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This guide covers important information about online bachelor's programs, including how to choose the right online college, the value of an accredited degree, and scholarship opportunities for online learners.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals with a bachelor's degree earn $337 more per week than those with an associate degree and $461 more than those with a high school diploma, translating into an additional $17,000-$24,000 per year.

By choosing an online bachelor's degree from an affordable online college, prospective students can increase their earning potential without incurring large amounts of debt. An online bachelor's program offers a flexible learning format that lets students balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Accredited online schools offer the same diplomas and meet the same academic standards as traditional, on-campus programs.

The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Programs 2021
#1 University of Florida-Online Gainesville, FL
#2 Florida International University Miami, FL
#3 Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, OK
#4 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#5 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, TX
#6 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
#7 Northeastern State University Tahlequah, OK
#8 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
#9 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA
#10 Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster, PA

Featured Online Schools

Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degrees

University of Florida-Online true View School Profile $$ Gainesville, FL 88% 27% 100% The University of Florida-Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established in January 2014, UF Online now offers affordable and fully online baccalaureate degree programs. UF Online ranks 3rd in the 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Online Programs.

UF Online offers a total of 24 fully online degree programs in multiple areas of interest. These programs include four-year degrees in advertising, anthropology, biology, business administration, computer science, criminology, digital arts, education, environmental management, geography, journalism, nursing, psychology, public management, and sport management.

Applicants must complete their online application, and pay a non-refundable application fee of $30.

The University of Florida-Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Florida International University true View School Profile $ Miami, FL 58% 34% 65% Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Recognized as a Top 50 public university in the country, FIU now enrolls a total of almost 54,000 undergraduate and graduate students every year.

FIU Online offers more than 40 fully online degree programs that are taught by the university's credentialed on-campus professors and instructors. Some of the university's online degrees focus on the areas of business, computer science, education, economics, history, hospitality management, health sciences, public relations, and social sciences.

All applicants must submit all transcripts of records, and pay the required $30 application fee.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University true View School Profile $ Durant, OK 33% 42% 77% Southeastern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commissions (HLC).

Established in 1909, Southeastern is composed of a student body of almost 4,750. 90% of Southeastern's students receive financial aid.

Southeastern offers 12 undergraduate online programs at an affordable cost of only $285 per credit hour. These online bachelor's programs include degrees in accounting, communication, criminal justice, general business, management, marketing, liberal and applied studies, occupational safety and health, and recreation sports management.

To be considered for admission, applicants must complete the online application and send over their transcripts of records.

University of Central Florida true View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL 73% 39% 57% Southeastern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Since first opening its doors in 1963, UCF has become a premier metropolitan research university. UCF confers more than 17,000 degrees each year.

UCF Online has more than 20 bachelor's programs and 35 minor options offered fully online. The university offers online bachelor's degrees in the areas of anthropology, communication, criminal justice, hospitality management, nursing, political science, psychology, social sciences, and sociology.

UCF Online requires applicants to submit their academic transcripts, and pay the $30 non-refundable application fee.

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin true View School Profile $ Odessa, TX 41% 24% 71% The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1969, UTPB now has two campus locations in Texas. Around 5,800 students attend UTPB on a yearly basis.

UTPB's online undergraduate programs consist of four-year degrees in accounting communication, criminal justice, humanities, industrial technology, management, marketing, political science, psychology, and sociology. UTPB offers all these programs through a 100% online course delivery.

Applicants must submit a completed online application, official high school transcripts, and a non-refundable application fee of $40.

The University of West Florida View School Profile $ Pensacola, FL 44% 64% 63% The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Based in Pensacola, UWF now has an alumni network of more than 90,000 professionals. UWF's total enrollment in 2020 reached 13,043 students.

UWF Online provides prospective students with the opportunity to choose one from the university's 14 online undergraduate degrees. The university's online degree programs allow students to work at their own pace, and schedule classes according to their convenience.

Applicants must complete the online application, pay the required $30 application fee, and submit official transcripts from all institutions previously attended.

Northeastern State University View School Profile $ Tahlequah, OK 35% 44% 63% Northeastern State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

With three campuses in Oklahoma, NSU continues to expand its reach and deliver quality education to students. NSU now offers 59 undergraduate programs and 26 graduate degrees.

NSU Online's diverse list of programs includes online degrees in business, criminal justice, general studies, geography, homeland security, hospitality and tourism management, information systems, legal studies, nursing, and technology. NSU Online offers courses in fully online delivery and/or blended formats.

All prospective students must finish the online application for admission, and pay the $25 non-refundable application fee.

University of Louisiana at Monroe View School Profile $ Monroe, LA 44% 40% 34% The University of Louisiana at Monroe is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1931, ULM offers students with topnotch resources such as the Student Success Center, the Career Center, and the Office of Student Engagement.

ULM also offers over 35 online degree programs. These include online bachelor degrees in business administration, criminal justice, education, health studies, marketing, management, modern languages, nursing, political science, and risk management and insurance.

ULM requires applicants to complete the online application, pay the $20 application fee, and send over their official transcripts of records.

Eastern Washington University View School Profile $$ Cheney, WA 44% 67% 28% Eastern Washington University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Established in the year of 1882, EWU was named by the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity as the top college of diversity in Washington.

Through the Eastern Online platform, EWU offers online undergraduate programs in the areas of communication, dental hygiene, health science, interdisciplinary studies, and public relations. The university offers these bachelor's degrees entirely online, allowing students to pursue their studies at the comforts of their own home.

All interested applicants must complete the online admission application and pay the $60 application fee.

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences View School Profile Lancaster, PA 66% 49% 58% Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Launched in 1903, PA College now offers nearly 20 degree options. About 1,800 students enroll at PA College every year.

PA College offers degree programs with coursework that students can complete entirely online. Among these programs are bachelor's degrees in health sciences, healthcare administration, and an RN to BSN program.

To be considered for admission, students must submit a high school transcript or an official GED transcript. PA College may also require the submission of SAT or ACT scores.

Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus View School Profile $$ Portales, NM 35% 30% 69% Eastern New Mexico University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

With an excellent 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, ENMU has garnered a 97% student satisfaction rate. ENMU is also recognized as the largest regional comprehensive university in New Mexico.

ENMU's Office of Distance Learning offers 100% online degrees in the areas of accounting, aviation science, business, communication, computer science, criminal justice, education, history, hospitality management, nursing, psychology, and sociology. The university also offers online minors and endorsement areas.

ENMU requires applicants to submit their official high school and/or college transcripts, along with their ACT or SAT test scores.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University View School Profile $ Alva, OK 30% 42% 62% Northwestern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1897, Northwestern has expanded its programs to 40 areas of study. Around 2,000 students attend Northwestern on an annual basis.

The online degree programs at Northwestern focus on the areas of accounting, business administration, nursing, and technical management. Northwestern also offers online students with tutoring assistance and academic coaching.

All interested applicants must first submit an online application, and send over their official academic transcripts of records.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University View School Profile $$ Weatherford, OK 34% 51% 50% Southwestern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

SWOSU employs a 23:1 student-to-teacher ratio. SWOSU's distance education programs make use of webinar delivery and blended formats to help students complete their degrees. The university offers online undergraduate degrees in allied health, nursing, and organizational leadership.

To begin the application process, prospective students must submit all academic transcripts, along with their college plans detailing their intended major.

McNeese State University View School Profile $ Lake Charles, LA 45% 36% 57% McNeese State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Since first opening its doors in 1939, McNeese now rolls out 100 undergraduate academic programs and 36 graduate degrees.

McNeese offers an online bachelor of science in psychology degree that allows students to finish their studies through 100% online coursework. McNeese's online students gain full access to personalized advising, and tremendous internship and service-learning opportunities.

All applicants must directly submit their academic transcripts and official ACT or SAT test scores.

Texas A & M International University View School Profile Laredo, TX 46% 34% 47% Texas A & M International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1970, TAMIU now enrolls over 8,400 students each year. TAMIU's curriculum focuses on global study and understanding across all disciplines.

TAMIU offers online programs across the high-demand disciplines of business, criminal justice, education, and nursing. The university provides a 100% online course delivery, allowing working students to achieve a balance between work and school.

TAMIU requires all applicants to submit their official transcripts of records, and complete the list of documents and requirements needed by each specific degree program.

Florida Atlantic University View School Profile $ Boca Raton, FL 52% 35% 44% Florida Atlantic University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Ranked as the most diverse public university in Florida, FAU now serves more than 30,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

FAU's online degree programs cover the areas of arts and letters, business, design and social inquiry, education, engineering and computer science, nursing, and science. The university also provides online students with access to tutorial support, online academic advisors, financial aid counselors, and career support.

All applicants must complete the required high school units to be considered for admission. FAU also requires applicants to submit all official transcripts.

Dickinson State University View School Profile $$ Dickinson, ND 34% 41% 40% Dickinson State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in the year of 1918, College Consensus now ranks DSU as the best college in North Dakota. Students at DSU enjoy small class sizes and interactive classroom discussions.

DSU offers online bachelor's degrees in accounting, administration, applied science, education, finance, human resource management, and university studies. DSU's online students receive support services such as academic advising, career development support, financial aid, library services, and technology assistance.

DSU admission requires completion of the ACT or the SAT. All applicants must also submit their transcripts, and pay the one-time application fee of $35.

Fort Hays State University View School Profile $$ Hays, KS 44% 39% 83% Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1902, FHSU now stands today as a regional comprehensive public university. 95% of FHSU students assume professional roles and jobs right after they graduate.

FHSU offers a total of 60 fully accredited online bachelor's programs. These programs include a diverse list of degrees in accounting, agriculture, business, communications, computer science, criminal justice, education, finance, history, modern languages, nursing, political science, psychology, and sociology.

FHSU requires freshmen applicants to hold a cumulative 2.25 or higher GPA in high school, while transfer students must have a minimum 2.00 GPA on all previous college work.

Middle Georgia State University View School Profile $ Macon, GA 18% 46% 52% Middle Georgia State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Now with six campuses to its name, MGA has established itself as an innovative public university. MGA's pursuit of academic excellence is built on the values of stewardship, engagement, adaptability, and learning.

MGA offers online bachelor's degrees in the areas of aviation science, business administration, criminal justice, English, health services administration, information technology, nursing, psychology, and technical management. The university provides online students with access to services such as advising, counseling, accessibility services, and student complaint resolution.

MGA no longer requires SAT and ACT scores. Applicants must complete the online application, and send their transcripts to the Office of Admissions.

New Mexico State University-Main Campus View School Profile $ Las Cruces, NM 46% 33% 43% New Mexico State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

With a 900-acre campus and enrollees from 49 states and 89 foreign countries, NMSU now serves more than 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

NMSU also offers online bachelor's degrees in business administration, criminal justice, gender and sexuality studies, hotel, restaurant and tourism management, information and communication technology, journalism, psychology, and sociology. NMSU's online students enjoy support services such as academic advising, ICT help desk, library services, and tutoring services.

NMSU requires applicants to submit their official transcripts of records. Official ACT or SAT scores are no longer required for admission or scholarship eligibility.

Indiana University-East View School Profile $ Richmond, IN 41% 45% 78% Indiana University-East is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

IU East offers more than 60 programs and more than 80 intensive courses. The university also integrates an average class size of 17 students, allowing for an interactive classroom discussion.

IU East rolls out online bachelor's degree programs in applied health science, business administration, communication studies, criminal justice, data science, health care management, history, informatics, languages, mathematics, political science, sociology, and sustainable studies. All of these online programs require students to complete 120 credit hours.

All interested applicants must submit official transcripts of records or official GED test scores.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay View School Profile $$ Green Bay, WI 52% 46% 51% The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1965, UW-Green Bay has now expanded to four campuses across Wisconsin. Around 8,970 students attend UW-Green Bay every year.

UW Green-Bay's online programs include undergraduate degrees in accounting, business administration, finance, health information management, human resources management, organizational leadership, marketing, nursing, psychology, and public administration. The university offers these degrees entirely online.

Applicants must set up their own UW-Green Bay account, and send over their official academic transcripts of records.

Mississippi University for Women View School Profile $$ Columbus, MS 48% 55% 69% Mississippi University for Women is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1884, MUW has become coeducational since 1982. MUW now features 50 majors and concentrations.

MUW offers a total of 17 online bachelor's degrees in the areas of business administration, education, nursing, and public health education. The university also offers eight online minors and eight online graduate programs.

All applicants must submit their official high school records. For transfer students, MUW requires applicants to hold a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA on all coursework attempted.

University of Hawaii-West Oahu View School Profile $ Kapolei, HI 32% 29% 71% The University of Hawaii-West O'ahu is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Since its inception in 1976, UH West O'ahu strives to provide pathways for students to assume roles in the local and international job market. The university now enrolls around 3,000 students each year.

UH West O'ahu's online degree programs require students to complete lower-division coursework via in-person and online classes. The university's distance learning programs are delivered through asynchronous or synchronous online classes, or via interactive television.

Applicants must submit their transcripts of records, and pay the required application fee of $50.

Nicholls State University View School Profile $$ Thibodaux, LA 45% 54% 49% Nicholls State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Nicholls offers more than 100 accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs. Around 6,500 traditional and nontraditional students enroll at Nicholls on a yearly basis.

Nicholls also offers 100% online undergraduate degrees in the areas of business administration, English, general studies, health sciences, history, nursing, political science, psychology, and sociology. The university's online curriculum follows an eight-week schedule, allowing students to earn their degree in just three years.

Nicholls requires prospective online students to complete this online application, and submit their official academic transcripts of records.

Most Affordable

Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degree Ranking Guidelines

This list ranks schools in order of their average net price for the most recent academic year. This information, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics, reflects the average price paid by students for the school year after factoring in tuition costs, required fees, books and supplies, and financial aid. To be included on this list, schools must also offer a minimum of five distinct online bachelor's degree programs. The numbers below reflect the average net price for one full academic year.

The Advantages of a Bachelor's Degree

Professionals with a bachelor's degree earn over $450 more per week, on average, than professionals with only a high school diploma. Professionals with a bachelor's degree also benefit from a lower-than-average unemployment rate.

Educational Attainment Median Weekly Earnings Unemployment Rate
High School Diploma, No College $712 4.6%
Some College, No Degree $774 4.0%
Associate Degree $836 3.4%
Bachelor's Degree $1,173 2.5%

Source: BLS

Are Online Schools Accredited?

Prospective online students should only consider accredited schools. Schools can earn accreditation by voluntarily submitting to a review by an independent accrediting agency. Accredited colleges and universities meet high academic standards based on student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic rigor.

Online schools may hold regional or national accreditation. Liberal arts and research institutions generally hold regional accreditation, while technical and vocational programs may hold national accreditation. Regional accreditation remains the highest standard for colleges and universities. In addition to a school's accreditation status, some programs, like business, nursing, and teacher preparation programs, may hold programmatic accreditation.

Regional accreditation remains the highest standard for colleges and universities.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree, and some employers only hire candidates with an accredited degree. Students at accredited institutions also qualify for more financial aid opportunities than students at non-accredited institutions.

Seven accrediting agencies grant regional accreditation based on the state where the school is located. Prospective students can check a school's accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education's database of accredited schools.

Are Online Degrees Cheaper?

Online students often save money on their education compared to on-campus students. An online learning format lets students research and attend the most affordable online colleges without relocating. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer tuition discounts for online learners, including in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students. Online students also save on the commuting and housing costs that on-campus students incur.

Some online schools offer accelerated online bachelor's degrees. Depending on the program, completing the degree faster can result in tuition savings. Learn more about the best online colleges by state.

How Much Does an Online Bachelor's Degree Cost?

The cost of an online bachelor's degree varies by institution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition cost for a bachelor's degree at a public, in-state institution exceeded $9,000 per year in 2017-2018. Out-of-state students paid over $25,000 per year in tuition and fees, while students attending private institutions paid more than $30,000 per year, on average.

Public, in-state schools generally offer the lowest cost per credit; however, many programs offer flat tuition rates for online students or in-state rates for online learners regardless of residency.

What Are the Cheapest Online Bachelor's Degree Programs?

Online students often save money on their education compared to on-campus students. An online learning format lets students research and attend the most affordable online colleges without relocating. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer tuition discounts for online learners, including in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students. Online students also save on the commuting and housing costs that on-campus students incur.

Some online schools offer accelerated online bachelor's degrees. Depending on the program, completing the degree faster can result in tuition savings. Learn more about the best online colleges by state.

Best Online Colleges by State

Colleges and universities often offer tuition discounts to in-state students. Prospective students can review our ranking of the best online colleges by state to discover local options.

What Are the Best Online Degrees to Pursue?

The best online degrees offer academic rigor, highly qualified faculty, and diverse course offerings. Prospective students can review our ranking of the 25 best online degrees categorized by discipline, including business and finance, computers and technology, and humanities and social sciences.

What Are the Top-Paying Bachelor's Degrees?

The following jobs, which require a bachelor's degree for entry-level opportunities, offer the highest average early and mid-career salaries.

Salary by Experience
Degree Subject Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay
Petroleum Engineering $94,500 $176,900
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science $88,000 $142,200
Applied Economics and Management $58,900 $140,000
Operations Research $77,900 $137,100
Political Economy $57,600 $136,200

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Bachelor's Degree Program

Transfer Policies

Most colleges and universities accept transfer credits toward a bachelor's degree. Prospective students can often submit their transcripts for a transfer credit evaluation, which can help save money on tuition costs.

School Size and Type

The size and type of school informs the total cost of a bachelor's degree and the student experience. In general, private schools charge higher tuition rates but offer more individualized attention, while in-state public institutions charge the lowest rates but may offer less one-on-one attention from faculty.

Program Delivery

Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which don't require set login times, while others require set class meetings. Asynchronous courses give students more flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations.

On-Campus Requirements

While many colleges offer fully online degrees, some programs include on-campus requirements, which students should ensure they can meet before enrolling in a program.

Program Reputation

A program's reputation can influence job prospects and earning potential after graduation. Prospective students can research program rankings and ask colleges for graduation placement information to determine a program's reputation.

Paying for Your Online Bachelor's Degree

Students earning a bachelor's degree online qualify for many scholarship opportunities. In addition to the following list, online learners can research scholarship opportunities based on factors like identity, major, and career path.

Scholarships for Online Bachelor's Students

$10,000 Unigo $10k Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students attending an accredited postsecondary institution qualify for this scholarship opportunity. Applicants must submit a 250-word essay.

Apply for this Scholarship
$4,000 TEACH Grant

Who Can Apply: The federal TEACH grant provides up to $4,000 per year for students earning a teaching degree. Recipients must meet work requirements after graduation.

Apply for this Scholarship
$1,000 Chegg Monthly Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Chegg offers a monthly scholarship for students attending an accredited U.S. college or university. Applicants can apply every month.

Apply for this Scholarship

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online schools accredited?

Yes; many cheap online schools hold regional or national accreditation. Accredited schools meet high standards of academic excellence.

Are online degrees cheaper?

Many schools offer tuition discounts for online learners. Additionally, online students often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs.

How much does an online bachelor's degree cost?

The total cost of an online bachelor's degree varies by program and a student's circumstances; however, the cheapest online schools may charge under $5,000 per year in tuition.

What are the cheapest online bachelor's degree programs?

The cheapest online bachelor's degrees offer low tuition rates, liberal transfer credit policies, and accelerated formats.

What are the best online degrees to pursue?

The best online degrees offer value and quality. Online degrees in areas like business, the social sciences, and nursing offer career advancement opportunities and lucrative earning potential.

What are the top-paying bachelor's degrees?

The top-paying bachelor's degrees include engineering, economics, management, and computer science. In these fields, earning potential increases with experience.

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