Best Online Colleges and Top Online Universities of 2022

A boastfully reason for the growth in on-line education and on-line universities is demand. Online academic degree programs make college more accessible to a much larger population than traditional on-campus options. Thanks to engineering, you can earn a fully on-line undergraduate or graduate degree while balancing academic commitments with other responsibilities, such as a full-time subcontract or caring for your syndicate. source : 2021 Online Education Trends Report In the 2021 Online Education Trends Report conducted by BestColleges — which surveyed over 1,800 students — COVID-19-related restrictions, flexibility, and convenience were listed as exceed motivators for choosing on-line memorize. however, the advantages of on-line degree programs are more than fair an increase feel of flexibility and exemption. Online college courses eliminate the necessitate to commute to a campus, which can save students money. There are several costs associated with commuting to campus, including the cost of gas and parking. Affordability is a key business for many students — 32 % of review respondents reported a family income of less than $ 50,000 a class.

Learning in full online may not be well-suited to everyone, particularly if you get distracted well at family and struggle to stay motivated. however, in-person learn ca n’t compete with the flexibility provided by an on-line school. Whether you decide to attend school on-line or on campus, there are many high-quality, accredited colleges and universities to choose from. Learn about get down dates, transferring credits, handiness of fiscal help, and more by contacting the universities below. In the universe of on-line education, there is no overall best on-line college or best on-line degree plan. But there is a best choice for you. Ask yourself these five questions to begin the research for the best on-line colleges and universities for your situation : By understanding what you want out of a particular academic degree, you can make educated choices about which on-line universities and colleges have the best luck to give you an satisfactory render on investment. To help get you started on researching your degree options, check out these popular degree broadcast rankings : The beginning dance step is to think about what area of learn you ‘d like to pursue in decree to meet your career goals. Different college majors teach different skills and have different points of vehemence. Examine the different majors offered by a variety of top online colleges that relate to the airfield of sketch you ‘re matter to in. Research what specific courses are required in each major. besides consider what specific hard and soft skills will be most valuable to the work you want to be doing. You can explore our collection of academic program rankings to learn more about the best on-line degrees in versatile fields of study. beginning : National Center of Education Statistics ( undergraduate and graduate degree fields ) once you ‘ve determined what area you ‘re interest in studying, determine which degree ( or degrees ) you ‘ll need to meet your professional goals. besides be certain to double-check for needed prerequisites .

Ideal For: Typical Length: Median Annual Salary*:
Associate Those who have a high school diploma and want to quickly gain practical career skills 2 Years $40,000
Bachelor’s Those who have a high school diploma or some college credits and want to start a new career path or increase their earning potential 4 Years $55,700
Master’s Those who already have a bachelor’s degree but want switch careers, qualify for more advanced leadership roles, or increase their earning potential 2-3 Years $70,000 (for workers with a master’s or higher)
Doctorate Those who already have a bachelor’s or master’s who want to be an expert in their field or pursue positions in research and academia 3-6 Years $70,000 (for workers with a master’s or higher)

*For full-time, year-round workers ages 25-34

Evaluate Online Colleges

There are many factors to consider when judging the quality of an on-line program and determining whether it ‘s the right match for your educational goals. Take meter to consider each of the aspects mentioned below .

Type of Institution

The degree you decide to pursue will help determine the type of institution you need to attend. The most park types of colleges and universities fall under the keep up categories .


Always verify that an on-line university or college is accredited. accreditation for colleges matters because it sets choice standards meant to ensure that on-line degrees are legitimate and cargo area value. The accreditation condition of your college can besides impact your ability to apply for fiscal help or transfer credits .
A school ‘s accreditation status should be mentioned on its official web site. Students can besides verify a school ‘s status through the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher education. Both maintain lists of recognized institutional and programmatic accredit agencies .

Programmatic Accreditation

In some cases, individual programs may besides be accredited by an autonomous board. One example is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which evaluates academician programs in applied skill, computing, engineering, and technology. Independent agencies assess the competence and cogency of both on-campus and on-line degree programs, giving students peace of mind that their school ‘s department offers a reputable platform .
additionally, some state-level professional credentials require that students graduate from a broadcast with specific programmatic accreditation .


Online college courses come in a variety show of formats, such as synchronous and asynchronous options, allowing students to choose a social organization that works best for their learn style and life style. Determine what kind of tractability you ‘ll need in an on-line program by considering the common on-line course formats below .

Online Course Formats
Synchronous Students attend classes, view lectures, participate in group chats and conversations, and complete assignments according to a pre-set schedule or syllabus.
Asynchronous Students are given regular deadlines for completing assignments, viewing or listening to lectures, and participating in group discussions, but they can complete these tasks at any time before the due date.
Open Schedule Students can begin courses at any time, independent of traditional quarter or semester schedules. Students must complete assignments at set points during the class based on their start date and discussion. Interaction with other students is usually minimal or lacking entirely.
Fixed-Time Online Courses Students access all academic materials from a computer (no in-person meetings are required), but must log in to virtually attend and participate in class at specific times.
Hybrid The majority of course materials and instruction are provided online and can be done remotely, but students are required to meet in person one or more times during the course.


The true monetary value of a course of study can be one of the most significant factors when deciding on the best on-line university or college for you. When comparing the costs of on-line vs. on-campus programs, many students assume attending college on-line will constantly be cheaper with fewer fees .
In some ways, that may be on-key — on-line learners who do n’t plan on using campus-based services can typically skip costs associated with in-person attendance, including activity, park, and health fees. additionally, at some schools, all on-line students pay in-state tutelage, and other on-line student discounts and fee waivers may be available .
however, many who opt for on-line college courses encounter fees particular to distance learn, such as certain technology fees. These may be flat fees or charged by the credit hour .


Although a significant advantage of a in full on-line college or university is the fact that you can take courses anywhere with an internet connection, most on-line students actually take classes from a school located within 100 miles of where they live. Online degree programs offer a great deal of tractability, but enrolling in an on-line degree program close to your home can offer extra advantages .
If you enroll in an on-line degree program airless to base, you may be able to save money by paying in-state tutelage. You could besides more easily access campus resources ( for example, libraries, gymnasium, or in-person office hours with professors and academician advisors ) or explore hybrid programs, which require you to spend some meter on campus in addition to taking classes on-line .
interest in learning about the best on-line degrees available in your state ? Explore the map below to find the best on-line school in each department of state .

Top Online Schools By State

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Student Support

Each on-line broadcast differs in the support it offers to students, so cause sure you ‘ll be getting the resources you need to feel comfortable and confident in your studies. For some, that might mean resources for scholar parents, students of color, or undocumented students. Student services can besides come in the form of writing aid, coaching and counseling from an academic adviser, and career services for on-line graduates .

How Can I Pay for an Online Degree?

Earning an on-line college degree typically requires a substantial investing. While some students choose to pay for college out-of-pocket using savings or family contributions, many need to seek fiscal help to help make college more low-cost .
Some on-line schools besides allow students to pay for tuition and housing in monthly installments, preferably than paying one hunk total for each semester or draw terminus. These submit requital plans may carry small to no interest, but the balance wheel must be paid off by the end of each terminus .

Financial Aid

fiscal care opportunities are available through respective sources, including the federal government, nonprofit organizations, and individual companies, ampere well as the on-line college or university a student attends. Filling out the dislodge Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA ) is required to qualify for federal scholar loans, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as many private scholarships and grants .
Submitting the FAFSA is recommended for undergraduate and graduate students who qualify, and students should complete this process each year they ‘re in school. The FAFSA human body may be completed and submitted on-line. It includes questions about the applicant ‘s fiscal background — including their family ‘s income, tax history, and stream assets — to determine how much fiscal care a scholar may qualify for .


Students may seek college loans from the federal government or private lend institutions, such as banks or credit unions. federal loans carry a fixed matter to rate, and the sake may be tax-deductible. federal loans do not need to be repaid until the scholar graduates or leaves school. Online graduates who struggle to repay their loans may be able to postpone or reduce their monthly payments .
Loans from private lenders, on the other hand, typically carry a varying interest rate — up to 14 % or higher in some cases — and the interest is rarely tax-deductible. Students are frequently required to begin repaying these loans while inactive in school. Private lenders may besides place restrictions on how the aid money is spent. however, if you can not afford your monthly payment for your private scholar lend, refinance and consolidation options may be available .

Work-Study Programs

The Federal Work-Study Program is designed for students who demonstrate fiscal need. The broadcast allows them to work character time while enrolled in college courses. Students attending a college on-line that participates in the Federal Work-Study Program are eligible to join. This includes those seeking undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees. half-time and full-time students may be eligible .
federal Work-Study jobs are much related to the student ‘s field of study. On- and off-campus positions may be available through the program, depending on handiness. Those who work on campus normally function for the educate, while off-campus employees often work for nonprofit organization organizations or public agencies .

Tuition Reimbursement Programs

According to a 2020 club of Human Resource Management report, about one-half of private organizations offer tutelage aid to employees who wish to earn a postsecondary academic degree. These plans are mutually beneficial. Employees who receive aid can offset some of the out-of-pocket costs for their department of education, and employers strengthen their work force with workers who have advanced trail in their field .
however, tutelage reimbursement may not cover all of a student ‘s expenses. It is not uncommon for organizations to reimburse $ 4,000- $ 9,000 in tutelage per year, depending on the circumstances. additionally, the employee may be required to work for the organization for a certain length of clock time after earning their degree or certificate .

Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships

A grant is a form of fiscal care delivered to students in a ball sum. For exercise, the federal government provides Pell Grants to low-income students, and many colleges and universities besides offer exchangeable grants. Fellowships are basically a type of grant for students who conduct independent inquiry. Scholarships are exchangeable to grants, but these are normally available through private organizations. additionally, while grants are typically need-based awards, scholarships may be awarded based on variables like academic deservingness, field of study, or demographic factors .
Some grants, fellowships, and scholarships impose restrictions on how the money may be spent. Recipients who do not follow these guidelines may need to pay back some or all of the award. otherwise, these forms of fiscal help — unlike loans — do not need to be repaid by on-line graduates .
Learn more about scholarships and fiscal aid options for on-line college students .

Other Online Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about begin dates, transferring credits, handiness of fiscal aid, and more by contacting the universities below .

What Do I Need to Apply to Online College?

once you ‘ve decided on the best on-line school for you, you ‘ll need to take many of the lapp steps required to apply to an on-campus program. Make note of important deadlines and submission dates before starting the process so you ‘ll have time to prepare and collect the proper materials.

What You’ll Need

  • Test Scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement/Essay
  • Official Transcripts


Over 900 schools accept the Common Application. Students who fill in some basic information and answer a few school-specific questions can apply to multiple schools or universities at a time. Check to see if the on-line school you ‘re applying to accepts this type of lotion. If not, you can find the admissions application on your target school ‘s official web site .

College Essay

many applications require a long-form test that addresses a general subject or creative prompt. Be sure to write multiple drafts of your essay to ensure it is free of grammatical errors, misprint, and ambiguities. If the prompt is general, make sure to emphasize your academic, professional, and extracurricular experiences to demonstrate your rate as a scholar .

Letters of Recommendation

You ‘ll likely need to submit at least one letter of recommendation with your application packet, so try and come up with a few good references who you can ask. Teachers, school counselors, and employers are all good resources to reach out to .

Official Transcripts and Test Scores

undergraduate students are frequently asked to submit high educate transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. alternatively, graduate students may be asked to submit their undergraduate transcripts, ampere good as GMAT or GRE results, depending on their school and area of study .

What Can I Expect From Online College Courses?

While on-line learn courses have their own singular expectations, they share many of the same components and objectives as traditional in-person learn courses. here ‘s what you can expect from on-line college courses .


particular requirements vary by program, but most on-line students log into their educate ‘s learning management system ( LMS ) to participate in on-line class lectures. asynchronous learning programs allow students to view lecture recordings on their own prison term. alternatively, synchronous programs may require students to watch live-streaming lectures. In some cases, synchronous courses feature video conferencing components that allow students to ask questions and interact with their professors and fellow students .

Peer-to-Peer Interaction

Online coursework much features discussion boards where students can communicate through written posts. Videoconferencing may besides be available, and students may contact one another by phone, e-mail, or social media to coordinate study sessions or work on group projects. additionally, students who live close to campus can coordinate in-person study groups with their classmates .

Instructor Interaction

individual on-line classes frequently feature a discussion board where students can leave faculty questions. many professors will besides provide their personal contact data — including e-mail, call, and sociable media — to ensure their students can contact them if they have questions or concerns .

Assignments and Homework

The assignments and homework requirements for on-line college courses normally mirror on-campus classes. Depending on the subject, these assignments may include group projects, presentations, and research papers. many on-line classes besides require students to participate in group discussions on LMS boards. The LMS will feature specific drop boxes for individual classes and assignments .
synchronous courses often follow a close schedule. In contrast, asynchronous courses may allow more flexibility for assignments, though most hush have weekly deadlines. Online college courses may use on-line platforms, such as Pearson MyLab, which organize naturally content into quizzes, tutorials, and other synergistic materials .


Online coursework may include presentation assignments. In most cases, group members communicate and work on their projects through discussion boards, e-mail, or call. The presentations are normally delivered remotely, using web conferencing tools like Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom. Videos may besides be posted on websites like YouTube .

Tests and Exams

Quizzes for most on-line college courses are completed using the LMS. Tests and exams in on-line classes may be proctored or monitored remotely. Proctored exams normally want students to visit local anesthetic test centers, where onsite proctors monitor test-takers. For virtually monitor exams, the invigilate may observe the student using a webcam. Some courses besides use cheating detection software to monitor the student ‘s world wide web activity while taking the examination .

Expert Advice on Choosing an Online Program

Melissa A. Venable, Ph.D.
According to Online Education Advisor, Melissa A. Venable, Ph.D.
Every class when we conduct our annual surveil of on-line students, respondents say they wish they had compared more programs before enrolling. Deciding between on-line programs can be challenging — particularly since there are more choices now than ever before — but there are a few things you can do to find the best option for your needs .
Beyond ensuring the on-line programs you ‘re considering are accredited by a reputable organization and within your reach financially, the best place to start is with your own goals. From career progress to lifelong determine, students choose their on-line degree programs with a variety show of objectives in mind .
Take some time to identify why you want to pursue an on-line degree and the kinds of support you ‘ll need to succeed. Look for support services and resources that are significant to you, such as tutor, career rede, internship coordination, social clubs, and health and health classes .
look for confirm services and resources that are important to you, such as tutor, career guidance, internship coordination, social clubs, and health and health classes .
Ca n’t find what you ‘re looking for while searching for on-line degree programs ? Do n’t be afraid to reach out and ask a school directly ! Some schools offer sample classes or run tours online to show you what the experience will be like once you become an on-line student .

How We Rank the Best Online Colleges

We review hundreds of on-line college programs each year to help students find the best on-line universities and colleges to meet their needs. Each rate educate is a fully accredited, nonprofit initiation. Our methodology uses qualitative measures and data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and proprietary school surveys. Read our ranking methodology .
Use our rank list of the best on-line colleges and universities to begin your search for a platform that works with your budget, agenda, and learning style. Each school profile includes information about available subjects and majors, a well as luminary student outcomes. We hope our resource helps you find the educate that is best for you .

Best Accredited Online Colleges and Top Online Universities 2022

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Degree Programs

How long does it take to get an online bachelor’s degree?

An on-line bachelor ‘s degree typically includes 120 credits, which full-time students can complete in approximately four years. Program duration can vary well, however, depending on the train schedules available. For case, schools may offer part-time schedules to accommodate working professionals and accelerated options for learners concerned in expediting graduation .
Online colleges tend to offer more flexibility than traditional schools. many on-line programs deliver courses asynchronously, which learners can complete during the most desirable hours for them. Since asynchronous programs do not rely on alive teaching, students may be able to take heavier course loads and graduate more quickly .
Degree-seekers may shorten their sketch times in other ways, american samoa good. Online schools may offer transfer credits for learners with previous undergraduate trail, and some even provide credit for students with certain types of professional feel. Transfer credits can cut survey times down by a much as 75 %, in certain cases .

Do employers like online degrees?

Employers typically view on-line degrees as equal to on-campus degrees. Online and on-campus programs contain the same substantial, alone differing in the methods and time of direction. The best on-line colleges rarely label their on-line degrees as such, making them identical from their on-campus counterparts .
on-line department of education can besides make it easier for students to access some of the most recognizable and reputable schools in the nation. This may lead to even better use opportunities. american samoa long as the on-line school and/or plan holds proper accreditation, students and potential employers need n’t worry about a academic degree being illegitimate .
regional accreditation demonstrates that the on-line college meets robust educational standards. Programmatic accreditation identifies programs that meet industry standards and expectations for the field. prospective students and employers can check the status of programs and on-line schools through the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs ( DAPIP ) .

Is an online degree as good as a traditional degree?

An on-line degree provides the same horizontal surface of teaching as a traditional degree, so the two degree types should be considered equal. on-line and on-campus students take the same courses and read the like materials. They frequently share the like instructors and complete the lapp assignments, angstrom well .
The main difference comes from the format, with on-line learners watching virtual lectures and communicating with teachers and peers online. While on-line programs may mirror in-class schedules, some feature asynchronous options. This allows students to access recorded lectures, which adds tractability but may reduce classroom interaction .
Students may need to demonstrate different characteristics and study habits to find success in on-line programs. Online courses, peculiarly asynchronous courses, require more independence and proactivity. Self-motivated and self-disciplined students are likely best suited for on-line universities .

Are online colleges worth it?

on-line colleges are worth it for many students. Online degrees can provide capital measure for students, leading to many unlike continuing education and use opportunities. According to Best Colleges ‘ 2021 Online Education Trends Report, 93 % of on-line students had or expected to receive a convinced education investment return .
The top on-line colleges provide increased agenda tractability to students, which can help them maintain a healthier knead and analyze balance. With reduce travel and campus requirements, on-line schools can be more accessible than traditional schools. on-line students can besides expand their search parameters, giving them more choices and a probability to be accepted at some of the best universities in the U.S .
Online colleges can besides provide cost-saving opportunities for students. In accession to lower locomotion, room, and board costs, some online schools evening provide tutelage discounts for on-line learners, such as in-state tuition rates for out-of-state learners. With a greater selection of on-line schools and programs, degree-seekers may find study options with a lower price chase .

What can I do with an online degree?

on-line graduates have access to the lapp graduate opportunities as traditional graduates. not only can they pursue the like job opportunities after completing their programs, but on-line learners may have an easier time maintaining employment during their studies .
For this reason, on-line colleges are frequently effective options for continuing department of education. An organization can have its employees upgrade their train and skills outside of traditional work hours. For these professionals, on-line degrees can lead to pay increases, more province, and promotions .
As with traditional graduates, those with an on-line degree can besides pursue further discipline. already experienced in on-line memorize, bachelor ‘s graduates may be able to tackle an on-line alumnus academic degree with more confidence. According to the National Center of Education Statistics ( NCES ), close to 33 % of graduate students took on-line courses entirely in 2019, compared to 15 % of undergraduates .

Is it harder to get a job with an online degree?

Online school graduates should n’t have a harder time finding employment than traditional graduates. According to a 2018 Northeastern University survey of human resources professionals, 61 % of leaders believed online degrees were by and large equal to or or better than traditional degrees. Furthermore, 33 % of HR leaders believed online memorize will surpass on-campus prepare in quality .
Degree-seekers can improve their employment odds by selecting a top on-line college and program with proper regional and programmatic accreditation. Employers can be assured that on-line graduates from accredited on-line colleges have received an adequate level of educate. DAPIP provides a searchable tilt of recognized schools and programs .
prospective students should besides look for on-line schools that offer timbre career services and programs. Having access to mentorship programs, job boards, resume-building workshops, and interview aid can make a large remainder in outcomes .

Are online college degrees legitimate?

The degrees awarded by accredit on-line colleges are every bit american samoa legalize as traditional degrees. Online programs follow the same course of study and cover the same material. In many cases, on-line students watch the lapp lectures as on-campus students, either through recorded videos or live webcasts .
According to NCES, more than 7 million students took at least one on-line course in 2019. And about 3.5 million took in full on-line programs — close to 18 % of the sum scholar body. ball-shaped Market Insights projects 21 % increase in the e-learning grocery store between 2021 and 2027 .
In response to the COVID-19 situation, colleges and universities moved classes on-line. This caused many institutions to accelerate the development of their e-learning infrastructures, which could bode well for the future of on-line learn. not only should a greater investment in on-line learning make education more accessible, but it is likely to improve the engineering and effectiveness of the train .

Featured Student Planning Resources

Featured double : Prostock-Studio / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images
Looking for the most low-cost colleges ? Use this rank of the cheapest on-line colleges to learn more about tutelage costs, admission eligibility, and plan requirements. We ‘ve ranked the best on-line community colleges & craft Schools for programs, fiscal aid, and more. Compare and search for the school that matches your goals. Adult students face unique challenges in college. We ‘ve listed the best on-line colleges for working adults that offer supportive services for their needs . is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted collaborator programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site .

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