The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

by TBS Staff

Updated October 19, 2022

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For students who may feel culturally isolated, marginalized, or otherwise excluded by their communities, online college can be a doorway to a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming world. Online college represents a tremendous opportunity for students of all backgrounds, because it creates a flexible, accessible, and effective way to pursue an education, earn college credits, and advance toward a degree. But online college represents more than just educational opportunity. If you identify as LGBTQ+, then online college can be a unique opportunity for you to find support, academic enrichment, shared interests, and social engagement beyond your home, neighborhood, or community.

Because online college creates connections that transcend geographical boundaries, online college could be the first real opportunity that LGBTQ+ students in small towns, rural regions, or more conservative communities have to meet other LGBTQ+ students or even to express their identities freely.

Enrolling in an online college would make you part of a whole new community that is completely separate from your geographical setting. As part of that community, you now have access to the student groups, counseling services, educational resources, and faculty that come with it. If you live in an area where support for and visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals are scarce, then this access can become a critical source for advocacy.

With this in mind, we have ranked the very best online colleges for LGBTQ+ students based on a variety of factors; these factors include both online college excellence and the degree of inclusivity and openness that help make LGBTQ+ students feel at home within a college community.

To learn more about choosing the best school for your needs and priorities, check out our Guide to Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students.

Jump to the Rankings

A Note on Terminology

LGBTQ+ refers explicitly to individuals who identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, but the term also acknowledges and includes individuals who identify as intergender, intersexual, pansexual, asexual, gender binary, questioning, and otherwise. The LGBT terminology remains a popular shorthand term, but increasingly, LGBTQ is gaining ground as the preferred term. Some groups or organizations may prefer the LGBTQIA terminology, which also makes explicit inclusion of individuals who identify as intersex or asexual. In some cases, the A may also refer to allies.

Based on our deference to Campus Pride and other like-minded organizations, we have selected what our research shows is the most widely accepted terminology among allies, activists, and LGBTQ+ community members. LGBTQ+ is the terminology that we use throughout this guide, but this is not to the exclusion of any groups or individuals. To the contrary, the use of the + suffix indicates inclusion even in the event that additional groups or communities are identified in the future. The intention of this selected terminology, this guide, and TBS in general, is total inclusion.

Online College Rankings

As members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the American Council on Education, the team at TheBestSchools.org has proven its online education expertise for nearly 10 years. We cover online colleges and universities more broadly and thoroughly than anyone else on the web! With over 300 online degree programs rankings, lists of the best online colleges in each state, rankings of the top universities in the world, and online student news and information through our magazine The Quad, we are online college experts!

Check out the following resources to learn about online college and the opportunities that could await you.

Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Student Ranking Guidelines

To make this ranking, we merged the data from our list of the Best Online Colleges for 2019 and the Campus PrideBest of the Best LGBTQ+-friendly college list.

We selected the online colleges on our list based on the quality of the program and types of courses offered, in addition to the faculty, awards, rankings, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for providing excellent online degree programs.

Campus Pride, a leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ students and youth, selected its Best of the Best colleges based on their overall ratings on the Campus Pride Index and specific LGBTQ+-inclusive benchmark measures. In order to be in the ‘Best of the Best’ listing, an institution had to score the highest percentages in the LGBTQ+-friendly benchmarks for policies, programs and practices.

Campus Pride notes that its Index provides campuses the opportunity to come out as LGBTQ+-friendly and take responsibility for continually improving their LGBTQ+ campus climate.

Colleges on the Campus Pride index were scored on a five-star scale that used the following key indicators:

Campus Pride uses these indicators to deliver an inclusion report card to every campus on its list.

After combining our research with Campus Pride’s scores, we have identified the Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students; these colleges offer the highest quality online education and the greatest variety of reputable online degree programs with the most inclusive academic, cultural, and community standards.

The Best Accredited Online Colleges and Universities

Each online college and university on this list is regionally accredited, nonprofit, and offers a range of online bachelor’s degree programs. Our goal is to identify and rank the best accredited online colleges available to ensure the greatest online student satisfaction. In fact, every single college, university, and online college we rank is regionally accredited.

The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

#1 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

Penn State World Campus

  • University Park, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Penn State World Campus has online programming that ranks favorably among similar opportunities. Students who wish to study remotely at this public school can choose from 207 online programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Distance learners often choose this school because it has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for academic strength.

The academic and career advisors located at the University Park campus are also available to assist online learners. Degree-seekers also have the option to connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs, helping set them up for scholastic and professional success. Many students also gain hands-on field experience through the school's internship programs. The degrees that graduates are awarded reflect the school's full accreditation.

More information about which programs are available online and how to apply can be obtained by contacting the school.

Penn State World Campus at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 67

Online Master's Programs: 52

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Admission Rate: 76%

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,484
Out-of-state
$13,484
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
Not provided
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

University of Massachusetts

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The University of Massachusetts is one of the best options available to online degree-seekers. The school has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for strong academics, making it a popular choice for distance learners.

Academic and career preparation services are available to all students, even those outside of the Boston campus. Advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. Many students also prepare for future careers by gaining hands-on experience in internships. The programs grant graduates an accredited degree upon completion.

Anyone with additional questions is encouraged to reach out to the school directly.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
Not provided
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
No

#3 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

Indiana University Bloomington

  • Bloomington, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Anyone interested in pursuing a degree online should consider Indiana University Bloomington. The 30 online programs offered by this public institution consist of both undergraduate and graduate offerings. The school's proven track record in online education and reputation for quality academics lead many distance learners to apply.

Online learners not located near the campus can still take advantage of academic and career advising services. Online offerings from academic advisors and career-planning events like virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for success. Internships are available to help students gain hands-on experience. The degrees that graduates receive are fully accredited.

Additional details regarding program availability and application processes are available by contacting the school.

Indiana University Bloomington at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 8,390

Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Online Master's Programs: 10

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 9%

Admission Rate: 78%

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,575
Out-of-state
$35,140
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
43,260
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

Washington State University

  • Pullman, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Washington State University is a fantastic choice for online learners. Individuals who wish to study remotely at this public school can choose from 54 online programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Distance learners often choose to study at this school because of its experience with online education and reputation for academic quality.

Career and academic service associates located at the Pullman campus assist online learners. Academic advising, virtual job fairs, and other career preparation services set degree-seekers up for long-term success. The school's internship programs give students a chance to gain hands-on field experience. Program graduates are awarded a bachelor's degree with full accreditation upon completing all requirements.

For more information on how to apply and what programs are available online, contact the school directly.

Washington State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 6,592

Online Bachelor's Programs: 20

Online Master's Programs: 12

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 13%

Admission Rate: 76%

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,953
Out-of-state
$24,531
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
31,607
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

Kansas State University

  • Manhattan, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Kansas State University is a leader in online education. The 73 online programs offered by this public institution consist of both undergraduate and graduate offerings. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

Online learners not located near the Manhattan campus can still take advantage of academic and career advising services. Degree-seekers connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs and career-planning events. Many degree programs include an internship, helping students gain experience in their field. Graduates of the program obtain a bachelor's degree with full accreditation.

Additional information about how to apply and what programs are available can be obtained by contacting the school directly.

Kansas State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 5,850

Online Bachelor's Programs: 13

Online Master's Programs: 26

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 26%

Admission Rate: 95%

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,735
Out-of-state
$25,251
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
21,719
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

  • New Brunswick, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey is a leader in online education. Remote degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels are available to enrollees at this public school. The school's experience with online education and strong academic reputation make it a great choice for distance learners.

All learners, including those studying online, can take advantage of the academic and career services professionals hosted at the school's New Brunswick campus. Academic advisors and virtual job fairs help set degree-seekers up for long-term success. The internship programs that the school offers help many students prepare for their future careers. Completing all requirements results in graduates receiving an accredited degree.

Prospective applicants can contact the school to learn more about online program options and admission requirements.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 11,925

Online Bachelor's Programs: 9

Online Master's Programs: 19

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 9%

Admission Rate: 61%

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,230
Out-of-state
$29,012
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
61%
Students Enrolled
50,173
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

University of Louisville

  • Louisville, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Louisville ranks among the best online colleges. Those who choose to enroll at this public college can choose from 29 different programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Distance learners benefit from the school's track record in online education and its strong academic reputation.

Online learners not located near the Kentucky campus can still take advantage of academic and career advising services. Degree-seekers connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs and career-planning events. Internship programs are also available to students, helping them gain valuable field experience. Completing all requirements results in graduates receiving an accredited degree.

Prospective students can get more information about online programs and application requirements from the school directly.

University of Louisville at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,624

Online Bachelor's Programs: 9

Online Master's Programs: 12

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 14%

Admission Rate: 69%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,732
Out-of-state
$27,758
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
21,670
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

The Ohio State University

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Ohio State University is one of the best options available to online degree-seekers. The public institution offers 17 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school's proven track record in online education and reputation for quality academics lead many distance learners to apply.

The school hosts academic and career service specialists at its Columbus campus, whom online learners can also contact. Academic advising, virtual job fairs, and other career preparation services set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Internships are available to help students gain hands-on experience. After completing their program, graduates receive an accredited degree.

Additional information about how to apply and what programs are available can be obtained by contacting the school directly.

The Ohio State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 21,150

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Online Master's Programs: 12

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 4%

Admission Rate: 54%

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,197
Out-of-state
$31,174
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
61,391
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

University of Wisconsin Madison

  • Madison, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Wisconsin Madison offers a high-quality online college experience. The school, a public institution, hosts four options for remote learners at the graduate and undergraduate levels. These remote programs benefit from the school's reputation for strong academics and track record in online course offerings.

Online learners benefit from support by academic and career services offices at the school's campus. Career-planning events like virtual job fairs are available to degree-seekers who connect with advisors. Hands-on learning through internship programs helps many students prepare for work in their field. Upon completion of all program requirements, graduates are awarded an accredited degree.

Prospective applicants can contact the school to learn more about online program options and admission requirements.

University of Wisconsin Madison at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 8,064

Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Online Master's Programs: 3

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 1%

Admission Rate: 54%

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,273
Out-of-state
$36,333
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
44,257
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 The Best Online Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students

Lehigh University

  • Bethlehem, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A quality online college education is available at Lehigh University. Those who choose to enroll at this private college can choose from 14 different programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school attracts many remote learners because of its solid reputation for academics and experience in offering online education.

The school offers additional support to online learners through the academic and career services offices at its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, campus. Virtual career fairs, academic advising, and other programs invest in the long-term success of degree-seekers. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Upon completion of all program requirements, graduates are awarded an accredited degree.

Prospective students can get more information about online programs and application requirements from the school directly.

Lehigh University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 412

Online Master's Programs: 13

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 7%

Admission Rate: 32%

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,790
Out-of-state
$54,790
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
32%
Students Enrolled
6,953
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Featured Image Credit: Morsa Images | DigitalVision | Getty Images


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