Maryland may be small, but it has a lot to offer prospective college students. Maryland is home to over 50 colleges, 30 public and 23 private. Maryland’s state government has also been part of growing nationwide legislation aimed at providing no-cost college education to its residents. But while details and outcomes are still unclear, prospective Maryland college students are still responsible for researching which colleges provide the highest-quality, most affordable education online themselves. We’ve outlined the details on the best online colleges in Maryland, and answered tough questions on tuition costs, financial aid and transfer credits for Maryland students below.
Online universities in Maryland offer a variety of programs, including technical fields, hospitality, nursing and science. But before students can choose a specific college or program, they should look for an accredited online university that offers their specific program, has a good reputation, and charges an affordable rate. Take a look at our picks for the top online colleges for providing quality and fostering student success in Maryland.
Prospective students can find a complete list of Maryland colleges at the State of Maryland website. Most colleges in Maryland also offer a listing of online programs on their website. For example, the University of Maryland University College offers a complete list of online degree programs.
Colleges that offer a wide variety of online degree programs, like Townsend University, may be a good fit for students unsure of their final career path so that students can switch between degree plans if necessary. Students can also contact an admissions adviser for more information.
Most accredited colleges and universities in Maryland accept transfer credits from other accredited schools. However, colleges accept credits from other universities on a case-by-case basis. Accreditation also influences transfer policies—almost all schools accept credits from regionally accredited colleges.
Some colleges and universities also grant credit for life experience, work history, or military service. For example, the University of Maryland allows students to earn credit for exams, workforce training, vocational training and professional certificates.
Maryland has more careers that require a bachelor’s degree than almost every other state, and boasts one of the best economies in the United States. According to the last U.S. Census, more than 38 percent of Maryland residents age 25 and older hold a bachelor's degree. By the average salaries for positions that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, you can see why:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Maryland’s residents working in jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher can expect to make, on average, more than $50,000 per year than those which require no formal education. Those working in industries that require doctoral degrees may find themselves out-earning even master’s degree holders by nearly $35,000 per year.
One of the smallest and oldest states in the nation, Maryland boasts a rich history and booming economy. Several industries need educated, skilled employees. Maryland's labor market has remained stable over the last year, and the unemployment rate sits right around the national average.
In Maryland, more jobs require a bachelor’s degree than in many other states—the fastest-growing careers in Maryland are in the law, teaching and healthcare fields. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2016 and 2026, jobs in information security, occupational therapy and software development are also incredibly fast-growing careers, with projected growth between 10 and over 50 percent each year.
With Washington, D.C. near the western region of the state, residents often choose to commute for jobs just outside Maryland’s borders.
All students need to make sure their school holds proper accreditation to ensure they are receiving a high-quality college education. No matter if a student is earning an online degree or taking classes on-campus, quality should never have to be sacrificed for convenience sake, and accreditation reinforces that. To receive accreditation, colleges and universities must prove they meet certain academic and professional standards; the Maryland Higher Education Commission provides more information on accreditation in the state.
Employers and graduate schools may prefer regional accreditation over national accreditation. In some cases, regional accreditation requires higher standards and a long review process. To receive regional accreditation, online colleges in Maryland must undergo review from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Certain departments and programs within various colleges may also receive programmatic accreditation from professional associations or other organizations. For example, the University of Maryland holds programmatic accreditation for several master's programs, including their master’s-level teaching degrees. Johns Hopkins University holds accreditation from several organizations, including the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Maryland’s fast-growing, high-paying industries often require college degrees. However, the cost of attending college in Maryland is higher than that of some states in the United States, particularly for private colleges—take a look at the average cost below:
In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities: $8,942
Change from 2015 $10
In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $38,352
Change from 2015 $1950
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
The figures above do not include room and board and other fees associated for earing a college degree. Additionally, out-of-state students typically pay more than in-state residents. The per-credit rate for online students may be the same for in-state and out-of-state students, but that is determined at the school level. Here are some examples of tuition rate differences by school in Maryland:
Flat Online Cost: Some schools in Maryland offer a blanket cost for complete online degree programs. Morgan State University offers complete degree rates for its online degrees.
Region-Based Credit Rates: There are regional discounts offered by some Maryland schools, specifically for students residing in specific counties and locations. Garret College offers special credit rates to border counties and residents of West Virginia.
Military Tuition Rates: Some online schools offer discounts to military service members. The University of Maryland also extends this discount to military spouses and dependents.
Maryland residents can look into a program called the Academic Common Market created by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which allows Maryland students to pay in-state tuition costs Maryland at participating schools located outside of the state.
To qualify for in-state tuition, students must usually hold residency for at least 12 months. Many schools make exceptions for military students and their spouses. Candidates must prove that they permanently moved to Maryland for a purpose other than receiving in-state tuition. Each school sets unique policies, so make sure to research individual residency requirements before applying.
While different online colleges in Maryland charge students differently, the general difference in tuition cost between Maryland’s public colleges and other comparable universities in neighboring states ranges by size of school. Take a look at the following rate comparison for 2018-2019 online cost per undergraduate, bachelor’s degree credits:
Art Institute of Pittsburg (Pennsylvania)
Blufield State College (West Virginia)
SUNY University at Albany (New York)
$510 to $1,370 per online credit hour
Most importantly: Students should research the schools they are interested in attending to understand the complete view of fees and costs associated with earning an online degree in Maryland, which can extend beyond simple tuition.
Students who attend accredited online colleges and universities in Maryland can receive financial aid from a wide variety of sources. Every student should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see which federal awards they will qualify for.
In addition to government financial aid, students can apply for grants, loans and scholarships. There are dozens of scholarship opportunities for Maryland students, including options through the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Learners can also search for awards though the Department of Labor's Career OneStop. Students should also check with their school's financial aid office for applicable school-based scholarships for academic achievements or extraordinary life circumstances.
Here are a few scholarships available to prospective online college students in Maryland:
Howard P. Rawlings Program of Educational Excellence Awards These awards include the guaranteed access grant, the 2+2 transfer grant and the educational assistance grant. Scholarships are awarded to Maryland residents attending as a full-time undergraduate student.
Jack F. Tolbert Memorial Student Grant Program This grant is awarded to students attending a private career school. Students must be residents of Maryland and this is a needs-based scholarship.
Senatorial Scholarship This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors. Students must be Maryland residents and must demonstrate financial need.
Adult learners face different challenges when thinking about going back to earn a college degree than students coming to college right out of high school. Prospective adult students in Maryland may find a helpful resource in the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which provides adult education and learning services that can better prepare non-traditional students for the college experience.
Adult Education programs can be useful for:
Preparing for college academically. Maryland adult education provides everything from adult high school and GED classes to courses designed for English for Speakers of Other Languages and programs to help students of all ages brush up on their basic math, grammar and reading comprehension to prepare for college coursework.
Lifelong learning for seniors 55+. Older adults who are interested in earning a college degree can better prepare for lifelong learning opportunities through Maryland’s adult and continuing education programs.
Transitioning to earn a college degree. Maryland offers programs to help students transition from the workforce to college, or from college to the workforce thought the PROMISE program.
Transferring to a 4-year college. The Maryland Higher Education Commission offers information about how adult learners can transfer into a four-year college and between Maryland institutions.
The State of Maryland offers a directory of local adult education programs to help aspiring college students get on the right track before enrolling in a degree program.