Since 2004, it has been our mission to help aspiring students accomplish their education and career goals by finding the online degree with the best value. We conduct manual research on thousands of online degrees each year to provide accurate, detailed cost information as well as provide salary information of alumni of these colleges. We have also collected reviews from over 13,000 online students. We want to make sure you have all of the information you need to choose the best college for you. OnlineU has been recognized by over 475 colleges as a leader in higher education rankings.
By providing data and resources that are easy to use but hard to find elsewhere, OnlineU hopes to empower more Americans to go to college while lowering the overall cost of earning a degree. We want to be part of the solution to the student debt crisis that has been plaguing our nation for years. Getting a degree might be necessary, but it shouldn't break the bank.
On this page
What We Do
We publish rankings across hundreds of online degree programs, have collected reviews from over 13,000 online students, and publish comprehensive guides and news articles to help students find the best degree for their aspirations. Our focus is on researching and sharing hard-to-find, impactful data. That's why we manually research the tuition for each specific degree for colleges in our rankings, collect reviews from actual graduates of online programs, and provide salary information of alumni of our ranked schools.
Our users also have the ability to get connected with any of our over 200 partner colleges to get detailed information on the degrees they are interested in directly from school representatives.
Sung Rhee - CEO
Understanding the difficulties of obtaining a quality, affordable education inspired Sung to launch OnlineU in 2004. After a decade at Microsoft as the General Manager, he wanted to apply his skills to providing transparent, data-driven information to empower people to make better decisions for their education and careers. As a parent of two, Sung has found it gratifying to see the direct impact of the product on his own two childrens' college search process. When his high school daughter told him that she was planning to use the rankings Sung and his team built to help choose her college, Sung knew he had made the right choice to help more students like her.
Outside of work, Sung enjoys playing basketball and adding to his collection of Gundam figurines. A fun fact about Sung is that he was a cartoonist for The Harvard Crimson during his college years.
In her 11 years at the company, Brittany has become the backbone of OnlineU. After graduating from Stanford with a B.A. and M.A. in communications, Brittany helped her two younger siblings navigate the college process and found the increased complexity and sky-rocketing prices staggering. She became passionate about helping others find quality education options without huge financial burdens. When Brittany is not busy working, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs and three chickens, hiking mountains, and kayaking on beautiful Washington lakes.
In her 10 years at the company, Rachel has been a key driver of our content and business strategy for OnlineU. She is responsible for making our site highly engaging for visitors and also helps drive more visibility for our advertising partners. After graduating from Westmont College with a B.A. in English, Rachel gained experience in the education field as a writing teacher. This drove her desire to help students find the right educational path for them. In her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family, including her two young boys.
As a member of the Business Growth Team, Oliver focuses on driving revenue growth through conversion optimization, digital advertising, and user engagement. He believes that education is one of the greatest assets one can possess and works to make OnlineU accessible for all. Oliver holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Management from the University of British Columbia. In his free time, he enjoys road trips, camping up and down the west coast, and gaming.
In her 9 years at the company, Emily has become a core part of many aspects of OnlineU efforts. As the College Rankings Lead, Emily oversees planning, strategy, and publishing for ranking lists, including determining the best ranking methodologies for prospective students. Emily comes from an education-centered family of professors and teachers, helping her to understand the context of the space. This experience, as well as her tutoring work with community college students has made Emily passionate about high-quality and accessible education programs. Emily holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from Whitman College, and she enjoys traveling, cooking, and basking in the sun with her dog, Marge.
As a Content Manager, Paige is dedicated to creating content that truly addresses prospective student’s needs. She surveys users, researches industry and content trends, and manages a team of writers. After volunteering in her kids’ school with special needs and low-income students, Paige became passionate about the power of accessible, online education. These experiences have helped mold her desire to continue improving the content on OnlineU. Paige has a Bachelors in Business Administration - Marketing from Western Washington University and is an avid marathon runner, completing marathons everywhere from Boston to France.
With 11 years of experience in data collection and quality assurance, Ryan ensures that we have the most accurate and timely data possible for OnlineU. Ryan is responsible for managing our data collection processes and the great team of data collectors that make it all possible. His previous experience in higher education has helped him grow his passion for making a difference in how people make decisions about their education. Ryan has a Bachelors in Psychology and a certificate in full stack development from the University of Washington. When he’s not working with data, Ryan enjoys spending time with his dogs Friday and Stella, and training for a marathon he is planning to run.
As a Marketing Manager, Nicole is passionate about getting the word out to students, colleges, and news outlets about all of OnlineU’s helpful resources and rankings. She first became interested in an education-focused career after working in marketing at Georgetown University. In her role, she handles all outreach, public relations, and branding efforts. Nicole is dedicated to developing an online student-centered brand that focuses on value, quality, and accessibility above all. Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from the University of Virginia, and enjoys hiking, relaxing on the beach, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest in her free time.
As the Content Lead, Ivana is responsible for managing the awesome team of writers and content specialists. She oversees our student resources and degree guides, as well as the articles for The Transcript. A cognitive science graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Ivana is passionate about helping students access the research, data, and student experiences needed to make an informed decision about online education. In her free time, Ivana enjoys traveling, and her favorite destinations so far have been Iceland and New Zealand.
As a Content Strategist, Victoria is responsible for managing the publishing calendar and writers for OnlineU. She is constantly working to improve the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness of the content we provide. Victoria understands that there are tons of higher education resources out there for students, and is passionate about making the most important and accurate information accessible. She holds an English degree from the University of Washington and enjoys gardening and knitting in her free time.
As an Engagement Manager, Aviva is responsible for identifying and fixing pages that are not meeting users' needs. She continually rolls out product updates to ensure that our resources remain fresh and useful. Aviva also focuses on improving search engine optimization to ensure that our product reaches as many people as possible. She is passionate about breaking down the false perception that elite schools are always best, and enjoys giving prospective students a data-driven approach to find the best option for them. Aviva holds a bachelors in English from Tufts University, which she honors by dedicating herself to reading a book a week.
In her 6 years of experience writing for higher education newspapers and magazines, Taylor gained a unique perspective on college students’ needs and difficulties. She uses this background to inform her writing for The Transcript, as well as other resource articles. Taylor holds a degree in Journalism with a News/Editorial focus from Western Washington University. When Taylor isn’t writing she enjoys hanging out with her cat, listening to 90s hip hop, and visiting any place that has palm trees.
With 35 years of experience, Jennifer is a seasoned writer who enjoys exploring all topics about education. Before joining OnlineU, Jennifer worked in content creation for two of the largest educational textbook publishers in the U.S. She has written over 100 published magazine articles, ghost-written 6 books, and edited more books and other products than she can count. In her current role, Jennifer writes and edits program-specific content, as well as articles for The Transcript. Jennifer holds a B.A. in graphic design from California State Fullerton, as well as a master’s in marketing from Southern New Hampshire University Online. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys fiction writing, painting, upcycling furniture, and traveling.
As a writer with 5 years of experience, Diana came to OnlineU with a background in writing and editing for several different fields, including engineering and real estate. She is now responsible for writing and editing content for our college rankings and resource pages. Diana first became interested in education writing while pursuing her Bachelor’s in English with a minor in Education at the University of Washington. In her time there, she was able to take classes in how humans learn, how society shapes learning, and the importance of equal access to education. Outside of work, you can find Diana exploring nature, reading, adding to her rock and mineral collection, or playing with her rescue pup, Olive
As an Email Outreach Specialist, Adria is responsible for communicating with colleges about their achievements on our ranking lists, writing blog posts about scholarship winners, and editing content. Her four years of experience in copy editing, as well as her B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, allow her to ensure all of our emails have the correct tone and polish. Adria is grateful that her communication and editing skills enable her to be a part of making information about higher education more accessible and transparent. Outside of work, Adria spends her time cooking and gardening with her husband or studying linguistics, poetry, and Russian literature.
As a College Rankings Specialist, Jessie focuses on identifying the best data sources for our college rankings and analyzing that data. Over the past few years, Jessie has had the opportunity to work with college students from all walks of life, making her passionate about effecting change in each prospective student’s college search process. Jessie attended Cornell University and earned a B.S. in Information Science. In her free time, Jessie hits the mountains for skiing and snowboarding and studies film and game design.
As a visual designer with 15 years of experience, Brian is inspired by creating visuals that are both creative and easy to use. In his role at OnlineU, Brian is responsible for making our content and design as visually appealing and engaging as possible. Brian holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Emporia State University, and has gained design experience working with many companies in the digital space, such as Microsoft and T-Mobile. In his free time, Brian can be found cruising around Seattle in his Honda Ruckus, attending concerts, working out, or spending time in the sun.
Meet our advisors! Our advisory board meets quarterly to review our content and to discuss how to best serve the needs of prospective students. They also contribute editorials and other expert content on OnlineU.
Clinton works at Northwest Education Access as an Education Advocate supporting low-income students and re-engagement youth to achieve their higher education goals. Before joining NWEA, Clinton was an AmeriCorps Member with College Access Now as an 11th and 12th Grade College Coach. In this role, he worked with high school students at Mount Rainier High School and helped mentor and guide them through the college process. As a first-generation college graduate, Clinton saw the impact of the mentorship he received in helping him achieve his goals and graduate from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. This inspired him to continue giving back to his community and help other youths find their educational path.
Hansell is an Education Advocate with Northwest Education Access (formally Seattle Education Access), an organization that provides individualized guidance, connections to resources, and financial support to low income young people in King and Pierce County. Hansell works primarily with the Basic Studies Department at Seattle Central College helping students transition to college. Hansell is a first-generation college graduate from Washington State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages and Cultures with an emphasis in Political Science and Sociology. Prior to joining NWEA, Hansell worked as an adviser at Federal Way Open Doors, where he helped high school students explore higher education and future goals. Hansell is dedicated to helping students continue to navigate barriers so they can achieve their dreams.
As a college student that grew up in a low-income community, Hugo has experienced the power of higher education first hand. He has seen many peers and family members fall victim to the vices that plague the community without the proper resources and guidance needed. In contrast, he sees that his own higher education path has opened the door to new opportunities for a better life. This experience has made Hugo passionate about giving back to his community and encouraging others to break out of the cycle of poverty and addiction through higher education. He is inspired to help others with similar backgrounds chase their educational dreams and create a better life for themselves. Hugo is pursuing a double major in Education and Sociology at the University of California – Riverside and plans to start his career as an education counselor for low-income, at risk youth.
Through our professional affiliations, Optimal strives to provide authoritative resources for students seeking high quality and affordable online education programs.
Optimal is proud to be an institutional member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). OLC is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1999 and comprises a collaborative community of leaders and innovators in the higher education space. Members are dedicated to advancing OLC’s vision of setting the global standard for online and digital learning.
We are also an organizational member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Over the NACAC's 80+ years of service, it has furthered diversity and social justice by providing students with a path to success. The NACAC is recognized by policy makers and education leaders as the primary authority on postsecondary transition issues, and has influenced national and state policy to enhance access to higher education.
OnlineU in the News
As a driver of the college affordability and value conversation, OnlineU has been featured in many national and local media outlets, including Forbes, College Confidential, and 425 Business Magazine. Since releasing our first online college rankings in 2009, OnlineU has also been recognized by over 475 colleges as a leader in the online higher education space.
“The (history) department is delighted by this honor, especially as the online track is only five years old.”
“It’s nice to be recognized nationally for providing nurses the opportunity to advance their degree.”
The money we receive from schools allows us to conduct and publish detailed research into colleges and universities so prospective students are empowered to make informed choices about their education.
The schools with whom we have an advertising relationship are referred to as "partner schools" throughout OnlineU. We ensure that our relationships with partner schools do not hinder our editorial integrity. Partner schools are clearly labeled as such throughout the site, and we never show our partner schools any preferential treatment when developing our ranking lists, except when explicitly indicated in the methodology.
All schools featured on our site are accredited by accrediting bodies recognized by the United States Department of Education. When creating our content, we always conduct extensive research in order to ensure that we provide accurate and current information about program offerings and tuition costs. This information comes directly from schools' official websites or representatives. We also source information from third-party research firms such as PayScale as well as government databases and agencies such as:
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
- College Scorecard
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Our ranking list methodologies always list the data sources used to develop those rankings. Additionally, you can hover over any school's tuition rate to see where on the school's website we found that information.