Most Affordable Online Colleges & Universities of 2014

Top Online Schools

Online degrees offer a variety of benefits for students and are becoming increasingly popular because whether you live in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, Oregon, West Virginia – doesn’t matter! One of the main advantages of attending school online, rather than on a physical campus, is affordability. Online degree programs tend to be more cost-effective than traditional degree programs, as online classes require fewer resources. Cutting back on classroom use and teaching materials gives colleges and universities the opportunity to charge their online students lower tuition rates, which makes online degrees more affordable and allows students to pursue higher education without negatively impacting their tight budgets.

Because affordability is such an important factor in students’ decisions to pursue online education, we’ve put together a list of the top 25 affordable online colleges and universities. Affordability does not define quality — many schools that offer low tuition also offer high-quality education. All of the schools on this list are accredited and reputable, despite their low costs.

Here is our list of the 25 most affordable online schools of 2014:

  1. Walden UniversityRequest Info

    Walden University is an institution designed specifically with online students in mind. Walden has been in operation for over 40 years, and continues to develop its online programs to meet student needs. Enrolled students can pursue bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, decorates, and certificates in fields like accounting, child development, communication, health, information technology, nursing, and management.

  2. Kaplan University

    First on our list is Kaplan University, a school that has campuses throughout the nation. In addition to offering on-campus programs for students in a variety of states — including Iowa, Maine, Maryland, and Nebraska — Kaplan offers online certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. Its programs are affordable and span a wide range of major areas.

  3. Kendall College

    A private, for-profit college, Kendall College is located in Illinois. It is known for its culinary and hospital programs, and also provides degrees in business and education. Students can earn certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees, and have the option of enrolling in flexible evening classes or online classes. Kendall College also keeps class sizes small, to ensure adequate communication between professors and students.

  4. Southern New Hampshire UniversityRequest Info

    Southern New Hampshire University is a private, not-for-profit institution located in Manchester, N.H. It offers multiple degree and certificate programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to providing on-campus programs, students can also opt to take weekend, evening, or online classes. Program areas include business, education, communications, information technology, hospitality, marketing, and public service.

  5. Capella UniversityRequest Info

    Capella University has its roots in Minnesota, but offers an online education experience for learners all over the United States. It has certificates, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degree, and doctoral degrees, all of which students can tailor according to their interests. Program majors include finance, marketing, education, public service, social work, psychology, and criminal justice.

  6. Post UniversityRequest Info

    A private, for-profit university located in Waterbury, Conn., Post University awards undergraduate and graduate degrees. It offers five online associate degrees, 12 types of bachelor’s degrees, five types of master’s degrees, and multiple certificates, all of which can be tailored according to students’ needs and specializations. Programs include education, business, management, legal studies, criminal justice, psychology, and public administration. Post University prides itself on being affordable and by taking an active role in keeping retention high.

  7. DeVry UniversityRequest Info

    A private, for-profit institution, DeVry University encompasses five colleges, which confer degrees in more than 30 career areas. Its campuses are located throughout the United States; however, many of its programs can be completed through online education. DeVry also has a graduate school dedicated to business and management.

  8. California InterContinental UniversityRequest Info

    California InterContinental University is a school dedicated to distance education. It has a high graduation rate, and provides bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business administration, engineering information technology, health care management, and other major-specific areas. Its mission is to prepare students to become knowledgeable and skillful professionals.

  9. American InterContinental University

    American InterContinental University (AIU) has campuses in Georgia, Texas, Florida, and England. It also has a distance learning program geared toward online learners. AUI offers online programs for associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. It also provides a student abroad program, in which online students can take part.

  10. Sullivan University OnlineRequest Info


    Sullivan University’s online programs cater to students all over the globe, regardless of their locations. They include certificates, diplomas, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. Program areas span science, business, accounting, management, marketing, and early childhood education.

  11. Oregon State University

    Oregon State University is a public, traditional university that also offers distance learning programs. It awards certificates, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. Online students can enroll in programs that concentrate in education, agricultural studies, economics, computer science, German, and other fields. Students can choose to add a minor to their degrees as well.

  12. Baker College

    At No. 12, Baker College has been in operation since 1911, and has campuses throughout the state of Michigan. It also provides online programs in areas like computer programming, accounting, marketing, health services administration, nursing, and web development. Students can pursue online certificates, online associate degrees, and online bachelor’s degrees. Many graduate classes can be taken online as well.

  13. Grantham University

    Grantham University is an online, for-profit institution that awards associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. It offers programs in engineering, computer science, business, nursing, health care administration, and the arts and sciences. It was founded in 1951, and since its founding, has continued to provide services for veterans and military students.

  14. Indiana State University

    Fifteenth on our list is Indiana State University, a public, traditional campus known for keeping a low student-to-faculty ratio. It awards a variety of degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Indiana State University also provides online learning opportunities and study abroad programs for its students.

  15. University of Wisconsin – Superior

    The Superior campus of the University of Wisconsin is a public institution known for maintaining small class sizes. It awards certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. Distance learning opportunities can be found in the communication, education, health, interdisciplinary, and sustainable management fields. Students can also choose to minor in a variety of subjects.

  16. Anna Maria College

    A private, not-for-profit institution, Anna Maria College is a Catholic, liberal arts college that prides itself on its small classes and wide variety of programs. Anna Maria College also offers students the opportunity to pursue online bachelor’s degrees in fire science and nursing or online master’s degrees in emergency management and public administration.

  17. University of Nebraska

    The University of Nebraska has three campuses and a medical center dedicated to providing health education. It is a public, traditional institution that offers online bachelor’s degrees in administration, management information systems, information technology, geography, criminal justice, and sociology. Students can also opt to enroll in programs that combine campus-based instruction with online instruction.

  18. Assumption College

    No. 20 on our list is a private, not-for-profit college that was originally founded in 1904. Assumption College is a Catholic institution that confers certificates, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees in a variety of fields. Some classes are offered online and in hybrid format, and are designed for flexibility.

  19. Portland State University

    A traditional, public institution, Portland State University offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as extended studies to help professionals brush up on their career fields. Online programs include criminal justice, business, social work, engineering, and computer science. Many individual classes are offered online as well.

  20. UMass Online

    The University of Massachusetts has an online campus that is dedicated to allowing busy students to attend the university without interrupting their careers or other family obligations. It offers more than 100 online programs and more than 1,500 online classes. Areas of study include linguistics, business, health, information technology, English, and engineering. Students can earn associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificates through UMass Online.

  21. University of Minnesota – Crookston

    A public, traditional institution, the University of Minnesota at Crookston awards certificates and bachelor’s degrees. Many of its classes are offered through distance education, and some majors, like business management and manufacturing management, are offered entirely online. Students also have the option of pursuing online minors in addition to their regular degree programs.

  22. American Sentinel University

    Located in Colorado, American Sentinel University is a private, for-profit institution. All of its programs are offered online. Students can choose to pursue certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. Degree areas include computer science, geographic information systems, health care, and nursing.

To pick this list of the top 25 affordable online colleges and universities, we examined the following factors:

  • Cost per credit hour. Most schools charge their students on a rate based on the number of credit hours they take while enrolled. We looked at each school’s tuition rate per credit hour to determine which colleges and universities were the most affordable.
  • The average number of credits needed for graduation. The cost per credit hour is not the only important factor in determining which schools are the most affordable. We also have to look at how many credits students need, on average, before they can graduate. If a school has a low cost per credit hour, but students need more credits to graduate than other schools, students may not be saving as much money as they would if enrolled in programs that require fewer credits.
  • Other fees. The cost of education is not limited to tuition. Schools often charge other fees, such as technology fees, registration fees, and book fees. We took these costs into consideration when determining the affordability of each school.

To read about more affordable online colleges, browse through our entire list of accredited online colleges and universities.

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