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The pandemic fundamentally changed the college experience for many. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of undergrads exclusively enrolled in online college courses jumped from 2.4 million to 7.0 million between 2019 and 2020.
Today, more and more students see online education as the most pragmatic path to career readiness. And with new online programs popping up everywhere, it's important to pick the right online university for the job.
Each year, BestColleges evaluates hundreds of schools in order to produce our annual Best Online Colleges ranking, using the most recent data from sources like the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (hosted by the NCES) and College Scorecard (hosted by the U.S. Department of Education).
These rankings were compiled by our BestColleges Ranking Team and include BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners.
The University of Florida secures the top spot on our list this year thanks to its strong student outcomes, affordability, and excellent online program offerings. UF offers top-tier academics, a 17-to-1 student-to-staff ratio, Division I sports (go Gators!), and many cutting-edge research facilities.
We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.
A self-described "university for professionals," Golden Gate University is a great choice for working adults looking to boost their careers. You can choose from online, weekend, and evening classes. GGU is known for its high-quality curriculum, small class sizes, strong career placement support, and robust alumni network. The school is also committed to removing financial barriers to education, with most students receiving financial aid.
Union Institute & University is a private university in Cincinnati, Ohio, that offers 100% online and hybrid options. You can pursue degrees in business and leadership, education, healthcare and mental wellness, or public service and social justice.
Notable Fact: In 2018, the school launched The Institute for Social Justice, an initiative that seeks to advance social justice at home and abroad by reducing economic disparities and eliminating racism.
Jefferson is known for offering a distinctive, hands-on, inter-professional approach to learning called "Nexus learning." The idea is to equip graduates for a rapidly changing world and workplace where their future professions may not even exist yet. As a result, Jefferson grads have a competitive edge that many employers are looking for. The school reports that 97% of its 2021 graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school.
The University of Central Florida is a large public research university based in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida. The school offers more than 220 degree programs across 13 colleges. Popular majors for UCF undergrads include psychology, computer science, biology, health sciences, and mechanical engineering.
The University of Central Florida is known for being a destination for space science. For over 50 years, the school has played a big role in space research and exploration. Students and researchers at UCF's Stephen W. Hawking Center for Microgravity Research and Education are leading the charge to develop safer space travel to the moon and Mars.
Florida International University is a public university with campuses in North Miami and West Miami-Dade County. The school offers more than 190 degree programs and certificates, with over 130 available online.
Thomas Edison State University is a public university in Trenton, New Jersey. You can choose from more than 100 undergraduate, graduate, and professional certificate options, most of which are also available online.
The idea behind Penn State World Campus is to make the Penn State educational experience available to people who can't travel to a physical campus. Since 1998, the school has provided a career-focused curriculum taught by experts in business, engineering, tech, healthcare, and more. A degree from Penn State is a big deal: According to the Wall Street Journal, Penn State undergrads are some of the best-prepared on the market.
The University of Missouri is a public university in Columbia, Missouri. It operates as the flagship campus of the four-campus University of Missouri System. The school offers more than 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including over 75 online degrees.
OSU is known for elite academics, affordability, and quality of student life. More than 50% of recent students graduated with zero student loan debt. And the school boasts the largest university student union in the world. OSU students report that the campus is beautiful, the community is friendly, and the professors are helpful.
Excelsior University (previously Excelsior College) is a private online university in Albany, New York. It offers more than 35 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business, health sciences, nursing, technology, liberal arts, and public service.
Northeastern University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. The Lifelong Learning Network is Northeastern University's school for nontraditional learners. It offers over 200 professional bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, as well as certificate options and bootcamps.
The Lifelong Learning Network is built with flexibility in mind. You can choose from online, in-person, and hybrid learning channels. Each credential can stand alone or be built into a future degree. You have the opportunity to develop a customized career plan, receive professional support, study an industry-aligned curriculum, and join a large global network of alumni and peers.
The University of Massachusetts at Lowell is a public research university located just north of Boston. The school offers nearly 150 undergraduate majors and certificates, as well as 50 master's programs, 28 doctoral degrees, and 31 certificates.
UMass Lowell takes pride in preparing students for "solving real problems and helping real people" by providing a top-notch education. The results of a Lowell education speak for themselves: 96% of the 2021 graduating class are either employed or in graduate school. The school also reports that the average mid-career salary for UMass Lowell graduates is $116,000. 781b155fdc