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
  • Education
  • Psychology
  • Engineering
  • Nursing
  • And Many More

Further Reading: Check out our recent blog post on the top 10 work-from-home career paths.

Certificate Programs

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 EnrolledGraduation RateDistance Ed. ProgramsDistance Ed. BA Degree ProgramsLess than 1-Year Distance Ed. CertificatesOut of State Tuition & Fees
American Public University System20,000+341654636$7,324
Walden University20,000+100129210$12,150
National University10,000 – 19,9993798407$13,320
Missouri State University-Springfield20,000+5582245$15,898
University of North Dakota10,000 – 19,9995467165$15,895
Western Governors University20,000+3865300$6,670
University of Southern Mississippi10,000 – 19,9994760221$10,896
University of Memphis20,000+4358240$13,752
Vincennes University10,000 – 19,9993557320$14,364
California University of Pennsylvania5,000 – 9,999555292$15,726
Grantham University5,000 – 9,9993646159$8,280
University of the Cumberlands10,000 – 19,9994146100$9,875
South Dakota State University10,000 – 19,999554594$12,589
Arkansas State University-Main Campus10,000 – 19,9994642101$15,860
Fort Hays State University10,000 – 19,9994340240$15,360
Austin Peay State University10,000 – 19,9993637170$13,847
Dakota State University1,000 – 4,9993537135$12,606
Strayer University-Georgia5,000 – 9,999333473$13,515
Eastern Illinois University5,000 – 9,9995633140$14,269
Strayer University-Maryland1,000 – 4,999473373$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.

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!