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Military-Friendly Online Colleges Methodology


Eligible schools for this list must meet the following requirements:

  • The school meets military friendly requirements.
  • The institution is accredited.
  • The school meets online representation requirements.

Schools that met those requirements are then ranked by online enrollment.

Military Friendly

In order to be considered "military friendly," schools must participate in government programs designed to serve military students. All featured colleges meet the following criteria:

  • Have a portion of their student population receiving GI Bill Benefits
  • Signatories of the Principles of Excellence program, meaning that they have agreed to accommodate student absences that are due to service requirements and refrain from fraudulent or aggressive recruiting techniques
  • Signatories of the 8 Keys to Veteran Success program, committing to monitoring veteran outcomes and training staff members on issues specific to veterans
  • Yellow Ribbon program participants, meaning that colleges agree to provide additional benefits to military students beyond those offered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Participants of the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, which hold participating schools to extremely high standards with respect to educating military students
  • Have a student-led veterans group on campus
  • No indication that the college is subject to increased regulatory or legal scrutiny to a program of education by the VA or other federal agencies

Online Representation

In order to qualify for rankings, a school must have sufficient "online representation." This means that a school must have at least five programs at the bachelor's level that are administered online. A fully online degree is defined as such when the majority of lectures, discussions, and assignment submissions occur through a remote learning management system. OnlineU manually collects this information from college websites. Schools with programs that require some on-campus coursework are still considered for our rankings if the amount of required in-person work is limited to two weeks per year.

To maintain a strong emphasis on online education, we wanted our rankings to focus on schools with significant online student representation. Therefore, all ranked schools must have at least a quarter of the student population represented as distance learners based on enrollment data from the NCES' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Data Sources

Military Friendly Data

The data used to determine whether a college is considered military friendly is from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Comparison Tool, a resource aimed at providing service members and veterans with the information they need to make good decisions about their education. The GI Comparison Tool is updated annually and pulls data from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Education databases.

National Center for Education Statistics

Online enrollment and accreditation information is based on data from the NCES, the primary governmental entity that gathers and presents data related to education. This data is updated annually.

Manual Collection

The OnlineU staff manually researches all online degrees using only official school websites. If you are a school representative and have corrections or additional data on your school's offerings, please contact us.