The Best Online Colleges for Military Veterans

Updated August 30, 2022 • 6 Min Read

Find a program that’s right for you.

If you are considering getting out of the military or are already out, you may be thinking about going to college as your next chapter in life. If so, one decision you'll have to make is the type of venue: attending as a resident on campus, taking all classes online, or a combination of both. Because many veterans also have a family to support, taking classes online may fit better into their family dynamics and lifestyle. The flexibility of doing coursework when it best fits into their schedule is a major drawing card to attend school online. But usually the next question is which school do I choose? Keep reading as this guide will help you make that decision.

Top 10 Find the Best Online Military-friendly Schools 4-Year

#1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#2 Columbia University in the City of New York New York City, NY
#3 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
#4 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
#5 Hampton University Hampton, VA
#6 Saint Leo University St. Leo, FL
#7 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
#8 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
#9 Georgetown University Washington, DC
#10 Stanford University Stanford, CA 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.

Top Online Programs

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The Best Online Military-friendly Colleges and Universities

Some schools provide better service and benefits to veterans than others. In the list below, find the ones we found to be the most military-friendly and serve veteran's interest well.

  1. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



  2. Columbia University in the City of New York

    New York City, NY



  3. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA



  4. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ



  5. Hampton University

    Hampton, VA



  6. Saint Leo University

    St. Leo, FL



  7. Webster University

    Saint Louis, MO



  8. East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC



  9. Georgetown University

    Washington, DC



  10. Stanford University

    Stanford, CA



Top 10 Find the Best Online Military-friendly Schools 2-Year

#1 East Mississippi Community College Scooba, MS
#2 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati, OH
#3 Trinidad State Junior College Trinidad, CO
#4 Pamlico Community College Grantsboro, NC
#5 Casper College Casper, WY
#6 Arizona Western College Yuma, AZ
#7 College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls, ID
#8 Roane State Community College Harriman, TN
#9 Barton County Community College Great Bend, KS
#10 Central Texas College Killeen, TX 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.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

  1. East Mississippi Community College

    Scooba, MS



  2. Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

    Cincinnati, OH



  3. Trinidad State Junior College

    Trinidad, CO



  4. Pamlico Community College

    Grantsboro, NC



  5. Casper College

    Casper, WY



  6. Arizona Western College

    Yuma, AZ



  7. College of Southern Idaho

    Twin Falls, ID



  8. Roane State Community College

    Harriman, TN



  9. Barton County Community College

    Great Bend, KS



  10. Central Texas College

    Killeen, TX



What Makes a School Military-friendly?

The following list highlights some of the most important things to look at when weighing the military friendliness of a school:

  • Presence of military community and support

  • Number of online degree programs

  • No Yellow Ribbon cap or at least Yellow Ribbon participating

  • Is tuition covered by the GI Bill?

  • Is there an ROTC Program?

  • Is the school accredited? What is the accrediting body?

  • What is the military background of fellow students?

  • Is the school a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Association

  • Is there a military/veteran student organization at the school?

Military Community & Support Network

Schools that truly are military-friendly take the Department of Defense's Voluntary Partnership Memorandum of Understanding seriously. By signing the memorandum, participating schools agree to provide their veteran students with meaningful academic support, provide the true cost of attendance and promise not to use deceptive recruiting practices. These same schools also adhere to the VA's Principles of Excellence and take to heart the Department of Education's 8 Keys to Veteran Success. They also have provided the resources to establish a Veterans Support Center in times when resources are tight and in short supply. Enter a school name in the GI Bill comparison tool and check the boxes to see if it participates in these three areas, along with being a Yellow Ribbon school. Schools that have all of these things are truly military-friendly in their actions and not in name only.

Number of Online Degree Programs

Generally speaking, choosing a school that has a campus and offers many (if not all) of their on-campus degree programs and coursework online is a better option than choosing a school that only exists virtually. Usually a school with a good background and long history has a better choice of programs and you can be assured a degree from any of them is worthwhile. Most nonprofit campus schools began offering programs online only after carefully converting their programs to the online environment.

No Yellow Ribbon Cap or Yellow Rib

Enrolling in a school with a Yellow Ribbon Program may make a big difference in the amount of money veteran students pay out-of-pocket in certain situations. Things to look for in a school's Yellow Ribbon Program include the degree level covered, courses covered, number of students that can be in the program at one time and the maximum contribution amount per student per year.

Tuition Covered by the GI Bill

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is very specific in what tuition costs it will pay. For students attending a public school, it will pay up to 100 percent of resident tuition costs. Students attending a public school as a non-resident typically pay an out-of-state tuition rate than can be considerably higher than in-state tuition. Because the GI Bill only covers resident student tuition costs, the unpaid difference is the responsibility of the student, unless the school has a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA, which can pay anywhere from part of to the whole unpaid difference, thus reducing out-of-pocket costs. If a veteran starts school within three years of getting out, many schools will charge the resident rate regardless of resident status in that state, but always ask just to be sure. If attending a private or foreign school, the Post 9/11 GI Bill will only pay tuition costs up to $23,671.94 per year (2018). The unpaid difference must be made up by either the student, the Yellow Ribbon program (private schools only-foreign schools are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program) or through scholarships and grants from the school or from other sources.

Is There an ROTC Program?

One indicator many use in determining if a school is military-friendly or not is if the school has a ROTC program. Granted, the ROTC program itself won't do a veteran much good, but the point of the school having one speaks volumes when factored into the rest of the indicators if a school is military-friendly or not.

Is the School Accredited?

For a school to accept GI Bill students in the first place, it must be VA-approved, and part of the approval process is the school holding an accreditation recognized by the VA. However, just because a school holds a VA-approved accreditation doesn't mean that accreditation is accepted by the industry of your career choice. Do your homework first to ensure the degree you get will get you into the job and industry you want. Case in point, the only accreditation accepted by the Illinois State Patrol are the six regional ones listed below. National accreditations are not accepted. Veteran students should also check to ensure their school and degree program are both accredited. Some schools may be accredited, but not all their degree programs. Generally, a regional accreditation holds more value than a national one. Regional accreditations generally fall into these six associations:
  • MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
  • NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
  • NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • NAC (Northwest Accreditation Commission)
  • SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
  • WASC (Western Association of Colleges and Schools)
National accreditations include:
  • DETC (Distance Education & Training Council)
  • ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges)
  • COE (Council on Occupational Education)
  • TRACS (Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission)
As to be expected, each of the two types of accreditations have their pros and cons. Below are two tables highlighting the more important ones of each.
Pros of Accreditation
Regional National
Most widely recognized Less expensive
Credits and degrees widely accepted for transfer Requires fewer liberal arts courses
Eligible for corporate tuition reimbursement plans More practical career-oriented majors
Normally provides instructor-led courses More relaxed admission standards
Cons of Accreditation
Regional National
Generally more expensive than national accredited schools Credits not widely transferrable
Require more liberal arts coursework Frequently excluded from corporate tuition reimbursement plans
Fewer career-oriented programs and degrees Coursework may not be accepted for professions requiring licensing after degree attainment
Generally has higher admission standards Frequently does not include instructor-led course sessions
There is a third type of accreditation – programmatic. It is mainly used by schools that have specialized professional divisions, such as a law or medical school. Typically a school that has a programmatic accreditation has also been approved for a national or regional accreditation.

Student Population with Military Background

Another indicator if a school may be military-friendly or not is by the number of veterans attending – both first year and recurring. However, there can be reasons why the first-year number could be low. For example, the school may not offer degree plans in fields that typically draw veterans. The recurring number is a good indicator because if a first-year veteran student is happy, s/he is more likely to stay with that school.

Member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Association

A school that is a member of the SOC is a highly desirable attribute of a military-friendly school. One-hundred percent of the credits earned at a SOC school will transfer to another SOC school. This is crucial, because it's pointless to spend GI Bill entitlement on credits that could be lost if a student is transferring to a school that doesn't accept them. Losing credits could be costly veteran and cost them money out of their pocket if they have already expended some of their GI Bill entitlement on classes that will not transfer.

Military/Veteran Student Organization

Most military-friendly schools have one of more veteran organizations represented on campus. Their presence can vary from having a place where veterans can meet and talk, to full-blown programs that include one-stop shopping. If not familiar with this term, it is a process to cut through the normal red tape of enrolling and signing up for classes that non-veterans have to go through. Some veteran student programs even include priority registration meaning veterans get first chance to sign up for classes that normally fill up quickly. Without it, some veterans have to wait for several semesters to get a class or two they need to graduate but have never been able to get into.

Why Online Schools are a Good Idea for Military Personnel & Vets

Veterans like to use the online post-secondary education venue for many reasons. Here are four of the main ones:


Veteran students differ from their non-veteran colleagues in two different ways. Generally, veteran students are older and some of them may have a family to support. Because of the later, having the flexibility to do coursework when it fits into their schedule, instead of when classes are held on campus, is one of the main reasons cited for online study. They may have to stay home and babysit while their spouse is at work. Or maybe it works better for them to study after the kids are in bed. Or maybe the veteran works a job in addition to going to school. Whatever their reason is, this venue works better for them – and is something they would not be able to get if they went to school on campus.

GI Bill & Other Military Benefits Eligibility

To use the GI Bill, a school must be first VA-approved. And while some for-profit schools have the VA stamp of approval, not all are good choices. As mentioned earlier, the best choice (with no other consideration) is choosing a school that has a long history and one that has a brick and mortar campus. Most of these schools are in good standing with the VA and a degree with their name on it carries more weight than one from some fly-by-night school that only exists in the virtual environment. Recently two for-profit schools shut down due to unscrupulous practices. Until the Forever GI Bill passed, there was no way for students to recoup the GI Bill benefits they used while at these school and the credits they earned would not transfer.

Transfer Options

Credits earned from legitimate schools tend to transfer better than virtual online-only schools. As mentioned earlier, 100 percent of the credits earned at a SOC school will transfer to another SOC school. And even most credits will transfer if the new school is not a SOC school. From a GI Bill entitlement use standpoint, why waste entitlement on credits that will not easily transfer?

An Easier Transition for Some Vets Combat Veterans, Multiple Deployment & Vets with PTSD or Other Injuries

This is a big reason why some veterans decide to go to school online. From their experiences while serving, they are not yet ready to face the prospect attending classes on campus. Most non-veteran students can't relate to this experience. However, many veterans start out attending school online and then switch to the brick and mortar equivalent when they are ready. Or some take most of their classes online, but also take one or two classes on campus so that they can get the full monthly housing allowance instead of the 50 percent that online-only students get using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Courses and Areas of Study that Could Appeal to Military Servicemembers

There are two schools of thought as far as veterans choosing a career: either do the same work they did while serving, or get into an entirely new area. Generally, the more specialized one is in the military, the more apt they are to stay in that field once out for several reasons.

For example, students who were in the healthcare field in the military can get more credits transferred toward their healthcare degree plan and take advantage of their healthcare credentialing they received from the military than if they went into an entirely different field of study. Plus, it is an environment that is familiar to them.

However, for those less specialized, like an Infantryman, they may want to broaden their horizons and choose a field they have always wanted to do. They will still get some credits for prior military learning, but they will also have the opportunity to learn something entirely new.

Other careers that military veterans might find a good fit include:

Law Enforcement

Veterans are trained to work as a team and to help others. Whether on the front of a war zone or helping after a natural disaster here at home, military personnel thrive on helping others and working as part of a team. Because of this training, many veterans get their degree in either law enforcement or a related field such as criminal justice in order to have a career based around helping people after graduation.


Veterans are trained to work as a team and to help others. Whether on the front of a war zone or helping after a natural disaster here at home, military personnel thrive on helping others and working as part of a team. Because of this training, many veterans get their degree in either law enforcement or a related field such as criminal justice in order to have a career based around helping people after graduation.

Public Service

This can be at any level from serving as a social worker locally to the national level in Washington D.C. or even beyond serving in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps abroad. This is another career field where veterans can help people. And if the job is with the local, state or federal government, many veterans can claim veterans preference and place higher on the hiring list – an advantage non-military personnel do not have.


As many as 25 percent of the military members getting out of the military end up starting up their own business. Whether that is buying a franchise from an established brand or starting a new business from scratch, veterans are driven to self-discipline – a trait that is critical to starting and running a new business for the first five critical years. The knowledge received from a business education program is useful and generally required for a business to succeed, but without discipline to implement the business strategies learned, the business will not survive.


Many of today's military equipment is computerized, so military members coming out of those types of jobs have a good basis in computers and networks. With this background, and the demand in computers and related fields, this makes a natural fit for many servicemembers having that background.

Where Can Military Servicemembers Get More Support?

There are many organizations that stand ready to help veterans. Listed below are some resources veterans can use to get more support whether choosing a school, either on campus or online:

  • College of Staten Island

    This school takes pride in making special accommodations for veterans with disabilities and they are doing a great job serving veteran students … especially ones with PTSD. They also have a strong mental health team standing by ready to help veterans with any mental health challenges.


    This four-year program, located in many high schools, teaches students how to become better citizens in their communities by teaching leadership development and developing character. While the program is not directed at students who want to join the military after graduating, it is a good military preparation program for students wanting to go into the military or join a ROTC unit in college.

  • Pat Tillman Veterans Center

    Located at Arizona State University. Not only does ASU have a veteran's center on campus, but it also has a military support center through their ASU Online program.

  • CSULB Veterans Network

    Originally developed by California State University as a half-day faculty and staff seminar program to increase their awareness concerning veteran students, it has since expanded to include a network of resources veterans can use for assistance when transitioning to student life. Resources are available to students both on campus and taking classes online.

  • RRRP

    Founded by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), it is a high-tech online case management and referral services program. Since its pilot program in 2012, it has grown into a national program serving over 8,100 veterans and their families so far in all 50 states.

  • VetConnect

    This online support network helps veterans connect with other veterans having similar experiences. All that is needed is a Goggle account to get started.

  • Veterans Crisis Line

    If you are a veteran in crisis, this online chat room stands ready to help. Staffed by employees of the VA, they will work with you either online or by phone to help get you through any personal crisis you may be having at the time.

  • VetSuccess on Campus

    A department of Veterans Affairs program to help veterans make the transition to college life. Each school having a VSOC program will have at least one Counselor at each location. A VA Vet Center Outreach Coordinator is also provided to provide peer-to-peer counseling and referral services.

  • Vets Prevail

    An online personalized resilience mental health training program for veterans suffering from stress, anxiety, PTSD or depression. The mental wellness program is individualized to each veteran in the program based on results from a health and personality assessment.

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.

See All Posts 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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