Why go to College in Maryland?
From numerous professional and collegiate sports teams to an exciting nightlife and affordable cost of living, Maryland has much to offer prospective college students. With nearly half of the state's population having earned college degrees, and with some of the most recognized universities in the country, Maryland is fertile ground for higher education. Outdoor enthusiasts will also love the state's natural beauty in areas such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Mallows Bay, and the Maryland Scenic Byways.
- Maryland is home to just over 6 million people. Baltimore is the state's most populous city, with 621,000 residents, followed by Frederick at 65,000 and Rockville at 61,000.
- Maryland has two climates. The highland western part of the state experiences temperatures as low as -40°F and as high as 100°F. The eastern part of the state has a subtropical climate that is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
- Maryland is home to many schools, including the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. With 148 public and private colleges, prospective students have no shortage of choices when evaluating where to go to school.
- Sporting Events
- Maryland is home turf for two National Football League teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, along with a Major League Baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles.
- A number of nightlife hotspots throughout the state infuse its cities with vibrancy, fun, and culture. For example, the sports bars and live music venues along Baltimore's waterfront can help students unwind after a long week of study.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Maryland?
An on-campus education in Maryland puts you face-to-face with peers and professors. Students are required to attend classes at scheduled times, which is ideal for those with few commitments outside school. Though potentially pricier, attending traditional programs comes with certain benefits. One benefit is a sense of belonging to the university community. Students who live on campus or commute can participate in extracurricular activities that enhance education outside the classroom. Student groups, student government, campus events, libraries, and other on-campus resources are additional benefits enjoyed by students in traditional programs as compared to those who attend online schools in MD.
Rather than living on campus or commuting to class, online students can use the internet to view lectures and submit coursework. Online classes use the same course materials and are taught by the same faculty as on-campus classes. As such, online programs are every bit as rigorous as their on-campus counterparts. Moreover, students who graduate from online colleges in Maryland receive the exact same degree as those who complete their studies in traditional programs.
Students who take online courses typically need more flexibility in their schedules in order to keep working, take care of their families, and meet other commitments. They are usually motivated, independent, and able to study at their own pace.
Hybrid programs blend on-campus instruction with online learning. Through these programs, students experience the best of both worlds: face-to-face engagement in live classrooms with the convenience of completing many, if not most, of their lectures and assignments away from campus. Hybrid programs are uniquely tailored to each college and, more specifically, to each academic discipline. Disciplines that take advantage of hybrid formats usually have lab or practicum requirements that are more hands-on than standard online classes. Another common feature in hybrid programs is mandatory attendance at multiple on-campus weekend intensives throughout the year.
Popular Degree Programs in Maryland
Medicine, engineering, business, and government are at the center of Maryland's economy. Although these industries are markedly different from one another, they all require skilled workers who can build and maintain necessary support services. The top two majors in the state reflect the needs of Maryland's diverse industries; according to Business Insider, the state's most popular major is business management and administration, and a disproportionately large percentage of students study information sciences.
Business management and administration
Business management is about finding solutions to complex business problems, which requires effective leadership and communication. Students who major in this field also acquire a variety of skills in accounting, finance, marketing, and human resources. Maryland's top industries need experts who are trained in business management to help marshal resources and manage organizational priorities.
Information science majors learn how to develop computer databases and build customized software for information storage and retrieval. These students also learn how to maintain statistical and financial records. Specialized industries in Maryland, like medicine and engineering, require information scientists to create, maintain, and troubleshoot software and databases that are custom-designed to meet their needs.
BEST ONLINE COLLEGES IN MARYLAND FOR 2018
With over 200 colleges in the state of Maryland, selecting the right one can be difficult. Our outline of the best online colleges in Maryland provides useful information to students who need help making a decision. Aside from pointing out unique classes and program characteristics, the list provides important information about academic requirements and admissions criteria. This information can help prospective students ensure that the college they choose is suited to their needs and interests.
Frostburg State University Frostburg, MD
ADMISSIONS RATE 63%
GRADUATION RATE 51%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 16%
RETENTION RATE 76%
DEFAULT RATE 10%
As one of the top online colleges in Maryland, FSU's online students learn in an environment that embraces personalized learning, with small class sizes and internship opportunities with prestigious organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Senate, and IBM.
FSU has provided online courses since 2013. Today, FSU's online offerings include graduate degree programs and a fully online RN to BSN program, which students may complete in as few as 15 months. Students of the online RN to BSN program may complete the required clinical locally. The program improves students' skills in leadership, evidence-based nursing practice, and nursing informatics.
University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD
ADMISSIONS RATE 53%
GRADUATION RATE 32%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 8%
RETENTION RATE 71%
DEFAULT RATE 8%
UB is an urban anchor institution and enrolls about 5,600 students. UB provides educational programming to a diverse student body, from working adults to first-generation college students. Among UB's fully online programs are graduate degrees and a BS in business administration, which includes studies in financial management, management and organizational behavior, human resource management, and the global business environment.
Online courses are delivered through the Sakai LMS platform. Along with fully online programs, UB offers programs in a hybrid format. One of the top online colleges in Maryland, UB provides online learners with academic resources such as tutoring and workshops in areas such as writing and math.
University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 8%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 83%||RETENTION RATE 38%||DEFAULT RATE 8%||
UMUC offers career-focused online courses taught by industry experts. Fully online bachelor’s degree programs include accounting, business administration, cybersecurity management and policy, homeland security, and psychology. Coursework is delivered asynchronously so students may design an academic schedule that best fits their lives. UMUC offers open educational resources, so undergraduates may complete degree programs without buying textbooks. Students may customize their online degrees with specializations and minors.
UMUC is one of the most affordable online schools in Maryland. The university works to identify scholarships and offers lower tuition rates for federal employees and military members. Transfer students may bring up to 70 previous credits, further reducing costs.
BEST ONLINE COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN MARYLAND FOR 2018
Harford Community College Bel Air, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 23%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 10%||RETENTION RATE 68%||DEFAULT RATE 11%||
Based in Bel Air, HCC is one of the largest online community colleges in Maryland, serving more than 20,000 students through for-credit and continuing education programs. HCC offers four online programs: business administration, computer information systems, general studies, and psychology. Each degree is taught asynchronously, which enables students to complete coursework at any time of day, with no set class schedule. While HCC requires no campus visits, online learners may be required to attend some learning activities outside the home, such as field experiences, internships, proctored exams, and course orientation sessions. Online students gain access to a wide selection of academic resources, including library services, the campus testing center, academic advising, the school bookstore, and tutoring services.
Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 20%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 18%||RETENTION RATE 69%||DEFAULT RATE 17%||
One of the top ranked online community colleges in Maryland, AACC offers more than a dozen online degrees, including unique choices such as advertising and marketing, small business management, social enterprise, and gender and sexuality studies. Many of AACC's programs are transfer degrees, intended to serve as the first half of a four-year bachelor's program. These degrees enable students to save on tuition by completing their general education and lower division credits at AACC before transferring to one of Maryland's numerous four-year colleges. Most courses use a predominantly online format, but AACC may require online learners to attend either a campus session or a testing center for proctored exams. All online courses are taught asynchronously, but courses still adhere to a standard weekly schedule with assignment due dates.
Montgomery College Rockville, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 18%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6%||RETENTION RATE 78%||DEFAULT RATE 11%||
Serving more than 60,000 credit and noncredit students, MC is one of the largest online community colleges in Maryland. The school offers online degrees in business, criminal justice, general studies, and computer science and technology. The criminal justice and computer science programs prepare graduates to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, while the business and general studies degrees typically serve as transfer programs, preparing students to complete a four-year degree at another institution. MCC offers a variety of advising resources to online students, with a focus on developing career, educational, and personal goals. Online advisers assist with course planning, degree selections, transfer counseling, and provide special support for first-year students. The college also provides disability services, career services, and personal counseling for all students.
Frederick Community College Frederick, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 27%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11%||RETENTION RATE 66%||DEFAULT RATE 15%||
Located about an hour from Baltimore, FCC is one of the largest online community colleges in Maryland, serving over 16,000 students annually. The college offers fully online programs in business administration, psychology, and sociology, along with partially online programs in cybersecurity, emergency management, networking engineering, and technology specialist. These hybrid programs offer primarily online instruction, interspersed with occasional campus visits for orientation sessions, exams, presentations, or other classroom sessions. Many of the school's online degrees are transfer programs, intended to serve as the first half of a bachelor's degree. FCC maintains articulation agreements that enable students to transfer into several colleges around the state to complete a four-year degree, including Mount Saint Mary’s University and the University of Maryland University College.
College of Southern Maryland La Plata, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 20%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14%||RETENTION RATE 64%||DEFAULT RATE 14%||
Serving more than 24,000 students annually through credit and noncredit programs, CSM offers online programs in several unique areas, including technical management, web development, and sports management. Most of the school's degrees are transfer programs that prepare students to earn a bachelor's degree from a four-year college, though some programs, particularly in information technology, prepare graduates for entry-level jobs. Like many online community colleges in Maryland, CSM holds transfer agreements with several notable four-year schools around the state, including University of Maryland University College, Capella University, and Notre Dame of Maryland University. While online courses use an asynchronous format with no set meeting times, courses follow the campus calendar, with weekly due dates for assignments. CSM offers most coursework entirely online, though some courses may include proctored exams that require brief campus visits.
Hagerstown Community College Hagerstown, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 22%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 9%||RETENTION RATE 64%||DEFAULT RATE 13%||
HCC ranks among the top online community colleges in Maryland, offering over 240 online and mostly online course options each year. The school is home to more than a dozen fully online degrees, including programs in business administration, commercial transportation administration, foreign language, human services, and marketing. HCC also offers a variety of support services for online students, including career advising, library resources, and the learning support center. Career counselors aid with career pathways, job search resources, connections to internships, and relevant course selections. The library hosts a vast assortment of academic resources, including access to online journals and periodicals. The Learning Support Center offers tutoring in a wide variety of academic subjects, such as English, business, math, science, and computer technology.
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore, MD
|GRADUATION RATE 9%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 18%||RETENTION RATE 50%||DEFAULT RATE 22%||
One of the only state-sponsored online community colleges in Maryland, BCCC offers a wide selection of online programs, including allied human services, business administration, health information technology, law enforcement and correctional administration, and legal assistant. BCCC delivers most programs primarily online, but students in the Baltimore area can take advantage of hybrid offerings that mix in campus courses. Some online courses may also require occasional campus visits for testing and other activities, though all degrees maintain at least 80% of course materials online. BCCC is also a member of the MarylandOnline system, a consortium of state colleges that combine their online programs to offer enhanced resources and course options to distance learners. BCCC online students can select distance courses offered through other MarylandOnline member institutions, creating more course offerings.
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 Maryland
Compared to the national average, Maryland spends an impressive amount on higher education. The percentage of adults who hold undergraduate or graduate degrees is also higher than the national average. These data suggest that although Maryland spends 0.3% less of its tax revenue on higher education than the national average, the state prioritizes higher education and is able to use its resources as, if not more, effectively than other U.S. states.
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$8,024||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||5.5%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||6.4%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree||20.6%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||17.3%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Maryland
Cost is one of the most important considerations when choosing a school. However, the price of a degree depends on a few factors. First, it matters whether you want to attend a private or public school. Public school tends to be the more cost-effective option for most students. Second, whether the institution is a two- or four-year school impacts the tuition rate. The tuition at public four-year colleges in Maryland, for example, is almost twice that of public two-year schools.
The table below provides information on the average tuition at public two-year and four-year traditional and online colleges in Maryland compared to the U.S. as a whole. Besides tuition, be sure to account for the cost of room and board, transportation, and books, as well as miscellaneous administrative and facilities fees that colleges may charge.
Most students are eligible to receive financial aid in all 50 states. To get started, you should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline set by your college's financial aid office. Your college will use the information from your FAFSA to determine whether you are eligible for scholarships, grants, student loans, or work-study awards. Scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back and should be prioritized over loans, particularly if the loans are from private lenders that charge high interest rates.
Cost for Online Programs in Maryland
Students enrolled in online colleges in Maryland should be sure to fill out the FAFSA, since they are eligible to receive the same forms of financial aid as their on-campus counterparts. Although some online schools in MD offer lower tuition to distance learners, the majority of schools charge the same tuition for on-campus and online classes. Nevertheless, because students at online colleges in Maryland do not need to commute to class or live on campus, they typically save thousands per year in college fees, textbooks, transportation costs, room and board, and childcare.
Cost of Living by Region
The cost of living in the U.S. varies greatly. In Maryland, students can live more cost effectively in Baltimore, where many colleges are located, than in Bethesda. Other nearby cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, also offer affordable living options. The cost of living can have a significant impact on the overall cost of your degree. Depending on where you choose to live after graduation, it can also decrease your future earnings by diverting large portions of your income to rent or mortgage payments.
Scholarships for Maryland College Students
- Chesapeake Bay Trust Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship
- $5,000; available to students of color who work to improve the local environment.
- Chesapeake Bay Trust Student of the Year
- $5,000; open to Maryland residents who strive to improve the environment and other aspects of their community.
- Maryland Delegate Scholarship
- $200-$11,530; must be a Maryland resident enrolled at a Maryland college, university, or certain private career schools.
- Maryland Senatorial Scholarship
- $400-$11,530; must be a Maryland resident enrolled at a Maryland college, university, or certain private career schools with 24 college credits.
- 2+2 Transfer Scholarship
- $1,000 annually; open to Maryland residents earning an associate degree at a community college who have been accepted at a four-year institution.
- Maryland Tuition Waiver for Students with Disabilities
- Waives tuition for 12 credits per semester at community college; open to students receiving SSI or SSDI benefits.
- Maryland Tuition Waiver for Foster Care Recipients
- Award recipients are exempt from paying tuition and fees at public colleges in Maryland; must be under the age of 25, have been placed into foster care in Maryland, and attend a Maryland public college or university.
- Graduate and Professional Scholarship Program
- $1,000-$5,000 annually; awarded to students with demonstrated financial need who are studying law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or social work.
- Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant
- Up to $18,400; open to high school seniors who will complete a college preparatory program or high school graduates who can provide written documentation showing why they did not attend college within one year of high school.
- Part-Time Grant
- $200-$2,000; must be a part-time undergraduate or a Maryland high school student dually enrolled in a college or university.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
Many of the scholarships that are available to on-campus students are also available to students enrolled in online colleges in Maryland. Be sure to file your FAFSA by the college's deadline in order to qualify. While filing the FAFSA will be sufficient to qualify you for scholarships at most online schools in MD, some scholarship programs have additional requirements. Check with the scholarship organization or your college's financial aid office to find out if you qualify.
Employment Outlook in Maryland
With a significantly higher mean annual wage than the national average, Maryland's employment opportunities are expected to grow over the next several years. Maryland's low unemployment rate also indicates that most of its population is employed, outpacing the U.S. as a whole. Moreover, Maryland residents make over $10,000 more per year than the national average, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a mean annual wage increase in every one of Maryland's more than 700 industries.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||3.9%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$59,802||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Maryland
- Medical: The medical industry includes surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, and many other kinds of doctors working in hospitals or smaller clinical settings. The median wage for medical professionals is projected to grow between 4% and 11%, with orthodontists' wages expected to rise by 20%.
- Finance/sales/marketing: Workers in finance, sales, and marketing need to know all sides of the business equation. Although annual median wage growth is projected to be between 1% and 2% for these professions, managers in finance, sales, and marketing in Maryland can make upwards of $150,000 annually.
- Architecture/engineering: Architects and engineers help design and maintain buildings and complex city infrastructures. Employment in these professions is projected to rise by 1%, while average annual wages are due to rise by 0.5%.
Top Employers in Maryland
- Giant Food Inc.: 27,000 employees
- Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions: 22,000 employees
- MedStar Health: 22,000 employees
Accreditation for Colleges in Maryland
Accreditation is a review process that ensures colleges and universities adhere to recognized standards of education. Most accreditation agencies in the U.S. are overseen by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. There are two kinds of accreditation: regional and national. Despite the implied strength in its name, national accreditation — which focuses more on professional training and vocational programs — is less prestigious than its regional counterpart. Regional accreditation is an older and more established process, with 85% of all colleges and universities in the country accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies.
Just like traditional programs, many online colleges in Maryland are regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Because online programs offer challenging, stimulating coursework taught by the same professors as on-campus classes, there is no difference in accreditation for online programs and for campus-based programs. Be sure to check that the online schools in MD that you're considering are properly accredited. Other benefits of choosing an accredited school include greater degree recognition and a smooth transfer of credits from one institution to another.
Resources for Students in Maryland
- Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) MHEC provides a host of important resources for students such as information about grants, special student tax relief programs, and how best to apply for financial aid.
- Maryland 529 College Investment Plan Managed by T. Rowe Price, this program uses mutual funds and bonds to help grow savings for college tuition from an early age. This is a great tool for new parents to start saving for their child's future college expenses.
- Maryland College Tuition Net Price Calculator This resource allows prospective students to calculate their tuition at community colleges, public universities, and private colleges throughout the state.
- Ask Us Now Maryland's librarians are online 24/7 to help students and the general public get answers to their questions. This is an especially useful tool for students who are involved in research but do not know where to begin.
- Maryland.gov Adult Learning Webpage This state-supported resource collates valuable information for those who are over 25 years of age and want to return to college. In addition to providing student resources, the site also links adult learners to job opportunities.