College for the Career-Minded


Online colleges and online education more generally have seen an enormous increase in student e-learners over the last decade. Ten years ago, America saw around 2 million higher education students learning online. That number has now almost quadrupled.

According to a 2015 report by Babson Research titled Tracking Online Education in the United States, today the number of college students learning online exceeds 7 million. With the overall higher education student body in the U.S. currently at 21 million, that means one out of three college students is taking at least one course entirely online.

It’s therefore no surprise that online colleges and universities, which focus on delivering course content exclusively online, have proliferated. These schools enable students to finish a degree program and graduate with little more than a laptop and internet connection.

Nonetheless, online colleges and universities differ widely in quality. Moreover, with increasing competition for online students, many campus-based schools are now getting into the mix and offering online degrees. For this reason, rankings of online colleges and universities need to be regularly updated. Hence this ranking of the top 50 online colleges for 2016.

Although online education gives students unrivaled flexibility in pursuing a degree program, it is not right for everyone. Online education requires self-discipline and a set of study skills that some students on first attending college may lack. For this reason, we have supplemented this ranking with our highly informative “Savvy Student’s Guide to Online Colleges and Online Education” .

Distance learning allows students from around the globe to earn a college degree from the comfort of their own homes. If you are constrained by work or family obligations, online learning offers a level of flexibility that a campus-based school can not provide. What's more, most colleges and universities are now accredited through higher education agencies and the U.S. Department of Education has put an end to "diploma mills", so your online college education is now held to the same standards as most traditional learning institutions.

Online University allows you to take your classes through the online learning platform, allowing you the flexibility to learn anywhere, at any time. You have the support you need from your professors and our dedicated staff, who work with you from admissions through graduation and beyond. In addition, your core team of Academic Advisors, dedicated to helping your navigate your academic career, can work with you to develop a plan of study, select your classes, act as a resource and support you, and more.


This is a ranking of the top 30 best online colleges. These institutions have distinguished themselves by embracing online education and excelling at it. Each college and university offers at least five undergraduate and graduate degree programs. All are regionally accredited, and most are also accredited by the DETC (Distance Education Training Council). Readers should be aware that a low score in this ranking doesn’t mean the quality of the school is low overall; it’s just lower compared the rest of the top 30 online colleges. Note that the majority of the more than 150 accredited online colleges didn’t register a single point in this ranking system. The ranking methodology we used is shown below. Our method goes beyond many of the national online college ranking models in that it factors graduation rate and return on investment.




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