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Best online schools that have high acceptance rates: Our picks

High acceptance online schools offer a practical, low-cost path to earning an accredited degree. Read on for our list of the nation's top ten high-acceptance online colleges.
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Written by Matthew Sweeney, Contributing Writer on
Happy young Black man on his graduation day.
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High-acceptance online schools might be a good fit if you're a nontraditional learner, working part-time, or worried about your GPA or standardized test scores. 

These colleges level the playing field for learners on a limited budget or taking a nontraditional path. They accept all or the majority of applicants. Plus, online learning makes it easier than ever for busy working learners to access education on their schedule.

Read on for our list of the top 10 best high-acceptance online colleges in the nation to discover how much they cost and what they can offer you.

Online colleges with high acceptance rates: What to know

High-acceptance schools often have lower graduation rates compared to more elite institutions. That doesn't mean the education they provide is poor-quality, however. 

Online colleges may have open admission. That means all applicants with a high school diploma or GED are accepted. Others have less-competitive admission policies with low or no GPA and standardized test score minimums.

These schools' reasoning for these policies may include:

  • Welcoming nontraditional and working learners
  • Serving students with fewer economic resources
  • Reducing bias in admissions

Many of these nonselective schools are academically rigorous but want to extend opportunities to marginalized groups. In other words, they give more people a chance.

When you apply for college, always make sure that the online school in question is accredited by a recognized institutional accreditor. Accrediting bodies ensure schools offer quality programs and provide value to students.

Best high acceptance online colleges in 2022

Our top 10 online colleges with high acceptance meet these requirements: 

  • Open admission policy or accept a large majority of applicants
  • Average annual cost at or below national averages
  • Solid academic reputation
  • Offers online programs in business, STEM, or healthcare

Below are the top 10 best regionally accredited, high acceptance online schools, in alphabetical order. This information is accurate at the time of publication. Check the school's websites before applying for further details.

1. Idaho State University

Average annual cost: $17,410

Based in Pocatello, Idaho since 1901, Idaho State University boasts an open admission policy, affordable tuition, and world-renowned programs in medical education. ISU's online degrees include:

  • BAS in healthcare administration
  • BS in medical lab sciences
  • BA in Spanish for health professions
  • MA in health education

Online courses use the Moodle learning platform. They mix asynchronous and synchronous learning and sometimes require up to five in-person meetings.

Accreditation: Idaho State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

2. Lincoln University

Average annual cost: $11,583

A historically Black college founded in 1866 in Jefferson City, Missouri, Lincoln University has an open admission policy. It offers scholarship opportunities to in and out-of-state students. LU's online catalog includes 150 online courses and two fully-online degrees:

  • MBA
  • MA in higher education

Along with its two fully-online master's programs, LU also teaches a hybrid BSN-RN program that takes two years to complete. Online courses at LU use the Canvas learning platform.

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

3. National University

Average annual cost: $20,722

Based in San Diego, National University was established as a nonprofit school by former U.S. Navy Capt. David Chigos in 1971. NU has an acceptance rate of 89% and does not require SAT or ACT test scores. The school's online degrees include:

Scholarships offered through the school include the Legacy Scholarship, which can cut a student's tuition by half.

Accreditation: National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

4. Pennsylvania College of Technology

Average annual cost: $25,181

A public college based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania College of Technology has an open admission policy and primarily offers degrees in management, technical skills, and health sciences. The school's online degrees include:

Penn College offers all online students in-state tuition rates and free access to online tutoring from the Smarthinking service.

Accreditation: Pennsylvania College of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. University of Maryland Global Campus

Average annual cost: $15,395 

Located in Adelphi, Maryland, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was founded to serve nontraditional and returning students. It has an open admission policy. The public state university offers over 90 online degrees, including:

  • BS in biotechnology
  • BS in cybersecurity management and policy
  • MS in cloud computing
  • MS in instructional technology

UMG students and graduates can access the CareerQuest portal to apply for jobs and internships. 

Accreditation: University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

6. University of Northwestern Ohio

Average annual cost: $19,536

University of Northwestern Ohio is a private university based in Lima, Ohio. It claims small class sizes, affordable tuition rates, and an open admission policy. UNOH's online degrees include:

UNOH does not require standardized test scores for any of its programs. It offers scheduling and financial aid assistance to military service members and veterans.

Accreditation: University of Northwestern Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. The University of Southern Mississippi

Average annual cost: $14,032

Based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, The University of Southern Mississippi stands out as a research hub. It also promises cheap tuition and an acceptance rate of 96%. Undergraduate applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores.

Online degrees offered at USM include:

  • BAS in applied technology
  • BS in industrial engineering technology
  • MS in human capital development

All USM distance students can access free online writing tutoring. The school's campus is racially diverse, with a student population that is 27.3% Black.

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

8. The University of Texas at El Paso

Average annual cost: $9,000

Founded in 1913, The University of Texas at El Paso began as a school for mining and metallurgy. UTEP boasts an open admission policy and one of the lowest tuition rates for a four-year institution despite maintaining a solid reputation for research. Online degrees available at the school include:

  • Bachelor of applied arts and sciences
  • BA in security studies
  • MS in systems engineering

The school stands out for its 86% Latino student population. It is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Accreditation: The University of Texas at El Paso is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. Weber State University

Average annual cost: $11,647 

Established in 1889 in Ogden, Utah, Weber State University offers nontraditional learners low tuition rates and an open admission policy. The school's online degrees include:

  • BS in health information management
  • BS in medical laboratory science
  • MS in radiologic sciences

Online courses at WSU use the Canvas learning platform and mix asynchronous and synchronous learning. WSU's financial aid resources include the Dream Weber program, which covers 100% of tuition for qualified students.

Accreditation: Weber State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

10. Youngstown State University

Average annual cost: $12,225

Established in Youngstown, Ohio in 1908, Youngstown State University features an acceptance rate of 70% and affordable tuition. YSU's most popular programs are in general studies, nursing, and criminal justice. The school also offers a variety of online degrees, including:

  • Online BS in respiratory care
  • Online MA in financial economics
  • Online MBA

YSU's online MBA offers a concentration in digital marketing that can be completed in a year.

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

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