Best Online Colleges in Texas 2021

| TBS Staff


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Online colleges in Texas allow students in the second most populated state to pursue the college experience that best suits their needs.

Working students in search of programs that do not interfere with personal or professional responsibilities should consider earning an online degree in Texas. The state's 60x30TX strategic plan aims to increase the number of degree holders aged 25-34 by at least 60% before 2030.

The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate program specifically focuses on online, hybrid, and competency-based courses that offer innovative pathways for students to earn their degrees sooner and on their own terms. Online programs in Texas may also offer cohort-style models, which allow students to build a strong network with other online learners.

Texan higher education initiatives strive to remove financial barriers restricting students from obtaining degrees, lowering the amount of statewide student debt. Public universities in Texas provide over $15.3 billion in financial aid every year, and the average Texas graduate possesses about $26,900 in student debt.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Texas 2021
#1 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, TX
#2 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
#3 Tarleton State University Stephenville, TX
#4 University of North Texas Denton, TX
#5 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
#6 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
#7 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX
#8 Texas A & M University-Commerce Commerce, TX
#9 West Texas A & M University Canyon, TX
#10 Stephen F Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX

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The Best Online Colleges in Texas

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).

Commissioned by the Texas State Legislature in 1969, UTPB opened its Permian Basin campus in 1973. It now has an enrollment of around 5,800 students.

UTPB's online degree programs offer 31 fields of study, including nursing, psychology, industrial technology, and petroleum technology. These 100% online courses open every eight weeks with six different start times each year. From any location, students may study at their own pace with the possibility of graduating early.

Applicants must supply official transcripts indicating GPA and class rank, SAT/ACT scores, and a completed online application.

Texas Tech University true View School Profile $$$ Lubbock, TX 59% 45% 50% Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established by the Texas Legislature in 1923, TTU has grown to be the largest higher learning institution in the western two-thirds of the state. More than 40,000 students attend this university.

TTU's online and distance bachelor degree program presents its online degree options through its eLearning and Academic Partnerships department. Although eight different TTU regional sites host these degree programs, all diplomas read the same as the on-campus Lubbock programs.

Aspiring TTU students must turn in a completed online application and official transcripts. SAT/ACT, essays, letters of recommendation, and resumes are optional.

Tarleton State University true View School Profile $$ Stephenville, TX 46% 56% 15% Tarleton State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

TSU opened its doors in 1899, and it joined the Texas A&M University system in 1917. Today, it serves over 13,000 students.

The online degree programs at Tarleton make this university one of the best online colleges because of its exceptional, nationally recognized service to working adults. The degrees are completely online, but students can choose a blended program by swapping online classes for face-to-face, on-campus classes.

Applicants can apply for admission by submitting a completed Texas Common Application, official high school or college transcripts, and college entry test scores.

University of North Texas true View School Profile $$ Denton, TX 53% 50% 46% University of North Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UNT has been a guiding light in students' careers since 1890. This Tier One research university handles an enrollment of nearly 41,000 students.

UNT Online has accelerated online degree programs with completion periods as short as 12 to 18 months. Even Tier One quality research-based degrees have eight-week formats, and students can take more than one class at a time. Some of the online degree programs are in the fields of learning technologies, information sciences, and rehabilitation studies.

Potential UNT students must supply official high school transcripts showing GPA score and class rank, as well as SAT/ACT scores.

LeTourneau University true View School Profile Longview, TX 59% 45% 59% LeTourneau University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

In 1946, R.G. LeTourneau and his wife converted an abandoned Army hospital into a World War II veteran school. Today, LETU has over 3,000 students enrolled.

LETU's online degree programs are integral to its entire academic system. Along with easy access to the library and other educational resources, students may choose from a large selection of online undergraduate and graduate degrees such as marketing cybersecurity, and a master's in clinical mental health counseling.

Applicants must submit official transcripts from high school or any higher learning institute attended.

Sam Houston State University View School Profile $$ Huntsville, TX 52% 48% 53% Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1879, SHSU bears the namesake of the famous Texas war hero and politician Sam Houston. The total student enrollment is over 21,700.

Including 20 certificate programs, SHSU Online offers 18 undergraduate and 30 graduate degrees. SHSU is one of Texas's best online colleges because it provides a faculty of on-campus professors teaching courses that carry the same credit value as face-to-face courses. This program uses the Blackboard online learning platform with an asynchronous class structure.

Admissions requirements consist of a completed online application and official high school transcripts. ACT/SAT scores are optional.

The University of Texas at El Paso View School Profile $ El Paso, TX 39% 41% 39% The University of Texas at El Paso is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UTEP opened its doors in 1914 as the State School of Mines and Metallurgy. Nearly 25,000 students attend on-campus and online.

UTEP Connect has an extensive offering of bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs. Some of the bachelor's degrees are in media advertising, criminal justice, and nursing RN to BSN. First-time online students get personalized help through every phase of onboarding with the program.

Prospective students must complete an online application on ApplyTexas.org, request a transfer of official transcripts to UTEP, and arrange to take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment Test (TSI) if needed.

Texas A & M University-Commerce View School Profile $$ Commerce, TX 40% 51% 63% Texas A&M University-Commerce is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established in 1889, TAMUC is the second-largest university in the Texas A&M University System. It has a student body of about 10,000.

TAMUC's online degree program offers close to 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees 100% online. It also has 15 hybrids (50% or more online) degree plans. The program's ability to include students just starting or wanting to finish a degree online makes TAMUC one of the best online colleges in Texas.

After completing an application on ApplyTexas.org, applicants must submit transcripts from all schools attended. ACT/SAT scores are optional requirements.

West Texas A & M University View School Profile $$ Canyon, TX 44% 47% 58% West Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

In 1909, the Texas State Legislature established WTAMU as a secondary school for teachers' education in the area. Today, this university has more than 10,000 students.

The online degree program at WTAMU provides online and hybrid/blended degree programs from undergraduate to doctorate levels. Degree plans include a bachelor's in finance, a master's in business, and a doctorate in educational leadership. WTAMU prepares students to meet Texas certification and licensure requirements.

First-year applicants must provide a completed WTAMU application, official high school transcripts, and SAT/ACT scores. Transfer students must submit college transcripts.

Stephen F Austin State University View School Profile $$ Nacogdoches, TX 48% 57% 40% Stephen F. Austin State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

When the state legislature chartered SFA in 1923, it named the school after Stephen F. Austin, one of Texas's most prominent people. Close to 13,000 students now attend SFA.

SFA Online is one of the best online colleges in Texas because of its accessibility and flexibility. Plus, students can choose a minor in specific fields of interest such as business communication, health science, and public administration.

Aspiring students must fill out the AppyTexas.org application and supply an official transcript from an accredited high school along with ACT/SAT scores.

Online Colleges in Texas Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online schools in Texas based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.

Our Methodology

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.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

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.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Employment in Texas

While out-of-state learners may choose online colleges in Texas, many online students also to live in the state or plan to after graduation. Texas is the 10th largest economy in the world, providing excellent opportunities for professionals holding degrees. Texas is also home to nearly 50 Fortune 500 organizations.

Students seeking steady careers should examine the leading industries in Texas, which include advanced manufacturing, aerospace, aviation and defense, biotechnology and life sciences, energy, and information technology. Each industry offers opportunities for varying levels of education, and students can advance as they earn advanced degrees.

Quality of life is another factor. On a 100 point scale, Texas offers a 93.9 cost of living index. Students may want to examine the average earning potential in their desired roles to determine what sort of lifestyle they could afford after earning their degrees.

Highest Paying Careers Texas
Career Salary Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)
Chief Executives $231,310 -3.9%
Surgeons $237,240 14.4%
Obstetricians and Gynecologists $177,970 15.2%
Dentists $183,510 19.4%
Family Medicine Physicians $222,900 14.3%
Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral
Fastest Growing Careers Texas
Career Salary Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)
Wind Turbine Service Technicians $53,180 94.8%
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists $65,640 29.4%
Genetic Counselors $86,070 29.0%
Physician Assistants $109,270 37.4%
Nurse Practitioners $115,440 36.1%
Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral

Associate and Graduate Degrees

Students considering an online degree in Texas have access to multiple programs that prepare graduates to excel in competitive markets. Distance learners with no prior college experience may want to begin by earning an associate degree, which are typically offered by community colleges or technical schools.

Both online associate degrees and master's degrees may differ from traditional, on-campus programs.

An associate degree typically requires 60 credits and two years of study, though schools may also offer accelerated options. Online associate degrees may qualify graduates for degree-completion programs, which lead to a bachelor's degree. Common majors reflect thriving industries in the state, including mechanical drafting or mechanical engineering technology.

Online colleges in Texas also offer opportunities for working professionals who wish to advance their careers or transition to another field. Graduate programs require 30-60 credits and students can typically earn their degrees in 12-24 months, depending on the program.

Both online associate degrees and master's degrees may differ from traditional, on-campus programs. Online courses often utilize an asynchronous learning format, which relies on students managing their own schedules and doing independent work outside of group projects and forum discussions. Additionally, students may need to acquire their own field placements for practicum requirements, though schools often assist in this process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Online College Cheaper in Texas?

While some schools offer lower rates for distance programs, the cost of online degrees in Texas varies by institution and can be different depending on prior completed coursework. Attending a Texas college online can mean savings on commuting costs or on-campus living expenses.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree in Texas?

Distance learners can access traditional semester-based programs, which often require four years for a bachelor's program. However, accelerated options allow students to graduate sooner.

What Is the Most Popular Degree in Texas?

The most popular majors at public institutions in Texas include business, health professions, interdisciplinary studies, engineering, and biological or biomedical sciences.

Does an Online Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree?

Online programs offer the same educational quality as in-person courses. In fact, many online courses are taught by the same professors as in-person classes, and colleges and universities don't typically mark whether a degree was earned online on the final diploma.

Is Texas a Good State For Higher Education?

Online schools in Texas offer quality programs that allow students to acquire pertinent knowledge and skills needed to excel in their respective fields.

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