Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.Erin Treder
Updated May 1, 2024
Edited by
Reviewed by
Our Integrity Network is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

Your Future is Waiting

Explore and compare a list of accredited schools to enroll in your next program.

Person in college

These days, most college students take online classes at some point in their education journey. And it’s easy to see why — online learning offers flexibility, affordability, and convenience.

But how can you find the best online college to earn your degree? First, it’s important to choose an accredited institution. Accredited online colleges offer high-quality degrees that are reviewed by accrediting agencies.

Then, research factors that are important to you, like tuition cost, student services, and graduation rates. Check out our list of the best accredited online colleges to start your search.

Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site

Top 10 Accredited Online Colleges and Universities

#1 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location-markerManchester, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,000
  • Out-of-state$15,000
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled145,533
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment96%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

University of Florida

  • Location-markerGainesville, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,477
  • Out-of-state$25,694
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate30%
  • Students Enrolled55,781
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment57%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

Florida International University

  • Location-markerMiami, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,721
  • Out-of-state$16,529
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled56,664
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment65%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

San Diego State University

  • Location-markerSan Diego, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,742
  • Out-of-state$17,622
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate38%
  • Students Enrolled36,484
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment64%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

Purdue University Global

  • Location-markerWest Lafayette, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,080
  • Out-of-state$13,356
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled43,458
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

Pennsylvania State University

  • Location-markerUniversity Park, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,400
  • Out-of-state$25,084
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled88,914
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  • Location-markerMinneapolis, MN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,532
  • Out-of-state$32,096
  • Retention Rate92%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled52,376
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Location-markerAdelphi, MD
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,344
  • Out-of-state$11,976
  • Retention Rate52%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled55,323
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

Eastern New Mexico University

  • Location-markerPortales, NM
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,074
  • Out-of-state$6,114
  • Retention Rate59%
  • Acceptance Rate33%
  • Students Enrolled4,991
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment82%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities of 2024

The University of West Florida

  • Location-markerPensacola, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,735
  • Out-of-state$16,004
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate53%
  • Students Enrolled13,288
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment88%
  • AccreditationYes

Did You Know…

  • In 2021, 61% of undergraduates in the U.S. took at least one online course, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
  • 28% of all undergraduates exclusively took online courses in fall 2021.
  • 71% of all graduate students took at least one online course in fall 2020.
  • Around 4 in 5 colleges offered online courses or degree programs in 2018-19.
  • Public institutions are more likely to offer online courses and degrees than private institutions.

Is Online College Worth It?

Is an online college worth it? The answer will vary for each student. Ultimately, your budget, goals, and schedule can influence whether an online college is the right choice for you.

I love being able to meet with people and teachers from all over the globe and country, said Charlotte Amy Rose, an online master’s student at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Online College May Be Worth It If…

  • check-circle You need a flexible schedule.
  • check-circle You’re looking to save money.
  • check-circle You want to complete coursework on your own time.
  • check-circle You want to be flexible with location and travel while in school.
  • check-circle You need accessible learning.

Online College May Not Be Worth It If…

  • x-circle You want the classic “college experience.”
  • x-circle You prefer in-person instruction.
  • x-circle You’re pursuing a labwork-heavy degree.
  • x-circle You’re easily distracted at home.
  • x-circle You value peer-to-peer interaction.

Types of Online Degrees

You can earn pretty much any degree online these days. Online colleges and universities offer a variety of undergraduate degrees and graduate programs.

You’ll also find programs that can help you complete a degree you’ve already started. You can earn a two-year associate degree online or finish a bachelor’s degree. At the graduate level, you can earn a master’s degree or doctorate online.

In addition to degrees, many online colleges offer certificate programs. These focused programs typically take less than a year to complete, and you can earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate.

Learn more about the types of degrees you can earn online:

Choosing the Best Online College for You

The number of online colleges available to you can be overwhelming. Follow these five tips to help you choose the best online university for you.

1. Define Your Goals

Your career and educational goals will inform the best degree program for you. Consider your budget, how much time you’d like to spend on school, what skills and knowledge you wish to graduate with, and what you’d like to do when you finish your degree.

2. Choose a Major

Knowing what you plan to major in can guide your choice for an online college. Once you’ve chosen a major, you can compare specific degree programs. Consider things like the kinds of courses a program offers, the program structure, and networking opportunities.

If you haven’t chosen a major yet, try looking for online colleges with various majors that interest you. Alternatively, you could complete an online associate degree in general studies and choose a more focused major for a bachelor’s degree later on.

3. Research Online Colleges

Don’t apply to the first online school you come across. Instead, research a variety of colleges to find the right one for you. Compile a list of online universities that offer your major or another feature you value.

You can compare online colleges on features like:

  • Scheduling flexibility
  • Programs offered
  • Student resources
  • Course formats
  • Faculty reputation and experience
  • Career services
  • Alumni network

For example, maybe you prefer synchronous learning, where you’ll take classes in real-time with other students through online video services like Zoom. Or, maybe you prefer an asynchronous class structure, which lets you finish coursework on your own time with pre-recorded lectures.

4. Confirm Accreditation

Before applying to an online school, check that it is accredited. Most colleges list their accreditation status and accrediting agency on their website. You can also look on the accrediting agency’s website to double-check that a school is listed there.

Accreditation is particularly important for online schools to ensure high academic standards. Accreditation is also important for reputation purposes, as employers may consider your school’s accreditation status when you apply for jobs.

5. Determine Costs

Many online schools don’t charge students differently based on where they live; rather, there’s just one tuition price for all online students.

Online programs at traditional public colleges differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. In these cases, choosing an online program from a public school in your state should qualify you for lower in-state tuition costs.

In Florida, for example, tuition for in-state public colleges averaged $4,541 in 2021. In New York, in-state public college tuition averaged $8,416, while the average tuition in California was $8,401.

Paying for Your Online College Degree

Like any other student, an online college student will need to budget for tuition, fees, and textbooks. Some universities also charge an additional distance learning or technology fee. And taking classes online sometimes means upgrading your technology, internet, or software.

How do students pay for online degrees? Fortunately, if you choose an accredited college, you’ll qualify for many forms of financial aid.

Here are some common ways that distance learners at accredited online colleges pay for their degrees:

  • FAFSA financial aid
  • Employer tuition reimbursement
  • Loans and grants
  • Work-study programs
  • Employment

Here’s a breakdown of the average costs of an undergraduate and graduate degree in the U.S.

Q&A With Real Online College Students and Grads

Q: Why did you decide to pursue an online degree?

“I wanted to be able to study, travel, and work simultaneously — not sit in a classroom at a set time each week.”

Alexandra Markin, Founder of Online Student Life

“I love the freedom of being able to study from anywhere in the country. … I also struggle with social anxiety sometimes, so knowing I have the comfort of being able to study from home allows me to feel more at ease.”

Charlotte Amy Rose, Founder of Sacred Footprints

“I decided to continue my education online mainly because I wanted to move out of state and needed the flexibility to finish my degree while also starting my family.”

Alison Hamar, College Counselor and Schools Manager at Transizion

Q: In your opinion, what is the value of earning a degree online?

“Flexibility. If you need to take classes when you have time and don’t have to abide by a strict schedule, then online classes can be a great fit. You do have to be a self-motivated student, and online education isn’t for everyone.”

Alison H.

“With an online degree, you can be there for your family, friends, or anything you want in life when you need to be. You don’t have to choose between that and a three-hour lecture.”

Alexandra M.

“Earning a degree online offers more flexibility. I can work more easily around it as I don’t need to factor in travel time. I feel you are more focused too. You can spend more time actually studying and learning rather than traveling to and from university.”

Charlotte A. R.

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice to students considering an online college?

“I would highly recommend getting involved with the university, even if you are online. There are still so many extracurricular activities and courses you can join, which is a great way to meet people on the same course or just like-minded people you can share your experience with.”

Charlotte A. R.

“I would consider how much time you have to dedicate to school, if you can and will hold yourself accountable, and if flexibility is a necessity in your life. … In many ways online school is harder, but if you are motivated and driven to finish your degree and need the flexibility, then I would go for it.”

Alison H.

“You need to know your learning style and what works best for you. … Try a few online courses first before you commit to an online degree. The format of online learning isn’t for everyone.”

 — Alexandra M.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accredited Online Colleges and Universities

Next Steps

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed December 11, 2023.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.