Accredited Online Colleges

The increase in accredited Online Colleges has altered how, when, and where students learn. If you are a busy individual who is interested in pursuing a degree, EducationConnection.com can help you find an online college. Get matched for FREE with our online college finder!

The reach of today's technology helps working adults further their aspirations through distance education. The majority of online students, in fact, work fulltime! If this sounds familiar, pursing an online degree program could allow you to pursue your educational goals while balancing other responsibilities such as work and family.

5 Benefits of Accredited Online Colleges to Explore

For students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degrees, top online colleges may offer several benefits. Among the most popular reasons today's students enroll in online degree programs are:

  1. Affordability
  2. Flexibility
  3. Rolling Admissions
  4. Accessibility
  5. Resources

Benefits of accredited online colleges

1. Affordability of Online Colleges

An online college or university can be affordable. Tuition and fees differ at each school but there are some common savings for remote learners. Online learners save on living expenses, commuter fees and sometimes, study materials. For instance, many online colleges and universities use e-books and other digital resources. Some online colleges also loan students a laptop or tablet for the duration of their program.

Top 40 Affordable Online Colleges with Annual Tuition Under $15,000i

School NameOut-of State Undergrad TuitionAward LevelsStudent Population
Taft University System$ 3,292.00Bachelors, Masters, Doctors751
Aspen University$ 4,230.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctors4,973
Shiloh University$ 4,510.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Doctors53
Columbia Southern University$ 5,415.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Doctors20,818
City Vision University$ 5,600.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters113
Western Governors University $ 5,780.00Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters98,627
Huntington College of Health Sciences$ 6,155.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctors166
Midwives College of Utah$ 6,400.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters247
Grantham University (sponsored)$ 6,540.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters9,303
American Public University System$ 6,880.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters46,420
Amridge University$ 6,900.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctors675
National Paralegal College$ 7,995.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters854
International Sports Sciences Association$ 8,325.00Associates321
Colorado State University-Global Campus (sponsored)$ 8,400.00Bachelors, Masters12,381
Sonoran Desert Institute$ 8,490.00Associates1,980
Sessions College for Professional Design$ 8,700.00Associates131
California Intercontinental University $ 9,180.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Doctors543
Trident University International$ 9,240.00Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Doctors6,982
Prince Institute-Southeast$ 9,450.00Associates10
Court Reporting Institute of St Louis$ 9,600.00Associates202
American Sentinel University$ 9,600.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Doctors2,637
Catholic Distance University$ 10,175.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters187
Charter Oak State College$ 10,437.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters1,500
Northcentral University (sponsored)$ 10,680.00Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Post-Masters Certificate, Doctors10,788
American College of Healthcare Sciences$ 10,800.00Associates, Post baccalaureate, Masters663
American InterContinental University-Online (sponsored)$ 10,992.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters9,699
Ashford University (sponsored)$ 11,248.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters36,453
Colorado Technical University - Colorado springs (sponsored)$ 11,689.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctors25,517
Remington College-Heathrow Campus$ 11,901.00Associates, Bachelors267
Ottawa University-Online$ 11,976.00Bachelors, Masters193
New England College of Business and Finance$ 12,040.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters1,175
Florida Institute of Technology-Online$ 12,240.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters2,537
Walden University (sponsored)$ 12,465.00Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Post-Masters Certificate, Doctors49,680
Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute$ 13,150.00Bachelors, Masters468
South University–Savannah Online (sponsored)$ 13,354.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Post-Masters Certificate, Doctors7,575
Johnson & Wales University-Online$ 13,365.00Bachelors, Masters1,172
Argosy University , Phoenix$ 13,438.00Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctors5,791
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus (sponsored)$ 13,988.00Associates, Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Doctors14,301
Capella University$ 14,250.00Bachelors, Post baccalaureate, Masters, Post-Masters Certificate, Doctors36,284
Bryant & Stratton College-Online$ 14,383.00Associates, Bachelors4,114
i) Annual tuition for all schools provided from the National Center for Education Statistics: nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/.

2. Flexibility of Online Colleges

The traditional on-campus study asks students to show up for class at set times. Often, these hours compete with other duties. By comparison, many online colleges and universities allow students the flexibility to schedule themselves. There are two types of online learning formats.

  1. Synchronous: Synchronous learning is also referred to as real-time learning. This means online students and instructors are present at the same time. This typically includes live discussions, group projects and lectures.
  2. Asynchronous: Asynchronous learning is also referred to as self-paced learning. This means an online student logs in to an online learning platform that is usually available 24/7. This course management system creates a virtual classroom where interactions, readings and assignments are accessible whenever the student is ready.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning

 SynchronousAsynchronous
When the classes take placeAt a pre-determined structured timeAt the student's convenience
Tools & methods used
  • Web conferencing to be able to present and share information
  • Instant messaging to take part in quick, real-time dialogues
  • Video conferencing to conduct in-person meetings and simulate being in class
  • Audio conferencing for student - instructor discussions and meetings
  • Online whiteboard to share ideas and for team projects
  • Emails to correspond with participants and instructors
  • Instructional material delivered via streaming audio and video
  • Discussion boards to encourage class discussion and feedback
  • Web-based applications such as modules and exercises
  • Wikis for collaborative editing
  • Play, pause and stop buttons
May suit students who have the following characteristics
  • Like collaboration
  • Want to enhance interpersonal communication skills
  •  Organized
  • Motivated
  • Enjoy peer-to-peer interaction
  • Prefer to see and hear a professor
  • Self-directed
  • Have good time management skills
  • Prefer scheduled learning pace
  • Disciplined
  • Self-motivated
  • Goal and task oriented
  • Want the ability to pause, rewind or fast-forward course content
  • Have time management skills
  • Are an independent learner
  • Appreciate and/or need a flexible timetable

Making the Decision Between Self-Paced and Real-Time

Any academic commitment asks prospective students to assess whether the online program’s format meets their:

  • Lifestyle/Time Needs
  • Learning Style
  • Academic and/or Career Goals

Playing to your strengths may help you complete your degree on time and with great success. When in doubt, an academic advisor from the online school you want to attend may

3. Accessibility of Online Colleges

Do you strive for a career boost but can’t make it a local campus? At accredited online colleges, convenience replaces commute time. Instead of traveling to school, your online college courses are transmitted through the Internet. No longer is it necessary to put a career on hold or struggle to balance family duties.

In fact, research shows that a whopping 92 percent of distance learners enroll in an online college for career-related reasons. Additionally, the same study shows that nearly 80 percent of online learners reside within 100 miles of a campus or center operated by the institution in which they are enrolled. This means you may still be able to attend your local university from home.

The wide breadth of online programs now available also makes it easier for working adults to earn their degree in exactly the major they wish to pursue. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the top 5 online undergraduate fields of study are:

  1. Business / Management
  2. Information Science
  3. Social / Behavioral Sciences 
  4. Health
  5. Education 

Also according to the NCES 5.2% of online undergraduate students have not declared a major! So if you are not sure what you want to pursue yet, simply enroll in a general Liberal Arts program.

4. Rolling Admissions

Rolling admissions policies enable online schools to consider applications year-round. In the same vein, rolling start dates permit students to select when they begin their program. Both features may appeal if their schedule doesn't synch with a traditional school year.

5. Resources

Established campuses usually provide the same services to on-ground and online students alike. Yet, the absence of a physical building does not mean there are no resources for those who study from a distance.

Many accredited online universities and colleges do have support services in place. Doing ‘due diligence’ ahead of time helps you understand what the resources are and how to use them. See below for a list of possibilities.

  • Orientation for online students
  • Web-based learning management systems (e.g. Blackboard)
  • Tech support for online students
  • Inter-library loan system
  • E-libraries and digital textbooks
  • Online student advising
  • Counseling services
  • Academic tutoring and writing programs

Are Online Colleges Respected?

Respected colleges and universities do offer online degree programs. However, there could be some disreputable programs out there, so it is still important to be a careful consumer. You should evaluate programs based on factors such as accreditation, the availability of support services, and statistics such as retention and graduation rates.

When evaluating online colleges, take the time to talk to representatives from the program and learn more about the kinds of opportunities recent graduates have pursued. Still concerned? Well here is some additional research conducted by Aslanian Market Research on student stratification:

  • About 60% of undergraduate students report being completely satisfied with their investment of time and money.
  • 70% of graduate students report being completely satisfied with their investment of time and money.
  • Almost 90% of online students surveyed report that online study was equal to or better than classroom study. 

Reputable Online Universities & Accreditation

To calm any lingering doubt about an online college’s reputation, students should verify it's accreditation. Like any other educational institution, the best online colleges achieve their accreditation status by submitting to an approved agency's review. These accrediting agencies require that it's member institutions meet comprehensive standards of education in an ethical manner.

There are two types of main accreditation, regional and national. Most schools are regionally accredited. It is also important to note that regionally accredited institutions usually do not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools.

Regional vs National College Accreditation

 RegionalNational
Focus of AccreditationAcademicsTypically offer vocational, career or technical programs
Who Belongs?Both non-profit and for profit universities hold regional accreditationTypically for-profit schools
Recognized by the Department of Education?YesYes
Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)?YesYes
Accrediting Agencies
  • Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Northwest Commission of Schools & Colleges (NWCCU)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS)
  • Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges(ACCSC)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training ACCET)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools(ACICS)
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education
  • Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools
  • Council on Occupational Education(COE)
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission(DEAC)
  • Association of Institutions of Jewish Studies
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools
  • New York State Board of Regents

Programmatic Accreditation

What is programmatic accreditation? Program accreditation comes from an external agency that sets standards for specific professions. Nursing, engineering, accounting and psychology are some instances where program accreditation may be important. A specialized accreditation is not a replacement for regional or national accreditation, it is in addition to. While a regional accreditation evaluates a university as a whole, a professional accreditation evaluates a specific program.

Do Online Colleges Accept Anyone?

Yes, there are some accredited online colleges that accept anyone who applies. There are also many more online colleges do have high acceptance rates. It is important to note though, that each online college has its own admissions standards and acceptance rates.

A high acceptance rate is not necessarily an indication of quality. In an online environment, there are no building or other physical classroom restraints, this may allow for some schools to offer unlimited attendance.

Criteria for admittance to an online program may also be simpler, thus allowing more students to take advantage. For example, many traditional schools require SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendations, specific GPAs. There are online schools which waive some of these criteria.

Below are five online colleges that we partner with that accept low GPAs:

  1. Colorado State University-Global Campus: 2.3
  2. Argosy University: 2.0
  3. Ashford University: 2.0 for graduate programs

Learn More About Online Colleges