Finding the Best Online University Experience in Alabama
The state of Alabama has more than 60 colleges and universities, a dozen of which are located in the capital city of Montgomery alone. Nearly 60,000 students are enrolled in Alabama’s private colleges, and close to another 250,000 are enrolled in public and state schools. As a college-bound student researching schools in Alabama the big question is: which college or university should I choose, and why? Find out more about the online college options in Alabama, get answers to frequently asked questions on tuition and learn how a college education can set you up for career success below.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for 7,521 colleges and universities so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
Must have at least one online program 1
Ranking Factors (in order of significance):
Dozens of data points were used to calculate an overall score for the four ranking factors above. For quality, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with quality being the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings.
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
Tuition displayed is in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
There are a variety of extra amenities a college can offer that may make or break the college experience, and schools in Alabama have many special qualifications that set them apart from the competition. Some students may want to find a college that offers 24/7 technical support like Jacksonville State University, while student-veterans may look for schools with highly-touted military benefits like the University of South Alabama. But before researching these specifics, there are some basic standards a great college needs to meet in order to be considered one of the best places to receive an online education in Alabama. Take a look at our list of these schools and their qualifications below:
Many schools also offer a listing of their online program selections on their website, such as the University of Alabama Bama by Distance program page. There are many schools in Alabama known for offering a broad range of undergraduate degrees, including academic certificates, pre-professional degrees or minors online, like the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This type of school can be a great option for those who may not necessarily know what career paths they would like to take.
Which online schools in Alabama will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?
Whether online universities in Alabama accept students’ transfer credits or work/life experience is decided case by case. The criteria for qualifying for these benefits are extremely specific.
For example, the University of Alabama has a LifeTrack program where students can transfer credits from other institutions that are accredited, as well as earn credits through previous learning portfolios. In addition, multiple Alabama Community College System institutions accept life experience and transfer credits toward degrees.
How Much More Do College Grads in Alabama Make?
Students constantly hear that earning a college degree will lead to higher salaries long-term, and statistics show this to be true in the state of Alabama. Here’s a look at the average pay that professionals in Alabama earn based on career and industry degree level requirements.
One discrepancy to the general uptick in salary for jobs requiring advanced degrees in Alabama are those at the master’s degree level—careers that require a master’s level education tend to pay slightly less per year than those that only require a bachelor’s degree. However, Alabama residents who work in jobs that require a doctoral or professional degree may make $80,000 more per year than their peers working in jobs that require no formal education, and roughly $40,000 more than those working in fields and industries that require a bachelor’s degree.
College Education & Career Trends in Alabama
Sectors oriented towards social assistance and health care have witnessed especially high-demand over the past several years in Alabama, along with sales occupations, food preparation and service, administrative office support and waste management.
The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Alabama
As students in Alabama seek a more flexible way to earn a college degree, they should be aware they do not have to sacrifice quality for convenience. It is critical that students choose schools that are regionally or nationally accredited, as accreditation demonstrates a college’s commitment to keeping up with rigorous academic quality standards.
Accreditation varies by school, and Alabama’s colleges and universities carry a variety of accreditations, most often on the regional or national level. For example, Alabama A & M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, or the SACS/CC. The SACS/CC is the regional accreditation body for Alabama and accredits both traditional programs and online programs at colleges and universities in the state.
Some colleges in Alabama may not necessarily be regionally accredited but instead might be nationally accredited. For instance, Columbia Southern University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or the DEAC.
These figures do not include room and board or cost differences for out-of-state students. The cost-per-credit for online students may be the same, whether a student is from Alabama or another state, but regulations vary by college and university. Here are some examples in Alabama:
Flat Online Cost Per Credit: The University of West Alabama’s advertises online costs per credit as the same, no matter where an online student is located.
Alabama residents may want to look into a program called the Academic Common Market, which is a product of the Southern Regional Education Board and gives the state’s residents access to various degrees at out-of-state schools for in-state tuition rates. Through this program, Alabama students can take advantage of degree programs in 15 southern states and pay in-state tuition rates.
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about paying for online colleges in Alabama.
What are Alabama’s requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?
In Alabama, students must have lived in the state for a minimum of one year before they can be deemed residents. In addition, Alabama residents who move to other states are no longer considered to be state residents.
Moving to Alabama just to attend school in the state will not enable a student to qualify for state residency. However, if a student works for 90 days or more in Alabama before submitting an application for school, this student is deemed a resident of Alabama for the purpose of tuition; however, temporary work doesn’t count.
Most importantly: Online students in Alabama should learn whether or not their school of choice requires residency to receive in-state tuition rates for online programs.
Are online credits more affordable in Alabama than other places?
How can I get help paying for online college in Alabama?
Students who are interested in studying at online colleges in Alabama may need a little help with covering the cost of their degree programs. In addition to taking advantage of federal financial aid (FAFSA), they can take advantage of scholarships. Here are a few scholarships available to prospective online college students in Alabama.
MetLife Foundation Scholarship: Students in Alabama who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in certain areas are eligible for this $2,000 scholarship. The degree areas they must be pursuing range from sales and marketing to mechanization and plant pathology.
William Verbon Black Scholarship: This scholarship is available through the Alabama Law Foundation. Priority for this scholarship goes to Alabama residents who are high academic achievers and possess a strong track record of civic involvement.
Every prospective college student comes into their higher education journey at a different starting point. One initiative that compliments a college or university education in Alabama are Adult Education programs and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Adult Education programs can be useful for:
Bridging the transition to earning a college degree. Alabama community colleges often host Adult Education programs to prepare college-bound students with Transition Programs or GED Exam courses.
Transferring to a 4-year college.Educational Opportunity Centers provide college counseling services for Alabama students who want to advance their education.
Earning work experience after graduation. The Alabama Works! program helps many recent college grads obtain the entry-level work experience they need to move into more competitive jobs.