A bachelor's degree is the minimum education requirement for many professional career paths. Building broad knowledge in a variety of subjects, a bachelor's serves as an introduction to the world of higher education for many students, preparing graduates to enter the workforce or pursue advanced degrees.
Most bachelor's programs take about four years of full-time study to complete. Entry requirements can vary widely among schools, but many colleges require at least a high school diploma and standardized test scores.
This page offers an overview of affordable online bachelor's degrees, including typical course requirements, professional organizations for students, and scholarship opportunities.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's Degree?
A bachelor's degree introduces students to a field's major principles and guiding concepts. Students may earn bachelor's degrees in disciplines such as English, history, psychology, or computer science.
In general, bachelor's programs do not confer the highest level of knowledge available in a professional field. However, the broad nature of the subject matter featured in many programs can serve as an advantage. By not specializing their skills and knowledge too narrowly, graduates keep their career options open.
In many instances, bachelor's degree-holders advance their career by earning a master's degree, which develops highly specialized knowledge in a specific field.
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Do I Need a Master's Degree?
A master's degree builds advanced knowledge beyond the scope of a bachelor's degree. For some career paths, a master's may serve as the minimum education requirement; for others, a master's can provide a practical path to career advancement.
Master's degree programs build on undergraduate knowledge and skills, often allowing students to specialize in an area of a broader field. Graduates with a bachelor's in business, for example, might pursue a graduate program in marketing or finance.
While a master's can increase career options and earning potential, not all career paths require a graduate degree. Less time-intensive paths, such as earning professional certifications or joining professional organizations, can also result in career advancement.
Accreditation for an Online Bachelor's Degree
When researching undergraduate programs -- and particularly when researching online programs -- students should make sure that prospective colleges hold accreditation. The accreditation process evaluates the academic and administrative functions of higher education institutions, ensuring that schools offer proper educational and professional preparation. Attending an accredited school expands employment, financial aid, and educational opportunities.
Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. National accreditation serves trade and vocational schools, while regional accreditation typically serves nonprofit, degree-granting schools.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation lists recognized regional accrediting organizations. Any school that holds accreditation from one of these agencies can generally be considered reputable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree?
Admission requirements vary widely among colleges, but most programs require applicants to hold at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. Many schools also call for test scores, most commonly from the SAT or ACT. More selective programs may maintain additional requirements, such as letters of recommendation, a portfolio of student work, and evidence of community service or extracurricular activities.
Once admitted, undergraduates typically complete around 120 credits to earn a bachelor's degree. Some schools may include a significant culminating project, such as a capstone or thesis.
Courses in an Online Bachelor's Degree Program
Undergraduate courses vary by major. However, most schools offer similar general education requirements, which build foundational knowledge applicable to many academic majors. These courses cover introductory topics from fields of study such as history, English, science, and math. This list highlights general education courses commonly found in undergraduate curriculums.
- Introduction to Composition
- Writing plays an important role in any college major, so almost all schools require students to complete an introductory composition course. These courses typically explore various types of essays and expository writing, teaching students how to comprehend written arguments and argue their own claims in writing. Many courses may also include a research component.
- Introduction to Natural Sciences
- Most undergraduates complete at least 1-2 general science courses. These courses typically cover the major principles of a scientific discipline, such as biology. They also cover the attitudes and practices of scientific inquiry, including experimentation, objectivity, logic, precision, and tentativeness. At many schools, students must complete at least one course that comes with a lab component.
- Introduction to Social Sciences
- The social sciences focus on the exploration and examination of human behavior and social systems. Undergraduates commonly complete at least one course focusing on either a general introduction to the social sciences or a specific discipline, such as psychology, sociology, or anthropology. These courses explore the basic theories and methods of social and behavioral sciences, such as research and ethics.
- Introduction to Historical Perspectives
- Studying history helps students understand the processes of historical change while building skills in interpretation, analysis, argumentation, and communication. Students may complete a general introductory course or one focused on a specific historical period or region, such as American history. These courses typically examine tools and methods used to study the past while helping students understand varied perspectives for interpreting history and historical change.
- Introduction to Literature
- Students typically complete at least one introductory literature course. These courses focus on the major principles and practices of interpreting literary works, including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Learners study tools of literary study, such as research and interpretative methods, and gain general skills in writing, analysis, and argumentation.
Certifications and Licensure for Bachelor's Degree Students
Certifications and licenses demonstrate professional skills and competencies. Bachelor's degree-holders can pursue professional certifications in many different fields, including education, healthcare, and information technology. This list highlights three popular certifications for undergraduates.
- Teacher Certification
- Teacher certification prepares professionals to teach in K-12 schools. Specific certification requirements vary among states, and many states call for different prerequisite courses depending on the grade level and subject candidates wish to teach. Middle and high school teachers may also need to complete subject area exams.
- Registered Nurse
- The registered nurse (RN) credential ranks among the most popular certifications for nursing students. Nurses can earn the credential with just an associate degree, but a bachelor's program offers more comprehensive education and may lead to more advanced positions.
- CompTIA A+
- An industry-standard credential for IT professionals, CompTIA's A+ certification primarily serves information technology and computer science majors. Indicating proficiency in areas including hardware, operating systems, networking, security, and cloud computing, A+ certification prepares recipients for technical support and end point management roles.
Professional Organizations for Bachelor's Degree Students
Professional organizations can provide students with valuable academic and networking opportunities, including conferences, mentorship, and internships. Some organizations serve students of a specific professional or academic interest, while others serve students of a specific background.
Beta Gamma SigmaKnown as the international honor society for business schools, Beta Gamma Sigma offers global events, networking opportunities, and professional development opportunities. Undergraduate members must be in the top 10% of their class at an accredited business program.
Association of Latino Professionals for AmericaThe country's longest-standing professional organization for Latinos, ALPFA serves more than 81,000 members and hosts nearly 160 student chapters around the United States. The organization offers fellowship programs, student conventions and other networking events, job resources, and student awards.
National Society of Collegiate ScholarsServing high-achieving college students across the country, NSCS offers career resources, graduate school connections, service opportunities, and leadership preparation. The organization hosts chapters at colleges and universities around the U.S. and awards more than $750,000 in undergraduate scholarships annually.
Alpha ChiKnown as the National College Honor Society, Alpha Chi hosts more than 300 collegiate chapters at schools around the country. The organization offers networking, leadership, and service opportunities for gifted college students. Alpha Chi also awards more than $166,000 annually in scholarships and grants.
Scholarships for Bachelor's Degree Students
Any student wondering how to pay for a bachelor's degree should explore financial aid opportunities like loans, grants, and scholarships. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for bachelor's students.
Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degrees
Indian River State College operates five campuses on Florida's Treasure Coast and a growing virtual college. The school offers affordable online bachelor's degrees designed for degree completers with significant credits from IRSC or another college. The online majors leading to a BS or bachelor of applied science include nursing, business administration, criminal justice, and organizational management. Students complete 30-60 credits to earn each degree.
Recipient of the Aspen Institute's top prize for community college excellence, IRSC accepts transfer credits from accredited colleges. The school also awards credits for AP, IB, and CLEP, potentially saving students time and money.
The U.S. Department of Education identifies IRSC as the most affordable college in Florida and the third most affordable college in the nation. IRSC offers scholarships to help students pay for school. Admission requires at least an associate degree and official school transcripts.
Located in McAllen, South Texas College offers online competency-based bachelor of applied technology degrees in technology management, computer and information technology, and medical and health services management. Additionally, the school's bachelor of applied science in organizational leadership is the first competency-based bachelor's degree from a Texas college.
Students can complete most or all of each degree's 120-122 credits online. Learners can take as many courses per semester as they like while paying a set tuition rate per term. Students may receive college credit for previous coursework and skills developed through work and life experience. Seven-week sessions and the competency-based delivery format accelerate degree completion.
South Texas College offers among the lowest tuition rates in the nation. Admission to any of the school's affordable online bachelor's degrees requires SAT or ACT scores.
Sentara College of Health Sciences offers online degrees centered around healthcare. The Virginia-based school offers a 30-credit online RN-to-BSN that working nurses can complete at their own pace.
The traditional BSN blends on-campus and online learning. The 71-credit curriculum requires 990 hours of lab, simulation, and clinical experience. BSN graduates qualify to take the NCLEX licensure exam and boast a 97% pass rate. The college helps nursing graduates find positions within Sentara Healthcare, a 12-hospital system that serves Virginia and North Carolina.
Nursing students receive academic mentoring and counseling services. Students in both BSN programs pay competitive tuition, and RN-to-BSN students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission to these affordable online bachelor's degrees requires an associate degree or at least 25 prior credits of general education courses.
Elizabeth City State University is a historically Black college and part of the University of North Carolina system. ECSU offers two online degree-completion programs that build on an associate degree. The 2+2 30-credit BS in business administration offers three concentrations: management and entrepreneurship, economics and finance, and marketing and management information systems.
The 2+2 BS in criminal justice explores topics such as criminological theory and research methods. Students can pursue one of three minors: pre-law, criminal justice, or juvenile justice. The college also offers an online BS in homeland security that students can begin from scratch at ECSU or use to finish a degree. The BS in interdisciplinary studies provides the most flexible curriculum of the four, allowing learners to design their own degree plan.
ECSU boasts affordable online bachelor's degrees and comprehensive financial aid opportunities. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA on transfer credits.
A senior college in the 25-school City University of New York system, Lehman College offers select degrees online. The online RN-to-BSN allows nurses to continue working while they complete the degree.
The 120-credit program, accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education, builds on an associate degree in nursing. Students complete 37.5 credits, exploring topics such as nursing as a human science, professional nursing practice, and clinical decision-making.
RNs learn to care for clients, families, and groups as part of disaster preparedness. They leave the program with advanced leadership and managerial skills and the foundation necessary for graduate school.
The school's RN-to-BSN program is one of the nation's most affordable nursing degrees. Admission requires an associate degree or at least 60 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA, RN licensure, and registration in New York State.
One of Florida's leaders in online education, St. Petersburg College serves about 20,000 online students annually. Students can choose from 19 online bachelor's degrees. Designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency, the school delivers an online BAS in cybersecurity.
Other degrees focused on workforce preparation include online BAS degrees in dental hygiene, health services administration, and veterinary technology. Degrees leading to a BS include nursing, elementary education, and business administration.
SPC allows learners to transfer blocks of credit. The school offers both synchronous and asynchronous courses. SPC boasts affordable tuition for residents and out-of-state students. Admission to any of the affordable online bachelor's degrees requires SAT or ACT scores and official transcripts.
Florida State College at Jacksonville serves about 45,000 students annually through several campus locations and a growing virtual college. FSCJ offers more than a dozen fully online bachelor's degrees leading to a BS or bachelor of applied science (BAS).
Students interested in business careers can pursue the 120-credit BS in business administration or financial services, both of which they can complete in 18-24 months when they transfer enough credits. Other accelerated options include the BAS in public safety management, which prepares learners to enter the workforce right out of college.
The 120-credit BAS in IT management and BAS in computer systems networking and telecommunications focus on practical job training that transfer students can complete in just 20 months. The 120-credit BS in early childhood education and BS in biomedical sciences do not offer an accelerated pathway.
FSCJ offers affordable in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. Admission to these affordable online bachelor's degree programs requires college transcripts for transfer students.
Part of the state college system, Florida Gateway College allows students to finish bachelor's degrees they started elsewhere. The online RN-to-BSN enrolls nurses with an associate degree in nursing. RNs complete 31 credits of upper-division courses covering topics such as health assessment, research and informatics, and community health.
Students interested in teaching in a childcare setting can pursue the 120-credit BS in early childhood education, which leads to eligibility for preK/primary certification in Florida. Students complete upper-level courses that explore topics such as instructional practices, infant and toddler curriculum, and education and development of young children.
FGC also offers a 121-credit bachelor of applied science in water resources management that prepares enrollees for a career right out of college. Students receive free tutoring and career services. FGC offers some of the nation's most affordable bachelor's degrees, including discounted tuition to nonresidents. Admission to any of the degree programs requires an associate degree in the major.
Tallahassee Community College consistently ranks among the best community colleges in the nation. The school also offers one of the most affordable nursing programs. The RN-to-BSN allows RNs to advance their education at their own pace.
The online program requires 48 credits that examine concepts such as health assessment, pathophysiology, health promotion, and population-based nursing. RNs also explore leadership and management principles that they can apply in their professional nursing practice.
Enrollees culminate the BSN with an evidence-based project that synthesizes lessons learned. Admission requires an AS in nursing, a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA, and an unencumbered RN license in the state where the nurse lives.
At Eastern Florida State College, students can complete affordable online bachelor's degrees that focus on degree completion and workplace preparation. EFSC's 120-credit bachelor of applied studies (BAS) in organizational management enrolls students with an associate degree. Students can choose from eight specializations, including accounting, general business, and public safety management. All students complete core courses that develop their managerial skills in areas such as accounting and HR management.
EFSC also offers a BAS in applied health sciences with specializations in medical imaging and advanced allied health. Participants complete a two-course required core: applied scientific thinking and writing for healthcare professionals.
The BAS in computer information systems technology offers a program and software development specialization. EFSC also offers an online RN-to-BSN accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. All students receive online learning support such as tutoring through Smarthinking. Admission requires an associate degree and all college transcripts.
Centrally located in Los Angeles County, California State University-Dominguez Hills offers three bachelor's degrees online. The 120-unit BS in applied studies provides a customizable curriculum for learners with at least 60 semester credits or experience in a technical field.
RNs with an associate degree can pursue the 20-unit RN-to-BSN, which includes upper-level courses such as health assessment, pathophysiology, and community-based learning. The 120-unit BS in quality assurance provides workers in production and service industries with a degree-completion option that develops competencies in areas such as lean manufacturing, quality improvement, and systems failure analysis.
Students pay competitive tuition for these affordable online bachelor's degrees. Admission requires at least 60 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
The University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee offers online bachelor's programs for students seeking to finish their degrees. The 120-credit BS in applied science (BSAS) enrolls learners with an AS from a community or state college in Florida. Students typically complete 60 credits focused on upper-division coursework and a concentration. The BSAS offers five concentrations, including public health, criminal justice, and information studies.
The 120-credit RN-to-BSN offers four tracks: ambulatory care nursing, clinical excellence, leadership/management, and patient/staff education. Each track requires 30 credits that build on the RN's diploma or associate degree in nursing. RNs can complete their BSN in three semesters of full-time enrollment.
Enrollees in any of the affordable online bachelor's degrees enjoy competitive tuition rates. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and school transcripts.
Texas A & M University-Central Texas ranks as one of the most affordable public colleges in the state. A&M-Central Texas offers seven bachelor's degree-completion programs that learners can finish entirely online. The 120-credit BS in aviation management focuses on junior- and senior-level coursework in aviation studies, business, and management. The degree offers a maintenance concentration for learners with FAA Airframe and Powerplant ratings.
The 120-credit bachelor of applied arts and sciences awards credits to enrollees with technical or military experience. Learners study topics such as business law, marketing, and financial management. The school also offers a BS in liberal studies that allows students to tailor the degree to their interests and goals.
Additionally, A&M-Central Texas offers affordable online bachelor's degrees in nursing, management, and professional pilot. Admission requires a minimum of 30 prior credits with at least a 2.0 GPA.
The University of Oklahoma's Extended Campus provides nontraditional learners and military personnel with accelerated online programs from a top-tier public college. Students can pursue online bachelor's degrees such as a BA in organizational leadership, BA in lifespan care administration, or BA in integrative studies.
Degree-seekers work with an advisor to design an individualized graduation plan for each program. Bachelor's curricula consists of 120 credits. Faculty use eight-week sessions to deliver the programs. Learners study asynchronously but must meet assignment deadlines.
Students may choose a hybrid option for any of these affordable online bachelor's degrees. With enough transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges, enrollees can complete the degrees in 18 months. Admission requires at least 24 credits with a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.
Shiloh University administers programs rooted in biblical principles. The Iowa school delivers two bachelor's degrees online. The 122-unit BA in biblical and pastoral studies prepares learners for church ministry. Students complete core courses on topics such as the New Testament and Old Testament, missions and evangelism, and spiritual formation.
The 120-unit BA in New Testament studies explores the historical, cultural, and Jewish foundation of the New Testament books. The program explores theology, biblical hermeneutics, and various aspects of the New Testament.
Shiloh's tuition rates are significantly lower than the national average for public and private colleges, and all students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission to some of the country's most affordable bachelor's degrees requires a minimum 2.0 high school GPA. Transfer students must submit all college transcripts.
Degree-seekers interested in earning an affordable bachelor's degree can do so through Pasco-Hernando State College. The Florida college administers a fully online bachelor of applied science in supervision and management (BAS-SM) that costs less than $10,000.
The degree-completion option enrolls learners with an associate degree or the equivalent number of credits. The 120-credit BAS-SM consists of 60 credits of upper-division coursework that prepares enrollees for managerial positions.
The BAS-SM core covers topics such as financial management, management theory and practices, and management information systems. Students can customize the degree with one of five concentrations in areas including aviation administration, healthcare management, and cybersecurity management.
Students can pursue the regionally accredited degree on a full- or part-time basis. Admission to one of the nation's most affordable online bachelor's degree programs requires a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA on transfer credits.
City Vision University develops affordable programs with the underserved in mind. The Missouri college offers four fully online degrees that focus on practical Christian education. The 120-credit bachelor's in business offers concentrations in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. All students complete a core that explores topics such as nonprofit financial accounting, human resources, and business communications. Students may also create their own concentration from available courses.
The 120-credit bachelor's in addiction counseling explores concepts such as counseling foundations, professional counseling practices, case management, and spirituality and addictions. City Vision University also offers affordable online bachelor's degrees in nonprofit management and Christian ministry and leadership. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency.
Learners can transfer up to 75% of the degree's credits. Those living outside of the United States receive a one-third tuition scholarship. Veterans, military personnel, and rescue personnel receive a 15% tuition scholarship. Admission requires school transcripts.
Established in 1958, Saint Johns River State College is a small college located in Florida. The school's affordable online bachelor's programs enroll students with an associate degree. The bachelor of applied science (BAS) in organizational management prepares enrollees for mid-management positions.
The program offers three concentrations: healthcare administration, supervision and management, and emerging computers and technologies. Regardless of their concentration, all learners study general business topics such as management theory and practices and advanced business communications.
The 120-credit RN-to-BSN enrolls nurses with an unencumbered Florida RN license. Nurses complete 30 credits of upper-level BSN courses, which examine subjects such as health assessment, informatics and evidence-based practice, and teaching and learning in nursing practice.
Students pursuing these affordable bachelor's degrees enjoy competitive tuition rates. Admission requires an associate degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Students at Indiana University-Northwest can choose from 27 online bachelor's degrees in areas such as business administration, data science, nursing, and psychology. The bachelor of applied science offers tracks in sustainability studies and healthcare management. Students can also create their own plan of study with advisor approval.
The bachelor of general studies' customizable curriculum accepts up to 90 transfer credits and allows learners to develop a degree plan that meets their career goals. Working professionals with American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification can enroll in the BS in medical imaging technology.
All students gain access to success coaching, math and writing support, and IU's library resources. Admission to these affordable online bachelor's degree programs requires SAT or ACT scores and college transcripts.
One of North Carolina's oldest public colleges, Fayetteville State University offers several degree-completion programs online. FSU offers only upper-division courses online, allowing learners to transfer lower-division coursework from other institutions.
The school offers bachelor's degrees in fields such as accounting, nursing, sociology, and psychology. Students interested in a career in law enforcement or security services can enroll in the BA in intelligence studies. Core courses explore topics such as intelligence operations, intelligence and national security, and advanced intelligence analysis.
Degree-seekers interested in teaching young children can pursue the BS in birth-kindergarten (B-K) teaching and nonteaching. The degree, which leads to a North Carolina B-K teaching license, develops early educators knowledgeable about child development and learning.
North Carolina residents pay fixed tuition, and all students pay competitive tuition rates. Admission to any of these affordable online bachelor's degrees requires a minimum 2.0 GPA on transfer credits.
Founded in 1956, Southern University at New Orleans is a small college with two online bachelor's degrees. The BS in criminal justice gives learners a well-rounded education in the inner workings of the justice system. The 120-credit program explores areas such as criminal investigation, the police process, and law and social control.
Learners interested in a customizable curriculum can enroll in the 120-credit bachelor of general studies. The degree program offers four concentrations: humanities, political science, social science, and African-American studies.
Students can save money when they transfer up to 93 credits from a four-year college into either of these affordable bachelor's degrees. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores for freshmen, and a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA for transfer students.
Located in Alabama, Athens State University offers online programs that focus exclusively on junior- and senior-level coursework. The 124-credit bachelor of science degrees include majors such as accounting, health science, management, and healthcare management. All degrees require general education courses that students transfer from prior colleges.
A unique BS in acquisition and contract management covers topics such as project management, government contract law, and acquisition and contract management pricing. The BS in management of cybersecurity operations develops competencies in domains such as operations management, cybersecurity strategic management, and cybersecurity governance.
These affordable online bachelor's degree programs feature competitive tuition rates. Admission requires at least 36 transferable credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Tacoma Community College offers two- and four-year degrees on two campuses in Washington and online. The school's affordable online bachelor's degrees enroll learners with an associate degree or the equivalent credits in a healthcare or human services field. The BAS in community health explores topics such as epidemic prevention, environmental health, and trauma as a community health issue.
The BAS in health information management prepares learners to sit for the national Registered Health Information Administrator exam. The degree examines topics such as healthcare systems, healthcare data, medical coding, and health statistics and research.
Students pay competitive tuition rates and potentially save money with block credit transfers. Admission requires an AA, AS, or AAS with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Daytona State College, located in Florida, offers fully online bachelor's degrees that use a 2+2 model. Students complete an associate degree at Daytona State or another college before they transfer into the bachelor's program. Degrees include a bachelor of applied science in supervision and management, BS in information technology, and RN-to-BSN.
The BS in engineering technology, accredited by ABET, provides the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for industrial operations and construction design careers. Students develop skills in domains such as mechanics, energy systems, and quality assurance. The program offers an electrical engineering technology concentration that explores concepts such as electrical and electronics circuits, power systems, and programmable logic controllers.
Students may begin earning their bachelor's degree at Daytona State by enrolling in the associate of arts transfer degree. Admission to any of these affordable online bachelor's degrees requires a minimum 2.0-2.5 GPA.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center offers three online bachelor's programs, all of which focus on healthcare. Students with a bachelor's degree from an accredited college can earn a second degree -- a BS in clinical laboratory science -- in just 12 months. Learners develop proficiencies in areas such as clinical immunology, clinical laboratory practice, and foundations of clinical microbiology.
The 120-credit BS in healthcare management prepares students to manage healthcare systems and facilities. The program offers healthcare professional and executive management concentrations. All students explore core subjects such as healthcare financial management, community health issues, human resources management, and healthcare law and ethics. TTUHSC also offers RN-to-BSN, BSN-to-DNP, accelerated second degree BSN, and accelerated veteran BSN programs.
Admission to any of these affordable online bachelor's degrees requires a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA on transfer credits.