In order to be considered for our 2020 Best Online Colleges with Open Admissions, schools needed to meet the following criteria:
- Offer at least three online degrees at the bachelor's level
- Accredited by a regional or national accreditation agency
- Offer an open admissions policy, as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics
- Reported four-year graduation rate and retention rate to the National Center for Education Statistics
- Have reported mid-career alumni salaries from PayScale
Schools were then ranked using an algorithm that takes into account alumni salary and four-year graduation rate to find the open admissions online colleges that have the best outcomes for students.
Fully Online Status
Schools with programs that require some on-campus coursework were still considered for our rankings if the amount of in-person work was limited to less than two weeks worth of in-person requirements. This allows students to retain their current employment or other personal responsibilities.
Four-year graduation rate, retention rate, and open admissions status was collected from the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES is the primary governmental entity for gathering and presenting data related to education. The NCES data is updated annually as soon as it becomes available. The NCES does not release data into downloadable formats until it has been approved, so the most currently available data will not be for the most recent academic year. Mid-career Salaries were collected from Payscale. PayScale is the leading provider of compensation data, hosting the largest continuous salary survey and providing analyses about compensation and benefits for individuals and employers.
Program data including available degrees, tuition rates, and details about program coursework were collected from schools' official websites, reflecting data for the 2019-2020 school year. Programmatic accreditation and profit status of schools were collected from official websites of the accreditation agencies or from the National Center for Education Statistics.