Finding an online college can be a difficult task if you do not know what to look for. Part of the problem facing online degree seekers is the fact that they must sift through the "diploma mills," or schools offering degrees backed by questionable accrediting agencies, to find the legitimate online schools. Evaluating online school affordability should be only one of several categories used to pick the right one. Public perception and student satisfaction are two others. Online Education Database has rated sites according to other factors such as acceptance rate, financial aid, peer web citations and faculty scholarly citations. All of these factors should be considered when evaluating online schools.
1. Nova Southeastern University
As of December, 2009, Online Education Database has rated Nova Southeastern University as the top online college. Although Nova is not an established institution with the same reputation as schools like Penn State University with its online "World Campus," it is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a highly reputable regional accrediting agency. It has also been listed by "Princeton Review" as one of the top-rated distance graduate schools to attend. Among online schools, Nova is certainly not the most affordable, however, at $520 per credit hour.
2. Penn State University's World Campus
As one of the most recognizable and reputable universities in the country, Penn State University, is located on 24 campuses across the state of Pennsylvania. Penn State tied for 47th nationally among American universities for 2009 to 2010, according to U.S. News and World Report. The World Campus offers more than 60 online degrees and makes no distinction between its on-campus and online degrees. As such a respected institution, it makes a great choice for an online degree.
3. University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming makes the cut as one of the top universities online because of its affordability and reputation. While it is certainly not as well-respected as an institution like Penn State, it is definitely a highly recognized and fully-accredited university. It was ranked as a "best buy" by geteducated.com because of its reputation and affordability. Because it charges the same tuition for both resident and non-resident students, Wyoming is an affordable option for just about anyone.
4. Regent University
Those looking for ties to a Christian institution may wish to consider Regent University, which rated second only to Nova Southeastern University among online schools according to Online Database as of December, 2009. Founded only as recently as 1978, Regent has grown in stature among American colleges and universities since that time. With its main campus located in Virginia Beach, VA, students wishing to take a few courses on campus may find this well-known vacation destination as an attractive choice.
5. East Carolina University
Emerging as one of the most recognizable names in online education, East Carolina University (ECU) offers a number of graduate and undergraduate degrees that can be obtained entirely online. Geteducated.com rates East Carolina University as a "best buy" for many of its degree programs. ECU is much more affordable for residents of the state of North Carolina, however, and is a less attractive choice than schools like Wyoming because of the spike in price for students in other states.
6. Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University (OSU), located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, has emerged as a leading institution with its online class offerings. Aside from taking classes online or through its Stillwater campus, OSU students have the option of taking classes through any of the university's satellite campuses. The two larger ones are located in the cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Oklahoma State is a good choice for students wishing to pursue important degrees like a Master's in Business Administration, a degree which OSU offers entirely online or on-campus. The MBA program itself is highly recognized and respected among the nation's programs in the business field.
7. Colorado Sate University-Pueblo
Colorado State University in Pueblo, Colorado offers an affordable liberal arts degree online that, like the University of Wyoming, is affordable for both resident and non-resident students. In the areas of sociology and social science, it was rated a "best buy" by geteducated.com and rated in the top 30 overall. Students attending Colorado State will pay less than half the average cost of degrees from other schools offering online degrees with the same or better or quality.
8. Champlain College
Champlain College, located in Burlington, Vermont, has one of the largest offerings of online graduate and undergraduate degrees. The school was founded in 1878 and has a long tradition and offers classes on four additional international campuses in Montreal, Dublin, and Mumbai. Champlain College was rated third among online colleges by Online Education Database as of December, 2009.
9. Chadron State College
One school offering multiple degrees and rated a best buy by geteducated.com is Chadron State College, located in Chadron, Nebraska. Its online MBA program is rated as one of the top online business programs among schools offering primarily online classes. The cost of an online Master's in Business Administration at Chadron State is comparatively less than many other schools offering the same quality of education.
10. North Carolina State University-Raleigh
As a nationally recognized institution North Carolina State University in Raleigh offers a number of online degrees, the most prominent of which is its graduate degree in the field of engineering. It ranks 17th among engineering schools in the nation in research spending and 14th in industry support. It offers concentrations in the following fields: biological engineering; biomedical engineering; chemical and biomolecular engineering; civil, construction and environmental engineering; computer science; electrical and computer engineering; industrial and systems engineering; materials science and engineering; mechanical and aerospace engineering; paper science and engineering; textile engineering; and nuclear engineering.
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