If you believe in keeping score—and most Americans do—you might want to start your online degree search with a number, rather than a brochure or a sales pitch. Lucky for you, U.S. News has just paired hundreds of online college programs with useful, numerical rankings—scoring everything from faculty credentials and student services, to graduation rates and student debt levels.
So which online programs fared best? Below are some of the noteworthy results. [i]
What They’re Known For: Convenient, accessible, and accelerated degree options. Courses are only 8-weeks long, with new terms starting every 4 weeks. All CSU’s online classes are recorded and available for you to “attend” 24/7—at any time that fits your schedule.
Why We Love Them: Tuition cost-per-credit rates are the same for in-state and out-of state students (reportedly $329[ii] for 2012-2013 bachelor’s programs), which makes this public university truly welcoming of online students from across the country.
What They’re Known For: A close-knit atmosphere (only 951 students were enrolled in 2012-2013[iii]) and a commitment to student support (Brandman boasts a 68% graduation rate).
Why We Love Them: Brandman offers 25 (yes, 25!) different online degrees at the bachelor’s level, including options for students who are undecided about a major or wanting to explore liberal arts, media, and culture. Plus, Brandman’s teacher training programs are accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing—which may be of note to aspiring public school teachers.
What They’re Known For: An incredible investment in teacher quality—Bellevue employs 80 full-time faculty members for its online programs, plus more than 130 part-time instructors. The Bellevue faculty averages 9 years (nearly a decade!) of online teaching experience.[iv]
Why We Love Them: Flexible credit transfer options (Bellevue awards credit for qualifying military and corporate training, CLEP and DSST exams, and more), plus accelerated degree or certificate completion options. The ungrad cost-per-credit is just $370 for the 2012-2013 school year.[v]
#17. Marist College
What They’re Known For: High rates of new student retention and completion. Marist is a well-respected, competitive, liberal arts college, so it’s little wonder that online student retention rates have topped 80% for 4 years running, while nearly two-thirds of Marist’s 2012 online student body (64%) graduated within 3 years.[vi]
Why We Love Them: The Finish@Marist Program offers a flexible degree completion option for working adults. Students in the New York State region can also enjoy hybrid study options (partially online, partially in-class), with classroom locations available at the Poughkeepsie campus and throughout the state.
#19. Post University
What They’re Known For: Career-focused, fully online degrees and an exceptional faculty. Especially popular programs include business administration, management, and marketing degrees. This traditional, four-year university is now a model of 21st century higher education, offering 8-week semesters and 6 start dates throughout the year.
Why We Love Them: With a maximum class size of just 20 students, you’d have to work pretty hard to go unnoticed at Post. We also love that Post’s online instructors have an average online teaching background of 10 years![vii] You don’t have to live in Connecticut to pursue one of Post’s 15 online bachelor degrees or one of its career-driven associate degree options. The Post University name is also recognized far beyond New England and the Northeast.
[i] All rankings data weighed was self-reported by the colleges surveyed. Colleges in this year’s list included for-profit, private, and public colleges; 237 of them reported offering online bachelor’s degrees. This article highlights select sponsoring schools on the eLearners website. For a full list of U.S. News’ 2013 Best Online Programs, visit www.usnews.com.