Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges & Universities 2024

Earning a degree from an accredited online college can provide flexibility and value for non-traditional students seeking to advance their careers.

Nationally accredited schools offer affordable and accessible online programs focused on practical career preparation.

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Many schools have rolling admissions, which means you can start a program in a few weeks!

The accredited online colleges profiled excel in delivering affordable, career-focused online education for working professionals and adult learners. Discover top-ranked programs aligned with fast-growing fields.


Our goal is to provide prospective students with the information needed to find the right accredited online program for their goals, learning style, and budget.

To help prospective students make informed choices, EDsmart has researched and ranked the top nationally accredited online colleges for 2023-2024. Our methodology evaluates factors critical to online learners' success and satisfaction.

EDsmart provides a simple, reliable, and honest ranking of the Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges. To be considered for this ranking, schools must offer online courses. In our analysis of the Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges, we looked at several factors and ranked our list of schools accordingly.

  • Affordability (average net price)
  • Student Satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Academic Quality (4-year graduation rate)
  • Median Earnings (the median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school)

Each data point is ranked with equal weight. Schools received a weighted overall ranking score for each individual point mentioned above–100 being the highest score possible.

In the case of tie scoring, the average net price was the determining factor for which school received the higher rank–the lower the net price, the higher the ranking. All data was gathered from College Scorecard and school website

Accredited Online Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

20 Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges 2024

1. Liberty University

Average Net Price (Private): $28,561

Graduation Rate: 62.12%

Retention Rate: 78.59%

Median Earnings: $45,115

Liberty University provides flexible online bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs designed to help students achieve their career and personal goals.With over 100 online bachelor's degrees available, Liberty caters to diverse interests and professional objectives. The 8-week accelerated course format enables working adults to balance school with their busy lives. Students can pursue degrees in fields ranging from business and IT to healthcare, ministry, education and more.

Expert faculty deliver engaging instruction using interactive technologies, equipping students with knowledge and skills for advancement. Small class sizes ensure personalized support. As a Christian university, Liberty integrates faith into academic and student life. With its versatile online program options combined with strong student support services, Liberty University empowers career-focused adults to earn respected degrees aligned with their calling.

2. Ottawa University-Ottawa

Average Net Price (Private): $26,214

Graduation Rate: 33.55%

Retention Rate: 55.26%

Median Earnings: $48,846

Ottawa University supports students in balancing educational goals with work and family responsibilities through flexible online degree programs. Ottawa's online offerings allow working adults to complete degrees without compromising commitments. The university eases the path with affordable tuition, accommodating schedules, and supportive services.

Ottawa provides over 20 online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in professional fields like business, education, healthcare, and human services. Programs equip graduates with career-relevant skills. Interactive online courses connect students with faculty who provide personalized mentorship for adult learners. With accommodating online options and supportive environment, Ottawa University empowers students to balance education, work and life.

3. Stratford University

Average Net Price (Private): $24,282

Graduation Rate: 100.00%

Retention Rate: 77.78%

Median Earnings: $42,446

Stratford University provides flexible online degree programs designed to empower students with the skills to advance their careers. Students can earn accredited associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees through Stratford's customized online platform. Stratford offers a multitude online programs in high-demand fields such as business, technology, healthcare, and culinary arts. The curriculums blend academic theory with hands-on learning. Many degrees feature internship opportunities to gain workplace experience.

Courses use interactive tools like discussion boards, real-time chats, and video lectures to engage students. Faculty mentors provide individual support focused on adult online learners. Students access services like tutoring, libraries, and career advising online. With multiple start dates per year, Stratford's online programs accommodate the schedules of working professionals. The university develops programs in growing career sectors to prepare graduates for success. Through its career-focused online degrees and supportive learning environment, Stratford University empowers students to gain the in-demand skills and experience for advancement.

4. LeTourneau University

Average Net Price (Private): $23,991

Graduation Rate: 63.74%

Retention Rate: 76.65%

Median Earnings: $55,560

LeTourneau University offers over 120 online and on-campus degree programs focused on empowering students to make a meaningful impact in their professions. As a nationally renowned Christian institution, LeTourneau emphasizes a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach to education. Students can earn certificates, associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees spanning programs in aviation, education, engineering, business, health sciences, theology and more. Courses blend online delivery with interactive in-person learning at LeTourneau's Longview Campus and Abbott Aviation Center.

Established in 1946, LeTourneau integrates faith into academics and student life guided by its founding mission. The university is accredited with a longstanding reputation for excellence. LeTourneau prioritizes flexibility, allowing students to customize their learning pathway. Robust student support services, like academic advising and career development, facilitate success. With its versatile degree options, experiential learning approach and supportive environment, LeTourneau University empowers students to realize their potential and deepen their purpose and impact.

5. American National University

Average Net Price (Private): $16,925

Graduation Rate: 34.78%

Retention Rate: 33.33%

Median Earnings: $25,310

ANU understands that the 21st-century student needs the flexibility to balance their studies with other aspects of their life, whether that’s employment, family, or military. An accredited online college for over 60 years, their areas of study are clustered around healthcare & nursing, information technology, and cybersecurity.

Their programs are available at all levels, including diploma & certificate programs, associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Each program of study is structured in a convenient pathway, meaning you could begin by obtaining a certificate and work your way through the ranks to achieve higher degrees as you move through your career. Plus, their instructors are career professionals with hands-on experience in their academic fields.

ANU offers classes in a variety of formats, including fully online, on-campus, or blended degree programs that combine in-person instruction with online coursework. For maximum flexibility, on-campus classes are offered during both the day and evening, in addition to only being held once a week for maximum scheduling efficiency. If you’re local to one of their campuses, you can attend in-person at any of their locations in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia.

In February 2018, ANU gained accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

6. Bellevue University

Average Net Price (Private): $15,794

Graduation Rate: 22.64%

Retention Rate: 72.00%

Median Earnings: $60,600

Bellevue University makes earning a respected, affordable degree achievable for diverse learners through flexible online and on-campus programs. As an accredited nonprofit institution, Bellevue prioritizes academic excellence paired with real-world applicability. Bellevue offers over 75 online bachelor’s and graduate degree options spanning fields from business and healthcare to computer science and public administration. Online students receive the same high-caliber instruction and engaging experience as on-campus learners.

Optimized resources and support services assist online learners in balancing school with work and family. Bellevue’s military-friendly culture accommodates service members’ needs. With multiple start dates per year and affordable tuition, earning a degree is achievable for busy working adults. Bellevue University empowers online students at all stages to advance their education and careers through flexible, high-quality degree programs focused on real-world skill development.

7. Baker College

Average Net Price (Private): $14,160

Graduation Rate: 20.91%

Retention Rate: 62.69%

Median Earnings: $33,440

Baker College offers a comprehensive virtual campus through Baker Online, empowering students to earn their degree 100% online. Baker Online provides a flexible learning option removing barriers working adults face in pursuing higher education.

Students complete full-degree programs online, with curriculum and academics mirroring Baker's renowned on-campus education. Courses deliver structured learning with assignment deadlines, while 24/7 access to virtual classrooms and resources accommodates students' schedules. Qualified faculty teach interactive online courses engaging students through discussions, collaborative work, and individual support. Learners connect in a dynamic virtual environment providing the academic collaboration and peer engagement of an in-person classroom.

8. Laurus College

Average Net Price (Private): $13,721

Graduation Rate: 49.11%

Retention Rate: 75.00%

Median Earnings: $28,846

Laurus College provides career-focused online degree programs in growing fields including information technology, business, and healthcare. Students can earn an accredited associate's or bachelor's degree 100% online through Laurus' interactive learning platform and supportive services.

Laurus offers online programs in areas from cybersecurity and web development to medical billing and healthcare administration. Courses deliver hands-on learning using real-world projects and simulations. Dedicated faculty offer individualized support and mentoring. With its professional faculty, interactive online delivery, and relevant degree options, Laurus College provides students with an accessible pathway to launch or advance a career through affordable, skills-based online education.

9. Columbia Southern University

Average Net Price (Private): $12,474

Graduation Rate: 33.44%

Retention Rate: 40.40%

Median Earnings: $64,977

Columbia Southern University is a private, for-profit university dedicated to teaching online students. This university is located in Orange Beach, Alabama, and possesses an undergraduate population of 8,567. Students attending this online college may choose to earn an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree with their individual self-paced course schedule. The university's mission is to provide various academic programs that are affordable, flexible, and convenient to students around the world. The following are several of the degree program enrollment options students may choose from: Associate of Science in Business, Associate of Science in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services Administration, Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, Master of Public Administration, Doctor of Business Administration, and more.

10. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Average Net Price (Public): $17,419

Graduation Rate: 84.21%

Retention Rate: 91.52%

Median Earnings: $65,087

The University of Minnesota provides over 100 accredited online degrees spanning undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs. Online students receive the same excellent education and academic rigor as on-campus learners through a flexible, inclusive environment. The University of Minnesota carefully designs online programs to deliver interactive learning experiences utilizing multimedia tools, discussions, and collaboration. Students connect with renowned faculty focused on online pedagogy and individual support.

Online offerings cater to diverse goals from advancing careers to exploring passions. Fields range from business and healthcare to education, engineering and more. Programs equip graduates with knowledge and tangible skills valued by employers. Select options carry professional licensure and certification. With top-ranked online degrees across academic levels, the University of Minnesota is an ideal choice for motivated students at all stages seeking personal and professional growth. The University empowers online learners to earn a respected degree and expand their opportunities on schedules accommodating busy lives.

11. University of Central Florida

Average Net Price (Public): $9,217

Graduation Rate: 74.94%

Retention Rate: 91.85%

Median Earnings: $54,850

As a leader in online education for over 25 years, the University of Central Florida provides innovative degree programs tailored to student success. UCF offers over 100 accredited online bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees spanning diverse academic fields. UCF carefully designs online programs using immersive technologies and multimedia tools to create engaging learning experiences. Students access the same excellent instruction and support as on-campus learners on flexible schedules.

Experienced faculty focused on digital pedagogy mentor students in developing expertise. Courses integrate knowledge with hands-on skills relevant to advancing careers. Affordable materials and personalized advising provide additional value. Trusted for its excellence in online education, UCF empowers students to earn respected degrees that unlock new professional opportunities. With customized online programs taught by innovative faculty, UCF enables learners to achieve their academic and career goals on their terms.

12. Florida International University

Average Net Price (Public): $6,232

Graduation Rate: 67.08%

Retention Rate: 90.19%

Median Earnings: $57,946

With over 20 years as a leader in online education, Florida International University provides students with transformative learning experiences and skills beyond a degree. FIU Online leverages the university's culture of innovation and global impact to empower student success. As a top 10 largest university, FIU has an expansive reach with over 200,000 alumni worldwide. The university solves global challenges through research and solutions-oriented education. FIU holds the prestigious R1 Carnegie research ranking, reflecting its experiential approach.

FIU Online translates FIU's academic excellence into flexible, technology-driven degree programs. Courses deliver immersive learning using multimedia tools and simulations. Students benefit from FIU's global perspective and network. By harnessing FIU's innovative spirit within accessible online programs, FIU Online prepares graduates to stand out as forward-thinking leaders in their fields and communities.

13. University of Arkansas

Average Net Price (Public): $14,998

Graduation Rate: 69.68%

Retention Rate: 87.08%

Median Earnings: $54,417

The University of Arkansas System eVersity has been offering high-quality education to students for generations. The university has a mission to enrich individuals' lives through high-quality education, accessibility, affordability, relevancy, and personalization. eVersity is the only 100% online university apart of the University of Arkansas system. There are five main areas of study for students to choose from including business, criminal justice, healthcare management, information technology, and university studies. Within all of these areas of study, you can choose to earn a certificate, associate's, or a bachelor's degree program to follow. The University of Arkansas System eVersity is proudly accredited by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission.

14. Oregon State University

Average Net Price (Public): $18,010

Graduation Rate: 68.18%

Retention Rate: 86.75%

Median Earnings: $60,461

Oregon State University is dedicated to providing an exceptional online learning experience through high-quality instruction, affordability, and student support services. OSU designs online courses to uphold rigorous academic standards and active learning utilizing interactive technologies and multimedia. Renowned faculty experts facilitate engaging virtual classrooms.

With over 100 online and hybrid degrees across diverse fields, OSU caters to a breadth of goals and interests. Accommodating pacing and formats fit studying within adult learners' lifestyles. Driven by its commitment to academic excellence, affordability and student achievement, Oregon State University provides it's 12,800 online students with everything needed to earn a respected degree and make meaningful impacts.

15. George Mason University

Average Net Price (Public): $18,581

Graduation Rate: 70.13%

Retention Rate: 83.65%

Median Earnings: $69,958

George Mason University provides high-quality online education through over 100 degree and certificate programs catering to diverse personal and professional goals. Students can earn accredited bachelor's, master's, doctoral and certificate credentials completely online. GMU carefully designs online courses to deliver the same level of academic rigor and faculty engagement as on-campus classes. Cutting-edge technologies like simulations, discussion boards and video lectures facilitate dynamic learning and peer collaboration.

Students connect with GMU's distinguished professors and industry experts who provide mentoring and practical insight. Programs align with high-demand fields like business, computer science, data analytics, education, healthcare and more. Comprehensive student services optimized for online learners assist in academic, career and personal success. With multiple start dates per year, GMU online programs accommodate busy adult learners seeking growth on their schedules.

16. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

Average Net Price (Public): $13,188

Graduation Rate: 65.51%

Retention Rate: 83.19%

Median Earnings: $53,923

Oklahoma State University leverages its tradition of excellence in higher education to empower online learners through OSU Online. Students can earn over 150 accredited online degrees and certificates spanning bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional programs. OSU adapts top-tier academics and faculty expertise to create immersive online courses using technologies like simulations, multimedia content and virtual discussions. The convenient online format provides flexibility while upholding rigorous instruction.

Programs align with high-demand fields from business and education to aviation, IT, human sciences and more. Affordable tuition combined with strong career alignment provides value. By delivering its stellar academics through flexible online pathways backed by student support, OSU Online makes earning a respected degree achievable for diverse learners seeking to enrich their lives.

17. University of Arizona

Average Net Price (Public): $15,601

Graduation Rate: 64.34%

Retention Rate: 84.03%

Median Earnings: $59,805

The University of Houston offers an expansive selection of online programs catering to diverse student needs and goals. With over 150 online undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate options, UH enables students at all levels to find the right fit. Online courses deliver UH's renowned academics through engaging virtual classrooms utilizing immersive technologies. Learners connect with expert faculty focused on facilitating dynamic discussions and collaborative work.

Programs align with high-demand fields from business to engineering, education to healthcare, and more. Courses integrate knowledge with hands-on learning to equip graduates for advancement. Multiple start dates per year combined with affordable tuition provide flexibility. Comprehensive support services give online learners the resources to excel. The University of Houston empowers online students to chart their own path to purposeful careers and lifelong achievement through flexible, innovative degree programs tailored to their aspirations.

18. Texas Tech University

Average Net Price (Public): $17,313

Graduation Rate: 62.66%

Retention Rate: 85.10%

Median Earnings: $60,456

Texas Tech University provides over 80 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs through Texas Tech University Online, delivering flexible and affordable pathways to a prestigious education.

Texas Tech thoughtfully adapts its curriculum to create engaging online courses utilizing multimedia content, interactive discussions, and virtual simulations. Learners connect with renowned faculty focused on facilitating student success. Degree offerings align with high-demand fields like business, nursing, education, engineering, and more. Courses integrate theoretical knowledge with practical skills applicable in the workplace. Multiple start dates per year accommodate working professionals.

19. Washington State University

Average Net Price (Public): $8,947

Graduation Rate: 59.55%

Retention Rate: 80.87%

Median Earnings: $65,331

Washington State University Global Campus delivers the excellence of a top-tier public research university through flexible online degree programs. Since 1992, WSU Global Campus has provided access to WSU's esteemed academics for students preferring online education. Cutting-edge technologies enable WSU faculty to adapt courses using simulations, multimedia content and virtual discussions. Renowned researchers and industry experts teach online programs.

WSU Global Campus offers over 50 online undergraduate majors, graduate degrees, certificates and endorsements spanning high-demand fields. This caters to diverse learner goals and interests. Multiple start dates combined with robust student support services provide flexibility. WSU Global Campus removes barriers for motivated working professionals, military-affiliated students and others needing education on their own terms. By bringing WSU's tradition of inspiration and excellence to online learners, WSU Global Campus empowers students worldwide to enrich their lives and realize their potential.

20. University of North Dakota

Average Net Price (Public): $17,424

Graduation Rate: 61.78%

Retention Rate: 76.61%

Median Earnings: $61,403

The University of North Dakota has over a century of experience in distance education since first offering correspondence courses by mail in 1911. Today, UND provides hundreds of online degrees, certificates and courses empowering global learners. UND carefully adapts its academics for dynamic online delivery, utilizing discussions, simulations and other interactive technologies. Students benefit from UND's innovative approach and renowned faculty.

Top online offerings include programs in business, engineering, education, general studies and more. UND's online business and engineering programs hold prestigious accreditations, ranking them among the best for value. Students can progress at their own pace through self-paced courses or follow the academic calendar in semester-based courses. Support services are optimized for online learners.

21. Florida Atlantic University

Average Net Price (Public): $7,990

Graduation Rate: 55.45%

Retention Rate: 80.28%

Median Earnings: $53,644

Florida Atlantic University provides high-quality online education with exceptional student support services at an affordable cost. FAU carefully crafts online courses to facilitate meaningful interactions between students and faculty. FAU offers over 80 online undergraduate and graduate degrees across diverse fields including business, nursing, engineering, education and more. Renowned faculty create engaging virtual classrooms using discussions, simulations, and multimedia tools.

Comprehensive support services empower online learners, including academic advising, career counseling, tutoring, libraries, and technical help. Multiple start dates per year provide flexibility for working professionals. FAU's online tuition rates rank among the lowest in Florida. By combining academic excellence, robust student services, and affordable access, FAU Online delivers a premier online learning experience. Students earn respected degrees advancing their careers, without losing personal connections. FAU facilitates student success every step of the way.

22. Missouri State University-Springfield

Average Net Price (Public): $16,625

Graduation Rate: 59.48%

Retention Rate: 75.20%

Median Earnings: $47,850

The University of Louisiana at Monroe provides fully accredited online degree programs upholding high academic standards and rigor. ULM adapts its respected on-campus academics for dynamic online delivery through cutting-edge course design. ULM offers over 50 online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees spanning fields from business to education, aviation to healthcare. Distinguished full-time faculty teach engaging online courses matching on-campus curriculums.

Experienced ULM faculty facilitate interactive learning using discussions, case studies, simulations and multimedia tools. As leaders in their disciplines, they provide valuable real-world perspectives. Support services like tutoring, advising, libraries and technical help empower online learners. Multiple start dates per year accommodate working professionals. ULM is committed to student success. By combining academic excellence, expert faculty and student support services, the University of Louisiana at Monroe delivers premier online education advancing careers and enriching lives.

23. University of Illinois Springfield

Average Net Price (Public): $12,065

Graduation Rate: 53.41%

Retention Rate: 66.78%

Median Earnings: $52,925

The University of Illinois Springfield makes earning an esteemed U of I degree flexible, convenient and cost-efficient through its online programs. UIS provides over 50 high-quality online degrees upholding the academic rigor and standards of on-campus programs. Online students receive the same excellence in teaching, research and public service that UIS is renowned for. Cutting-edge course design delivers dynamic learning using discussions, case studies, and multimedia tools. Distinguished faculty focused on online pedagogy facilitate courses.

Offerings include online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs spanning fields from business and healthcare to computer science and education. Accelerated eight-week courses enable flexible pacing. Comprehensive student services provide support. By extending its academic excellence and student-centered approach online, the University of Illinois Springfield provides an accessible pathway for students anywhere to earn a respected U of I degree advancing their careers and passions.

24. Minot State University

Average Net Price (Public): $12,993

Graduation Rate: 46.50%

Retention Rate: 72.99%

Median Earnings: $47,001

Minot State University in North Dakota provides pathways for students anywhere to earn accredited degrees and certificates online. With over 100 areas of study, MSU offers extensive flexible options tailored to diverse passions and career goals. MSU's online bachelor's, master's, doctoral, endorsement and certificate programs span fields from education and nursing to business, information technology and the humanities. Cutting-edge course design delivers immersive online learning experiences.

Distinguished faculty focused on online pedagogy facilitate courses using discussions, simulations, case studies and other interactive tools. MSU's online programs uphold the academic rigor and excellence the university is known for. Affordable tuition rates, combined with personalized advising, tutoring, libraries and other support services make earning an MSU credential online accessible. Multiple start dates provide flexibility to accommodate students’ lives and schedules.

25. Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Average Net Price (Public): $12,238

Graduation Rate: 38.66%

Retention Rate: 64.54%

Median Earnings: $45,817

Southwestern Oklahoma State University has 14 programs that are nationally accredited. SWOSUa long reputation for high-quality academic programs and friendly staff and faculty. As the best nationally accredited online college, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Nursing & Allied Health, Education, Business, and Psychology.

With flexibility in mind for adult learners, their programs are offered in a variety of distance education formats, including online degree programs, interactive television (ITV), webinars, and blended programs that combine in-person classes with any of the distance options. Unlike universities that rely on the large lecture hall format, SWOSU has an average class size of twenty students, so students can expect lots of undivided attention from faculty and staff.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University was ranked #96 in Regional Universities West by U.S. News & World Report.

List of Nationally Accredited Online Colleges

Abraham Lincoln University.Degree GrantingAccreditation DeferredGlendaleCA
Acacia UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditation DeferredTempeAZ
American Business and Technology UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedSaint JosephMO
American College of Healthcare SciencesDegree GrantingAccreditedPortlandOR
American Graduate UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedCovinaCA
American National UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedSalemVA
American Sentinel UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedDenverCO
Anaheim UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditation DeferredAnaheimCA
Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership DevelopmentDegree GrantingAccreditedAmesIA
Apollos UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedGreat FallsMT
Ashworth CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedNorcrossGA
Aspen UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedDenverCO
Atlantic UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedVirginia BeachVA
Babel University Professional School of TranslationDegree GrantingAccreditedHonoluluHI
Brighton CollegeDegree GrantingShow Cause DirectiveScottsdaleAZ
California Coast UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedSanta AnaCA
California Institute of Advanced ManagementDegree GrantingAccreditedAlhambraCA
California Intercontinental UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedIrvineCA
California Miramar UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedSan DiegoCA
Catholic Distance UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedCharles TownWV
Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary MedicineDegree GrantingAccreditedReddickFL
City Vision UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedKansas CityMO
College of Court ReportingDegree GrantingAccreditedValaparaisoIN
Columbia Southern UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedOrange BeachAL
Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health StudiesDegree GrantingAccreditedPhoenixAZ
Doral CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedDoralFL
Dunlap-Stone UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedPhoenixAZ
EC-Council UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedAlbuquerqueNM
Genesis UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedMiami BeachFL
Grace Communion SeminaryDegree GrantingAccreditedCharlotteNC
Grantham UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedLenexaKS
Harrison Middleton UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedTempeAZ
Hawthorn UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedWhitethornCA
Holmes InstituteDegree GrantingAccreditedGoldenCO
Huntington University of Health SciencesDegree GrantingAccreditedKnoxvilleTN
International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)Degree GrantingAccreditedCarpinteriaCA
Lakewood CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditation DeferredCleveland HeightsOH
Laurus CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedSanta MariaCA
Martinsburg CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedMartinsburgWV
McKinley CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedFort CollinsCO
Naaleh CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedNorth Miami BeachFL
National Juris UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedPhoenixAZ
National Paralegal CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedPhoenixAZ
NationsUniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedNew OrleansLA
New Charter UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditation DeferredSalt Lake CityUT
Paralegal Institute at Brighton CollegeDegree GrantingShow Cause DirectiveScottsdaleAZ
Penn Foster CollegeDegree GrantingAccreditedScottsdaleAZ
REALTOR® UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedChicagoIL
Rockbridge SeminaryDegree GrantingAccreditedSpringfieldMO
Sarasota UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedSarasotaFL
Sessions College for Professional DesignDegree GrantingAccreditedTempeAZ
Shiloh UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedKalonaIA
Sonoran Desert InstituteDegree GrantingAccreditedTempeAZ
Taft Law SchoolDegree GrantingAccreditedSanta AnaCA
The Art of Education UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedOsageIA
U.S. Career InstituteDegree GrantingAccreditedFort CollinsCO
Union University of CaliforniaDegree GrantingAccreditedWestminsterCA
University of Arkansas System eVersityDegree GrantingAccreditedLittle RockAR
University of FairfaxDegree GrantingAccreditedSalemVA
University of Management and TechnologyDegree GrantingAccreditedArlingtonVA
University of the PeopleDegree GrantingAccreditedPasadenaCA
Viridis Graduate InstituteDegree GrantingAccreditedOjaiCA
Westcliff UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedIrvineCA
William Howard Taft UniversityDegree GrantingAccreditedLakewoodCO

See the full list of rankings below of 2023's nationally accredited colleges with online programs, including Bible colleges. If you're wondering which online colleges are nationally accredited, this will show you the best accredited online colleges.

Full List of the Top 41 Nationally Accredited Online Colleges

Shiloh UniversityDEAC$4,510
California Coast UniversityDEAC$4,725
Western Governors UniversityDEAC$6,070
Grantham UniversityDEAC$6,540
Columbia Southern UniversityDEAC$6,600
American Public University SystemDEAC$6,880
Abraham Lincoln UniversityDEAC$7,500
Calvary UniversityABHE$11,152
Liberty UniversityTRACS$11,700
Southwestern Oklahoma State UniversityABHES$13,905
American National UniversityDEAC$14,886
Johnson UniversityABHE$14,920
ECPI University OnlineABHES, ACCET, and ACCSC$16,039
Stratford UniversityABHES$15,135
Independence UniversityACCSC, CCNE, and CoARC$16,968
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online DivisionACICS$17,014
Eastern Kentucky UniversityACCET$18,250
Keiser University eCampusABHES$18,488
Southwestern Assemblies of God UniversityABHE$19,994
California Institute of Advanced ManagementACICS$20,000
Ohio Christian UniversityABHE$20,240
Toccoa Falls CollegeABHE$22,104
Columbia International UniversityABHE$22,390
Virginia College OnlineACICS$22,600
Full Sail UniversityACCSC$23,694
Crown CollegeABHE$25,430
Andrews UniversityDEAC$28,436
LA Film School - OnlineACCET and ACCSC$29,500
San Diego Christian CollegeTRACS$30,438
Miller-Motte College OnlineACICS
$10,800 - $11,740
Kaplan UniversityDEAC
$11,581 - $16,246
Purdue University GlobalDEAC
$11,581 - $16,246
Carrington CollegeABHES and ACCSC
$13,975 - $54,125
Brookline College OnlineABHES and ACICS
$14,500 - $15,515
Bryan University OnlineACCSC
$15,400 - $15,447
Ultimate Medical AcademyABHES
Pinnacle Career Institute OnlineACCSC and ACICS
$15,765 - $20,465
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts OnlineACCET
$23,900 - $23,982
Kansas Christian CollegeABHE$5,460 - $7,640
Miller-Motte Technical College OnlineACICS$9,500 - $12,420

With technological advances like the internet, it is becoming ever more convenient than ever to complete a college degree. What once usually required at least four years of living in a new city away from home can now be achieved anywhere with internet access. Whether you're looking to take an undergraduate degree or an affordable graduate program, classes and assignments can now be completed anywhere in the world.

Many schools have begun offering these online programs, with varying success and reputations. Nationally accredited online colleges have official recognition as schools that provide a quality education for an affordable price with measurable career outcomes for their graduates.

Nationally Accredited Online Colleges & Universities FAQ

What is National Institutional Accreditation?

The purpose of national accreditation bodies is to accredit trade and vocational schools and technical (art & design, nursing, etc.) schools, as well as professional programs that provide certificates and degrees.

There are a variety of recognized national accreditation agencies, including:

  • Distance Education & Training Council (DETC)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission (TRACS)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
  • Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS)
  • Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCS)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)

Nationally accredited online colleges may be less expensive than regionally-accredited schools. Admission standards are typically more relaxed at nationally accredited online colleges than regionally accredited. In general, nationally accredited online for-profit colleges primarily generate money by enrolling students or selling educational goods. They may also have investors to answer to. Generally, institutions with national accreditation will accept credits from both regionally and nationally accredited colleges. Credits from nationally accredited online schools are not transferable to a regionally accredited college. Employers will accept nationally accredited degrees but graduates are not always eligible for corporate tuition reimbursement programs.

What are the best accredited online colleges?

The best nationally accredited online colleges are

  • California Coast University
  • Western Governors University
  • Grantham University
  • Columbia Southern University
  • American Public University System
  • Abraham Lincoln University
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State University
  • American National University
  • ECPI University Online

How do I know if an online college is legitimate?

Read this article on accreditation to help you decide.

Is SNHU Online Nationally Accredited?

No. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc. (NECHE). See:

5 stats to know when comparing online-only colleges

Written by: Lauren Liebhaber

Technological difficulties. Difficulty engaging students. Professors struggling to adapt to online teaching formats. The COVID-19 pandemic wrought havoc on classrooms across the country and worldwide, introducing many people to online learning with mixed and often unsatisfactory results.

Not all schools were left scrambling to adapt to the times, however. For online-only colleges, the transition to virtual school was not a transition at all: It was already a well-functioning reality. At online colleges and universities, faculty are trained in specifically online instruction, lesson plans are created to fit the format, and students are equipped to succeed in a virtual environment.

Since the University of Phoenix offered the first-ever online college program in 1989, millions of students had enrolled in online college courses and degree programs before the onset of the pandemic. These schools gained popularity due to their flexibility around class times, geographical locale, and part- or full-time commitment.

EDsmart cited 2020 data from the Department of Education's College Scorecard to review five factors to consider when evaluating online post-secondary schools. Statistics in the analysis were calculated from the 53 schools the Department of Education identified as online-only. Other colleges offer online learning programs in addition to campus-based degrees, but those are not included in the analysis.

Online colleges and universities have often been confused with massive open online courses, or MOOCs, such as edX, which enroll hundreds of thousands of students but do not award degrees, souring public opinion for accredited, online-only colleges in the process. On the contrary, many online-only colleges offer specialized programs and even accept transferable credits. Selecting the right online college, including its enrollment size and types of degrees offered, is a process much like choosing any other traditional, in-person school.

Close up hand writing in notebook.

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School size

One common assumption about online-only colleges is that they have massive class sizes and impersonal learning experiences, often with little opportunity for interactivity comparable to traditional, in-person environments. While many online colleges do have huge student bodies—Western Governors University's enrollment exceeds 100,000 students, for example—most are relatively small or medium in size.

The average student population among all colleges in the U.S. ranges from 5,000 to 15,000, according to College Scorecard data, while the average enrollment for online colleges is just under 6,500 students. In fact, many online colleges have far fewer than 6,500 students: The average is swelled by much larger institutions, with the median online college enrollment of around 600 students.

Ultimately, the size of the student body is less important than another number if you're looking for a more personalized, interactive learning experience: the student-faculty ratio. Education research suggests the optimal class size for online learning is between 12 and 20 students, allowing everyone to participate and receive feedback from the professor. 2018 research from the National Center for Education Statistics found the national average student-to-faculty ratio is 14 to 1: a worthwhile factor to consider when comparing online colleges.


Access a detailed list of the cheapest online colleges to help you choose the best, most affordable education path.

Student reading course material on laptop.

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Degrees available

Another consideration when picking an online college is what types of degrees are awarded. Most online-only colleges and universities give out bachelor's degrees (66%) and graduate degrees (73.5%), while fewer colleges offer associate degrees and certificates (15% and 11.3%, respectively).

Choosing what kind of degree to pursue depends on your current degree standing, how much additional schooling you want to go through, and what type of job or career you plan to get post-college. The type of degree you have can also impact your overall earnings after school: Higher degrees often make for higher earning potential, with master's degree holders earning $20,000-plus on average annually than those with associate degrees.


Find out which university offers the cheapest online MBA program from this comprehensive list of the most affordable programs.

Student chatting with classmates remotely.

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Retention rates for full- and part-time students

A college's retention rate—or how many students choose to return to the same school year after year—can offer insights into students' satisfaction and how academically and personally supported they feel. Past research has found that retention rates are lower at online-only schools than in-person schools, often because online schooling can require more self-discipline and dedication to maintain engagement with the course material.

Retention rates can also vary between full- and part-time students. Retention among full-time students is typically much higher than for part-time students, according to a 2017 report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, both for in-person and online-only institutions. At online schools, full-time students have an average retention rate of 58.7%, while part-timers return to their schools less than half the time (46.3%).

Part-time students on average make up more than half of undergraduates and certificate students who attend online-only schools. Many opt to attend school part-time while working full-time jobs, taking care of children or family, or because of its affordability, while online courses offer even more flexibility in terms of location and time.

All of these external factors can impede part-time students' retention rates and the likelihood of graduating, making these statistics particularly helpful indicators to be aware of.


Browse this guide to online colleges with free laptops and other tech perks.

Student studying with textbooks and laptop at home.

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Online courses can be significantly more cost-effective than traditional, in-person programs. Students acquiring a four-year degree online save an average of $36,595 over their in-person counterparts, according to the Education Data Initiative. College Scorecard data indicates that the average cost of attending online-only college was about $21,000 per year but that students actually paid an average of $16,200 after aid. Factoring in other opportunities such as in-state tuition and scholarships, it could be even less expensive.

While online colleges represent a more affordable alternative to in-person school, it is important to consider that much of the high price tag of in-person school comes from living expenses such as room and board and other on-campus resources and amenities. Online students will certainly save on expensive dorm lodging and meal plans—but they'll also have to take care of these needs separately and factor them into their budgeting.

Student studying online at home.

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Nontraditional student population

Online colleges are particularly popular among nontraditional students, who make up roughly 80.8% of enrollment, according to College Scorecard data from 2019.

These students—which include military veterans and single parents—are defined as (mostly undergraduate) students who come back to education after a hiatus or a career pivot. They are typically older than the average college student, or have responsibilities outside of their schooling such as child care or demanding work schedules that can make pursuing a degree more difficult.

COVID-19 directly created a massive expansion in the number of nontraditional students by adding stressors such as caring for sick family members, decreasing financial security, and keeping more people living at home. Students of color, low-income students, and those without reliable internet access were hit hardest by the extra burdens introduced by the pandemic.

A 2021 study published in Adult Education Quarterly also found that existing, nontraditional students were disproportionately negatively affected by the pandemic, reporting poor mental health and increased stressors but demonstrating more resilience when dealing with difficult circumstances because of increased age and experience.

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