Working while pursuing a higher education degree may seem like a huge undertaking — but it is possible. Some of the best online colleges for working adults offer flexible, affordable degree paths.
Whether you want to finish your bachelor's degree or pursue a graduate degree, the online colleges below can help. Explore the top schools below to take the next step in advancing your career.
Enrolling in online college as a working adult: What to know
Online colleges often provide flexible schedules that can adapt to working adults' schedules.
Many offer asynchronous classes, meaning that students can work on assignments at any time. The schools may provide pre-recorded lectures and weekly discussion post requirements. Students can complete the homework at their convenience while still meeting assignment deadlines.
Self-paced online colleges are another common option. These programs typically use a competency-based model. Once students prove topic mastery, they can move on in the curriculum. This format can allow motivated students to complete their degree much quicker.
Online degree completion time varies. Some working adults can complete an online degree in the same amount of time as on campus. Choosing a self-paced program and transferring credits can even save time.
But some working adults prefer studying part time. This may lengthen the degree-completion time compared to traditional on-campus programs.
No matter your availability, you can find an online college that fits your work schedule. As you consider the top online colleges below, consider how much time you can commit to studying. Make sure to establish a work-life balance before adding school into the mix.
Also, consider what type of learner you are. Self-motivated learners may excel in competency-based programs, while others thrive with a synchronous schedule.
Top online colleges for working adults in 2022
When selecting the top online colleges for working adults, we prioritized affordability and flexibility. The schools listed below offer cost-effective rates. The class formats also include asynchronous or self-paced options to fit into your work schedule.
We also considered the school's experience in offering distance learning programs and the number of available degree options. Another contributing factor was alternative credit options. Several schools below offer credits for work, military, and life experience.
Find a program that fits your work schedule from the list below. These schools, organized alphabetically, are accredited institutions offering 100% online degree programs.
Please note that the information provided below is accurate as of the publication date. Explore each college's website for more information about enrollment, fees, and tuition.
1. American Public University Charles Town, West Virginia
For the past 30 years, the American Public University System has offered flexible education to military service members and working adults. As part of that system, APU primarily serves working adults.
Despite its name, APU is a private, for-profit college.
Learners can choose from the over 200 degree and certificate programs in several fields. APU also offers NanoCert programs in topics like entrepreneurship and counterintelligence.
Cost per credit: $285 (undergraduate); $370 (graduate)
BS in sports and health sciences
BS in cybersecurity
BA in homeland security
BA in management
BA in psychology
Accreditation: American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
ASU Online provides students with over 300 certificate and degree paths. They can also access several services, including counseling and time-management coaching. Like on-campus students, online learners can apply for study abroad programs and schedule tutoring sessions.
ASU Online serves over 6,000 military service members. The university also reports that 80% of its students receive financial aid. Likewise, 80% of students land a job within six months of graduation.
Cost per credit: $561-$661 (bachelor's); $543-$1,343 (master's)
BA in sustainability
BS in political science
BS in nursing; RN-to-BSN
MS in business analytics
Accreditation: Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Bellevue University Bellevue, Nebraska
BU caters to working adults with flexible online and on-campus degree programs. The online degree paths offer small classes and career-focused curricula.
Adult students may complete certain degrees through an accelerated cohort program. They also work with a student coach throughout the degree program. BU offers online students career services, writing help, and tutoring sessions.
Cost per credit: $440 (undergraduate); $630 (graduate)
BS in healthcare management
BS in public health
BA in graphic design
MS in instructional design and technology
MS in accounting
Accreditation: Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Colorado State University Global Fort Collins, Colorado
Part of the Colorado State University system, CSU Global provides dozens of online degree and certificate options. Curricula focus on in-demand skills. Students learn the material through simulations and multimedia lectures.
A GI-approved school, CSU Global offers discounted tuition to military service members. Students can receive credits for military training, prior work experience, and completing skills assessments.
Cost per credit: $350 (undergraduate); $500 (graduate)
Bachelor's in cybersecurity
Bachelor's in human services
Bachelor's in marketing
MS in teaching and learning; education leadership
Master's in healthcare administration
Accreditation: Colorado State University Global is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Strayer takes a storytelling approach to online education. Each class includes documentary-style videos and reading materials that students review on their own time.
Strayer also offers students several ways to save. Eligible students can take free general education courses. They can also earn free courses as they progress through their program.
Cost per course: $1,480 (undergraduate); $1,680-$3,850 (graduate)
BS in networking
BBA in entrepreneurship
BS in management
Master of human resource management
Master of education in curriculum instruction and assessment
Accreditation: Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
9. Western Governors University Salt Lake City, Utah
WGU offers flexible degree paths that cater to working adults. Instead of paying per credit, enrollees pay a flat rate per term, no matter the number of classes. This approach to tuition may lower overall costs and degree-completion time.
Each program follows a competency-based model. Students spend as much time as needed on each topic to prove mastery. On average, WGU learners complete a bachelor's degree in just over two years.
Cost per term: $3,475-$5,930
BA in educational studies
BS in cloud computing
Accelerated BS to MS in IT management
MBA in healthcare management
MS in nursing leadership and management; BSN-to-MSN
Accreditation: Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).