Online College Reviews
The Best Online Colleges
We compiled a list of 493 top online colleges and selected the best online colleges to review based on 50 different features and statistics.
What online college features matter and why
Degrees refers to the types of online degrees offered by the university. All of the top online colleges provide access to at least one online bachelor’s degree, and a minimum of one highly-ranked master’s degree. Some of the best online colleges even allow students to earn a doctorate degree entirely online. Degrees is an important category because it allows those interested in pursuing online education to immediately see if a school offers the type of degree they are seeking.
Most common degrees
- Bachelor’s – At least one bachelor’s degree program is offered.
- Doctorate – At least one doctorate degree program is offered.
- Graduate – At least one graduate degree program is offered.
Financial Aid identifies the opportunities for online students to get financial assistance. In most cases, online students will have the same opportunities for financial aid as traditional on-campus students. The most common form of financial aid is federal student loans, which are offered by all of the top online schools. The best schools also offer a variety of scholarships, grants, and other institutional aid. Financial Aid is a fairly important category, as most students need some form of assistance to help pay for tuition, books, and other expenses associated with earning a degree.
Most common forms of financial aid
- Federal Student Loans – Federal student loans are available to qualified students.
- Grants – Grants are available to qualified students.
- Institutional Aid – Institutional aid is available to qualified students.
- Scholarships – Scholarships are available to qualified students.
Networking outlines some of the major ways the school helps students connect with each other and with employment opportunities. Most schools provide career services where students can get assistance with resumes, conduct practice interviews, and get connected with employers interested in hiring new graduates. Networking is one of the most common ways that people find jobs, and the top universities have active alumni communities and a strong social network presence to help facilitate student connections. Networking is an important category because it plays a significant role in helping students stay connected and find employment.
Most important networking features
- 4,000+ LinkedIn Group Members – The school has a LinkedIn group with 4,000 members or more.
- Alumni Association – The school has an alumni association.
- Career Services – Students and graduates have access to job placement or career services.
- Facebook Network – The school has a Facebook network of alumni, faculty, and students.
- LinkedIn Network – The school has a LinkedIn group for alumni, faculty, and current students.
Reputation takes a look at how the university and the online programs are perceived. The most reputable online colleges are competitively ranked in source like The Princeton Review, Times Higher Education, Forbes, and the U.S. News & World Report. Since there are so many questionable online colleges in the industry, those interested in receiving an education online should be careful to select a school that is known for delivering a quality education. Attending a respected university can also be beneficial when it comes time to look for employment.
Most important reputation features
- 10+ Years of Online Education – At least one program has been taught online for ten years or more.
- Forbes – The university offering the online education is ranked in the top 100 of Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges.
- Princeton Review – The university offering the online education is listed in the Princeton Review Best 377 Colleges 2013.
- Times Higher Education – Top 100 Ranking – The university offering the online education is listed in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
- Times Higher Education – Top 100 Reputation – The university offering the online education is ranked in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.
- U.S. News Bachelor’s Top 100 – The school is ranked in the top 100 for online bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News and World Report.
- U.S. News Graduate Top 25 – At least one online graduate program is ranked in the top 25 by U.S. News and World Report.
Student Services refers to the resources provided by the university that are designed to help guide and assist online students throughout their academic career. Academic advising can help students determine which field of study to pursue, and ensure their schedules are optimized each semester. Most schools provide access to digitized library materials, allowing online students to remotely retrieve books, articles, and other resources. The best online colleges also provide 24/7 live tech support, helping students have peace of mind that someone is always there to assist with technical issues. Online tutoring is also offered by many of the top schools, and will be especially valued by those learning challenging course material.
Most important student service features
- 24/7 Live Tech Support – 24/7 live tech support is available.
- Academic Advising – Academic advising is available.
- Digital Library – You have online access to digitized library materials.
- Online Tutoring – Online tutoring is available.
Choosing the right online college for you
With so many online colleges to choose from, it can be hard to find the one that is best for each person, especially given the fact that people are coming from so many different backgrounds. Some of the lists below can help narrow down the best schools for specific individuals, whether it’s a military member, someone who only wants a regionally accredited online college, or the person looking to find the cheapest online schools.