Each offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As an institution, WGU follows a competency-based learning model, allowing students to pull from previous knowledge to move quickly through courses that cover material they already know.
Like other schools on this list, Western Governors University uses flat-rate tuition, helping hardworking students save more money. At WGU, if you take on more classes, you’ll pay less overall for your degree. Each six-month term, WGU’s undergraduates pay $3,255 in tuition. This payment model has proved successful; as WGU reports, its students had student loan debt that was less than half the national average in 2017.
Brigham Young University is a private university supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This school boasts the highest undergraduate enrollment of any private institution, serving more than 30,700 students. It also touts tuition rates that provide students an exceptional educational experience at a low cost. U.S. News & World Report ranks BYU at No. 12 among its Best Value Schools, a list topped by higher education heavy-hitters like Princeton, Harvard, and Yale.
BYU’s Idaho-based campus offers more than 40 fully online undergraduate degrees and certificates. For those seeking a bachelor’s degree, the school’s online programs cover disciplines like marriage and family, applied business management, applied technology, and much more.
BYU-Idaho is especially cost-effective for online students who are also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These learners pay just $125 per credit hour. Non-affiliated students pay approximately $156 per credit.
Baker College is a not-for-profit private school with an affordable pathway for transfer students. Baker’s Bridge to Bachelor’s program makes it simple for students with an associate’s degree from an accredited junior college to earn an additional 60 credits to gain their bachelor’s. Moreover, Baker offers two scholarships that are specifically awarded to transfer students. Earn one of these, and you can take as much as $9,000 off your tuition each year.
Baker offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs at its ten campuses across Michigan and online. Students can pursue a number of disciplines online like accounting, criminal justice, and healthcare administration.
Baker’s online classes are asynchronous, allowing students to schedule their studies when it’s most convenient for them. However, coursework is not self-paced, and set deadlines keep students on track to graduate.
Based in Omaha, NE, Bellevue University is a military-friendly campus, providing an affordable $250-per-credit-hour tuition to active-duty service members and their spouses. And at this not-for-profit private school, all undergraduates can take advantage of low costs while learning about serving their country. Bellevue requires students to take classes in its Kirkpatrick Signature Series, which seeks to instill the importance of active American citizenship.
Bellevue offers online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. This institution provides variety with more than 50 online undergraduate majors in areas like sports management, cybersecurity, and international business administration.
Bellevue’s online coursework mirrors a traditional on-campus classroom experience as closely as possible. Classes are capped at 24 students, allowing students to get personalized feedback from their professors. Program participants also join a cohort of fellow students who progress through their studies at the same pace. What’s more, support services like tutoring and writing assistance are easily accessible online.
With more than 41 campuses, Park University’s students can certainly save on commuting costs. This school spans the states, from Washington to Georgia, to Maine and Arizona. Its main campus, however, is in Parkville, MO. As the name suggests, Parkville is a scenic home base, stretching over 700 forested acres near the Missouri River.
Although Park makes itself convenient to students across the U.S., you don’t need to commute to any campus to become a “Pirate.” Park has more than 80 online programs, such as a Master of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Information and Computer Science, and an Associate of Science in Social Psychology.
Park’s tuition is $415 per credit hour with discounted rates for active military and veterans. Additionally, it awards several institutional scholarships, including two that cover half-tuition for undergraduate and graduate international students.
Online learners excel at West Texas A&M University. This school ranks highly on several of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for online education. For example, it holds the No. 16 spot on U.S. News’ list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and the No. 8 spot on its list of the Best Online Master’s in Information Technology Programs.
Situated on the Texas Panhandle, WTAMU is part of the revered Texas A&M University System. The school serves more than 10,000 “Buffaloes,” approximately three-quarters of whom are undergraduates.
WTAMU offers fully and mostly online programs with additional hybrid options. Mostly online programs require some in-person classes, but these do not exceed 15% of the program’s total time. Face-to-face requirements take the form of orientations, laboratory sessions, or exams. At WTAMU, both graduate and undergraduate students can study online in a variety of academic disciplines like business, education, and health sciences.
Whether you live in New Mexico or not, you’ll pay well under $400 per credit hour if you enroll in an undergraduate program at Eastern New Mexico University. Better yet, as a “Greyhound,” you can speed through your coursework. ENMU’s online courses are delivered in four- or eight-week terms, helping students move quickly through their studies.
ENMU enrolls around 5,700 students, making it the largest public university in New Mexico. Online programs utilize Blackboard, where students can virtually access their syllabi, assignments, and discussion boards. Through Mediasite, online Greyhounds can watch live and recorded lectures.
Choose ENMU and you can pick from a diverse array of bachelor’s and master’s programs. Online bachelor’s degrees range from aviation science and accounting to Spanish and social work. For graduate students, offerings in educational studies are the most robust, with several specializations available in its Master of Education program.
Granite State College’s generous transfer policy of up to 90 credit hours makes it easy for students to finish what they started. As a bonus, students can cross the finish line online while taking advantage of an affordable per-credit rate of just $314 for in-state undergraduates.
This New Hampshire-based school also provides discounts to students who fit certain criteria. For example, if you earn your bachelor’s at GSC, you can get 10% off your tuition for a master’s program, like its Master of Science in Project Management. Furthermore, in-state students who are 65 years or older can get their tuition completely waived.
GSC offers fully online associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s programs. Some of its undergraduate degrees are completion programs, allowing learners to pursue their upper-division courses online after they’ve taken 60 credit hours of lower-division work. All bachelor’s programs culminate with a research paper or internship.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin proves that not everything is bigger in Texas, including your educational costs. UTPB’s undergraduate distance learners pay approximately $9,799 each academic year. If you’re a full-time student taking 15 credit hours each semester, that works out to around $326 per credit hour.
UTPB is the smallest institution in the University of Texas System, a group of 14 universities across the state. Here, students join a close-knit community of just 6,000 students while still benefiting from the resources of this larger network.
UTPB’s online programs are easily accessible from any device with its tech-savvy app. Nineteen programs are available in total, including both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sample degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, and a Master of Arts in Bilingual or ESL (English as a Second Language) Education.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has helped set the standard for online education for more than 25 years. This school ranks at No. 2 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees and Programs, and it has appeared in the top five since U.S. News started calculating this list in 2013. What sets Embry-Riddle apart is its online technology. Called EagleVision, this learning platform fashions a virtual classroom, allowing learning to unfold in real-time.
Embry-Riddle’s students can also choose to take fully asynchronous coursework or a blend of both. No matter the format followed, technology will enhance your course material throughout your studies. For instance, aerospace engineering students can test simulated flights with the Virtual Aerial Robotics Lab.
Embry-Riddle especially excels in aviation-related fields, but it also offers programs in a variety of disciplines. Three of its colleges deliver fully online bachelor’s and master’s degrees: the College of Aeronautics, the College of Arts & Science, and the College of Business.
Often the mark of a great education is how well former students perform on industry-focused exams, and Fort Hays State University boasts top marks in several disciplines. For example, its Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates touted a 100% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Exam. FHSU also ranks highly on U.S. News & World Report’s lists, ranked at No. 42 among its Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and No. 35 among the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.
Over 45% of FHSU’s students study online, and it’s not hard to see why with online tuition rates this low. Undergraduates pay approximately $218 per credit hour, and graduates pay around $287. Fort Hays offers online associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s programs. Additionally, it has an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program.
Undergraduates can choose from a lengthy list of 60 bachelor’s degree options ranging from computer science and modern languages to education and finance.
Understanding the full cost of attendance at most universities can be tricky, especially if math is not your discipline of choice. Aspen University seeks to solve this issue by making the price for higher education more transparent. This school gives a complete breakdown for each of its academic programs, including how much students should budget for tuition, textbooks, and fees.
Nearly all of Aspen’s undergraduate programs cost just $150 per credit. Additionally, Aspen’s students can easily fit their tuition into their monthly budgets with the school’s no-interest payment plans.
Based in Denver, Aspen is an entirely online institution delivering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through four schools in business and technology, education, nursing, and professional studies. It also provides one online associate’s program: the Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.
At Troy University, online learning does not mean limited majors. In fact, this Alabama-based school has 71 online degree programs. Here, you can find programs not commonly offered to online learners at other institutions. For example, unique opportunities include a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology, a Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management, and a Ph.D. in Global Leadership.
It’s not hard to see why Troy ranks at No. 52 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Online undergraduate “Trojans” get quality online instruction at an affordable price of $338 per credit hour.
Troy uses Canvas as its online learning platform, and courses are accessible 24/7 with no set class times. Before beginning, students take a PREPARE Assessment to make sure they know what to expect in their virtual classrooms. Troy also provides online Trojans with a free Canvas orientation course.
Parlez-vous français? If “oui,” then the University of Maine at Fort Kent might be an especially great choice for you! This school sits on Maine’s northern border with Canada’s Quebec province where French is the official language. So, you’ll notice that this university includes both French and English on its logo, an indication of its unique locale.
Besides straddling two countries, UMFK also boasts a scenic campus surrounded by thrilling outdoor activities. You don’t need to visit campus, however, to enroll here. UMFK has eight fully online programs, including associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. These cover areas of study like accounting, nursing, and cybersecurity.
Additionally, students have the option to customize their courses of study with an Associate of Arts in General Studies and a self-designed Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. Best of all, undergraduate tuition is just $245 for in-state residents.
Business programs can often come with a higher cost of attendance than other academic disciplines. But that’s not the case at Georgia Southwestern State University. This school offers an exceptionally affordable online Master of Business Administration at just $257 per credit hour. Moreover, GSW is accredited by the gold standard in business schools, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
GSW’s School of Business Administration also offers an online associate’s degree in business and a Bachelor of Business Administration with three available specializations in management, accounting, or human resource management. Additional online programs focus on criminal justice, nursing, and computer information systems.
GSW is based in the quaint town of Americus, GA, and has an 18-hole golf course on campus. What’s more, students can afford an extra set of clubs with this school’s low tuition rates. Online undergraduate students pay $182 per credit hour.
The key to new career opportunities can be forming professional connections with fellow alumni. Founded in 1837, Marshall University has had many years to build its network, which is now more than 91,000 strong.
This West Virginia school provides several online bachelor’s and master’s programs. Its Master of Science in Criminal Justice is well-regarded, ranked among the best of its kind by U.S. News & World Report. Additional areas of study include new media studies, geography, and math.
Among the offerings for online undergraduate students, Marshall provides the Regents Bachelor of Arts degree, which is a customizable program designed for students who started college but didn’t finish. More than 100 online courses are available to help students get the credits they need to graduate. Any failing grades that are four or more years old are “forgiven,” meaning they are not factored into the student’s final grade point average. Best of all, if you’re an undergraduate online student at Marshall, you can expect to pay approximately $303 per credit hour, including fees.
The University of the Cumberlands is turning the tide on rising tuition. In 2018, it enacted the Cumberlands Commitment and halved its undergraduate tuition rates. Today, undergraduates pay just $199 per credit hour.
UC is a Christian university that sits in the foothills of Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. More than 15,000 students from around the world enroll here, and roughly 86% of these are seeking graduate-level degrees. In addition to fully online degrees, UC offers executive-format programs in business and information technology. These incorporate online coursework and weekend on-campus intensives, which is a perfect opportunity for networking.
Online learners can pursue degrees of various academic levels here, from associate’s to doctoral. Fulfilling the school’s faith-based mission, programs are available in ministry and religious studies. UC also has robust offerings for students interested in counseling, psychology, or social and behavioral sciences.
Do you enjoy a three-day weekend? If so, you should enroll at a school that shares your love of Fridays. Peru State College has done away with Friday classes, and this is one of many perks of becoming a “Bobcat.” For instance, this Nebraska-based school also prides itself on its student support services, like free tutoring.
Of course, Peru State’s online learners have the flexibility to study when they want and wherever they are. Peru State offers ten online bachelor’s majors covering business administration, criminal justice, and psychology. Graduate students have two online options: a Master of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Organizational Management.
Peru State’s online tuition rate is approximately $296 per undergraduate credit hour. With that said, students can transfer up to 90 credit hours from another accredited institution and can gain credits for prior work and life experiences, further defraying the total cost of education.
Valdosta State University has a picture-perfect campus with stately palm trees swaying under a blue Georgia sky. However, you can become a Blazer no matter how far you live from this southern campus. VSU offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees at a low cost with no out-of-state tuition fees.
Here, online undergraduates pay just $202 per credit hour. But these students have the option to pay even less for their education; VSU’s students can pursue the first two years of their studies through eCore’s online general education courses provided by the University System of Georgia. This lower-division coursework costs just $159 per credit hour.
VSU is an especially good choice for distance learners who love language. You can earn a Bachelor of Arts in French or Spanish, and educators can pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching in Foreign Language Education or English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Today, internships are a nearly ubiquitous part of the undergraduate experience. So, if you choose to pursue your bachelor’s online at Mayville State University, you won’t need to forgo this valuable experience. This North Dakota-based school takes experiential learning seriously, and its robust internship program helps students find relevant on-the-job training, no matter how they choose to study.
Mayville State’s online undergraduate tuition is just $305 per credit hour. Most online programs are at the associate’s or bachelor’s level, however, MSU does offer an online Master of Arts in Teaching. Undergraduate studies range from education and business to nursing and mathematics.
For a unique learning option, Mayville State offers the Bachelor of University Studies, which is designed to help students who had to put their college education on pause. These bachelor’s students can complete the credits they need to graduate online while pursuing a minor in areas like library media and information science, special needs, or accounting.
Ohio Christian University is a faith-based institution located in Circleville, Ohio. This school provides a Bible-based education to more than 3,000 students and boasts an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online learners can pursue several bachelor’s and master’s degrees at OCU in business, religion, technology, and government. OCU also offers programs in the humanities, like its Bachelor of Arts degrees in history, English, and interdisciplinary studies.
Earning a degree becomes less daunting with OCU’s one-course-at-a-time pacing. Also, students have the opportunity to connect with classmates as they move through coursework with the same cohort of students.
What’s more, at Ohio Christian, students who are employed by partnering organizations can earn $250 toward an already affordable tuition rate. Business partners include Bed Bath & Beyond, Bob Evans, and FedEx.
Mid-America Christian University calls Oklahoma City home. However, students around the globe can pursue a faith-based education through this institution’s online programs. MACU provides undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs in a range of academic disciplines, like addiction and substance abuse counseling, business leadership, and curriculum and instruction. True to its Christian mission, MACU also delivers programs in ministry and worship arts.
MACU’s online undergraduate students pay $408 per lower-division credit hour and $478 per upper-level credit hour. Students who major in Christian Ministries, however, pay a discounted rate of $395 per credit hour, no matter the level. At MACU, nontraditional students can also choose to take weeknight classes, which occur just one evening per week.
What Does “Accredited” Mean?
Simply put, an accredited university went through a rigorous evaluation from an outside organization, and this accrediting agency found the school’s educational offerings and support services to be up to snuff.
Accreditation can occur at either the institutional or programmatic level. An entire institution earns accreditation from organizations like the Higher Learning Commission; this agency oversees universities in 19 states. The HLC only gives its stamp of approval when an institution meets a long list of criteria. Example requirements include offering rigorous learning opportunities, hiring faculty and staff that come from diverse backgrounds, and ensuring that instructors are easily accessible to students.
Programmatic accreditation means that an institution’s specific academic program is approved by an industry-focused accrediting agency, like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. These organizations confirm that programs are truly preparing graduates for success in their chosen fields.
Why Is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation makes the value of your education certain. For example, if your goal is to become a nurse, you’ll want to enroll in a program that will teach you the skills and knowledge you’ll need on the job. You’ll want to learn from professors who know this information thoroughly. Entering a CCNE-accredited program can help guarantee this. This accreditation shows that your chosen program’s educational standards have been evaluated and approved by an objective third-party.
Accreditation is not just important for your own educational benefit. Employers will want to see that you’ve earned a degree from an accredited institution. State licenses, like those needed to become a public school teacher or a Certified Public Account, demand that you’ve graduated from an accredited institution. And if you want to further your education with a master’s or doctoral degree, you’ll need to have completed previous academic work at an accredited school.
How Long Will it Take to Earn My Degree?
In general, bachelor’s degree programs require 120 credit hours and are designed to take four years to complete. Requiring 60 credit hours, an associate’s degree is intended to take two years.
For master’s degrees, programs are typically designed to take at most two years. These generally require 30 credit hours.
What Does “Low Tuition” Mean?
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average cost for yearly undergraduate tuition in 2016-2017 was $40,925 across all institutions. To compare, say you enroll in an online bachelor’s program that has a tuition rate of $340 per credit hour. You’ll pay approximately $40,800 for your entire four years of undergraduate education, totaling 120 credit hours.
For graduate students, the NCES reported that the average total graduate tuition for all institutions was $18,416 in 2016-2017. At this total cost, a 30-credit-hour program would have a $614 per-credit-hour rate. A low-tuition school would offer rates well below this average.
Can I Apply for Financial Aid if I Study Online?
Yes, and this is another reason why accreditation is important. To receive federal financial aid, online students need to be enrolled in a school that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.
Keep in mind, the types of federal financial aid available to you will depend on your enrollment status. For example, certain loan programs require students to study at least half-time.
Can I Receive a Scholarship if I Study Online?
Yes! Some schools have scholarships that are only awarded to online students. When searching for scholarships, be sure to check with your financial aid department for all available institutional awards.
You can also contact your academic department to ask if there are any departmental scholarships available to online learners. Since these are specific to students in your discipline, they will likely have less competition. Departmental scholarships are often awarded based on academic merit, so they might not be available to you until you’ve progressed in your studies.
Also, scholarships can be found outside of academia. Companies and non-profit organizations award financial assistance to students according to varying criteria. For example, scholarships exist for first-generation students, for students who reside in certain states or cities, and for students who take part in organizations like Girl Scouts or Future Farmers of America.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out our 30 Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges and the Top 30 Fastest Accredited Online Graduate Colleges!