Popularity is an important indicator of quality for many degree-seekers. Universities with the highest enrollment numbers often offer higher quality programs than other schools, as indicated by how many students they attract.

Online programs typically mirror the curricula and content of their on-campus counterparts while offering greater flexibility and affordability. The flexibility of online learning allows students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, online learners often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs. Many schools also extend tuition discounts to online students.

To help students find the right fit for their needs, this guide ranks the most popular online colleges in the U.S., including some of the largest online universities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Degree Program?

Online bachelor's degrees typically comprise 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines. Part-time students will take longer to complete a program.

h3>What Can I Do With an Online Degree?

Online degrees grant the same professional benefits as on-campus degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates with a bachelor's degree earn median weekly wages that are nearly $400 higher than workers with only an associate degree. Additionally, bachelor's degree graduates experience lower average unemployment rates than associate degree holders.

How Is Online College Different From On-Campus College?

Most online programs offer the same curricula and content as on-campus programs while offering greater flexibility, affordability, and accessibility. Online students can balance their studies with personal and professional obligations more easily.

Are Online Courses Harder?

Even though online courses typically offer the same content as on-campus courses, they also require a higher degree of self-discipline and self-motivation to complete, which may make them more challenging for some students.

Are Online Degrees Recognized?

Online degrees from accredited schools typically hold the same recognition as those from on-campus schools.

Featured Online Colleges

The Most Popular Online Colleges

#1 Most Popular Online Colleges

University of Phoenix

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Phoenix is a popular choice among those seeking a degree online. Remote programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels are available at this private institution. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

The school's main campus in Arizona hosts academic and career services offices that are available to online learners. Academic advisors and virtual job fairs help set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Graduates are awarded a fully accredited degree upon completing their program.

Representatives at the school can provide additional information about application and program specifics.

University of Phoenix at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 94,128

Online Bachelor's Programs: 38

Online Master's Programs: 26

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 99%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,552
Out-of-state
$9,552
Retention Rate
38%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
94,724
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Most Popular Online Colleges

American Public University

  • Charles Town, WV
  • 4 years
  • Online

American Public University has online programming that ranks favorably among similar opportunities. Students who enroll at the private institution can choose from 165 online offerings at undergraduate and graduate levels. Distance learners often choose this school because it has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for its academic strength.

The academic and career advisors located at the Charles Town, West Virginia, campus are also available to assist online learners. Academic advisors help degree-seekers complete their programs, while virtual job fairs and career planning events prepare them for success after graduation. Internship programs give students the opportunity to develop tangible, real-world skills in their area of interest. Programs grant graduates an accredited degree upon completion.

Reach out to the school with any questions about what programs are available online and how to apply to them.

American Public University at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 46

Online Master's Programs: 32

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,804
Out-of-state
$6,804
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
45,249
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Most Popular Online Colleges

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty University provides one of the best online college experiences available. The private institution's 161 online degree options include offerings at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. These remote programs benefit students with the school's reputation for strong academics and track record in online course offerings.

From its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus, the school supports online learners with academic and career services. Programs like academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for their academic and professional futures. Many degree programs include an internship, helping students gain experience in their field. The degrees that graduates are awarded reflect the school's full accreditation.

Potential applicants can get in touch with the school for additional details about program availability and the application process.

Liberty University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 78,511

Online Bachelor's Programs: 30

Online Master's Programs: 67

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 70%

Admission Rate: 51%

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Most Popular Online Colleges

DeVry University

  • Naperville, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

DeVry University ranks among the best online colleges. The school has a strong reputation for high-quality academics and substantial experience in online education.

Online learners not located near the Naperville, Illinois, campus can still take advantage of academic and career advising services. Opportunities such as virtual job fairs help degree-seekers achieve their professional goals. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Graduates receive an accredited degree upon completion of their program.

For more information on how to apply and what programs are available online, contact 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
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
No

#5 Most Popular Online Colleges

University of Massachusetts

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The University of Massachusetts's online degree offerings rank highly among similar programs. Distance learners often choose this school because it has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for academic strength.

Online learners can also receive assistance from career and academic service associates located at the school's physical campus in Boston, Massachusetts. Career-planning events like virtual job fairs are available to degree-seekers who connect with these advisors. Hands-on experience through the school's internship programs also benefits many students. Graduates are awarded a fully accredited degree upon completing their program.

Reach out to the school with any questions about what programs are available online and how to apply to them.

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

#6 Most Popular Online Colleges

Walden University

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online

A quality online college education is available at Walden University. Remote students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have 129 options through this private institution. The school has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for strong academics, making it a popular choice for distance learners.

From its Minneapolis, Minnesota, campus, the school supports online learners with academic and career services. Advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. Internship programs give students the opportunity to develop tangible, real-world skills in their area of interest. The degree that graduates are awarded reflects the school's full accreditation.

Contact the school directly to receive more information about online program opportunities and application procedures.

Walden University at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 21

Online Master's Programs: 39

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,428
Out-of-state
$10,428
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
48,420
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Most Popular Online Colleges

University of Arizona Global Campus

  • Chandler, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Online degree-seekers should consider the University of Arizona Global Campus. The private institution makes 93 of its degrees available online, with offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Distance learners often choose to study at this school because of its experience with online education and reputation for academic quality.

All learners, including those studying online, can take advantage of the academic and career services from professionals hosted at the school's Chandler, California, campus. Academic advising, virtual job fairs, and other career preparation services set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Hands-on learning through internship programs help many students prepare for work in their field. The degree that graduates receive is fully accredited.

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

University of Arizona Global Campus at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 58

Online Master's Programs: 26

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 99%

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,640
Out-of-state
$11,640
Retention Rate
24%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
32,620
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#8 Most Popular Online Colleges

Western Governors University

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online

Western Governors University is one of the best options available to online degree-seekers. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available through this private institution, which hosts a total of 65 online degree programs. Distance learners often choose to study at this school because of its experience with online education and reputation for academic quality.

Online learners are able to work with academic and career services professionals located at the Salt Lake City, Utah, campus. 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. The internship program that the school offers helps many students prepare for their future careers. Graduates receive an accredited degree upon completion of their program.

Potential applicants can get in touch with the school for additional details about program availability and the application process.

Western Governors University at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 30

Online Master's Programs: 29

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,380
Out-of-state
$6,380
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
136,139
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#9 Most Popular Online Colleges

University of Maryland, Baltimore

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Maryland, Baltimore provides one of the best online college experiences available. The public institution offers 18 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

Career and academic service associates assist online learners. These advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. Internship programs give students the opportunity to develop tangible, real-world skills in their area of interest. Completing all requirements results in graduates receiving an accredited degree.

Ask the school directly for more information about online degree options and how to apply.

University of Maryland, Baltimore at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,605

Online Master's Programs: 7

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 23%

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,260
Out-of-state
$38,060
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,827
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#10 Most Popular Online Colleges

Purdue University Global

  • West Lafayette, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online

Purdue University Global is one of the best options available to online degree-seekers. Those who enroll at the public institution remotely have 105 online degree opportunities and choose between programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school's substantial track record in online education and good academic reputation attract many distance learners.

Online learners not located near the West Lafayette, Indiana, campus can still take advantage of academic and career advising services. Career-planning events like virtual job fairs are available to degree-seekers who connect with advisors. Many students also prepare for future careers by gaining hands-on experience through internships. Graduates receive an accredited degree upon completion of their program.

Contact the school directly to receive more information about online program opportunities and application procedures.

Purdue University Global at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 37,913

Online Bachelor's Programs: 32

Online Master's Programs: 29

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,920
Out-of-state
$13,356
Retention Rate
100%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
38,138
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 Most Popular Online Colleges

Capella University

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online

Capella University offers online programming that ranks highly among schools. The private institution offers 209 online programs at 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 hosts academic and career service specialists at its Minneapolis, Minnesota, campus, which online learners can also take advantage of. Career-planning events like virtual job fairs are available to degree-seekers who connect with these advisors. The internship programs that the school offers help many students prepare for their future careers. A degree with full accreditation is awarded to all enrollees upon completing their program.

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

Capella University at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 25

Online Master's Programs: 76

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,148
Out-of-state
$14,148
Retention Rate
40%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
37,859
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#12 Most Popular Online Colleges

Strayer University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online

Strayer University has online programming that ranks favorably among similar opportunities. The school, a private institution, hosts degrees for remote learners at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for strong academics, making it a popular choice for distance learners.

Career and academic service associates located at the District of Columbia campus also assist online learners. Career services such as academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers achieve their professional goals. The school's internship programs give students a chance to gain hands-on field experience. Graduates of the program obtain a bachelor's degree with full accreditation.

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

Strayer University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 11,560

Online Bachelor's Programs: 8

Online Master's Programs: 9

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,320
Out-of-state
$13,320
Retention Rate
38%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
11,608
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#13 Most Popular Online Colleges

Columbia Southern University

  • Orange Beach, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online

Columbia Southern University is a fantastic choice for online learners. The private institution makes 49 of its degrees available online, with offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school has a track record in academic success through online coursework.

The school hosts academic and career service specialists at its Orange Beach, Alabama, campus, which online learners can also take advantage of. Programs like academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for their academic and professional futures. Many degree programs include an internship, helping students gain experience in their field. The programs grant graduates an accredited degree upon completion.

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

Columbia Southern University at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 15

Online Master's Programs: 7

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,520
Out-of-state
$5,520
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
20,034
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Distance Education Accrediting Commission

#14 Most Popular Online Colleges

Grand Canyon University

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Grand Canyon University provides one of the best online college experiences available. A total of 89 online undergraduate and graduate programs are available through this private institution. The school's proven track record in online education and reputation for quality academics lead many distance learners to apply.

From its Phoenix, Arizona, campus, the school supports online learners with academic and career services. Advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. The internship programs that the school offer helps many students prepare for their future careers. Degrees that graduates receive are fully accredited.

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

Grand Canyon University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 85,068

Online Bachelor's Programs: 38

Online Master's Programs: 39

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 72%

Admission Rate: 77%

Accepts Transfer Credits: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,419
Out-of-state
$16,419
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
96,211
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
88% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#15 Most Popular Online Colleges

Colorado Technical University

  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online

Colorado Technical University provides one of the best online college experiences available. Remote students at the undergraduate and graduate levels have 35 options through this private institution. Distance learners often choose to study at this school because of its experience with online education and reputation for academic quality.

The school offers additional support to online learners through the academic and career services offices at its Colorado Springs campus. Academic advising, virtual job fairs, and other career preparation services set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Hands-on experience through the school's internship programs also benefit many students. The degree that graduates receive upon completing their program is fully accredited.

Representatives at the school can provide additional information about application and program specifics.

Colorado Technical University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 27,043

Online Bachelor's Programs: 14

Online Master's Programs: 13

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,896
Out-of-state
$11,896
Retention Rate
44%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
27,232
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#16 Most Popular Online Colleges

Penn State World Campus

  • University Park, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Penn State World Campus offers a high-quality online college experience. Learners who wish to study remotely at this public school can choose from 207 online programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school attracts many remote learners because of its solid reputation for academics and experience in offering online education.

Online learners benefit from support from academic and career services offices at the school's University Park campus. Online offerings by academic advisors and career-planning events like virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for success. Many students also gain hands-on field experience through the school's internship programs. Graduates receive an accredited degree upon completion.

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

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

#17 Most Popular Online Colleges

American InterContinental University

  • Chandler, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online

American InterContinental University's online degree offerings rank highly among similar programs. Those who choose to enroll at this private college can choose from 13 different programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school has experience facilitating online classes and a reputation for strong academics, attracting many remote students.

Career and academic service associates located at the Chandler, Arizona, campus also assist online learners. Degree-seekers can participate in career-planning events like virtual job fairs by connecting with these academic advisors. The school emphasizes hands-on learning through its internship programs. Graduates of the school's programs obtain a bachelor's degree with full accreditation.

Potential applicants can get in touch with the school for additional details about program availability and the application process.

American InterContinental University at a Glance:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 5

Online Master's Programs: 6

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 100%

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,440
Out-of-state
$11,440
Retention Rate
23%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
9,952
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#18 Most Popular Online Colleges

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Southern New Hampshire University is a fantastic choice for online learners. Those who enroll at this private college can choose from 84 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.

The academic and career advisors located at the Manchester campus are also available to assist online learners. Degree-seekers can get help planning their academic and professional futures with offerings such as academic advising and virtual career fairs. Internship programs are available to students, helping them gain valuable field experience. The degrees that graduates receive upon completing their program are fully accredited.

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

Southern New Hampshire University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 106,762

Online Bachelor's Programs: 35

Online Master's Programs: 22

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 63%

Admission Rate: 88%

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,756
Out-of-state
$30,756
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
113,514
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#19 Most Popular Online Colleges

Nova Southeastern University

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Nova Southeastern University offers online programming that ranks highly among similar programs. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are available through this private institution, which hosts a total of 113 online programs. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

Online learners can benefit from the academic advisors and career services professionals at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, campus. Academic advisors help degree-seekers complete their program, while virtual job fairs and career planning events prepare them for success after graduation. Hands-on experience through the school's internship programs also benefit many students. The degree that graduates receive upon completing their program is fully accredited.

Potential applicants can get in touch with the school for additional details about program availability and the application process.

Nova Southeastern University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,298

Online Bachelor's Programs: 10

Online Master's Programs: 46

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 42%

Admission Rate: 80%

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,150
Out-of-state
$31,150
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
20,576
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#20 Most Popular Online Colleges

South University

  • Savannah, GA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Anyone interested in pursuing a degree online should consider South University. Many distance learners enroll here because the school has a strong academic reputation and experience in online education.

Academic and career service professionals based out of the Savannah, Georgia, campus are available to help online learners. These advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. Internships are available to help students gain hands-on experience. After completing their program, graduates receive an accredited degree.

Further information about the application process and specifics about online programs are available by contacting the school.

South University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 300

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,920
Out-of-state
$16,920
Retention Rate
57%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
888
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

What Is an Online College?

Online colleges offer diploma, certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs for students of all backgrounds and ages. Many of the largest online colleges also provide continuing education and workforce development programs.

The flexibility of online education appeals to students who must balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, online learning allows students to attend the most popular colleges in the country without relocating.

Campus vs. Online Programs

Both on-campus and online programs provide opportunities for students to grow professionally and personally. However, online programs typically offer more flexibility, accessibility, and affordability than on-campus programs.

Earning a bachelor's degree online can also present challenges. For example, degrees with heavy laboratory and practical components may be more difficult to complete online. Additionally, online programs typically offer less structure and engagement than on-campus programs, requiring a greater degree of self-discipline and self-motivation.

Choosing an Online Program

When choosing an online college, learners should consider factors like cost, admission requirements, and delivery format. Students can learn more about how to choose an online degree below.

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