OnlineU Editorial Policy

Taylor Nichols

Written By: Taylor Nichols

Published: 8/5/2022

At OnlineU, we believe students deserve easy access to the data they need to make informed college decisions. We strive to provide accessible resources to help all students find which colleges best fit their needs and goals. We prioritize student needs in every step of our content creation process.

Advertising Policy

OnlineU makes money through inquiry generation, which allows us to keep our content free for students. Our advertising partner schools pay us to appear in various places across our site, marked with the word "Advertisement" or "Ad." When users click on an advertising school, they are able to fill out a form requesting more information on a degree program or enrollment at the school. Submitting this form creates an inquiry, which our advertising partners pay us for, since inquiries can turn into future enrollments at these schools. Learn more about how we make money.

Editorial Integrity

Articles and content on our site are our own and are not influenced by partner schools. We strive to be objective, non-partisan, and transparent in our content, covering topics relevant to students and the college choice process. Our editorial team works independently from the OnlineU accounts team, which handles all work related to advertising partners. 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 and Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), and government databases such as:

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, and Inclusion

We believe that every student deserves to make informed decisions about their education and aim to create content to address the wide variety of educational needs that different students have. Creating content for diverse audiences requires a wide variety of perspectives and voices, which we incorporate through our in-house writing and engineering teams, freelance writers, and a focus on diverse voices in our featured experts and sources. We prioritize letting others tell their story and seek perspectives from those most impacted by specific issues when creating content for those groups.

Data You Can Trust

As a data-driven company, our goal is to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information for students. All of our content goes through an internal review process and is fact-checked by our managing editors. We use a variety of trusted sources for content, typically sourced from the U.S. Department of Education and other government data sets.

  • Career Research Sources
    • The Bureau of Labor Statistics is one of the most trusted government sources for information on salary outcomes, employment rates, educational requirements, and other data on different careers.
    • O*NET Online is a secondary government source for information on career outcomes, job outlooks, relevant skills, and other factors related to specific career pathways.CareerExplorer provides relevant data on job satisfaction and other metrics based on ongoing surveys conducted with millions of respondents.
  • Education Data Sources
    • College Scorecard offers one of the most comprehensive government data sets available for information on colleges. We primarily use College Scorecard for data on starting salaries by major at each school.
    • IPEDS catalogs data reported by every school that participates in the federal financial aid program. The IPEDS system, maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics, gathers information from every school on everything from college enrollment numbers to the average net cost per student.
  • Proprietary Data
    • Salary Score is a data point we calculate using median salary information for each major at each college. We use this data to rank schools by how much graduates earn compared to others with the same degree. This helps students find schools that offer the best chance at a high-paying career no matter what they study.
    • Return on Investment (or 10-year ROI) is a metric we sometimes use to rank colleges based on the median amount graduates will earn over 10 years after paying off their student loans. We calculate this using median salary, median debt, and tuition rates.
    • Our manually collected tuition rates set us apart from other publications. While most rankings sites use one tuition rate published by the U.S. Department of Education, we independently gather rates from schools themselves for each program. This allows our users to compare programs based on the true tuition rather than an overall number that may not be accurate. 

Our Values

Accuracy, Transparency, & Accessibility

Our mission is to help students make informed decisions about their education. That means having access to the data you need to compare options. That data needs to be accurate and easy to understand. It also means we need to be transparent with our users about where our data comes from, the limitations, and how we make money.

Student Needs

Students are at the center of everything we do. We strive to provide useful resources that meet students at every point in their education journey and career pathway. We aim to provide content that meets the needs of a wide variety of students with different backgrounds, experiences, and levels of accessibility to higher education.

Data-Driven Insights

We know that most prospective students get advice from family, friends, and many others on what they should study and where they should go to school. We're here to help you make sense of all that information using data on salaries, debt, and return on investment.

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