Online College and University Reviews

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated November 24, 2020

When choosing a school that best fits their needs and goals, prospective students may find it helpful to read online college reviews written by former students and graduates. Our partner site, GradReports.com, has collected 13,280 reviews from 608 colleges. Compiled on this page are links to all of the reviews written by online students about their college experience. These reviews include insights about career preparation, quality of instruction, the online experience, financial aid services, and more. Students often provide positive feedback about the quality of their online degree programs, including factors like flexible course options, helpful professors, and the cost of tuition. Complaints tend to revolve around student support services like career counseling, job placement support, and financial aid services. We've put together a comprehensive list of schools offering online degree programs that have been reviewed by current students and alumni. We've also provided summaries of some of the best online colleges, plus answers to frequently asked questions, featuring school search tips and information about finding an online university that fits a student’s educational needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Reviews

What factors about an online program are important to students?

According to a 2019 annual report, online students consistently rank school reputation, university tuition rates, and a quick path to completion as their top priorities. In terms of tuition rates, our own research has revealed that online programs tend to cost less than on-campus ones. Reading through even a few dozen college reviews on GradReports.com reveals additional considerations for college students who’ve opted to pursue an online education. The most common include:

  • Interaction with instructors: Just like students of on-campus programs, online students want their instructors to be highly responsive. They also value instructors who demonstrate that they are informed, engaged, and concerned about student success.
  • Interaction with staff: Students enrolled in online degree programs also want school employees in the administration and financial aid departments to be responsive, well-informed, and courteous.
  • Technology help: Problems with the technology that drives online courses can be frustrating and stressful, so online students benefit from an IT team that can resolve issues quickly.
  • Transfer credits: Because so many online students are returning to school after being in the workplace or are military veterans, they appreciate schools that give credit for prior experience. They also want schools to recognize transfer credits from other higher education institutions, such as community colleges, or from AP classes in high school.
  • A flexible schedule: Flexibility is a major benefit of online education, and this factor often distinguishes an online program from an on-campus one. As 64% of students work while earning their degree and 24% have children, flexible courses and degree options are often crucial to the completion of a program.

Among the specific complaints about particular online degree programs are some generalized comments about the nature of online education itself. It appears that college students who succeed in distance learning are those who prefer flexibility and independence over structure. A recent study found that individuals who enjoy new experiences and create new ideas enjoy the highest degree of satisfaction with online education.

Should I trust college reviews by students?

College reviews, like all product reviews, can be valuable when conducting a school search. Both positive and negative reviews can provide insights into specific online degree programs and online universities. For example, they might highlight which schools’ programs are highly structured and which are extremely flexible. This information can help prospective students make better, more thoughtful decisions about the best online colleges that fit their own needs and preferences. However, college reviews need to be kept in perspective. No individual college review should be given more power or influence than the overall average. It’s also worth noting that GradReports.com's methodology ensures honest and trustworthy reviews written by real students and alumni.

In general, are students happy with their online education?

Each year, higher education consultants Wiley Education Services partners with Aslanian Market Research to conduct Online College Students, a survey of distance education students regarding their college experience. This year’s report revealed an impressive level of satisfaction among students who’ve chosen online education. Specifically:

  • Over 80% of distance learning students said they felt their online education helped them develop essential soft skills, which often result from a liberal arts education. These include critical thinking and problem solving, time management, and attention to detail.
  • More than 80% of current online students and graduates said that their online education experience was worth the cost. To break that down, 44% strongly agreed and 40% agreed with that statement.

Satisfaction with an online degree is often linked to how prepared graduates feel for a career. Because of the importance of this topic, we also conducted our own research about student satisfaction and career readiness when it comes to earning a degree. We found that satisfaction varies by major and degree level. Students who had pursued an online bachelor's degree in communications, social science, and the humanities felt the most prepared for a career, and those majoring in computer science felt the least prepared. In addition, for students of both online and in-person programs, those earning bachelor's degrees reported higher satisfaction than those pursuing master's degrees. Finally, students who found their online coursework to be challenging were more satisfied with their education.

Disclaimer: OnlineU makes student reviews available via our sister site, GradReports.com. The views expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the views of OnlineU. OnlineU takes no position with respect to the information or opinions expressed in the user comments/reviews and is not responsible for their content. For additional information, refer to our Review Guidelines.