Top 7 Online Colleges for a Bachelor's Degree
We've reviewed the top schools that bring you the best quality in online bachelor's degree programs. Our editors evaluated the seven top schools according to their flexibility, academics, program diversity and more.
What Makes a Top Online Bachelor's Degree Program?
Earning your bachelor's degree doesn't mean you have to quit your job or live away from your family on a college campus. Online degree programs allow you balance your studies with your work and family responsibilities. Many schools offer online bachelor's degree programs and we evaluated them according to several criteria in order to help you find the top school that is right for you. We used the following factors to evaluate schools: experience teaching online, flexibility and convenience, learning environment, program diversity, program and class availability, student support, and scholarship opportunities. See why we chose these factors or scroll down to jump straight to our list of top schools.
|Experience Teaching Online||Because online learning is a relatively new medium in education, you want to trust your education with a school that has experience in administering online education. The top schools we selected have valid and current regional accreditation, a widely known school brand, years of experience using online learning platforms, and an industry reputation for incorporating the newest technologies and methods for online education. We also selected schools that have expansive alumni networks that students can take advantage of as they search for jobs and develop their careers.|
|Flexibility and Convenience||We believe that flexibility and convenience are among the main benefits of pursuing an education online. Keep an eye out for schools that offer flexible options in terms of scheduling. Options like this may include asynchronous class discussions that span days instead of normal classroom hours, the ability to schedule exam times that fit your calendar, or viewing class video lectures at your own pace. We also preferred schools with mobile learning options, and the following top schools have open enrollment and flexible start dates so you can begin your classes at a time that's convenient for you.|
|Learning Environment||A learning environment with a well-crafted and intuitive design can make the difference between having an enjoyable or frustrating time learning online. Top schools have online classrooms that are simple to navigate, even if you're not a computer whiz. The classroom technologies used by top online schools allow you to intuitively interact with your classmates and instructors, which provide a personal feel to the online learning environment.|
|Program Diversity||We selected schools that offer a wide array of program levels and fields of study so you can choose an academic program that matches your career goals. When you enroll in a school with many program options, you're given flexibility to change your major based on new interests that you may discover during your time studying. The top schools we selected offer degree programs from the associate's degree level to the doctoral level in a wide range of subjects, as well as many continuing education classes.|
|Program and Class Availability||Because one of the main benefits of online learning is convenience, a top online school should have enough program availability so enrolled students have no trouble getting spots in the programs and classes they want. We keep this in mind for our ranking criteria so that only schools with the best program and class availability are mentioned.|
|Student Support||When you're learning from home, you need easy access to technical and academic support services. A top online school should have qualified tech support teams to assist you when computer problems arise, as well as academic support teams to help you as you plan your degree program and select courses. We gave an extra boost to schools with round-the-clock technical support.|
|Scholarship Opportunities||We know that enrolling in college is a significant financial decision, so we favored the schools that helped students ease the financial burden with generous scholarship offerings. Our top schools have scholarships that are available to a variety of students who qualify.|
Top 7 Schools for Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
After looking at many of the schools that offer online bachelor's degrees, we picked the top seven that stood out above the rest.
1. University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is a pioneer of online education and has consistently innovated breakthrough online learning technologies over the past 20 years. From an undergraduate academic perspective, the school caught our eye due to its recent appearances on U.S. News & World Report's lists of Best Online Bachelor's Programs and Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans in 2013. University of Phoenix also has impressive program diversity, offering bachelor's degrees in arts and sciences, business and management, criminal justice and security, education, nursing and healthcare, psychology, and technology. The school also provides many scholarship opportunities to its current and prospective students, has an extensive alumni network with over 800,000 graduates, and helps prepare prospective students with an award-winning 3-week Orientation Workshop - a free workshop designed to help students make an informed decision to enroll at the university.
2. DeVry University
DeVry University offers over 30 online bachelor's degree program options in business, engineering, health sciences, liberal arts, and media arts and has a year-round calendar that allows you to complete your degree program at your convenience. In 2013, DeVry was ranked on U.S. News & World Report's list of Best Online Bachelor's Programs. In addition to a wide variety of scholarship opportunities and a faculty with relevant professional experience and advanced degrees, our editors noted DeVry's dedication to creating convenience and flexibility for its students due to the online and on-campus availability of its programs, which allows students to create schedules that work for them.
3. Walden University
Walden University's 40 years of educational experience led the school to apply its expertise in crafting a flexible learning environment as the core of its online degree programs. Among its online bachelor's degree program offerings are accounting, child development, criminal justice, health studies, psychology, and public health, and more. The university's online learning environment includes the Virtual Field Experience for certain programs, which allows students to observe and learn from field experts through streaming media. Students can also access Walden classroom materials on their mobile devices. In terms of flexibility and convenience, we liked Walden's around-the-clock student support offerings, which include technical support, tutoring, career services, and an online virtual library. Students may also apply for Walden's selection of merit-based scholarships, which are available for students pursuing a variety of programs, including bachelor's degree programs.
4. Kaplan University
The aspect that stood out to us the most about Kaplan was its commitment to flexibility, which is evident in its Kaplan Commitment program - a program that allows new students to try classes for three weeks at no cost. Kaplan's learning environment uses advanced technology and flexible delivery methods that make classes easy to access, including the ability to attend class from your phone or computer. Kaplan offers a variety of online bachelor's degrees in subject areas such as business administration, environmental policy and management, healthcare administration, and information technology (to name a few), and enhances coursework with online seminars, student forum discussions, and virtual field trips. Scholarship opportunities are also available for Kaplan students, including scholarship programs aimed at military students and single parents.
5. Ashford University
Ashford University caught our attention due to its long tradition as a respected academic institution and its innovations in online education. Ashford prizes flexibility for its students and has a mobile app that allows them to connect to their classrooms via mobile devices. Ashford's program variety stood out to us; the school offers over 50 online bachelor's degree programs in areas such as business, education, health sciences, and liberal arts to name a few. Additionally, Ashford's virtual learning communities allow students to get personalized interaction with their peers, faculty, and alumni. We also took note of Ashford's flexible start dates as well as the scholarship options they've offered to students, particularly military students and working parents.
6. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University jumped out to us right away because it has won numerous awards, including an appearance on Fast Company's 2012 list of the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies. SNHU brings this innovation to its online degree programs and offers and impressive variety of over 90 undergraduate degree programs, making it easy to find a program that is right for you. The university also stands out for its 24/7 technical support, personalized academic advising and online tutoring, and its merit-based grants and scholarships.
7. Grand Canyon University
We considered Grand Canyon University because of the unique nature of its asynchronous online programs: students only take one class at a time. This system allows Grand Canyon students to devote their time and energy on a single course instead of many, which is particularly useful for professional students who are juggling work with their studies. The university offers over 30 online bachelor's degree programs in a variety of specializations, and was ranked on the U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Bachelor's Programs list in 2013, as well as its Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans list. Grand Canyon is an accredited university and offers many convenient online program options to students, including a dual enrollment program in which high school students can get a head start on their degree by taking online courses.
Disclosure: Some or all of the schools listed may be partners of Education Portal.
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