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 and 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.
We researched over 1,000 schools to highlight online colleges with low tuition and high alumni salaries. The colleges on our Optimal Choice list offer below-average tuition, alumni salaries in the 60th percentile or above, and a wide range of online bachelor’s degrees.
Understanding the difficulties of obtaining a quality, affordable education is what inspired founder and CEO Sung Rhee to found Optimal in 2004. He saw a need to create sites dedicated to providing transparent, data-driven information to empower people to make better decisions for their education and careers. He knows prestige doesn't always translate to quality, and Sung doesn't want to see students get a raw deal.
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.
Writing & Editing
We have a team of 60 data researchers that research over 40,000 college degrees each year.
Optimal Board Advisor
Richard Vedder, distinguished higher education change advocate, serves as a board advisor for OnlineU, advising on content and contributing editorials. As an advisor, he supports Optimal's core mission of adding data-driven information to the higher education space and setting students up for career success.
Dr. Richard Vedder
Vedder is an esteemed figure in the higher education sector, writing frequently for numerous notable outlets including Forbes, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Opinion, and Inside Higher Ed. He has also authored several books regarding issues within the higher education sector, including "Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much" and "Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America." Much of his writing challenges the current American higher education system and proposes solutions for economic, societal, and institutional changes.
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 Business Insider. 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. For more information, please visit our press page.
“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.”
Optimal strives to provide authoritative resources for students seeking high-quality and affordable online education programs through professional affiliations.
Optimal is proud to be an institutional member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). The 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 the OLC’s vision of setting the global standard for online and digital learning.
OnlineU makes money through inquiry generation. This means that schools pay us to appear in various advertising placements across our site (marked with the word "Advertisement or "Ad") and if a user clicks on an advertising school, they will have the option to submit a form requesting that a representative of the school contact them with more information. Submitting this form creates an inquiry, which the school pays us for, since inquiries can turn into future enrollments at these schools. Learn more about how we make money.
We ensure that our relationships with our advertising partners do not hinder our editorial integrity. Partner schools are always clearly labeled and we never show them any preferential treatment when developing our ranking lists.
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.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Optimal's policy is to ensure equal employment opportunity without discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, national origin, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Optimal prohibits any such discrimination or harassment.