A couple decades ago, completing a degree online was a dubious proposition. But times have changed—a lot.Today the best universities in the world are providing high-quality, accredited, and affordable online programs.  These programs combine the highest standards in academics with the flexibility and convenience of distance education.

And online study is not boring. Modern learning management systems—like Blackboard and Canvas—utilize cutting-edge technology to provide an engaging, intuitive learning experience. As an online student, you’ll use a variety of modalities like video, text, audio, and discussion boards to ensure that you are an active participant in your education.

But on your own schedule.

Are Online Degrees Respected by Employers?

If you attend an accredited university with a solid reputation, then the answer is yes. The days when an online degree came with a dodgy reputation are well in the past. In fact, the diploma you receive will not even state that it was completed online. A good online program will teach you the same skills as a campus-based program and will give you the same credentials.

There are, of course, programs that will not be taken seriously. One major red flag is an institution that is nationally—rather than regionally—accredited. It’s hard to overstate the importance of regional accreditation. Without it, your credits will not be transferable to other institutions and your diploma will not be taken seriously.

How Much Money Will I Make With an Online Degree?

You’ll make the same amount of money as you would if you attended the same program at a traditional campus. There are so many factors that go into your future salary that it is impossible to generalize on how much money you will actually make.

But assuming that you complete a solid program at an accredited institution, then the fact that you completed your degree online will be no hindrance to your future earnings.

Are online degrees easier than traditional programs?

No. Solid online programs will match the academic rigor that you will find in a traditional classroom. You’ll be held to the same high standards of scholarship, participate in discussions, complete labs, and conduct research. You’ll probably be taught by the same faculty that teach on campus too—and they don’t relax their standards for online students.

And the more flexible the schedule is, the more you’ll have to keep yourself motivated. On the other hand, you won’t have to travel to campus. You can complete assignments, participate in discussions, and attend lectures on your own time, wherever you are.

Are Online Degrees More Affordable? Faster?

The answer to this question really depends on the school you attend, but universities do often offer discounts to online students. And several schools offer in-state tuition to all online students, which can add up to huge savings.

And yes, they often are faster. You’ll have to complete the same amount of work for your online degree as you would if you were attending on campus, but many online programs are offered in accelerated formats. These programs are usually offered year-round, in eight to twelve-week terms—which can propel you through your degree at a much faster pace than a traditional program.

Should I Get an Online Degree?

This depends on what your greatest needs are. Online programs can offer a huge amount of flexibility in scheduling. So if you need (or want) to continue working while you study then online programs make a lot of sense. And many online programs are less expensive than their traditional counterparts so there is the added benefit of cost savings.

There will also be the added challenge of self-motivation—especially in asynchronous courses where there is no set log-in time. You’ll have to work hard to make sure you stay on top of lectures and assignments so that you don’t get behind. But the best online programs offer an array of student supports that will help keep you motivated and engaged.

What Are the Best Online Colleges?

When searching for the best online colleges, we’ve taken into account a number of essential factors.  The first—and most basic—requirement is that all schools on our list are regionally accredited. This guarantees a level of legitimacy to their online programs. We also take into account the institution’s national reputation, as evidenced by national and niche rankings (like U.S. News and World Report). And we look closely at affordability—gleaning tuition costs from the National Center for Educational Statistics.

The College Choice Score you see beside each school is a composite score that balances academic excellence with return on investment. We hope our ranking helps you in your search for a great online college!

Rank Name  Score Education Cost
1 Penn State World Campus 100 $23,129
2 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 99.06 $19,002
3 Arizona State University (ASU Online) 98.7 $13,007
4 University of Florida 98.48 $11,976
5 University of Illinois at Chicago 93.92 $11,571
6 University of Central Florida 93.52 $15,533
7 Colorado State University-Global Campus 93.19 $16,232
8 University of Illinois 92.56 $11,444
9 CUNY School of Professional Studies 90.69 $6,530
10 Oregon State University 90.58 $19,484
11 Pace University 89.42 $31,040
12 Regis University 88.97 $25,505
13 Creighton University 88.72 $30,353
14 City University of Seattle 88.65 $16,748
15 Regent University 87.98 $17,837
16 University of Denver 87.55 $32,940
17 Brandman University 85.88 $13,992
18 Savannah College of Art and Design 85.58 $40,856
19 Central Michigan University 84.92 $14,275
20 Washington State University 84.27 $17,815
21 Concordia University-Saint Paul 83.76 $19,499
22 California Baptist University (CBU) 83.1 $25,875
23 University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) 81.71 $13,396
24 University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) 80.96 $15,368
25 University of Alabama 79.44 $20,133
26 Fort Hays State University 79 $11,993
27 St. John’s University 78.65 $26,582
28 American Public University System 77.88 $11,470
29 Saint Leo’s University 77.51 $21,296
30 Drexel University 77.27 $39,021
31 George Washington University 76.13 $39,562
32 Indiana University 76.03 $12,621
33 University of the Incarnate Word 74.81 $21,462
34 Eastern Kentucky University 74.17 $12,255
35 Loyola University Chicago 73.04 $34,934
36 Old Dominion University 71.97 $15,218
37 Colorado State University 71.43 $16,232
38 Lamar University 69.59 $11,755
39 Florida Institute of Technology 68.65 $36,197
40 Ball State University 68.22 $13,369
41 Liberty University 68.15 $24,794
42 University of Oklahoma 67.9 $17,966
43 Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne 67.12 $7,270
44 Utah State University (USO) 66.23 $13,037
45 University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) 65.58 $16,462
46 University of Nebraska at Omaha 65.53 $11,223
47 Northeastern University 64.92 $29,998
48 University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) 63.55 $20,093
49 University of Maine at Augusta 63.27 $8,627
50 University of Alabama at Birmingham 63.14 $16,092

This is the ranking of online university of United States of America according to our study.