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2023 Best Online Colleges in West Virginia

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/6/2023
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Online colleges help thousands of students in West Virginia finish their degrees and advance their careers or personal goals each year. Online degrees can also help students save money in college or fit their education in alongside work and family responsibilities. 

This comprehensive list of online colleges in West Virginia can help students find respected online degrees from accredited universities. At OnlineU, we only show accredited colleges and universities to ensure students find quality education options. For more information about our rankings, see our methodology or learn more about us

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2023 Best Online Colleges in West Virginia

RankSchool Salary Score Online Enrollment
# 1 #1 American Public University System 85 45,249
# 2 #2 University of Charleston 50 1,156
# 3 #3 West Virginia University 41 2,725
# 4 #4 West Virginia State University 25 377
# 5 #5 Marshall University N/A 1,531
# 6 #6 Salem University N/A 593
# 7 #7 Fairmont State University N/A 586
# 8 #8 Concord University N/A 374

#1 American Public University System

  • Salary Score: 85
  • Online Enrollment: 45,249
  • Locations: Charles Town
  • Accreditation: HLC

American Public University System (APUS) is a fully online school offering more than 200 online degrees and certificates. APUS serves more than 95,000 students, making it one of the largest universities by enrollment in the country. Classes at APUS are asynchronous, meaning students can log on and complete classwork or review lectures whenever it's convenient rather than meeting at a set time. The university focuses on offering a more affordable degree path for students and does not charge fees for applications, transfer evaluations, or textbooks for bachelor's and master's students. APUS is also known for serving a high rate of military students, veterans, and their families. The university's most popular bachelor's degrees are in business administration, criminal justice, homeland security, and information technology administration.

#2 University of Charleston

  • Salary Score: 50
  • Online Enrollment: 1,156
  • Locations: Charleston
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Charleston (UC) has six options for online bachelor's degrees in psychology, organizational leadership, nursing, management, cybersecurity, and healthcare administration. Students can also choose from a handful of online associate degrees and certificate programs. Bachelor's programs typically take four years to complete when enrolled full-time. Students work with UC's academic counselors to get enrolled, sign up for classes, and connect with student support services. UC serves around 2,000 undergraduate students and is a private nonprofit university. The most popular bachelor's programs at UC are in business administration, management, and operations, as well as healthcare majors.

#3 West Virginia University

  • Salary Score: 41
  • Online Enrollment: 2,725
  • Locations: Morgantown
  • Accreditation: HLC

Students can choose from nine different online bachelor's degrees at West Virginia University (WVU), including general business, hospitality and tourism, marketing, family studies, education, and nursing. At WVU, students get connected with an online admissions coach and academic advisor through the Learning Engagement Center to navigate the enrollment process and register for classes. Prospective students can read about the online experience at WVU through the Online Mountaineer blog, which shares tips for online students, answers common questions about how the programs work, and features student voices and experiences. WVU also has an online student ambassador program, where students and alumni from different majors talk about their experiences in the program and are available to contact.

#4 West Virginia State University

  • Salary Score: 25
  • Online Enrollment: 377
  • Locations: Institute
  • Accreditation: HLC

West Virginia State University (WVSU) is a public institution offering online degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Popular online bachelor’s degrees at WVSU include business administration, criminal justice, and English. At a minimum, 120 credit hours are required for online bachelor’s degrees, which can take four years to complete. WVSU accepts 97% of applicants, with 40% graduating.

At WVSU, online students complete courses that are delivered asynchronously and synchronously through WVSU Online (Moodle). The university’s student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1. Potential financial aid opportunities for online students include scholarships, grants, and loans. Online students can access proctoring, military student services, disability support, academic assistance, and tutoring. WVSU offers a student-centered approach to online learning, as well as flexibility and practicality for online students.

#5 Marshall University

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 1,531
  • Locations: Huntington
  • Accreditation: HLC

Marshall University (MU) has eight online bachelor's programs in English, business, geography, medical laboratory science, professional writing, nursing, and a degree completion program. Online classes at MU are asynchronous, so students can complete classwork or watch lectures on their schedule. The university also offers hybrid class options that blend asynchronous learning with video meetings through Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate, which is a virtual classroom that works similarly to Zoom. Students can access academic advising, tech support, library resources and online databases, and virtual support from the writing center. MU also offers a lower tuition rate for online students that students across the country can qualify for. MU is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA exists as a voluntary group of online colleges that work to improve and standardize the quality of online programs across the country.

#6 Salem University

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 593
  • Locations: Salem
  • Accreditation: HLC

Salem University (SU) is a private for-profit college in West Virginia offering 55 different online degrees, including 17 online bachelor's programs. Students can pursue career-focused degrees in business administration, criminal justice, information technology, computer science, and nursing, with focus areas such as sports and recreation management, software development, or crime scene investigation. Online students at SU follow a unique schedule where they focus on one class per month rather than multiple classes per term. There are also a number of student organizations available to distance learners, including the Biology Club, the Black Student Union, the Campus Activities Board, the Rainbow Alliance, and the Student Nurses Association. Online students get paired with an advisor who will support them through the enrollment process up until graduation.

#7 Fairmont State University

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 586
  • Locations: Fairmont
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fairmont State University is a public university that offers online master’s degrees. There are two online master’s degrees available at Fairmont State, including criminal justice and teaching. Online master’s degrees at this institution are 30 credit hours or more, which can take full-time students at least two years or more to complete. The university’s acceptance rate is 99%, with a 45% graduation rate.

Fairmont State facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on the learning management system Blackboard. Fairmont State’s student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Distance learners may be eligible for financial aid, such as grants, loans, and scholarships. Online student support at Fairmont State also includes academic advising, career development, and veteran services. At Fairmont State, students receive student-centered learning and real-world experiences to prepare for careers after graduation.

#8 Concord University

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 374
  • Locations: Athens
  • Accreditation: HLC

At Concord University (CU), a public institution, prospective students can pursue online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Some of the online bachelor’s degrees at this university include elementary education, RN to BSN, and sociology. Online bachelor’s degrees at CU are 120 credit hours, which can take full-time students four years to finish. CU’s acceptance rate is 96%, with a graduation rate of 42%.

CU uses the learning management system Blackboard to deliver courses in asynchronous and synchronous formats. The student-to-faculty ratio at CU is 15:1. CU may offer or accept financial aid for online students, such as scholarships, loans, state aid programs, free tuition, and tuition reduction programs. CU’s online student resources include academic advising, tutoring, counseling, disability services, financial aid assistance, academic advising, and a writing center. CU offers flexible and affordable online degree programs that let students graduate at an accelerated rate.

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Higher Education in West Virginia

There are 43 different colleges, universities, and technical schools that grant degrees in the state of West Virginia. These include large universities, such as West Virginia University, as well as small religious colleges and career training schools. Together, these 42 colleges served 204,179 students in the 2020-21 school year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.

West Virginia is home to two historically Black colleges and universities, West Virginia State University and Bluefield State University, which were both founded in the 1890s to serve Black West Virginians when racially integrated public education was illegal in the state.

Colleges in West Virginia tend to be more affordable than the average across the United States, especially for private schools. Private colleges are, on average, about $20,000 less per year than the national average sticker price. In-state students also tend to pay less, with average tuition and fees about $1,000 lower than the average across the U.S. Community colleges, on the other hand, actually are about $1,000 more expensive per year than the national average.

Online Colleges in West Virginia

There are 34 different colleges offering distance education programs in West Virginia. These colleges include massive online schools, such as the American Public University System, which serves more than 90,000 students, and small religious schools, such as Appalachian Bible College and Catholic Distance University.

Colleges in West Virginia offer online certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees. Students can choose from a wide range of majors, but some of the most popular online degrees in West Virginia are in nursing, business, healthcare, psychology, information technology, criminal justice, and education. Also, business administration graduate degrees and social work master's degrees in West Virginia are also highly popular for online students.

Most programs are available completely online. However, some students might prefer hybrid programs, where the majority of class work is done online but there are some in-person requirements, such as lab hours or certain classes that need to be completed on campus.

When choosing an online degree program, students should consider what type of online classes they want to take. Some people work better in synchronous classes, where they sign into class and attend live lectures or meet with their classmates at a certain time each day. For others, asynchronous classes are easier to fit into a busy schedule, because students can complete classwork, review lectures, and post on discussion boards when it's convenient for them.

While enrolling full-time is usually considered the norm, many online students enroll part-time to accommodate for other responsibilities at work and at home. It may take longer to finish a degree, but enrolling part-time is a good option for those who aren't able to commit to a full-time school schedule.

Students will also need to pay attention to admission requirements. Certificates, associate, and bachelor's degrees will require students to have a high school diploma or GED. Master's and doctoral programs require a bachelor's degree to apply. Most online schools will ask for transcripts from your high school or college, and may ask for other application materials such as an essay, letters of recommendation, or test scores from the SATs, ACTs, or the GRE for graduate school applications. Test scores are less often required for online students, however.

When choosing an online degree program, students should look for schools that have accreditation, a seal of approval that means a college is regularly evaluated by an organization approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Students who attend a college without accreditation might have trouble finding a job after college, and won't be able to transfer their credits to another school or use federal financial aid. Degrees from colleges without accreditation are usually not seen as legitimate and often come from diploma mills.

FAQs About Online Colleges in West Virginia

How Many Colleges Are in West Virginia?

There are 43 accredited degree-granting colleges in West Virginia. That includes 27 four-year universities and 15 community and technical colleges.

What States Have Tuition Reciprocity with West Virginia?

West Virginia has a tuition reciprocity agreement with 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are the other 14 member states of the Academic Common Market.

How Do You Get In-State Tuition in West Virginia?

While this varies depending on the school, generally students need to live in West Virginia for at least 12 months before their first classes start to qualify for in-state tuition. Therefore, those who move to West Virginia less than a year before they start college won't qualify for in-state tuition their second year. If a student's spouse or parents have lived in the state for at least a year before school starts, they may be able to qualify for in-state tuition even if they haven't been living in the state.

What Are the Best Colleges in West Virginia?

Choosing a college is a highly personal decision, and the best option for one student may not be the best option for another. Students should choose a school that has programs they are interested in, fits within their price range or offers strong financial aid opportunities, and will help them succeed through to graduation. For many students, that means choosing an online college that will work with their schedule so they can finish their degree while balancing work and school. For others, that means finding a school where they feel a strong sense of community. 

By weighing the pros and cons, calculating the time and money it will take to finish their degree, and researching what they can expect after graduation, students can make sure they choose a school that will help them reach their academic and professional goals.

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