Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools
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.
This guide covers important information for prospective Alabama students, including financing options, online learning opportunities, and student resources.
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How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in Alabama?
Prospective Alabama students can take advantage of several resources to find the right program for their needs, such as the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), which provides a school and program search and an interactive map. Students can also click the search icon below to learn about Alabama schools and programs.
How Much More Do College Grads in Alabama Make?
Postsecondary degree graduates typically qualify for more jobs and earn higher salaries than professionals without a postsecondary degree. Across the country, wages increase with the level of education, according to the BLS.
Annual Nationwide Salaries for Levels of Education.
|Degree Level||Average Tuition|
|Less than High School||$28,756|
|High School (GED)||$$37,960|
Paying for Online College in Alabama: Tuition and Financial Aid
Higher education costs represent one of the biggest concerns for students. State and federal funding still sit lower than pre-2008 levels, with Alabama ranking as one of the lowest-funded states in the country. However, students can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities to help fund their education. The following tables outline how Alabama's public and private tuition rates compare to national averages.
Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Public Colleges and Universities
|Tuition Type||Average Tuition|
Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Private Colleges and Universities
|Tuition Type||Average Tuition|
Cost Considerations for Online Students in Alabama
Attending a college or university comes with costs beyond tuition. The following list outlines the additional expenses that prospective students should consider when weighing the overall cost of a degree.
- Textbook Fees
- Depending on the program, textbooks, and other course materials may require a significant financial investment. While online programs often reduce these costs through the use of digital books, students should still research average textbook costs prior to enrolling.
- Technology Fees
- Technology fees vary by program, which may include new technology, software access, and program administration fees.
- Distance Education Fees
- Though many programs offer discounts for online learners, some programs include distance education fees to cover the costs of online course administration.
- Residency Costs
- Students should research the residency costs and discounts of prospective programs. Some programs offer tuition discounts to in-state students, while others allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of where they live.
- Travel Costs
- Distance students should consider travel costs associated with any on-campus requirements, such as residencies and clinicals, when weighing programs.
Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Alabama
According to ACHE, Alabama higher education students can receive in-state tuition if they live within 50 miles of a state campus. However, some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Since many schools feature unique residency requirements, students should research the requirements of each prospective school.
Paying for College in Alabama: Scholarships and Financial Aid
Alabama students benefit from a variety of financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships, grants, and loans. Grants and scholarships are among the most attractive opportunities as, unlike loans, they do not require repayment. The following lists outline several scholarship and grant opportunities for Alabama students.
Scholarships for Alabama College Students
Who Can Apply: Designed for Alabama residents attending a state program, high school graduates with a minimum 2.75 GPA who demonstrate financial need qualify for this award.
Who Can Apply: Presented by the Lily Heflin scholarship committee, female applicants who plan to attend a four-year program in Alabama qualify for this opportunity. Candidates who maintain a strong GPA may be eligible to renew the award.
Who Can Apply: Presented to gay and lesbian undergraduate students who reside and attend school in Alabama, this scholarship requires applicants to submit an essay covering their background and goals.
Who Can Apply: Students from any Alabama state college who demonstrate academic proficiency qualify for this award. Though not mandatory, in-state residents receive preference.
Who Can Apply: Alabama students who demonstrate athletic interest and ability qualify for this award. Eligibility and renewability may require continued involvement with athletics.
Grants for Alabama College Students
Who Can Apply: Alabama residents attending participating institutions as undergraduates qualify for this grant.
Amount: Up to $1,200/year
Who Can Apply: Alabama residents attending participating institutions who complete a Free Application for Student Aid qualify for this grant.
Amount: Up to $5,000/year
Who Can Apply: Spouses and dependents of police officers and firefighters who were killed in the line of duty qualify for this grant. Recipients must be attending a qualifying Alabama institution.
Who Can Apply: Available to students over the age of 60, this program offers free tuition for Alabama residents who attend a participating two-year Alabama institution.
Who Can Apply: Alabama students who demonstrate financial need, attend a participating Alabama school, and reside in the state qualify for this grant.
Amount: Up to $5,000
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Alabama
Students should consider accreditation status when researching prospective schools. Accreditation expands employment, education, and financial aid opportunities and indicates that a school meets high academic standards.
Schools may receive regional or national accreditation. For-profit and career-focused schools typically receive national accreditation, while degree-granting institutions receive regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Governed by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), six agencies oversee regional accreditation depending on a school's location. In Alabama, accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.\n
Programs within a school may receive subject-specific or programmatic accreditation. Like regional accreditation, programmatic accreditation may expand employment and licensure opportunities and indicates that a program meets high academic standards.\n
To discover a school or program's accreditation status, students can search the school's website, the CHEA database, or the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.\n
Online College and Adult Education in Alabama
Online learning allows students to attend top programs across the country without relocating. Additionally, the flexibility of an online format lets students balance their studies with work and family obligations. Online students may also receive tuition discounts, such as access to in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live.
By the Numbers: Adult Education in Alabama
Since 2012, the percentage of online students has steadily risen.
Approximately 37% of Alabama students take at least one online course.
19% of Alabama students pursue online degrees compared to the national average of 10%.Source: Online Learning Survey
Adult Education Programs for Alabama Students
- Alabama Community College System:
The Alabama Community College System allows nontraditional learners to obtain an online GED certification or high school diploma and job training.
- Ready to Work:
Ready to Work enables nontraditional students to obtain certification that demonstrates they possess the skills and training needed to excel in the workforce. Several participating state institutions allow students to complete some of this training online.
- Bama by Distance:
Through Bama by Distance, students can take online courses from the University of Alabama. Many of the courses and programs feature asynchronous formats, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.
Online College Resources for Alabama Students
Students considering or attending online schools in Alabama can take advantage of several resources. The following resources offer information on topics like financial aid opportunities, career training, and program requirements.
- Alabama Community College System:
This site provides information on state colleges and programs, including adult education, career training, and financial aid opportunities. Visitors can also find information about obtaining GED credentials and the application requirements for specific programs.
- Alabama Commission on Higher Education:
In addition to learning about general higher education initiatives in the state, visitors to this site can find information on open education in Alabama, special programs, and financial aid opportunities.
- Alabama State University Division of Extended Learning:
Through this resource, prospective students can find information on application requirements for various online programs, online program availability, and student support services.
- Bama by Distance:
This resource offers general information about online learning in Alabama, such as financial aid opportunities and admission requirements. Visitors can also learn about online programs and course availability.
- Alabama State Department of Education:
The Alabama State Department of Education provides information on distance education initiatives and programs in the state.
Best Online Colleges in Alabama 2020
According to a state report by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, approximately 62% of Alabama jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by 2020. Though the state's educational attainment numbers lag behind the demand, the job market remains strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Alabama saw among the nation's largest job increases and unemployment decreases between 2018 and 2019. These statistics indicate abundant opportunities for Alabama residents with a postsecondary degree.
First established in 1831, the University of Alabama supports the next generation of students by offering a variety of online and blended programs. Choose from degrees in a range of fields such as criminal justice, business administration, marketing, journalism, hospitality management, nursing and education. Most undergraduate programs require about 120 credit hours for completion, while many master's degree programs require 30-36. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSOC).
The University of Alabama at Birmingham provides a broad range of online and blended programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as academic certificates and continuing education courses. These programs are designed to help students launch or advance their careers in accounting, finance, human resource management, psychology, criminal justice, education, engineering, health care, and many other dynamic fields. Graduation requirements and the length of programs vary. For example, the Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy allows students to take 1 or 2 courses a semester, with a total of 40 credit hours needed for completion. Some programs require on-campus intensives, such as the Executive DSc in Administration-Health Services, which requires 3 8-day on-campus intensives each year, for a total of 3 years. The Oncology Nurse Practitioner subspecialty is another program that involves multi day intensives, but only two are required in this case. The university is accredited by the SACSOC.
Auburn University offers online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, which target a variety of career paths including computer science, agriculture, business, education, engineering and nutrition. Most online bachelor's programs are designed for students seeking a second degree or degree completion. Many online master's degree programs require a minimum of 30 credit hours. Online professional credit and personal enrichment programs are also available. Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
A pioneer in online learning for 20 years, Troy University provides a large number of online and blended degree programs for undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to continuing education courses and certificates. Examples of popular online programs include adult education, applied computer science, business, criminal justice and psychology. A number of concentrations are also available to allow you to specialize; examples include sports management, which is a concentration available in the hospitality, sport and tourism management bachelor's degree program, and international politics, a concentration in the political science bachelor's degree program. Specific credit requirements differ by program. Troy University is accredited by the SACSCOC.
To boost student access to quality education, the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) provides 21 online and hybrid programs for undergrads and grad students. UAH offers certificates and bachelor completion programs on up to PhDs. UAH helps prepare students for a diverse range of careers in fields such as supply chain & logistics management, elementary education, industrial engineering, cybersecurity, nursing and other in-demand fields. Some courses are 100% online, while others require some on-campus meetings. UAH is accredited by the SACSCOC.
Focused on Biblical theology and spiritual growth, Heritage Christian University teaches students how to serve in ministry. The same degrees that are offered on-campus are also available online, though distance-learning students should plan to visit campus periodically to take exams or attend other key events. Program offerings range from an Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies to a Master of Divinity. Heritage Christian University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
At Jacksonville State University (JSU), a host of degree programs are available online to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed for careers in engineering, business, computer science, criminal justice, education, emergency management, nursing and public administration, to name a few examples. Online learning at JSU is 100% web-based. Credit requirements and program length varies; for example, the M.S. in Computer Systems requires 30 credit hours, while the B.A. in Integrated Studies requires 120 credit hours. JSU is accredited by the SACSCOC.
A private university with a Christian mission, Samford University meets the needs of contemporary learners with a variety of online and blended degree programs. The school offers one online bachelor's program and 18 graduate programs, including business administration, environmental management, health administration, nutrition, public health and law, to name a few. The length and requirements of each program varies; some programs require internships or clinical experiences. Full-time and part-time options are often available. The university is accredited by the SACSCOC.
Established in 1838, a Judson College is a private Christian college that offers online bachelor's degree programs for non-traditional adult students. Although Judson's residential programs are only for women, its distance education programs are open to anyone. Each online course is self-paced and lasts 2 to 4 months. Students must complete 128 semester hours or more. Majors include business administration, criminal justice, elementary education, music and other subjects in the liberal arts. Judson is accredited by the SACSCOC.
More than 50 online degree programs are offered by the University of West Alabama, including bachelor's, master's, doctorate and certificate programs. Choose from a wide range of programs to take the next step in your career and pursue opportunities in business, communications, psychology and counseling, public safety school administration, teaching or conservation biology. The school's 8-week courses are fully online and feature smaller class sizes. Program length and requirements vary. The university is accredited by the SACSCOC.