2022 Best Online Colleges by Salary Score

Shadi Bushra

Written By: Shadi Bushra

Published: 5/24/2022

2022 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees Badge

With the growth in popularity of online colleges for bachelors degrees and beyond, OnlineU is launching its first Best Online Colleges by Salary Score ranking.

Salary Score evaluates schools based on median earnings for alumni to determine which have the highest salary outcomes across majors. The rankings highlight online schools whose graduates earn the highest starting salaries for their major, regardless of what its students studied. Read our methodology to learn more about how schools were ranked.

We kept this list limited to schools where more than 50% of the school’s total enrollment was online, and to colleges with at least eight bachelor’s programs. Students interested in attending on campus can use our bachelor's and master's rankings to find out which colleges produce the highest-earning graduates.

Jump to takeaways

Key Insights:

  • Private non-profit schools made up 56% of the top 25 online schools by salary outcomes.
  • Although public schools made up less than one-quarter of the list, public college Thomas Edison State University was the top online school for salary outcomes.
  • For-profit online schools had higher average Salary Scores than either public or private non-profit schools; for-profits also saw their average Salary Score improve the most since last year.

#1

Thomas Edison State University

Trenton (NJ)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$12,024

SALARY SCORE

 95.83

Despite private and for-profit schools’ strong overall performance, the top school by salary outcomes was a public nonprofit college. Thomas Edison State University, located in New Jersey, moved up two points to a Salary Score of 96. The school's most popular programs are Interdisciplinary Studies and Registered Nursing. Other large programs for the school include Business Administration and Social Sciences. All of these programs had salary outcomes in the 95th percentile or better. And though it is a smaller program by enrollment, its Health Professions program earned a Salary Score of 100. All of this helped propel TESU to the top of the rankings.

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $40,685 84.73 0.16
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $82,105 94.66 2.89
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other $76,418 99.87 0.0
Social Sciences, General $42,906 94.62 1.46
Business Administration, Management and Operations $59,206 97.76 1.68

#2

American Public University System

Charles Town (WV)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$7,005

SALARY SCORE

 92.15

The for-profit, West Virginia-based American Public University System gained three points to earn a Salary Score of 92 this year. APUS is made up of American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU). Its most popular majors are Business Administration (92), Criminal Justice (99), Computer/Information Technology (84), Health and Physical Education (100), and Natural Resources Conservation (97).

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $54,183 92.28 3.12
Criminal Justice and Corrections $49,354 98.64 -0.98
Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management $63,468 83.74 13.89
Homeland Security $51,985 62.17 3.35
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $47,616 99.87 0.04

#3

Capella University

Minneapolis (MN)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$15,233

SALARY SCORE

 91.76

Minnesota's for-profit Capella University moved up a point to a Salary Score of 92. The two programs that vacuum up the most students are Registered Nursing (80) and Business Administration (99). They are followed in popularity by Psychology (91), Health Administration (95), Human Resources (90), and Computer/Information Technology (99).

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $74,251 80.15 2.57
Business Administration, Management and Operations $63,636 99.41 1.39
Psychology, General $35,031 91.39 6.26
Health and Medical Administrative Services $52,610 95.22 1.63
Human Resources Management and Services $53,132 90.11 7.57

#4

Colorado State University Global

Greenwood Village (CO)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$9,000

SALARY SCORE

 89.63

Colorado State University Global is the second public university on this list, and is slightly smaller than TESU. The school gained barely a point from last year, but it was enough to get it a Salary Score of 90. Its largest program by enrollment is Business Administration (98). Its second and third-largest programs, Computer and Information Science (60) and Accounting (70) earned much lower, though still above-average, Salary Scores. Other popular programs include Human Resources (94), Health Administration (86), and Communications (99).

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $59,425 97.89 0.4
Computer and Information Sciences, General $60,152 60.18 -2.49
Accounting and Related Services $52,075 70.44 -7.38
Human Resources Management and Services $55,055 94.11 4.97
Health and Medical Administrative Services $48,123 86.06 1.8

#5

University of Maryland Global Campus

Adelphi (MD)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$12,132

SALARY SCORE

 86.69

The University of Maryland Global Campus is the second public university in the top ten, and the biggest of the three public schools by far, with an online enrollment of nearly 36,000, representing 78% of the school’s total enrollment. The school moved up a point for a Salary Score of 87 this year. Its most popular program is Business Administration (89), followed by Computer and Information Sciences (67) and Criminal Justice (96). Its Communication bachelor’s program has a Salary Score of 100.

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $52,455 88.93 -0.7
Information Science/Studies $65,374 90.04 1.62
Computer and Information Sciences, General $62,555 66.53 1.73
Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management $62,028 80.26 -2.1
Criminal Justice and Corrections $46,672 96.45 1.28

#6

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City (UT)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$7,790

SALARY SCORE

 83.82

Western Governors University, based in Utah, is by far the largest school in the top ten, and, by smaller margins, the largest among all eligible online schools. It has an online enrollment of over 98,600 students. WGU gained 3 points to get to a Salary Score of 84. The most popular major for its bachelor's students is Registered Nursing (80), followed by Business Administration (97). Other top majors include Computer and Information Sciences (90). But some of its popular programs, such as Education (57), have low, but still above-average salary outcomes.

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $74,342 80.4 0.93
Business Administration, Management and Operations $58,705 97.43 1.18
Computer and Information Sciences, General $74,868 90.11 4.16
Education, General $36,162 56.99 0.75
Special Education and Teaching $39,431 55.21 -3.81

#7

Waldorf University

Forest City (IA)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$6,570

SALARY SCORE

 80.32

Iowa-based Waldorf University's top majors suggest a strong leaning towards law enforcement and public service careers. Its top program, with an exceptional Salary Score of 99, is Criminal Justice and Corrections. Waldorf graduates of the Fire Protection (81) and Homeland Security (67) programs also earned above-average salaries. Other strong programs are Human Resources Management (98) and Health and Medical Administration (95).

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business/Commerce, General $44,915 56.32 6.96
Fire Protection $74,071 80.98 9.52
Quality Control and Safety Technologies/Technicians $65,975 78.84 -3.36
Criminal Justice and Corrections $50,817 99.24 -0.63
Psychology, General $31,432 72.07 -1.5

#8

Bellevue University

Bellevue (NE)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$11,205

SALARY SCORE

 79.9

Bellevue's most popular programs are Business/Commerce (76) and Business Administration (98), though other business-related majors such as Accounting (28) and Marketing (35) offer uncompetitive salary outcomes. Education, though a smaller program, earned a Salary Score of 100, always an impressive feat. Other strong programs at Bellevue are Sales and Merchandising (96) and Criminal Justice (91).

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business/Commerce, General $49,976 76.45 4.31
Business Administration, Management and Operations $60,272 98.34 4.03
Social Sciences, General $34,511 60.64 15.61
Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management $56,155 62.21 13.37
Computer and Information Sciences, General $53,179 40.9 2.73

#9

Southern New Hampshire University Online

Manchester (NH)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$11,286

SALARY SCORE

 78.87

Southern New Hampshire University, one of the largest schools on this list with about 87,000 students, had popular programs in Business Administration (88), Registered Nursing (76), and Psychology (83). But its strongest programs are Business, Management, and Marketing (98), Liberal Arts (98), and Health Services (97). Its large size means it offers a wide array of majors, including many more that lead graduates to above-average salaries for their field, from Natural Resources Conservation (88) to Design and Applied Arts (68) and more.

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $52,197 88.36 5.26
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $72,753 75.83 3.66
Psychology, General $33,208 83.4 4.38
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $48,678 97.93 -0.55
Accounting and Related Services $46,867 44.75 -4.49

#10

Granite State College

Concord (NH)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$9,690

SALARY SCORE

 72.61

Granite State College, based in New Hampshire, offers particularly strong salary outcomes for Health and Medical Administration (97) and Criminal Justice and Corrections (96), as well as Psychology (83). Some of its more popular programs weren't as exceptional when it came to salary outcomes, but still offered Granite College graduates above-average salaries. These include Registered Nursing (73), Interdisciplinary Studies (66), and Business Administration (64). It is also the last of the three public colleges in the top ten.

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $45,089 64.43 -3.29
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other $39,744 66.42 13.07
Psychology, General $33,133 83.0 1.09
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $71,774 72.74 14.31
Criminal Justice and Corrections $46,361 96.08 7.11

#11

University of Phoenix

Nationwide

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$16,752

SALARY SCORE

 71.8

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $49,674 81.62 5.63
Health and Medical Administrative Services $38,040 41.02 10.1
Behavioral Sciences $32,579 77.49 14.67
Criminal Justice and Corrections $39,195 75.36 6.89
Human Services, General $32,912 53.19 -3.13

#12

Park University

Parkville (MO)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$6,012

SALARY SCORE

 70.75

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $47,878 75.58 0.88
Research and Experimental Psychology $33,805 63.83 16.38
Human Resources Management and Services $44,765 53.47 2.11
Criminal Justice and Corrections $39,411 76.36 16.88
Health and Medical Administrative Services $38,915 45.5 -8.01

#13

Wilmington University

New Castle (DE)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$8,834

SALARY SCORE

 65.69

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $72,946 76.39 4.22
Behavioral Sciences $33,135 80.59 -0.49
Business Administration, Management and Operations $44,274 60.83 -8.07
Human Resources Management and Services $44,226 50.36 13.74
Criminal Justice and Corrections $39,849 78.35 -1.97

#14

Saint Leo University Online

St. Leo (FL)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$7,296

SALARY SCORE

 65.65

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $47,914 75.71
Criminal Justice and Corrections $42,956 89.42
Psychology, General $30,461 64.62
Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods $38,620 70.33
Accounting and Related Services $45,441 37.64

#15

Franklin University

Columbus (OH)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$16,080

SALARY SCORE

 62.21

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $47,825 75.4 7.03
Accounting and Related Services $47,252 46.69 0.51
Human Resources Management and Services $44,697 53.07 -6.96
Health and Medical Administrative Services $41,982 61.22 -6.83
Finance and Financial Management Services $49,343 50.96 7.59

#16

Columbia College

Columbia (MO)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$8,602

SALARY SCORE

 61.29

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $41,030 85.75 -0.46
Business Administration, Management and Operations $46,410 69.95 7.13
Human Services, General $30,656 34.02 -5.65
Criminal Justice and Corrections $38,931 74.09 5.37
Business/Commerce, General $44,380 53.94 -0.88

#17

Upper Iowa University

Fayette (IA)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$21,060

SALARY SCORE

 58.63

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $46,059 68.51 15.2
Human Services, General $32,737 51.68 -6.4
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $55,887 17.23 -8.52
Accounting and Related Services $47,626 48.6 6.29
Psychology, General $34,665 90.08 -5.58

#18

Purdue University Global

Indianapolis (IN)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$10,662

SALARY SCORE

 58.59

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $47,866 75.55 9.06
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $68,216 60.18 -9.63
Health and Medical Administrative Services $40,812 55.29 8.68
Criminal Justice and Corrections $41,882 86.17 20.0
Health Services/Allied Health/Health Sciences, General $36,626 57.57 9.28

#19

Johnson & Wales University - Online

Providence (RI)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$13,734

SALARY SCORE

 56.55

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Foods, Nutrition, and Related Services $32,511 73.37 17.96
Hospitality Administration/Management $35,901 43.41 -3.24
Parks, Recreation and Leisure Facilities Management $32,446 65.58 -10.63
Business Administration, Management and Operations $36,180 25.37 4.27
Specialized Sales, Merchandising and Marketing Operations $35,690 47.01 -1.95

#20

DeVry University

Multiple Locations

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$17,552

SALARY SCORE

 54.89

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $47,138 72.81 4.69
Computer Systems Analysis $47,609 12.45 -12.88
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications $50,307 33.03 -9.55
Electrical Engineering Technologies/Technicians $60,951 55.76 -4.38
Computer Software and Media Applications $29,529 23.82 2.29

#21

Liberty University

Lynchburg (VA)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$8,475

SALARY SCORE

 53.51

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $43,497 57.34 3.56
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other $38,738 62.36 -3.15
Psychology, General $29,061 52.83 6.26
Religion/Religious Studies $35,680 91.15 9.98
Criminal Justice and Corrections $40,903 82.69 2.79

#22

Indiana Wesleyan University Online

Marion (IN)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$13,156

SALARY SCORE

 48.64

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $60,518 31.1 -8.57
Business Administration, Management and Operations $48,619 78.2 -11.27
Accounting and Related Services $47,151 46.18 -9.82
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $33,090 52.39 -9.63
Management Information Systems and Services $58,341 71.97 2.51

#23

Indiana University - East

Richmond (IN)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$17,745

SALARY SCORE

 47.69

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business/Commerce, General $41,010 39.13 -6.85
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $61,607 34.94 6.0
Psychology, General $29,725 58.51 30.92
Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods $34,341 35.53 13.14
Criminal Justice and Corrections $33,893 45.66 5.18

#24

University of Mount Olive

Mount Olive (NC)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$17,975

SALARY SCORE

 46.26

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Business Administration, Management and Operations $42,574 53.11 2.71
Criminal Justice and Corrections $39,890 78.52 15.93
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $68,741 62.13 9.3
Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods $31,694 17.59 1.31
Health and Medical Administrative Services $36,953 35.64 -11.65

#25

Athens State University

Athens (AL)

New to List

ANNUAL TUITION

$13,224

SALARY SCORE

 40.56

Salary Scores for Most Popular Programs
PROGRAM MEDIAN SALARY SALARY SCORE CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods $33,168 26.76 -2.7
Business Administration, Management and Operations $45,102 64.47 7.76
Accounting and Related Services $39,224 13.24 2.57
Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Subject Areas $34,685 36.66 -5.49
English Language and Literature, General $31,785 74.57 2.56

Compare Colleges by Salary Score

Search over 2,000 colleges to see how their overall salary strength and individual program salaries compare to other colleges nationwide.

Online school has moved from a rarity to an increasingly common path for many. Its flexibility, affordability, and lower risk regarding disease spread made it a popular option during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distance learners at the time ranged from those who were retraining for different careers as some sectors were battered by the pandemic, to college students whose on-campus experience was deferred to slow down spread.

But for some Americans, online colleges were and remain their preferred way to learn even outside the pandemic.

In the fall of 2019, before lockdowns were on anyone’s mind, nearly 18% of students took all of their classes online, according to the Department of Education. Even more were mixing and matching online and in-person classes. And at for-profit colleges, almost 63% of students were enrolled fully online.

Because of this increased focus on online education, OnlineU has created Salary Score rankings for online schools and programs, to see how graduates fare compared to others with the same degree across the country.

Why Aren’t Some Online Colleges Ranked?

Before we get into the details of the top 20 online schools in the list above, it’s worth noting that there were 41 schools that we considered for this list. To be eligible for consideration, a school needed at least 8 bachelor’s level programs with nationally recognized CIP codes. Furthermore, the school needed more than half of its total enrollment to be online.

Any schools that failed to meet both of those criteria would not be eligible for this year’s ranking.

When we take those 41 online schools,we see Salary Scores ranging from 23 for Regent University Online to 94 for Thomas Edison State University. The average Salary Score of the full range of eligible online schools is 64, up one point from last year.

Among the schools in our top 20 rankings, the average Salary Score is 81.

A Salary Score above 50 indicates alumni earn higher than average salaries for their field of study, while one below 50 indicates graduates tend to be low-paid for their major.

Which States Host the Most Online Schools With Top Salary Scores?

Indiana led with three colleges in the top 25: Purdue University Global, Indiana Wesleyan University Online, and Indiana University - East. However, they were concentrated towards the bottom of the list, at #18, #22, #23, respectively

Minnesota and New Hampshire also have multiple online colleges featured in our top 20 rankings, with two apiece.

Minnesota’s Capella University and Walden University mirror Arizona’s top online schools in that they are all private for-profit colleges. However, Capella’s #4 ranking and Walden’s #10 spots beat out any of Arizona’s schools.

That said, these two fully online Minnesotan schools teach just over 17,500 students. That is a fraction of the nearly 139,000 online students enrolled in Arizona’s three ranked schools.

New Hampshire and its two schools, Southern New Hampshire University Online (#9) and Granite State College (#10), enroll a total of more than 88,000 online students. However, Granite State has just over 1,500 online students, while Southern New Hampshire University Online enrolls nearly 87,000 online students, making it the second largest online school by enrollment on our top 20 list. It trails Utah’s massive Western Governors University (#6), the state’s only ranked school, with over 98,600 students enrolled.

How Does School Type Impact Online Schools’ Salary Scores?

Top 25 Breakdown by School Type

School type Number of Schools Percentage
Private 14 56%
For-profit 5 20%
Public 6 24%

Most of the schools to rank in the top 25 online schools are private non-profit institutions, making up just over half of the top 25. Public non-profit colleges made up nearly a quarter of schools, while for-profit schools made up one out of every five colleges here.

Even though many of these online schools are private, their tuition rates are far lower than those of the top colleges on the on-campus bachelor's list. This can mean a better return on investment for some students, especially those who don’t need or want in-person education or the on-campus experience.

Graph showing different college types' average Salary Scores

Among school types, for-profit online schools have received the highest average Salary Scores and seen a big jump from last year. This also means that for-profit online schools significantly outperform for-profit on-campus schools for bachelor’s degrees.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the data used in Salary Score only includes salary data for students who finished their degree. This is especially relevant since for-profit schools tend to have lower completion rates than public ones.

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