The Best Online Colleges in Alabama
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Alabama is home to some of the best online colleges in the country. These schools meet the needs of students and top employment sectors alike.
The best online colleges in Alabama provide opportunities for students to earn affordable and accessible degrees. Home to institutions that offer online associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees, Alabama colleges and universities foster innovation and growth within its technology and transportation sectors.
Schools in the University of Alabama (UA) System rank among the top online colleges in the state. Additional public institutions like Auburn accompany private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Alabama. Despite relatively high tuition rates, schools within the UA system did not increase costs for students during the 2021-2022 year.
To find out more about the best online colleges in Alabama, along with their academic offerings and available student resources, scroll down for our rankings.
The Best Online DEGREE Programs
Founded in 1831, the University of Alabama, a public research university, has almost 30,000 students and is among the oldest universities in the state. The campus is home to several historical sites, including the Foster Auditorium, the Maxwell Observatory and the President’s Mansion. The university is the flagship of the University of Alabama System. The university provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The university’s online programs include undergraduate degrees in business, engineering and human environmental sciences. Online offerings for graduate students include master’s degrees in business administration and law, as well as doctoral degrees in education and nursing. The University of Alabama also provides professional certificates.
For online learners, the university provides access to its writing center and online job recruiting both inside and outside of the university.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham came into existence in 1969 and has become Alabama’s largest employer. The university has 12 academic departments. The University of Alabama at Birmingham plays host to around 20,000 students from over 110 countries. The university offers about 140 degree programs. The university is one of three colleges which comprise the University of Alabama System.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers online professional certificates as well as online bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Undergraduate programs available online include majors relating to business, nursing and other health–related professions while graduate programs currently available online include education, engineering, business and nursing.
Online students have access to online academic advising, disability services, an online library and article database, math learning lab, writing center and book store.
Troy University, founded in 1887, boasts over 100,000 alumni across all 50 states. The university offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees. Troy University is known as Alabama’s International University due to the university’s extensive international program which attracts foreign students from around the world.
Troy University provides a variety of online graduate and undergraduate degrees and professional certificate programs through its Global Campus. Undergraduate offerings include criminal justice, cybersecurity and psychology. Available master’s degree programs include education, international relations and international business. A Ph.D. in sports management is also available, as well as professional certificates in adult education, psychology and taxation.
The university also has partnerships with military bases in several states and in several countries around the world including Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia to ensure soldiers serving overseas can attend the university.
Online students have access to the university’s extensive collection of online books and databases.
Founded in 1856, Auburn University is a land–grant, sea–grant and space–grant research institution. The college boasts over 25,000 students and 140 degree programs. The college originally focused primarily on agriculture and engineering, but has since branched out into an impressive variety of other majors. Auburn University emphasizes international education
The university offers online bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and professional certificates through Auburn Online. Online undergraduate offerings include majors in education, agriculture, and engineering. Online graduate offerings include architecture and human sciences. Online professional certificate offerings include pharmacy and continuing education among many others.
Online students have access to an extensive online library and article database as well as online program advisors for applicable degree programs.
The University of West Alabama, a rural college, has approximately 3,000 students, 70 degree programs and eight academic departments. The university maintains small teacher–to–student ratios. Both online and face–to–face students enjoy some of the most affordable tuition in the state.
The University of West Alabama’s online degree programs focus on the education sector more than other fields, but there is still plenty of diversity. Besides education degrees, online undergraduate degrees include business–related majors. Master’s degrees available online include business, education and psychology. The university also provides a post–master’s certificate in instructional leadership and several education specialist degrees online.
The university’s online students have access to some of the Julia Tutwiler library’s books online. They also have access to multiple scholarly article databases.
University of North Alabama is the state’s oldest public four–year university. Established in 1830, the university was the first major university to develop a four–year program in commercial music, which remains one of its most popular majors today. Its undergraduate student body has roughly 6,000 students. The university offers 93 undergraduate majors. The university includes the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education and Human Sciences, and the College of Nursing.
The University of North Alabama provides an online undergraduate degree in sociology, history, interdisciplinary studies and nursing. Students can obtain an online master’s degree in nursing, business, education, criminal justice and history.
Online students have access to an online database of scholarly articles for their perusal.
Amridge University includes the College of Business and Leadership, the School of Human Services, the College of General Studies, the School of Continuing Education, and the Turner School of Theology.
The campus library contains a large collection 80,000 books in total, a respectable portion of which consist of religious texts and theological reference books. Theology is the university’s most popular major.
Alongside its well–known theology degree program, Amridge University offers multiple online bachelor’s degrees in business, computer science and liberal arts.
Online students have access to the university’s extensive collection of theological texts online, as well as several scholarly article databases. The university teaches all its degree programs from the perspective of the Churches of Christ.
Located in Marion, Judson College's main campus exclusively educates women. However, Judson's online programs are open to both men and women. The school maintains a low 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio so all students can receive personal attention. Students can choose from 20 online programs.
All of Judson's bachelor's degrees require 128 credits. Students can opt for either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts for any of the majors. Education students can choose a major in elementary education, secondary English and language arts, or secondary social studies. All teacher preparation programs follow a cohort format. Students participate in internships at Alabama schools.
The school's bachelor's degree in psychology offers a unique concentration in equine-facilitated mental health. This program prepares learners for certification from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. One of the top online colleges in Alabama, Judson also offers baccalaureate degrees in business administration, criminal justice, and interdisciplinary studies.
Jacksonville State University, with six departments, three campuses, 40 academic programs and nearly 10,000 students from 73 countries, is an intimate yet diverse university with a long history. Established in 1883, the university is largely career–oriented as far as its available majors. Most students come for the college’s nursing, business, teaching and criminal justice programs.
Jacksonville State University has a variety of online degree programs available to prospective students. Most of the university’s online programs are master’s programs, which include business, computer science and education. The university also offers five educational specialist programs.
Online students have access to 24/7 technical support, online tutoring, online academic advising, an extensive online library with access to multiple research article databases, and an online job board.
Athens State University is a two–year university offering only upper–level courses in education, business and arts and sciences. The school provides 33 degree programs, between its online and face–to–face offerings, and teaches around 4,000 students. The school, originally an all–female university, became a coeducational institution in 1931.
The university offers online bachelor’s degrees in areas such as religion, education and business alongside several professional certificate programs. Certificate programs available online include business, aviation, logistics, marketing and management technology.
Athens State University’s library has various eBooks available online and provides access to a variety of online e–journals and research article databases. The university also has an archive of digitized catalogs and yearbooks. Students have online access to the writing center.
Situated on a 550-acre campus, the University of Alabama in Huntsville offers 90 programs to 9,000 students. UAH's virtual college provides a growing portfolio of degrees. Learners seeking a highly flexible curriculum can enroll in the bachelor of arts or science in professional studies. Students complete a concentration in organizational studies or leadership strategies and dynamics, both of which are available fully online.
UAH also offers an online RN-to-BSN for registered nurses who already hold an associate degree. Students can complete the curriculum in as few as 12 months. Graduate students can choose online master's degrees in nursing, business, education, and engineering. UAH offers full-time and part-time enrollment options. One of the best online schools in Alabama for transfer students, the college allows students to transfer most of their previously earned credits.
Founded in 1841, Samford University maintains its Christian roots. With a 12-to-1 student ratio and small class sizes, Samford encourages student-faculty engagement. Students interested in distance learning can choose from 20 fully online and hybrid programs. Samford provides services such as free online tutoring, access to the library, online assessments, and resources for career development. Online learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.
The school only offers one online undergraduate program, the BA in organizational leadership. Learners in the program develop competencies in critical thinking, problem solving, and communication. Samford offers more online graduate programs than most other online colleges in Alabama. The school's online master's programs cover fields such as education, business administration, health administration, and health information and analytics.
A private Christian college, Faulkner University provides a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum that integrates faith and scholarship. The Montgomery-based school offers programs through its extended campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile. Faulkner also hosts associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees on its virtual campus.
The associate of arts in liberal arts prepares students for transfer to a baccalaureate program. Learners pursuing baccalaureate degrees choose from a number of majors, including business, criminal justice, forensic psychology, and computer and information science. The school's master's programs span several disciplines, including Christian ministry and business administration. Unlike many online schools in Alabama, Faulkner offers accelerated learning options so students can graduate as quickly as possible.
The University of Mobile provides learners with a liberal arts and sciences curriculum that embraces a Christian worldview. The school, affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention, administers a catalog of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 40 areas of study. The school also offers 10 eLearning degrees.
Students seeking a broad education can enroll in the associate of science or bachelor of science in general studies. These programs feature general education in areas such as the humanities and behavioral sciences. Learners pursue concentrations of their choosing. UM also offers baccalaureate degrees in nursing, psychology, and Christian ministry. Students seeking a master's can choose one of four majors: nursing, business administration, education, and higher education leadership and policy. UM's online courses last eight weeks each. This online college in Alabama charges the same tuition rate for all distance learners regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.
Established in 1963, the University of South Alabama has almost 20,000 students. The university offers almost 100 degree programs. The university operates the USA Medical Center. The university also operates the USA Children and Women’s Hospital, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and USA Physicians’ Group, staffed with over 150 physicians of various specialties.
The University of South Alabama’s online programs include online undergraduate and graduate programs. Online undergraduate offerings include business, interdisciplinary studies, information systems and nursing. Online graduate offerings include multiple education degrees, such as early childhood education, educational media and instructional design and development. Graduate nursing degrees are also available online.
The services the university offers online students include an online job board as well as an online library and article database.
Founded in 1967, Auburn University at Montgomery consists of five colleges that administer 90 academic programs. AUM Online hosts programs in the liberal arts, social sciences, business, education, health sciences, and sciences.
Unique among online colleges in Alabama, the medical laboratory science program enrolls certified clinical and medical laboratory technicians with clinical experience. Students acquire knowledge online and demonstrate competencies at a clinical facility. Most learners complete this experience in their current workplace. Registered nurses can complete an RN-to-BSN either fully online or in a hybrid format. At the master's level, distance learners choose from several majors in education. AUM offers competitive online tuition rates and waives many of the fees for non-residents.
Situated on a 2,300-acre hillside campus in Normal, Alabama A&M University enrolls approximately 5,500 students in its four colleges. The school provides a select number of asynchronous, fully online degrees. The bachelor of science in management grooms students for leadership roles. The broad curriculum focuses on business skills such as problem-solving and analytical thinking.
At the graduate level, learners can choose from majors in computer science and early childhood education. A third master's program in educational leadership provides students with class "B" teacher certification in Alabama. Learners in this program can choose from several concentrations. AAMU is one of the most transfer-friendly online schools in Alabama. The school enrolls students in the fall, spring, and summer.
Online DEGREE Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.
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Featured Online DEGREE Programs
Employment in Alabama
With about 25% of the population in Alabama possessing a college degree, students who pursue higher education can stand out in the state's job market. Individuals looking to work at large corporations, small businesses, or as entrepreneurs can thrive in Alabama.
Top industries in Alabama include aerospace and aviation, agriculture, and transportation. Alabama is also home to specialized enterprises in cybersecurity, corporate operations, and distribution.
Additional benefits of working and living in Alabama include its cost of living index of 82.3. With the national average at 100, housing costs in Alabama fall well below those around the country, at just under 56. Transportation, groceries, and miscellaneous expenses similarly land below the national average.
Unemployment in Alabama saw a steady decline in early 2021, reaching a rate of 3.3% as of June 2021. The mean annual wage in Alabama sits at nearly $47,000, but managerial positions report wages of more than twice that figure. These figures indicate a strong outlook for individuals with college degrees in the state.
The following figures include the highest-paying roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in Alabama. Salary information applies specifically to Alabama, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)||Education Required|
|Physicians and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric||$213,410||3%||Doctorate|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$150,770||4%||Bachelor's|
|Personal Financial Advisors||$133,020||5%||Bachelor's|
The data below reflects the highest-paying roles employing more than 6,000 professionals in Alabama. Salary figures apply specifically to Alabama, while job growth data refers to the United States as a whole.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)||Education Required|
|General and Operations Managers||$121,800||8%||Bachelor's|
|Accountants and Auditors||$71,940||7%||Bachelor's|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$102,920||22%||Bachelor's|
|Project Management Specialists and Business Operations Specialists||$89,390||6%||Bachelor's|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$93,330||32%||Bachelor's|
|Insurance Sales Agents||$82,340||7%||High School Diploma|
Online Associate Degrees and Community Colleges in Alabama
Alabama's extensive community college system includes 24 schools throughout the state. Many community colleges have expanded online opportunities due to limitations and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each community college in Alabama offers associate degrees that can lead to employment opportunities. Additional transfer options feature pathways to earning four-year degrees. Community colleges in Alabama also offer job training and certification programs, adult learning opportunities, and dual-enrollment coursework.
Top associate degrees in Alabama include business, engineering, and law enforcement. Individual programs vary, but the overall outcomes meet the employment needs of the state.
Online Graduate Degrees in Alabama
Online graduate programs provide an affordable, convenient option for working professionals who want to advance their education and employment opportunities. Earning an online graduate degree can also facilitate a career change. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities have expanded their online offerings to meet the needs of their students.
Online graduate degrees at schools within the UA System span disciplines like communication, education, and business — comparable to those found at institutions throughout Alabama. The University of West Alabama offers a one-year online MBA, and the University of South Alabama offers five online master's degrees in education.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in Alabama
Is Online College Cheaper in Alabama?
The cost of online college in Alabama is comparable to tuition in other states. Resident learners benefit from lower tuition rates than their non-resident counterparts at some schools, but many institutions provide the same tuition to in-state and out-of-state learners.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree in Alabama?
The length of an online program in Alabama depends on the type of degree. Students can earn associate degrees in two years, bachelor's degrees in four years, and master's degrees in two years or less.
What Is the Most Popular Degree in Alabama?
The science and engineering disciplines rank among the most popular college degrees in Alabama. Business is the second-most popular major in Alabama.
Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.
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