Online Colleges and Programs
As online education has advanced, the number of schools offering online programs has grown substantially. Today, you can find an online program for just about any major and at any education level. Below, you can find more information on online colleges and programs:
- What types of degrees do online colleges offer?
- Is an online degree right for you?
- How are the best online colleges determined?
- Do online colleges offer the same education as traditional colleges?
The concept of distance learning has been around for decades. In the past, course materials and quizzes were delivered through mail, with students sometimes visiting testing sites for exams. Online education is a relatively new outlet for colleges and universities, providing course curriculum, lectures, and assignments entirely online.
What types of degrees do online colleges offer?
The era of limited selection when it comes to online degrees is long over. Every major may not have an online counterpart, but almost all prospective students will be able to find an online program for their degree or a closely related major.
Whether you want to become a teacher, engineer, designer, nurse, or accountant, chances are you will find an online degree that matches your interests. Online programs are also available at the graduate level, allowing students to pursue a master’s or a PhD online. Our site covers several types of degrees you can pursue online, and provides a brief overview of careers, salaries, and available online programs within each field.
Degrees related to business cover a wide range of fields: finance, economics, accounting, management (covered in more detail below), marketing, and much more. You will find online programs available in all of these subjects. Classes can cover several topics like business principles, operations, resource allocation, communication, and leadership building. There is also a vast selection of options for Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees.
Computers & IT
Technology is one of the fastest growing industries around the world, especially with the development of e-commerce, social media, and mobile platforms in recent years. Fields included are information technology, computer science, software engineering, information security, and many more. Student can obtain degrees ranging from an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Education is not just about teaching. This massive industry includes educational administration, educational technology, research, and development of curriculum and instruction. Bachelor’s degrees are available, and students can even work towards their education specialist (EdS) and Master of Education (MEd) degrees online.
Healthcare is a massive industry that expands far beyond doctors and nurses. Virtually every setting within healthcare requires an ample amount of administrators and management to assure that operations flow smoothly and accurately. Several professionals also work in research fields.
Liberal Arts and Design
Liberal arts and design fields can cover a variety of interests: communication, religion, fine arts, digital design, general studies, and much more. Because subjects vary so much in focus, the topics covered by curriculum can range greatly. Available online degrees include a bachelor of fine arts (BFA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Divinity (MDiv) in addition to the standard degrees you would expect.
Topics in management are focused on developing a student’s leadership and interpersonal skills and can cover communication, conflict resolution, time prioritization, and resource management, Students can obtain bachelor of business administration (BBA), Master of Business Administration (MBA), and even Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree through online programs.
With an ever-growing population of people entering retirement age, the demand for nurses will not subside anytime soon. While most programs require students to work at medical facilities in order to obtain their degree, online programs cover all stages of a nursing career, from licensed practical and vocational nurses (LPN/LVN) and registered nurses (RN) to nurse practitioners (MSN/DNP).
Psychology covers the several facets of human behavior, cognitive development, and mental health. Students can specialize in different fields and obtain a bachelor of science (BS), Master of Science (MS), or even a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree online.
Science & Engineering
Research and education fields often rely of holders of degrees in science and engineering. Subjects can range from biology and chemistry to civil engineering and mathematics. Online programs are most plentiful at the master’s degree level, like a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Engineering (MEng), but other educational levels are covered.
Social Sciences & Criminal Justice
While we cover social sciences and criminal justice together, the careers and majors with these fields can vary greatly. Students can choose from a variety of online programs in political science, history, criminal justice, homeland security, public administration, and law enforcement.
Is an online degree right for you?
We will be honest with you: an online degree is not right for everyone. Online programs still have the same demands on students as traditional programs do. Rigorous studying and determination are required in order to complete assignments and take exams. Self-motivation plays an important role in succeeding with online classes. While you have access to your professor via chat and email, the lack of a physical presence and classroom can cause issues for students who do not manage their personal schedules well.
That said, online degrees can provide an excellent opportunity for those who have the drive, but lack a flexible schedule. Assignments and lectures can generally be completed at any point on the specified date, even prior to. This allows working professionals and parents to schedule their education around their careers and commitments.
Whether you obtain your degree online or attend class at a campus, just having a degree can be a huge step forward for increasing your quality of life. The median weekly earning for someone with just a high school diploma is only $651. With even a bachelor’s degree, that figure almost doubles to $1,108 (BLS.gov). An online degree may or may not be a good choice for some people, but earning your degree is always a smart choice.
How are the best online colleges determined?
Truthfully, there is no definitive list of the best online colleges, and you’re likely to find different opinions from different sources. However, a reputable online college is always accredited, and offers flexible scheduling as well as a variety of degree options. The colleges listed in the table below meet these criteria and are our "top 5" most popular online education options for students according to our user data:
American Intercontinental UniversityAccreditation
|"American Intercontinental University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting, acquisition and contract management, business, criminal justice, economics, education, health services administration, information systems, marketing, and public administration. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, AIU graduates have the opportunity to apply their new knowledge in the workforce."|
|"Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. We aspire to be a leading university, offering learners and communities transformative education in a global context that fosters innovation and inspires social action."|
Colorado State University - Global CampusAccreditation
|"CSU-Global Campus is committed to advancing student success in a global society, investing in human capital, expanding the state economy, and enhancing the quality of life for citizens in the state of Colorado and beyond by providing access to dynamic degree programs characterized by academic excellence, innovative delivery technologies, and strong stakeholder engagement."|
Florida Institute of TechnologyAccreditation
|"Florida Tech’s mission is to provide high-quality education to a culturally diverse student body in order to prepare students for entering the global workforce, seeking higher-education opportunities, and serving within their communities. The university also seeks to expand knowledge through research and to serve the diverse economic, cultural, and societal needs of our constituencies."|
|"As a 100% online university serving a highly diverse student population, Grantham believes education should enhance your life – not get in the way of it. That’s why everything we do, every single day, is centered on our students – minimizing potential obstacles and maximizing quality learning. You do your part by working hard to earn your degree. And we do ours by providing you an exceptional Grantham experience that leads to an even more amazing career."|
Johnson & Wales UniversityAccreditation
|"Our university mission is to deliver an exceptional education that inspires professional success and lifelong personal and intellectual growth – the JWU College of Online Education gives us another way to deliver on that promise. Graduates will leave with professional competence, a foundation for lifelong learning, and respect for global and community citizenship."|
|"As a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university, NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business and technology management, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy. NCU utilizes a one-to-one learning model to create a more personalized, individual experience for students enhanced by their professors’ real-world experience."|
|"Believing that qualified individuals should have the privilege of formal academic training, South University welcomes those who seek educational challenges. To this end, the University provides a learning environment, both on campus and online, that helps students identify goals and the means to achieve them. Students learn by interacting with a community of faculty, staff, and administration dedicated to the university’s academic purpose."|
University of Wisconsin CollegesAccreditation
|"Designed for working adults with some college credit or on-the-job experience, UW Flexible Option breaks free from rigid semester schedules. Start any month, move at your own pace, and test whenever you’re ready. You can also use your current knowledge and prior experience to progress toward your degree, which may help save you time and money."|
|"Walden University provides a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves as scholar-practitioners so that they can effect positive social change. Through programs that reflect current market trends and promote positive social change, Walden is committed to helping you achieve your goals, enabling you to make a difference in your career and community as a Walden graduate."|
Do online colleges offer the same education as traditional colleges?
The short answer is a resounding “yes”. Online colleges are monitored and evaluated by the same accrediting bodies backing traditional schools. Each body sets quality standards and regulations that all schools must abide by, whether they are online or otherwise. Moreover, online degrees will generally follow the same curriculum as their traditional counterparts.
However, the line between an online college and a traditional school has become more and more blurred in recent years. More people are getting their degree online now and more traditional schools are offering online classes or entire degrees online. The choice is quickly becoming one of personal preference rather than availability or quality.