50 Best Online Colleges and Universities - College Choice

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Life is complicated. Finish or further your education with a flexible, accredited online program from a top-notch university.
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!

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