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The 100 Most Popular Accredited Online Schools & Colleges

By Taylor Nichols | Updated 10/4/2022

Our list of the most popular online colleges includes accredited, flexible degree programs that are popular among students. Popularity is determined by the number of students enrolled online which is obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Each of these schools has established a strong reputation that resonates with online students on top of meeting accreditation standards of academic rigor and quality. We've included tuition rates and recommendation rates to help students make more informed decisions and find the school that best fits their educational needs. We've also provided information about factors that are popular among students in their online programs and answers to frequently asked questions.

SCHOOLS BY TYPE: Affordable | Non-Profit | Military-Friendly | Popular

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Level
School Online Enrollment Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Western Governors University 136,139 $6,670 72% (730 reviews)
# 2 #2 Southern New Hampshire University Online 106,375 $9,600 63% (439 reviews)
# 3 #3 University of Phoenix 94,038 $9,552 60% (1146 reviews)
# 4 #4 Grand Canyon University 75,277 $17,800 50% (531 reviews)
# 5 #5 Liberty University 70,429 $11,700 57% (325 reviews)
# 6 #6 Strayer University 51,507 $13,515 59% (214 reviews)
# 7 #7 Walden University 48,420 Not Provided 51% (681 reviews)
# 8 #8 University of Maryland Global Campus 46,847 $12,336 60% (221 reviews)
# 9 #9 American Public University System 45,249 $7,324 70% (180 reviews)
# 10 #10 Arizona State University 44,253 $24,413 64% (112 reviews)
# 11 #11 Capella University 37,859 $14,540 62% (668 reviews)
# 12 #12 Purdue University Global 37,778 $14,358 72% (463 reviews)
# 13 #13 The University of Arizona Global Campus 32,620 Not Provided 67% (683 reviews)
# 14 #14 Chamberlain College of Nursing 25,295 $19,638 84% (64 reviews)
# 15 #15 Excelsior University 25,245 Not Provided 63% (188 reviews)
# 16 #16 DeVry University 21,321 $18,197 60% (217 reviews)
# 17 #17 Columbia Southern University 20,034 $6,600 78% (187 reviews)
# 18 #18 Rasmussen University Online 19,588 Not Provided 44% (85 reviews)
# 19 #19 Post University Online 19,520 Not Provided 40% (108 reviews)
# 20 #20 Johns Hopkins University 19,138 $55,350 0% (1 review)
# 21 #21 The University of Texas at Arlington 18,824 $28,129 35% (26 reviews)
# 22 #22 Ultimate Medical Academy 18,023 $15,525 83% (521 reviews)
# 23 #23 Full Sail University 16,164 $24,513 44% (118 reviews)
# 24 #24 Florida International University 13,671 $18,963 77% (13 reviews)
# 25 #25 Georgia Institute of Technology 13,301 $33,794 Add Review
# 26 #26 Saint Leo University Online 12,962 $23,750 63% (93 reviews)
# 27 #27 Colorado State University Global 12,670 $8,400 55% (111 reviews)
# 28 #28 American InterContinental University 11,437 Not Provided 71% (210 reviews)
# 29 #29 Lone Star College System 11,308 $5,564 Add Review
# 30 #30 Independence University 11,228 $14,585 56% (124 reviews)
# 31 #31 Northcentral University 11,223 $18,095 48% (266 reviews)
# 32 #32 University of Central Florida 11,073 $22,467 88% (8 reviews)
# 33 #33 Bellevue University 10,503 $7,851 68% (69 reviews)
# 34 #34 Thomas Edison State University 10,130 $9,856 58% (74 reviews)
# 35 #35 The George Washington University 9,978 $56,935 60% (5 reviews)
# 36 #36 Indiana Wesleyan University Online 9,822 $18,906 41% (32 reviews)
# 37 #37 University of the Cumberlands 9,492 $9,875 100% (4 reviews)
# 38 #38 Lamar University 8,372 $18,622 47% (17 reviews)
# 39 #39 Regent University Online 8,238 $18,620 38% (24 reviews)
# 40 #40 Ohio University - Main Campus 7,818 $22,406 75% (4 reviews)
# 41 #41 Oregon State University 7,467 $31,215 57% (7 reviews)
# 42 #42 Trident at AIU 7,298 $9,240 76% (91 reviews)
# 43 #43 East Carolina University 7,109 $23,515 80% (5 reviews)
# 44 #44 University of Arkansas Grantham 7,079 $8,280 56% (95 reviews)
# 45 #45 Aspen University 6,769 $3,920 80% (196 reviews)
# 46 #46 Troy University 6,721 $13,520 50% (12 reviews)
# 47 #47 University of Southern California 6,651 $58,195 62% (13 reviews)
# 48 #48 USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work 6,651 $58,195 Add Review
# 49 #49 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign 6,492 $32,264 100% (1 review)
# 50 #50 Louisiana State University - Shreveport 6,358 $20,481 67% (18 reviews)
# 51 #51 ECPI University Online 6,270 $16,639 55% (11 reviews)
# 52 #52 South University Online 6,195 $15,304 38% (71 reviews)
# 53 #53 University of Cincinnati 6,186 $26,994 83% (6 reviews)
# 54 #54 Northern Arizona University 6,183 $26,516 67% (18 reviews)
# 55 #55 Old Dominion University 6,154 $30,840 64% (11 reviews)
# 56 #56 Maryville University 6,123 $28,470 34% (44 reviews)
# 57 #57 University of South Florida Online 5,874 $17,324 50% (4 reviews)
# 58 #58 Nova Southeastern University 5,824 $32,110 63% (8 reviews)
# 59 #59 University of Alabama at Birmingham 5,736 $20,400 100% (1 review)
# 60 #60 Drexel University 5,189 $54,516 67% (6 reviews)
# 61 #61 Kennesaw State University 5,107 $12,888 67% (6 reviews)
# 62 #62 Ball State University 5,079 $26,800 100% (5 reviews)
# 63 #63 University of Arizona 5,073 $11,800 75% (4 reviews)
# 64 #64 University of Arizona - Engineering 5,073 $36,718 Add Review
# 65 #65 Bryant & Stratton College Online 5,020 $14,834 57% (69 reviews)
# 66 #66 Utah State University 5,005 $23,042 100% (11 reviews)
# 67 #67 Boston University 4,618 $55,892 75% (4 reviews)
# 68 #68 Northwestern State University of Louisiana 4,539 $19,556 100% (2 reviews)
# 69 #69 University of Alabama 4,515 $30,250 75% (4 reviews)
# 70 #70 Arkansas State University 4,478 $15,860 75% (4 reviews)
# 71 #71 University of Florida 4,430 $28,659 60% (5 reviews)
# 72 #72 University of Florida - Community Sciences 4,430 $28,659 Add Review
# 73 #73 The University of West Florida 4,345 $19,241 80% (5 reviews)
# 74 #74 Texas Woman's University 4,265 $18,055 100% (2 reviews)
# 75 #75 Northern Kentucky University 4,157 $20,256 60% (5 reviews)
# 76 #76 University of North Texas 4,067 $21,172 60% (5 reviews)
# 77 #77 University of Massachusetts - Lowell 4,064 $33,574 86% (7 reviews)
# 78 #78 University of West Alabama 4,018 $20,090 60% (5 reviews)
# 79 #79 Boise State University 4,017 $24,988 100% (1 review)
# 80 #80 Kent State University at Kent 4,008 $19,478 100% (1 review)
# 81 #81 Texas A&M University - Commerce 3,977 $21,628 86% (7 reviews)
# 82 #82 Colorado Christian University 3,877 $33,434 47% (17 reviews)
# 83 #83 Central Michigan University 3,811 $24,120 50% (4 reviews)
# 84 #84 Colorado State University - Fort Collins 3,745 $30,622 83% (6 reviews)
# 85 #85 Texas Tech University 3,742 $19,260 0% (3 reviews)
# 86 #86 Sam Houston State University 3,682 $18,664 100% (2 reviews)
# 87 #87 Concordia University - Portland 3,642 $32,230 57% (49 reviews)
# 88 #88 Washington State University 3,574 $26,419 62% (13 reviews)
# 89 #89 Concordia University - Chicago 3,573 $32,880 Add Review
# 90 #90 Eastern Kentucky University 3,573 $19,948 25% (4 reviews)
# 91 #91 Florida Atlantic University 3,540 $17,324 67% (6 reviews)
# 92 #92 University of North Carolina at Wilmington 3,540 $21,246 100% (1 review)
# 93 #93 University of South Alabama 3,533 $16,292 50% (6 reviews)
# 94 #94 University of Massachusetts - Amherst 3,499 $35,710 60% (5 reviews)
# 95 #95 West Texas A&M University 3,395 $9,541 Add Review
# 96 #96 Western Kentucky University 3,376 $26,496 100% (1 review)
# 97 #97 University of North Dakota 3,351 $15,895 67% (3 reviews)
# 98 #98 University of Memphis 3,341 $13,752 33% (3 reviews)
# 99 #99 Florida State College at Jacksonville 3,340 $9,992 29% (14 reviews)
# 100 #100 Florida State University 3,306 $18,786 100% (1 review)

The Popularity of Online Colleges

While access to a college education was once limited to brick-and-mortar institutions, more online college programs are opening their digital doors to students. This trend of rising popularity has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many schools pivot to online learning or expand their current online offerings. With over 100 online college programs to choose from, students have their pick of degrees in a wide variety of disciplines.



Not only are online programs more accessible and popular, high levels of student satisfaction are being reported.

Not only are online programs more accessible and popular, high levels of student satisfaction are being reported. According to one study, 78% of online students, who have also learned in a face-to-face setting, felt that their online experience was equal to or better than their classroom experience. Students also experience competitive career outcomes that are comparable to students who obtained degrees at in-person programs.

Are online schools legit?

In many cases, online schools are just as reputable as in-person degree programs. In fact, some of the most popular online schools offer both in-person and online class options. Classes are often taught by the same instructors who teach in physical classrooms, and students are expected to master the same material and complete the same amount of work.

Why Choose an Online School

Prospective students often choose popular online colleges because they are a convenient and affordable alternative to enrolling on campus, but there are many other factors that influence college choice:

Accreditation

When reading about popular aspects of undergraduate and graduate programs, students should keep the importance of accreditation in mind. Accrediting bodies ensure that programs are meeting a given standard. Attending an accredited school is consequential when it comes to financial aid, the ability to transfer credits, and employment.

Affordability

The cost of tuition continues to be an important consideration for many, with more than half of online students citing this as the leading factor when choosing a program. As student debt continues to rise in the U.S., more students may turn to online degrees as a more affordable alternative to enrolling in on-campus programs.

Reputation

Although they may not be located on campus, online students still want to be proud of their school and feel like they’re part of a community. Online students rank school reputation as one of the top considerations prior to enrollment, and they may seek out schools with a good reputation in their community to help them in their job search after graduation. Interestingly, three in four online students choose a school within 50 miles of where they live, making it easier for local employers to recognize their credentials.

Easy credit transfer

Many college students who enroll in distance education want to complete their degree as quickly as possible and make their previous academic credits count. The option to transfer credits from other institutions is appealing for obvious reasons: It can save students money and time while helping to maximize their investment.

While students have historically struggled to apply transfer credits to their degrees, higher education institutions have become more flexible in recent years. Some institutions allow students to earn credits for prior learning or work experience, making higher education more affordable and accessible for working adults.

Career services

Extensive career services are a key component to student success post-graduation. Online students often enroll with specific professional goals in mind. They want to see tangible outcomes after earning their degree — whether it’s starting a new role, earning more money, or advancing in their current industry. Because online degrees are often geared towards working adults, most online colleges provide career guidance services, including resume assistance, career counseling, and advisors to help students find a degree that best fits their goals and educational needs.

Up-to-date technology

Having an intuitive, user-friendly interface is an important component of distance learning. Whether they’re using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, students want to be able to access online classes and complete assignments from wherever they are. Many online degree programs use learning management systems, such as Canvas or Blackboard, which allow students to submit assignments, participate in discussions, view grades, and contact instructors on the website or through an app on their phone.

Wide range of available programs

If the program they’re interested in isn’t available online, students will usually find it at another school rather than change their field of study or enroll in on-campus classes. Adult learners are also becoming more interested in non-degree options than traditional education pathways, especially during COVID-19.

Online colleges with credentials at every level, from certificate programs to bachelor's degrees and doctoral programs, are often popular because they provide many options to meet student needs.

Benefits of Online Degrees

Online degrees can also be a good option for students who have other work responsibilities or family obligations outside of school. Students can avoid long commute times and other drawbacks associated with in-person degree programs. Also, since online degrees are much more flexible than in-person classes, students can complete their coursework from anywhere, and there’s no need to move in order to attend school.

What Are The Best Online Colleges Near Me?

While students are often welcome to enroll in online degree programs across state lines, there are several advantages to enrolling in a school closer to home. In some cases, students may be able to qualify for reduced in-state tuition at public schools. Classes from schools in the same time zone may also be offered at more convenient times.

Check out the best online colleges by state

Frequently Asked Questions about Popular Online Degrees

What Majors Are Popular Among Online Students?


Distance learning programs are pursued by undergraduate and graduate students alike as a viable option for personal growth and career advancement. There are hundreds of majors to choose from in the online format, including majors in the liberal arts — like English, philosophy, psychology, and criminal justice — and majors in specialized areas, like information technology and business administration.

Our research — through GradReports, a companion site — indicates that students of certain majors are more satisfied with their online education than others. We found that online students studying the social sciences, education, and humanities at the bachelor's level felt most prepared for their career and most satisfied with their education, and that those studying computer science felt the least prepared.

For graduate degrees, our research indicates that healthcare is among the leading fields of online study for student preparedness and satisfaction. The field is continuing to grow, with job opportunities expanding over the next decade. Other areas of study that lead to high levels of student satisfaction are the humanities, math, and science.

What Are the Best Online Colleges?


The right college for any given student may vary based on location, class schedule, faculty, research expenditure, and support for military students, undocumented students, and other underrepresented groups, among other considerations.

Online schools allow students to pursue higher education more accessibly and often provide convenient course options, like asynchronous schedules and flexible start dates, as well as more affordable tuition rates.

If affordability is a key consideration, students should be mindful of tuition rates, salary rankings, and financial aid options. We’ve compiled a list of low-tuition online colleges that may be helpful.

Which Degree Levels Are Most Popular To Take Online?


According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2.3 million students were enrolled in online undergraduate degree programs in the fall of 2018, and 932,845 online students were enrolled at the graduate level. However, a larger portion of graduate students take advantage of distance education. While only 16% of undergraduate students were enrolled in fully-online classes, 31% of all graduate students were enrolled in distance education programs in 2018.

Students may prefer to earn their master’s degrees online because many of them are working professionals and seeking credentials to advance in their field. Online classes make it easier to fit coursework around a full-time job and often provide accelerated options that allow students to earn credentials at a faster pace.

What Can I Do With an Online Degree?


An online degree can prepare students for a wide variety of careers. Many students go on to obtain jobs directly related to their degree in fields like business, engineering, nursing, communications, and more. But even degrees that may not be immediately applicable still have plenty of uses – degrees in the liberal arts, like English or Classics, can teach students reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking skills that are highly sought after many different fields.

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