Students will find a wide variety of schools among cheap online colleges and universities. Some have been around for a while and offer a wide range of programs, while others are only beginning.
There are three things these best accredited online colleges colleges online have in common: incredibly low tuition, offering online programs, and regional accreditation. Some of the schools are established in online education, while others are just beginning to offer online degree programs.
Methodology for Ranking of the Top 15 Best Cheap Online Colleges
This list provides the name and brief description of each of our featured cheap accredited online colleges, along with the average undergraduate tuition and the number of online degree programs currently offered. The ranking methodology for our top online universities is simple: The schools are ranked according to the cost of their average undergraduate tuition. All other information, such as the number of programs, is provide relevant information to the reader. The goal of this list is to provide information about top online colleges whose tuition is significantly below the average cost of obtaining a college degree.
When schools offered different tuition to state residents, and non-residents, the non-resident tuition was used. The tuition numbers were sourced from National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator Database. Actual tuition may vary slightly, as some schools bill less for online programs than traditional programs, though they rarely bill more. The numbers provided are reflective of tuition only, and do not include the costs of housing, fees, or books.
#15. Mayville State University
Mayville State University offers seven different undergraduate programs online. Courses can be taken on a full or part-time basis according to the students needs. The online offerings focus on teaching and professional programs including business and nursing.
Number of Programs: 7 Undergraduate
#14. Palm Beach State College
This top online college is one of many smaller state schools dipping their toes into the cheap online college degree market. Online education has become more established as major universities start to develop best practices. This allows smaller universities not able to bear the expense of such trial and error to begin adopting those practices and slowly developing their own online programs.
Number of Online College Programs: 3 Undergraduate
#13. Thomas Edison State College
TESC is one of the most established public online university initiatives. Offering a massive selection of bachelor’s degrees, TESC seeks to fully harness online education for students seeking to complete a degree at a cheap accredited online college. TESC allows an unlimited number of transfer credits, and allows students to CLEP classes and receive full credit for those classes from the school.
Number of Online College Degree Programs: 27 Undergraduate, 8 Graduate
#12. Southern University and A&M College
This top online university prides itself at being on the forefront of modern education. In recent years, this has meant beginning to offer online programs. While there are not many offered currently, the pace at which schools are adding online programs continues to increase, meaning that within a few years there will more selection.
Number of Programs: 5 Undergraduate, 2 Graduate
#11. Baker College
This top online college has many campuses around the Midwest, the majority of which are located in Michigan. The school offers a cumulative 19 undergraduate programs. While different programs might be offered from different online campuses, they are all 100% online and the cost does not vary from campus to campus.
Number of Programs: 19 Undergraduate
#10. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University–Worldwide
Embry-Riddle is a unique school for students with unique interests. The primary focus of the school is on aeronautical studies like aviation, avionics, and aviation maintenance. The school also offers programs in Fire Science and Transportation. At the graduate level the school offers a more diverse range of studies, from Management to Systems Engineering and Space Education.
Number of Online Degree Programs: 7 Undergraduate, 9 Graduate
#9. West Texas A&M University
Like most schools breaking into online education, this top online university currently offers undergraduate degrees with professional applications such as nursing, business, and criminal justice. The most unique program offered by the school is in Emergency Management Administration.
Number of Programs: 6 Undergraduate, 6 Graduate
#8. Columbia College
Columbia College has embraced online education in a major way with 14 undergraduate programs online. The focus of the school’s online initiative is adults that cannot afford the time to attend a traditional institution because of obligations to work, family, or service in the military.
Online College Degree Programs: 14 Undergraduate, 5 Graduate
#7. Granite State College
Among top online colleges, Granite State offers a wide range of undergraduate programs, which are the focus of their online education efforts. Most colleges focus their efforts on offering popular graduate programs, but GSC went the other way, with numerous undergraduate programs, and only two at the graduate level. This focus means that offering quality undergraduate programs is the school’s primary distance education goal.
Number of Programs: 22 Undergraduate, 2 Graduate
#6. Bellevue University
It is difficult to compete with Bellevue on many levels. The school offers an incredible selection of programs, and has been ranked by U.S. News in the top 20 for online undergraduate programs since the publication started ranking online programs. Combine this with the incredible tuition, and Bellevue is a quality choice for one’s online education needs.
Online College Degree Programs: 47 Undergraduate, 25 Graduate
#5. Peru State College
Peru doesn’t offer a wide variety of programs, indeed five of its seven undergraduate programs are in business. However the school is starting small, with a focus on developing quality programs. In addition to its business programs, the school offers undergraduate degrees in both psychology and criminal justice.
Number of Programs: 7 Undergraduate, 2 Graduate
#4. Minot State University
With ten quality undergraduate programs on offer, and a great price, Minot State University is a strong choice for any student looking to earn their bachelor’s online. Some of the programs on offer require attendance during a specific time of day (but can be attended from anywhere with an internet connection). A couple of the graduate level programs require a summer residency.
Number of Programs: 9 Undergraduate, 3 Graduate
#3. Western Governors University
19 U.S. Governors that had a vision for the future of education conceived Western Governors University as an idea in 1995. This top online university was chartered in 1996, and began accepting students in 1999. Since then the school has become one of the most affordable and comprehensive online universities in the world.
Number of Programs: 23 Bachelor, 25+ Graduate
#2. Chadron State College
This top online university offers seven unique accredited online college programs, but its business program boasts the opportunity for students to specialize with nine different concentrations. The more general majors requiring internships are strong programs, and any internships necessary can be completed through an arrangement between the university and an organization local to the student.
Number of Programs: 8 Undergraduate, 6 Graduate
#1. Southern University at New Orleans
This top online college boasts the cheapest accredited online programs currently available. However, only one undergraduate and one graduate program are currently available. The school’s incredibly low tuition, combined with the fact that it is rare for schools to do anything but add online programs over time, mean that this is a great school to watch, even if you aren’t interested in the school’s current offering. Currently, they offer a basic Bachelor of General Studies completion program.
Number of Programs: 1 Undergraduate, 1 Graduate
This concludes our ranking of top affordable online colleges. As you can see, the best accredited online colleges are within reach of many, and offer a variety of cheap online college degrees while simultaneously delivering a high level of quality. Top online colleges come in many forms; we encourage you to explore your options!