Top 20 Online Colleges of 2013
According to the legendary business and management guru Peter Drucker, the value and convenience of online classes and degrees make them the future of higher education.
Drucker certainly has the data on his side. Online classes and degree programs continue to grow in popularity every year. The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Education shows online education grew by over a million students just in the past year, an increase of 21%, the largest single-year growth on record. This far exceeds the 2% growth in higher education enrollment overall. The total number of college and university students taking at least one course online is now over 30%.
The Advantages of Online College and University Degrees
There are many reasons for the dramatic increase in online degree program enrollment. More and more adults are returning to school in order to upgrade their skills and gain some advantage in an increasingly competitive job market. A high school diploma no longer holds the same value that it used to. Having a college degree is now more necessary than ever for securing a decent job or advancing in a career.
The flexibility and relatively low cost of online colleges and universities make them an especially attractive alternative to traditional brick and mortar schools, particularly for working adults and students with children. Moreover, students pursuing an online degree from a top ranked online college or university can rest assured they are getting an education that is every bit as good as one they would receive in a traditional classroom setting. A recent study shows that employers are increasingly recognizing the quality of online degrees and now commonly accept employees with degrees from accredited online colleges and universities.
Why Use Our Online College and University Rankings
With the rise in popularity of online degree programs, the number of online colleges and universities has exploded in recent years. Students seeking an online degree now have an unprecedented variety of online schools and degree programs to choose from. The quality of these online schools and degree programs vary widely. Some are high quality and accredited institutions of higher education, others are worthless diploma mills looking to exploit people’s desire for education in order to make a quick buck, and others fall somewhere in-between.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 21 best online colleges and universities for 2012. We’ve done the research to determine which online colleges and universities offer students the best, most reputable online degrees for their money so you don’t have to. Unfortunately, there are many online college and university rankings out there that are really nothing more than paid advertisements for certain schools and make no attempt at providing an objective, data-driven analysis. We strive to provide the most authoritative, objective, comprehensive and transparent analysis of the top online colleges and universities available, so you can be confident in making one of the most important decisions of your life: where to invest in your education.
How to Use our Online College and University Rankings
That said, only you can make the decision about which online college or university is best for you. Every student is different. Our list of the top 21 online colleges and universities for 2012 is offered as a guide, a place to start in your personal journey towards choosing the online degree program that is right for your unique needs and situation.
How We Calculated Our Online College and University Rankings
We’ve relied on the following criteria to generate our online colleges and universities rankings: student satisfaction (as measured by graduation and retention rates), peer and instructional quality (as measured by acceptance rate and student-teacher ratio), affordability (as measured by tuition costs and availability of financial aid), and credibility (as measured by years of accreditation, reputation and awards).
Data was gathered from objective, independent sources like The National Center for Education Statistics and College Results Online, as well as from school websites and direct conversations with school representatives.
Statistics were calculated using the lowest representative tuition per credit hour and assuming full-time status. Tuition may vary depending on the degree program and full-time vs. part-time status. Where a school operates multiple campuses, statistics from the flagship or largest campus were used. Where a difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition costs exist, the out-of-state tuition cost was used. Only schools that offer undergraduate degrees were considered.
Top 20 Online Colleges and Universities of 2013
Kaplan University attracts students from all over the world to its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing professional education. Students have their choice of more than 170 graduate, undergraduate, certificate, and diploma programs in fields ranging from business and technology to health sciences, fire sciences, legal studies, nursing, and education. The school also has campuses and learning centers nationwide, so you can take courses on site, online, or a combination of both.
Everest specializes in short-term career training. Many of its programs can be completed in nine months, meaning you can begin your new career in less than a year. The school offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in areas including accounting, business, computer information science, and criminal justice online, as well as through nationwide campuses.
Ashford began in 1918 as a junior college for women in Iowa called Mount St. Clare. Since then, it’s opened its doors to all students, awarded degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, became Ashford University, and branched out into online learning. Students can choose from subjects in the school’s Schools of Business and Professional Studies; Education; Health, Human Services, and Science; and Liberal Arts.
Walden University was founded in 1970 with two missions – provide a way for working adults to pursue their doctoral degrees, and attract lifelong learners who desire to make social change. More than 40 years after the fact, those two things are still the case, only now, students can choose from online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Areas of study include education, health, management, psychology, public policy and administration, counseling and social services, and nursing.
Southern New Hampshire University offers a variety of ways you can complete your degree, with online, on campus, hybrid, evening, and evening and weekend part-time courses. Students can earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. There are more than 80 undergraduate majors from which to choose. The school has been recognized by other organizations for its high-quality education, as it’s been called a “Best Buy” by GetEducated.com, earned a New Hampshire Business Review Best Online Degree award, and named a U.S. News and World Report Tier 1 university.
This university’s history dates back to 1890, when it opened as the first Catholic college in Florida, providing a mix of liberal arts and commercial courses. Today, it remains a Catholic, liberal-arts based university open to people of all faiths and none. It’s been serving online learners since the 1990s, with more than 40 associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees offered in a range of disciplines, including business, criminal justice, and health-care management.
#7. Post University
Earning an online degree at Post University isn’t just a convenient option, it can also be a fast-track to your career. The school’s online degree courses are offered in eight-week modules, six times a year, so you can earn your bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months, and a master’s degree in 14 to 24 months. There are more than 60 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs to choose from in such areas as business, marketing, and education.
AIU Online is the virtual campus of American InterContinental University, which has been providing higher education to professionals for more than 40 years. Students can study at the associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree level, choosing from programs in the Schools of Business, Criminal Justice, Design, Education, or Information Technology. Courses are tailored to provide applicable, industry-specific information for whichever area you’re interested in pursuing.
CTU treats its online campus much like its traditional campus – there are live interactive classes, student advising, and even instructor office hours. Students can choose from more than 100 associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees in the areas of business and management, engineering and computer science, health sciences, information systems and technology, and security studies. Its Smartphone app also lets you receive your online training in the palm of your hand.
Colorado State University-Global Campus offers several online degrees oriented towards professional Colorado State University offers a 100% online school through its global campus. The school specializes in bachelor’s completion and graduate degree programs, as well as offers a number of certificates of completion. Areas of study include business, management, education, and technology.
Despite what the name may imply, Virginia College’s first campus opened in Birmingham, Ala., in 1992. Since then, it’s opened more than 20 campuses throughout the south, as well as offered educational opportunities to students anywhere in the world through its online education initiative. Virginia offers a variety of career-focused associate and bachelor’s degrees online, with programs in accounting, business administration, human resources, information technology, paralegal studies, criminal justice, healthcare, and more.
Western Governors University is a 100-percent online university founded in 1995 by the governors of 19 western states to provide higher education opportunities to their constituencies. Today, it serves more than 30,000 students from all 50 states through its online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. In 2010, it was awarded Sloan Consortium’s Ralph E. Gomery Award for Excellence in Online Education. It also is the only online school to have accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the U.S. Department of Education-approved professional body that certifies teacher-preparation programs.
#13. DeVry University
With more than 95 locations and distance learning, DeVry has its footprint all over the world. Students can choose to study on campus, online, or a mix of both, while earning an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs within its five colleges – Business & Management, Engineering & Information Sciences, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Media Arts & Technology. DeVry also offers Game & Simulation Programming, one of the only degree programs of its kind in the country.
#14. Keiser University
Keiser University has been offering career-oriented education for over 25 years and now offers a variety of online associates, bachelors and masters degrees in business, healthcare, education and other fields. Keiser University has an outstanding graduation and retention rate, indicating high student satisfaction. Tuition is high, but almost three quarters of Keiser University students receive financial aid.
#15. ECPI University
ECPI University reaches students interested in careers in technology, business, or health science through both campus-based and online degree programs. Students can choose from a variety of master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degree and diploma programs. ECPI also offers an online degree completion program to ECPI graduates from its North Carolina campuses who have earned their diplomas, and the NAVY College Program for Afloat College Education, which offers courses to students to meet Navy eligibility criteria.
#16. Ivy Bridge College of Tiffin University
Called “America’s transfer college,” Ivy Bridge College is geared toward students who plan on completing their bachelor’s degree. It has transfer agreements with nearly 100 four-year schools across the United States for a seamless transition to a four-year institution. Its online division makes the process that much more seamless, with courses available 24 hours a day and a schedule that lets students choose their pace. Some may be able to complete their associate degree in as little as 16 months.
#17. Brandman University
Brandman was founded in 1958 with the mission of providing flexible education opportunities for working adults. It’s only fitting that it’s since developed an online component. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, teaching credentials, and extended education programs online, as well as at campuses throughout California and Washington.
#18. Northeastern University
Northeastern University is known for its signature cooperative education program, wherein students gain up to 18 months of professional experience related to their major as an undergraduate. For those students who are already working in their career, with full-time jobs or family commitments, the schools online division offers a flexible option to earn a degree or continue their education. There are more than 60 online programs available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and certificate levels.
#19. Drexel University
Drexel has received many accolades, including a Sloan Consortium award for Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning in 2010 and a ranking in U.S. News & World Report‘s 2011 list of “Up and Coming National Universities,” which highlighted schools that promise innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, and student life. A pioneer in online learning, Drexel has offered online programs since 1996. Its more than 100 online master’s, bachelor’s, and certificate programs are available in nursing, communication, clinical research, project management, psychology, public health, information systems, and more.