Do You Need a Degree to Be a Pastor?

man standing in the road with a Bible

You don’t need a degree to be a pastor. But technically, it depends on where you want to be a pastor. Every church has their own criteria to determine if someone is qualified to lead, and for some of them, a degree may be part of that.

In most cases, a degree isn’t an official requirement—it just helps. Churches want to hire people who have a solid grasp of the Bible, theology, and ministry. This can come from formal education, but it doesn’t have to. Still, a seminary degree like a master of divinity provides biblical, theological, and ministerial training, and having credentials gives churches a more objective way to evaluate your qualifications.

Ultimately, your ordination comes from the individual church, not a college, seminary, or body of government. And churches don’t just hand those out.

You have to be called to be a pastor

The first thing you need to ask yourself (and it’s probably one of the first interview questions a church will ask you), is “Why do you want to be a pastor?” Hopefully, you’re looking into this because you already feel that God has called you to preach, teach, and minister to a congregation.

“God’s call has many manifestations,” the United Methodist Church says, “and the Church cannot structure a single test of authenticity. Nevertheless, the experience of the Church and the needs of its ministry require certain qualities of faith, life, and practice from those who seek ordination as deacons and elders.”

Maybe you can recall a particular moment when you realized God was leading you to be a pastor, or a time someone pointed it out to you. Maybe it’s a stirring you’ve felt for a long time. Either way, the process of becoming a pastor is about confirming whether or not God is calling you. And that means people God has already appointed to lead (elders, pastors, etc.) have to affirm your calling.

This looks a little different in every church, because most denominations don’t have formal guidelines, just recommendations. Some churches may simply hire you. Others may give you a license. And some will talk to you about their ordination process.

But most legitimate churches will require extensive meetings, interviews, and conversations about your personal life, theological perspectives, and biblical education (formal or otherwise). You can pay for a license online from a church that may or may not actually meet anywhere or believe anything specific, but that probably won’t get you very far if you want to be a pastor of a church.

Most churches are very selective about who they let lead, and under what conditions.

Is there a difference between being ordained and being licensed?

Some churches make a distinction between licensing a pastor and ordaining one. If a National Baptist church licenses you to be a pastor, for example, it’s essentially a “trial period.” The church is letting you dip your toe in the water and practice leading under the guidance of an ordained pastor.

“Within the Baptist tradition, when an individual expresses a ‘call’ to ministry they are granted a ‘trial’ or initial sermon at the will of the church,” the National Baptist Convention says. “Based on the outcome of that sermon the Church may grant that individual a license to preach. This license affords the person the privilege to exercise and make full proof of their call to ministry.”

Some denominations essentially use license and ordination synonymously, and licensed pastors can legally perform all pastoral duties.

But in denominations like the NBC, licensed ministers “are not permitted to do communion, baptize or commit bodies unless given authority to do so by their local Pastor. They are not legally allowed to perform marriages.”

There may also be a difference in how licenses and ordinations are revoked. In some cases, ordination is almost like tenure—it’s good for life.

“The license is issued by the Church and can be recalled by the Church,” the NBC says in their clergy FAQs. “Once a minister is ordained, he/she may legally perform marriages and can take charge of all Church functions and ordinances without the approval of another minister. The ordination belongs to the minister, and as such cannot be reclaimed by any other Baptist body. This is why it is so important to carefully examine all licentiates before they are ordained. You can correct mistakes when a minister is licensed. It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to do so after they are ordained.”

Do you need a degree to be a Baptist pastor?

Baptist denominations all handle ordination a little differently, but here’s how it works in two of the major Baptist traditions.

Southern Baptist Convention

The SBC is adamant that ordination is entirely up to the individual church, and they don’t officially require a degree of any kind.

“Every cooperating Southern Baptist church is autonomous and decides individually whether or not to ordain an individual, or whether to require ordination of its pastor or ministry staff,” the SBC says. “Some cooperating churches may require seminary training from an SBC seminary prior to ordination, while others may not; such a requirement is entirely up to the church.”

The SBC does, however, list some of the common methods Southern Baptist churches will use to evaluate pastoral candidates:

“When a church senses that God has led a person into pastoral ministry, it is a common practice to have a council (usually of pastors) review his testimony of salvation, his pastoral calling from the Lord, and his qualifications (including theological preparation and scriptural qualifications according to 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:7–9) for pastoral ministry. Based upon that interview the church typically decides whether or not ordination would be appropriate.”

National Baptist Convention

Similarly, the National Baptist Convention has no official regulations about qualifications to be a pastor, and leaves it up to individual churches. However, the NBC says most National Baptist churches will likely use guidelines provided in The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches.

“Intellectual capability may not be the first qualification for the ministry,” the book says. “But the ministry demands the best of the mind and skill of those who exercise it. Academic preparation appropriate to the demands of the work and the expectations of the community is necessary . . . The specific requirements may be different from church to church and from denomination to denomination. But all ministers should be willing to meet and desire to exceed such standards for the effectiveness of their ministry . . . Ministry should be built on academic preparation and on continuing commitment to education throughout a ministry . . .”

In other words, you don’t officially need a degree, but most NBC churches will probably expect you to have one.

Do you need a degree to be a Methodist pastor?

The United Methodist Church doesn’t formally require a degree, and their qualifications focus far more on your character and gifting than your education. Their expectations come from The Book of Discipline, which briefly mentions education, but only to say that current ministers are responsible for deciding what kind and level of education is required:

“The United Methodist Church entrusts those persons who are in the ordained ministry with primary responsibility for maintaining standards of education and preparation for ordination.”

Regardless, a seminary degree can help you meet some of the UMC’s basic expectations for ministers. Formal education can train you to “Communicate persuasively the Christian faith in both oral and written form.” An accredited MDiv program should also help you develop expertise in Scripture, theology, church history, and church polity.

Do you need a degree to be a Church of God in Christ pastor?

In their ordination manual, the Church of God in Christ says, “Denominational ordination should affirm that the ordained person has met certain moral, ethical, spiritual, and educational standards and is qualified to practice as a clergyman.”

Historically, each COGIC jurisdiction has had its own process for ordination, as determined by the ordination board. Some of these required Bible college classes and others didn’t. In 2012, COGIC established a national standard and ordination curriculum, which you can read in its entirety here (it’s 216 pages). The manual is written for the ordination board, and covers everything they need ministers to know and believe.

Should you get a degree before becoming a pastor?

If you want to be the best pastor you can be, you need to commit yourself to growing in your:

  • Personal relationship with God
  • Love and empathy for other people
  • Knowledge of Scripture, theology, philosophy, and the church

No degree can determine if God has called you to be a pastor. But a biblical education can equip you to lead a congregation toward Christ. Degree programs can also help you accumulate hands-on ministry experience (through internships and practicums) before you become a pastor. And being trained by experienced ministry professionals and Bible scholars can help compensate for inexperience.

But it’s ultimately up to you and your church to decide if a degree is the right path for you. If you’re currently a member of a church, talk to your pastor or an elder. And if you’re not part of a church right now, finding one and committing to it should definitely be your first step.

What Is a Terminal Degree?

graduates in their caps and gowns

A terminal degree is the highest degree you can earn in a particular academic discipline. Depending on the subject, that’s going to be either a doctorate or master’s degree.

While you usually don’t need to earn a terminal degree to enter your field, you may need a terminal professional degree to be eligible for particular occupations, or before you can take the exams or complete advanced training required to earn your license. (Hospitals won’t hire you to be a doctor without a Doctor of Medicine degree.)

You don’t need a doctorate in engineering to start a lucrative career as an engineer, or work your way up the ranks in business. And in many professions, years of quality hands-on experience is more valuable than the level of degree you’ve earned.

If you aren’t seeking a professional degree in specialized fields like healthcare or law, terminal degrees are generally only necessary if you intend to work in academia, where you’ll spend your time teaching and conducting research at a university. Still, many people choose to pursue terminal degrees to master their craft, increase their expertise, or take advantage of new learning opportunities.

If you think you want to pursue a terminal degree, here’s a quick rundown of what’s out there.

Types of terminal degrees

While the exact title of a terminal degree varies by field, many disciplines lead to similar credentials. Here are the major types of terminal degrees and some of the popular academic fields that end with these degrees.

Terminal doctorate degrees

In the US, all doctorate degrees are terminal. 78,000 doctorates were awarded in 2015. There are many kinds of doctorate degrees, but most fields culminate in a research doctorate—usually one of these:

Doctor of philosophy (PhD)

A PhD is the most common terminal degree, and it encompasses the vast majority of academic disciplines. Philosophy is a specific field, but this credential comes from the Greek meaning of philosophy: “love of wisdom.”

Here are some common fields that culminate in a PhD:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Physics
  • English
  • Physical therapy
  • Education
  • Engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical, etc.)

Doctor of education (EdD)

Some schools will award a PhD in education, but most specialized education programs end in a doctor of education. Here are some of the common education programs that lead to an EdD:

  • Counseling
  • Curriculum
  • Teaching
  • Educational administration
  • Education policy
  • Educational psychology
  • Educational technology
  • Higher education
  • Human resource development
  • Language/linguistics
  • Leadership

Doctor of arts (DA)

While a PhD lets students apply their expertise and conduct research, a doctor of arts program allows students to concentrate on studying advanced aspects of their field and acquire the knowledge necessary to teach the subject. As such, a doctor of arts also has a lot of overlap with a doctor of education (EdD).

Here are some of the fields that may end in a DA:

  • Mathematics
  • History
  • English

A doctor of fine arts (DFA) is only an honorary degree in the US, but it’s a professional degree in the UK.

Doctor of engineering (Dr. Ing, DEng, Dr. Eng, EngD)

A doctor of engineering may be equivalent to a PhD in engineering, but some programs may focus more on applying your research.

What do you have to do to earn a doctorate degree?

Most doctorate programs require a master’s degree in a related field, but some programs may accept students with only a bachelor’s. Doctorate programs involve a combination of intense coursework and advanced research, and can take anywhere from 5–10 years to complete. The exact requirements depend on the type of degree, the field, and the college.

Professional degrees

Professional degrees are credentials that are required to enter a particular profession. There are three stages of academic progression with professional degrees:

  1. First professional degree
  2. Advanced professional degree
  3. Terminal professional degree

Terminal professional degrees aren’t always doctorates, as some fields don’t offer programs beyond a master’s.

Doctor of medicine (MD)

A doctor of medicine is a terminal professional degree awarded by a medical school. After earning an MD, graduates specialize through either a residency or fellowship. On average, these degrees take the longest to earn. The study and coursework alone can take 8 years, and a residency or fellowship can take another 3–8 years.

Doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or doctor of medicine in dentistry (DMD)

Dental schools choose to either award a DDS or DMD upon completion of graduate school. According to the American Dental Association, these credentials are the same, and the curriculum is the same. You may also see this referred to as a DDM.

Doctor of nursing practice (DNP)

A DNP is a practice doctorate, meaning your research directly applies to your professional practice. This credential provides the advanced understanding of nursing practices needed to transition into leadership roles.

There are several other doctorate level degrees in nursing:

  • Doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of nursing philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of nursing science (DNSc)
  • Doctor of nursing (DN)

Juris doctor (JD)

A juris doctor or doctor of jurisprudence degree is awarded upon completion of a three-year program at a law school, and it is the main prerequisite to take the bar exam and become a lawyer. (Although in some states, you can study law under a judge or practicing attorney.) The American Bar Association has stated that for academic purposes, this degree should be considered the equivalent of a PhD.

Educational Specialist (EdS)

Some roles in education require advanced expertise in specialized fields. These programs may offer different concentrations than an EdD, making them better suited for particular professions.

EdS concentrations include topics like:

  • Adult education
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Educational leadership
  • Training and development
  • Speech
  • School psychology
  • Special education

Terminal master’s degrees

Some fields don’t have doctorate-level programs. In these cases, a master’s degree is considered terminal, and it’s all that’s required to teach the subject at a university. (Just don’t expect anyone to call you Dr.)

This is a little confusing, but some master’s level programs are considered terminal degrees because they’re required to enter a profession, even though they technically aren’t the final degree you can earn in your field.

Here are some common types of terminal master’s degrees:

Master of architecture (MArch)

Master of architecture programs are professional degrees awarded by architecture schools. A MArch is required to progress through the exams and internships necessary to become a licensed architect. The master of landscape architecture (MLA or MLArch) is similar.

Master of library information systems (MLIS)

In order to become a librarian, you must have an MLIS or MLS (master of library science). There are several other designations, but the American Library Association is the organization that accredits these programs, and they say:

“The master’s degree in library and information studies is frequently referred to as the MLS; however, ALA-accredited degrees have various names such as Master of Information Studies, Master of Information, Master of Arts, Master of Librarianship, Master of Library and Information Studies, or Master of Science. The degree name is determined by the program. The [ALA] Committee for Accreditation evaluates programs based on their adherence to the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies, not based on the name of the degree.”

Master of fine arts (MFA)

While a doctorate in fine arts is an honorary degree in the US, an MFA is considered terminal. You certainly don’t need one to practice a craft or have a career in fine arts, but if you want to teach creative writing, art, design, or theater at a college level, you’re going to need an MFA.

Master of social work (MSW)

Social work is a field for people who care about people, but to move up in the field, you need credentials. Many social work professions are government positions, and all of them require strict adherence to regulations and best practices. The Council for Social Work Education accredits social work programs, and without their stamp of approval, you may not be eligible for some roles.

(Check out the top online MSW programs in the US.)

What do you have to do to earn a master’s degree?

To be admitted to a master’s degree program, you typically need a bachelor’s degree (ideally but not necessarily in a related field). Many colleges, however, offer combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for undergraduates who already know what they want to study and plan on pursuing graduate studies.

Master’s programs generally require rigorous coursework and culminate in a dissertation. They may incorporate a teaching or internship component as well.

A terminal degree isn’t always the highest degree in your field

A college may award a doctorate student with a terminal master’s degree if they completed the coursework for the doctorate program, but for whatever reason couldn’t continue to pursue doctorate studies.

This is essentially a consolation prize for the work you’ve already done. But despite the “terminal” label, it doesn’t mean you can’t pursue doctorate studies later. If your credits transfer (which depends on accreditation), you may be able to pick up where you left off.

Are there degrees higher than doctorates?

In the US, a doctorate is the highest degree you can earn. Outside the US, however, is another story. In the UK, Ireland, and a handful of other countries, graduate students can pursue a higher doctorate, such as the doctor of letters (DLitt) or doctor of science (DSc).

In the 19th century, Germany developed what is known as a habitation degree, with the intention of preparing graduates to sufficiently pass on knowledge to the next generation. Other countries, such as France, Austria, and Switzerland, now offer these degree programs, and in some cases, the degree comes with lifetime permission to lecture in the subject at universities.

While these more advanced degrees are technically what we might call “terminal degrees,” the term isn’t actually used much outside the US.

Can you get a terminal degree online?

You can earn many terminal degrees online (especially professional degrees), but online doctorates are harder to find. The more a particular program requires hands-on work, the less likely you are to find it online. (Or else if it says it’s online, that only applies to the coursework.)

Still, colleges and universities are finding inventive methods to bring the advantages of the classroom to your computer. And the best online schools are taking advantage of interactive design to provide an experience you can’t get on campus.

Take a look at how the best colleges are providing terminal degree programs like MSWs and MBAs online.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Florida

Miami skyline

The Sunshine State isn’t just a vacation destination. Florida boasts plenty of alluring attractions, but one of them can be enjoyed without ever setting foot in the state. For more than a century, Florida has been building a reputation for its prestigious colleges, and you can attend many of them online.

Online schools let you work toward a new credential without uprooting your life. And the credentials they offer are usually the same as you’d earn on campus. So you’re free to pursue an education that fits your life.

To help you sort through the top online schools in Florida, we’ve used data from The National Center for Education Statistics and ratings from school-ranking entities like TheBestSchools.org, AffordableCollegesOnline.org, BestColleges.com, and OnlineColleges.net.

We’ll show you each school’s:

  • Location
  • Tuition cost
  • Admissions rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Number of online degrees
  • Student population
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Awards and accolades
  • Accreditation
  • Anything else we think will help you decide

Let’s find an online school you’ll love! For starters, here are some highlights:

Most affordable

A quality education doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you already live in Florida, several schools on this list are incredibly affordable. University of Florida (#1 on our list), University of Central Florida (#2), and University of West Florida (#5) are all about $6,000 per year in-state. Florida International University (#3) is about $7,000 per year in-state.

If you’re not from Florida, a quality Florida education comes with a bigger price tag. The Baptist College of Florida (#10) is the most affordable school on this list for out-of-state students, coming in at about $11,000 per year. Florida Institute of Technology (#9) is a close second at about $12,000 per year.

Best graduation rate

Most people go to college in the hopes of walking away with a degree. Unfortunately, only three of the top online colleges in Florida have above average graduation rates. If your main concern is graduating, your best bet is University of Florida (#1). They have an 87 percent graduation rate.

Most online degree options

Most of these schools focus on either graduate or undergraduate studies. So if you’re looking for the best selection of online degrees, it really depends on the level of degree you have in mind. University of Florida (#1) has way more online graduate degrees than any other school on this list, but Florida International University (#3) has almost twice as many online undergraduate degrees.

You’ll probably notice that a lot of online colleges have business, education, and health-related majors. It’s not as common to see online STEM degrees, but they do exist. We’ll let you know when schools have programs that really stand out.

Best job placement rate

Most schools won’t tell you what percentage of their graduates have jobs, because they don’t have to. Keiser University (#6) was the only school on this list to report their job placement rate, so they win by default here. Still, their 91.8 percent placement rate is pretty good, and they provide the data for you to explore which majors had even better rates.

Now, on to the top ten!

1. University of Florida

Arial view of University of Florida campus
Image source: University of Florida
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $6,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $29,000 per year

Admissions rate: 46%
Graduation rate: 87%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 18
  • Graduate: 53

Student population: 52,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 20 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 1
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 1
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 2
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 2

University of Florida offers a good selection of online bachelor degrees, and an even wider selection of online graduate-level degrees. In addition to the 18 majors, you can also choose to add one of five minor options.

University of Florida is the #8 best online college in the country.

Here are a couple of their noteworthy online degree programs:

At some schools, you may feel like being an online student means you miss out on a lot of career advancement opportunities. But that’s not the case at all with University of Florida. Online students at UF can take full advantage of the same nationally ranked career center as on-campus students, and you can even supplement your studies with an internship or research opportunities. You’ll also meet once per term with an academic advisor.

Here’s how they put it:

“UF Online provides an unparalleled education to determined individuals—wherever life takes them. We remove barriers, so our students can break through. And those who have what it takes to complete one of our fully online four-year programs earn the same University of Florida degree as their counterparts on campus.”

Whether you’re preparing for graduate studies or looking to start a career, UF gives you the flexibility you need to craft a degree that fits your goals.

In this inspirational video, University of Florida shows you how you can get an online education on your terms:

University of Florida has 400,000+ alumni, and as a student, you’ll be plugged into this network. Regardless of your major, there’s bound to be a huge group of alumni that can help connect your to employers, internship opportunities, and more.

2. University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida campus
Image source: University of Central Florida
Location: Orlando, Florida
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $6,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $22,000 per year

Admissions rate: 50%
Graduation rate: 69%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 21
  • Graduate: 27

Student population: 64,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 30 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 1
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 3
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 3
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 5

University of Central Florida offers a diverse selection of online degrees through UCF Online.

UCF is the #9 best online college in the U.S.

A couple of their degree programs have been nationally ranked as well. They have the:

Here’s what they say about their online degree programs:

“Whether you’re around the corner or across the globe, transferring from another institution or returning to college as a nontraditional learner, the University of Central Florida’s online bachelor’s degrees are designed and taught by the same award-winning faculty who teach these classes at our main campus in Orlando, FL. Every course—online and traditional—is held to the same high-quality standards.”

As a student at UCF, you’ll have access to a wide range of online student services and you’ll still be eligible for internship opportunities.

Here’s what one student’s experience with online classes looked like:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/134733267

UCF also has a “Knights Online” page that teaches you more about how online classes work.

The transfer rate at University of Central Florida is just 4 percent. That’s significantly lower than the national average, and it means that people who start here typically stay here.

3. Florida International University

Florida International University campus
Image source: Florida International University
Location: Miami, Florida
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $7,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $19,000 per year

Admissions rate: 50%
Graduation rate: 56%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 34
  • Graduate: 24

Student population: 55,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 27 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 3
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 4
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 7
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 8

Florida International University offers a wide selection of liberal arts degrees, including several business programs. At the graduate level, they offer some STEM degree programs as well.

FIU has the #3 online BBA degree program in the country.

In addition to their degree programs, FIU has a variety of other online education programs, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are free and open to anyone. These are condensed versions of college courses, and there’s no instructor. MOOCs help the general public stay educated about topics like cyber security, emergency preparedness, and public health, as well as provide basic training in things like real estate and entrepreneurship.

For those looking for professional credentials and a lighter course load, they have a selection of undergraduate and graduate level certificate programs as well.

Note: FIU has a one percent transfer rate. It’s rare for someone to start their education here and decide to finish it somewhere else.

4. Saint Leo University

Aerial view of Saint Leo University campus
Image source: Saint Leo University
Location: Saint Leo, Florida
Tuition cost: about $21,000 per year
Admissions rate: 70%
Graduation rate: 40%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 25
  • Graduate: 29

Student population: 14,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 16 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 9
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 10
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 1

Saint Leo University has a good selection of online degrees in business, psychology, sociology, education, and criminal justice. Students can also supplement their bachelor’s degree with one of four online minors.

Online students at SLU have access to a suite of career services, including:

  • Résumé help from someone familiar with your program and field
  • Mock interviews (over the phone or online)
  • Online webinars with tips for networking, interviewing, and resume building
  • Cover letter assistance
  • Help with job searching

This is the oldest Catholic university in Florida, and they’ve been providing online courses for 20 years.

5. University of West Florida

University of West Florida sign
Image source: University of West Florida
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $6,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $19,000 per year

Admissions rate: 41%
Graduation rate: 49%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 7
  • Graduate: 18

Student population: 12,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 22 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 4
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 5
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 6

University of West Florida’s online degree programs are relatively balanced between STEM fields and humanities. They also have a good selection of online certificate programs. And if you’ve already started your degree elsewhere, it looks like they have more than 90 degree completion programs (though the website doesn’t list what they are).

About 30% of all students at UWF are fully online.

Fun fact: UWF supports over 11,500 jobs and generates $1.2 billion in annual income and wages.

6. Keiser University at Ft. Lauderdale

Keiser University, Ft. Lauderdale campus
Image source: Keiser University
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Tuition cost: about $18,000 per year
Admissions rate: Open admissions
Graduation rate: 67%
Job placement rate: 91.8%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 24
  • Graduate: 3

Student population: 19,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 14 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 4
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 6
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 7

Keiser University at Ft. Lauderdale’s online degree programs mostly fall under business, health, education, and criminal justice. Several of these programs are also available in Spanish.

Here’s what Keiser University wants you to know about their online programs:

“As a student at Keiser University you have access to the staff within the Department of Student Services and resources to assist you with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and job postings on our online career center*. You have the opportunity to get involved in student organizations such as Student Government Association, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, and Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society which can enhance your personal and professional development while earning your degree.”

While KU’s overall job placement rate is 91.8 percent, it varies quite a bit from program to program. If you find an online degree program that interests you, check out their 2016 job placement data to see how it compares.

7. Southeastern University

Southeastern University campus
Image source: Southeastern University
Location: Lakeland, Florida
Tuition cost: about $24,000 per year
Admissions rate: 46%
Graduation rate: 41%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 8
  • Graduate: 8

Student population: 5,800+
Student to faculty ratio: 21 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 9

Southeastern University offers online degrees in business, education, social sciences, ministry, design, and criminal justice. They have two online certificate programs as well.

SU is a Christian college. Their undergraduate programs have a required core of religion classes, and while the school’s Christian perspective may not come up in every class, some major-related courses (like servant leadership) naturally incorporate elements of Christianity.

The school says, “We are committed to transforming minds by integrating principles of faith, learning, and service into the lives of our students. Along the way, you will be nurtured through faculty and staff investment, solid community relationships, rigorous scholarship, diverse learning experiences, and disciplined spiritual formation that will propel you toward a lifetime of serving Christ.”

8. Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University campus
Image source: Nova Southeastern University
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Tuition cost: about $29,000 per year
Admissions rate: 53%
Graduation rate: 50%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 4
  • Graduate: 35

Student population: 21,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 6
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 7
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 8

Nova Southeastern University offers online undergraduate degrees in business, health, psychology, and nursing. Their online graduate programs cover a broad range of fields (including STEM programs), but most graduate degrees fall under education. NSU also offers more online PhD programs than any of the other schools on this list.

NSU first started providing distance education in 1972, and they’ve been building a reputation for providing accessible education ever since.

The founders of Nova Southeastern University envisioned the school as a sort of “MIT of the south.” It began with a strong focus on physical and social sciences, but quickly expanded its scope to include numerous other fields.

Fun fact: The Carnegie Foundation has classified the school as a research institution with “high research activity,” and NSU is one of only fifty universities in the country to receive Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification.

9. Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology campus
Image source: Florida Institute of Technology
Location: Melbourne, Florida
Tuition cost: about $12,000 per year
Admissions rate: N/A
Graduation rate: N/A
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 26
  • Graduate: 19

Student population: 2,700+
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 5
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 5

Florida Institute of Technology offers online undergraduate programs in psychology, business, criminal justice, and information technology. They have many online MBA and MS in information technology programs as well. One of their more unique programs is an online AA in aviation management. They also offer a minor in human resource management.

FIT’s online master in human resource management program is the fifth best in the country.

While a lot of online degree programs simply provide you with a PowerPoint presentation to supplement recorded lectures, FIT says, “Our faculty collaborates with instructional designers to ensure each course features an interactive, media-rich experience for our students.”

At FIT, interactions with classmates and professors won’t be limited to email or discussion boards. You’ll also use chat to collaborate on group projects and communicate with your professors.

10. The Baptist College of Florida

The Baptist College of Florida logo
Image source: The Baptist College of Florida
Location: Graceville, Florida
Tuition cost: about $11,000 per year
Admissions rate: 59%
Graduation rate: 53%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 22
  • Graduate: 2

Student population: 400+
Student to faculty ratio: 10 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 2
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 3

The Baptist College of Florida is a small private school with a good selection of online undergraduate degrees in the humanities. Most of their degree programs are in the field of education, music, or religion. They also offer four online minors.

All of BCF’s courses and degree programs are available online.

As you’ll see in this video, every program is taught from a Christian worldview, and every subject is connected to ministry:

https://vimeo.com/151046201

You don’t have to be a member of the Baptist church to get in, but if you go here, you should expect to receive a Baptist education.

A quick note on transferring schools

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than one-third of all college students transfer schools before graduating. In order to transfer your credits from one school to another, the two schools usually have to be accredited by the same organizations.

Thankfully, all of these schools are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, so you should be able to transfer between them pretty easily.

Should I go to an online school in Florida?

These are the top online schools in Florida. There are some really good online colleges on this list, but only two of them made the cut for our list of the best online schools in the country. Unless you’re attached to one of these schools because you grew up rooting for their teams, or someone you know went there, I’d recommend broadening your search.

If you’re looking at in-state schools because you heard out-of-state schools cost more, you should know: that doesn’t apply to a lot of online schools. Notice how some of the colleges on this list don’t separate in-state and out-of-state tuition? Many schools have one tuition rate for all online students, regardless of where they live. And since you won’t have to move anyways (you’re an online student, after all), it certainly can’t hurt to look at the best of the best.

The most undergraduate degrees offered by any of these schools is 71. Most of these schools offer less than half of that. But some schools in other parts of the country offer well over 100 fully online degree options. Check it out.

The best school is really up to you

Honestly, we can’t tell you which online college is the best choice for you—and you shouldn’t let anyone else do that, either. You have to weigh the factors that are most important to you and let that guide your decision. Choosing a school is a huge investment—both in terms of what it immediately costs you and how it affects your life. So take your time.

We hope this list has helped make the decision a little easier for you. Good luck in your future studies!

Top 10 Online Colleges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to numerous colleges and universities that have been around for more than 100 years. The state has a rich tradition of academic achievement, and thanks to advances in distance education, you don’t have to move across the state (or the country) to study at one of Pennsylvania’s historic schools.

Online degree programs let you work toward a new credential without uprooting your life. And the credentials they give you are usually the same as you’d earn on campus. So you’re free to pursue an education that fits your schedule.

To help you sort through the top online schools in Pennsylvania, we’ve used data from The National Center for Education Statistics and ratings from school-ranking entities like TheBestSchools.org, BestColleges.com, OnlineColleges.net, and AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org.

We’ll show you each school’s:

  • Location
  • Tuition cost
  • Admissions rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Number of online degrees
  • Student population
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Awards and accolades
  • Accreditation
  • Anything else we think will help you decide

Let’s find an online school you’ll love! For starters, here are some highlights:

Most affordable

If you live in Pennsylvania, a few of these schools can give you a pretty affordable education. But one school is significantly more affordable than all the others, regardless of where you live. Slippery Rock University (#8 on our list) costs about $10,000 per year in-state, and about $14,000 per year out-of-state. To be fair, Penn State’s World Campus (#1) is right there, too. An education from this top-notch university runs about $14,000 per year for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Best graduation rate

An education is valuable in itself, but odds are you’re going to school because you want the credentials. Eight of the options on this list have above average graduation rates. But if you’re worried about graduating, look no further than #3 on our list, Villanova University. Nine out of ten VU students walk away with a degree.

Most online degree options

Your degree program can completely change your career path, so it’s important to find a field that interests you. Most schools don’t have nearly as many online options as they do on campus. Several schools on this list have decent selections, but one of them has far more programs than the others.

Drexel University (#2) offers more than 60 online degree programs, with plenty of choices for undergraduates and graduates alike.

Now, on to the top ten!

1. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Penn State campus
Image source: Penn State World Campus
Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $14,000 per year
Admissions rate: 58%
Graduation rate: 25%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 38
  • Graduate: 49

Student population: 13,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 1
  • Rank on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org: 5
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 6
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 7

Penn State University offers more than 80 online degree programs through their World Campus. They’ve been providing university-level online education for more than 20 years.

PSU’s World Campus is #3 on our list of the best online schools in the US.

Their individual online degree programs are also some of the best around. Here are their most notable online degrees:

Undergraduate

Graduate

Here’s how online learning works at Penn State’s World Campus:

In 2010, Penn State was #1 on The Wall Street Journal’s list of recruiter-preferred schools. Companies like Penn State because they have such a wide range of exceptional programs. It’s a “one-stop-shop” for hiring.

Referring to the online-discussion forums, the director of one of Penn State’s online programs said, “What we find out is that the students are not only students, but they’re also teachers.”

As you work through the materials with fellow students at Penn State, you’ll add their perspectives to your own.

Here’s how one student described the community approach to online learning:

“The professors and instructors are top-notch, encouraging in-depth interaction among classmates in a way that did not feel forced.”

2. Drexel University

Drexel University campus
Image source: Drexel University
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $59,000 total*
Admissions rate: 75%
Graduation rate: 70%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 13
  • Graduate: 50+

Student population: 24,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 10 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 2
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 5
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 8

Drexel University offers a sampling of online undergraduate degrees and wide range of online graduate programs.

Drexel is one of the top online colleges in the country (#17).

Their online master of education program is #5 in the country.

In most online classes, recorded lectures let you “go to class” on your schedule. But when you’re watching a professor in front of a green screen, you can miss some valuable material that comes up in class discussions. At the very least, you may not be able to participate in these conversations. But when you take classes online at Drexel, some of your courses have live online classrooms where you can jump into the conversation from your computer.

At Drexel Online, you’ll have online access to their award winning W.W. Hagerty Library, their writing center, and the Steinbright Career Center.

You can learn more about Drexel’s online classes in this video:

If you’re worried about being able to build relationships with faculty and staff as an online student, see what former online students have to say:

You can also hear from online students from a range of degree programs here:

*Tuition rates are different for every program at Drexel.

3. Villanova University

Villanova University online
Image source: Villanova University
Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $49,000 per year
Admissions rate: 44%
Graduation rate: 90%
Placement rate: 96.5%*
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 1
  • Graduate: 18

Student population: 10,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 12 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 1
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 3
  • Rank on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org: 7

Villanova University offers graduate-level online degree programs in STEM and business-related fields, as well as law. They also have a strong selection of online certificate programs, and an online RN to BSN program for undergraduates.

The school used to offer several online degree completion programs, but those appear to be discontinued.

Villanova University has one of the best online master in human resource management programs (they’re #6 on our list).

Since VU is a Roman Catholic school, you can probably expect faith to play some role in your education, though it isn’t clear to what extent that is for people in non-religious studies.

Here’s what they say about it:

“All members are bonded together by a shared responsibility to uphold the ideals of Saint Augustine and let the principles of truth, unity and love guide their lives. The Villanova community helps students grow intellectually, professionally and spiritually, and challenges them to reach their full potential.”

*While the school boasts an incredible 96.5% placement rate, you should know: this includes students who are “taking time off before pursuing opportunities.” It’s pretty typical for schools to count volunteering and other activities towards their job placement rate, but this is the first time I’ve seen planned time off included in that number.

4. Duquesne University

Duquesne University campus
Image source: Duquesne University
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $35,000 per year
Admissions rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 79%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 3
  • Graduate: 11

Student population: 9,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 4
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 4
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 5

Duquesne University offers online degrees in business, education, and health, primarily focusing on graduate studies. This Catholic school has been around for more than 130 years.

“Our online programs are student-centric and distinguished by the close relationships online students create with professors and classmates through small class sizes and with advisors and support services staff dedicated to helping students achieve personal and professional goals.”

To foster close relationships between students and professors, these online classes “are not self-paced, independent study.” You’ll have regular interactions with professors and receive feedback on your work.

Duquesne University has a unique online writing center, where online students can schedule one-on-one meetings with a professional writing consultant. These 45 minute sessions are not for proofreading–they’re for learning strategies to improve your techniques and master the writing process.

5. Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University campus
Image source: Saint Joseph’s University
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $16,000 per year
Admissions rate: 78%
Graduation rate: 80%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 3
  • Graduate: 15

Student population: 8,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 12 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 6
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 7
  • Rank on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org: 9

Saint Joseph’s University offers online degrees in business, education, health, and criminal justice. Additionally, they have a variety of online certificate programs.

Their online master’s in health administration program is #7 in the country.

Here’s what they want you to know about their school:

“For 160 years, Saint Joseph’s University has helped men and women prepare for their professional lives by providing a rigorous Jesuit education–one that challenges and expands knowledge, deepens understanding, emphasizes critical thinking and communication, fosters the development of moral and spiritual character, and builds enduring pride.”

Learn more about what it’s like to be an online student at SJU in this video:

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6. DeSales University

Desales University logo
Image source: Desales University
Location: Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $35,000 per year
Admissions rate: 76%
Graduation rate: 68%
Employment rate: 98%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 13
  • Graduate: 0

Student population: 3,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 7

DeSales University offers online undergraduate programs primarily in business, health, and criminal justice. They also offer online certificate programs in business and theology. There are 19 hybrid bachelor’s degree programs as well, which combine online and on-campus classes.

DeSales University’s online programs include some classes that are synchronous, meaning there is a fixed schedule, and you attend online at particular times.

While DU has a pretty good employment rate, it’s worth noting that only 5–12 percent of alumni responded to the survey in each major, so the data isn’t really representative. Of those surveyed, 82 percent received job offers within 6 months of graduation. 91 percent said they would recommend DeSales, and 85 percent believe their degree was a good investment.

7. Chatham University

Chatham University campus
Image source: Chatham University
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $35,000 per year
Admissions rate: 53%
Graduation rate: 52%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 4
  • Graduate: 10

Student population: 2,100+
Student to faculty ratio: 10 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 2
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 2

Chatham University offers online degree programs in health, business, psychology, writing, and architecture. They also have a few online nursing certificate programs. Some of these have a “low residency” requirement, so they involve a little time on campus.

Most colleges use the same couple of tools for online classes. Chatham University uses several programs to help professors and students connect, several of which I haven’t seen other schools using.

Here’s what Chatham’s graduates have in common:

“Through professional skill development and liberal arts learning, Chatham prepares its graduates to be informed and engaged citizens in their communities; to recognize and respect diversity of culture, identity, and opinion; and to live sustainably.”

Chatham University has received numerous honors for being environmentally conscious. You can see all CU’s awards and honors here.

8. Slippery Rock University

Slippery Rock University campus
Image source: Slippery Rock University
Location: Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $10,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $14,000 per year

Admissions rate: 69%
Graduation rate:  68%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 5
  • Graduate: 16

Student population: 8,800+
Student to faculty ratio: 22 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 5
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 8

Slippery Rock University offers online bachelor’s degree completion programs in leadership related subjects, nursing, and liberal arts. They also offer graduate degrees in education, data management, and criminal justice. Additionally, there are several online certificate programs.

The eligibility requirements for SRU’s degree completion programs varies. Some require an associate’s degree or 60 credits, while others simply require some prerequisite classes.

More than 125 years ago, Slippery Rock began as a school for teachers. Over time, they have built on that heritage to provide exceptional teaching degree programs, and they’ve expanded into other fields as well.

9. Misericordia University

Misericordia University campus
Image source: Misericordia University
Location: Dallas, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $31,000 per year
Admissions rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 74%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 11
  • Graduate: 5

Student population: 2,800
Student to faculty ratio: 11 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 9
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 10

Misericordia University offers online degree programs in health and business. Some of these are hybrid programs which require time on campus. There are a handful of certificate programs as well.

A lot of schools say that online students have some access to the same tools as on-campus students, implying that some services aren’t available, or are less available to online students. That’s not the case with Misericordia University:

“Whether it is for IT support, to meet with your advisor, or take advantage of on-campus resources such as the Insalaco Center for Career Development, our state-of-the-art library, or modern fitness center, online students share the same access to University facilities as traditional students.”

One graduate had this to say about her experience at Misericordia:

“I spent a lot of time reviewing various online programs, and I chose Misericordia because it seemed their program would provide the best quality education; and I was right. Every class I took, whether it was Current Issues and Trends in Nursing, Themes in Art, Pharmacology, Statistics or Religion helped me be a better nurse, a better community member, and a better crossword player! The best part was that I could do it while maintaining a job, family life and community volunteer work. Finally, the clinical experience that my advisor helped me set up was so perfect as it gave me the experience I needed to help me get the job of my dreams, that I secured not long after graduation.”

10. Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University campus
Image source: Robert Morris University
Location: Moon Township, Pennsylvania
Tuition cost: about $29,000 per year
Admissions rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 61%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 6
  • Graduate: 14

Student population: 5,100+
Student to faculty ratio: 15 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 3

Robert Morris University offers online degree programs in business and leadership, information systems and technology, health, education, criminal justice, and engineering.

RMU sees itself as a student-centric school, and attending online doesn’t change that. There’s an entire team of professionals in your corner:

“Online students at Robert Morris University get the same type of personal attention from the same professors you’ll find on campus. You get a dedicated student counselor to help you with enrollment issues or any other questions you may have. You get a dedicated career advisor to help you with your professional goals. You also get a dedicated wellness counselor, a financial aid counselor, and 24-hour technology support. We even offer a unique study abroad component to give you the opportunity for global engagement.”

Here’s how one RMU grad juggled being a mom, having a job, and taking courses online:

A quick note on transferring schools

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than one-third of all college students transfer schools before graduating. In order to transfer your credits from one school to another, the two schools usually have to be accredited by the same organizations.

Thankfully, all of these schools are regionally-accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. That means you should be able to transfer between them pretty easily.

Should I go to an online school in Pennsylvania?

These are the top online schools in Pennsylvania. Two of them made the cut for our list of the best online schools in the country, but if you’re looking at online schools, you probably don’t have to limit your options to Pennsylvania. Unless you’re really attached to one of these schools because you grew up rooting for their teams, or someone you know went there, I’d recommend broadening your search.

If you’re looking at in-state schools because you heard out-of-state schools cost more, you should know: that doesn’t apply to a lot of online schools. Notice how some of the colleges on this list don’t separate in-state and out-of-state tuition? Many schools have one tuition rate for all online students, regardless of where they live. And since you won’t have to move anyways (you’re an online student, after all), it certainly can’t hurt to look outside Pennsylvania.

The most undergraduate degrees offered by any of these schools is a little over 60. Most of these colleges offer a lot fewer than that. But some schools in other parts of the country offer well over 100 fully online degree options. Check it out.

The best school is really up to you

We can’t tell you exactly which online college is the best choice for you—and you shouldn’t let anyone else do that, either. You have to weigh the factors that are most important to you and let that guide your decision. Choosing a school is a huge investment—both in terms of what it immediately costs you and how it affects your life. So take your time.

We hope this list has helped make the decision a little easier for you. Good luck in your future studies!

Top 10 Online Schools in New York

New York skyline

New York is one of the most expensive states to live in. If you want to go to one of New York’s prestigious schools, the cost of living can easily double or even triple the price tag on your education. Thankfully, many of these reputable schools now offer degree programs and courses online—so you don’t have to move to a big city to benefit from a prestigious New York education.

Online schools let you work toward a new credential without uprooting your life. And the credentials they give you are usually the same as you’d earn on campus. So you’re free to pursue an education that fits with your life.

To help you sort through the top online schools in Texas, we’ve used data from The National Center for Education Statistics and ratings from school-ranking entities like TheBestSchools.org, AffordableCollegesOnline.org, BestColleges.com, OnlineColleges.net, and AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org.

We’ll show you each school’s:

  • Location
  • Tuition cost
  • Admissions rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Number of online degrees
  • Student population
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Awards and accolades
  • Accreditation
  • Anything else we think will help you decide

Let’s find an online school you’ll love! For starters, here are some highlights:

Most affordable

A quality education doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A couple schools on this list are significantly more affordable than the rest, especially if you already live in New York. SUNY College at Oswego (#7 on our list) is about $8,000 per year for in-state students, and about $18,000 per year out-of-state. For New York residents, Stony Brook University (#1) is about $9,000 per year, but out-of-state tuition costs three times as much.

Best graduation rate

Most people go to college in the hopes of walking away with a degree. Every course has the potential to shape your career, but credentials can play a role in determining what you’re eligible for. If your main concern is graduating, New York University (#3) has an 85 percent graduation rate.

Most online degree options

Most of these schools focus on either graduate or undergraduate studies. So if you’re looking for the best selection of online degrees, it really depends on the level of degree you have in mind.

Rochester Institute of Technology (#2) offers 31 online degrees—the most of any school on this list—but 26 of them are graduate-level programs. So if you’re an undergrad, there aren’t many options for you there.

Mercy College (#4) is a close second for total online degrees (they have 30), and 13 of them are undergraduate programs. They’re your best bet for finding a subject you’ll enjoy at the bachelor level.

Best job placement rate

Most schools won’t tell you what percentage of their graduates have jobs, because they don’t have to. Only two schools on this list provided the information, but one of them was exceptional. Rochester Institute of Technology (#2) has a 95 percent job-placement rate.

Now, on to the top ten!

1. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University campus
Image source: Stony Brook University
Location: Stoney Brook, New York
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $9,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $27,000 per year

Admissions rate: 41%
Graduation rate: 72%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 2
  • Graduate: 16

Student population: about 26,000
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 1
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 1
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 6

Stony Brook University is one of the State University of New York’s 64 campuses. Their School of Professional Development offers graduate programs and two hybrid undergraduate/graduate programs for those looking to advance or start their careers in education.

SBU offers educators a wide range of specializations and certifications in foreign languages and science programs. They also provide a decent selection of non-credit earning courses for teachers and business professionals.

While these courses don’t all earn you new credentials or certifications, they’ll help you develop new skills and curriculum you can bring to the classroom or your career, like coding in the classroom or legal studies. They even have classes oriented around healthy living, such as their food literacy course.

Most schools give online students access to a digital library with academic resources, but Stony Brook goes the extra mile for their E-learners: dedicated librarians curate research resources for SBU’s online courses.

Fun fact: Completing certain courses can unlock digital badges which you can display on LinkedIn and other social platforms.

2. Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology campus
Image source: Rochester Institute of Technology
Location: Rochester, New York
Tuition cost: about $39,000 per year
Admissions rate: 55%
Graduation rate: 66%
Job placement rate: 95%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 5
  • Graduate: 26

Student population: about 17,000
Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 1
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 4
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 5
  • Rank on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org: 10

Rochester Institute of Technology provides degree and certificate programs in a variety of STEM-related fields, including health, engineering, technology, math, and science.

The school is nearly 200 years old, and they’ve been doing distance education for decades. Your online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus courses.

Here’s what Rochester Institute of Technology wants you to know:

“RIT Online courses and programs are built around industry standards, employer demand, and the perspectives of our global network. . . . RIT offers innovative programs that are designed to prepare you not only for today’s competitive workplace, but for the challenges you’ll face tomorrow as industries evolve and change.”

As a student at RIT, you can enroll in the School of Individualized Study to design your own program and choose a unique concentration by combining subjects from RIT’s departments.

RIT also makes an effort to digitally recreate the classroom experience, providing an “online cafe” for you to meet and collaborate with fellow students, as well as a video channel and other digital amenities.

Fun fact: You can see how many students are currently enrolled in RIT courses without being a student.

3. New York University

New York University campus
Image source: Common App
Location: New York, New York
Tuition cost: about $41,000 per year
Admissions rate: 32%
Graduation rate: 85%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 2
  • Graduate: 4

Student population: 50,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 10 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 2
  • Rank on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org: 2
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 2
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org:

New York University offers a handful on online degrees in business-related subjects. Additionally, there are almost 200 online courses you can enroll in to learn particular skills (such as Adobe InDesign) or study a specific topic.

The undergraduate programs at NYU are technically degree-completion programs, but you don’t need many credits to qualify. One requires you to have previously completed two math courses, the other requires a minimum of 30 credits from another school.

One of NYU’s more unique online offerings is a master of science in translation program. It prepares students to become professional translators, focusing on legal and financial translation, as well as software localization.

Online students at NYU have access to the school’s center for career development, which allows you to meet with a career development coach, get resume help, and find jobs and internship opportunities.

Like Stony Brook University, NYU also allows students to earn digital badges for completing particular courses.

4. Mercy College

Mercy College campus
Image source: Mercy College
Location: Dobbs Ferry, New York
Tuition cost: about $18,000 per year
Admissions rate: 78%
Graduation rate: 39%
Employment rate: 91.2%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 13
  • Graduate: 17

Student population: 10,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 1
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 4

Mercy College has online degree programs covering a range of subjects, plus over 200 courses available à la carte. While 30 degree programs are available online, the vast majority are just partially online. Only five programs offer 50 percent or more of their courses online, and not all “online” courses are entirely online.

Mercy’s students have been recognized for their commitment to community service. The college says:

“Mercy is committed to connecting students with the world. The College has a rich tradition of community service through the “Mercy Gives Back” initiative, which encourages students to participate in, and lead, service-learning opportunities. This is a reflection of Mercy’s history and the values contained in the Mercy College seal (Inserviendo Consumere, consumed in service). On-campus events and international travel experiences help students discover and appreciate cultures far from home. Our graduates are engaged citizens.”

5. St. Joseph’s College-New York

St. Joseph's College campus
Image source: St. Joseph’s College
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Tuition cost: about $62,000 total
Admissions rate: 67%
Graduation rate: 72%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 9
  • Graduate: 9

Student population: 5,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 14 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 5
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 6
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 6

St. Joseph’s University offers fully online degree programs in several subjects, including:

  • Business
  • Criminal justice
  • General studies
  • Health administration
  • Human resources
  • Human services

They also have certificate programs in additional subjects, and you can supplement your major with one of five minors.

Students can transfer up to 90 credits to SJC from another accredited school. You can even transfer up to 64 credits from classes where you received a D. (Although graduate students can only transfer 6 credits.)

You’ll engage with fellow classmates through:

  • Online discussions
  • Debates
  • Collaborative learning
  • Simulations

Learn more about SJC online in this video:

6. Syracuse University

Syracuse University campus
Image source: Syracuse University
Location: Syracuse, New York
Tuition cost: about $45,000 per year
Admissions rate: 52%
Graduation rate: 82%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 2
  • Graduate: 11

Student population: about 22,000
Student to faculty ratio: 15 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 3
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 3
  • Rank on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org: 4

Syracuse University mostly offers STEM-related graduate degrees online. Their two online undergraduate degrees are business-related programs. They also have several online certificate programs and a variety of online courses.

All online degree programs at Syracuse University require at least some time on campus.

As an online student at SU, you’ll become part of a rich history that stretches back more than a century:

“Syracuse University was founded in 1870 as a private coeducational institution. It has 12 schools and colleges, with undergraduate and graduate students representing all 50 U.S. states and 124 countries. . . . Syracuse University is a world-class institution with an international reputation and alumni in every corner of the globe.”

7. SUNY College at Oswego

SUNY College at Oswego campus
Image source: The State University of New York
Location: Oswego, New York
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $8,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $18,000 per year

Admissions rate: 55%
Graduation rate: 66%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 3
  • Graduate: 2

Student population: 8,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 3
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 6
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 8

SUNY College at Oswego only has a few online degree programs, but depending on the term, they may have as many as 180 online courses for you to choose from.

The school is part of Open SUNY, a program which unifies all SUNY campuses for online students. Here’s what they say about it:

“At SUNY, we are transforming the landscape of online learning. Drawing on our rich history of innovation, we’re placing the outstanding educational opportunities and talented faculty from our 64 campuses at your fingertips. Open SUNY is the latest step in our long-standing tradition of doing things bigger and better. No other institution has brought together an online learning environment to serve students at this scale and breadth. Once again, we are taking the lead.”

Their degree programs are mostly business related, but they offer bachelor’s degrees in public justice and vocational teaching as well.

8. St. John’s University

St. John's University campus
Image source: St. John’s University
Location: Queens, New York
Tuition cost: about $40,000 per year
Admissions rate: 62.5%
Graduation rate: 41%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 0
  • Graduate: 15

Student population: 20,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 2

St. John’s University only offers graduate degree programs online. In addition to master’s and doctorate level programs, they also have several advanced certificate programs. These programs are primarily in education, business, and homeland security.

One online student had this to say about her e-learning experience:

“These classes have improved my ability to conduct research, communicate with my peers through a virtual environment, and explore the ways I learn best. Every professor has been supportive in providing constructive feedback and timely email responses. They really engage students in collaborative discussions.”

In this video, the staff at St. John’s provide some basic tips to help you prepare for their online courses:

9. The Sage Colleges

The Sage Colleges campus
Image source: The Sage Colleges
Location: Troy, New York
Tuition cost: about $71,000 total
Admissions rate: 58%
Graduation rate: 58%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 2
  • Graduate: 5

Student population: about 3,000
Student to faculty ratio: 11 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 9
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 10

The Sage Colleges offer online degree programs in business, cybersecurity, and health. They also offer online graduate certificate programs in education, IT, and nutrition.

Some online programs offer an accelerated track that lets students complete their degrees faster.

The school was founded more than 100 years ago as a school for women, but the first men attended during World War II. It’s now more evenly split between male and female students (about 40% men and 60% women). Since The Sage Colleges began awarding degrees in 1995, they have focused primarily on education, health, and management.

Students can transfer up to 90 credits from another school, and you do not need to provide standardized test scores (such as the SAT or ACT) to be admitted.

10. Roberts Wesleyan College

Roberts Wesleyan College campus
Image source: Roberts Wesleyan College
Location: Rochester, New York
Tuition cost: about $30,000 per year
Admissions rate: 65%
Graduation rate: 59%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 3
  • Graduate: 8

Student population: 1,500+
Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 3
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 10

Roberts Wesleyan College offers online bachelor’s degree completion programs and master’s degree programs. So while they have undergraduate programs, they’re only available to students who started their studies elsewhere (or started at RWC on-campus).

The school was founded as a seminary in 1866, and has undergone several name changes over the decades. They have broadened the scope of their teachings to include more subjects, but RWC remains committed to their Christian roots.

Here’s what they have to say about their education philosophy:

“At Roberts, we believe the best education addresses the person in his or her entirety—as a physical, psychological, social, rational, and spiritual being. A Roberts education presupposes both the complexity of the world and the diversity of human nature. It is one in which the students investigate the aesthetic, historic, philosophic, scientific and professional disciplines.  No one method of inquiry or verification is regarded as the sole route to knowledge, nor does one set of skills provide sufficiently for a life of service and achievement. Thanks to a rich Christian heritage and a dedication to ‘education for character,’ Roberts remains committed to integrating a Christian worldview and learning into everyday life and work.”

A quick note on transferring schools

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than one-third of all college students transfer schools before graduating. In order to transfer your credits from one school to another, the two schools usually have to be accredited by the same organizations.

Thankfully, all of these schools are regionally-accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. That means you should be able to transfer between them pretty easily.

Should I go to an online school in New York?

These are the top online schools in New York. And none of them made the cut for our list of the best online schools in the country. Unless you’re really attached to one of these schools because you grew up rooting for their teams, or someone you know went there, I’d recommend broadening your search.

If you’re looking at in-state schools because you heard out-of-state schools cost more, you should know: that doesn’t apply to a lot of online schools. Notice how some of the colleges on this list don’t separate in-state and out-of-state tuition? Many schools have one tuition rate for all online students, regardless of where they live. And since you won’t have to move anyways (you’re an online student, after all), it certainly can’t hurt to look.

The most undergraduate degrees offered by any of these schools is 31. Most offer a lot fewer than that. But some schools in other parts of the country offer well over 100 fully online degree options. Check it out.

The best school is really up to you

Honestly, we can’t tell you which online college is the best choice for you—and you shouldn’t let anyone else do that, either. You have to weigh the factors that are most important to you and let that guide your decision. Choosing a school is a huge investment—both in terms of what it immediately costs you and how it affects your life. So take your time.

We hope this list has helped make the decision a little easier for you. Good luck in your future studies!

How to Get a High School Diploma Online

high school student on her computer

Once you leave high school, it’s hard to imagine ever going back. But a high school diploma opens the door to employment and education opportunities you might not have access to otherwise.

Thankfully, online high school completion programs mean that “going back to school” doesn’t have to involve cramming your stuff in a locker or sitting through hours of lectures. Finishing high school online still takes time and effort, but you can learn at your own pace from the comfort of your home, a coffee shop, or anywhere there’s Internet.

About 28 million Americans over 18 don’t have a high school diploma, and you don’t have to be one of them. Hundreds of thousands of high school students take advantage of digital education every year, and the trend is increasing.

Here’s how it works:

How to go to high school online

The hardest part about getting started is choosing a school. There are literally hundreds of online high schools for you to choose from. You don’t necessarily have to go to enroll in a school in your state (it is online, after all), but that’s a good way to narrow your options—and it’s usually cheaper, too.

Some high school completion programs may require you to supplement your online education with in-person classes (these are hybrid programs). Others may require you to take tests at an official test center. Obviously, for programs like that, you have to live in-state. But there are plenty of fully-online high schools, too.

You’ll also have to consider the type of high school education you’re looking for—public, private, or college-sponsored?

Online public or charter high schools

If a school is “public” that means it’s funded by state tax dollars. If you’re a minor, and you live within the state or district, you won’t have to pay tuition. (Although there may still be fees.) These schools are highly regulated and adhere to state standards.

Public schools typically don’t close up shop, even when they’re doing poorly. Charter schools may provide a wider selection of courses, but they’re also more fickle, and can lose funding.

When you get your diploma from one of these, it’ll be awarded by the state.

Online private high schools

Private schools are, you guessed it, privately funded. These schools often operate like a business. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’ll probably have to pay a hefty tuition. If you’re looking into private schools, choose carefully. Some of these schools will provide you a great education, and some will be literally worthless.

Schools might also be private because their own standards are more important to them than a state’s standards. An online private Christian high school, for example, may be more focused on providing students with a Christian education.

Online college-sponsored high schools

If you’re especially motivated (and can afford it), some colleges provide programs that allow you to simultaneously finish high school and earn college credit. These programs are harder to get into and harder to complete, but you should be getting a higher quality education as well.

As long as you choose an actual school, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether it’s public or private. You’ll get a real diploma either way. But that doesn’t mean you should click the first ad you see for an online high school.

There’s an entire industry dedicated to preying on high school dropouts. Sleazy businesses pose as schools, and they will gladly take your money and hand you a worthless piece of paper. These are called diploma mills, and they’ve given online education a bad name.

So before we get into how to get an actual high school diploma online, let’s talk about how to avoid a fake one. This is the most important thing you need to learn before enrolling in an online program.

How to tell if an online high school is fake

The worst scams don’t look like scams. They do and say all the right things to avoid setting off any red flags. And they look like real schools. They might even look better than a lot of real schools.

But as you’re checking out online high schools, there are some dead giveaways that you’re dealing with a phony. You know a school is fake if:

They say you can get your degree for a fee

Some online high school programs do cost money, but you’re exchanging your money for an education, not a credential. You can’t buy a real diploma—you have to earn it.

They don’t require homework, tests, or interactions with teachers

Boy, doesn’t that sound nice? School without the most stressful, time-consuming, tedious parts? Fake schools know how appealing that offer is. But no legitimate school is going to give you a diploma without any work. You have to prove that you learned something. If a school advertises that it doesn’t take much effort, you should be very skeptical.

You can earn your diploma faster than at other schools

Some schools have accelerated programs and other ways to shave off some time—but there’s always a clear explanation for why the program is faster, and legitimate schools don’t cut corners. If you only need to finish a couple of classes, it makes sense that you could have your diploma in a semester or two. But if you have a year or more of high school left, there’s absolutely no way you can get a diploma in a few days.

They offer to give you a degree based on your experience

Some colleges will accept relevant work or life experience in exchange for some credits. But a high school completion program probably won’t. And a real school will never let you substitute experience for their entire program.

Basically, if a school looks too good to be true, it probably is. Like I said before though, the worst scams don’t look like scams. Some fake schools aren’t so obvious. But even if they don’t make any of the deceptive promises above, there’s still one thing that diploma mills can’t fake: accreditation.

What’s accreditation?

Accreditation is like quality control for schools. When a school promises to give you a good education, your first response should be, “Oh yeah, says who?”

The answer is: whoever accredited the school.

Real schools will be upfront about who they’re accredited by, because it’s a clear signal of their legitimacy. Fake schools will either avoid talking about accreditation or use a fake accrediting body. How do you know it’s fake? Google it. Poke around on their website (do they even have one?) and see if you can find any articles or forum threads about them. If you can’t find the accrediting body on the Internet, or they’re only mentioned on their own website, it’s probably fake.

But it’s even better if you know which accrediting bodies are good. Unlike online colleges and universities, the federal government doesn’t provide a list of legitimate accrediting organizations. Still, there are hundreds of online high schools that are regionally accredited, which is the best stamp of approval a school can get. Check out all these schools that are accredited by AdvancEd.

It’s also worth verifying that a school meets a state’s standards. Even if it’s not your state, a legitimate school has to give you a diploma from a state, and to do that, they have to meet that state’s standards.

After all this talk about fake diplomas, you might be wondering: should I even bother?

Is getting my diploma online really worth it?

You can still get a good job without a high school diploma. (A lot of community colleges don’t require you to have one, by the way.) But you probably won’t be landing one of the highest paying careers in the U.S. any time soon. And your options are definitely more limited.

Plus, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, the poverty rate for high school dropouts is almost twice the rate for high school graduates. And the median annual income for those with a diploma is almost $8,000 higher.

You might beat the odds on your own, but if you can take the time and put in the work to earn this basic credential, it could put you in a better position to live the kind of life you want.

And if higher education is something you’re thinking about, you’ll have a hard time getting in the door without a diploma. A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) is usually the minimum you need to get into a university, even if you apply to schools with low standards.

Is an online high school diploma better than a GED?

High school typically takes four years to finish. A GED takes 7.5 hours of testing. Even if you count the hours of studying it take to prepare for a day-long test, you can earn a GED significantly faster than a diploma.

So is a GED just as good?

A GED only provides the academic equivalent of a high school diploma. Colleges, universities, and employers will accept it as a sign of your competence, but there are other things a diploma shows them that a GED can’t.

Like high school, college comes with assignments, tests, and regular interactions with teachers. Even if you’re going to school online, you have to consistently produce work that demonstrates you are working through the material and learning from it. You can’t earn a high school diploma without doing these things.

A GED is also naturally going to carry a bit of a stigma. About 40% of people who drop out of high school do so because they think getting a GED will be easier. That’s no secret to college admissions offices. And while you may have had good reason for dropping out, it doesn’t help convince admissions officers that you have what it takes to succeed in college, which is substantially harder than high school (assuming, you know, that you choose a good school).

If you get your high school diploma online though, no one will probably even know you dropped out. But since you can only take the GED if you don’t have a diploma and you’re not enrolled in a high school, and it has a separate application process, it’s basically a big red flag that says “DIDN’T PASS HIGH SCHOOL.”

Still, it’s hard to say if one is really better than the other. The GED Testing Service says 97% of employers and colleges accept GEDs, and 60% of GED recipients are enrolled in college. Which choice is right for you really depends on how you learn best, and which path will do a better job preparing you for the kind of educational environment you’ll have later.

If you dream of being on a college campus working towards a bachelor’s degree someday, finishing your high school diploma online is probably a better fit, since it more closely parallels the experience of going to classes, taking tests, and turning in assignments. That takes discipline, and earning your diploma will help you develop that discipline.

But if you’d prefer to go to college online someday, earning a GED reflects the same kind of self-directed learning you’ll likely experience in an online degree program.

Your first online homework assignment

Now that you know a little more about the process, it’s time to do some research into what’s available in your state. AdvancED has a database with hundreds of online schools you can narrow by state, county, or city, and you can also choose to look at private or public schools. It’s also worth looking into colleges near you to see if they have high school diploma programs.

As you start looking at specific schools, here are a few things you’ll want to compare:

  • The graduation rate: how likely are you to finish?
  • Class schedule: is it fixed, or flexible?
  • Extracurriculars: does the school offer anything besides classes?
  • Staff: how hard is it to talk to a real person? Will you be able to communicate with your teachers?

Now get out there are do some research!

(Or, if you’re still on the fence about all this, here’s everything you need to know about the GED.)

What Is a Good SAT Score, and How Do You Get There?

Girl studying at dining room table

The SAT is a standardized test that objectively measures your ability to learn. It’s one of the two most popular college readiness tests.

About 1.7 million college-bound students take the SAT every year. Your score is one of several factors that can affect the schools and programs you get into. Some scholarship foundations use it, too.

While your GPA tells admissions offices how you did in high school, not everyone has the same assignments, teachers, or curriculum. Variables like these make it hard to compare GPAs from different schools. Tests like the SAT and ACT make it easier for colleges and other organizations to compare applicants and make reasonable inferences about your ability to perform at the college level.

Here’s what you should know about the SAT.

Quick facts about the SAT

Eligibility requirements: You must be applying for college.*

Length: three hours and fifty minutes

Sections: two or three—reading and writing, math, and an optional essay

Number of questions: 154 (plus one optional essay question)

Types of questions: multiple choice, student response, optional essay

Score range: 400–1600

Cost: $46 (or $60 if you take the essay, too)

What does SAT stand for? Nothing. SAT used to stand for Scholastic Aptitude Test. Then it stood for Scholastic Assessment Test. But now it’s just the SAT. The ACT has a similar sad story.

You may also hear people refer to the New SAT. That’s because the test changed quite a bit in 2016.

*The College Board is extremely protective of their tests, so if you want to take the test for fun or something weird like that, you can only take it after the results have been released. (And my guess is you would probably take it alone.)

What’s a good SAT score?

Unfortunately, the answer to “What’s a good score?” is “it depends.” Sure, objectively, a 1500 or above is amazing, and a 1600 is perfect. But a good score is what you need to get into the colleges you’re applying to, and that’s a lot more subjective. A good score depends on:

  1. The school you’re applying to
  2. Your demographic

Obviously, the best colleges—such as Ivy League schools—are going to have a different definition of a “good score” than your favorite state university. Remember that amazing score of 1500? At the California Institute of Technology, that puts you in the bottom 25 percent of students. There are several universities where at least 25 percent of the students have a perfect score.

That’s just crazy.

Most colleges have an average range somewhere between 1,000 and 1,400. And some colleges accept students with ridiculously low scores, like York College in Nebraska. If you score 530 or above, you’ve done better than 75 percent of their students. (And remember, you get 400 points even if you get every answer wrong or leave them all blank.)

I’m just going to say it: that’s a bad score. But even a bad score can be “good enough” to get into some schools. A lot of universities don’t have an official minimum SAT or ACT score, they just want you to take one.

If you fall into an underrepresented demographic, or have an especially amazing college application essay, you may be able to get by with a lower score than your run-of-the-mill middle class caucasian male. (Sorry fellow dudes.) It may not sound fair, but Michele Hernandez Bayliss makes a living helping students with test prep, and she says college admissions teams “factor a socioeconomic kind of calculation in their head.”

You can’t do anything about that. But if you have a list of particular colleges you’re trying to get into, you can literally Google “average SAT score for [name of school]” to find the range of scores that were accepted for the most recent class. This will give you a ballpark for what a “good score” looks like for you.

And if you’re not sure where you want to go yet, College Simply has a sweet database of SAT score ranges for 4,000 colleges, so all you have to do is enter your score (or an estimate), choose a region or state, and they’ll show you all the schools that may accept someone with your scores.

Of course, when you score well above average, scholarships you didn’t even know existed may start showing up in the mail. Schools know that the best students have their choice of schools, so when you do well on tests like the SATs, don’t be surprised if your acceptance letters include some hefty offers.

Last thing about good scores, though: you have to look at your percentile.

How do the SAT score percentiles work?

When you get your test results back, you’ll see the number of points you earned in each section (reading/writing, math, and optional essay), your composite score (reading/writing and math combined) and the percentage of students you scored higher than.

Remember how I said 1.7 million students take the test? And how the whole point of this test is to help colleges objectify your brain and compare you to other students? Your score percentile lets admissions offices see at a glance how you stack up against the competition.

Again, a “good score” mostly depends on your school, but a score percentile like “You scored higher than 68 percent of test takers” is a lot less abstract than “You got an 1150.”

So what do you consider good? For some people it might be scoring in the top 50 percent. Someone else might not feel good about anything under the 75th percentile. Or the 90th.

Here’s what you’d have to score to hit a good percentile, based on 2017 SAT scores:

Percentlie: Score:
99 1480
95 1390
90 1330
80 1230
70 1165
60 1105
50 1055

Interestingly, the College Board lets you compare your score to students who didn’t officially take the test. (Weird, right?) They use a “nationally representative sample” of juniors and seniors to compare you to the “typical U.S. student.” Not surprisingly, the typical student who takes the SAT scores better than the “typical U.S. students” who don’t take the test. Maybe it’s because they’re smarter, or maybe it’s because they studied, and got better at taking tests.

Why do some people have scores out of 2400?

Test makers are always fiddling with their tests. In 2005, the essay portion of the SAT was required, and it added an additional 200–800 points to your score. In 2016, they decided to go back to the 1600 point system. Now the essay is optional.

It doesn’t mean much to you now, but some people (like me) are stuck in an alternate reality where SAT scores are out of 2400 and they can’t relate to anyone.

Fun fact: Back then, you were also penalized for wrong answers.

How do you get a good SAT score?

However you define what a good score is, there’s really only one way to get a good score: study, and stay healthy.

How to study for the SAT

The SAT is intended to test your ability to learn, so unfortunately, you can’t just study particular subjects and call it good. The cool thing is though, by preparing for the SAT, you’re essentially optimizing your brain’s ability to learn new concepts. Still, there are some core concepts you’ll need to master in order to navigate test questions, especially on the math section.

(We’ll talk about what’s actually on the test in a minute.)

People always say that standardized tests are really testing your ability to take tests, and that may be most true of the SAT. The single best way to improve your SAT score and prepare for the test is to take practice tests.

The best practice tests will walk you through why an answer is correct and the others are wrong. So even if you do horribly and have to eat a whole sleeve of Oreos to feel better, the process will show you what the test is really looking for, and then you can score higher on the next test—even with completely different material.

The College Board has several free downloadable SAT practice tests. They also have a Daily Practice for the New SAT app that gives you one question a day, and sample questions for each section of the test.

You might also want to start an SAT study group with some like-minded friends. Or at least the smart ones.

How long should you study for?

There are a lot of different theories about how much actual time you should spend studying, and none of them are particularly encouraging. Some say a couple hours can only improve your score by about 10 points. Some say you should study anywhere from 10 to 100 hours.

You know how some people like to binge on Netflix and other people prefer to watch their shows once a week? OK, bad example, everyone prefers to binge. But when it comes to studying, “binging” may sound nice (just get it over with, right?), but that’s almost guaranteed to burn you out. And if you’re brain-dead after two hours, tacking on six more won’t do you much good.

This is the best advice I can give you: pace yourself. How much time you actually need depends on your definition of a “good score” and how far you are from that. (A practice test or two will give you a good baseline.)

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Figure out when you’re taking the SAT, look at the calendar, and see how many days, weeks, or months you have left to prepare.
  2. Take a practice test, get a score, and determine how far you are from a “good score.” (If you’re already there, don’t sweat it, but it wouldn’t hurt to put a little time in.)
  3. Estimate how much time it’ll take to get from your practice score to your desired score, knowing that it takes 1–2 hours to go up 10 points. For improvements over 50 points, it starts to take more time.
  4. Space out your estimated hours over the time you have left until the test. You probably don’t want less than one hour or more than 10 hours per week.
  5. If your timeline is too scrunched, it’s probably time to reevaluate your goals. If it’s too thin, try to come up with a study schedule that starts no earlier than six months before the test. (Do you remember everything you learned last semester? Or before the summer? That’s why.)
  6. Decide on a consistent time to study. You might not feel like it’s necessary, but this is going to take some dedication, and consistent study habits will make it easier.

Whatever else you have going on in your life, make sure you give yourself time to sleep, eat healthy, and seriously, exercise. Those three things may not have anything to do with the material itself, but they all affect your body’s ability to concentrate for an extended period of time.

The average marathon runner finishes 26.2 miles in about four and a half hours. This is a three hour and fifty minute test with 154 questions. It’s literally like a marathon for your brain.

While some of your fellow test takers will inevitably be tempted to stay up all night studying and forget to feed themselves on the day of the test, don’t be like them: lack of sleep plus poor diet will do more harm than whatever you’d gain from cramming.

If you have an especially lofty goal, you may want to check out the Khan Academy. They’ve partnered with College Board to provide official SAT prep, and students have used them to improve their scores by 200 points or more.

What’s on the test?

The College Board keeps the questions themselves under lock and key, but this test has been around since 1926. People know what’s on it by now. And while the test has undergone numerous updates, the material it’s based on hasn’t changed much.

The reading section includes a section from a classic piece of literature and important works like the founding documents. The math section is, well, mostly algebra, which has been around for hundreds of years.

I could prattle on about what’s in each section of the test, but here’s the thing: the College Board already put together some snazzy videos that are probably more interesting than me. They’re concise, not terrible, and sometimes it’s nice to kick back and watch a video.

Reading test

Time: 65 minutes
Questions: 52
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfFBj4Dk0B0

Writing and language test

Time: 35 minutes
Questions: 44

Math test

Time: 80 minutes
Questions: 58

Optional essay

Time: 50 minutes
Questions: one

Do you need to take the SAT?

This kind of comes back to the “what’s a good score?” question. It really depends on the school you want to go to.

You definitely don’t need to take the SAT or any other college readiness test if you’re planning on going to a community college. Almost all of them have open enrollment, which means you don’t even need a high school diploma or GED to get in.

Plus, you can always start at a community college, save some money, and transfer to a four-year university. Your credits will make it a lot easier to get into a good school, even without a shiny SAT score.

And again, a lot of good schools don’t even have a set minimum score—they just want you to take the test.

But that’s the easy way out. Doing well on the SAT will open doors to the schools you want to go to, help you land the scholarships you need to get there, and get you into competitive programs that launch your career. So it’s a pretty good use of $50.

One last thing to consider: the ACT recently passed the SAT as the most popular college readiness test. Admissions offices say they don’t favor one over the other, but they’re different enough that it could be worth checking out.

Whatever you decide, remember: a good score is the one that’s good enough for you.

Everything College Students Need to Know About Plagiarism

plagiarism

It’s a big deal to get caught plagiarizing. Some students see copy-paste as a time-saving shortcut for writing lengthy papers, but it’s more like a shortcut to:

  • Failing the assignment.
  • Getting kicked out of a class.
  • Getting kicked out of college.
  • Receiving a formal reprimand.
  • Destroying your academic reputation.
  • Fighting a lawsuit.

Almost all schools have their own policies about what constitutes plagiarism, and how it should be dealt with. Unless you’re plagiarizing your professor, you’re probably not going to wind up in court. But the other four consequences are definitely on the table.

You’re here because you want to avoid plagiarizing someone else’s work. So we’re going to look at what is and isn’t plagiarism, and what to do if you’ve committed it.

For starters, let’s look at what you’re trying to avoid.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own. That last part—presenting it as your own—is what makes plagiarism inherently wrong and sets it apart from a quote or reference. In academic writing, you’ll often refer to the work of scholars and quote experts, but if you try to pass their work off as yours, it’s stealing.

And it’s not just a matter of changing the words you use. Plagiarism covers both words and ideas. Which means if you got an idea from someone else, you can’t present it as your own, even if you use your own words.

At the same time, Turnitin—a plagiarism software company—says that the Internet “has created an environment that encourages information sharing and values the remixing and remaking of original content. In this environment, plagiarism is easier to commit and originality more difficult to define.”

Avoiding plagiarism might sound like navigating a minefield—how do you make sure no one has ever said something similar to what you put in your paper? But that’s not why plagiarism is so prevalent. Most students who plagiarize do it on purpose.

How students commit plagiarism

According to Turnitin, the most egregious form of plagiarism is also the most popular method: copy-pasting an entire paper. As ridiculous as it seems, after surveying thousands of actual examples of plagiarism, Turnitin found that many students “write” papers without writing a word.

There’s simply no excuse for this. There’s no way to accidentally copy an entire paper word-for-word. Students do this because they don’t think they’ll get caught, not because they think it’s OK. If a student gets caught blatantly plagiarizing like that, there’s not a lot of room for leniency. It’s a textbook case of academic dishonesty.

The next most common methods aren’t much better. The second most popular way students plagiarize is what Turnitin calls a “mashup”: copying passages from several sources and splicing them together without citations.

The types of plagiarism professors typically encounter are derivatives of this kind of copying. On the most innocent side of the plagiarism spectrum, you have students who properly cite works but closely followed the source’s original wording or structure. Or relied so heavily on cited material that there was pretty much nothing original in the paper.

Whether the actual words are different or not, all forms of plagiarism have one thing in common: little or no original thought.

Still, not all plagiarizers do it on purpose.

Can you plagiarize something on accident?

Nobody accidentally walks into your house and takes your wallet. And nobody accidentally copy-pastes an entire paper, puts their name on it, and turns it in. Still, it is possible to accidentally plagiarize.

Not all plagiarism is as obvious or concerning to colleges as copy-pasting (according to Turnitin). Some people plagiarize because they thought what they were doing was OK, not because they thought they were getting away with something. It’s not an excuse, but colleges may be a little more merciful towards accidental plagiarism.

Sharon Greenthal of The Spruce says, “Students inadvertently—even subconsciously—use the same words they have read because they are unable to interpret what they have learned and explain it with their own thoughts and sentences.” Especially when you’re fatigued and stressed, it’s possible to study a paragraph and then borrow too heavily from it without realizing what you’re doing.

Other ways to accidentally plagiarize basically come down to someone thinking they’ve “changed enough” of the source to make it an original thought. Or properly citing the source but contributing too little original material.

But putting something into your own words isn’t enough. If most of your paper is the words of other people, you haven’t really “written” it, have you? This is still plagiarism. But if you just hit send or handed in a paper where you did something like that, you might be OK. The “I didn’t know” card won’t salvage your academic reputation, but you might get off with little worse than an “F” on the assignment. Assuming, of course, that this is your first time, you own up to it, and you never, ever do it again. (But even then, the consequences may still be more severe.)

You can also plagiarize yourself if you borrow from previous papers without citing them. Even if you give yourself permission to use your work, it’s academic dishonesty. You had a source, and you didn’t cite it. I know that sounds silly, but in Turnitin’s list of the top 10 most common types of plagiarism, “recycling” old papers was #5. It’s not as concerning as stealing someone else’s work, and it’s pretty hard to get caught unless you have the same professor for multiple classes, but schools take this seriously.

So how do you avoid this situation altogether? It comes down to two things: citing your sources and producing original ideas.

How do you avoid plagiarism?

In anything you write, copied words should only ever take one form: quotes. Copied ideas should only ever take one form: references. If someone said something amazing that proves a point you’re making, quote them. If someone inspired your line of thinking, say so. Avoiding plagiarism doesn’t force you to work in a bubble. But there’s a right way to use someone else’s work, and a wrong way.

The “right way” varies depending on the style guide your school uses, such as MLA, APA, or CMOS. But those differences are more about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. The difference between plagiarism and a quote or a reference generally comes down to this: are you in any way, shape, or form trying to suggest that someone else’s work is yours? Or for the accidental plagiarizers: does it appear that you’re trying to suggest that someone else’s work is yours?

It’s easy to get stressed out about how to follow a style guide (especially if different classes require different style guides). Some professors will seriously lower your grade for what seems like a trivial formatting mistake. But your fear of complicated style guide conventions isn’t an excuse for plagiarism. If you need to, use more informal references in your first draft, and figure out the exact formatting when you’re revising. (I’ve been using super informal references all throughout this article, by the way.) The point is just to make sure you’re giving credit where credit is due.

A good quote either functions as a capstone or a launchpad for your own ideas. It helps you pivot from one thought to the next. If you’re only using quotes to beef up your word count or reach the page limit, it’s not plagiarism, but if you do it enough, it can be.

Your paper has to balance quoted or referenced material with original content. You can’t just Frankenstein a bunch of quotes together and call it good. Your thoughts and your ideas have to be the driving force behind the paper. Otherwise even with proper citations, you’re still just putting your name on other people’s work.

If you’re still worried about plagiarizing, run your essay through a plagiarism detection software such as Viper or Grammarly. It may cost you a couple bucks, but it’ll tell you how much (if any) of your essay appears in other published works, and it’s the same way your professors check for plagiarism.

(You may also want to check out these helpful study apps for college students.)

What if someone else wrote my paper for me?

If you pay someone to write your essay, technically, this is still plagiarism—you’re just a lot less likely to get caught. This is obviously cheating. You were asked to write the essay, and you didn’t write it, but you put your name on it. A ghostwriter isn’t a loophole.

But this isn’t just a problem for the student who submits the plagiarized paper. Now there’s an accomplice. Many schools will punish the ghostwriter as well (assuming they can). This ultimately comes down to a school’s academic dishonesty or plagiarism policy, which probably, your professors have talked to your class about at some point. They don’t like to leave wiggle room for the “I didn’t know” card.

Here are some things a plagiarism policy might include:

Consequences for plagiarism

We’ve already talked about the main consequences a school may employ:

  • A failing grade on the assignment.
  • A failing grade in the class.
  • A formal reprimand.
  • Permanent expulsion from the school.
  • Academic probation.
  • A poor academic reputation.

While Turnitin suggests that plagiarism exists on a scale, colleges don’t necessarily treat it that way.

“Academic policies too often take the approach of adopting a one size fits all response to plagiarism,” Turnitin says. “This has led to policies that tend to be too extreme and bureaucratic (the latter reflecting the pressure of needing to justify extreme responses).”

But while a school’s official policy may include dismissal from the college, it’s often up to the person who catches an instance of plagiarism to decide what to do with it. Turnitin believes that a student’s intent matters, and that the method of plagiarism can give faculty clues as to someone’s intent.

Denial of blatant plagiarism is pretty much a dead giveaway that a student knowingly committed it.

What do I do if I’ve committed plagiarism?

It’s totally possible that you weren’t sure you committed plagiarism until just now. But even if you already knew you plagiarized, and you did it on purpose, the next step is the same: own it before you get caught.

Especially if you plagiarized on purpose, you’re probably hoping this will all go unnoticed. But the consequences for plagiarizing are too steep and the rewards are too small for that gamble to be worth it.

Plagiarism used to be pretty hard to spot. If a paper looked suspicious—the writing didn’t sound like the student or had an inconsistent voice—professors had to identify plagiarized passages manually or ask the student enough questions to prove it wasn’t their work.

Today there’s an entire industry of plagiarism detection software. Professors have multiple brands to choose from when they want to automatically check students’ work for plagiarism.

But even without software, professors can get pretty good at recognizing the most obvious forms of plagiarism. Class discussions and assignments allow them to learn how individual students think. And especially in small classes, they learn to recognize the way those students write. Plus, as professors, it’s pretty safe to assume they’re very familiar with the most common sources.

If you plagiarize, odds are your professors will find out. Get ahead of the problem, and tell them you made a mistake. Don’t lie about this or wait to see what happens.

If it was a small instance of plagiarism, pointing out an uncited reference may be all it takes to prevent backlash. But at the very least, telling the truth will start the conversation about consequences on the right foot. It can’t undo the damage of your academic dishonesty, but it being upfront about it will help rebuild trust for your future work as well.

All you really need to know about plagiarism

When it comes down to it, avoiding plagiarism takes two things:

  1. Cite your sources.
  2. Produce original work.

As long as you do that, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Top 10 Online Schools in Texas

Texas: the lone star state

Texas is a big state full of big schools. Some of Texas’ most prestigious universities have rich traditions stretching back a century or more.

It shouldn’t surprise you that many of these schools have embraced the world of online education. New and well-established colleges alike have adapted to meet the needs of people with jobs, families, and other commitments that make traditional education more difficult.

Online schools let you keep your priorities the same while still working towards a new credential. And the credentials they give you are usually the same as you’d earn on campus. So you’re free to pursue an education that fits with your life.

To help you sort through the top online schools in Texas, we’ve used data from The National Center for Education Statistics and ratings from school-ranking entities like TheBestSchools.org, AffordableCollegesOnline.org, BestColleges.com, OnlineColleges.net, and CollegeChoice.net.

We’ll show you each school’s:

  • Location
  • Tuition cost
  • Admissions rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Number of online degrees
  • Student population
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Awards and accolades
  • Accreditation
  • Anything else we think will help you decide

Let’s find an online school you’ll love! For starters, here are some highlights:

Most affordable

If you live in Texas, a lot of these schools can give you a pretty affordable education. But there are a couple of schools that are going to be significantly more affordable, regardless of where you live. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (#4 on our list) costs $6,000 per year for Texans and $7,000 per year for everyone else.

But there’s one school that’s even more affordable. Depending on the program you choose at The University of Texas at Arlington (#9), you can finish your degree for less than $9,000.

Best graduation rate

An education is valuable in itself, but odds are you’re going to school because you want the credentials. A lot of the options on this list have pretty average graduation rates. Some are really low.  If you’re worried about graduating, Texas Tech University is your best bet. Their graduation rate is 60%. That’s only 1% above average, but it’s the best offered by an online school in Texas.

Most online degree options

The degree program you choose can completely change your career path, so it’s important to find a field that interests you. Most schools don’t have nearly as many online options as they do on campus. Still, a couple of schools on this list have a pretty good selection. University of Houston’s Victoria campus (#5) gives you 95 options to choose from. To be fair, about half of these are degree completion programs.

Now, on to the top ten!

1. Dallas Baptist University

Dallas Baptist University campus at night
Image source: DBU
Location: Dallas, Texas
Tuition cost: about $26,000 per year
Admissions rate: 43%
Graduation rate: 59%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 20
  • Graduate: 22

Student population: 5,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 12 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 2
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 2
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 3
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 5

Dallas Baptist University offers more than 40 online degree programs ranging from associate’s to master’s. About 25% of these degrees are related to Christian ministry, but there’s a good selection of liberal arts degrees as well. (You won’t find any STEM programs here.)

If you’re interested in pursuing graduate studies, DBU has several accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs as well as dual master’s degree programs.

As a Christian university, DBU’s religious perspective is still part of its non-ministry programs.

“There is more to a university education than the degree itself,” says Dr. Matthew Winn, director of online education. “At DBU, you will experience Christ-centered, genuine community as you interact with our faculty and students online. Our online classes are taught by the same faculty who teach our face-to-face classes, so that you get the same experience and education that you can get on our campus. We invite you to see how online education at DBU can equip you to be a servant leader wherever God takes you.”

2. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus
Image source: TTU
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $8,500 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $18,000 per year

Admissions rate: 63%
Graduation rate: 60%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 7
  • Graduate: 31

Student population: about 37,000
Student to faculty ratio: 21 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 1
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 2
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 3
  • Rank on CollegeChoice.net: 4

Texas Tech University has a variety of online undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certificate programs. There are also eight minors you can add to any of those majors.

At the undergraduate level, TTU mostly offers liberal arts degrees, but their master’s programs include both liberal arts and STEM fields. Quite a few of their programs are related to education.

TTU has a long history of off-campus education, and they’ve been doing distance education for over 20 years. Here’s what they want you to know about elearning at their campus:

3. LeTourneau University

LeTourneau University campus
Image source: LeTourneau University
Location: Longview, Texas
Tuition cost: about $28,000 per year
Admissions rate: 44%
Graduation rate: 53%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 14
  • Graduate: 8

Student population: 2,700+
Student to faculty ratio: 12 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 1
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 1
  • Rank on CollegeChoice.net: 3
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 4

LeTourneau University has over 20 online degrees to choose from. Like DBU, LeTourneau is a Christian university. They blend their Christian perspective with a culture of innovation. Here’s what that looks like:

LeTourneau says, “Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact.”

LU has made our lists for top online bachelor in business management degree and top online bachelor in human resource management degree.

4. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus
Image source: UTPB
Location: Odessa, Texas
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $6,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $7,000 per year

Admissions rate: 81%
Graduation rate: 34%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 10
  • Graduate: 6

Student population: 6,600+
Student to faculty ratio: 20 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 1
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 5
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 9
  • Other honors

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin provides a range of online degrees, particularly in the field of education. They also offer certificates and endorsements for those who already have degrees in education.

Additionally, they have numerous online classes that aren’t part of a degree program, but still earn credits. This could be a good option to explore a variety of subjects before committing to a program, or to get some credits under your belt to enroll in a degree completion program.

UTPB’s graduation rate is on the low side (about 25% below average), but that doesn’t necessarily mean people aren’t completing the program–it might just mean that it takes most students longer than six years (which isn’t crazy if you’re going to school part time).

5. University of Houston-Victoria

University of Houston's Victoria campus
Image source: UHV
Location: Victoria, Texas
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $7,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $20,000 per year

Admissions rate: 48%
Graduation rate: 18%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 48
  • Graduate: 47

Student population: 4,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 15 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 2
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 6
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 7
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 8

The University of Houston-Victoria has a huge selection of online degrees, but at the undergraduate level, they’re all degree completion programs. So you can only enroll online if you’ve already earned a degree or accumulated some credits.

These programs are offered across the entire University of Houston system. Depending on the program you choose, your faculty may come from another UH campus.

The majority of UHV’s online undergraduate programs are business related, but their master’s degree programs cover a variety of fields. They also offer numerous certificate programs.

UHV’s online degree completion programs could be a good option for students transferring from  another school like UTPB.

6. Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman's University logo
Image source: TWU
Location: Denton, Texas
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $7,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: $17,000 per year

Admissions rate: 86%
Graduation rate: 38%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 12
  • Graduate: 27

Student population: 15,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 19 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 4
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 5

Texas Woman’s University has about 40 online degree programs. All of the undergraduate programs are degree completion programs, and some are hybrid, meaning they include an on-campus component. These programs are primarily in business, education, and general studies.

Here’s what TWU says about its online programs:

“Students who take online courses must be motivated, self-disciplined, able to work independently, and have good time management and communication skills. Successful online students login frequently to read new announcements and course materials, and interact with classmates and the instructor. Online courses follow the same university calendar as face-to-face courses and are held to the same academic standards.”

TWU has a list of recommended strategies and best practices for online students, which provides some basic guidelines that students at any school should probably follow.

As you can probably tell by the name, TWU is primarily a school for women. They’re a proud member of the Women’s College Coalition. Men can still enroll though–about 10% of their students are men.

7. Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Image source: SAGU
Location: Waxahachie, Texas
Tuition cost: about $20,000 per year
Admissions rate: 23%
Graduation rate: 41%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 49
  • Graduate: N/A

Student population: 2,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 16 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 4
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 7
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 9

Southwestern Assemblies of God University has a lot of online undergraduate degrees. Almost half of these are in Bible or ministry-related subjects. The rest are in business, psychology, counseling, human services, education, and other liberal arts. 13 of these programs are for associate’s degrees. SAGU has a wide range of graduate programs as well, but it’s unclear which, if any, are available online.

Online students “get access to full campus support and resources. Students can take advantage of the Career Center for job training and assistance, the Wellness Center for fitness classes and facilities, the Counseling Center and more.”

Obviously, you’ll need to live near campus to take advantage of some of these resources.

SAGU also shares what being part of a Christian college means for your education:

“Everything we do springs from a Christian worldview. SAGU creates an environment that strengthens your faith and your mind, integrating faith and learning.”

Note: You have to be 22 to enroll in SAGU’s online programs.

8. Midwestern State University

Midwestern State University campus
Image source: MSU
Location: Wichita Falls, Texas
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $9,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $11,000 per year

Admissions rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 41%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 4
  • Graduate: 12

Student population: 6,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 18 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on CollegeChoice.net: 10

Midwestern State University has a handful of online bachelor’s degrees and a small selection of master’s degrees. Most of these options fall under the fields of either education or medicine.

Here’s what MSU wants you to know about their degree programs:

“Midwestern State University is a leading public liberal arts university committed to providing students with rigorous undergraduate and graduate education in the liberal arts and the professions. Through an emphasis upon teaching, augmented by the opportunity for students to engage in research and creative activities alongside faculty and to participate in co-curricular and service programs, Midwestern State prepares its graduates to embark upon their careers or pursue advanced study. The university’s undergraduate education is based upon a comprehensive arts and sciences core curriculum. The understanding that students gain of themselves, others, and the social and natural world prepares them to contribute constructively to society through their work and through their private lives.”

If you aren’t a resident of Texas, you can use this interactive state authorization map to find out which degree programs your state is eligible for.

You can see how graduates felt about their education at MSU with this exit survey.

Fun fact: MSU is the only university in Texas that’s a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.

9. The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington campus
Image source: UTA
Location: Arlington, Texas
Tuition cost: about $8,000-$30,000 total
Admissions rate: 70%
Graduation rate: 48%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 3
  • Graduate: 13

Student population: 45,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 25 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on CollegeChoice.net: 8

The University of Texas at Arlington has a pretty sparse offering of online degree programs. If you plan on becoming a nurse, or working in education or public administration, you have a few options. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

Every online degree at UTA is priced a little differently, but the total tuition cost is prominently displayed next to every program listed on the site.

Here are the top 10 reasons to enroll in UTA’s online degree programs:

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And here’s what five graduates had to say about their experience in the online program:

https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/1sh7jsp6dh?popover=true

10. University of North Texas

The University of North Texas campus
Image source: UNT
Location: Denton, Texas
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $10,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $20,000 per year

Admissions rate: 72%
Graduation rate: 52%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 5
  • Graduate: 19

Student population: 38,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 26 to 1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 4
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 6

University of North Texas has more than  20 online degrees in liberal arts, including education, business, and mental health. They have several online certificate programs as well.

Additionally, UNT is “one of the largest providers of online credit courses,” and you can explore their offerings through a class search tool.

Here’s what it means to be part of University of North Texas:

Fun fact: University of North Texas is more than 125 years old! That makes it the oldest school on this list.

A quick note on transferring schools

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than one-third of all college students transfer schools before graduating. In order to transfer your credits from one school to another, the two schools usually have to be accredited by the same organizations.

Thankfully, all of these schools are regionally-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. That means you should be able to transfer between them pretty easily. So you might start your degree at a school like The University of Texas of the Permian Basin and then take advantage of a degree completion program at a school like University of Houston-Victoria—or even transfer out-of-state.

Should I go to an online school in Texas?

These are the top online schools in Texas. And none of them made the cut for our list of the best online schools in the country. Unless you’re really attached to one of these schools because you grew up rooting for their teams, or someone you know went there, I’d recommend broadening your search.

If you’re looking at in-state schools because you heard out-of-state schools cost more, you should know: that doesn’t apply to a lot of online schools. Notice how some of the colleges on this list don’t separate in-state and out-of-state tuition? Many schools have one tuition rate for all online students, regardless of where they live. And since you won’t have to move anyways (you’re an online student, after all), it certainly can’t hurt to look.

The most undergraduate degrees offered by any of these schools is 95—and half of them are degree completion programs. Most offer a lot fewer than that. But some schools in other parts of the country offer well over 100 fully online degree options. Check it out.

The best school is really up to you

We can’t tell you exactly which online college is the best choice for you—and you shouldn’t let anyone else do that, either. You have to weigh the factors that are most important to you and let that guide your decision. Choosing a school is a huge investment—both in terms of what it immediately costs you and how it affects your life. So take your time.

We hope this list has helped make the decision a little easier for you. Good luck in your future studies!

Top 10 Online Colleges in Washington State

Seattle skyline

In a lot of ways, Washington feels like two different states. Western Washington is a hub for technological innovation, hosting companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. And eastern Washington boasts a thriving agriculture that greatly contributes to the economy. Both sides have well-known universities with strong degree programs.

Thanks to distance education, you don’t have to move across the state (or to the state) to benefit from these schools. Technology is taking distance education to new heights, and both new and well-established colleges have adapted to meet the needs of people with jobs, families, and other commitments that make traditional education more difficult.

Online schools let you keep your priorities the same while still working towards a new credential. And the credentials they give you are usually the same as you’d earn on campus. So you’re free to pursue an education that fits with your life.

To help you sort through the top online schools in Washington state, we’ve used data from The National Center for Education Statistics and ratings from school-ranking entities like TheBestSchools.org, AffordableCollegesOnline.org, BestColleges.com, OnlineColleges.net, and OnlineCollegePlan.com.

We’ll show you each school’s:

  • Location
  • Tuition cost
  • Admissions rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Number of online degrees
  • Student population
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Awards and accolades
  • Accreditation
  • Anything else we think will help you decide

Let’s find an online school you’ll love! For starters, here are some highlights:

Most affordable

If you live in Washington, a lot of these schools can give you a pretty affordable education. But one of these schools is almost half the cost of the next most affordable school. Peninsula College (#8 on our list) can get you a quality online degree for less than $5,000 per year whether you live in Washington or not.

Technically, there’s one college on this list that’s even more affordable. I say technically because they only offer degree completion programs at the undergraduate level, so you have to earn half of your degree somewhere else first. Eastern Washington University’s online tuition is one of the lowest tuitions in the country. They’re #10 on our list, and if you complete half your degree somewhere else, EWU can get you the rest for about $3,500. That’s insanely low.

Best graduation rate

An education is valuable in itself, but odds are you’re going to school because you want the credentials. If you’re worried about graduating, you’ve got some pretty safe options on this list. Interestingly, the school that’s the hardest to get into is also the one with the best graduation rate. University of Washington only admits 45% of applicants, but of those who get in, 84% graduate.

A couple other schools on this list have higher than average graduation rates, but your next best bet is Faith International University (#9). They have an 80% graduation rate—and an open admissions policy, so you’re guaranteed to get in.

Most online degree options

The degree program you choose can completely change your career path, so it’s important to find a field that interests you. Most schools don’t have nearly as many online options as they do on campus. There’s a school on this list that only has one online program. If you want to make sure you have the most possible choices, check out #2 on our list, City University of Seattle. They have 26 online degree programs to choose from.

Now, on to the top ten!

1. Washington State University Global Campus

Washington State University Global Campus
Image source: WSU

Location: Pullman, Washington (plus three other locations)
Tuition cost:

  • In-state part-time: about $60,000 total
  • Out-of-state part-time: about $68,000 total
  • In-state full-time: about $33,000 total
  • Out-of-state full-time: about $38,000 total

Admissions rate: 72%
Graduation rate: 67%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 12
  • Graduate: 11

Student population: 30,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 15 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 1
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 1
  • Rank on AffordableCollegeOnline.org: 1
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 2
  • #11 top online college in the U.S.

Washington State University offers a decent selection of online degrees, but they’re Washington’s best online school because they’ve fully embraced an online “campus” experience. Through WSU’s Global Campus, students can:

  • Participate in online career fairs
  • Showcase their research through a digital pavillion
  • Watch webinars hosted by University experts
  • Join online events
  • And more . . .

Here’s how WSU describes the Global Campus:

“The Global Campus is a door that connects the world to WSU and WSU to the world. It provides access to the best of WSU for students, faculty, and anyone seeking to gain or share knowledge. The Global Campus consists of five pillars, each of which advances WSU’s mission to bring education beyond geographic boundaries. And it goes beyond education to create a virtual gathering place that offers a true campus experience.”

You can learn more about the Global Campus in this video:

One student shared about the long road that led from high school to WSU’s Global Campus, where she finally completed a degree she’d started nearly 20 years earlier:

“Well, I had started my degree right after I graduated from high school, just like most kids do. I went to Tacoma Community College, got my two-year degree, was funding it with myself and my parents’ support, went on to the University of Washington in Tacoma, funded that same way, working hard, working full-time, and I literally ran out of money and took a break. And once I got into the career path that I’m in now, my boss really encouraged me to go back and finish so that I could have a promotion at my job.”

WSU’s Global Campus also offers non-credit earning professional development courses and free online education.

2. City University of Seattle

City University Seattle campus
Image source: City University of Seattle

Location: Seattle, Washington
Tuition cost: about $17,000 per year
Admissions rate: open admissions policy
Graduation rate: 24%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 12
  • Graduate: 14

Student population: 1,800+
Student to faculty ratio: 11 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 3
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 3
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 5
  • Rank on AffordableCollegesOnline.org: 6

City University of Seattle offers most of their degrees on campus and online, and they have options for both undergraduate and graduate students.

CityU says the main reason students choose their school is convenience and flexibility. They also have a generous transfer policy, allowing up to 135 credits to come from another school. While CityU doesn’t publish a job placement rate, a survey revealed that 95% of students “felt they would see a return on the investment that they were making with CityU.”

Some of CityU’s programs are performance based, which means you can complete your education as fast as you can learn the required material. Here’s how they put it:

“Performance-based programs allow students to earn credit in an innovative manner that recognizes the skills they have developed in the working world. Once students demonstrate that they have a developed skill or set of skills he or she is able to earn credits for the knowledge they have already mastered and move on to the material that he or she does not know.”

Basically, once you can pass the necessary tests, you can get your credits and move on. That’s how some of the fastest online degree programs in the country work.

3. Central Washington University

Central Washington University campus
Image source: CWU

Location: Ellensburg, Washington
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $8,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $22,000 per year (out-of-state tuition waivers available for online students)

Admissions rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 52%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 12
  • Graduate: 10

Student population: about 12,000
Student to faculty ratio: 18 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableColleges.org: 2
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 2
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 2
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 4

Central Washington University is a good choice for students who already have some postsecondary education. They have online degree completion programs and online master’s programs, but there are no bachelor’s degree programs, so this isn’t an option if you haven’t at least started a degree program at another school.

Several of Central’s online programs offer specializations and include internship opportunities, which helps you craft your education to fit the career you want.

These four programs are technically “hybrid” programs, and require some time on-campus:

  • B.S. in paramedicine
  • Ed.S. in psychology
  • M.S. in health and physical education
  • M.S. in athletic administration

At the time we posted this list, Central cannot accept students from the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri

If you haven’t started a bachelor’s program yet, but want to go to CWU, check out the prerequisites for the program you’re interested in, and consider getting started at one of these other schools. Most of them are accredited by the same organization, so transferring shouldn’t be a problem.

4. Northwest University

Northwest University campus
Image source: Northwest University

Location: Kirkland, Washington
Tuition cost: about $29,000 per year
Admissions rate: 93%
Graduation rate: 56%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 8
  • Graduate: 6

Student population: 1,200+
Student to faculty ratio: 9 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 4
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 6
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 9

Northwest University has several online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Here’s what NU says about their online programs:

“With over 80 years of experience, we’ve taken all of that knowledge to create online courses that engage, inspire, and prepare. Many of our online courses are identical to our on-campus programs.”

NU is a Christian university. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be required to take Bible-centered courses, but Northwest University says every class is approached from a Christian perspective:

“Every course we offer has a unique component that helps you understand how the subject relates to your faith. Unlike other online programs, NU actually encourages your faith.”

Your instructors aren’t just subject matter experts. They’re teachers.

“The online instructors at Northwest University aren’t simply hired for their knowledge,” NU says. “We also look for professors who love students and bring out their very best. Many come from local companies and offer real-world insight into your career.”

5. University of Washington

University of Washington campus
Image source: UW

Location: Seattle, Washington (plus two other campuses)
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $11,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $35,000 per year

Admissions rate: 45%
Graduation rate: 84%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 2
  • Graduate: 18

Student population: 45,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineCollegePlan.com: 3
  • Rank on TheBestSchools.org: 3
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 1

University of Washington has a pretty sparse offering for online undergraduate students, but if you already have a bachelor’s there’s plenty of master’s degrees to choose from. UW also has a ton of online courses you can take for credit, and some online classes that won’t earn credit but teach you specialized skills, such as coding languages.

For Washington natives, it’s probably pretty surprising to see one of the state’s most popular and prestigious schools so far down the list, but their online undergraduate degree selection is seriously limited.

If you find classes or a program you’re interested in though, here’s why UW says you should choose their programs:

“The University of Washington has clout. You don’t have to wonder if we’re accredited. You don’t have to worry that we’ll disappear overnight. We’re one of the world’s most distinguished public universities. And we’ve been educating your mentors and capable colleagues for a very long time. You know it. Your neighbors know it. And your future employers know it, too.”

6. Western Washington University

Western Washington University campus
Image source: WWU

Location: Bellingham, Washington
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $8,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $22,000 per year

Admissions rate: 83%
Graduation rate: 69%
Job placement rate: 58%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 1
  • Graduate: 0

Student population: 15,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 19 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 4
  • Rank on AffordableCollegesOnline.org: 5
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 6

Western Washington University only has one online degree program: a bachelor’s in human services. So why are they on this list? WWU still has a great selection of online courses. So even if you aren’t interested in human services, there are plenty of other subjects you can explore.

Here’s what a student had to say about her experience as an online student at WWU:

You could also start at WWU to get your general requirements out of the way, and then choose a degree completion program at a school like Central. (Be warned though, the Vikings and Wildcats are rivals.)

The human services program has field experience and an internship built into the curriculum, so you’ll graduate with some professional experience already under your belt. Western also shared that 58% of their recent human services graduates were employed in a related field. That’s not an astounding job placement rate, but it means you’re more likely to get a job than not!

7. Heritage University

Heritage University online
Image source: Pinterest

Location: Toppenish, Washington
Tuition cost: about $19,000 per year
Admissions rate: open admissions policy
Graduation rate: 17%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 1
  • Graduate: 3

Student population: 1,100+
Student to faculty ratio: 7 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegesOnline.org: 3
  • Rank on OnlineColleges.net: 5

Heritage University has one online undergraduate degree and three online graduate degrees. If you want to study English or work in education, this is one of the better online options in Washington.

Like most online teaching programs, HU’s education-related programs are blended online and on-campus. In a field that’s so dependent on your interpersonal skills, it’s hard to facilitate an entire program online and still feel prepared to enter the profession. You’ll have an internship and at least five days on campus per year.

Your courses are taught by professionals straight from the field, including superintendents, principals, and teachers.

Heritage University can’t accept online students from the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida, Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

8. Peninsula College

Peninsula College campus
Image source: LinkedIn

Location: Port Angeles, Washington
Tuition cost:

  • In-state: about $4,500 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $5,000 per year

Admissions rate: open admissions policy
Graduation rate: 29%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 19
  • Graduate: 0

Student population: 2,100+
Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegesOnline.org: 4
  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 7

Peninsula College has 18 online associate’s degree programs and one online bachelor’s degree program.

If you want to complete a four year degree, PC can still be a great place to get started. Their AA degrees cover a wide range of fields, and one of them is even labelled a “transfer degree.” This program is designed to get your general requirements out of the way so that you can jump right into a four year degree program of your choice. (This is also a good option if you’re interested in a degree completion program.)

9. Faith International University & Seminary

Faith International University and Seminary campus
Image source: The Christian College Directory

Location: Tacoma, Washington
Tuition cost: about $8,000 per year
Admissions rate: open admissions policy
Graduation rate: 80%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 4
  • Graduate: 7

Student population: 500+
Student to faculty ratio: 15 to 1
Accreditation: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on AffordableCollegesOnline.org: 7
  • Rank on OnlineCollegePlan.com: 7

Faith International University & Seminary has several online degrees for undergraduate and graduate students. Some are fully online and some are hybrid programs.

FIU is the only school on this list that isn’t regionally accredited. This college is nationally accredited, which means it will be harder to transfer schools or pursue graduate studies at another school later. Your degree itself should still carry the same weight with employers (aside from the fact that they probably won’t have heard of FIU), so it’s online degrees are still worthwhile. If you want to transfer schools or go to graduate school though, you’ll probably have to do it at another college that’s accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

FIU is by far the smallest school on this list. It was founded by Lutherans Alert-International in 1969. Each of their programs “calls for students who demonstrate a potential for ministry, a faithful commitment to the Word of God, a heart for Christian service, and the personal discipline necessary to complete degree requirements.” In addition to typical admission requirements, students must sign a doctrinal statement and biblical code of conduct.

10. Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University campus
Image source: YouTube

Location: Cheney, Washington
Tuition cost: about $3,500 total
Admissions rate: 95%
Graduation rate: 47%
Number of online degrees:

  • Undergraduate: 4
  • Graduate: 4

Student population: 12,000+
Student to faculty ratio: 21 to 1
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on BestColleges.com: 8

Eastern Washington University offers online undergraduate degree completion programs and online graduate degree programs. They also offer online add-on endorsements for teachers, and 13 different online minors you can add to your degree.

Like Central, Eastern is a good option for students who have already earned an AA degree or about two years worth of credits at another school. The selection of degree completion programs is a lot smaller, but the tuition is a lot lower, too.

A quick note on transferring schools

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than one-third of all college students transfer schools before graduating. In order to transfer your credits from one school to another, the two schools usually have to be accredited by the same organizations.

Thankfully, nine of these schools are regionally-accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. That means you should be able to transfer between them pretty easily. So you might start your degree at a school like Western Washington University and then take advantage of a degree completion program at a school like Central—or even transfer out-of-state.

Should I go to an online school in Washington?

These are the top online schools in Washington. And only one of them made the cut for our list of the best online schools in the country. Unless you’re really attached to one of these schools because you grew up rooting for their teams, or someone you know went there, I’d recommend broadening your search.

If you’re looking at in-state schools because you heard out-of-state schools cost more, you should know: that doesn’t apply to a lot of online schools. Notice how some of the colleges on this list don’t separate in-state and out-of-state tuition? Many online schools have one tuition rate, regardless of where you live. And since you won’t have to move anyways (you’re an online student, after all), it certainly can’t hurt to look.

The most undergraduate degrees offered by any of these schools is 19. Most have a lot less than that. Some schools in other parts of the country offer well over 100 fully-online degree options. Check it out.

The best school is really up to you

We can’t tell you exactly which online college is the best choice for you—and you shouldn’t let anyone else do that, either. You have to weigh the factors that are most important to you and let that guide your decision. Choosing a school is a huge investment—both in terms of what it immediately costs you and how it affects your life. So take your time.

We hope this list has helped make the decision a little easier for you. Good luck in your future studies!