Best Online Colleges with Open Admissions
EDsmart assesses online colleges based on data that covers four main areas:
- Cost (average net price)
- Academic quality (graduation rate)
- Student satisfaction (retention rate)
- Salary After Attending (the median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school)
This ranking aims to help students assess the affordability and value of colleges and universities so they can make informed decisions about which college to attend.
Best Online Colleges with Open Admissions
1. Bellevue University
Average Net Price: $12,055
Retention Rate: 76%
Graduation Rate: 41%
Salary After Attending: $80,100
Located in the very heart of Nebraska, Bellevue University operates as a top-tier institution of post-secondary education, offering online curricula in over 70 different fields and boasting minimal costs and a high post-graduate salary average. Its courses enable students to work full-time while pursuing their education, featuring flexible hours and 24/7 online technical support. Bellevue is also a non-profit university, which means that all tuition is put toward maintaining high-quality education.
Bellevue’s generous transfer policy is one of its more remarkable features, allowing students who are unable to finish school due to extraneous circumstances to apply their existing credits to their Bellevue education. Graduates’ only complaints concern textbook prices and the Kirkpatrick series, a class that some students felt had negatively affected their grades. Bellevue professors are known to be friendly and helpful, and the majority of BU students report that class workloads are entirely manageable.
2. Florida National University
Average Net Price: $21,736
Retention Rate: 94%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Salary After Attending: $62,000
Florida National University is dedicated to its motto of “opening doors to the future,” and the university certainly delivers on that promise. Like Bellevue, it offers both physical and online classes, and students can earn their associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in everything from nursing to law. Unfortunately for remote students, some of the physical campus amenities (writing lab, library, etc.) are unavailable in a virtual format. Though tuition costs are relatively high, FNU offers a wide selection of scholarships, several of which are available to all students.
Niche.com grades Florida National University a ‘C-‘, with the lowest-scoring campus aspects being student dorms, campus food, party scene, professors, and diversity. It ranks high in safety and student life, with mediocre rankings for the other specific areas. Students give it four stars out of five, with the largest portions of reviewers rating their experience as either very good or excellent.
3. Rasmussen College – Florida
Average Net Price: $18,640
Retention Rate: 100%
Graduation Rate: 25%
Salary After Attending: $72,200
Rasmussen College is a career-focused institution that directs student education toward qualification and preparation for future occupations. Its seven schools of study in business, design, education, health sciences, justice studies, nursing, and technology boast 24 locations across six states, as well as a series of comprehensive programs offered fully online. The school offers six-week certificate programs that enable students to get a headstart in their chosen field. The Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits Rasmussen, and the school’s graduates are employed by companies like Apple, JP Morgan, Nielsen Media, and more.
The majority of Rasmussen’s negative reviews relate to in-person classes offered at campuses outside of Florida. On average, online students and those studying in Florida are statistically more satisfied with their education. Rasmussen’s online classes offer flexible hours and are operated by a staff of helpful professionals. Online students particularly enjoy the positive atmosphere and the career-centered curriculum of the virtual format.
4. Granite State College
Average Net Price: $13,604
Retention Rate: 37%
Graduation Rate: 52%
Salary After Attending: $46,200
Granite State College offers a 100% online option for learning and offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in fields like business, healthcare, public safety, communications, technology, liberal arts, and education. The U.S. News and World Report named it among the Best Online Bachelor’s programs in 2020. The school also merited a CCNE accreditation for nursing. Aside from nursing and teaching, GSC’s online certificate programs are available in all fifty states.
Niche.com awarded Granite State College a ‘B-‘ overall, with its lowest ratings in the categories of campus and student life, neither of which is likely to affect an online student’s experience. Statistically, the majority of students rated their GSC experience ‘good,’ with those that find it ‘excellent’ in a close second. Notably, GSC is welcoming toward older students and students report that it is specifically equipped to aid them in balancing schooling with everyday life.
5. Capella University
Average Net Price: $7,290
Retention Rate: 56%
Graduation Rate: 11%
Salary After Attending: $77,500
Capella University offers more than 48 undergraduate and graduate degree options online, as well as more than twenty certificate options. Unlike some of the other options on this list, Capella University offers doctoral programs online in business, psychology, nursing, information technology, and more. Most of Capella’s programs follow a guided path, which a more traditional model of study, but certain programs follow the flex path, which allows students greater freedom in terms of individualized study options, and takes less time overall.
Of all students polled, 83% reported that professors put significant effort into course material, and 90% reported that it was easy to reserve a spot in the specific classes they wanted to take. Student reviews for Capella University rate it highly, with reviews deeming the college experience ‘very good’ or ‘excellent.’ Students report feeling satisfied with their professors and encountering challenging yet highly beneficial course workloads.
6. Grand Canyon University
Average Net Price: $21,197
Retention Rate: 65%
Graduation Rate: 33%
Salary After Attending: $74,500
Grand Canyon University is a Christian institution that provides a flexible education for everyone who might need it. The school offers a variety of degrees and certificate programs, including studies in theology and ministry. GCU fosters connections with employers and businesses around the country, and works with them to provide scholarships and grant opportunities for online students, thus helping them avoid taking on student loan debt. GCU is widely known for accommodating military service members, as well.
Niche.com ranks Grand Canyon University at #33 among the best online colleges in America. It received an overall grade rating of ‘B,’ with diversity being one of its strongest-ranking aspects. A majority of over 6,000 students have rated the GCU experience as either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent,’ with only about two thousand reviews spread among the three rating levels below. Across the board, students rate professor effort very highly, and in general, both in-person and remote GCU students seem to have positive learning experiences overall.
7. Liberty University
Average Net Price: $27,883
Retention Rate: 83%
Graduation Rate: 40%
Salary After Attending: $67,200
Liberty University is an accredited online Christian school that offers a variety of online degree programs in addition to its divinity and theology programs. Their online format supports everything from associate’s up to doctoral degrees. Liberty takes pride in having been a “leader in distance learning for over 30 years.” The school operates several programs that only take eight weeks to complete, allowing students to enroll at the most convenient time for them. Overall, Liberty ranks in the top 1% of online colleges for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.
Niche.com gives the school a grade rating of ‘A-,’ with diversity, student life, and academics being some of its strongest-ranking aspects. Among the best colleges in America to study criminal justice, Liberty sits at #2. It is also the 3rd most conservative college in America. However, that aspect is likely to be more noticeable on the physical campus. Students give Liberty professors a grade-rating of ‘B-‘ overall. In total, 71% of students take courses entirely online.
8. University of Maryland Global Campus
Average Net Price: $13,672
Retention Rate: 44%
Graduation Rate: 27%
Salary After Attending: $63,800
The University of Maryland Global Campus, previously known as the University of Maryland University College, offers online options to help working adults pursue their education while managing a full schedule. UMGC operates through 140 different locations around the world to provide additional support. It offers more than 90 certificates and degrees, as well as a plethora of scholarship opportunities. UMGC’s free digital class materials cut down the cost of textbooks significantly.
Overall, the school has a reputation for administering challenging programs that produce results. The majority of students rate it as ‘very good,’ with roughly equal portions rating their experience as either ‘excellent’ or ‘average’ and very few rating it as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’. The consensus among graduates seems to be that UMGC asks more of its students than some other online programs, but is definitely more beneficial for those willing to put in the effort.
9. Baker College
Average Net Price: $13,329
Retention Rate: 46%
Graduation Rate: 18%
Salary After Attending: $69,200
Baker College offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs 100% online. As a not-for-profit university, it offers a lower price than many of its competitors, earning it a place among the most affordable online colleges with open admissions. Baker prides itself on its accessibility, and with any internet-capable smart device purchased in the past two years, students are able to access course material. BC also focuses on helping its students find careers after they graduate. So if your goal is to be employed immediately after graduation, that continuing support can make Baker College a good option for you.
Niche.com gives Baker College an overall grade-rating of ‘C-,’ with some of its lowest points falling under campus quality, party scene, location, and student life, all of which are unlikely to affect online learners. With some of its strongest points under the categories of professors and diversity, it’s no surprise that the majority of students reviewed their experience as ‘very good.’
10. Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs
Average Net Price: $15,658
Retention Rate: 41%
Graduation Rate: 25%
Salary After Attending: $71,500
Colorado Technical University focuses on getting you the degree that you need without putting your life on hold. They offer a credit transfer that helps students obtain fast certification. CTU also provides a set of credit-earning preliminary tests that gauge what students already know, regardless of where or how they learned it. This service, called CTU fast track, can save students up to 30% of the time and money they could have spent on unnecessary classes.
According to Niche.com, CTU earns an overall grade rating of ‘C+,’ with none of its graded categories earning lower than a ‘C.’ Of all CTU students, 96% study entirely online, and 77% are employed within two years of graduation. The majority of students rate their CTU experience as ‘excellent,’ with the rating of ‘very good’ coming in at a close second.
11. Strayer University
Average Net Price: $25,512
Retention Rate: 42%
Graduation Rate: 27%
Salary After Attending: $61,000
Strayer University emphasizes affordability and student-driven learning. Most attendees are able to enroll in at least five free classes, and students starting a bachelor’s program in the spring of 2020 or later will be provided a Microsoft laptop to help them make the most of their classes. Strayer offers programs from the associate’s level all the way up to master’s programs. To make your education more affordable, the Strayer Graduation Fund enables students to take one free class in their final year for every three classes they’ve passed up to that point.
Strayer student reviews aren’t as plentiful as those for some of the other institutions on this list, but of the few available, the majority report satisfaction with the Strayer experience. Reviews reflect the responsiveness of the school’s staff, and student reviews laud Strayer professors for being good motivators and going out of their ways to help students succeed.