20 Best Online Colleges and Universities With Open Admissions

TBC Open Admissions

Online colleges with open enrollment or open admissions accept all learners who hold a high school diploma or GED credential. Some schools also accept passing HiSET scores. Schools with open admissions do not require applicants to submit additional materials, such as standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, or a resume.

Online bachelor's programs require approximately 120 credits. Full-time and accelerated degree-seekers can graduate in four years or fewer. Part-time students may need longer. Online learning often provides more scheduling flexibility than on-campus programs. For example, online students in asynchronous courses can view lectures and complete assignments at their convenience.

Featured Online Schools

Top 10 Best Online Colleges and Universities With Open Admissions
Rank University Location
1 National University San Diego, CA
2 Walden University Minneapolis, MN
3 Florida National University Miami, FL
4 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
5 Sullivan University Louisville, KY
6 Granite State College Concord, NH
7 Bryant and Stratton College Buffalo, NY
8 Salem International University Salem, WY
9 Grand Canyon University Phoenix, AZ
10 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE

What is Open Admissions?

The application process for a school with open admissions takes only a few minutes. Applicants submit high school transcripts or GED scores. Some of these colleges and universities also use rolling admissions. Schools with rolling admissions accept applications throughout the year and generally offer additional start dates.

Not all online colleges with rolling admissions also offer open admissions. These institutions may require applicants to submit materials such as standardized test scores and letters of recommendation. Students should fully understand each prospective school's admission policies before applying.

Why Get a Degree Online?

  • Academic Flexibility

    Asynchronous online programs allow learners to complete coursework at convenient times. This scheduling flexibility is ideal for busy students who may otherwise not have time to earn a degree.

  • Geographic Flexibility

    Regardless of location, students can access online colleges with open enrollment throughout the country. Because online students do not need to relocate, they often save money on living expenses.

  • Lower Cost

    Students who attend an online college with open enrollment can save money on tuition, fees, and housing. Distance learning also reduces or eliminates transportation costs.

  • Ability to Work

    Degree-seekers in online asynchronous programs often work full time, since courses have no set meeting times. The ability to work while earning a degree can help learners finance their education and avoid debt.

  • Transferable Skills

    Online learners develop practical, transferable skills related to technology and communication. Onlinst students gain experience communicating through discussion boards, using a management system, and videoconferencing.

FAQ About Open Admissions
Question Answer
What does open admissions mean? Open admissions colleges accept all applicants who graduated high school or passed the GED or a similar test. They have no other requirements.
Do you need to take the SAT or ACT for open admissions? Although open enrollment online colleges do not require SAT or ACT scores, learners may need to submit test results to qualify for merit-based financial aid packages.
Are there academic requirements for open admissions? Online colleges with open enrollment require applicants to possess a high school diploma or GED. These schools do not require supplementary application materials.
How do I find schools with open admissions? Many state schools offer open admissions. Additionally, prospective students can search the internet for the top open enrollment online colleges by state.
Is there a minimum GPA for open admissions? Online colleges with open enrollment do not consider GPA when admitting students. However, excellent grades may exempt learners from foundational college courses.
Do all online colleges have open admissions? Private four-year universities and colleges do not typically offer open admissions. Prospective students interested in open enrollment should focus on state schools.

Accreditation for an Online Program

To ensure they receive a quality education, students should look for online colleges with regional accreditation. The U.S Department of Education charters six regional accreditation agencies and sets standards for the accreditation process. Many institutions and employers only recognize degrees and credits earned from regionally accredited schools.

In addition to regional accreditation, prospective online students can look for accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). DEAC is a national accreditation agency that evaluates online programs to ensure their curricula meet acceptable levels of rigor. To receive DEAC accreditation, institutions must offer at least 51% of available programs online.

A school's academic programs may feature programmatic accreditation from field-specific agencies. These agencies evaluate programs in a certain academic subject to determine whether they follow best practices and adequately train learners for careers in the field. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides an online list of recognized programmatic accreditation agencies.

Courses in an Online Program

Courses in an online bachelor's program vary by major. However, most programs include general education courses in the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. These courses comprise approximately one-third of the academic requirements for a bachelor's degree. Of the remaining credit requirements, undergraduate students typically fulfill half through major coursework and half through electives.

Below are some general education courses that undergraduate students commonly complete. Because course offerings vary among open enrollment online colleges, students should contact their prospective institution to confirm course availability and requirements.

Written Communication

Many online colleges with open enrollment require students to take a written communication course during their first year of study. Learners in this class typically complete short academic essays and pieces of creative writing. Coursework helps students prepare for writing requirements in other courses, which may include lab reports and research essays. Some schools require students to take a writing remediation course before enrolling in written communication.

American History

Nearly all undergraduate curricula include one or more history courses. American history covers the time before Europeans colonized North America through the present day. Students examine primary sources and practice research skills by writing essays. The course instills essential analytical and critical-thinking skills, which students can apply to their academic and professional careers. Some colleges allow learners who earned a satisfactory AP exam score to skip this course.

Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology courses introduce learners to the field and to various mental illnesses. Students analyze the history of abnormal psychology, learn about influential psychologists, and explore symptoms of various psychological disorders. Learners may also analyze case studies. Some open enrollment online colleges offer advanced abnormal psychology courses and classes in related topics.

Conversational Spanish

This course is typically required for Spanish majors and satisfies language requirements for other students. Conversational Spanish covers common phrases, such as greetings and questions. Learners develop language skills through written and oral assignments. Students may also memorize vocabulary, give presentations in Spanish, and learn about cultural traditions of Spanish-speaking countries. This course can help students communicate with the growing Spanish-speaking U.S. population.

Mathematical Concepts

First-year college students often need to review high school-level mathematics. Many online colleges with open enrollment offer classes in mathematical concepts, which cover topics such as algebra and geometry. Learners demonstrate mathematical competencies through increasingly challenging assignments. Students with adequate standardized test scores or high school grades may be exempted from this course.

Scholarships for an Online Program

Undergraduate students pursuing online learning qualify for a variety of scholarships. The opportunities below offer funding for online students, and some awards renew annually as long as recipients maintain acceptable grades. Students should check each scholarship's requirements and application deadline.

Daniel L. Goodwin Scholarship

Who Can Apply: College students who participated in the Boys and Girls Club can apply for this scholarship from the Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation. Applicants can major in any subject and must reside in Illinois. This award is not renewable.
Amount: $1,000

First Things First Scholarship

Who Can Apply: RentDeals.com awards this scholarship to first-generation college students who possess a minimum 3.0 high school GPA. Application materials include an essay and one recommendation letter from a high school teacher. RentDeals.com sponsors other similar scholarship opportunities.
Amount: $1,000

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports Hispanic high school seniors and college students. Applicants must meet GPA requirements and must submit FAFSA results.
Amount: $500 to $1,500

JBF National Scholars Program

Who Can Apply: The James Beard Foundation offers this scholarship to 10 exemplary college students majoring in culinary arts, hospitality management, or a similar subject. Applicants may be undergraduate or graduate students, and recipients can apply funding toward tuition and related expenses. Students may receive a tuition waiver or work-study grant instead of a scholarship.
Amount: $20,000

Leo W. and Alberta V. Thomas Utz Scholarship

Who Can Apply: English majors who maintain a minimum 3.25 undergraduate GPA can apply for this award from the Daughters of the American Revolution. To renew the scholarship, recipients must provide an updated transcript each year.
Amount: $4,000

SILA Foundation Postsecondary College Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Securities and Insurance Licensing Association Foundation awards this scholarship to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who earn a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants may be studying one of seven business-related topics, including education, information technology, or mathematics. Applicants may be enrolled full time or part time.
Amount: $2,500

Ranking Methodology for the Best Online Colleges and Universities With Open Admissions

This list of the top online open enrollment colleges of 2020 includes only the highest-quality institutions. While each school offers open admissions, we considered additional factors when ranking schools.

Weighted equally, criteria for the rankings include student satisfaction measured by graduation and retention rates; peer and instructional quality measured by acceptance rate and student-to-teacher ratio; affordability measured by tuition costs and availability of financial aid; and credibility measured by years of accreditation, reputation, and awards.

All data was gathered from objective, independent sources, such as The National Center for Education Statistics and College Results Online, as well as from each school's website and its respective representatives.

20 Best Online Colleges and Universities With Open Admissions


National University San Diego, CA

California's second-largest private, nonprofit university, National is known for promoting diversity and inclusion through its year-round open enrollment admissions policy. The school maintains 27 campuses throughout California and one Nevada location. Students admitted to National can access an extensive virtual library and deep discounts on textbooks, as well as competitive buyback prices and free shipping, made possible through a partnership with the country's largest mail order textbook supplier.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 33%
  • Students enrolled: 17,488
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1


Walden University Minneapolis, MN

This online-only university offers programs at every level for adult students with work and life experience. In addition to upholding an open enrollment policy for general admission, Walden offers a generous transfer-credit policy, accepting prior credit for life experience, work experience, military service, placement exams, and online training. Students may enroll in a two-week, risk-free trial course before committing to a four-year bachelor's degree.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: N/A
  • Students enrolled: 52,799
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1


Florida National University Miami, FL

Florida National University operates a traditional campus in Miami, as well as an additional campus, training center, and online learning division in Hialeah. The school's open-door admissions policy also allows for continuous enrollment throughout the year. In addition to upholding a generous credit-transfer policy for applicants, FNU also offers several tuition incentives including scholarships for government employees and military servicemembers, as well as corporate alliance opportunities and employee reimbursement plans.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Students enrolled: 2,492
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 24:1


Liberty University Lynchburg, VA

Admissions requirements for prospective Liberty University students vary depending on each applicant's level of education and the program to which they are applying. For high school students applying to an undergraduate program, acceptance is granted based solely on high school transcripts; a letter of recommendation is required only if the student's GPA is below 3.0. Transfer undergraduate and graduate students must supply college transcripts and/or military experience in addition to their high school transcripts as part of their Liberty application for advanced programs.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • Students enrolled: 80,494
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1


Sullivan University Louisville, KY

Though admissions requirements are different on campus and vary per program, students applying to undergraduate programs at Sullivan Online need only submit proof of a high school diploma or GED, as well as indicate how they intend to pay tuition, to be considered for enrollment. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Students work closely with an admissions advisor for the duration of the application process.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 25%
  • Students enrolled: 3,165 total; 2,625 undergraduates
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1


Granite State College Concord, NH

Not only is Granite State one of the country's open admission online colleges, the school also allows students to apply for free using its online application system. Students are admitted on an ongoing basis to the college's four terms per year. Granite State generously accepts a wide variety of prior education and military transfer credits and, unlike most online colleges and universities, will extend financial aid benefits to students enrolled in only one course.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 18%
  • Students enrolled: 2,179
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1


Bryant and Stratton College Buffalo, NY

Bryant and Stratton comprises numerous New York campuses, as well as locations throughout Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin in addition to its global online campus. Students applying to the college's online programs will work with a dedicated admissions advisor to submit their high school transcripts, prepare for an entrance interview, and complete the free online application for admission. Online semesters offer more start dates per year than traditional programs, in January, March, May, June, September and November.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 6%
  • Students enrolled: 416
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1


Salem International University Salem, WY

Salem International University is one of the nations' colleges with open admission. However, students applying to the university's education or nursing programs do need to meet additional prerequisites, including minimum GPA and minimum standardized test scores or certification requirements, respectively. Graduate, transfer, and international students are also required to submit additional materials, depending upon their program of study, to secure enrollment into SIU.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 13%
  • Students enrolled: 681
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 23:1


Grand Canyon University Phoenix, AZ

Grand Canyon University offers open enrollment to students 16 years of age and older who are interested in completing an undergraduate program online. Though the university incorporates Christian principles into all of its academic programs, applicants are not required to submit a statement of faith or confirm their alignment with a particular religious affiliation, with the exception of those applying to theology programs. Graduate and transfer students may be required to submit standardized test scores and/or meet a minimum GPA requirement to gain admission into their program of choice.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 34%
  • Students enrolled: 69,444
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1


Bellevue University Bellevue, NE

Bellevue's undergraduate applicants enjoy a rolling deadline for open enrollment into programs in four academic areas: arts and sciences, business, information technology, and professional studies. Students applying to bachelor's programs are required to submit proof of a high school diploma or GED and pay a one-time application fee of $50. Graduate applicants may be required to uphold a minimum GPA requirement in addition to submitting all prior transcripts and work experience.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 18%
  • Students enrolled: 9,760
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 31:1


Rasmussen College Maitland, FL

There are 23 Rasmussen College campuses spanning six states in the U.S., in addition to its online location. While students are not required to submit standardized test scores along with their transcripts or GED, Rasmussen does require some applicants to take an entrance placement exam. A dedicated admissions advisor will help to determine if this assessment is necessary on a case-by-case basis. The college boasts a quick and convenient online enrollment process that can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 23%
  • Students enrolled: 5,385
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1


National American University Rapid City, SD

NAU is home to more than 30 university campuses across 10 North American territories, including comprehensive online programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and residents of Canada. Freshmen, adult, and military students are required simply to submit proof of a high school diploma, GED, or completion of a two-year degree with at least a 2.0 GPA to be granted enrollment into one of more than 60 undergraduate programs at NAU. The university offers discounted tuition for military students as well as the NAU Tuition Advantage discount to students who complete at least 13.5 credit hours per academic quarter.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: Varies by campus
  • Students enrolled: Varies by campus
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Varies by campus


City University of Seattle Seattle, WA

As its name suggests, City University of Seattle is headquartered in Washington, but the school also operates numerous locations across the state and in eight other countries around the world, including Canada, Switzerland, and Vietnam. As one of the country's colleges with open admissions, the admissions process requires only the submission of transcripts along with completion of the online application. In addition, international students may be required to submit proof of English proficiency to be granted enrollment; dedicated admissions advisors are available to guide applicants through the enrollment process.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • Students enrolled: 2,347
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1


Argosy University Phoenix, AZ

Argosy University's online programs are managed through its Phoenix location in Arizona, though the school operates more than 25 physical campuses in 13 states across the U.S. Though Argosy's admissions requirements vary by program, many undergraduate programs offer open enrollment, giving students flexible options for submitting prior transcripts. Students applying to the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, for example, may submit one of several accepted forms of proof of a high school diploma, GED, or equivalency placement test documentation, or an associate degree, with proof of English proficiency, if applicable.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 6%
  • Student enrolled: 8,657
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 21:1


University of Maryland University College Adelphi, MD

University of Maryland University College Online offers more than 90 academic programs, with more than 25 locations in the U.S. and more than 140 extended campuses worldwide. As one of the country's open admission colleges, the only admissions requirement for undergraduate students is to provide proof of a high school diploma or GED; no standardized test scores or minimum GPA is required to qualify for enrollment. Prospective graduate students are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited higher learning institution to be granted admission into an advanced program.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 8%
  • Students enrolled: 50,248
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 22:1


Strayer University Herndon, VA

Strayer University's online campus is one among dozens of locations in 16 states and territories spanning the U.S. Students applying to a bachelor's degree program at Strayer are required to submit only two items: a completed application form and proof of high school graduation or equivalent. Graduate students, however, are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, as well as meet minimum GPA and standardized test score prerequisites.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: Varies by campus
  • Students enrolled: Varies by campus
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Varies by campus


Kaplan University Davenport, IA

Kaplan offers a comprehensive selection of online programs to distance learners through its global campus, which is one of more than 15 campus locations in the U.S. Students applying to Kaplan's undergraduate programs must demonstrate English proficiency and make financial payment arrangements in addition to submitting high school transcripts to be eligible for enrollment. Some programs may require additional conditions to be met for admissions consideration. The university offers a generous credit-transfer policy and a three-week trial course prior to enrollment, tuition-free.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 26%*
  • Students enrolled: 45,355*
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 21:1*
  • *Statistics based on Kaplan University's Davenport campus location in Iowa

Capella University Minneapolis, MN

Capella University is headquartered in Minneapolis, but provides more than 40 degree programs in six academic areas at locations throughout the U.S., including on its online global campus. While the university upholds a general open enrollment policy, some programs have specific admissions requirements beyond the basic submission of prior transcripts and proof of English proficiency; prerequisites including minimum GPA, letters of recommendation, and/or faculty interviews are determined by each school and program individually.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 45%*
  • Students enrolled: 34,365
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
  • *Information from Capella University

Baker College Flint, MI

Baker College serves a student enrollment of nearly 24,000 at more than 15 Michigan campus locations. The online campus offers more than 15 degrees and programs to tens of thousands of distance learners around the world. As part of its "right to try" open enrollment policy, Baker requires only a high school diploma or GED, and there are not minimum GPA or minimum standardized test scores requirements. Students are accepted into Baker programs year-round on a continuous enrollment schedule.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 13%
  • Students enrolled: 23,790
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1


Colorado Technical University Colorado Springs, CO

This for-profit university has campus locations in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Aurora. The school operates primarily as an online college. Founded in 1965, Colorado Technical University began as a vocational training school for individuals with military backgrounds. Today, this university features a military education department and offers online associate, bachelor's, and master’s programs with eight start dates throughout the year. Transfer students with an associate degree can earn a bachelor’s degree in 17 months.

Additional Information

  • Graduation rate: 27.5%
  • Students enrolled: 21,200
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 31:1

*The schools listed above are sponsored. Sponsored school listings are distinct paid advertisements and are clearly marked with a “SPONSORED” or “FEATURED” tag to distinguish them from editorially ranked schools. Learn more about how we rank schools or contact us with questions.