Don’t fret if you lack time or finances to attain a bachelor’s degree. Two-year associate programs provide post-secondary credentials employers seek but at a much lower cost. Associate degrees can unlock many high-paying jobs like nuclear technician, registered nurse, and web developer with little to no debt. In fact, one study found that 28 percent of associate degree holders out-earn bachelor’s grads. Online colleges make it even more convenient for high school graduates to further education from the home or office. Credits obtained in accredited online associate degree programs can also transfer later for advancement.
To help you achieve your career aspirations, we’ve recognized the following Top 15 Accredited Online Colleges Offering Associate Degrees for 2016. We began by searching for online schools with regional accreditation accepted by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Next, we used the NCES College Navigator’s Advanced Search to determine which online colleges offered associate degrees. Average annual undergraduate tuition was noted for each. We only selected accredited online colleges with at least two associate degrees. Extra points were given to universities boasting national rankings and awards. Other factors considered were financial aid, ROI, enrollment size, online learning technology, scheduling flexibility, and curriculum quality.
Here are the Top 15 Accredited Online Associate Degrees for 2016:
1. Pennsylvania State University
Educating around 97,400 students, Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus was the nation’s first accredited public, land-grant institution to provide online education. With an 87 percent graduation rate, Pennsylvania State University has the #1 Best Online Undergraduate Programs according to the U.S. News and World Report. Asynchronous online courses are available for six associate degrees, including the A.S. in Business Administration, A.S. in Turfgrass Science, and A.S. in Human Development and Family Studies.
2. Florida Institute of Technology
Located in Melbourne just 50 miles from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit research institution serving over 6,300 students. The U.S. News and World Report ranked Florida Tech the 161st best national university with the 92nd best online undergraduate programs. Associate students can choose 10 online degrees, such as an A.A. Criminal Justice, A.A. Aviation Management, or A.S. Computer Information Systems.
3. American InterContinental University
Backed by Higher Learning Commission – North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA) accreditation, American InterContinental University is a for-profit, distance learning institution located in Schaumburg, Illinois, to educate over 15,500 students virtually. Ranked second nationally in awarding associate degrees to minorities, American InterContinental University is lauded for the 30th Best Online Undergraduate Programs nationally by the U.S. News and World Report. Through the M.U.S.E. platform, AIU Online provides an A.A. in Business Administration and A.S. in Criminal Justice.
4. Ashland University
Rooted in Judeo-Christian values, Ashland University is a private, non-profit Brethren institution educating approximately 6,000 students from its campus in north-central Ohio. Declared the 156th Best Value in the ETC College Rankings Index, Ashland is the 199th top national university in the U.S. News and World Report survey. With Higher Learning Commission – North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA) accreditation, Ashland provides an online Associate in Business, Associate in Criminal Justice, and Associate in General Studies.
5. American Public University System
Established in 1991 by Major James P. Etter, American Public University System is a regionally accredited for-profit, distance institution in Charles Town, West Virginia. Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for America’s 58th Best Online Undergraduate Programs, American Public University Sysytem is a “Military Friendly” school with over 98,400 students. The Online Learning Consortium offers 22 affordable associate degrees, including an A.A. in Counterterrorism Studies, A.S. in Web Publishing, and A.S. in Paralegal Studies.
6. Saint Leo University
Affiliated with the Holy Name Monastery, Saint Leo University is a private, Catholic liberal arts institution enlightening over 16,200 students from its rural Florida campus and online. Ranked 71st regionally, Saint Leo is noted for the 43rd Best Online Undergraduate Education Nationwide by the U.S. News and World Report. With eight-week terms, online students can pursue the A.A. Business Administration, A.A. Criminal Justice, A.A. Information Technology, or A.A. Liberal Arts.
7. Colorado Technical University
Owned by Career Education Corporation, Colorado Technical University is an accredited private, for-profit higher learning in Colorado Springs educating over 25,700 campus and online students. Granted the 2015 NUTN Distance Education Innovation Award, CTU has America’s 63rd Best Online Undergraduate programs. At the associate level, online learners can earn the A.S. in Health Administration Services, A.S. in Accounting, A.S. in Business Administration, and A.S. in Management.
8. Eastern Kentucky University
Regionally accredited by the SACS, Eastern Kentucky University enrolls 16,500+ students in Richmond, Kentucky, and beyond as a public, co-educational research institution. Ranked #2 in Military Times’ “Best for Vets” schools, Eastern Kentucky University ties for the 63rd Best Online Undergraduate degrees according to the U.S. News and World Report. Available online associate programs include the A.A.S. Paralegal Science, A.A.S. Paramedicine, and A.A. Police Studies.
Tuition: $8,150 (in-state) or $17,640 (out-of-state)
9. Liberty University
Following the motto “Knowledge Aflame,” Liberty University is a private, non-profit Baptist institution educating 100,000+ online students from its suburban headquarters in Lynchburg, Virginia. Given a Forbes financial grade of B, Liberty is distinguished for America’s 100th Best Online Undergraduate Degrees by the U.S. News and World Report. Currently, 12 associate degrees like the A.A. in Psychology, A.A. in Religion, and A.A. in Education are available 100 percent online.
10. Columbia College
Chartered by the Missouri Legislature in 1851, Columbia College is a private, non-profit liberal arts institution nestled in the Ozark Mountains to enroll over 2,100 co-ed students. Crowned a GetEducated.com “Best Buy,” Columbia is recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for the 106th Top Online Undergraduate Degrees. Online students can choose from eight associate programs like the Associate in Arts, A.S. in Human Services, and A.S. in Environmental Studies.
11. California University of Pennsylvania
In the PASSHE system, California University of Pennsylvania is a public, state-funded teaching institution enrolling over 9,400 students on campuses in California, Canonsburg, and online. Named among the Princeton Review’s “Best Northeastern” schools, California University of Pennslyvania has the country’s 111th Best Online Undergraduate Degrees. Online students can attain the Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies or Associate of Science in Technical Studies.
Tuition: $9,936 (in-state) or $14,069 (out-of-state)
12. Southern New Hampshire University
Endowed for $16.7 million, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, non-sectarian institution educating around 64,000 campus and online students from Manchester. Named Fast Company’s 12th Most Innovative Business with Apple and Google, Southern New Hampshire Uniniversity is the North’s 131st Best Regional University. Online learners can pursue eight associate degrees, such as the A.S. Fashion Merchandising, A.A. Digital Photography, and A.S. Information Technologies.
13. Keiser University
Since 2011, Keiser University has been an Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredited private, non-profit Level VI institution in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, serving upwards of 18,500 students. Conferring the nation’s 2nd most healthcare associate degrees, Keiser is ranked the 36th Best College in the South by the U.S. News and World Report. The Online Division grants 10 associate degrees, including an A.A. Health Services Administration, A.A. Homeland Security, and A.S. Medical Assisting.
14. Post University
Featuring an A+ BBB rating, Post University is a regionally accredited private, for-profit institution offering career-driven evening and online education to over 7,300. Based in Waterbury, Post won the 2015 Connecticut Quality Improvement Award and was ranked #7 nationally for return on investment by PayScale. Online learners can select from six associate degrees, including the A.S. in Marketing, A.S. in Early Childhood Education, and A.S. in Accounting.
15. Kaplan University
With enrollment over 37,000, Kaplan University is a regionally accredited for-profit, non-competitive online institution headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, since 1937. Boasting a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, Kaplan offers the 137th Best Online Undergraduate Programs according to the U.S. News and World Report. Among its 13 online associate degrees is an A.A.S. in Fire Science, A.A.S. in Nursing, A.A.S. in Legal Support and Services, and A.A.S. in Public Safety and Security.