Online Bachelor’s Degree Guide

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Online bachelor’s degrees have become increasingly credible and popular. Factors like affordability, convenience, and accessibility have helped to make the online bachelor’s degree program an increasingly attractive option for traditional and non-traditional students alike.

Today, even the most reputable and respected traditional colleges offer online bachelor’s degree options. In addition, exclusively online colleges are offering an ever-growing range of accredited bachelor’s degrees. This means that individuals previously limited by geography, income, work demands, family responsibilities, physical disabilities, and a host of other factors are now finding ways to earn high-quality four-year degrees online.

If you know what kind of online bachelor’s degree you’re looking for, you can get started on your search with the The 50 Best Online Colleges & Universities 2019.

You can also check out the 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees or jump straight to our ranking lists to see where you can find the best bachelor’s degree for your intended major.

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Otherwise, read on to learn a bit more about the online bachelor’s degree.

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Online Bachelor’s Degree Basics

A bachelor’s degree, also known as a baccalaureate degree, is an undergraduate degree offered by most accredited four-year schools, including most private, public and online colleges or universities. Online bachelor’s degrees are available in nearly every academic field. Attainment of a bachelor’s degree demonstrates that you have successfully completed a general and broad education with a focus on a specific major. Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you’ll gain access to a wide range of opportunities, whether you plan to continue into graduate school or enter the job market.

Earning a bachelor’s degree usually requires the completion of 120 to 128 credits or semester hours. Most bachelor’s degree programs will require a minimum of four years of full-time study, though it is commonplace for students to spend as many as five or six years working toward a degree. Your studies will include a set of core courses or prerequisites, a “Major” area of focus and, in some cases, a “Minor” focus.

Your bachelor’s degree can be earned completely online or through a combination of online and traditional courses. The curriculum of an online bachelor’s degree is typically reflective of its on-campus counterpart, and is usually taught by the same faculty.

If this sounds like the right move for you, start your search with the The 50 Best Online Colleges & Universities 2019 or consider the 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees.

Three Reasons to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online

An online bachelor’s degree comes with a handful of advantages over the traditional college degree. The reasons offered below really only scratch the surface, but they offer a glimpse at the value of an online degree.

  1. Speaking of Value
    Let’s start with the money. As an online student, you’ll be spared the expenses of campus housing, student activity fees, and dining hall meal plans. Online college can provide you with the leanest and most affordable path to a quality bachelor’s degree.
  2. Academic and Personal Freedom
    Getting your bachelor’s degree online also gives you more freedom to complete your program on your own terms. These days, the average student at a so-called “four-year college” is likely to take at least six years to earn a degree. Online degree programs come in a wide range of formats, some of which allow you to earn credits year-round; through accommodating course schedules; and through asynchronous learning opportunities. This can all make it much easier to get your bachelor’s degree according to your schedule
  3. The Sky’s the Limit
    Online bachelor’s programs also give you a chance to learn about nearly anything, without being limited by your geography. So there isn’t a great animal husbandry program within four states of your home? A great online bachelor’s degree in agricultural studies can fill the void. Your options are limitless.

Are Online Bachelor’s Degrees Respected?

Yes! A regionally accredited online bachelor’s degree is as respected as a school’s on-campus option. As such, an online bachelor’s degree can be a strong point of entry into a broad spectrum of potential careers, from business, professional and technical, to creative, artistic and entrepreneurial. And because an ever-growing number of reputable and regionally accredited institutions are offering online courses and bachelor’s degree programs, a wide range of employers are coming to view online degrees with the same level of respect given traditional degrees.

In fact, the reality is that few employers will even distinguish between online and traditional campus degrees, provided that your degree does come from an accredited institution. In some cases, an online degree may even be an advantage. Some employers are likely to view this is as an indicator that you are capable of working independently, coordinating with others remotely, employing current digital and telecommunications media, and managing your own time and responsibilities without direct oversight. Depending on your professional ambitions, these indicators could make you a more attractive hire.

To learn more about the way that employers view online bachelor’s degrees, check out, Will Employers Take My Online Degree Seriously?

And to take a look at accredited online bachelor’s degree programs that future employers will most definitely respect, check out a few of the most popular bachelor’s degree programs below:

Types of Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Once you’re ready to earn your online bachelor’s degree, give some consideration to the type that is most likely to suit your interests and goals. In most cases, types of online bachelor’s degrees will mirror the degrees offered by traditional four-year colleges and universities:

Admission Requirements

Most regionally-accredited online bachelor’s degree programs will carry the same admission requirements as traditional four-year colleges and universities. This means that you will need a high-school diploma or GED as the minimum threshold for entry into an online bachelor’s degree program.

[To learn about programs that allow advanced learners to begin accumulating college credits while still in high school, check out Seven Ways You Can Earn College Credits While Still in High School.]

Another pathway to the online bachelor’s degree program is through an associate degree program, which is also widely accessible online. If you are attending an accredited two-year community or online college, you may be able to transfer some or all of your credits to a four-year program.

Every four-year school commands different transfer requirements and rules. To learn more, you’ll need to reach out to the admissions office at your intended online four-year school to find out what you can and can’t transfer.

Naturally, the more credits you can transfer, the more time and money you’ll save on the way to an online bachelor’s degree.

Also worth nothing, some online bachelor’s degree programs may be offered by schools that are nationally accredited but which are not regionally accredited. A degree from a national accredited college may carry less clout with potential employers and may suggest a less stringent oversight from a qualified accrediting agency. However, nationally accredited bachelor’s degrees can be more accessible and, in some cases, more affordable. The admission requirements outlined above may not apply to nationally accredited colleges. That said, if you are looking to earn your bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited online college or university, be sure that you conduct due diligence on the reputation, quality, and background of your intended school.

[Click here to learn more about accreditation and what it means to have both regional and national accreditation.]

Online Bachelor’s Degree Costs

In some cases, online bachelor’s degrees may be more affordable than traditional degrees. In many cases though, the cost will be relatively similar. Online bachelor’s degree programs do, however, make more accommodations for students to complete programs at an accelerated, or extended pace, which can in turn provide money-saving opportunities. Regardless, if you’re considering an online bachelor’s degree, utilize the same money-saving tactics as you would if you were attending college on campus.

A good starting point is to consider staying in-state if you can. Even though there are affordable online colleges accessible from anywhere in the world, in-state and out-of-state tuition fees still apply. You should seriously consider taking advantage of in-state tuition discounts if possible. Not only might this make your online degree more affordable, but finding an online college in your state might present local employers with a name they know and trust.

Take these considerations into account when viewing the following figures:

During the 2014–2015 school year:

With this in mind, consider starting your search by checking out The 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees.

You have a lot of options, so for your convenience, we’ve included the Ten Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in some of the most popular online bachelor’s degree disciplines. Read on to find the best schools in your field!

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering

  1. UMass Online – University of Massachusetts
  2. University of North Dakota
  3. Stony Brook University
  4. Arizona State University – ASU Online
  5. University of Arizona
  6. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  7. Excelsior College
  8. Eastern New Mexico University
  9. Indiana State University
  10. Texas State University

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Education

  1. East Carolina University
  2. LeTourneau University
  3. Baptist College of Florida
  4. Liberty University
  5. Fort Hays State University
  6. Drexel University
  7. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
  8. University of Missouri
  9. Regis University
  10. University of Louisiana at Monroe

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science

  1. University of Florida
  2. Oregon State University
  3. Florida State University
  4. University of Illinois, Springfield
  5. Old Dominion University—ODU Online
  6. Regis University
  7. Dakota State University
  8. Mercy College
  9. Austin Peay State University
  10. Fort Hays State University

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting

  1. University of Memphis–UM Online
  2. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  3. Old Dominion University—ODU Online
  4. Pennsylvania State University–World Campus
  5. Washington State University
  6. University of Massachusetts–Amherst
  7. University of South Carolina-Columbia
  8. Missouri State University
  9. Cleary University
  10. Colorado State University-Global Campus

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Business

  1. Penn State World Campus
  2. University of Massachusetts
  3. Temple University
  4. University of Iowa
  5. ASU Online, Arizona State University
  6. UF Online, University of Florida
  7. University of Georgia
  8. Drexel University Online
  9. University of Illinois at Chicago
  10. Oklahoma State University

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work

  1. Troy University
  2. University of North Dakota
  3. Indiana Wesleyan University
  4. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
  5. Northern Arizona University
  6. The University of Tennessee
  7. University of Nebraska at Kearney
  8. Brandman University
  9. King University
  10. Brescia University

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice

  1. University of Cincinnati
  2. Washington State University
  3. University of Missouri at St. Louis
  4. Pennsylvania State University
  5. Sam Houston State University
  6. Arizona State University
  7. University of Nebraska at Omaha
  8. The University of Central Florida
  9. University of Oklahoma
  10. University of Louisville

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology

  1. University of Florida
  2. University of Central Florida
  3. Northeastern University
  4. University of Memphis–UM Online
  5. LeTourneau University
  6. University of North Dakota
  7. University of Massachusetts–Lowell
  8. Florida International University
  9. Oregon State University
  10. Washington State University

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Childhood Education

  1. University of Cincinnati
  2. Ball State University
  3. Kansas State University Global Campus
  4. University of Nebraska Online Worldwide
  5. University of Toledo
  6. Fort Hays State University
  7. Indiana Wesleyan University
  8. University of Arizona South
  9. Western Carolina University
  10. University of Nebraska at Kearney, eCampus

Find the Best Online Bachelor Degree for You!

Now that you know what to look for and what’s out there, find the best online bachelor’s degree program for your interests and needs.

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