Having completed a bachelor’s degree is an accomplishment that a higher number of Americans than ever before can claim. According to research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, a record 33% of Americans have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree. Along with improving one’s communication skills, a highly valuable asset in any workplace, other benefits of completing one’s undergraduate degree include less likelihood of losing employment during a crisis, a higher rate of advancement in the workplace, and according to the study, perhaps even a longer life span and better health. The sacrifice and work of completing a bachelor’s degree pay off in financial figures as well. Graduates of a bachelor’s degree program earn an average of 84% more over the course of their lifetime than those who have earned a high school diploma. Because of the wider availability of online education, the convenience if not the effort, of earning a bachelor’s degree is greater than ever before. The popular schools in this ranking have the highest number of students enrolled in their online programs.
Western Governors University
Western Governors University has an increasingly respected reputation for excellence. With the most students enrolled online of any college in the United States, the school also claims a low borrowing rate as well as a high employer satisfaction rate. According to their website, 97% of employers of graduates of Western Graduate University are satisfied with their hiring choice. Also, since WGU’s launching the Responsible Borrowing Initiative, graduates of the online bachelor’s degree programs have less than half the average student debt and over 40% of students complete their bachelor’s degree without taking out any student loans.
Programs at Western Governors University begin on the first day of each month giving prospective students immediate opportunities to begin their education. Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, says of the school, “I’m impressed by the results in places like Western Governors University. Its low-cost online programs rely on competency-based progression, not class time or credit hours.”
University of Phoenix
One of the most popular online schools is the University of Phoenix with over 94,000 students enrolled online full-time. The University of Phoenix offers a tuition guarantee that locks in tuition rates when a student enrolls in a degree program, no matter how long it takes to finish the degree. This program grants students stability that allows them to accomplish their goals of completing a bachelor’s degree while still maintaining their home and work life. The University of Phoenix also evaluates life and work experience as potential credit for incoming students.
With over 100 certificate and degree programs available and accredited, the University of Phoenix offers degree programs in the popular areas of business, education, criminal justice, and nursing as well as many others. Though the University of Phoenix has been involved in some lawsuits during the last 10 years, their online student enrollment still remains one of the highest in the U.S., and over half of graduates have gone on to successfully find employment. Many students express satisfaction with their experience at the school.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University has one of the highest online enrollments in the country. With around 90,000 students enrolled full-time in Southern New Hampshire University’s online degree programs, the school has a reputation in education that goes back over 80 years. A nonprofit regionally accredited university, SNHU offers over 200 degree programs online and also boasts affordable tuition rates.
Online education at Southern New Hampshire University is highly accommodating to distance learning students, offering online library services, tutoring, and 24/7 technological support. Career advisors at Southern New Hampshire University also offer online students support to find career and internship opportunities. The alumni network at SNHU includes over 75,000 graduates.
A powerhouse of Christian online education, Liberty University currently has over 66,000 students from around the world enrolled in their full-time online degree programs. With over 400 degree and certificate programs available, Liberty University has assisted faculty to provide wider availability of degree programs to potential students than any other online school. Approaching education from a Christian perspective, Liberty has been providing distance education for students since 1970 with faculty members committed not only to excellence in their industry but also to providing mentorship for online students.
Liberty University offers 8 start dates every year, granting students flexibility and convenience in their schedules. Classes in online degree programs are 100% online and 8 weeks long. Also unique to Liberty’s online programs is their low tuition rate which hasn’t changed in over 5 years. According to their website, low tuition rates, and high-quality online education has placed them in the top 1% of online colleges and universities.
Walden University is a for-profit university that remains one of the most popular online schools based exclusively on the number of students enrolled. Walden currently provides full-time online education to over 50,000 students and offers over 80 degree programs entirely online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Walden University has expanded its programs to provide 385 accredited concentrations and specializations.
Other positive aspects of Walden University’s online programs to consider are Walden’s flexible formats of learning that are oriented around individual student needs. The school’s financial aid assistance and their student support system are also well established. Walden’s online degree programs start as early as the next month after application.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University has one of the highest populations of online students with close to 47,000 students studying fully online at the school. Offering a variety of online degree programs, all of which are accredited, Grand Canyon University bases their curriculum on values which will grant students the ability to take their career to the next level.
Online degrees at Grand Canyon University are offered with a convenient, streamlined option which gives students the ability to complete a degree program in their own time. GCU also offers a myriad of resources to their online students which include the GCU library, technical help, and access to student service counselors. Scholarships, as well as special rates for military personnel and their spouses, are also available for online students at Grand Canyon University.
American Public University System
With over 46,000 students enrolled online, American Public University boasts on its website that students are “priority one. Emphasized on American Public University’s website are the over 200 degree and certificate programs offered by APU which include a commitment to quality education, affordable tuition, and superior student resources.
Consistently receiving a “Best for Vets Colleges” distinction from Military Times in the last 5 years, American Public University offers grants for military-affiliated students as well as no-cost textbooks and ebooks for all undergraduate and doctoral students. This offer also extends to all military-tuition-grant-eligible masters-level students. Military experience, as well as on-the-job training, could also transfer as possible academic credit for incoming students at APU. American Public University is a private for-profit institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Maryland Global Campus
Previously the University of Maryland – University College, the University of Maryland Global Campus changed its name in 2019 in order to, according to their website, “better communicate who we are: a state university with a global reach.” With over 140 classroom and service locations throughout the world, including Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, UMGC offers online education to over 40,000 fully online students.
University of Maryland Global Campus offers online students a range of 90 degree programs, certificates, and specializations. Degrees are offered in Business & Management, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Education & Teaching, Healthcare & Science, IT & Computer Science, Liberal Arts & Communications as well as Public Safety. The University of Maryland Global Campus offers resources to its students which include academic tutors and mentoring, career counseling, and 24-hour tech support. Military Times has ranked the University of Maryland Global Campus as the Top Public University in its 2019 Best for Vets survey of online and non-traditional colleges and universities making it a popular online school for military students.
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University is a private university owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. With the largest undergraduate enrollment of any private university in the United States, Brigham Young University also boasts a high enrollment of online students. Serving over 42,000 online students, Brigham Young University has two satellite campuses in Jerusalem and Salt Lake City making it an international academic presence.
According to Wikipedia, Brigham Young University is recognized for a high-quality education balanced by low cost. Times Higher Education and The Wall Street Journal have ranked BYU as tied for No. 1 in the country as a “Worth the Cost” college. Forbes also has placed BYU No. 1 on its list of “America’s Best Value Colleges 2019.” U.S. News & World Report has ranked BYU #12 in Best Value Schools. For those looking for a popular online school that gives high value for the cost, studying online at Brigham Young University is a good option.
Capella University offers exclusively online degrees. Although the university has been criticized for accounting mistakes some years ago, according to Wikipedia the school has made changes to prevent the mistakes from recurring. The school currently has over 37,000 online students enrolled full-time in their degree programs.
The online coursework at Capella is developed with input from industry leaders, giving students the necessary skills to prepare them for future employment. In a recent survey, 89% of doctoral alumni state that their degree program from Capella provided them with the flexibility to successfully pursue their career goals. According to the same survey, “97% of employer respondents rated the ability of Capella graduates to perform effectively in the workplace as proficient or exceptional.”
Arizona State University
Arizona State University is another popular public online university that offers online education to around 37,000 full-time students from around the world. Unique to the program at ASU is their approach to emerging technologies which create demands for new types of skilled workers, a demand which ASU recognizes and attempts to meet. 70% of students at Arizona State University receive some form of financial assistance every year, regardless of income.
Arizona State University offers over 200 online degree programs and certificates and is ranked #1 as a university for innovation by U.S. News and World Report and #2 in U.S. online graduate programs. Arizona State University also offers 6 start dates per year which grant students a high level of flexibility.
Ashford University, an online for-profit university, offers over 60 degree programs online in 5-6 week courses. Ashford University serves over 34,000 online students through 5 online colleges: the Division of General Education; the Forbes School of Business and Technology; the College of Education; the College of Health, Human Services and Science; and the College of Liberal Arts.
Although Ashford has had a bit of a rocky history, some recent high points, according to Wikipedia, include a 2013 union with Forbes Media to create the Forbes School of Business. After merging with the University of the Rockies in 2017, plans were made to change the status of Ashford to a non-profit university. This has been delayed because of Ashford’s accreditor, the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. Ashford remains a popular online school and very recently hired 200 personal advisors to increase the assistance that their online students receive.
Excelsior College, a not-for-profit, accredited online school offers over 40 degree program in six areas of study which includes business, health sciences, liberal arts, nursing, public service, and technology. Excelsior College is committed to evolving in order to meet the new opportunities for bringing education to the learner as well as the ever-changing needs of adult students. The online programs at Excelsior are unique in their concept of “ecosystem” that brings together educational resources into instructor-led and self-paced courses. Independent study for credit by examination, prior learning assessment, and stackable credentials are other aspects of this “ecosystem”. Excelsior College has assisted more than 170,000 students to complete an online degree and currently has more than 30,000 students enrolled full-time, making it a popular online school.
Colorado Technical University
According to their mission statement, Colorado Technical University is committed “to provide industry-relevant higher education to a diverse student population through innovative technology and experienced faculty, enabling the pursuit of personal and professional goals.” The online school at Colorado Technical University began in 1995 with a goal of educating adults who were focused on their careers.
Students in fully online programs at Colorado Technical University number around 24,000 from around the world. Online students at CTU range from U.S. military personnel stationed overseas to students in other countries who aspire to advance their educational goals. According to their website, Colorado Technical University provides “effective, award-winning, online and virtual learning options for…students.”
Chamberlain University – Illinois
Chamberlain University is a for-profit healthcare and nursing school that offers online degree programs flexibly suited to those with family and work responsibilities. Degrees offered include bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing along with public health and social work master’s degrees. All degree programs are offered 100% online and have proven well-populated with over 25,000 students enrolled.
Unique to the online degree programs at Chamberlain University is their online tutoring program which includes a review of previous tutoring sessions, convenient scheduling of new tutoring sessions, and assistance across various subjects. Chamberlain University offers convenient transfers as well as specialized career services.
Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University has provided affordable online degree programs for adult students for over 25 years. CSU combines real-world experience with the best practices in the latest industry in order to give working adults the edge in a competitive job market. In their online programs, Columbia Southern University focuses on keeping low tuition, flexible enrollment, and quality programs as well as helpful support staff. Their mission is to help busy adults achieve their educational goals.
Columbia Southern University has unique enrollment features which include 11 term start dates with 9-week terms. Other options include LifePace Learning for select students. LifePace Learning grants students the flexibility to choose their start date, completing their term in 4 – 10 weeks, giving students the ability to organize their own educational schedule. Columbia Southern University’s online programs are heavily populated with 21,000 students enrolled.
University of Texas – Arlington
The University of Texas-Arlington is the largest public university in Texas and also has a strong online presence. Online degree programs at the University of Texas are offered 100% online in the areas of nursing, education, urban & public affairs, and public health. With a low state university tuition and accelerated completion times, the University of Texas – Arlington has attracted over 20,000 students to its online programs.
Unique to the online approach at the University of Texas – Arlington are the accelerated degree programs with multiple start dates and efficient course timing as well as the low tuition with pay-by-the-course options. Other highly regarded aspects of the program are the emphasis on communication between students and professors and the flexible online coursework.
DeVry University, a for-profit institution that offers both on-campus and online degrees, has been involved in multiple lawsuits throughout the last couple of decades according to Wikipedia. However, it remains one of the most populated and popular online schools. Many students report a high level of satisfaction with their education at DeVry.
With over 15,000 fully online students and a long history which involves a recent transfer of ownership, DeVry’s website boasts that students graduate prepared for life beyond school. It states that students have the ability to apply technology to their field, standing out in today’s digital world. DeVry offers online programs in business, technology, health, liberal arts, and media arts. The school also offers an online master’s degree and graduate certificates in these subjects. DeVry University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Ranked in the Top 5 Online Bachelor’s Programs for seven consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s online degrees cover seven areas of study. These include Applied Science, Aviation, Computers & Technology, Safety, Security & Intelligence, Business, Engineering, and Space. With a long history in aviation, Embry-Riddle’s current degree program options include non-aviation-related industries as well as aviation-related programs.
With over 12,000 online students, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University boasts professors who are leaders in the industry. Professors share the knowledge they have acquired from decades of industry experience granting graduates a competitive edge in the workplace. According to the university website, graduates from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University are employed at some of the world’s biggest companies.
Colorado State University – Global Campus
Colorado State University Global, according to its website “was the first independent, regionally accredited, 100% online state university in the country.” Part of the renowned Colorado State University system, CSU Global has not raised the price of their tuition in over 7 years. Included in the low rates are online out-of-state students. CSU Global also locks the rates of tuition in for a student’s entire education.
Reasons to attend Colorado State University Global, other than their full online student body of over 12,000 students are the four-week class start dates and professional faculty members. CSU Global also promises to focus on the success of working professionals & nontraditional students. Colorado State University Global has a high success rate with 95% of its alumni reporting that they would recommend the school to family and friends.
Full Sail University
Full Sail University, originally a school for recording arts, has broadened its offerings over the years to include audio, film, and media production degree programs. Their online student body has increased to over 14,000 making it a popular online school. A for-profit university, located in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University is consistently ranked high for certain programs, especially game design.
The online programs at Full Sail University are based on real-world education. The degree programs are also on an accelerated schedule giving students the opportunity to acquire their bachelor’s degree in half the time that it normally takes. Students in the online programs take classes on a “building block” schedule that allows instructors to easily track their progress and assist them with difficulties. The format also allows graduates to accumulate a portfolio at graduation which eases their way into a career.
Penn State World Campus
Ranked in the top ten for online bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News and World Report, Penn State World Campus holds a high reputation for online students. With over 14,000 online students, Penn State develops courses in partnership with its highly qualified faculty members and curriculum designers to guarantee a successful learning experience for its students. Online programs are expected to have the same quality of content as an on-campus degree from Penn State.
Penn State has been providing distance learning education for over 125 years. In that time they have expanded their vision to their current listing of online programs which number over 150. According to the Penn State Global website, the mission of their online educational offerings is to “provide the Penn State educational experience to anyone, anytime – focusing on convenience, flexibility, and quality in delivering accredited degrees and certificates online.”
Eastern Gateway Community College
Eastern Gateway Community College makes the list of popular online schools with almost 12,000 students enrolled in full-time online study. Eastern Gateway is a public accredited school offering choices for students seeking a higher degree. Many of the 60 various degrees, certificates programs, and courses offered at Eastern Gateway are also offered online for the convenience of their students.
The mission of Eastern Gateway Community College is to provide “quality, flexible, innovative and affordable educational opportunities to serve…communities through helping students achieve success.”
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is ranked as a Top 20 online school by U.S. News & World Report. The goal of the school is to give students the opportunity to pursue their dreams. The online degree system at the University of Central Florida includes almost 15,000 full-time students. Because the University of Central Florida has affordable tuition as well as convenient online programs, students consistently highly rate their experience at UCF.
The University of Central Florida holds the quality of the online degree programs to the same standard as their on-campus degrees. In fact, they are designed and taught by the same faculty. With 90 online programs and 20 years of experience, the University of Central Florida has a high reputation in online education.
Post University’s online degree programs are some of the most popular in the U.S. With over 9,000 full-time online students, Post’s online undergraduate programs are ranked some of the best by U.S. News and World Report. From the beginning of a student’s application process, counselors are standing by to work with students personally. Another commitment of Post University is to provide quality online education. Post looks to use the latest technology and techniques to the advantage of every online degree program.
Post University uniquely allows undergraduates to demonstrate college-level proficiency in certain subjects. This involves learning which has been experienced in non-traditional ways such as advanced placement courses, or work experience. Post University also offers students online/hybrid programs that involve evening and weekend classes.
East Carolina University
Ranked in the top 25% in graduate degrees by U.S. News and World Report, East Carolina University “is the state’s leader and national trailblazer in distance education.” ECU is also ranked in 2020 in the top 20% for online master’s degrees in education degree programs as well as in the top 15% for social mobility. East Carolina University has almost 10,000 fully online students studying for over 100 online degree and certificate programs. These programs are in business, health care, education, and technology as well as other areas.
The online programs at East Carolina University are specifically created to meet the career needs as well as the academic goals of working adults. The same instructors who teach the on-campus classes are also teaching ECU’s online programs. ECU works to offer all of the tools and support services that online students require to earn their degrees.
Columbia College, located in Columbia, Missouri, is earning a reputation as a popular online choice for college-level degree programs. With over 8,000 students enrolled full-time in their online degrees, Columbia has been serving the educational needs of adults for over 160 years. Currently, Columbia has over 30 venues nationwide The school also has evening and online programs to greater assist students in their need for flexibility. Columbia University offers over 800 online programs as well as 29 online degree options.
Columbia College offers personal assistance in their career services by assisting online students in developing interview skills, finding internships, exploring options for graduate school, and also searching for jobs. Other services provided for online students at Columbia College include tutoring, library services, and technological support.
American InterContinental University
American Intercontinental University offers over 45 online degree programs and specializations at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. The online degree programs at AIU are tailored to provide opportunities for those adults who are already balancing work and family. American InterContinental University currently assists over 9,000 online students to reach their academic goals.
Ways in which American Intercontinental University assists online students in easily tracking their work include online discussion boards, easy connections with instructors or faculty, assignment, grade, and GPA tracking, recorded live chats, and the ability to sync virtual classes with a mobile app calendar. The online degree programs at American Intercontinental University are taught by faculty who support online students throughout their degree program.
Houston Community College
With a growing online presence, in fact, the third-largest online community college in the entire nation, Houston Community College offers a variety of fully online degree programs to around 9,000 students. The 60+ online degree programs at HCC are geared toward students who require a flexible degree program. Offered at the school are over 70 hybrid programs, and over 80 online subjects. According to its website, Houston Community College offers one of the most affordable online tuition rates in the country.
Unique aspects of Houston Community College’s Online College are the myriad of services provided for online students which include tutoring services, proctoring services, career services, student support, technical support, and counseling services. According to a recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, students enrolled in Houston Community College’s online courses were more likely to finish their degrees than students in traditional classroom settings.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University ECampus has been ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report for the last six years, making it a highly regarded as well as popular online school. Located in the beautiful state of Oregon, OSU extends the benefits of its low tuition and high rating to 24,000 students worldwide and almost 7,000 fully online students. Offering over 110 subjects to study, over 1,300 online classes, and a unique 20+ online chemistry classes.
Oregon State University offers unique agricultural and crop and soil sciences degrees programs along with more popular online degree options. Oregon State University also prides itself on serving veterans and is consistently ranked as one of the top schools to offer online bachelor’s degrees for veterans.