Although enrollment in online degree programs has continued to tick upwards during the past decade, it has recently slowed in the past few years. However, both public and private not-for-profit colleges and universities continue to experience respectable increases. From 2012 - 2013, research from the Babson Institute shows that enrollment in online classes rose nearly 5 percent at public institutions and almost 13 percent for private nonprofits. Here’s a closer look at the growth numbers by volume for online learners by institution type in 2013.


Best known for their dominant athletics, the University of Alabama is much more than just an athletics school. Considered one of the best schools, if not the best, in the state of Alabama, The University of Alabama has a long reputation for helping educate students that go on to do great things. The same can be said about Alabama's online school. One of the best online schools in the nation, Alabama's distance learning program offers the same high-quality, accredited education that they do on campus. Along with that, the distance learning program gives students - including military personnel and adults - the chance to study at their own pace and freedom. Alabama offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees through their online school, so students at all levels can find something to fit their needs.
Webster University offers online programs at the certificate, baccalaureate, and graduate level, all of which vary through several fields of study. Students taking online classes will be able to construct their own schedules and complete their coursework at their own pace. Further freedom of schedule is available for students completing their work part-time. Students also have the choice of completing their classes in a hybrid format, splitting their academic time between home and the Webster University campus. Online students will also be provided with all necessary student services to secure their success, including career counseling and tech services.
With over 200 degree programs offered online by Southern New Hampshire University, it’s easy to see why many consider it one of the best online colleges for students looking to improve their careers. Each online degree program is designed to help students improve or change their current professional position. With the aid of affordable tuition and the flexibility to study at their own pace, students find that SNHU not only meets their expectations, but offers more than they thought an online school might: they also get access to the large SNHU alumni network, which can help them secure a new job after graduation. SNHU is among the best online schools in terms of services available to virtual students, which include an online library, tutoring and around-the-clock support.
Even though online students may never set foot on campus doesn’t mean they don’t have access to the same support and student resources. Regardless if the student is on-campus or online, nonprofit colleges traditionally offer an array of resources to their students, ranging from libraries to access to laboratories. Below is a list of commonly offered support services for online students at nonprofit colleges:
Cornell University offers two fully-online degree programs at present. These are a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering and a Master of Human Resource Management. The Master of Engineering is offered year-round in a self-paced format and the Master of Human Resource Management is an executive program that is only available over the summer. Both programs can be completed in a relatively short timeframe and are designed to meet the needs of a working adult. There are more than 70 certificate programs you can complete online at Cornell, spanning 16 different fields. In addition to this, the university also operates eCornell, their online counterpart that provides students with various certificates and professional development courses entirely online but not directly through the university.
The United States Military Academy, which is most commonly known as West Point, accepts 10% of applicants every year, all of whom receive free tuition, room, and board. The goal of the USMA is to create strong leaders within the military, and, in doing so, provides their students with rigorous training and education programs from day one. Students are encouraged to create a unified and supportive environment for one another in the more than 40 academic majors available. Some of the most popular degree programs at West Point include Business Administration and Management, Mechanical Engineering, and Systems Engineering. This free college provides a well-disciplined, academically challenging, and highly supportive learning environment, all of which takes place on a gorgeous campus with Norman-style academic buildings and residence halls and is situated north of New York City on the western bank of the Hudson River.
To ensure the best possible outcomes for your education program, the online degree program you choose should be accredited by either one of the six primary regional accrediting boards, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or an accrediting board that specializes in education programs. Examples of these programmatic accrediting agencies include the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
The University of Illinois at Springfield has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best online colleges for its bachelor's programs, as well as its MBA. Part of what makes the University of Illinois at Springfield a good choice is its partnerships with numerous community colleges, which allows students to easily transition from associate's degree programs to higher-level degrees. In addition, there are 2+2 Agreements that give students the opportunity to begin their bachelor's degree programs as they're still working on their associate's degree. And once students do transition into the school, they can earn a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees. For example, the college has bachelor's degrees in history, psychology, math, computer science, and philosophy, as well as master's degrees in education, public health, legal studies, political science, and data analytics.
For those who want to build a career revolving around the written word, a degree in Journalism is an excellent way to share your skills with the world! Whether you work within traditional publication settings or lead an organization’s public relations or marketing efforts, the skills that you learn throughout the course of your Journalism degree program open the door to a number of exciting, lucrative careers!.
Presbyterian College, a Christian institution based in Clinton, S.C., with a reputation for academic rigor, offers a large array of programs online. The school’s ethos is around educating the whole person, which translates into an emphasis on critical thinking and communication in its online courses. Courses are offered in a number of different areas, including unique language courses like Greek and Hebrew. The school’s undergraduate offerings include degrees across 42 majors and nine pre-professional programs, while its graduate school focuses on medical fields. While many students enroll at Presby because it’s one of the best colleges for a Christian-based education, there are numerous courses unrelated to the Bible or theology. Regardless of a prospective student’s religious background, the online courses offered at Presbyterian College are carefully constructed to give all students the knowledge they need for their professional career.
A fully online format versus a hybrid format is another important consideration. Hybrid learning requires students to participate in on-site trainings, group work, and other activities that take them away from their computer. These components foster social interaction but may not be ideal for students with busy schedules. Fully online programs do not offer the same level of personal interaction but are more suitable for students with full-time jobs, childcare duties, and other time-consuming commitments.
Kansas State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and an online Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Admission for both freshmen and transfer students requires a 2.0 GPA, and up to 60 credits may be transferred. The 56 credit Elementary Education program focuses on teaching K-6 in school settings. Graduates become eligible for a Kansas Initial Teaching License. Students must declare a 15 credit minor in a subject such as English or math. The 61 credit Early Childhood program centers on teaching birth to K, and working with families, daycare and related agencies. Courses in the programs include Classroom Assessment, Emerging Literacy and Behavioral Management. Online tuition through K-State Global is $436.40 per credit.
The University of Southern Mississippi began as a small teacher's school, but over time it has grown into a successful university that offers various degree programs. One thing of note about USM is that their online college is considered to be the best online college in the nation in terms of affordability. Via the online schools, students are able to study toward many of the degrees that USM offers on-campus. There are dozens of online degrees offered at different levels, all of which are accredited. The graduate programs make up the bulk of USM's online degrees, many of which are related to the field of education, going back to the school's roots. Undergraduate degrees and certificates are also available online, as are doctoral degrees.
Dallas Baptist University is a private Christian liberal arts school that offers online degrees for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to degrees in biblical studies and Christian ministries, those seeking an online bachelor's can choose from subjects including psychology, sociology, healthcare management, and eight business disciplines. The school's 15 online master's degrees include six tracks for aspiring teachers, six ministry pathways, and an MBA with concentration options.
Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville Tennessee. It is most widely recognized for its research, continually coming in among the top 20 universities in the nation. It has the largest academic facility dedicated to studying the effect of radiation. Vanderbilt also has more unique research initiatives; their chemical biology department is on track to breeding a blue rose, they have extensive research departments on coffee, and the card game of Bridge. Interestingly, the modern form of the game was developed by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, great-grandson to Cornelius Vanderbilt.
The cost of a college degree can vary wildly as well. It's no secret that tuition prices have skyrocketed in the last few decades. Online degrees aren't necessarily cheaper than traditional on-campus degree programs, but choosing an online degree program can save you money in commuting costs and materials, and most importantly, give you the flexibility to work while you earn your degree more easily than if you had to take classes in-person.
Whether someone is a veteran or currently in active service, Davenport University is among the best online colleges students in the military can choose. This military-friendly school allows students to get credit for their work experience, as well as easily take a leave of absence if they are deployed. In addition, the online school offers military student support services, such as counseling, tutoring, and a system to conveniently find information from the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense. For the civilian, Davenport University also offers services to online students including technical support and guidance about coursework. On the graduate level, students can earn online certificates in forensic accounting, health care management, strategic management, and internal auditing, and master's degrees in management, business administration, and accountancy.
In addition to online-only pathways, the school offers many of the university's bachelor's programs in a blended format. Some of these tracks follow CityU's Regional Cohort Model, enabling degree seekers to take the same online and onsite courses with the same group of students based on their geographical area. Bachelor's programs span at least 180 credits, and students typically complete their requirements within four years.

The tuition is entirely free for all students that meet only three requirements, which are: a high school diploma or equivalent, proficiency in the English language, and 18 years of age or older. There is a registration fee of $60 per student, as well as a $100 fee for each end-of-course exam a student is required to take in the undergraduate programs, and a $200 fee for each exam in the MBA program. The total cost of an Associate’s degree is $2000 (20 exams), a Bachelor’s degree $4000 (40 exams), and for the MBA the total cost is $2460 (12 exams). There are also scholarships and grants available for eligible students who cannot afford the nominal processing fees of the university.


Depending on the state and grade level the student intends to instruct, the bachelor's degree may be sufficient to launch a teaching career. In some states, secondary school teachers are required to complete graduate training. Private schools set their own standards for teachers, and a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for employment in certain schools. Prospective teachers should investigate their state's teaching licensure procedures to understand the rules that apply to them.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington features an online Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. The program focus is on developing professional competency for teaching and school leadership. It will result in North Carolina licensure to teach K-6. Admission requires a minimum of 24 credits with a 2.5 GPA. In addition to the core curriculum, an 18 hour concentration is required, chosen from science and health, fine arts, ESL, international studies, math, and technology. The field requirements include some on-campus practicums and the student teaching must be done in North Carolina. Classes in the program include Teaching Diverse Learners K-6, Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction K-6, and Psychological Foundations of Teaching. Online tuition for state residents is $150.10 per credit and $625.27 per credit for nonresidents.
Graduate degree programs provide highly advanced education in education administration. A master’s degree program in educational leadership offers aspiring principals, deans, and other administrators an opportunity to further develop their professional skills and prepares them to effectively manage the way a school operates. Educational leadership doctorates introduce current educators to advanced theories in educational psychology, educational leadership and public relations, school law, and leadership ethics.
Colorado State University is seen as one of the best online schools in Colorado to earn a master’s degree. Each master’s degree is taught by experienced faculty that understands what students need to know to succeed after college. Also, graduate students can study at their own pace, great for students who are working. But education goes well beyond the degree, and CSU’s online school offers plenty of supplemental courses to help students get the education they want and need. Free courses are offered entirely online, and students can also work on their soft skills, which help in day-to-day professional life after school. Bachelor’s degree programs are offered entirely online as well. With their various resources, Colorado State is among the best online colleges for earning an all-around education.
Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in today's classrooms. Everyone from kindergarten through graduate school is enjoying the benefits of computers, presentational technology, and new programs in the classroom. Some of the best teachers in today's classes are skilled at incorporating new forms of technology to enhance student learning, whether it be computer programs, tablets, or podcasts. Technology has become so important in today's classrooms that there are entire degree programs dedicated to creating new ways of including technology in one's teaching style. Both current and aspiring teachers can benefit from learning about instructional technology in a formalized degree setting. 
Even though one big advantage of an online college or university is the fact that you can take courses anywhere in the world, most online students take classes from a school within 100 miles of where they live. Online programs offer a great deal of flexibility, but enrolling in an online degree program close to your home can offer some big advantages. If you enroll in an online program close to home, you can save money with in-state tuition, easily access campus resources like libraries, gyms or in-person office hours with professors, and you can access hybrid programs, which require you to spend some time on campus in addition to online curriculum.
Saint Leo University’s online program is designed to help nontraditional adult learners succeed by making higher education more accessible. In the virtual classroom, students will receive a comprehensive education in their field of choice that are taught by dedicated instructors who are trained specifically to teach online courses. While the school was built with Catholic roots, online learners are welcomed into this learning community regardless of their religious affiliation. Before beginning their online courses, students may also receive a free e-book that contains tips to succeed in an online learning environment.
After confirming accreditation, it can still be difficult to weigh the value and quality of one online college over another. Keep in mind that regardless of whether a program is offered online or on campus, all regionally accredited programs in the U.S. are held to the same academic and professional standards. These standards also extend to the full-time faculty and adjunct professors that schools hire.
Online education should be available to anyone with access to the internet, something that Pennsylvania State’s World Campus understands. Created 20 years ago for students that couldn’t commute to campus, the World Campus has grown into one of the best online colleges for international students. Students from around the world, including military members, can choose from the over 150 degrees and certificates offered, all of which are designed to give students the knowledge they need to succeed in their future careers. As with most online schools, Penn State has many options for those pursuing a master’s degree. However, there are also plenty of online bachelor’s degrees offered as well. With the size and scope of the program, it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the best online schools for students at all levels.
Once you know what degree level you want to pursue, think carefully about what majors will have the biggest impact on your current career or future job prospects. Different majors teach different skills and have different points of emphasis. Multiple studies have shown that what you study has a bigger impact on future earning potential than where you go to school.
Mayville State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education, and two online Bachelor of Science in Education (BSED) degrees: one in Mathematics Education and one in Special Education. All programs reflect Mayville's concept of "the Reflective Experiential Teacher." Freshman admission requires a diploma and a 2.0 GPA. Transfer students also need a 2.0 GPA. The Early Childhood program focuses on preparation for teaching and administration. It is only available in ND, MN, MT, SD and WY. The BSED Math degree is for grades 5-12 and requires a minor. The BSED Special Education program has several emphases available and is also available as a double degree. Online tuition is $295 per credit. The school is located in Mayville, North Dakota.
Fort Hays State boasts numerous accolades for its online degrees and virtual college. Several of the school's online bachelor's pathways serve as degree completion programs geared toward transfer students with an associate degree; most students complete these tracks in two years or less. Additionally, some programs carry a foreign language coursework requirement.
The Center for Online Education understands online colleges have a dynamic future as new technologies and new uses for existing tools change the way we communicate, connect, and collaborate. In the coming years, virtual reality, blended program delivery, makerspaces, predictive learning platforms, gigabit Internet speeds, and other emerging technologies will push the limits of what was once thought possible at online colleges. Social media and networking sites will continue to impact online teaching and learning, providing a virtual space for authentic interaction, relationship building, and participation in professional communities. Our in-house team, and panel of contributors, are all graduates of accredited colleges and are here to help inform your online college journey.

At Indiana Wesleyan University, students can receive an affordable and convenient education via the school’s online degree programs. By taking advantage of one of Indiana Wesleyan’s online programs, students will be able to complete their academics at a pace with which they are comfortable. Just like their on-campus peers, online students have several opportunities to receive financial aid to make earning a college education a less stressful pursuit. Online students will also receive all necessary support from the Indiana Wesleyan University faculty and staff. Faculty members have several years of experience in teaching online courses and are prepared to help all incoming online students reach their goals. IWU offers all students a generous credit transfer policy and has degree completion programs which can help students finish their bachelor’s degrees in as little as 10 months.
Economists may work for federal, state, or local governments, research firms, international organizations, or think tanks, using their skills in quantitative and qualitative analysis to study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services. Relied upon for information from industries, governments, and individuals, these vital professionals use historical trends to forecast future economic events and market trends. Some economists may specialize in a certain area, including product costs, energy, employment levels, exchange rates, inflation, or taxes. A typical office-environment work day for an economist includes gathering data, performing various analyses, and developing solutions or offering advice in response to findings.
The University of Maine was founded in 1865 along the Stillwater River in Orono, ME. Current enrollment includes 9,279 undergraduates and 1,961 graduate students. The university offers 90 undergraduate programs, 85 master's degree programs, and 35 doctorates at its flagship campus and online. It was ranked among the 50 Green Colleges by The Princeton Review and hosts one of the best online schools in Maine. In fact, UMaine Online offers two undergraduate degrees, 16 master's and doctoral degrees, and 15 graduate certificate programs. There are eight education graduate degrees online, along with in-demand MBA and social work master's programs. Online doctorates are available in biomedicine (engineering and science).
A central reason for the increasing demand for online education is flexibility. Whether the student is seeking to go back to school, is a recent high school graduate that wants to attend a college in another state, or is a career advancer who wants to pursue a graduate degree, online college allows them to complete an education on their own terms. Online education helps students to craft a schedule that fits their lives, which is typically not possible in the traditional classroom. School can be woven into the student’s working and home lives instead of the other way around, making online classes the number one option for many in pursuit of a higher education.

Many online undergraduates at Northeastern collaborate with sponsoring organizations to complete an immersive six-week project. Working students, on the other hand, may partner with their employer to tackle a capstone project that addresses a key need or issue in their professional field. The university also offers a co-op program that allows students to work in a paid position related to their major field for up to six months.
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