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Best online colleges and universities: 2022

Online colleges and universities offer programs that match the academic requirements of on-campus degrees with added flexibility, affordability, and convenience.
Written by Melissa Sartore on
An Aisan student wears headphones and takes notes while looking at a laptop.
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When you think of college, you may think of brick buildings and classrooms full of students. Online colleges and universities give you an opportunity to earn a degree from the comfort of home with the same opportunities to interact with peers, expand your knowledge, and gain essential professional skills. 

Online colleges and schools provide courses comparable to those offered on-campus. You'll receive lectures, assignments, projects, and assessments while earning the same number of credit hours as on-campus courses offer. 

The online colleges below offer convenience, academic rigor, and promising graduate outcomes — so you can learn from home without missing out.

Top 5 online colleges and universities: Quick facts

College

Program stats

The Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Four online bachelor's degrees available
  • Radiologic sciences program meets eligibility requirements for CRA exam
  • No prerequisites for RN to BSN program
  • Dental hygiene program designed for licensed hygienists

Florida International University

Miami, FL

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 65%
  • Accelerated bachelor's and master's 4+1 criminal justice and hospitality management degrees
  • Guaranteed admission to students with an associate degree from a participating institution
  • Study abroad opportunities available
  • Programs prepare for professional licensure in education, geoscience, psychology, and recreational therapy

The University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 52%
  • 10 online undergraduate certificates available
  • Three online business bachelor's degrees
  • Accelerated BSN to MSN
  • Clinical lab sciences degree for current MLTs seeking to become MLS

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO

  • Acceptance rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 65%
  • 16 online undergraduate certificates available
  • Certification programs in education and library and information science
  • Programs offered in conjunction with other UM schools
  • Internship options in several programs

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, FL

  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Online casino and gaming industry management certificate available
  • BA and BS in geosciences available online
  • Four concentrations available in online business degree
  • Online resources include a writing center, tutoring, and academic coaching


What should I expect from an online college?

Online programs' academic expectations are the same as they would be in an on-campus program. Coursework covers the same content, assignments explore the same topics, and assessment evaluates what you learn. 

Online learning allows you to complete coursework on a schedule that matches your personal and professional needs. You can often work part- or full-time and tend to other obligations while earning your degree online.

Most online programs offer access to resources including libraries, tutoring, and technical support. You can interact with classmates and instructors, attend virtual office hours, and participate in class assignments, discussions, and projects. 

Being an online student requires self-discipline, determination, and time management. 

You need to make sure you're prepared to meet the demands of the online learning environment, both academically and technically. Some online schools may provide computers but having a bad internet connection is a roadblock to online learning.

The best online colleges and universities: Our picks

Using ZDNet's ranking methodology, we found our top picks for online colleges and universities for 2022. Our proprietary formula combines federally reported data, professional and program outcomes, and insights from industry leaders to provide a comprehensive, unbiased assessment. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, College Scorecard, and each college's website. Note that for public colleges, the average annual net price given is for in-state students.

1. The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

About the school: Alongside its online programs, Ohio State maintains seven campuses and research centers throughout Ohio. Ohio State offers online degrees and certificates in 11 fields of study.

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,845
  • Student body population: 45,862
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 18:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1210-1430
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

2. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

About the school: FIU offers more than 100 online programs including combined bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice and hospitality management. 

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 65%
  • Avg. annual net price: $5,298
  • Student body population: 41,2220
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: Not publicly available
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1110-1260
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

3. University of West Florida

Pensacola, Florida

  • About the school: Home to five academic colleges, UWF offers 15 online undergraduate degrees in seven fields of study. 
  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 52%
  • Avg. annual net price: $7,089
  • Student body population: 9,196
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 21:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1060-1230
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0

Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

About the school: As the flagship institution of the University of Missouri system, Mizzou offers nearly 50 online undergraduate degrees.

  • Acceptance rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,559
  • Student body population: 22,622
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 18:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1110-1320
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

5. Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, Florida

About the school: With six campuses across Florida, FAU also offers online degrees through seven academic colleges.

  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,735
  • Student body population: 24,396
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 21:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1060-1220
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: Florida Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

6. Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the school: Established in 2017 with the unification of Jefferson and Philadelphia University, Jefferson's online offerings include seven bachelor's degrees, 15 master's degrees, and a Ph.D. in population health science.

  • Acceptance rate: 70%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Avg. annual net price: $26,569
  • Student body population: 3,740
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 13:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1090-1270
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: Thomas Jefferson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCH).

7. University of Colorado Denver

Denver, Colorado

About the school: CU Denver, one of four schools within the University of Colorado System, offers over 25 online programs and certificates

  • Acceptance rate: 66%
  • Graduation rate: 50%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,470 
  • Student body population: 11,392
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 18:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1000-1210
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: The University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Indianapolis, Indiana

About the school: Formed when campuses of the two namesake institutions merged, IUPUI offers online degrees and classes in 20 fields of study.

  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,416
  • Student body population: 20,411
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: Not publicly available
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1000-1190
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, Oklahoma

About the school: With five campuses across Oklahoma, OSU also offers 15 online bachelor's degrees and more than 20 online graduate degrees.

  • Acceptance rate: 67%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,237
  • Student body population: 19,782
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 20:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: 1020-1250
  • Minimum GPA: 2.25
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

10. Maryville University

Saint Louis, Missouri

About the school: Maryville offers more than 30 online programs and requires no entrance exams or fees to apply.

  • Acceptance rate: 95%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Avg. annual net price: $27,290
  • Student body population: 5,463
  • Student-to-teacher ratio: 14:1
  • Avg. SAT range for admitted students: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous and asynchronous programs available

Accreditation: Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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