The 100 Most Popular Accredited Online Schools & Colleges

By Taylor Nichols | Updated 12/3/2020

Our list of the most popular online colleges includes accredited, flexible degree programs that are popular among students. 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 Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 University of North Dakota $20,759 67% (3 reviews)
# 2 #2 University of Florida $28,659 60% (5 reviews)
# 3 #3 University of Wisconsin-Platteville $15,646 Add Review
# 4 #4 University of Arizona $11,800 100% (2 reviews)
# 5 #5 University of Virginia $49,032 Add Review
# 6 #6 Oregon Institute of Technology $28,668 Add Review
# 7 #7 Northeastern University $51,522 100% (3 reviews)
# 8 #8 Texas Tech University $19,040 0% (3 reviews)
# 9 #9 Texas A&M University-College Station $37,495 67% (3 reviews)
# 10 #10 University of Northern Colorado $21,786 0% (2 reviews)
# 11 #11 University of South Florida Online $17,324 67% (3 reviews)
# 12 #12 University of Massachusetts - Amherst $34,570 60% (5 reviews)
# 13 #13 Colorado State University-Fort Collins $29,608 100% (5 reviews)
# 14 #14 University of Alabama $29,230 67% (3 reviews)
# 15 #15 Drexel University $53,244 67% (6 reviews)
# 16 #16 Nova Southeastern University $30,900 71% (7 reviews)
# 17 #17 Southern New Hampshire University Online $9,600 63% (386 reviews)
# 18 #18 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus $8,247 100% (4 reviews)
# 19 #19 University of Central Florida $22,467 88% (8 reviews)
# 20 #20 University of Colorado Denver $25,771 100% (2 reviews)
# 21 #21 University of Louisiana-Monroe $20,654 67% (3 reviews)
# 22 #22 Savannah College of Art and Design $37,130 Add Review
# 23 #23 Columbia University in the City of New York $59,430 Add Review
# 24 #24 Albany State University $16,196 Add Review
# 25 #25 The George Washington University $55,230 75% (4 reviews)
# 26 #26 The University of Arizona Global Campus Not Provided 68% (663 reviews)
# 27 #27 California State University-Northridge $18,773 100% (1 review)
# 28 #28 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign $31,664 100% (1 review)
# 29 #29 Bellevue University $7,827 67% (66 reviews)
# 30 #30 University of Alabama at Birmingham $19,704 100% (1 review)
# 31 #31 Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences $33,620 Add Review
# 32 #32 Midwestern State University $11,183 75% (4 reviews)
# 33 #33 Thomas Edison State University $9,967 57% (72 reviews)
# 34 #34 Ohio State University-Main Campus $30,742 Add Review
# 35 #35 Arizona State University $23,483 69% (103 reviews)
# 36 #36 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale $29,160 Add Review
# 37 #37 University of California - Berkeley $43,176 75% (4 reviews)
# 38 #38 University of Kansas $27,358 100% (1 review)
# 39 #39 Clarion University $16,054 100% (3 reviews)
# 40 #40 University of Arizona - Engineering $36,366 Add Review
# 41 #41 University of Southern Mississippi $10,624 0% (1 review)
# 42 #42 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi $19,462 50% (2 reviews)
# 43 #43 Texas Woman's University $17,756 100% (2 reviews)
# 44 #44 Georgia State University $23,971 0% (1 review)
# 45 #45 California University of Pennsylvania $15,726 80% (15 reviews)
# 46 #46 Indiana Wesleyan University Online $9,816 41% (29 reviews)
# 47 #47 Marian University - Wisconsin $27,400 Add Review
# 48 #48 New York University $51,828 100% (2 reviews)
# 49 #49 Eastern Michigan University $12,508 100% (1 review)
# 50 #50 Purdue University Global $14,343 63% (284 reviews)
# 51 #51 University of Arkansas $25,168 100% (2 reviews)
# 52 #52 University of Missouri $27,042 Add Review
# 53 #53 Rutgers University $31,282 67% (3 reviews)
# 54 #54 University of Minnesota Online $20,946 Add Review
# 55 #55 West Texas A&M University $9,304 Add Review
# 56 #56 Lindenwood University $17,600 Add Review
# 57 #57 Texas A&M University-Commerce $21,198 86% (7 reviews)
# 58 #58 University of Cincinnati $27,334 83% (6 reviews)
# 59 #59 Eastern Kentucky University $19,444 33% (3 reviews)
# 60 #60 Golden Gate University $18,985 100% (1 review)
# 61 #61 Maryville University $28,470 40% (30 reviews)
# 62 #62 University of South Carolina-Columbia $33,298 Add Review
# 63 #63 Central Michigan University $24,120 67% (3 reviews)
# 64 #64 Indiana State University $19,836 83% (6 reviews)
# 65 #65 Concordia University - Wisconsin $29,450 67% (3 reviews)
# 66 #66 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus $13,988 50% (4 reviews)
# 67 #67 Sam Houston State University $18,256 100% (2 reviews)
# 68 #68 University of Maryland - College Park $35,216 50% (4 reviews)
# 69 #69 The University of Texas Permian Basin $7,100 50% (2 reviews)
# 70 #70 West Virginia University $24,950 100% (1 review)
# 71 #71 Abilene Christian University $34,850 100% (1 review)
# 72 #72 Creighton University $39,916 75% (4 reviews)
# 73 #73 Georgia Institute of Technology $33,020 Add Review
# 74 #74 University of Kentucky $29,099 100% (4 reviews)
# 75 #75 The University of Texas at El Paso $22,629 67% (3 reviews)
# 76 #76 Boise State University $23,776 100% (1 review)
# 77 #77 Duke University $55,695 0% (1 review)
# 78 #78 IUPUI $29,821 100% (1 review)
# 79 #79 LeTourneau University $30,210 100% (2 reviews)
# 80 #80 Northwestern University $54,568 0% (2 reviews)
# 81 #81 Brenau University $29,050 Add Review
# 82 #82 Champlain College $41,010 75% (4 reviews)
# 83 #83 Missouri State University $15,326 0% (3 reviews)
# 84 #84 University of Idaho $25,500 100% (2 reviews)
# 85 #85 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire $17,095 Add Review
# 86 #86 James Madison University $28,416 100% (1 review)
# 87 #87 National American University Online $10,575 40% (75 reviews)
# 88 #88 Norwich University $40,014 71% (17 reviews)
# 89 #89 Stephen F. Austin State University $18,276 100% (1 review)
# 90 #90 University of Illinois at Springfield $21,338 100% (6 reviews)
# 91 #91 The University of Texas at Arlington $26,533 36% (22 reviews)
# 92 #92 Duquesne University $38,178 50% (4 reviews)
# 93 #93 Mississippi State University $23,250 0% (1 review)
# 94 #94 University of Alaska Fairbanks $20,218 Add Review
# 95 #95 University of Colorado Boulder $37,286 100% (1 review)
# 96 #96 University of Massachusetts-Boston $33,966 50% (2 reviews)
# 97 #97 East Carolina University $23,465 80% (5 reviews)
# 98 #98 University of Akron $15,500 Add Review
# 99 #99 Western Kentucky University $26,280 100% (1 review)
# 100 #100 Delta State University $7,246 0% (2 reviews)

Prospective students often choose online classes because they are a convenient and affordable alternative to enrolling on campus, but there are many other factors that influence college decisions. Everything from credit transfer options to student support services can play a role in helping students succeed within an online learning environment.

When reading about popular aspects of undergraduate and graduate programs below, students should keep the importance of accreditation in mind. Programs can receive either regional or national accreditation, and 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.

  • Affordable programs: 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 and consider financial aid options when pursuing higher education.
  • 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 may seek out schools with a good reputation in their community to help them in their job search after graduation. 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, and help 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, such as the University of Maryland Global Campus, 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 such as the ones offered at American Public University 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 education 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Popular Online Degrees

What majors are popular among online students?

Online courses allow students to pursue higher education more accessibly - often providing convenient course options like asynchronous schedules and flexible start dates, as well as more affordable tuition rates. 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 psychology and criminal justice, and majors in specialized areas like information technology and business administration.

Our research 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?

As student needs and goals vary, there are various factors to consider before enrolling in a program, and some may be more relevant than others based on individual circumstances. If affordability is a key consideration, students should be mindful of tuition rates, return on investment data, and financial aid options. We’ve compiled a list of low-tuition online colleges that may be helpful, along with tuition rates and return on investment (ROI) data on many of our ranking lists. In addition, the right college for any given student may vary based on location, class schedule, faculty, research expenditure, and supports for military students, undocumented students, and adult learners, among other considerations.

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.