Why Go to College in Florida?
Florida has just about everything a college student might want. The state has a thriving economy and a wealth of online and brick-and-mortar schools to meet the diverse backgrounds, needs, and career interests of any student. Additionally, Florida students enjoy the state's several professional and college sports teams, a thriving nightlife, and its trademark sunny climate. All together, Florida is one of the most college-friendly -- and online college-friendly -- states in the nation.
- With more than 20 million residents, Florida is the third most populous state in the U.S. Florida is also home to three of the five most populous colleges nationwide: the University of Central Florida (UCF), Florida International University (FIU), and the University of Florida (UF).
- Known as the "Sunshine State," Florida's climate is, unsurprisingly, sunny and tropical. It is frequently hot and humid throughout the year, with a rainy season throughout the summer and part of the fall (May through October). College students should pack t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, and umbrellas.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
- Florida is home to 439 institutions of higher learning, which include large state schools (e.g. UCF, FIU, and UF) and small liberal arts schools (e.g. Eckerd College and Rollins College).
- Sporting Events
- Florida has teams in every major sports league, including MLB (the Miami Marlins), the NFL (the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins), the NBA (the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat), and the MLS (Orlando City). College football is also enormously popular in Florida, and the University of Florida and Florida State University (FSU) are perennial powerhouses.
- Florida contains a number of nightlife hubs. Panama City Beach -- located on Florida's panhandle -- is a classic spring break destination for college students. Further south, Miami provides a more glitzy nightlife option, where students can rub shoulders with celebrities on any given night.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Florida?
While Florida has many small liberal arts colleges, most students attend one of the large state universities. These schools include well-known names such as FSU, UF, FIU, UCF, and the University of South Florida (USF). Students at these schools enjoy an urban setting with diverse populations. They also take advantage of the many nightlife and sports options, just a few of the leisure activities available to Florida's college students outside of class.
In addition to on-campus options, there are several online colleges in Florida. While an on-campus program functions in a traditional manner -- featuring in-person classes, lectures, and structured coursework -- online programs are often more flexible. Known as asynchronous learning, students can work through material at their own pace, download lectures from a website, and watch them at their convenience. However, some online programs do operate similarly to in-person programs and require students to attend online lectures at a defined time -- a format known as synchronous learning.
Online programs are great options for students who work part-time or have schedules that prevent them from attending traditional classes. Online programs are also suitable for students who want to work at their own pace, and retain some flexibility and agency in their learning. Since online programs require a lot of independence, they should be considered by students who are self-motivated.
Hybrid programs -- also known as "blended learning" -- include both in-person and online elements. For example, a typical hybrid program may require students complete some coursework on-campus at a university, and then complete the rest online and asynchronously. These programs often include an in-person orientation, as well. Hybrid programs are an excellent option for students who need the flexibility of online programs, but also appreciate the peer interaction of traditional, on-campus courses.
Popular Degree Programs in Florida
Many of Florida's universities have strong programs in criminology, making it a popular choice of major among students. Perhaps no major has more students than business administration, however. The state is also home to several Fortune 500 companies, which provide countless networking and professional opportunities for internships and post-graduation careers.
The study of business administration prepares students for business management positions at a wide variety of companies. Florida's business-friendly economy attracts many companies, and students of business administration in Florida are well-prepared to land upper management positions.
Criminology is the scientific study of crime and the people who commit crimes. Graduates with criminology degrees find work as corrections officers, parole officers, bailiffs, or in any field that is relevant to crime prevention.
BEST ONLINE COLLEGES IN FLORIDA FOR 2018
This section provides an overview of the best online colleges in Florida. These programs are a great fit for self-directed students, and those with busy professional and personal lives. This section is a resource to provide students with tools to decide which online colleges in Florida best suit their individual educational needs. We look at the biggest industries and employers in Florida, and paint a picture of the job market so that you can choose the program that's the best fit for you.
University of Florida Gainesville, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 48%
GRADUATION RATE 87%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11%
RETENTION RATE 96%
DEFAULT RATE 3%
UF is the flagship for the State University System of Florida, with 16 colleges offering more than 100 undergraduate programs and over 250 graduate degrees. As a Tier I research institution, the school provides students with many opportunities to work with emerging technologies. The school emphasizes sustainability and better use of resources both in its academics and in practice, with 34 departments offering at least one course in sustainable practices. In fact, UF continues to work towards its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral campus by 2025.
As one of the top online colleges in Florida, the school offers more than 100 distance learning programs, from undergraduate through doctoral degrees. Online students only pay 75% of on-campus tuition and have the option to purchase an additional fee package to access on-campus activities and services. Courses are delivered asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. UF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 49%
GRADUATION RATE 70%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 15%
RETENTION RATE 89%
DEFAULT RATE 7%
UCF serves more than 66,000 students each year across its 10 campus locations and online programs. The school is based in the heart of Florida's hospitality corridor, which allows the Rosen College of Hospitality Management to offer a wide variety of unique learning opportunities and internships with local companies. There are also prominent healthcare centers surrounding the school's Health Sciences campus, while the downtown Orlando campus offers unique learning opportunities in areas such as digital media and legal studies.
The school launched educational technology initiatives 20 years ago, leading the way for online schools in Florida and around the country. Today, the UCF offers 80 distance learning programs, as well as several graduate certificates and bachelor's completion programs. Online students can take advantage of online tutoring services and dedicated academic advisers. UCF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 59%
GRADUATION RATE 44%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 39%
RETENTION RATE 80%
DEFAULT RATE 4%
NSU, which is located in Fort Lauderdale, launched its first distance education course in 1972, only eight years after the nonprofit university was founded. The school is billed as the "MIT of the South" because of its emphasis on physical and social sciences, though the school also boasts programs in law, education, business, and oceanography. The Carnegie Foundation named the school a "high research activity" institution and has granted it Community Engagement Classification, rare designation that is only awarded to 50 universities in the U.S.
NSU makes it convenient for students to have access to classes, offering a variety of distance learning programs and operating satellite campuses throughout Florida and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This school is also the largest private, nonprofit university to meet the U.S. Department of Education's definition of a Hispanic-serving institution. NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 38%
GRADUATION RATE 82%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 2%
RETENTION RATE 92%
DEFAULT RATE 3%
UM is a private research university that offers more than 180 degrees from 11 school across four campuses, including the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay. This online school in Florida serves more than 16,000 students each year and offers master's degrees in business, finance, accounting, public administration, communications, and health informatics. There is also the master of education in sports administration allows students to work directly with its Atlantic Coast Conference Division I athletic teams.
Courses are delivered asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Professors offer weekly live office hours and students have access to dedicated academic advisers. The school offers in-person experiences for distance learners such as an orientation week, MBA residency courses, and the ability to attend program-related industry conferences. UM is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida International University Miami, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 50%
GRADUATION RATE 58%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14%
RETENTION RATE 88%
DEFAULT RATE 10%
FIU was founded in 1972 in Miami with a student body of only 5,600. Today, the school serves more than 54,000 students each year and is ranked as the 10 largest public research institution in the country. This online college in Florida offers development opportunities to distance learners through programs such as the Academy of Leaders, Global Learning Medallion, and Honors College.
FIU offers 12 online bachelor's degrees, 20 master's or doctoral programs, five graduate certificates, and seven undergraduate certificates along with several continuing education opportunities that are ideal for working professionals. Students can earn a bachelor's and master's degree in recreational therapy in just five years thanks to a combined degree program. The school accepts transfer credits, especially from community or junior colleges in the Florida College System, and offers credit for military experience. FIU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 52%
GRADUATION RATE 51%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 27%
RETENTION RATE 76%
DEFAULT RATE 7%
Founded by area pastors in 1943, BCF offered seminary training for students who did not have college degrees. BCF was founded by area pastors in 1943 and offered seminary training for students who did not have college degrees. Today, the school is owned and operated by the Florida Baptist Convention and offers a wide variety of associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees.
The school has expanded its programs to reach additional students with satellite campuses in Orlando and Jacksonville, as well as by offering 24 distance learning programs. Courses are delivered asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. This asynchronous course delivery is ideal for working adult students who have to balance school, work, and family. Students should check the school's state authorization page before applying. BCF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 42%
GRADUATION RATE 47%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 28%
RETENTION RATE 72%
DEFAULT RATE 9%
UWF offers more than 90 fully online programs, including seven undergraduate, 17 master's, one specialist in education, and one doctorate in curriculum and instruction. There are also more than 50 certificate programs that provide continuing education opportunities for those who don't want to complete an entire program.
UWF is one of the best online schools in Florida in part because of its participation in Complete Florida, which works with students who have some college experience but do not yet have a degree. A personal coach evaluates each student's credits and helps them choose the right degree completion program for them. Roughly 30% of the school's 13,000 students are enrolled in online classes, and 41% are enrolled on a part-time basis. Due to its location near the Alabama border, UWF offers a tuition discount to Alabama residents. UWF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 68%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 44%||RETENTION RATE 89%||DEFAULT RATE 18%||
Keiser was founded in 1977 with the goal of providing education to nontraditional students. The school's curriculum emphasizes career education and offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in 12 disciplines. Keiser serves more than 20,000 students across its flagship campus in Fort Lauderdale and 18 satellites campuses across the state. The school is also one of the best online schools in Florida, offering more than 30 distance learning programs, including an associate in paralegal studies and a doctorate in business administration.
Courses are offered in accelerated four-week sessions, allowing working professionals to focus on one class at a time and still earn a degree in a reasonable amount of time. New classes start each month, so students can start their education at any time of the year. The school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, allowing military veterans to make full use their GI Bill benefits. Keiser is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southeastern University Lakeland, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 46%
GRADUATION RATE 39%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 40%
RETENTION RATE 67%
DEFAULT RATE 9%
SEU is a private Christian college that is affiliated with the Assemblies of God that requires every student to earn a minor in religious studies. The school offers admission to high school graduates, including home-schooled students, but does require all applicants to make a statement of faith. The school offers tuition discounts for pastors and missionaries and their dependents, and no interest payments are available for all students.
SEU offers online degrees in business, criminal justice, ministry, education, behavioral and social sciences, and design and communication. In fact, SEU is one of the only private Christian online colleges in FLorida to offer a design degree. Students who have prior college credit can transfer up to 90 credits towards their undergraduate degree, including those earned at schools accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. SEU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school has also earned industry-specific accreditations for many programs.
Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 73%
GRADUATION RATE 45%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 58%
RETENTION RATE 71%
DEFAULT RATE 10%
Saint Leo is a private Catholic school that first began offering distance learning programs in 1973, primarily to active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The advent of the internet allowed the university to be a pioneer among online colleges in Florida, as it offered its first web-based programs in 1998. Today, the school boasts education centers throughout Florida and seven other states and serves 15,000 students each year, 2,900 of whom are enrolled in online classes.
Classes are offered in an accelerated format that allows students to complete a class in just eight weeks. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. The school also participates in the Yellow Ribbon program for veterans. Saint Leo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Warner University Lake Wales, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 51%
GRADUATION RATE 40%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 35%
RETENTION RATE 72%
DEFAULT RATE 14%
Warner is a private Christian university that is affiliated with the Church of God. The school offers 36 undergraduate and graduate degrees that are ideal for working professionals. Nearly half of the school's student body enroll in online programs, with associate and bachelor's degrees in business, ministry, education, and general studies. The educational studies degree works in partnership with the Educator Preparation Institute to meet Florida teacher licensure requirements.
Most nontraditional students enroll in two classes during each eight-week term, which qualifies them as full-time students. A prior learning assessments evaluates a student's past work experience, industry certifications, and specialized training to award college credit. Warner accepts transfer credit from other accredited schools and awards credit for past military experience. Applicants to this online university in Florida must be at least 23 years old. Warner is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 68%
GRADUATION RATE 49%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 8%
RETENTION RATE 78%
DEFAULT RATE 8%
FAU is a public institution located in Boca Raton that has only offered upper-division classes since 1961, providing degree completion programs to students who have graduated from junior colleges in the region. The school began offering distance learning programs 50 years ago through video-taped courses. Today, the Center for eLearning provides access to a variety of entirely online and hybrid degree options.
FAU is one of the best online colleges in Florida in part because of their recognition of the student experience. As a result, the school offers students access to a variety of resources, such as academic advisers, tutors, students mentors, and financial aid. The most popular online programs at FAU are related to education, with a master's degrees and certificates available that provide students with a several different career options in the field. FAU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 61%
GRADUATION RATE 43%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6%
RETENTION RATE 79%
DEFAULT RATE 7%
FGCU was founded in 1997 and is the youngest school in the State University System of Florida. It is the fastest growing university in the 12-school system, which serves more than 15,000 students each year. The school offers more than 36 graduate and certificate programs that are ideal for nontraditional students who need to juggle work and family responsibilities. The school strives to make education accessible by offering evening and weekend classes, off-campus learning centers, and online programs.
Students with an associate degree can earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, health science, or legal studies. FGCU joins with other online colleges in Florida to offer the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Counsel and FloridaShines. While the school is authorized to provide online classes in 20 states, interested students should check FGCU's state authorization page before applying. FGCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
St Thomas University Miami Gardens, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 49%
GRADUATION RATE 44%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 15%
RETENTION RATE 57%
DEFAULT RATE 8%
STU is a private Catholic university that participates in the Catholic Education Continuum, offering tuition discounts and scholarships to graduate of Catholic high schools. The school maintains a 12-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio across its 35 undergraduate and 33 graduate programs. STU offers an online bachelor's in organizational leadership that is ideal for working professionals who have at least 45 credits of prior college-level coursework.
The school accepts college credit from other accredited schools and offers students the ability to earn up to 27 credits from past work and life experience. STU offers online programs on topics such as religious studies, emergency management, and education. Courses are delivered asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. STU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Barry University Miami, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 55%
GRADUATION RATE 33%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 4%
RETENTION RATE 65%
DEFAULT RATE 6%
Barry was founded in 1940 as a Catholic women's college and began admitting men in 1973. This private Catholic university serves more than 9,000 students each year through its flagship campus in Miami Shores and at its more than 30 satellite locations across the state, the Bahamas, and online. The school offers more than 100 degrees, professional certificates, and post-baccalaureate programs.
The School of Professional and Career Education was founded in 1971 and serves working students as they complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in administration, emergency management, and health services. Like other online schools in Florida, Barry accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions and offers up to 30 undergraduate credits for professional experiences, industry certifications, and military training. Rolling admission allows students to begin classes every eight weeks. Barry is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 93%
GRADUATION RATE 42%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 2%
RETENTION RATE 75%
DEFAULT RATE 9%
PBA was founded in 1968 by Baptist pastors, though it welcomes students of all faiths to its interdenominational campus. Students can choose from more than 50 undergraduate degrees and complete a course in American Free Enterprise, a founding principle of the school. The school features Workship, a community service component of the curriculum, that requires students to complete 45 hours of service each year.
This dedicated online school offers in-demand degrees in leadership, management, psychology, and ministry. The school works with other online colleges in Florida to help students complete undergraduate degrees through the Complete Florida program. The bachelor's in ministry and nursing programs each provide students with a seamless transition to graduate study. Courses are offered in an accelerated, eight-week format that is ideal for working professionals. PBA is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Everglades University Boca Raton, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 96%
GRADUATION RATE 33%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 51%
RETENTION RATE 40%
DEFAULT RATE 14%
EU is located in Boca Raton and delivers 11 bachelor's and four master's degrees that can be completed on-campus or online. This private nonprofit school began in 1999 when the founders purchased American Flyers University. The school emphasizes aviation education and prepares students for careers in aviation management and technology. There are also innovative programs in construction management, environmental policy and technology, and alternative medicine.
EU also emphasizes renewable energy, offering programs that lead to innovation in the field and hosting a website that tracks the school's usage of solar energy. This is one of the best online colleges in Florida in part because of the flexibility it provides students when completing courses, with several opportunities to interact with classmates through group discussions, live chats, and email. EU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Webber International University Babson Park, FL
ADMISSIONS RATE 53%
GRADUATION RATE 32%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 5%
RETENTION RATE 56%
DEFAULT RATE 17%
WIU was founded in 1927 as a women's college offering business education. The school began admitting men in 1971 and later expanded its degree offerings to serve nontraditional students and working professionals. Like many other online schools in Florida, WIU allows students to enroll in courses on-campus, online, or in a hybrid format. WIU offers a master's in business degree with specializations in areas of criminal justice management, international business, accounting, and sports management.
Applicants to the school's adult programs must be at least 23 years old to be considered. The school does not require students to have past work experiences, though it is preferred. WIU's bachelor's and master's business programs are accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, and the school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 35%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 20%||RETENTION RATE 0%||DEFAULT RATE 18%||
FSCJ was founded in 1965 as a junior college that promotes accessibility to quality higher education. The school earned accreditation to award bachelor's degrees in 2007. The college serves more than 50,000 students each year, 66% of whom enroll in classes part-time. FSCJ boasts seven campus locations around the Jacksonville area that provide easy access to on-campus classes, with courses offered during the day and on nights and weekends.
FSCJ offers bachelor’s and associate degrees and technical certificates in more than 150 disciplines. It is also one of the many online schools in Florida to offer industry certificates in areas like accounting, real estate, and entrepreneurship. Transfer students can earn credit from industry licenses and certification or military training, as well as by participating in dual enrollment, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate programs in high school. FSCJ is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Gateway College Lake City, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 35%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 23%||RETENTION RATE 0%||DEFAULT RATE 19%||
FGC is located in Lake City and offers 17 associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences, as well as several certificates and career preparatory programs. This public college also offers bachelor's degrees in early childhood education and water resources management. FGC offers a variety of bachelor's degrees and four associate programs entirely online.
The school also offers certificate programs in accounting, business management, child care, horticulture, and more that allow students to earn credit toward a full degree while also preparing them to pursue entry-level roles right away. FGC is one of the most affordable online colleges in Florida because it offers a discounted tuition rate for online students, even though who are residents of other states. FGC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Polk State College Winter Haven, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 29%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14%||RETENTION RATE 0%||DEFAULT RATE 12%||
Polk State offers a variety of high-tech degrees and certificates to students on its main campus in Winterhaven, as well as online. Students can complete six bachelor's degrees in areas such as business, nursing, and aerospace science. Thanks to articulation agreements, graduates with an associate in science degree may qualify for guaranteed admission to the University of South Florida.
Like many online schools in Florida, Polk State allows students to earn a degree online, on-campus, or in a hybrid format. In fact, about 77% of students attend college part-time through on-campus day and night classes or flexible online programs. The school offers tuition waivers that eliminate the out-of-state fees for veterans and undocumented immigrants who graduate from Florida high schools. Polk State is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Johnson & Wales University-North Miami North Miami, FL
|ADMISSIONS RATE 76%||GRADUATION RATE 46%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 0%||RETENTION RATE 69%||
JWU is based out of Rhode Island, but also maintains a campus in North Miami. The school offers career-focused programs in culinary arts, criminal justice, business, software engineering, and hospitality management. Each program includes a core academic curriculum based in the arts and sciences, as well as specialized coursework in a student's chosen field. The school has a variety of business and industry partnerships that offer more than 1,800 internship sites each year, which results in 3,600 internships each year.
JWU offers a variety of online bachelor's and master's degrees in culinary arts, business, health sciences, and marketing. Some of these programs require students to have an associate degree, and all undergraduate applicants must have at least some college credit or two years of full-time work experience to be considered. The school accepts transfer credit from other accredited institutions and offers prior learning credits from military training and relevant work experience. JWU is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Florida Institute of Technology-Online Melbourne, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 0%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 100%||RETENTION RATE 0%||DEFAULT RATE 13%||
Florida Tech was founded in 1958 in Melbourne as an engineering school. Today, the school is ideally situation along the state's "Space Coast" with the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This independent technological university offers bachelor's, graduate, and doctorate degrees in STEM fields such as aeronautical science, astrobiology, and oceanography. Students may also pursue degrees in education, business, or liberal arts.
U.S. News & World Report named Florida Tech among the best online colleges in Florida and the country, with specific accolades for its graduate and bachelor's programs. All online students at Florida Tech pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Students can transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools towards their degree. Florida Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
St Petersburg College Clearwater, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 31%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 29%||RETENTION RATE 0%||DEFAULT RATE 21%||
SPC is a public four-year colleges that was founded in 1927 with a mission of making college more affordable and accessible. The school offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, including 10 bachelor's programs. SPC boasts a student body of 45,000, 72% of whom are enrolled part-time and 20,000 who enroll in online courses. The school offers certificates, associate, and bachelor's degrees online, as well as applied career preparation and continuing education program for teachers.
The school participates in the FloridaShines and Southern Regional Education Board's network of online schools in Florida. This allows students to take advantage of low tuition rates, about half the cost of other state universities. Courses are delivered asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. SPC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Remington College-Heathrow Campus Heathrow, FL
|ADMISSIONS RATE 66%||GRADUATION RATE 0%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 100%||RETENTION RATE 44%||
Remington's Heathrow campus, located in Lake Mary, offers a blended associate degree that leads to licensure as an occupational assistant. This nonprofit career college provides hands-on training to students who want to enter the workforce right away. Remington also offers programs that prepare students for careers in physical therapy, occupational therapy, dental hygiene, and pharmacy technology.
Professionals can also take advantage of more than 100 continuing education courses. The school allows students to lock in their tuition rate when they begin enrolling in classes. This rate is guaranteed not to increase as long as students are continuously enrolled. Students may transfer credits from other accredited schools towards their degree. Remington is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
BEST ONLINE COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN FLORIDA FOR 2018
Hillsborough Community College Tampa, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 30%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 10%||RETENTION RATE 61%||DEFAULT RATE 16%||
Hillsborough Community College of Plant City offers a series of online and hybrid programs for students interested in completing certifications, bachelor's degrees, or career development benchmarks. Over the past 50 years, Hillsborough's two-year community college programs have provided greater access to educational opportunities to residents of Florida, and increasingly to the wider national community through online coursework.
Associate programs include business management, administration, and education preparation. Hillsborough designs programs for transfer to four-year schools. The math education transfer track covers upper-level math and education pedagogy along with core humanities courses to ensure transfer students can complete their degree elsewhere. HCC is among the few online community colleges in Florida to offer computer programing, game authoring, and multimedia instructional technology programs.
Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 35%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 10%||RETENTION RATE 58%||DEFAULT RATE 25%||
As a member of the Florida state college system, Tallahassee Community College offers foundational training for students interested in continuing their education at a four-year institution. Graduates often transition into Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and other affiliates through the Golden Guarantee Program. Programs at this online community college in Florida focus on criminal justice, early childhood development, environmental science, and paralegal studies. All online degrees are accessible through the Canvas online platform.
TCC provides the SmarterMeasure quiz to gauge your preparedness, as well as tips for success and a recommended daily routine for online learners. Through the virtual learning commons, students can access tutoring, scheduling, and student handbook resources.
Ultimate Medical Academy-Tampa Tampa, FL
|GRADUATION RATE 52%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 0%||RETENTION RATE 51%||
Based in Tampa, Florida, the Ultimate Medical Academy provides a range of medical training courses and programs for the next generation of healthcare specialists. This online program offers courses in healthcare management and technology, administration and billing, and pharmaceutical technical studies. UMA supports military personnel interested in future medical careers by offering reduced tuition for active service, national guard, and reserve members, and benefits for veterans and spouses or dependents of active military personnel. Graduates have access to the institute's Career Connector Program, which is designed to connect them with job opportunities in their field across the state.
How We Ranked the Schools
To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master's in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.
Education Trends in Florida
The state of Florida allocates less money for higher education per full-time student than the national average. Florida also is below average in terms of the percentage of citizens who hold bachelor's and graduate degrees, and for the percentage of tax revenue the state earmarks for higher education. However, Florida is above the national average in the percentage of adults over 25 who hold an associate degree, as the state offers a number of great associate degree options.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$5,881||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||4.5%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||9.4%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree||17.5%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||9.8%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Florida
The cost of college should always be a factor when deciding where to earn your degree. Fortunately, higher education is more affordable in Florida than many other states. For both two-year and four-year institutions, Florida's tuition fees are considerably cheaper than the national average. However, each student needs to weigh the affordability their program with their present and future financial picture.
Tuition for an average two-year public institution in Florida costs a few hundred dollars less than the national average; tuition for an average four-year public institution in Florida costs over $3,000 less than the national average. While Florida colleges are particularly affordable, students should also factor in other related costs, such as books, transportation, housing, and food. Fortunately, online schools in Florida usually offer the same tuition rates as their on-campus counterparts.
Students should explore every financial aid opportunity available to them, and that begins by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines a student's eligibility for federal student funding, such as loans, grants, and work-study programs. After completing the FAFSA, students should turn to their individual schools to see what scholarships or grants may be available based on need and/or merit. Only as a last resort should students pursue loans from private third parties.
Cost for Online Programs in Florida
A common misperception is that online programs are more expensive than on-campus programs, or that it is harder for students to qualify for financial aid. These are myths. Each of the financial aid programs discussed above apply equally to online and on-campus programs. In fact, by selecting an online school in Florida, students can avoid many of the fees on-campus students must pay, such as transportation, books, childcare, and meal plans. Online students can also work while attending school, thereby reducing the financial strain even further.
Cost of Living by Region
It's no secret that the cost of living varies across the country, and it should also be a factor as students consider where to attend school. Schools in smaller towns may have lower tuition rates and lower costs of living, but jobs may be harder to come by. Conversely, a big city will have a higher cost of living, but with a more robust economy. Fortunately, Florida's major college cities generally offer affordable cost of living. Both Tampa (home to USF) and Tallahassee (home to FSU) are relatively cheap given their size.
Scholarships for Florida College Students
- Florida Student Assistance Grants
- $200-$1,500. Must be a U.S. citizen, maintain a 2.0 GPA, and take at least 12 credits.
- William L. Boyd IV Florida Resident Access Grant
- Award amount varies. Must attend a Florida college, maintain a 2.0 GPA, and take at least 12 credits.
- Florida Work Experience Program
- Award amount varies. Must demonstrate need, maintain a 2.0 GPA, and take at least six credits.
- Jose Marti Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund
- $2,000 +. Must be of Spanish heritage, with a parent born in Spain or Latin America. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
- Ethics in Business Scholarship Program
- Amount varies. Must be enrolled at a Florida community college or approved Florida private school.
- Rosewood Family Scholarship Fund
- Award amount varies. Must be a descendant of Rosewood families affected by events of January 1923.
- Seminole and Miccosukee Indian Scholarship
- Award amount varies. Must be member of Seminole or Miccosukee tribes.
- Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists Scholarship
- $1,000-$2,500. Must be pursuing a career in journalism, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and be enrolled in a Florida school.
- SME Education Foundation Scholarship
- $1,000-$6,000. Must be pursuing a technical or engineering education.
- Jacki Tuckfield Memorial Graduate Business Scholarship
- $2,000. Must be an African-American graduate of Miami Dade Public Schools pursuing a career in South Florida.
- Judge Sidney M. Aronovitz Memorial Scholarship
- Award amount varies. Must be a minority graduate of Miami Dade Public Schools.
- Florida Bright Futures Scholarship
- Award amount varies. Must be a Florida resident and be enrolled in at least six credits.
- KASF Scholarship
- $500-$5,000. Must be a Korean-American demonstrating need. Must attend school in the southern region (AL, FL, GA, SC, TN).
- Sarah E. Honeycutt Scholarship
- Award amount varies. Must be female. Must have a demonstrated interest in the game of golf, must not have earned a varsity golf scholarship.
- SE4A Scholarship
- $1,000. Must be pursuing a career in gerontology or geriatrics. Must be in school in the southeast (AL, GA, MS, FL, TN, KY, NC, SC).
- Innovation in Education Scholarship
- $500. Must have a 3.0 GPA and submit an original idea to improve education.
- Barbara L. Frye Scholarship
- $2,000. Must be pursuing a career in journalism.
- Tractor Supply Company Scholarship
- $3,000. Must be studying an agriculture-related field.
- Birdsong Peanuts Scholarship
- $1,000. Must be pursuing a four-year degree in either agriculture or agribusiness.
- Fastline Publications Scholarship
- $1,000. Must demonstrate need and be pursuing a four-year degree in agriculture.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
Yes! Most scholarships can be used for any type of program, whether it is on-campus or online. However, students should always verify that their scholarships include online programs. Check with your granting organization, as you may find that a particular scholarship has additional programmatic requirements.
Employment Outlook in Florida
Florida's employment opportunities are fairly in-line with the national average. The Sunshine State's unemployment rate and annual mean wage are both slightly lower than the national average. Here, the service industry and sales dominate the market and create plenty of job opportunities. Disney is, by far, the largest employer in the state, employing 62,000 people at Orlando's Disney World Resort alone. Miami is also a hub for employment, as the school's public school system and government are the Sunshine State's second and third largest employers, respectively.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||4.1%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$44,050||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Florida
Top Industries in Florida
- Office and Administrative Support: Secretaries and clerks are the backbone of an office, keeping companies organized and ensuring they stay on schedule.
- Sales: The sales field is far-reaching -- ranging from high-level sales representatives to cashiers. Nearly every company and industry has sales employees.
- Food Preparation and Service: The service industry is a big part of Florida's economy. Chefs, cooks, and waiters prepare food and serve it to customers.
Top Employers in Florida
Accreditation for Colleges in Florida
When selecting an online college in Florida, it is crucial to consider what accreditation it holds. There are two primary types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is generally considered more rigorous and prestigious, while national accreditation is reserved for trade and for-profit schools. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee each of these accrediting bodies, so be sure to consult their websites for a full list of accredited schools and agencies. There are also program-specific accrediting bodies, which certify a program or department within a school.
Resources for Students in Florida
If you're considering an online college in Florida, there are a number of official resources to help you with your decision.
- The Florida College System: The Florida College System is the state's collection of 28 locally-governed institutions of higher education (i.e. UF, FSU, etc). In fact, many of Florida's high school students stay within the state, as 65% of Florida's high school grads attend college within the Florida College System. If you are enrolled in a Florida college -- or considering enrolling -- this site can offer educational and career support.
- State University System of Florida Board of Governors: The Board of Governors is a group of 17 individuals who oversee the state's 12 public universities. The board's planning page is a particularly useful resource for Florida's college students, as it offers state job placement data for each major, the state's office of equity and access, and other websites.
- Commission for Independent Education: Florida's Commission for Independent Education oversees nonpublic, postsecondary education throughout the state, and includes all of the state's private colleges. Their website provides help in selecting a college, along with links to the websites of regional and national accrediting bodies active in the Sunshine State.
- Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA): This office administers Florida's state-sponsored grants and scholarships and guarantees federal loans. This site is an invaluable resource for any student applying for a grant or loan from the state, as it houses the OSFA's guidelines and tips.
- Florida Department of Education (FDOE): This government agency oversees all matters related to education in Florida, including higher education.