2020 Best Military-Friendly Online Colleges

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 5/7/2021
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A military-friendly school is one that actively seeks to support current service members, veterans, and their families. To determine the top 100 military-friendly online colleges, we evaluated more than 450 schools on 15 different data points collected from the GI Bill Comparison Tool maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of the key factors include:

  • Providing specific services, such as health services and counseling, that speak to the unique needs of military personnel
  • Accepting financial assistance available to military service members, as well as offering supplemental types of aid
  • Granting college credit for previous work and military experience

Our methodology is intended to identify schools that are a good fit for military students and their dependents. Continue reading to learn more about attending college online while serving in the armed forces, financial assistance for military students and veterans, and benefits for military spouses and families.

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School
RankSchool Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Georgia State University $2,850
# 2 #2 University of Arizona $15,000
# 3 #3 Norwich University $11,250
# 4 #4 Indiana University - Bloomington $9,640
# 5 #5 University of Alabama $11,250
# 6 #6 Colorado State University-Fort Collins $14,280
# 7 #7 Pace University $20,400
# 8 #8 Arizona State University $15,900
# 9 #9 Syracuse University $52,210
# 10 #10 University of Hawaii at Manoa $41,670
# 11 #11 Virginia Commonwealth University $33,872
# 12 #12 Drexel University $35,730
# 13 #13 Rochester Institute of Technology $31,020
# 14 #14 Sacred Heart University $11,800
# 15 #15 Palo Alto University $17,456
# 16 #16 Auburn University $10,526
# 17 #17 University of Dayton $44,100
# 18 #18 The University of Montana $21,600
# 19 #19 University of Wisconsin - Madison $14,012
# 20 #20 University of Missouri at Saint Louis $18,698
# 21 #21 Miami University-Oxford $30,045
# 22 #22 University of Utah $31,736
# 23 #23 Xavier University $40,220
# 24 #24 University of Massachusetts-Lowell $33,004
# 25 #25 The George Washington University $18,450
# 26 #26 New York University $26,654
# 27 #27 University of Nebraska-Lincoln $25,020
# 28 #28 Regent University Online $8,850
# 29 #29 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville $15,270
# 30 #30 George Mason University $41,700
# 31 #31 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus $26,254
# 32 #32 Quinnipiac University $15,810
# 33 #33 University of North Carolina at Charlotte $22,011
# 34 #34 University of Missouri $11,622
# 35 #35 Rider University $43,720
# 36 #36 University of Mississippi $31,996
# 37 #37 Wilkes University $35,814
# 38 #38 Idaho State University $24,168
# 39 #39 Northeastern University $16,230
# 40 #40 University of New Haven $20,150
# 41 #41 University of Colorado Denver $11,707
# 42 #42 Loyola University New Orleans $13,500
# 43 #43 University of Kansas $11,916
# 44 #44 University of Idaho $8,304
# 45 #45 University of Nevada at Las Vegas $15,051
# 46 #46 University of Colorado Boulder $24,750
# 47 #47 University of Massachusetts - Amherst $11,460
# 48 #48 University of North Carolina at Greensboro $10,061
# 49 #49 University of the Incarnate Word $15,900
# 50 #50 Wright State University-Main Campus $18,996
Show All

Top 25 Military-Friendly Online Colleges

#1 Georgia State University

  • Annual Tuition: $2,850
  • Locations: Atlanta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Part of Georgia State University (GSU), the Perimeter College provides online courses and associate degree pathways. Graduates of Perimeter College earn an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science with the opportunity to transition into over 250 programs at GSU to complete their bachelor's degree. Some Perimeter programs, such as nursing, dental hygiene, and radiologic technology, prepare students for immediate entry into the field. Online classes are delivered through the iCollege learning management system where students can access course materials and submit assignments. Online coursework follows an asynchronous format so students can attend at their own pace. Besides the Perimeter College, GSU offers online graduate degree programs in education and an online bridge program that allows practicing registered nurses with either an associate or diploma in nursing to earn a Bachelor of Science degree.

Recognized as one of the best in the country, the Military Outreach Center at Georgia State University provides military students with a Military Advocate who offers support and guidance through application to graduation. A sponsor of the Yellow Ribbon Program, GSU contributes 50% to the out-of-state tuition charges for eligible students, and the Department of Veteran Affairs matches the contribution. Other resources include The Veteran Upward Bound (VUB) program that offers free training and refresher courses for veterans with a high school diploma or GED. VUB also connects veterans to other state and local agencies for additional support. Additionally, GSU offers rolling admissions and conditional acceptance for prospective students. Tuition assistance is accepted for those currently in the military.

#2 University of Arizona

  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Locations: Tucson (AZ)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arizona (UA) offers over 100 fully online degree programs with flexible class schedules and six start dates per year. Bachelor's degree programs are offered in the following areas: business administration, communication, cyber operations, education, engineering, environmental science, history, public health, and more. The UA also offers a range of master's degree tracks, including highly regarded programs in accounting and business administration. D2L is the UA’s online learning management system that offers lectures on demand and allows students to submit assignments, participate in class discussions, and communicate directly with instructors. Online courses follow an asynchronous format so that students can complete coursework on their own time. A dedicated online academic advisor is also available to remote students to provide ongoing academic support and guidance.

Services available to veterans are the Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) and Supportive Education for Returning Veterans (SERV) program, which provide tools and assistance to students transitioning from the military to academic life. Popular bachelor's programs for military members and veterans include business administration, communications, and electrical and computer engineering. The UA also offers National Security Agency-designated programs, such as the Bachelor of Applied Science in Cyber Security or Intelligence and Information Operations. Military training or experience may be eligible for academic credit for veteran students. The University of Arizona accepts tuition assistance and is a Yellow Ribbon School that covers out-of-state tuition costs for eligible veteran students.

#3 Norwich University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • Locations: Northfield (VT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Founded in 1918, Norwich University was the first private military college in the United States and offers a variety of online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as certificates. Available bachelor programs include business administration, nursing, computer science, criminal justice, cyber security, and data analytics. Sixteen master degree programs are available in the following fields, history, accounting, business, civil engineering, cybersecurity, information systems, leadership, and nursing. Norwich University’s flexible online learning platform allows students 24/7 access to lessons and assignments as well as the ability to communicate with classmates and instructors and access to course materials. Classes follow an asynchronous format so students can participate in classroom discussions at times that are convenient for them.

Through the university’s robust credit transfer policy, veteran students can transfer up to 90 credits from prior military experience and training towards a bachelor degree. Norwich University has military agreements with the Defense Acquisition University, Joint Special Operations University, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and others in order to expedite the review process and maximize the amount of transfer credits students receive. A Student Support Advisor is available to guide veteran students through the academic experience and provide assistance for issues related to program requirements, course materials, and university policies. Norwich University participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program in partnership with Veteran Affairs to cover out-of-state tuition fees for eligible students. Tuition assistance is also available to eligible active-duty military personnel, Reserve, and National Guard members.

#4 Indiana University - Bloomington

  • Annual Tuition: $9,640
  • Locations: Bloomington (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Indiana University-Bloomington (IU-Bloomington) offers over 150 online certificates and undergraduate and graduate degree programs. IU-Bloomington offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies, which provides an interdisciplinary education that includes studies in political science, sociology, history, communication, and more. Online classes are taught by on-campus faculty through the Canvas learning management platform. Online instruction is delivered through an asynchronous format so that students have flexibility when they log into their classes. IU-Bloomington offers a suite of tools and resources for online students, such as an interactive orientation to online learning, financial services, one-on-one academic coaching, math and writing support, career services, and a 24/7 contact center.

The Center for Veteran and Military Students assists veteran students in making the transition to academic life by providing catered support and resources, assisting students in understanding their military education benefits, and processing associated paperwork. Indiana University-Bloomington offers additional benefits to qualified veteran students through the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps cover the cost of out-of-state tuition rates. Additionally, the Veteran Family Support Grant provides up to $2,000 in funding each year to veteran students and those connected to the military who are enrolled in school full-time and support a child under 18 years old.

#5 University of Alabama

  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • Locations: Tuscaloosa (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Bama by Distance is the University of Alabama’s online campus that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and post-graduate degrees. Fifteen bachelor's degree options are available and include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Mechanical Engineering, and Commerce and Business Administration. A variety of master's degrees are offered in the following fields: marketing, library and information, education, and nursing. Online courses through Bama by Distance follow a semester schedule that starts and ends on the same date as on-campus classes at the University of Alabama. Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard, where students view lectures, participate in discussions, submit assignments, and view grades.

The University of Alabama participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program that can cover the costs of out-of-state or graduate school tuition for eligible veteran students. Veterans and active duty members have access to a Veteran Affairs Counselor Coordinator who can provide information and guidance on VA benefits, career exploration, and health services. Tuition assistance is available to those currently serving in the military.

#6 Colorado State University-Fort Collins

  • Annual Tuition: $14,280
  • Locations: Fort Collins (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado State University-Fort Collins offers a variety of bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, post-graduate certificates, and doctoral degrees online. Bachelor's degree programs are available in fields such as psychology, computer science, agricultural business, and economics. Over thirty master's degrees are offered to students with programs in business administration, education, engineering, and natural resources and environment. Online coursework is delivered through Canvas, where students can access recorded video lectures, participate in real-time sessions with instructors and fellow students, and submit tests, quizzes, and projects. Lectures and group discussions take place asynchronously in most online courses, so students have flexibility in their schedule. Online students have access to the same resources as on-campus students, including the university library, writing consultation services, and resources for veteran students.

Colorado State University-Fort Collins offers assistance and support to veteran and military-connected students through the Office of Adult Learner and Veteran Services and the Veterans Educational Benefits Office. Both of these offices assist veterans, active military personnel, and dependents in obtaining GI Bill benefits and connects them to additional services and resources. A New Start for Veterans program is a re-entry system for veterans returning from the Middle East to transition to civilian life and explore educational and career options. Colorado State University-Fort Collins accepts military tuition assistance and is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program that pays 100 percent of undergraduate non-resident tuition for veteran and military dependent students.

#7 Pace University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,400
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Pace University offers over 20 bachelor's and master’s degrees and post-graduate certificates fully online. Bachelor's degree programs are offered in business, communication, and technology studies. Some of the master’s programs that are available include homeland security, information technology, business administration, physician studies, and American history. Classes are taught asynchronously on Blackboard so students can complete coursework on their own time. Resources and assistance available to online students include advising support, career services, access to the university library, and tutoring services.

Veteran resources at Pace include a Veteran Services Director, who serves as the main point of contact for veterans and military-affiliated students, and the Office of Student Assistance (OSA) - Veteran Services Team that works directly with Veteran Affairs. Pace accepts military tuition assistance and is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program that covers the cost of out-of-state tuition for eligible veterans or dependents. Merit scholarships are available to veterans and dependents of veterans who have excelled at other academic institutions or secondary schools. Pace awards academic credit for life experience, including prior military experience, licensure/certification, and volunteer work.

#8 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,900
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University (ASU) offers more than 200 fully online graduate and undergraduate programs. Bachelor's degrees are offered in English, computer information systems, early childhood studies, geography, global health, and more. Notable master's degree programs in business, criminal justice, education, and engineering are also available. ASU Online offers six start times per year with classes delivered in an asynchronous format, allowing for self-paced study. Online coursework is completed on Canvas, where students submit quizzes and assignments, participate in classroom discussions and labs, view videos, and communicate directly with the instructor and fellow students.

Arizona State University has a dedicated military support team that provides guidance to online veteran and military-connected students regarding enrollment, education benefits, and the online academic environment. A member of the Yellow Ribbon Program, ASU works with Veteran Affairs to cover the costs of out-of-state tuition for eligible students. ASU accepts tuition assistance for eligible service members and offers an active duty and reservist scholarship that covers any out-of-pocket tuition expenses.

#9 Syracuse University

  • Annual Tuition: $52,210
  • Locations: Syracuse (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

A private research institution, Syracuse University offers over 40 online, part-time programs in undergraduate and graduate studies. A Bachelor of Professional Studies is available in Cybersecurity Administration, Creative Leadership, and Knowledge Management. A Bachelor of Professional Studies provides students a strong core in liberal arts and allows students to personalize their education by selecting classes in their chosen professional field. Master's programs are offered in library science, marriage and family therapy, business and accounting, engineering, communications, information management, and data science. Online courses at Syracuse University are offered through iSchool and feature a blend of synchronous and asynchronous work. Students will log in to live classes weekly to engage with instructors and classmates face-to-face.

Syracuse University accepts military tuition assistance and is a Yellow Ribbon school that allows for unlimited participation in the program. Veteran students can transfer previous military education or training into academic credit. Multiple veteran support offices are available to veteran and military-connected students. These include the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, and the Office of Veteran Success, which assists students in understanding their military benefits and provides academic advising and career exploration.

#10 University of Hawaii at Manoa

  • Annual Tuition: $41,670
  • Locations: Honolulu (HI)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Hawaii at Manoa offers a variety of online programs for obtaining a certificate, bachelor's, or master's degree. Bachelor's degree programs are offered in interdisciplinary studies, nursing, social work, economics, and women's studies. Online coursework may be synchronous, where students are expected to log in at specific times, or asynchronous depending on the course. Designed for working professionals, accelerated programs are available for the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Social Sciences of Oceans and the Bachelor of Social Work degrees. These are offered in a five-week, asynchronous format suitable for students with a busy schedule. Master's degree programs are available in counseling, education, library science, and more.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is a Yellow Ribbon school, which covers the cost of out-of-state tuition fees, and offers academic credit for prior military training. Tuition Assistance is accepted for military personnel. The Office of Veteran Student Affairs provides additional services and guidance for veteran students in the transition from military to academic life.

#11 Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Annual Tuition: $33,872
  • Locations: Richmond (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) offers over 25 online bachelor's, master's, graduate certificate, and doctoral programs. The Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science program is offered entirely online and allows for practicing Registered Nurses to receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Sciences program is offered online in an asynchronous format, which allows students greater flexibility in their schedule. Master's degree programs are available entirely online and include special education, social work, mechanical and nuclear engineering, and more. Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard and can be asynchronous or synchronous, depending on the course. Available resources to distance learners include the VCU Insider and the Virtual Student Success Center that connects students to helpful school resources.

Military Student Services assists veterans and military-connected students in understanding their military benefits and helps them transition to the academic environment. Virginia Commonwealth University participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, accepts tuition assistance for military personnel, and awards academic credit for eligible military training and certifications.

#12 Drexel University

  • Annual Tuition: $35,730
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Drexel University offers over 150 online programs that result in a bachelor’s or master’s degree and even some doctoral degree programs. They offer bachelor's degree programs in business, communication, education, nursing, and technology among others. Drexel’s master's degree programs are offered in a variety of disciplines, including business, medicine, nursing, public health, computer science/software engineering, and clinical research. Coursework is accessible on Blackboard, where students can listen to lectures, participate in class discussions, and upload assignments. The majority of online classes are asynchronous, which allows students to log in to their classes at any time. Drexel’s 10-week class terms provide four opportunities for enrollment during the year. Drexel offers online students dedicated resources and support, including enrollment counselors and academic advisors to guide students from registration through graduation.

Drexel offers veteran and military-affiliated students a variety of benefits and resources. A Yellow Ribbon school, Drexel offers unlimited participation in the program for veterans to receive tuition-free education. Drexel accepts military tuition assistance and offers reduced tuition for eligible veterans, military personnel, National Guard or Reserve members that cuts the cost of tuition between 10-40%. Academic credit may be awarded for prior military training. Dedicated military enrollment specialists are available to assist military-connected students in understanding their education benefits and begin their academic journey.

#13 Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $31,020
  • Locations: Rochester (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) offers over 550 online courses, a fully-online bachelor’s degree, master's degrees, and advanced certificates. The Bachelor of Science in Applied Arts and Sciences program allows students to customize their degree and is ideal for students who want to expand their knowledge in multiple fields. Master's degree programs are available in data science, business administration, construction management, health informatics, and more. Courses follow a 7-week and 10-week schedule with multiple start times throughout the year. Online coursework is delivered through the Desire2Learn platform, where students access course materials, upload assignments, take quizzes, and interact with the instructor and fellow students. Online classes are flexible; some assignments may be completed independently, while others may be done with the instructor or the class. An online support community is available to remote students that includes academic advisors and a concierge to answer any non-academic related questions.

Rochester Institute of Technology is a Yellow Ribbon School that covers the cost of tuition for eligible, out-of-state veteran students. Eligible military training can be transferred into academic credit. Military tuition assistance is accepted for military personnel. In addition to a Veteran Services Office, RIT has a Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program to help transition students from military to academic life and includes remedial coursework, tutoring, one-on-one support, and career exploration. The RIT Helen and Frederick Blaessig Annual Memorial Scholarship covers the cost of tuition for one year and is awarded yearly to a disabled veteran, their spouses, children, or grandchildren.

#14 Sacred Heart University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,800
  • Locations: Fairfield (CT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Sacred Heart University (SHU) offers fully online bachelor's and graduate degree programs and certificates. A majority of the programs available are suited for practicing registered nurses, including an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing with specializations in Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Education, Family Nurse Practitioner, and more. Other master's programs available are a Master of Social Work and a Master of Arts in Clinical Health Counseling or Strategic Communication and Public Relations. SHU hosts online classes on Blackboard, where students can check grades, take exams, submit assignments, and connect with students and the instructor. Online courses are asynchronous, which means that students have greater flexibility in setting their own schedule. SHU offers online students a team of specialists that includes a program manager, enrollment coordinator, and student services coordinator to help guide students through the application process and beyond.

Sacred Heart University participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to cover all or a portion of tuition expenses for eligible veteran students. Veteran students may also receive academic credit for military training. The Office of Veteran Student Affairs and the Veterans Resource Center assists veteran and military-connected students in the transition to academic life and connects them to available resources. Tuition assistance is available for active duty military personnel and dependents.

#15 Palo Alto University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,456
  • Locations: Palo Alto (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Known for its psychology and counseling programs, Palo Alto University (PAU) offers online bachelor's and master's degrees in those subjects. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Social Action is suitable for students who have already completed their college general education requirements and are interested in completing their bachelor's degree. The master’s programs include a Master of Arts in Counseling and a Master of Science in Psychology, which prepares students for a doctoral degree in the field. Both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are quarter based and synchronous, as students are required to log into weekly live class sessions via videoconference. The master’s programs require that students complete one week of residency on campus. Online course materials are available on Canvas, where students can also view grades and assignments online.

Palo Alto University participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to fund excess tuition costs for eligible veterans. PAU will award transfer credit for eligible previous military training or educational experiences. The school currently awards up to nine units for basic training. PAU also accepts tuition assistance for active-duty personnel and their dependents. The Veteran and Military Student Services provide students with additional support and resources, while the Student Veteran Organization is an advocacy and support group for veteran and non-veteran students interested in veteran issues and behavioral-health related research.

#16 Auburn University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,526
  • Locations: Auburn (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Auburn University (AU) offers many online courses, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and graduate certificates. Online bachelor's degree programs include a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Computer Science, and an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing for students with a registered nurse license. Additionally, an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accountancy is available for students who have completed an accredited bachelor’s or master’s program in business. Auburn University is recognized for its online graduate business programs, which include a master’s degree in business administration, finance, and information systems. AU operates on a semester system, and online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning platform. Students have access to live lectures streamed online, participate in discussions with classmates and instructors, submit homework, and access course materials. Online courses follow an asynchronous format, so students have more flexibility in their schedules.

The Veteran Resource Center (VRC) offers support and services to veterans, current military service members, and their dependents. Services include assisting military-connected students in understanding their educational benefits and career development support. AU offers over 20 scholarships to veteran students, including the Auburn Veterans Endowed Scholarship and the PNC Scholarship Fund for Finance. Additionally, AU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to cover the cost of tuition, offers priority enrollment for military-connected students, and honors tuition assistance for active-duty personnel.

#17 University of Dayton

  • Annual Tuition: $44,100
  • Locations: Dayton (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Dayton offers online certificates and bachelor's, master’s, and doctoral degrees through its nationally recognized colleges. Designed for early childhood professions, the Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy program is offered as a bachelor’s or master’s degree track in the School of Education of Health Sciences. The School of Business Administration offers three paths to complete an MBA depending on experience, including a one-year completion program. Other programs include a Master of Applied Behavior Analysis, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, and a Doctor of Education in Leadership Organizations. Online coursework is delivered in an asynchronous format to allow students to complete work on their own time.

The University of Dayton participates in the Yellow Ribbon program to offer financial aid to eligible veteran students. Military and Veteran Program and Services supports veteran and military-affiliated students by offering services and resources such as enrollment and benefits advising. Early course registration is available to both veteran and military students. UD also offers academic credit for prior military training and accepts tuition assistance for active duty military personnel.

#18 The University of Montana

  • Annual Tuition: $21,600
  • Locations: Missoula (MT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Montana (UM) offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs fully online. Bachelor's degrees are offered in art, communicative sciences and disorders, and media arts. An online Bachelor of Social Work program is available for students who have already completed two years of their undergraduate degree. A majority of the master’s programs offered are in the field of education. Other master’s programs are available in public administration and public health. Online courses follow a semester schedule and are delivered through the Moodlerooms learning management system. Classes follow an asynchronous format, which means that while there are due dates for assignments and quizzes, face-to-face interaction is not required so that students have more flexibility in what times they log into their online courses.

The University of Montana VETS Office assists military-affiliated students in using their education benefits and connects them to wellness and academic support resources and veteran student organizations. UM is part of the Yellow Ribbon program that assists out-of-state veteran students by covering the cost of out-of-state tuition. The school’s credit transfer policy will award academic credits for prior military training or education. Tuition Assistance is accepted for enrolled active-duty military students.

#19 University of Wisconsin - Madison

  • Annual Tuition: $14,012
  • Locations: Madison (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) offers fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, courses, and professional certificates. The Bachelor of Science in Personal Finance is a recognized program available to transfer students or those who have completed 24 transferable credits of college-level coursework. Master's degrees are offered online and can be completed in 2-3 years. UW-Madison is consistently recognized for its engineering program, offering master’s degrees in environmental engineering, manufacturing systems engineering, polymer engineering, power engineering, and sustainable systems engineering. Online classes follow a semester schedule with coursework hosted on Canvas, where students can access online lectures, course materials, and upload assignments. UW-Madison’s online classes follow an asynchronous format so that students have more flexibility in their schedules.

UW-Madison offers veteran and military-affiliated students a variety of resources, including the University Veterans Services office, to assist with understanding benefits and enrollment. The Student Veterans of America, UW-Madison chapter assists veterans in transitioning to academic life from the military. Other benefits for veteran students include the ability to enroll early in courses through priority enrollment and receiving transfer credit for prior military education. UW-Madison is a Yellow Ribbon School, which covers the cost of out-of-state tuition and accepts tuition assistance for active-duty military students.

#20 University of Missouri at Saint Louis

  • Annual Tuition: $18,698
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Missouri at Saint Louis (UMSL) offers fully online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as graduate certificate programs. Students can receive bachelor's degrees in business administration, communications, criminal justice, history, and more. Master's degree programs are offered in elementary education and secondary education. Online coursework is hosted on the Canvas learning platform where students can upload assignments, take quizzes, check grades, and access other resources from their instructor.

The UMSL Veterans Center assists veterans and military-affiliated students in admissions, GI Bill certification and advising, tutoring, and more. Other resources for veterans include a student veteran group to help in the transition from military life to the academic environment. UMSL credit transfer policy awards academic credit for military training and education. Additional veteran benefits include priority enrollment in courses and military tuition assistance. UMSL is a Yellow Ribbon school that helps cover the cost of out-of-state tuition fees for veterans.

#21 Miami University-Oxford

  • Annual Tuition: $30,045
  • Locations: Oxford (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Miami University-Oxford offers a variety of online programs, including graduate certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Bachelor of Science degrees are offered in Small Business Management, Health Communication, and Health Information Technology. Master’s degree programs are available in instruction design and technology, education technology, and more. Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management system, where students can access course materials, engage in discussions, and submit assignments. Course instruction is asynchronous, meaning that lecture recordings can be accessed by students anywhere and at any time.

Miami University-Oxford’s transfer credit policy awards academic credit for prior military training and education. A Yellow Ribbon School participant, MU-Oxford covers the cost of tuition, in partnership with Veteran Affairs, to cover out-of-state tuition costs for eligible students. Tuition assistance is accepted for active-duty military personnel. The Military Assistance Group is available to veterans and military-affiliated students and offers guidance and support through helping students in developing academic plans and providing information about admission assistance, applying education benefits, and more. Veterans can find additional resources and support through the school’s Student Veterans of America chapter.

#22 University of Utah

  • Annual Tuition: $31,736
  • Locations: Salt Lake City (UT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Utah offers hundreds of programs, including certificates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, that can be completed entirely online. Online bachelor's degree programs are offered in fields such as economics, human development, and psychology. A nationally accredited Bachelor of Social Work program is also available online. Students can earn a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering, information systems, nursing, business administration, and more. Online courses follow an asynchronous format that allows students to learn and study at their own pace. Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning platform, where students interact with classmates and the instructor through group assignments, discussion forums, and peer reviews.

The University of Utah awards academic credit for prior military training and education. Student veterans can also receive priority registration to be among the first students to register for courses each semester. Student veterans and military-connected students have a few resources available that provide support in transitioning to the academic environment and understanding their GI Bill education benefits. These include the University of Utah’s Veteran Services office, which serves as the main point of contact, as well as the Veteran Support Center and the Student Veterans at Utah, an independent student-run organization. Many scholarships and grants are available to current and former military members and dependents, including the General Jim and Pat Boswell Merit Scholarship, Military Veterans Scholarship Program Airmen Memorial Foundation Scholarship, the Alumni Association General Scholarship, and more. The University of Utah accepts military tuition assistance and is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program that covers up to 100% of the costs out-of-pocket tuition fees for eligible students.

#23 Xavier University

  • Annual Tuition: $40,220
  • Locations: Cincinnati (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Xavier University offers fully online bachelor's and master’s degree programs that are designed for working professionals. The Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership is offered with minors in Business, Communication Studies, and Information Systems. Many of Xavier University’s master’s programs are nationally ranked or accredited. They are offered in business administration, coaching education, criminal justice, health economics and clinical outcomes research, health services administration, Montessori education, nursing, nursing/criminal justice, and special education. Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management platform where students can stream video or audio lectures, participate in discussion boards, take quizzes, and upload assignments. Students can expect that most courses will follow an asynchronous format with no set meeting times; however, instructors can include mandatory or optional synchronous sessions.

Xavier’s Student Veterans Centers provides support and assistance to veteran and military-connected students from enrollment through graduation in the form of academic advising, financial aid planning, and career development. Xavier accepts military tuition assistance and is a Yellow Ribbon School, covering up to 100% of the tuition cost that exceeds the private school maximum paid by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Yellow Ribbon funding is offered to eligible veteran students undertaking either undergraduate or graduate studies. Xavier’s credit transfer policy awards academic credit for prior military experience and training.

#24 University of Massachusetts-Lowell

  • Annual Tuition: $33,004
  • Locations: Lowell (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell (UMass Lowell) offers over 50 degree and certificate programs online. Bachelor's degree programs offered entirely online include business administration, criminal justice, English, information technology, liberal arts, and psychology. UMass Lowell offers nationally-ranked graduate programs in education and business. Master’s degrees are also available in criminal justice, accounting, security studies, engineering management, and more. Online coursework follows an asynchronous format so students can complete assignments each week on their own time. Online courses are available on the Blackboard learning management tool, where lectures, assignments, and discussions are posted each week. Online courses also offer optional Chat Hours where students and instructors can video conference in real-time.

UMass Lowell’s Office of Veteran Services provides assistance and services to support veteran and military-affiliated students from enrollment through graduation. Services include dedicated Veteran Benefits Administrators to assist veteran students in interpreting and receiving their educational benefits. An education and vocational rehabilitation program is also available to eligible veterans and service members. UMass Lowell’s transfer policy awards academic credit for prior military training or education. Veterans currently enrolled in an online bachelor's or certificate program may be eligible to receive assistance grants based on merit or need. Prospective students can receive tuition assistance through the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps covers up to 100% of out-of-state tuition fees for eligible veterans, or through the military tuition assistance benefit.

#25 The George Washington University

  • Annual Tuition: $18,450
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The George Washington University offers a full range of bachelor's and graduate degree programs and certificates entirely online. Bachelor's programs are offered in the field of health sciences, including clinical health sciences, clinical research administration, and emergency medical services. Other bachelor's programs include an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor’s Completion Program in Homeland Security. Over 50 online master’s degree programs are available in areas such as education, medicine and health sciences, and nursing. Online courses are hosted on the Blackboard learning management platform, where students learn in an asynchronous format and participate in discussion boards, view interactive presentations, access course materials and exercises, and take exams.

The George Washington University offers veterans and military-affiliated students support and assistance through the Office of Military and Veteran Services, VetSuccess on Campus, and the George Washington Veteran Student Organization. In collaboration with the military, the George Washington’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences offers special consideration and discounted tuition rates for active-duty military personnel and those who have recently separated or retired. The George Washington University accepts military tuition assistance and participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, offering up $5,120 for eligible veteran graduate students.

Overview of Military-Friendly Online Colleges

According to a 2018 demographic report, 84.8% of all active duty officers have a bachelor's degree or higher. The flexibility of online learning is particularly well suited for active duty military personnel who frequently change locations due to deployment or changes in work assignments. Many online colleges and universities welcome military students.

Can You Be in the Military While Going to College?

Yes, you can, although only about 3% of undergraduate and graduate students are active duty service members. However, approximately 10% of all college students are veterans. Individuals who want to serve their country and go to college simultaneously have two options:

  • Become a full-time student who serves as a paid reservist or National Guard member on select weekends and other limited periods of time.
  • Enlist in a branch of the military and enroll in a college near your base or an online degree program, using tuition assistance to pay for school.

However, you do not have to do both concurrently. You have two other options for serving in the armed forces and receiving college funding as one of your military benefits:

  • Enlist in any branch of the military and serve a full term, and then use your veterans' benefits to pay for college afterward.
  • Apply for a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship and, if accepted, enter into an agreement with a branch of the military that will pay for your college education first in exchange for your commitment to serve a three- to six-year term after you graduate.

Gaining Credits for Military Experience

In many cases, the training and education you have received as a military service member can be converted into college credits. This can save you both time and money by giving you a head start on fulfilling some of the requirements for earning your online degree.

There are several ways schools go about evaluating your previous life experiences to see if you might qualify for any credits:

  • Conducting a prior learning assessment (PLA) to determine how many credits your experience is worth. The PLA process varies from school to school, but it usually begins when you request a transcript of your military experience. A college faculty member and/or a representative of the American Council on Education will then review your transcript and assess the learning outcomes related to your service and training.
  • Asking you to take one of several standardized examinations.
  • Inviting you to present a portfolio of work for review, facilitated by a faculty member or trained evaluator.

The school will then inform you as to which, if any, required courses are considered complete and how many college credits you are receiving for your military experience.

Financial Assistance for Online Military Students

One of the most important benefits available to military service members is financial assistance for college. There are two primary types: tuition assistance provided by the various military branches for active duty service members, and GI Bill benefits provided by the Veterans' Administration for active duty military personnel and veterans. Below, we provide an overview of these programs and answer some common questions about military benefits, especially when used for online college.

What Online Colleges and Degrees Will the Military Pay For?

Under the GI Bills and other programs, active duty and veteran service members can receive financial assistance for getting an education, whether through traditional means or through online schools. However, not all schools accept veterans' benefits, so prospective military students will want to focus on military-friendly colleges that do. The Veterans' Administration provides a search tool that will tell you which schools accept veterans' benefits.

These benefit programs allow current and former military service members to pursue accredited associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in all subjects, as well as certificates and vocational training, on a full-time or part-time basis. Funding may also be used for continuing education courses needed to maintain professional certification or licensure.

Not only does the government offer assistance with tuition costs, it may also provide funding for books and other expenses, including exam fees for national exams, such as the SAT, ACT, GMAT, or LSAT, and certification exams. Many service members are eligible for housing stipends—known as the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)—as well, although these stipends are reduced by half if the student is pursuing an online degree.

It's important to note, however, that there are caps on how much money the government will provide. For example, the current maximum amount of annual tuition at a private school that is reimbursable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is $24,476.79. This will not be enough to cover the annual tuition costs at many of the more prestigious private universities, such as Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia. If students wish to attend these schools, they may need to apply for additional federal financial aid and other sources of college funding.

GI Bill

Enacted during World War II and administered by the Veterans' Administration, the original Montgomery GI Bill was established to encourage veterans to go to college or pursue formal job training. The terms have been revised and updated over time, and an additional program, known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, was signed into law in 2008. Today, some veterans are eligible for benefits under just one of these bills, while others are eligible under either one. Active duty military personnel, reservists, and National Guard members may also be eligible for GI Bill funding. Benefits typically cover tuition, books, housing, and other expenses.

Your eligibility for benefits under either GI Bill, as well as the amount of benefits, depend on when and how long you served. In general, if you have served on active duty for at least 90 days since September 10, 2001, and you received an honorable discharge, you are eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Veterans who have served for more than three years, received a Purple Heart, or served for less time but were discharged due to a service-related disability are all entitled to 100% of the available benefits. Veterans should contact the VA directly to determine their exact benefits before applying to online military-friendly universities or trade schools. This table indicates the maximum benefit you are eligible for, based on your length of service and other criteria.

If you are eligible for GI Bill benefits, you'll find you have many options for pursuing an education at a military-friendly college. You can study full-time or part-time at online schools or on traditional college campuses, and you can enroll in an associate, bachelor's, master's, or certificate program in any subject you choose. However, if you are eligible for either the Montgomery or Post-9/11 benefits, you may want to consult with a VA advisor. Both programs are complex, yet distinctly different, and you may want to get input from an informed advisor before determining which one best fits your plans and goals. You can only use one at a time, and you cannot switch once you've made your choice.

Tuition Assistance

Active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members are also eligible for the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance (TA) program. As with the GI Bill programs, service members must meet certain requirements to be eligible for TA. Here's what you need to know about this program:

  • Benefits can be used at accredited online and bricks-and-mortar schools for courses leading to academic or technical degrees or certificates.
  • The program covers up to 100% of tuition expenses and course fees at schools charging a maximum of $250 per credit hour.
  • TA can only be used while you are still on active duty, although you can use it in conjunction with any GI Bill benefits you may be eligible for.

Additional Funding Through Yellow Ribbon

Due to the limits on how much funding is available, some military students may find they face a gap between their military benefits and the total cost of attending their school and program of choice. To address this issue, many military-friendly colleges participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Yellow Ribbon schools provide additional benefits to military students that may include tuition discounts and scholarships in varying amounts, depending on the school. Military students may also be eligible for federal financial aid, such as Pell grants, state-sponsored scholarships, and school-funded grants and scholarships.

Do Online Colleges Give Military Discounts?

Yes, some online, military-friendly schools offer tuition discounts for active duty and veteran service members, and in some cases for their spouses and dependents as well. Some schools, such as Regent University, cap the per-credit tuition cost for military students at $250 to better align with TA and/or GI Bill awards, while other schools discount the per-credit tuition cost by a specific percentage, such as 10%. The reduction in tuition fees helps military students maximize any financial assistance they receive from the federal government and other sources.

What States Offer Free College for Veterans?

There are several states that cover the total cost of tuition and possibly other fees for veterans who want to earn a college degree. Some of the states offering financial assistance programs to a large number of in-state veterans include Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, Massachusetts, Texas, and Illinois. Several additional states—such as Florida and Alabama—offer financial aid for resident veterans who were injured while serving. Eligibility requirements vary, so veterans should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs office in their state to find out what programs are available.

Online College for Military Families

The spouses and dependent children of active duty military members and veterans are entitled to a number of benefits that can make earning an online college degree more affordable. In some cases, military family members who demonstrate significant need may be able to attend online college for free or at minimal cost.

All five major branches of the U.S. military provide education-related financial assistance to spouses, and in some instances to dependent children as well. For example, the Army provides the Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program for spouses of active Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard service members. Families of Navy and Marine Corps service members may be eligible for NMCRS (Navy Marine Corps Relief Society) Education Assistance. Additionally, service members who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits may be able to transfer some or all of their education benefits to a spouse or dependent. Military family members should check with the appropriate military branch to determine the eligibility requirements for the various types of assistance that are available.

Financial assistance is also available from private organizations, states, and colleges. For example, private scholarships include the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship, which provides up to $4,000 for spouses pursuing associate degrees, continuing education programs, or licenses and certifications. The National Military Family Association offers a range of scholarships for college students at all levels. Here are some additional funding sources for military family members:

  • Most U.S. states offer scholarships and grants for military and National Guard family members, especially for families of service members who were injured or killed in action.
  • Many military-friendly schools, especially those designated as Yellow Ribbon schools, offer financial assistance to eligible spouses and dependents.

Eligibility requirements for these programs vary, so prospective online college students should check with their schools and their state's Department of Veterans Affairs office to discover all possible options.

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.