Online Schools & Colleges
in Virginia

Resources and Information for Finding the Best Online Colleges in Virginia

Since 2014, Virginia has made strong efforts to increase higher education access through its Virginia Plan for Higher Education. The state considers online education a vital component to the educational landscape, and has even passed legislation centered on the continual improvement and expansion of its online offerings. Currently, there are 23 schools in the Virginia Community College System, or VCCS, many of which offer educational programs in an online format. Virginia students ready for college can find programs, financial aid and admissions information, compare schools and get details on the best online colleges in Virginia for 2018 below.

Best Online Colleges in Virginia
2018-2019

Methodology
2-Year Colleges

We want to make your job of choosing an online college in Virginia to attend easier, so we’ve started the legwork for you. Taking into account factors important to students like tuition, financial aid, program availability, graduation rate and student-teacher ratio, we’ve crunched the numbers to determine with Virginia schools give students the best mix of quality and student support below—learn more about the best online colleges in Virginia for 2018 to kickstart your college search.

Filters
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Northern Virginia Community College $4,890 13 23% 19% Yes Yes Yes
2 Thomas Nelson Community College $4,193 27 17% 6% Yes Yes Yes
3 Tidewater Community College $4,193 10 16% 5% Yes Yes Yes
4 John Tyler Community College $4,148 13 19% 2% Yes No Yes
5 Southwest Virginia Community College $4,133 16 37% 61% Yes Yes Yes
6 Mountain Empire Community College $4,133 24 38% 51% Yes No Yes
7 Southside Virginia Community College $4,133 8 36% 19% Yes Yes Yes
8 Piedmont Virginia Community College $4,163 8 26% 8% Yes Yes Yes
9 Patrick Henry Community College $4,133 5 25% 2% Yes Yes Yes
10 Rappahannock Community College $4,133 8 28% 25% Yes No Yes
11 New River Community College $4,132 6 21% 15% Yes Yes Yes
12 Virginia Western Community College $4,193 5 22% 33% Yes No Yes
13 J Sargeant Reynolds Community College $4,256 4 17% 5% No Yes Yes
Filters
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 James Madison University $5,896 6 72% 83% 20% Yes Yes Yes

James Madison University is host to an array of distance education alternatives. Undergraduate students can complete their RN-BSN through hybrid coursework, or earn an autism certificate through a fully online, 1-year format. The adult degree program customizes a bachelor's degree to fit your needs and interests by utilizing any academic history and life experience to count toward transferrable credits. Graduate students also have the choice to participate in 100% online master's programs in subjects such as educational technology, computer science, mathematics or speech and language pathology. If travel interests you, there are opportunities to pursue political science, business administration, science, Spanish or nursing in courses that are completed abroad with the combination of online and on-campus studies. The distance education webpage features an online readiness self-assessment to help determine if distance studies are a good fit for your lifestyle. Classes, which are semi-structured, use the web platform Canvas to implement video lectures, group projects and class discussions.

2 Liberty University $15,105 41 24% 55% 88% Yes Yes Yes

With over 250 certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral-level online degrees, Liberty University is a faith-based institution that is committed to providing affordable schooling. There are a number of scholarships specific to distance education students, military personnel receive a discounted tuition and all students have access to free e-books for every undergraduate course. Program options include aviation, divinity, behavioral sciences, government, nursing and more. In order to stay connected to the campus community, students can submit prayer requests via the web, take advantage of a video library, receive assistance from the writing center and find technical support for the platform Blackboard Learn. You can also sign up for webinars throughout the year, which allow you to ask questions and discuss concerns. The Online Student Advocate Office offers support for issues concerning financial aid and academic advising. Program length, tuition costs and graduation requirements vary depending on the number of credits being transferred over, as well as the degree of choice.

3 George Mason University $8,204 12 81% 70% 29% Yes Yes Yes

At George Mason University, there are over 50 hybrid and fully online programs for students to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in subject areas of science, math, health, engineering, business or education. Some coursework is implemented on a set schedule, requiring students to access their virtual classroom at a specific time of day. Other classes are self-paced, allowing for even more flexibility. GMU faculty members teach all curriculums, and makes use of blogs, social media and discussion boards to engage their classroom. Distance education students can utilize the same resources as those studying on campus. This includes an after-hours nurse who is available for medical advice, counseling resources, and access to the Student Support and Advocacy Center, which assists in developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. All students will also be connected to an academic advisor, who can provide information regarding transfer credits, tuition, financial aid and graduation requirements for each program.

4 Regent University $15,900 6 81% 53% 87% Yes Yes Yes

Regent University is a Christian-based learning institution offering 129 programs to receive an undergraduate or graduate degree in hybrid or fully online formats. You can find options in business, theology, education, nursing, STEM and more. Semi-structured curriculums are delivered through the web platform Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate. Students participate in real-time lectures and discussion posts, as well as self-paced assignments, with an average of 17 other students in each virtual classroom. Undergraduate classes run for 8 weeks, and graduate course duration depends on the program of choice. If you are unsure if online coursework is the right choice, you can use the "test drive" tool to explore a class at no cost. For students with prior credit, the school maintains a generous transfer policy by accepting up to 90 hours. Although you will be learning off-campus, the school involves distance education students in the campus community by welcoming you on mission trips and study abroad experiences.

5 Virginia Tech $10,787 8 71% 84% 38% No Yes Yes

Students looking to build upon their undergraduate education can pursue a master's degree or professional certificate in a hybrid or fully online format at Virginia Tech. Twelve graduate programs are available in disciplines ranging from aerospace engineering to information technology. There are 10 certificate options, which include subjects such as nuclear engineering, integrative STEM education, or security studies. As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), online programs at VT are recognized within other SARA institutions and states. Most coursework can be completed at a part or full-time pace. However, certain programs require you to follow a specific plan of study. All classes combine readings, discussions, and video conferencing. Online students can take advantage of a number of resources, including career services, a women's center, counseling and academic advising. There are financial aid opportunities for all students, and military personnel qualify for additional incentives and fee waivers.

6 University of Virginia-Main Campus $12,496 11 30% 95% 31% No Yes Yes

At the University of Virginia, students can earn a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies or health science management in a fully online format. You must have enough prior credit in order to transfer to UVA as a third-year student, where you will spend 3-4 years completing 60 credit hours to receive a degree. This option is also available for a master's degree in public safety, which combines both on-campus and online coursework to finish 30 credit hours. There are a number of undergraduate and graduate online certificate options in subjects ranging from accounting to public relations. Coursework is delivered in both asynchronous and synchronous formats through the platform UVaCollab, which uses interactive features such as discussion forums and video conferencing to engage students. Although you will rarely step foot on campus, admitted students are required to attend orientation in Charlottesville. In and out-of-state tuition rates are the same, and you can take advantage of scholarship, financial aid, and payment plan opportunities to help with costs.

7 Old Dominion University $6,330 37 85% 55% 65% Yes Yes Yes

Old Dominion University has been providing distance education since 1994. Degree options have expanded to over 120 minors, certificates, 4-year bachelor's, bachelor's completion, master's and doctoral-level degrees since that time. Most curriculum follows the ODU on-campus schedule, with certain programs being offered at an accelerated pace. Some classes take place in real time, requiring students to stick to a specific schedule, while others can be accessed at any point throughout the day. All coursework is taught by ODU faculty, and implemented through the web platform Blackboard Learn. For active-duty service members living abroad, certain curriculum is available in DVD format. Military personnel also receive a discounted tuition. All students receive support services such as tutoring, writing center help, online study groups, and library access. Enrollment coaches are available to discuss academic planning, concerns regarding state reciprocity, and financial aid options. Students can also determine their academic standing by using the school's free transfer evaluation tool prior to applying for any program.

8 Hampton University $21,552 14 65% 58% 67% Yes Yes Yes

Hampton University prides itself on its virtual, online campus, which features a number of fully online academic programs. There are 29 options to receive a certificate, associate's, bachelor's, master's or doctoral-level degree in disciplines such as aviation management, counselor education and religious studies. For those interested in nursing, there are both 1 and 2-year alternatives for an accelerated RN-BSN program. Eight and 16-week courses are completed on your own schedule, and most students complete a bachelor's degree in 4 years. Transfer students are encouraged to go over their academic history with an advisor. This is because military training, credit-by-exam, and life experiences often count toward credit hours. Beyond academic advising, online students have access to financial aid and scholarship opportunities, the library, a writing center, counseling and career services, and technical support. Admissions qualifications, graduation requirements, and program length are dependent on degree of choice and student schedule.

9 Radford University $6,991 4 81% 60% 18% No Yes Yes

For those pursuing a graduate education, Radford University is host to 16 online or hybrid certificate and master's degree programs. Subject areas include criminal justice, art design thinking, cyber security, RN-BSN and educational leadership, among others. Certificate programs take 1-3 years, and require 13-18 credit hours to complete. Master's degrees can be earned in 2-3 years, and require 30-36 credit hours for graduation. Courses are mostly self-paced, and students can customize their workload to be part or full-time. Curriculum is applied through the platform Design to Learn, and combines video presentations, webinars and discussion forums to keep students engaged. There are a number of resources to help online students through their programs, including 24/7 technical support, access to the McConnell Library, and online tutoring services from NetTutor. Although you will want to confirm that your degree of choice is acknowledged in your location of residency, the university is approved by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

10 Mary Baldwin University $30,240 16 99% 43% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Mary Baldwin University offers 27 online certificate and degree programs. Environment-based learning, health care administration and sustainable business management are just a few of the available curriculums. The courses are self-paced and implemented through the web platform Blackboard Learn, which combines lectures and discussion forms to create a sense of community. Students can transfer up to 90 credit hours, as well as opt for a half or full-time workload. As a result, the time to complete studies varies depending on the student and their program of choice. Tuition also differs for each degree. Admissions representatives are available to assist you throughout your educational experience via phone or Skype conversations. They can provide information regarding financial aid and scholarship opportunities, including multiple benefits for veterans and active military personnel. Online students can also access online tutoring support. Graduates have entered into fields of health care advocacy, pharmaceuticals, special education and social work.

11 Virginia Commonwealth University $10,846 14 81% 63% 55% No Yes Yes
12 Norfolk State University $5,318 8 85% 37% 40% Yes Yes Yes
13 Virginia University of Lynchburg $7,200 7 - 57% 75% Yes Yes Yes
14 Bluefield College $23,600 9 85% 51% 91% No Yes Yes
15 Virginia Baptist College $5,160 4 - - 17% Yes Yes Yes
16 Jefferson College of Health Sciences $24,700 7 - 37% 100% Yes No Yes
17 Virginia International University $9,408 14 25% - - No Yes Yes
18 Bethel College $8,000 5 - - 100% No No Yes

How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in Virginia?

Students can access a list of Virginia school’s on the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) Colleges and Universities page. Each school has an accompanying profile, providing students with detailed information and data, ranging from the school’s most popular degrees to its graduation rate, retention rate, average loan debt and demographics. Students can also access a school’s program inventory through its profile, or directly through SCHEV’s Degree Inventory tool.

Online students may be particularly interested in the Distance Learning Programs inventory, which allows students to see all online programs in Virginia, sorted by institution and degree level. The programs in this list can be completed entirely online. Students who have a specific program in mind but aren’t sure whether it’s offered online can always reach out to program advisers and coordinators to double check.

Which online schools in Virginia will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?

The Virginia Plan for Higher Education aims to make it easier for students to transfer their credits and understand the transfer process. A 2016 study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that many transfer students weren’t carrying their credits from one institution to another. This is because opportunities to transfer schools in Virginia were on the rise, while information on transfer policies and processes remained outdated and confusing.

Since then, however, the credit transfer process has become more streamlined and unified between institutions. Many colleges–like at Virginia Tech, where one in five graduates begin as transfer students—make it easy to change schools and receive credit for prior courses. These schools may also grant credits for prior military or work experience. Institutions vary on their policies, regarding how many credits students can transfer, the required GPA for transfer students and other transfer application particulars. Students can find school-specific information on the SCHEV Transfer Options page.

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How Much More Do College Grads in Virginia Make?

In Virginia, a college degree can have a huge impact on a person’s income. On average, Virginians working in positions that require bachelor’s degrees make nearly twice as much as those who have occupations that require a high school diploma.

Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in Virginia, by Degree Level:

No Formal
Education
High School
Diploma
Associate
Degree
Bachelor’s
Degree
Master’s
Degree
Doctoral
Degree
$30,510 $43,258 $61,187 $84,089 $84,876 $115,963

Job opportunities in Virginia are expected to increase by 9.3 percent by 2024, meaning demand for qualified employees will be even higher. The highest-paying, in-demand careers for those with bachelor’s degrees are in the computer information and software development sectors. Software developers, computer systems analysts, computer and information systems managers and information security analysts are projected to experience high job growth, plus earnings in the range of $100,000 or more per year. Careers in the medical and social services fields are also projected to grow over the next few years.

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The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Virginia aims to be the best-educated state in the country, and one important step is ensuring that students have access to high-caliber online degrees. Students can do their part in making sure they enroll in quality programs by checking into their online schools’ accreditation status.

Accreditation is a voluntary evaluative process that institutions or programs may undergo to prove they meet certain quality standards of quality. Schools may receive either institutional or programmatic accreditation, or both. Institutional accreditation assesses the quality of a school as a whole, and the highest standard of institutional accreditation is granted by regional accrediting boards throughout the United States.

Accreditation Examples in Virginia

The regional board in charge of evaluating the quality of online colleges and universities in Virginia is the Regional Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Along with institutional accreditation, individual programs of study may undergo program-specific accreditation. For instance, Virginia’s George Mason University is accredited by the SACSCOC, and its online bachelor’s in business management program is specifically accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the national standard for business education accreditation.

Paying for Online College in Virginia: Tuition & Financial Aid

Virginia is home to a rising number of young adults—particularly from underrepresented groups — who need advanced educations to fill in-demand occupations across the state and contribute to social and economic growth. However, the cost of attending college in Virginia has continually increased at a rate that keeps many students from obtaining degrees. The state continues making efforts to increase higher education accessibility, and make it more affordable. Still, prospective students should consider tuition costs for in-state, out-of-state, and online students, as these vary considerably between Virginia colleges.

It’s common for online bachelor’s programs at Virginia schools to cost around the same for online students as it does for in-person students. Most online courses require an online course fee to cover the costs associated with operating an online platform. For this reason, online students typically end up paying around $30-$50 more per credit hour than their on-campus counterparts. These additional fees may be offset by potential savings on expenses related to transportation, parking, and on-campus meals.

Nonresidents, whether they take courses online or in-person, usually end up paying significantly more to attend a Virginia college.

  • Out-of-state students at George Mason University, pay around 3.5 times more in tuition than resident students, plus additional online course fees.

  • At James Madison University, distance education costs less than in-person coursework for both in-state and out-of-state students, but non-residents still pay a premium for their classes.

When determining tuition costs in Virginia, there is no catch-all answer, so it’s important for online students to research each particular school and program to find out how much its degree will cost.

What are Virginia’s requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?

Tuition costs for Virginia non-residents are often considerably higher than for in-state students, but establishing residency in Virginia is fairly straightforward. Students must live in Virginia for a full 12 months before their first day of classes, and demonstrate intent to make Virginia their permanent residence after graduation. It’s not enough simply to live in the state for a year—students must prove that they moved to Virginia for reasons other than school. They can do so by showing employment in Virginia, changing voter registration and actually voting in the state, property ownership, or by paying Virginia income taxes. Students who live outside of Virginia but work (or have parents who work) in the state may also qualify for in-state tuition. Full residency details are available here.

Those who are unable or unwilling to establish residency in Virginia may still qualify for in-state tuition at certain schools. Virginia is part of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and some schools participate in the Board’s Academic Common Market, which grants in-state tuition to students who live in other SREB states. This can be particularly beneficial to online students seeking degrees from Virginia schools, who get the convenience of distance education without taking on the extra cost of out-of-state tuition.

Are online credits more affordable in Virginia than other places?

When it comes to online colleges in Virginia, the cost per-credit largely depends on the school, and a student’s residency status. Many colleges in Virginia charge students the same amount for online classes as on-campus ones, but this is not always the case. Let’s take a look at some of the cost per credit rates at online colleges in Virginia compared to other nearby states for the 2018-2019 fall and spring semesters:

Virginia Online Credit Costs

$460 per credit hour
$352 to $389 per credit hour
$430 per credit hour

Online Credit Costs, Nearby Colleges and Universities

$380 per credit hour
$314 to $985 per credit hour
$717 to $1,548 per credit
$221 to $874 per credit hour

How can I get help paying for online college in Virginia?

Students enrolling in online colleges in Virginia should start their financial aid search by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This gives students the opportunity to receive federal loans and grants, which can help offset the cost of tuition. Most need-based scholarships in Virginia use FAFSA information to determine student eligibility, too, so completing the form early can give students the best opportunity to receive aid.

The Virginia Plan for Higher Education aims to increase public funding to help make college more affordable to students throughout the state, but there are many financial aid opportunities specific to states, subjects and institutions. Examples include:

Students can find a list of Virginia scholarships and grants on SCHREV’s Financial Aid Programs page, and they can access more state- and institution-specific financial aid information and resources here.

Online Education & Adult Education in Virginia

Sometimes students begin their college education but have to take significant time off for personal or financial reasons. In some cases, circumstances keep students from attending college in the first place. Virginia acknowledges that in order to grow the state socially and economically, learners of all ages and experiences need educational access. As a result, adult education programs were created to help non-traditional students continue their education. Often times, these courses can be used as a stepping stone for students who will go on to earn their college degree.

Here are a few of the college jumpstart programs offered through Virginia adult education initiatives:

Adult Education programs can be useful for:

  • Adult high school diploma programs – for aspiring Virigina college students whose first step is to take the GED or earn a high school equivalency certificate.

  • English learner programs – for students learning English to earn citizenship or take online college coursework in English.

  • Basic education programs – for students in Virginia who need to refresh their math, reading and writing skills before going back to college.

  • Lifelong learner programs – for seniors interested in pursuing college credits to brush up on technical skills before enrolling in an online degree program.

To locate programs in your area visit the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center website.

In 2017, nearly 20,000 people across Virginia participated in adult education programs.
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