Are Any Online Colleges Worth It?
The short answer is: Yes, but only certain ones.
The long answer is that you’ll need to do some research into which online institutions or programs are accredited through a federally-recognized accrediting agency (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education). The full & current list of agencies can be found here.
As of the time of this writing, there are:
- 26 Institutional Accreditors – those which can accredit the institution as a whole
- 36 Programmatic Accreditors – those which can accredit the individual program.
With so many online solutions out there, you want to make sure that all your hard work is recognized by a potential employer. This accreditation will help demonstrate that while your degree may have been attained via an online program or institution, you went the extra mile to make sure that it was just as rigorous as any other brick and mortar institution.
Which Online Degrees are Recognized in the USA?
In addition to looking for an accredited online institution, you’ll want to make sure that the institution you choose has a reputable program for your major. Not all degrees can be achieved online, such as PhDs in Medicine. However, some degrees lend themselves very well to remote learning such as:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
- And Many More
Further Reading: Check out our recent blog post on the top 10 work-from-home career paths.
In addition to checking out these institutions’ degree programs, you may also want to check out their certificate programs. Some fields, especially technical fields like electrical engineering, require certifications, and you’ll want to make sure your school has a program that fits your requirements.
Fun Fact: In 2016-2017, colleges awarded more certificates than master OR doctoral degrees. If you’re wondering whether certificates work in getting a job – they do. Certificate holders also had an 86.5% employment rate!
Top 20 Affordable & Accredited Online Distance Education Institutions in 2020
Our goal here is to find colleges that have lower-than-average tuition + fees for out of state students (since we’re talking distance education). We also want only institutions with a 6-year graduation rate for bachelor’s degrees greater than 30%. Lastly, we want institutions that offer at least one distance education bachelor’s degree program.
Here are the criteria used when determining institutional affordability & effectiveness:
- Published out-of-state tuition & fees is less than the national average of $15,873.
- Offers distance education bachelors degree programs and/or certificates.
- Greater than 30% graduation rate for a BA degree within 150% of the normal time.
- Enrollment Greater than 1,000 (fewer students that this can skew graduation rates).
This list is intended to give you a starting point when looking into different distance education institutions.
|Institution||# Students Enrolled||Graduation Rate||Distance Ed. Programs||Distance Ed. BA Degree Programs||Less than 1-Year Distance Ed. Certificates||Out of State Tuition & Fees|
|American Public University System||20,000+||34||165||46||36||$7,324|
|National University||10,000 – 19,999||37||98||40||7||$13,320|
|Missouri State University-Springfield||20,000+||55||82||24||5||$15,898|
|University of North Dakota||10,000 – 19,999||54||67||16||5||$15,895|
|Western Governors University||20,000+||38||65||30||0||$6,670|
|University of Southern Mississippi||10,000 – 19,999||47||60||22||1||$10,896|
|University of Memphis||20,000+||43||58||24||0||$13,752|
|Vincennes University||10,000 – 19,999||35||57||3||20||$14,364|
|California University of Pennsylvania||5,000 – 9,999||55||52||9||2||$15,726|
|Grantham University||5,000 – 9,999||36||46||15||9||$8,280|
|University of the Cumberlands||10,000 – 19,999||41||46||10||0||$9,875|
|South Dakota State University||10,000 – 19,999||55||45||9||4||$12,589|
|Arkansas State University-Main Campus||10,000 – 19,999||46||42||10||1||$15,860|
|Fort Hays State University||10,000 – 19,999||43||40||24||0||$15,360|
|Austin Peay State University||10,000 – 19,999||36||37||17||0||$13,847|
|Dakota State University||1,000 – 4,999||35||37||13||5||$12,606|
|Strayer University-Georgia||5,000 – 9,999||33||34||7||3||$13,515|
|Eastern Illinois University||5,000 – 9,999||56||33||14||0||$14,269|
|Strayer University-Maryland||1,000 – 4,999||47||33||7||3||$13,515|
Looking for more information?
Hopefully this list gives you a starting point for researching good distance education institutions. If you want to dig deeper into this data yourself, you can do so online now. Just jump over to the NCES Institution Comparison Tool. Here you can manipulate the date however you need and dig much deeper into the stats that are important to you.
Post-secondary education is expensive & the key to success. As such, the more research you can do, the better prepared you will be to make an informed decision about your education & future career potential.
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