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2023 Best Online Colleges in Ohio

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 12/29/2022
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As the seventh most populous state in the country, Ohio is home to over a hundred degree-granting colleges and universities. In 2020, a total of 654,555 students enrolled in postsecondary education across the state, including many that pursued an online education. One year later Ohio continues to attract new students to enroll in universities. Over 25,000 new and out-of-state students chose the state as their destination for post-secondary education. Tuition cost is always a factor, especially for first-time students. Ohio has year-after-year tuition guarantees from all 13 of the state's public undergraduate universities. This, along with over a dozen more affordable online community colleges in Ohio, make it a formidable choice for college students on a budget.

The list below provides the top five universities in Ohio based on salary scores. View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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2023 Best Online Colleges in Ohio

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 University of Cincinnati 64 64 $46,695
# 2 #2 Franklin University 62 $45,821
# 3 #3 Ohio State University - Main Campus 61 $42,736
# 4 #4 Tiffin University 58 $39,703
# 5 #5 Ohio Christian University 51 $38,129

2023 Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's Degrees

Ranking Details

#1 University of Cincinnati

  • Salary Score: 64
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,695
  • Locations: Cincinnati (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: HLC

University of Cincinnati (UC) is a public institution located in the heart of Cincinnati, OH. Their program catalog features 53 online degrees in fields such as special education, nursing, management, and liberal arts. Additional examples include an Associate of Applied Business in Business Applications Technology, a Bachelor's in Social Work, and an Application Software Support Specialist Certificate. For advanced students, UC offers several master's, doctoral, and graduate certificates in a wide variety of fields, ranging from nutrition to taxation.

All online coursework is taken through the Canvas learning management system (LMS), which allows for a flexible online study experience. Distance learners may receive grants and financial support, along with personalized support and guidance that begins before a student enrolls.

#2 Franklin University

  • Salary Score: 62
  • Median Starting Salary: $45,821
  • Locations: Columbus
  • Accreditation: HLC

Franklin University is a private university in Columbus, OH that specializes in online learning. In fact, nearly 80% of the student body takes online courses. Franklin's programs cover a wide variety of fields — such as business, education, healthcare, social science, and technology. Within the business field alone, Franklin offers 18 online bachelor's degrees, where students can study sports, marketing, communications, and more. Master's and doctoral degrees are also included in their slate of offerings. Students may choose to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Data Analytics.

Students can take online courses on a flexible schedule through the BlueQuill LMS, which includes a combination of live streams, pre-recorded lectures, interactive assignments, and online tests. Online students also have access to credit transfer support, along with free tutoring and writing research assistance, personal advising, and 24/7 digital libraries and catalogs.

#3 Ohio State University - Main Campus

  • Salary Score: 61
  • Median Starting Salary: $42,736
  • Locations: Columbus
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ohio State University (OSU) is a public institution located in Columbus, OH. There are 47 online programs available for students, both in-state and out-of-state. However, non-resident students are subject to a surcharge. OSU offers certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and even online doctoral degrees. There are a wide array of subjects to choose from within healthcare, agriculture, public affairs, and science. Some options include an Environmental Assessment Certificate, an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Education, and a Master of Arts in Bioethics.

Online courses are delivered through the popular LMS Canvas, allowing students to study on a flexible part-time or full-time schedule. Remote students also receive academic advising, career services, and telehealth services for in-state residents.

#4 Tiffin University

  • Salary Score: 58
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,703
  • Locations: Tiffin
  • Accreditation: HLC

Tiffin University (TU) is a private university in Tiffin, OH. They offer five online bachelor's degrees and five online master's degrees. For undergrads, there's a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Bachelor in Criminal Justice, along with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. TU even features an associate to bachelor's completion program. The school's master's programs cover fields such as education, science, and the humanities; their most advanced degree is the Doctor of Philosophy in Global Leadership and Change. Coursework for these online programs is completed through the LMS Moodle.

Tiffin University focuses on being an affordable option for students, with 80% of students taking advantage of at least one form of financial aid. Individual career coaching is available for online students as well, which includes resume and cover letter critiques, mock interviews, networking opportunities, and professional development workshops.

#5 Ohio Christian University

  • Salary Score: 51
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,129
  • Locations: Circleville
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ohio Christian University (OCU) is a private, Christian university situated in Circleville, OH. They integrate faith with learning, even featuring a handful of ministry-based and theological online programs, such as a Master of Arts in Ministry and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Missions. Additional programs are in fields such as emergency management, healthcare, information technology, and finance. Some examples include an Associate of Science in Information Technology, a Bachelor of Arts in Business - Emergency Management, and a Certificate in Healthcare Management. Classes are 100% online through the Brightspace LMS.

OCU offers a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) to assist students and their parents who have an income below $45,000 and don't immediately gain employment upon graduation.

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Overview of Online Colleges in Ohio

Ohio hosts a range of colleges and universities, including private liberal arts schools, public research universities, and for-profit institutions. Specifically, Ohio’s public education sector is comprised of 14 universities — including 24 regional campuses — 23 community colleges, and over 70 adult education and training centers. Ohio State University (OSU) is the state’s largest school. Many of these four-year schools offer distance learning programs, which are ideal for students who prefer to learn at their own pace, work full or part-time while attending school, or take classes around their busy schedule.

Enrollment in online higher education has been steadily increasing in The Buckeye State. According to the Distance Education State Almanac, the number of students taking at least one online course at an Ohio institution has increased by 60.3% for undergraduate programs and 56.9% for graduate programs from 2012-2019. In fact, over 15% of Ohio students were enrolled in exclusively online schools in 2019.

Many of these four-year schools offer distance learning programs, which are ideal for students who prefer to learn at their own pace, work full or part-time while attending school, or take classes around their busy schedule.

Given that it is the seventh-highest state for college enrollment, The Ohio Department of Education has several initiatives to make attaining a higher education degree easier for students. These include implementing federal programs targeted at increasing access to higher education — such as GEAR UP — and other state-specific plans. For instance, Ohio Transfer 36 is a statewide initiative that guarantees core education credits can transfer between Ohio's public universities and community colleges.

For college options in other locations, view OnlineU's best online college rankings by state or best online colleges by degree level.

Careers in Ohio for Online Graduates

Ohio's average employment rate for 2021 is on par with the national average, at 5.07%. However, with its labor participation rate steadily increasing, Ohio's economy has been slowly recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sectors that have added the most jobs over the past year include leisure and hospitality, transportation, and professional and business services.

Despite Ohio's history of being a manufacturing hub, the state's economy has developed to include several other industries, from healthcare and retail to educational services. The Cleveland Clinic, an internationally renowned medical center, and Wal-Mart are two of Ohio's largest employers. Other popular employers include the financial institution, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Honda Motor Co.

Popular Employers in Ohio

These employment trends may reflect the level of educational attainment in Ohio. A significant proportion of early and mid-career professionals — 34.4% — hold a bachelor's degree, which is often necessary for careers in business, education, and healthcare. Additionally, despite having a median household income of $56,602, which is lower than the U.S. average, it is important to note that Ohio is relatively cheaper to live in than other states. In short, college-educated individuals can find steady career opportunities in Ohio and the opportunity to earn a living wage.

Interested in learning about employment outcomes for alumni of online programs? OnlineU studied ten popular online colleges across the country and found strong career results.

Cost of Online Ohio Colleges

The affordability of higher education varies considerably in Ohio depending on the university or college, but the median annual tuition for our top online schools is $11,895. Across 846 schools nationwide, the cost of an online bachelor’s program is approximately $13,919.

Tuition fees also vary based on a student’s residency status. Like in most parts of the country, in-state residents benefit from lower tuition fees. However, tuition reciprocity agreements between Ohio and other states qualify certain students for lower fees.

The affordability of higher education varies considerably in Ohio depending on the university or college, but the median annual tuition for our top online schools is $11,895.

While online students typically pay less than their on-campus peers, those planning to attend OSU — the state's largest school — should note that out-of-state online learners must pay a significant surcharge. This additional expense is in place to close the fee gap between out-of-state learners who attend OSU in-person and those who take all their classes online. Out-of-state distance learners who hope to keep their college expenses low should consider applying to other educational institutions in the state.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students pursuing online degrees at Ohio educational institutions are eligible for multiple types of financial aid, including grants and scholarships from both the state and federal governments as well as colleges and universities in the state. Ohio residents may also be able to take advantage of federal work-study programs, whether they are online or in-person learners. These programs allow students to work part-time while attending school and reduce their college expenses.

Students interested in applying for financial aid should begin by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form allows federal, state, and university departments to determine whether students are eligible for assistance.

Students may also consider the following state- and university-funded scholarships only available in Ohio:

Ohio College Opportunity Grant

This grant is available to Ohio residents who demonstrate substantial financial need based on FAFSA results. Applicants must be enrolled in an associate, bachelor's, or nursing program. Only applicants with a maximum annual household income of $96,000 are eligible to apply. Awards amounts vary.

OHIO Excellence Awards

Ohio University is one of the state's premier educational institutions. The school offers need- and merit-based awards to undergraduate students transitioning from high school and current enrollees, including graduate students. The goal is to benefit both in-state and out-of-state students as long as the applicant demonstrates their financial need and academic excellence. Awards range from $2,000-$12,840.

Ohio War Orphan & Severely Disabled Veterans' Children Scholarship

This scholarship offers financial assistance to the children of deceased or disabled Ohio veterans who served in the armed forces during a war or other declared conflict. Ohio residents enrolled full-time in an accredited state university or college can apply if they have at least a 2.0 GPA. The scholarship is awarded through the Ohio Department of Education, covering up to 84% of tuition fees at public universities and $7,532 annually at private universities.

Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program

This award is designed to aid individuals hoping to work in Ohio's well-developed healthcare sector. The Ohio Department of Education awards an annual loan of $1,620 to state residents enrolled full- or part-time in a nursing program. Recipients who serve as full-time nurses for at least five years in Ohio are even eligible for loan forgiveness.


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