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2023 Best Online Colleges in Texas

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 12/30/2022


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Online colleges in Texas include a variety of public and private institutions of all sizes that grant bachelor's degrees. Anyone considering going to college in Texas might research online programs for the flexibility and convenience they offer, which helps many students balance school with work and other responsibilities. The state's online degree options include a wide range of majors, including the most popular study subjects in the U.S.: business, health professions, social sciences, and psychology. Some of these majors can serve as foundations for some of the highest-paying jobs for college graduates, which often require graduate degrees.

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2023 Best Online Colleges in Texas

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 The University of Texas Permian Basin 73 73 $47,722
# 2 #2 Texas Tech University 70 $44,056
# 3 #3 University of Houston-Downtown 59 $40,749
# 4 #4 University of North Texas 59 $37,899
# 5 #5 Lamar University 58 $47,003
# 6 #6 Texas A&M University - Commerce 57 $37,745
# 7 #7 Texas Woman's University 55 $44,224
# 8 #8 Sam Houston State University 54 $37,865
# 9 #9 Stephen F. Austin State University 53 $35,938
# 10 #10 Tarleton State University 50 $40,218

#1 The University of Texas Permian Basin

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Median Starting Salary: $47,722
  • Locations: Odessa
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) is a public institution that offers more than a dozen fully online bachelor's degrees. These include distance versions of some of UTPB's most popular programs, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management. The university accepts 88% of bachelor's degree applicants, 51% of whom finish their degree program.

UTPB uses the Canvas learning management system (LMS) to host online courses. The federal government designates this university as a Hispanic-serving institution, with Hispanic or Latinx students composing more than half of the student population. Fifty-five percent of enrollees study full time and 45% study part time.

#2 Texas Tech University

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,056
  • Locations: Lubbock
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas Tech University (TTU), a public school, features nearly two dozen online bachelor's degrees. The program with the highest enrollment is the Bachelor of General Studies, which allows students to customize a major using three focus areas. Other popular choices are the Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations & Strategic Communication Management and the Bachelor of Science in Education. The university has a 70% acceptance rate and a 62% graduation rate for bachelor's degree students.

TTU's online learners sign in to the Blackboard LMS to complete coursework. This is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution: 29% of students have Hispanic or Latinx backgrounds. TTU has a relatively small percentage of part-time students at 11%.

#3 University of Houston-Downtown

  • Salary Score: 59
  • Median Starting Salary: $40,749
  • Locations: Houston
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is a public university with a large variety of online bachelor's degree programs. Some of its most popular degrees are available to distance learners, including the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice, and the Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. The school accepts 93% of bachelor's candidates and graduates 43% of them with a degree.

UHD hosts online courses on the Blackboard LMS but plans to transition to Canvas in 2024. Fifty-five percent of students identify as Hispanic or Latinx people at this federally recognized Hispanic-serving institution. The population is evenly split between full-time and part-time enrollees.

#4 University of North Texas

  • Salary Score: 59
  • Median Starting Salary: $37,899
  • Locations: Denton
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The public University of North Texas (UNT) offers several online bachelor's degrees, including programs in some of the university's most popular majors. Two multidisciplinary degrees have especially high enrollments: the Bachelor of Science in Integrative Studies and the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences, both of which encourage students to design a unique study program. The university has an 84% acceptance rate for bachelor's candidates, along with a 60% graduation rate.

Online students complete coursework in the Canvas digital learning platform. UNT is a designated Hispanic-serving institution with a population consisting of 27% Hispanic or Latinx students. Eighty percent of the student body studies full time.

#5 Lamar University

  • Salary Score: 58
  • Median Starting Salary: $47,003
  • Locations: Beaumont
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Lamar University is a public institution offering several online bachelor's degree programs, mainly in business-related majors. These include a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management. But the school's most popular bachelor's degree is the RN-to-BSN program for current registered nurses, which is also available online. The university has an 83% acceptance rate and a 37% graduation rate for bachelor's degree programs.

Lamar uses the Blackboard LMS to deliver online course materials, assignments, and interactive modules. In all, 57% of Lamar students take a full-time course schedule.

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Overview of Higher Education in Texas

College enrollment has been climbing in Texas for years. Total enrollment in the state was just over 227,000 students for the 2020-2021 year at accredited schools — approximately 93% were listed as Texas residents. Of the degree-granting institutions in Texas:

  • 103 are public colleges and universities.
  • 71 are private non-profit colleges.
  • 61 are private for-profit schools.
Graph of Texas Colleges by Type
Source: NCES

Texas features a large community college system. In fact, most transfer students to four-year universities had previously earned a general studies associate degree at one of the state's 128 two-year colleges. Overall, graduation rates at public Texas colleges are in line with the nationwide average: 39% of those entering a public college in Texas in 2014 graduated within four years, and 65% graduated within six years. Compare that to 2013 (most recent data available) NCES nationwide graduation rates of 41% and 64%, respectively.

Online Colleges in Texas

Online learning is well represented in Texas at every level — from certificates to doctoral degrees — and at both private schools and public university systems such as the University of Texas and the University of Houston. Texas colleges provide a variety of degree options through distance education, including programs in business, criminal justice, nursing, and psychology.

Online learning is well represented in Texas at every level — from certificates to doctoral degrees — and at both private schools and public university systems such as the University of Texas and the University of Houston.

Most online degree programs feature asynchronous classes, which have no live components. Students log in to a learning management platform to view lectures, post in forums, and submit coursework. Alternately, some programs feature synchronous elements such as live lectures over video, and others are designed for hybrid delivery with a mix of asynchronous work and some on-campus class meetings. These programs offer greater flexibility for students who juggle other responsibilities, and this convenience may help explain the increased popularity of online classes.

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Education in Texas

Are Online Degrees Respected?

Much of the stigma around online degrees has eroded as big-name universities have entered the online space and many on-campus students take at least some online courses. A degree earned from an accredited school is the most important credibility factor for job seekers, not the mode of course delivery. What's more, a diploma won't indicate that a student earned the degree online.

Does Texas Have Good Online Schools?

Many Texas colleges that offer online degrees feature competitive salaries upon graduation. For example, the top three Texas colleges by salary all have Salary Scores of 74 and higher, which places them relatively high in our nationwide rankings. This may mean that alumni received an education that prepared them for well-earning post-graduate careers. With a goal of ensuring online student success,Texas colleges typically offer services to distance learners, such as academic support, library and tech resources, and even career consultation services. These resources are geared toward ensuring the success of online students.

Are Online Colleges in Texas Accredited?

Many Texas colleges with online degrees are accredited at either the national or regional level. Both designations mean that a school has passed a thorough, independent examination of its educational quality, but regional accreditation is more rigorous and allows students to transfer credits more easily. Our rankings lists feature mainly regionally accredited online colleges in Texas. Applicants can check a school's accreditation status using the Department of Education's Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Cost of Online Colleges in Texas

College is a major expense for most students, so it's important to understand the costs and how to possibly mitigate them. Here are the costs to attend a Texas college, with data from the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Texas residents at four-year public schools pay an average of $8,598 annually.
  • Nonresidents at four-year public institutions pay an average of $24,889 annually.
  • All students at four-year private schools pay an average of $36,014 annually.
  • Texas residents at public two-year schools pay an average of $2,380 annually.
  • Nonresidents at public two-year schools pay an average of $6,373 annually.

Each amount includes tuition and mandatory fees but excludes room and board. These numbers are a helpful starting point for understanding how much a degree will cost, but they aren't specific to online bachelor's degrees in Texas.

Online-specific costs aren't as widely reported, but according to our manual research of 21 Texas schools offering undergraduate degrees online, the median annual tuition is $10,350, and tuition rates range from $6,187 to $30,690 a year.

Notably, most public Texas universities charge the in-state tuition rate to full-time online students regardless of residency. These lower tuition rates favor out-of-state students who would otherwise pay a higher amount per credit to study on campus. Some private Texas colleges also charge less tuition to online students because the overhead costs per student are lower.

Students should keep in mind extra fees they'll need to pay on top of tuition, which vary by school and program. Online students usually have to pay a technology fee to cover the costs associated with data storage and learning management platforms for online courses. However, there are some costs online students can avoid, such as room and board or campus recreation fees.

Financial Aid for Online Students in Texas

To help reduce upfront costs, students can apply for financial aid from the federal government, the Texas state government, their college, or private sources. The best options are gift aid funds that don't need to be repaid, such as grants and scholarships. Although 66% of students at non-profit Texas schools receive financial aid, most of these students fund the remaining balance of their education using loans, which require repayment with interest. It's advisable to exhaust government loans before turning to private lenders, which charge higher interest rates.

66% of students at non-profit Texas schools receive financial aid.

The financial aid process begins with the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for federal aid. Most states and colleges use the information for the same purpose. Students with undocumented immigration status should complete the Texas Application for Student Financial Aid. Although these students can't receive federal funds, they may qualify for some state programs. All students should check with their school's financial aid office to see which programs the college participates in.

Texas provides several aid opportunities for students who demonstrate financial need. In general, state programs are reserved for state residents — including online learners — and can be renewed if the students maintain a specified GPA. Students may be eligible for the following Texas funds:

Students in a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program can earn $10,000 off tuition and fees annually if they sign a four-year commitment to the U.S. military or branch of the Texas Guard and meet high school eligibility requirements.

Students demonstrating financial need can qualify for partial funding if they maintain a part-time job while attending a Texas college at least half-time.

This is another need-based grant for students at public Texas schools. The award amount is at the discretion of the institution that the student attends.

Texas public college students may be eligible for the TEXAS Grant Program if they demonstrate financial need. Recipients can receive up to $5,195 off tuition and fees per semester.

Texas residents with financial need who are seeking undergraduate or graduate degrees can apply to receive up to $3,497 a year to attend a non-profit private college in Texas. The degree must be the first of its level that the student is pursuing. Those with exceptional financial need may receive up to $5,246.

Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Texas

About 30% of Texas residents over 25 hold a bachelor's degree, which is slightly lower than the nationwide amount of 32%. This could indicate less competition for jobs in Texas than in states with more degree holders. What's more, many jobs in the state's boom industries require a bachelor's degree for entry-level employment. These industries include technology and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, information technology, petroleum refining, and energy.

Education generally pays in Texas: bachelor's degree holders earn median weekly earnings of $1,305, which is significantly higher than the $781 median earnings of those without a college education. College graduate salaries have great potential buying power in Texas, a state with the 14th-lowest cost of living in the nation. Further, unemployment rates are also lower among Texans with a bachelor's degree and even lower among those with a graduate degree.

Median weekly earnings by educational attainment (2020)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Popular Career Paths for College Graduates in Texas

Several of Texas's fastest growing occupations are also among the state's top industries for alumni of the best online colleges in Texas. Graduates can explore Texas Career Check for more information about opportunities in the state and learn more about some of the jobs available in these popular industries below.

Accountant and auditor
Median Annual Salary: $73,560
Job Outlook: 7%

Accountant and auditor roles might be a good fit for math-savvy students who study accounting or finance. Accountants analyze the finances of businesses, households, and government offices to help them understand their inflows and spending, where auditors investigate employer balance sheets to ensure compliance with legal reporting requirements. Both types of employee can improve their career prospects by earning a master's degree in accounting and a Certified Public Accountant license. These professionals make median wages of $73,560 nationwide, and the BLS expects this field to grow 7% in the 2020-2030 period.

General and operations managers
Median Annual Salary: $103,650
Job Outlook: 9%

General and operations managers lead teams of employees at private companies, government agencies, and non-profits. They ensure that operations run smoothly, plan and oversee budgets, and hire and develop new talent. These professionals commonly study business administration, management, or organizational leadership. They earn median annual wages of $103,650, and projections show the field growing by about 9% by 2030.

Elementary school teachers
Median Annual Salary: $60,940
Job Outlook: 7%

Elementary school teachers generally major in education, but because of a critical K-12 teacher shortage, Texas offers alternative certification programs for students who majored in other fields in order to fill the demand. These teachers make median yearly wages of $60,940 and can expect a 7% job growth rate through the end of the decade.

High school teachers
Median Annual Salary: $62,870
Job Outlook: 8%

High school teachers specialize in subjects such as math, science, or humanities. They tend to earn more than elementary teachers, with median yearly salaries of $62,870 in Texas. The field will likely grow 8% in the 2020-2030 period.

Registered nurses
Median Annual Salary: $75,330
Job Outlook: 9%

Registered nurses care for patients in all types of healthcare facilities. They often specialize in certain care settings or patient populations and keep their skills sharp through continuing education. Graduates can register as nurses with an associate degree, but a Bachelor of Nursing Science (BSN) degree often helps improve their marketability. RNs earn median pay of $75,330 per year and the BLS expects the field to grow at a 9% rate from 2020-2030.

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