Best Online Colleges in Virginia

By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/7/2022
2020 Best Online Colleges in Virginia Badge

With more college graduates than the national average, Virginia's higher education system is highly ranked, competitively priced, and has a broad curriculum. Students can enroll in online colleges in Virginia, including a wide span of bachelor's programs, to develop the skills needed to achieve their career goals. The convenience of distance learning allows students to learn while balancing life's responsibilities. We've listed Virginia's best online degree programs below based on tuition costs and alumni salaries: Tuition ranges from $5,752 to $15,180 annually, and alumni salaries are between $56,300 and $103,300.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Virginia $13,260 $103,300
# 2 #2 Hampton University $9,000 $80,500
# 3 #3 Old Dominion University $10,680 $79,400
# 4 #4 Jefferson College of Health Sciences $7,922 $79,000
# 5 #5 Virginia Commonwealth University $14,596 $75,400
# 6 #6 Radford University $11,350 $71,900
# 7 #7 Eastern Mennonite University $14,940 $69,100
# 8 #8 Norfolk State University $5,752 $62,500
# 9 #9 Liberty University $11,700 $61,900
# 10 #10 Averett University $14,400 $59,000
# 11 #11 Virginia Wesleyan University $12,768 $58,000
# 12 #12 Bluefield College $10,950 $56,500
# 13 #13 Mary Baldwin University $15,180 $56,300
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges in Virginia Ranking Details

For each school, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' online programs. Explore online degrees offered and accreditation information below.

#1 University of Virginia

  • Annual Tuition: $13,260
  • Median Salary: $103,300
  • Locations: Charlottesville
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Virginia offers online degree programs for those seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as 21 online certificate programs. Undergraduate degree programs are offered in the fields of business, cybersecurity, early childhood, health care management, information technology, liberal arts, health sciences management, and nursing. Graduate degree programs are available in education, engineering, data science, and teaching. There are also many additional stand-alone online courses available through UVA online. The university’s online learning department offers students digital resources and support as well as tutorials for how to succeed in an online education environment.

#2 Hampton University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,000
  • Median Salary: $80,500
  • Locations: Hampton
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Hampton University offers 30 degree and certificate programs that can be completed entirely online. Students receive their education through Hampton University’s web-based virtual campus in an asynchronous course-delivery system, allowing students to work and study at their own pace. Online students can take advantage of a host of resources to support their education, including access to the university’s entire library catalog and research resources, an online writing center, academic advising, counseling, the career center, disability resources, and more. Students access their course materials through the Blackboard learning management system.

#3 Old Dominion University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,680
  • Median Salary: $79,400
  • Locations: Norfolk
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Old Dominion University offers a wide range of online degree programs through its ODU Online department, including 73 undergraduate programs, 42 master’s degrees, several doctoral programs, and more than 30 graduate certificate programs. Virtual office hours and regular web conferencing allow online students to interact and form genuine connections with their professors and peers. While many classes are delivered asynchronously, some courses are held online in real-time, offering a more traditional college experience.

#4 Jefferson College of Health Sciences

  • Annual Tuition: $7,922
  • Median Salary: $79,000
  • Locations: Roanoke
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Jefferson College of Health Sciences is part of Radford University. The school offers 18 online degree programs and two online graduate certificate programs. Students can pursue degrees in emergency services, healthcare administration, community and public health, occupational therapy, and more. There is also an online RN to BSN program for nursing students. Graduate certificates are available online in bioethics and healthcare administration. Online students have access to academic advising, the career center, disability resources, financial aid counselors, McConnell Library, and the university’s writing center.

#5 Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,596
  • Median Salary: $75,400
  • Locations: Richmond
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Virginia Commonwealth University offers 21 fully online degree programs and six online graduate certificate programs through its Online@VCU program. Online degree programs span a wide range of topic areas, including homeland security, addiction studies, health administration, clinical laboratory sciences, education, nursing, occupational therapy, leadership, and more. All course materials are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. Online students can access a variety of support services through the VCU Division of Student Affairs, including academic advisors, the campus writing center, career services, and the full library catalog.

#6 Radford University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,350
  • Median Salary: $71,900
  • Locations: Radford
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Radford University offers several undergraduate and graduate degree programs that can be completed entirely online, as well as 10 graduate certificate programs. Subject areas include health, criminal justice, education, business, fine arts, cybersecurity, Appalachian studies, design thinking, professional writing, and more. Online students are able to access a host of services to help them succeed throughout their program, including academic advising, the career center, disability resources, financial aid counselors, McConnell Library, and the university’s writing center.

#7 Eastern Mennonite University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,940
  • Median Salary: $69,100
  • Locations: Harrisonburg
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Eastern Mennonite University offers multiple online degree and certificate programs. Students can pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing or an MBA without having to step foot on campus. A school nurse graduate certificate can also be completed entirely online. Eastern Mennonite University also offers a variety of hybrid degree programs that combine online and on-campus classes. Online programs are delivered mostly asynchronously, allowing students to work and study when it is most convenient for them. Students use the Moodle learning management system to access their course materials and interact with peers and instructors.

#8 Norfolk State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,752
  • Median Salary: $62,500
  • Locations: Norfolk
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Norfolk State University offers seven undergraduate and six graduate degree programs that can be completed entirely online. Topic areas include business, history, psychology, tourism, education, cyber security, healthcare administration, and more. The university’s office of extended learning offers support services for online students to help ensure success throughout their program. Tools such as Adobe Connect Enterprise are used to host large-scale web conferences, creating a more traditional classroom feel. Students use the Blackboard learning management system to access course materials.

#9 Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Median Salary: $61,900
  • Locations: Lynchburg
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University offers a wide variety of online degree programs for those seeking associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees, as well as certificate programs in fields including education and biblical studies. Hundreds of degrees can be completed entirely online and are delivered with a Christian worldview. Online courses are offered in a flexible eight-week format, with eight different start dates throughout the year, allowing students to mold their schedules in the way that works best for them. Online students can contact academic advisors and technical support teams throughout their entire program to help ensure their success.

#10 Averett University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,400
  • Median Salary: $59,000
  • Locations: Danville (and 13 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Averett University offers about 20 degree programs that can be completed entirely online. Program areas include business administration, applied science, computer information systems, criminal justice, accountancy, physical education, sociology, nursing, education, and more. All Averett University online courses are accessed through the Canvas learning management system where students can also take part in class discussions, watch videos, take quizzes, and communicate with their peers and professors. Online students are assigned a student success counselor from enrollment through completion of their program.

#11 Virginia Wesleyan University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,768
  • Median Salary: $58,000
  • Locations: Norfolk
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Virginia Wesleyan College offers 10 bachelor’s degrees and a Master of Business Administration degree program that can be completed entirely online. Online undergraduate programs are available in fields such as criminal justice, business, and social sciences. Students can complete their online degree program in as little as 12 months. All class terms are less than eight weeks, and course start times happen six times per year. Virginia Wesleyan College’s online courses keep class rosters small, giving students increased access to their professors.

#12 Bluefield College

  • Annual Tuition: $10,950
  • Median Salary: $56,500
  • Locations: Bluefield
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Bluefield College has several undergraduate and graduate degree programs that can be completed entirely online, including associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs in the areas of education, business, science, ministry, and more. Online students can access a number of services to support their educational experience, including academic advisors, math and writing labs, tutoring services, testing support services, access to the full college library catalog and all its research resources, as well as support regarding technology and student accounts.

#13 Mary Baldwin University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,180
  • Median Salary: $56,300
  • Locations: Staunton
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Mary Baldwin University offers a wide range of fully online certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs through MBU Online. Degree fields include English, business, occupational therapy, criminal justice, health sciences, education, and more. Online students have access to academic advising and cost and financial aid services. Students who are active military or veterans can take advantage of increased online flexibility through Mary Baldwin University’s status as a Yellow Ribbon Program school. Students with previous college, job, or life experience have the opportunity to transfer up to 90 hours toward their degree.

Online Higher Education in Virginia

Over 420,000 students enrolled in Virginia's four-year public and private institutions during the 2020-21 school year. Overall, approximately four out of 10 Virginia residents hold a bachelor's degree or higher, which is more than the national average. Meanwhile, enrollment in distance education has been steadily rising in Virginia over the last 15 years. Nearly 40% of Virginia's college students enrolled in online coursework in 2018 at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. The number of online students in Virginia outpaced the national average of 35%.

Enrollment in distance education has been steadily rising in Virginia over the last 15 years.

An online program can prepare students for a diverse array of careers in Virginia and offers greater flexibility than a traditional in-person degree. Students juggling obligations may fit an online degree program into their busy schedules to increase future job opportunities. An online program with an asynchronous format can allow students to learn anytime and from anywhere, as long as they have a strong broadband connection.

Interested in exploring popular degree programs in Virginia? Learn more about accounting, aeronautics, business administration, psychology, and registered nursing.

The Importance of Accreditation

Online students can trust the integrity of accredited schools and programs because accreditation ensures a school consistently meets high academic standards. For example, this process guarantees instructors and courses are thoroughly vetted. Additionally, by attending regionally accredited schools, students are able to obtain financial aid and transfer credits.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education recognize 19 national and seven regional accreditation boards. Regional accreditation is often preferred over national accreditation because it has more regulations in place to ensure high academic standards and quality. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges regionally accredits Virginia's non-profit colleges and universities. The Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs can be used to verify a school's accreditation status.

Tuition in Virginia: Ways to Make College More Affordable

College tuition rates and fees in Virginia diverge from the national average for higher education. The average resident’s tuition and fees average at $13,655 to attend Virginia's public university system in the 2019-20 school year, which is significantly higher than the national average of $9,349. Attending Virginia's public school system also costs more than those in neighboring West Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. In contrast, Virginia's private universities charge an annual average of $23,493 for tuition and fees, which is lower than the yearly national average of $32,769.

In Virginia, it may be worthwhile to gain in-state residency before attending college if cost is a major concern.

Online tuition and fees vary by school, though many institutions charge students based on residency. Tuition and fees for out-of-state students in Virginia averaged $35,831 from 2019-20, as compared to the national average of $27,023. In Virginia, it may be worthwhile to gain in-state residency before attending college if cost is a major concern. To help pay in-state tuition costs, Virginia's governor approved legislation to provide free community college tuition for low- and middle-income students in 2021. This program would allow some students to start earning college credits for free before transferring to four-year degree programs. This could help make it more affordable to earn a degree in high-demand fields, such as healthcare and computer science.

Below are several other ways prospective students may be able to save money on tuition in Virginia's higher education system:

Apply for a Virginia two-year college transfer grant (CTG).

Virginia's CTG program is an incentive for low-income students to complete their first two years of higher education at a Virginia community college. By reducing the costs of attending community college, students can save money, easing their path to graduation with minimized financial burden.

Establish Virginia state residency.

Non-residents can establish residency by living in Virginia for 12 consecutive months before classes begin.

Participate in the Southern Regional Education Board's (SREB) Academic Common Market (ACM) program.

The ACM helps students in fifteen SREB states pursue online college degrees that are not offered in their home state. Students pay in-state tuition and fees at participating colleges.

Start saving early for college.

Parents and students can save for college through the Virginia529 program. Participants may deduct up to $4,000 in savings contributions from their taxes, which can also help save for college.

Utilize state reciprocity agreements.

Schools may participate in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, which allow students in a participating state to enroll in another participating state's online degree programs and pay in-state tuition.

Funding an Online Degree in Virginia

The first step when it comes to applying for financial aid involves completing the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students may qualify for federal grants, scholarships, work-study programs, or low-interest federal loans. Scholarships and grants are the best ways to pay for college because they function as free money that students don't have to repay.

In addition to federal aid, several private scholarships and grants are available to online college students in Virginia:

Students living in Eastern Virginia and Southern Maryland can apply to the Colonial Farm Credit Foundation for scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $6,500. Colonial Farm Credit awards scholarships to students studying agriculture, forestry, environmental sciences, and life sciences. However, some scholarships they offer are open to any major.

The Community Foundation awards more than 65 scholarships each year, from $500 to $5,000. Students living in Virginia's central region are eligible to apply. Scholarship criteria may vary by field of study, ethnicity, residency, and school. Eligibility may be contingent upon a student’s GPA, standardized test scores, community service experience, and financial need.

Students can apply for $2,000 grants to help pay for their online undergraduate degree programs or $1,100 grants if they are in graduate degree programs. Students may request to have their grants renewed annually. Eligibility is limited to enrollment in participating private universities. Students apply through their school's financial aid office.

This program awards scholarships to high school seniors and second-year community college students transitioning to an accredited four-year STEM program. Eligible students must live within the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Scholarship amounts vary, and students who are veterans or have family members on active military duty are encouraged to apply.

Students who are immigrants or children of immigrants living in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. can apply for the Esperanza Education Fund scholarship. Eligible students must have an annual household income of less than $100,000 and plan to enroll full-time at an accredited public college, university, or community college. Scholarship awards vary.

Do you want to reduce the cost of college with financial aid? Check out our Guide to Financial Aid for Online Students to learn more.

Careers and Cost of Living in Virginia

Virginia can be an affordable place to live and work, depending on location. According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in Virginia is $74,222, which is higher than the national median of $69,560. Cost of living measures how far this income will go towards living expenses, such as food, rent, healthcare, and utilities. The average cost of living in Virginia is 103.7, which is slightly higher than the U.S. average of 100. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area has the highest cost of living at 149.9, while the Roanoke metro area has a significantly lower cost of living at 89. The Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area is almost on par with the national cost of living at 101.4.

Virginia has a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.6% — which is less than the national rate of 4.6% — and the state expects to gain over 275,000 jobs through 2028. Virginia industries poised for future growth include corporate services, information technology, life sciences, manufacturing, and supply chain management. The following list includes occupations within these high-growth industries that require the completion of a bachelor's program. The roles below are in high demand compared to the national average job growth of 8% across all occupations.

Median Annual Salary: $111,030
Job Outlook: 24%

Actuaries analyze the rates of mortality, accident, sickness, and disability to forecast liability and risk. They often work for insurance companies to ensure the future payment of benefits and stability of cash reserves.

Information Security Analysts
Median Annual Salary: $103,590
Job Outlook: 33%

Information security analysts protect an organization's computer networks and information. They assess vulnerabilities and implement strategies to mitigate risk.

Operations Research Analysts
Median Annual Salary: $86,200
Job Outlook: 25%

Operations research analysts develop methods of data interpretation for decision-making. They apply mathematical modeling and other methods when collecting and analyzing data.

Software Developers
Median Annual Salary: $110,140
Job Outlook: 22%

Software developers create network software and specialized programs. They analyze user needs and develop solutions. They work to integrate software and hardware systems.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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