Accredited Online Bachelor’s Degrees
The bachelor’s degree is widely considered to be the most common degree sought by high school graduates preparing for lifelong careers, and can lead to greater earnings, increased job security and more employee benefits. Online learning presents an accredited college option for students who can’t afford tuition, aren’t close to a college campus or want an accelerated, self-paced program that shortens the time to graduation.
Best Online Bachelor’s Programs 2018-2019
It is often the case that attending class in-person simply isn’t an option, as many of life’s obligations are time-consuming and demand more immediate attention. However, students who may be working around these scheduling constraints may be pleased to hear they can complete the entirety of their bachelor’s degree online. Online learning allows students to make the necessary time to earn a college degree, without disrupting their already busy schedules. To help students find the best learning options for them, we’ve ranked schools across the country based on factors such as class size, program count, and institutional financial aid opportunities. Explore the top schools with online bachelor’s programs below.
Popular Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Bachelor’s degree programs, both online and on campus, provide students with a comprehensive arts and sciences education as well as concentrated studies in their major field. They typically take four years to complete.
There are two major types of bachelor’s degrees offered by campus and online colleges and universities:
- Bachelor’s of Arts (B.A.) A four-year degree program with major concentrations in arts, fine arts, social sciences, and humanities.
- Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) A four-year degree with concentrated major studies in mathematics, physical and life sciences.
Courses of study are commonly divided into lower- and upper-division segments. During the first two years, students complete lower-division general education classes. They’re also introduced to their major and minor fields of study. The second-two years are comprised of upper-division courses providing intermediate and advanced studies in major fields. Students typically progress to upper-division courses after satisfying pre-requisites. During their final semester, students may undertake internships or complete senior projects.
The table below shows a range of courses that make up a typical bachelor’s degree curriculum, ranging from lower-division general education studies to advanced classes in a college major:
|Survey in Biology||Introduction for non-science majors includes overview of life processes and fundamental concepts in biological science. Requires laboratory hours.|
|English Composition||Students learn a variety of college research and writing modes, with an emphasis on organization of ideas, written drafts and revisions.|
|Computer Science Fundamentals||This foundation course for computer science majors introduces theories and designs for employing algorithms and programming languages. Pre-requisite: Math 101.|
|Introduction to Psychology||What are the fundamental concepts, principles and methods of psychology? The course covers topics in sensory perception, personality, emotional health, abnormalities, and coping strategies.|
|Contemporary Global Challenges and Issues||Intermediate studies in political culture, world opinion, and the role of peacekeeping institutions. Topics include global warming, nuclear proliferation, starvation, energy policy, and humanitarianism.|
|Principles of Criminal Investigation||Examination of techniques and theories in the detecting, preserving and presentation of physical and forensic evidence. Includes laboratory sections. Prerequisite: Introduction to Criminology.|
|Race, Gender and Class in the Media||Offered jointly by the Departments of Communication and American Ethnic Studies, this interdisciplinary course investigates the use and perpetration of stereotypes by media organizations and resulting influences on public opinion.|
|Early Childhood Curriculum||Focuses on evidence-based models for designing and implementing programs supporting early learning, including topics in cognition, literacy, social development, and special populations.|
|Advanced Business Administration||Third in a series of studies in accounting, business organization, business law, ethics, international commerce, information systems, marketing and finance.|
|Undergraduate Independent Study in Urban Planning||Students are mentored in an independent research project or related field work in an approved topic in urban planning, community environment, ethics and sustainability.|
A completed bachelor’s degree arms graduates with more earning power over their working lifetimes than for those who haven’t completed college. In 2013, bachelor’s degree holders took home median weekly wages of $1,199 — more than $450 per week over pay made to workers with only a high school diploma (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS). In addition to increased earning potential, bachelor’s degrees provide graduates with job security in tough economic times. A 2013 study conducted by the PEW Charitable Trusts found that while 21–24-year-olds suffered wage and job cuts during the severe downturn in the economy, 2009-2009, those with bachelor’s degrees fared exceptionally better than workers without a post-secondary degree. Wages for four-year graduates shrank by less than half the amount of the pay cuts suffered by workers with only a high school diploma. Similar disparities were found in job cuts; jobs of bachelor’s graduates dropped two percent during the economic downturn, while positions for workers with only high school diplomas fell by twice as many (four percent).
A bachelor’s degree program is a common way for students to complete a well-rounded education that can prepare them for careers beyond entry-level service occupations. Many employers require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree with a major and skills that match their job requirements. For some students, the bachelor’s degree serves as an educational bridge to an advanced degree program. Most states require public school teachers to complete a bachelor’s degree as a minimum entry requirement for classroom work. Campus and online bachelor’s degree programs offer great opportunities for students who have only taken a few college-level classes or have completed an associate degree that want to transfer and complete their four-year degrees. Major and minor subject fields offer broad class selections across the entire range of bachelor’s degree programs. Students who have completed an associate degree may change directions entirely to pursue a four-year degree in another major field.
Graduates from bachelor’s degree programs work across the career spectrum, taking jobs as:
- Financial analysts
- Sales managers
- Insurance underwriters
- Cost estimators
- Credit counselors
- Teachers and trainers
- Tax collectors
- Police, fire, and EMT responders
- Budget analysts
- Personal financial advisers
- Registered nurses
- Multimedia specialists
- Software developers
- Graphic designers
- Writers and journalists
- Interior designers
- Public relations representatives
- Civil engineers
- Environmental engineers and consultants
- Social workers
- Clinical and laboratory technicians
- Airline pilots
- Foresters and conservation scientists
Transferring to a Four-Year College or University
Students transferring from an associate degree program to bachelor’s studies, or students changing four-year colleges, must take special care to ensure they receive credit for previous classwork. Academic advisers and degree counselors are go-to resources in considering a change. Many four-year schools have transfer arrangements with community colleges in their states or communities. Not all courses are treated equally by academic transfer committees. Community college students intending to transfer should start from the first semester to determine which course of study will best-meet core and general education requirements required by their four-year school. Students changing bachelor’s degree institutions may risk losing previous credits for studies outside standardized general education courses.
Often students are disappointed to discover that they cannot afford to relocate to attend college or live too far away to commute. They may be saddled with employment or family responsibilities that make attending full-time, on-campus programs impossible. For them and others, online bachelor’s degree programs are convenient alternatives, with their flexible class hours and 24/7 remote access from any device connected to the internet. Because they are self-paced, many online bachelor’s degree programs may be completed in less than four years. Students will find an extensive selection of online colleges, universities and for-profit schools that confer bachelor’s degrees.
Online educational technology is advancing as quickly as innovations can be built into college interfaces. Students enroll, register, receive academic counseling, attend classes, complete assignments and tests, and hold conferences with their professors without leaving their home, office or nearby café. Classes are presented through multi-media presentations, live and recorded lectures, instructor blogs, email and threaded communications, video and voice conferencing software. Students have round-the-clock access to online libraries and resources for conducting research.
Online Learning Q&A
Must I be a nerd to use an online classroom program?
Students who are reading this right now have all the skills necessary for accessing their online degree programs. Where other tools are used (such as video conferencing), there are help pages, technical support staffs, and peers to show them the ropes.
What is the quality of online classes compared to on-campus ones?
Most online teachers and professors hail from the campus college environment. In addition, accredited online degree programs have been evaluated by independent researchers to ensure that they meet standards for academic quality and course delivery.
What happens to students who have to complete laboratories in addition to attending online lectures?
Distance educators understand the reasons why students choose online schools. To that end, they create labs that can be completed entirely online or they schedule labs with participating organizations close to where students work and live.
Is student aid available for online students?
Online bachelor’s degree institutions that hold formal accreditations are eligible to offer qualified students the package of federal student loans, grants and work study options.
Will I miss the social aspects of a college education if I’m only online?
Online students may miss football games, pep rallies and campus activities, but they’re not paying for them! And because students have a limited time to study, online programs allow them to devote themselves to completing their degrees. Online students frequently report that they build lasting friendships and academic interests with their fellows through class chats, emails and conference calls.
Colleges, university and online schools that offer bachelor’s degree programs stake their reputations on voluntary accreditation. The process involves a college self-assessment followed by a campus visit by an independent accreditation agency. Agencies are approved by the U.S. Department of Education. A formal accreditation evaluates how the college performs in areas of academic quality as defined by national standards organizations. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) currently identifies more than 20,000 accredited academic programs across the United States.
Accreditation can be granted for an entire school or college, or individual college programs can receive specialized accreditation. College departments may seek accreditation from professional associations if they are delivering career-focused coursework. Campus-based programs typically seek regional accreditation of their degree programs from one of six agencies. Online colleges and traditional colleges offering online classes often obtain a regional accreditation as well as a specialized online accreditation from agencies such as the United States Distance Learning Association or Distance Learning Council.
Students requiring financial aid should investigate accreditations at their prospective colleges and universities. The U. S. Department of Education requires schools that offer federal financial aid (grants, loans, fellowships) to hold current accreditations.