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.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

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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