The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

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Updated January 25, 2023

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Considering an online degree? We rank the 10 best online colleges and offer advice to help you choose the best accredited school for you.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Most students these days grew up with the internet. And as they approach college, many feel comfortable completing their degree entirely online. Who knows? In another decade or so, students may be donning VR gear and sitting in Meta classrooms.

Online students benefit from a flexible schedule, cheaper tuition, and the freedom to live anywhere. Here, we outline everything you need to consider when choosing an accredited online college, in addition to ranking the 10 best online universities.

Why Get Your Degree at One of the Top Online Colleges?

  • A virtual format lets you complete coursework around family and work responsibilities.
  • You can engage in discussions and complete assignments on your own schedule.
  • You get the opportunity to network with students and faculty from around the world.
  • You can continue gaining work experience and growing in your career.
  • Many online schools offer accelerated schedules so you can graduate sooner.
  • Tuition costs for online colleges are often more affordable.

Did You Know?


  • 3 in 4 undergraduates in the U.S. took at least one online course in fall 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
  • 44% of all undergraduates took only online courses in fall 2020.
  • 71% of all graduate students took at least one online course in fall 2020.
  • Around 4 in 5 colleges offered online courses or degree programs in 2018-19, according to NCES.
  • Public institutions are more likely to offer online courses and degrees than private institutions.

Get More Options With Our Featured Online Schools

Does Accreditation Matter for Online Schools?

Accreditation is particularly important for online schools to ensure their academic standards are high. You'll also want your online school to be accredited for reputation purposes, as employers will consider school accreditation when you apply for jobs.

When a school is accredited, it means it's been evaluated by a recognized accrediting organization. These organizations can be national, regional, or specialized.

To earn accreditation, schools are evaluated and monitored for academic excellence and quality.

"Accreditation was a huge factor [when choosing an online school]," explained Alexandra Markin, an online student since 2017. "I didn't include any schools in my initial research that weren't accredited."

Be wary of an online school that's unaccredited. You won't be able to transfer credits from other institutions, your degree may not be recognized by other schools if you wish to pursue another degree, and employers will likely be skeptical of the quality of your education.

An unaccredited program can also impact your financial aid opportunities.

Got more questions? Learn whether an online school is accredited in our step-by-step guide.

Top 10 Accredited Online Colleges and Universities

Read About Our Methodology Here

#1 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

New England Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $320

Out-of-State | $320

Online Degrees Offered

Associate, bachelor's, master's

A private institution located in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU offers more than 200 online programs. The accredited university prioritizes flexibility while incorporating career-focused support into its programs.

At the bachelor's level, you can enroll in diverse fields like business, art, education, engineering, and healthcare. Undergraduate terms last eight weeks, whereas graduate terms last 10 weeks. SNHU reviews applications on a rolling basis. Applicants work with the admissions team to complete the enrollment process.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,600
Out-of-state
$9,600
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
134,345
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $129

Out-of-State | $553

Online Degrees Offered

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Through UF Online, you can earn a bachelor's degree in 24 fields or pursue a graduate degree at the master's or doctoral level. Choose from majors like advertising, anthropology, business administration, and computer science. The school also offers multiple certificate programs.

Online learners earn the same degree as on-campus students while saving an estimated 40% in costs. To apply, you must submit all materials online and pay a $30 application fee. Admitted students work with an academic advisor to create a custom degree plan.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
31%
Students Enrolled
53,372
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $390

Out-of-State | $390

Online Degrees Offered

Associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Liberty offers hundreds of online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The private Baptist university incorporates Christian beliefs into its programs. You can earn a bachelor's in subjects like data analysis, applied ministry, aviation management, and leadership.

The virtual classroom format lets you complete coursework on your own schedule. Most classes operate on an eight-week term, with eight start dates offered each year. You can apply to Liberty online or over the phone. Liberty accepts students into many programs with unofficial transcripts.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,791
Out-of-state
$14,791
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
93,349
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $147

Out-of-State | $264

Online Degrees Offered

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Located in Miami, FIU enrolls over 56,000 students on its two campuses. Through FIU Online, you can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree online. Choose from over 130 online programs taught by experienced instructors.

The school's popular majors include communication, economics, finance, and information technology. Distance learners can choose from over 1,500 classes and get support services outside the classroom. Apply online with a $30 application fee. FIU requires SAT or ACT scores and recommends submitting the FAFSA.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
58,836
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $379

Out-of-State | $379

Online Degrees Offered

Associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate

LSU's online programs let you take courses from four state university campuses. Through LSU Online, you can choose from over 100 online programs.

The public university's majors include business analytics, construction management, digital marketing, and IT management. You can also major in interdisciplinary studies, which allows you to customize your degree.

Applicants work with an enrollment coach to submit materials like official transcripts. The university offers an application fee waiver to qualifying students.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,038
Out-of-state
$8,038
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
34,285
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
85% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

University of Missouri-Columbia

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Higher Learning Commission

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $336

Out-of-State | $430

Online Degrees Offered

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Mizzou prioritizes flexibility in its online programs. Through Missouri Online, you can take courses from four state universities and earn a degree online. Choose from popular fields like business, computer science, communication, education, and nursing.

You'll benefit from advisors and student support resources. The public university encourages connections between students to build a broader community of scholars.

First-year applicants must complete specific high school courses and meet Mizzou's minimum test score and GPA requirements for admission. The university also offers a test-optional pathway to admission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,330
Out-of-state
$27,612
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
31,089
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
87% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

Temple University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $634

Out-of-State | $634

Online Degrees Offered

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

At Temple, you can choose from three bachelor's programs and over a dozen graduate options, including degrees in business, social work, education, and liberal studies.

The Office of Digital Education helps students access classes and reach their educational goals. Learning support network experts assist both undergrads and grad students, and new online students benefit from an orientation.

You can apply directly to the online program through the TU admissions portal. Check with individual programs for more details on deadlines and requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,080
Out-of-state
$28,992
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
37,236
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#8 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

The University of West Florida

  • Pensacola, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $219

Out-of-State | $648

Online Degrees Offered

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Located in Pensacola, UWF offers over 100 degree-granting programs, including dozens of online degrees. Undergrads can earn degrees in subjects like accounting, public health, instructional design, and maritime studies, while graduates can study data science, nursing, social work, or healthcare administration.

First-generation students also benefit from the university's breadth of resources and support systems.

UWF offers tuition waivers for non-Florida residents, which includes a 90% out-of-state tuition waiver for grad students and a 75% waiver for undergrads. International students can qualify for a tuition discount as well. Prospective students must submit an online application and official transcripts. ACT or SAT scores may be required.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,735
Out-of-state
$16,004
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
13,061
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

University of Louisville

  • Louisville, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $514

Out-of-State | $514

Online Degrees Offered

Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Earn a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree online at UofL. The public university offers programs in popular fields like business administration, communication, healthcare leadership, political science, and psychology.

You can also enroll in a hybrid program and choose from over 50 programs designed for nontraditional and adult learners.

Apply online by submitting your application and paying a $25 application fee. Prospective students must also submit ACT or SAT scores and official transcripts.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,966
Out-of-state
$28,312
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
22,211
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 The 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2023

University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Adelphi, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online

Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $312

Out-of-State | $499

Online Degrees Offered

Associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Distance learning has a long history at UMGC, which dates back to 1947. Today, you can choose from over 125 undergraduate and graduate programs at the public university. Nearly every course uses free instructional materials, allowing you to save money on textbooks and other school-related costs.

Graduates benefit from lifetime career services, including mentorship opportunities and access to job postings. You can qualify for admission by graduating from a state-approved high school, passing a high school equivalency exam, or meeting homeschooling requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,200
Out-of-state
$11,976
Retention Rate
55%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
58,526
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How Much Do Online Degrees Cost?

Here's a breakdown of the average costs of an undergraduate and graduate degree in the U.S.:



As an online student, you can generally expect to save money on costs that in-person students often pay, like transportation fees and campus housing.

That said, college tuition is higher than it's ever been. Many online colleges are priced competitively with traditional in-person schools.

Like on-campus students, online students are eligible for financial aid. Note that your school must be accredited in order for you to qualify for federal financial aid.

We advise filling out the FAFSA each year to see what federal student aid and loans you qualify for. There are also many scholarships available to online students.



Top Online Schooling Expenses to Budget For

  • Laptop
  • Reliable internet connection
  • Webcam (if not built into laptop)
  • Headset with microphone
  • Textbooks and other required class materials
  • Software programs
  • Additional fees, such as technology fees


How to Choose an Accredited Online College: 5 Tips

The number of online colleges available to you can be overwhelming. Follow these five tips to help you choose the best online university for you.

1 Define Your Goals


Your career and educational goals will guide the way you prioritize the features of an online college. Consider how much time you'd like to spend on school, what skills and knowledge you wish to graduate with, and what you'd like to do when you finish your degree.

2 Choose a Major


Knowing what you plan to major in can guide your choice for an online college.

Once you've chosen a major, you can compare degree programs. Consider things like the kinds of courses a program offers, the program structure, and networking opportunities.

If you haven't chosen a major yet, try looking for online colleges with various majors that interest you.

Alternatively, you could complete an online associate degree in general studies and choose a more focused major for a bachelor's degree later on.

3 Research Online Colleges


Don't apply to the first online school you come across. Instead, research a variety of colleges to find the right one for you. Compile a list of online universities that offer your major or another feature you value.

"I made a list of all the schools in Canada that offered online degrees and researched each one, including if they were accredited, how long they had been offering online learning, [and] what programs (and how many) they offered," said Markin.

You can compare online colleges' features in areas like:

  • Scheduling flexibility
  • Programs offered
  • Student resources
  • Course formats
  • Faculty reputation and experience
  • Career services
  • Alumni network

For example, you may want to only apply to programs that offer synchronous classes, meaning you'll take virtual classes in real time with other students through video conferencing software, like Zoom.

Meanwhile, an asynchronous class structure is more relaxed and lets you finish your coursework on your own time. You'll participate in self-guided lessons and prerecorded lectures.

Some students prefer online schools with hybrid schedules that include some in-person courses or hands-on learning opportunities, like lab work.

Comparing these features can help you choose an online college that best suits your schedule, preferences, and career plans.

4 Confirm Accreditation


Before applying to an online school, check that it is accredited. Most colleges list their accreditation status and accrediting agency on their website.

You can also look on the accrediting agency's website to double-check that a school is listed there.

5 Determine Costs


Many online schools don't charge students differently based on where they live; rather, there's just one tuition price for all online students.

Online programs at traditional on-campus colleges may differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. In these cases, choosing an online program from a school in your state should qualify you for lower in-state tuition costs.

In Florida, for example, tuition for online colleges can start at $9,000. In New York, tuition can cost around $15,000, while online schools in California can cost about $14,000.

Use the map below to learn more about accredited online colleges and universities in your state.


State

Can Online High School Prepare You for an Online Degree Program?

Some students begin their online education by earning a high school diploma online.

Many online K-12 schools allow you to learn in a flexible, self-paced environment. Online high schools typically offer live online classes and discussion boards.

Completing your primary and secondary education online isn't for everyone. You can miss out on the social experience and quintessential school events.

Still, an online K-12 education may better prepare you for online college. The earlier you become comfortable with the motivation and discipline it takes to thrive in an online school, the more likely you are to succeed at an online university.

Being able to teach yourself material and pace your learning are key skills for online college. Attending an online high school may also help you feel more confident when it comes to connecting with peers and professors in a digital format.


Q&A With Real Online Students and Grads



Q: Why did you decide to pursue an online degree?


"I wanted to be able to study, travel, and work simultaneously — not sit in a classroom at a set time each week."
 — Alexandra Markin, Founder of Online Student Life
"I love the freedom of being able to study from anywhere in the country. … I also struggle with social anxiety sometimes, so knowing I have the comfort of being able to study from home allows me to feel more at ease."
 — Charlotte Amy Rose, Founder of Sacred Footprints
"I decided to continue my education online mainly because I wanted to move out of state and needed the flexibility to finish my degree while also starting my family."
 — Alison Hamar, College Counselor and Schools Manager at Transizion

Q: In your opinion, what is the value of earning a degree online?

"Flexibility. If you need to take classes when you have time and don't have to abide by a strict schedule, then online classes can be a great fit. You do have to be a self-motivated student, and online education isn't for everyone."
 — Alison H.
"With an online degree, you can be there for your family, friends, or anything you want in life when you need to be. You don't have to choose between that and a three-hour lecture."
 — Alexandra M.
"Earning a degree online offers more flexibility. I can work more easily around it as I don't need to factor in travel time. I feel you are more focused too. You can spend more time actually studying and learning rather than traveling to and from university."
 — Charlotte A. R.

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice to students considering an online college?

"I would highly recommend getting involved with the university, even if you are online. There are still so many extracurricular activities and courses you can join, which is a great way to meet people on the same course or just like-minded people you can share your experience with."
 — Charlotte A. R.
"I would consider how much time you have to dedicate to school, if you can and will hold yourself accountable, and if flexibility is a necessity in your life. … In many ways online school is harder, but if you are motivated and driven to finish your degree and need the flexibility, then I would go for it."
 — Alison H.
"You need to know your learning style and what works best for you. … Try a few online courses first before you commit to an online degree. The format of online learning isn't for everyone."
 — Alexandra M.

So Are Online Colleges Worth It?

Is an online college worth it? The answer will vary for each student.

"I love being able to meet with people and teachers from all over the globe and country," said Charlotte Amy Rose, an online master's student at University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Ultimately, your budget, goals, and schedule can influence whether an online college is the right choice for you.


Online College May Be Worth It If…

  • You need a flexible schedule.
  • You're looking to save money.
  • You want to complete coursework on your own time.
  • You want to be flexible with location and travel while in school.
  • You need accessible learning.

Online College May Not Be Worth It If…

  • You want the classic "college experience."
  • You prefer in-person instruction.
  • You're pursuing a labwork-heavy degree.
  • You're easily distracted at home.
  • You value peer-to-peer interaction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accredited Online Colleges and Universities

Are online degrees legitimate?


Yes, an online degree is just as legitimate as a degree earned from an on-campus program. Online programs offer comparable curricula and usually integrate innovative ways to approach classroom discussions and lab requirements.

Accreditation can also ensure that online programs are providing the same level of academic rigor and quality.

How long does an online bachelor's degree take?


Most online bachelor's degree programs take around four years to complete — the same as an in-person bachelor's.

With an online program, you can usually choose an accelerated track to graduate sooner (in three or fewer years) or pick a part-time schedule to balance other obligations.

Does the location of an online college matter when applying?


Unless you're an international student, your location typically doesn't matter when applying to an online college.

Some programs may have a few in-person requirements that require you to travel to campus or another location. In general, though, you can complete your coursework anywhere, regardless of where you live in the U.S.

What are the most in-demand online degrees?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the fastest-growing jobs for the next decade are nurse practitioners (46% projected growth rate), data scientists (36%), web developers (30%), and physician assistants (28%).

If you're interested in these roles, you can look for online degree programs like an MSN, a computer science degree, a software engineering degree, or a physician assistant program.

What do employers think of online universities and degrees?


Generally, employers are more concerned with other aspects of your resume than where you earned your degree. Your work experience, awards, and qualifications are more likely to be determining factors in whether you get hired.

Many employers understand that a degree from an online accredited college is just as valuable as one earned from a traditional on-campus program.

Also, your degree or certificate will not specify that you were an online student, meaning it's not something you're obligated to disclose to potential employers.


Next Steps

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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