The Most Affordable Bachelor’s Degrees Online

cheapest online college

A bachelor’s degree helps you develop in-depth knowledge and skills that many employers look for when hiring workers in today’s job market. You can give yourself a competitive edge when applying for jobs and qualify for a wider range of positions with a bachelor’s-level education. Moreover, the number of jobs available to bachelor’s degree holders continues to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% growth in available jobs for professionals with a bachelor’s education by 2026.

A bachelor’s degree may also increase your earning potential. According to BLS, bachelor’s degree holders earn $415 and $361 more per week than workers with no college degree or those with an associate degree, respectively. 

Many colleges and universities offer low-cost bachelor’s degrees online for remote students. These programs serve both full- and part-time students who wish to pursue their college education while maintaining a flexible schedule. Additionally, online degree seekers often save time and money by avoiding costly commutes to and from campus. While online learning might feel nontraditional compared to on-campus coursework, remote students receive the same quality of education and credentials as in-person learners.

Are you undecided as to what major to pursue? Check out our article 5 of the Easiest Online Bachelor’s Degrees.

Featured Programs

Methodology

To develop this ranking of the most affordable online bachelor’s degrees, our editors began with an initial pool of 80 of the cheapest online schools offering four-year degrees. Each of these schools reported tuition costs of less than $350 per credit hour. We then collected information on the school and their bachelor’s degree offerings from credible sources like the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. News & World Report, and PayScale. Finally, we applied the rating and ranking methodology below. When possible, we used the tuition-per-credit hour to break any ties.

Tuition Per Credit Hour

  • Less Than $150- 5 points
  • Less Than $200- 4 points
  • Less Than $250- 3 points
  • Less Than $300- 2 points
  • Less Than $350- 1 point

PayScale’s Return on Investment (ROI) Ranking

  • Top 200- 6 points
  • Top 400- 5 points
  • Top 600- 4 points
  • Top 800- 3 points
  • Top 1000-2 points
  • Top 2000- 1 point

National Ranking (U.S. News & World Report)

  • Top 10- 5 points
  • Top 50- 4 points
  • Top 100- 3 points
  • Top 200- 2 points
  • Top 350- 1 point

Number of Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs (Includes BA and BS options)

  • Over 25- 5 points
  • Over 20- 4 points
  • Over 15- 3 points
  • Over 10-2 points
  • Over 5- 1 point

The Top Schools With Low-Cost Online Bachelor’s Degrees

#1 — Florida International University

Miami, Florida

  • Tuition: $7,185/academic year
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

FIU is a public institution with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school offers approximately 50 low-cost bachelor’s degrees online. Learners can also take advantage of its online career coaching program, Career Engage.

Remote students can pursue an online BA in international relations. Major courses for this degree include foreign policy and security studies, international political economy, and theories of international relations. The BS in biological sciences is also a standout program at FIU. Learners develop the essential critical thinking and laboratory skills in courses such as general chemistry lab, cellular chemistry, and statistics for behavioral and social sciences.

#2 — Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon

  • Tuition: $331-386/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

Oregon State is a public institution with approximately 35 online low-cost bachelor’s degrees. The school holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Oregon State’s standout degree offerings focus on marine sciences, sustainable food systems, and forestry.

Remote students choose from undergraduate programs such as a BS in crop and soil science. This 180-credit degree features courses such as crop production, weed management, plant ecology, and seed production. The BS in sustainability, which students may combine with another degree to form a double major, is also a notable program at Oregon State. Classes for this degree include environmental ecology, human impacts on ecosystems, and natural resource economics.

#3 — University of Alaska-Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska

  • Tuition: $234-289/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

UAF is a public school with approximately 8,400 students. The institution holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and offers more than 25 low-cost bachelor’s degrees online. The school is known for its academic programs in business administration, engineering, homeland security, and biological sciences.

Remote bachelor’s degree seekers can take advantage of its fully remote bachelor’s degree in business administration. Learners can choose from concentrations in areas such as economics, sport management, and marketing. Required courses for all BBA students include international business, management information systems, and business ethics. UAF also offers a BA and BS in biological studies. Both biological studies degrees require 120 credits and a final capstone project for graduation.

#4 — Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana

  • Tuition: $235/credit in-state, $341/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Established in 1820, IU is a public research institution with approximately 44,000 students. IU offers online low-cost bachelor’s degrees in areas including labor studies, public affairs, informatics, and public health.

IU is known for its business programs in the Kelley School of Business. Online learners can earn a BS in business administration at IU. This 120-credit program requires classes such as business communications, international business, and financial accounting. The BA in sustainability studies is also a standout program at IU. Learners complete this 120-credit program entirely online. Required courses include methods and techniques for sustainability and the business and economics of sustainability.

#5 — Fort Hays State University

Hays, Kansas

  • Tuition: $227/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

FHSU serves approximately 16,000 students and is the fourth-largest state university in Kansas. The public school boasts regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). FHSU prides itself on offering more than 60 affordable bachelor’s programs online.

FHSU’s standout low-cost bachelor’s programs include its BS in agricultural business and BA/BS in criminal justice. The 120-credit agricultural business bachelor’s degree requires learners to complete classes such as animal science, marketing farm products, and technology in agriculture. Criminal justice degree-seekers also need 120 credits and complete major classes including criminology, administration of justice systems, and criminal justice research.

#6 — Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas

  • Tuition: $244/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

SHSU is a public university with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school offers more than 15 online low-cost bachelor’s degrees in areas including sociology, psychology, nursing, history, and political science. Both its homeland security and criminal justice programs received accolades from Intelligent.com in 2020.

The 120-credit BS in homeland security studies requires learners to take classes such as police systems and practices, criminal investigation, and introduction to economics. Incoming homeland security studies online students receive a $1,000 scholarship. Criminal justice students must complete an internship and 120 credits. Required classes include cyber crime, forensic science, victimology, and child abuse and neglect.

#7 — Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas

  • Tuition: $284-$301/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Texas Tech is a public research institution that serves approximately 40,400 students. It boasts regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and ranks as the seventh-largest higher education institution in Texas. Texas Tech offers more than 15 low-cost bachelor’s degrees online.

Standout bachelor’s degrees at Texas Tech include its BS in wind energy and BS in plant and soil science. Learners pursuing a wind energy degree need to complete major courses such as analytical methods in wind energy and principles of wind power conversion. Plant and soil science degree seekers take classes such as principles of weed science, plant pathology, and crop physiology. Both of these programs require 120 semester credits for graduation.

Featured Programs

#8 — Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

  • Tuition: $240-$243/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

OU is a public university with regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Remote students enjoy remote access to 12 online bachelor’s programs, including degrees in communications, criminal justice, hospitality management, and psychology.

The BFA in interior architecture requires 127 credits for graduation. Required classes include aesthetics of architecture and design, construction documents, and professional practices in interior design. OU also offers a 120-credit RN-to-BSN program. Learners need to complete classes such as family nursing, health assessment and promotion, and community health nursing for graduation. Online learners who wish to obtain financial assistance through OU can apply for remote work study positions.

#9 — Lamar University

Beaumont, Texas

  • Tuition: $260/credit in-state, $667/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

LU is a public university with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1923, the school now offers 15 low-cost online bachelor’s degrees. Remote learners can choose from degrees in areas such as computer science, criminal justice, electrical engineering, and general business.

LU offers remote students a BS in communication with a concentration in communication studies. This 120-credit remote program requires classes such as public speaking, communication law, political communication, and studies in media. Available online programs also include the RN-to-BSN. Online nursing bachelor’s students complete core classes such as principles of pharmacology and leadership and management in nursing practice. LU provides incoming students with a variety of financial aid options, including a federal and state work study program.

#10 — University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

  • Tuition: $255/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Established in 1871, U of A is a public institution with 12 online low-cost bachelor’s degrees. Its 120-credit BA in interdisciplinary studies best serves learners who wish to design their own degree. Students in this program work with an academic advisor to combine classes from three separate minor concentrations to build a curriculum, including areas such as event management, journalism, and political science.

U of A offers a remote BS in business administration in management. These students complete courses such as principles of macroeconomics, public speaking, and business application knowledge. Remote students at U of A enjoy free access to online academic coaches, tutoring, and career development resources.

#11 — University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

North Dartmouth, Massachusetts

  • Tuition: $996/three-credit course
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Established in 1895, UMass Dartmouth provides remote students with more than 20 online low-cost bachelor’s degree options. Degree-seekers choose from popular programs such as marketing, political science, public administration, and sociology. UMass Dartmouth’s 31-credit RN-to-BSN prepares learners for specialized caretaking and management roles. Required courses for the RN-to-BSN include holistic health assessment, population health nursing, and healthcare informatics.

Remote students can also earn a BA in English with a concentration in literature and criticism. This 120-credit program requires classes such as introduction to critical theory, American women playwrights, and British literature. Distance students can take advantage of UMass Dartmouth’s federal work study program and its Corsair Jobs search engine to locate off-campus approved employment.

#12 — University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Tuition: $740/credit in-state, $1,235/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

UWM is a public institution with regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded in 1956, the school today delivers more than 10 low-cost bachelor’s degrees online. Degree-seekers can choose from programs in areas including history, Jewish studies, psychology, sociology, and political science.

UWM’s BS in applied computing requires courses such as database management, system analysis and design, and object-oriented programming. UWM also offers a BS in community engagement and education for students interested in developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills for work in nonprofits, government agencies, and schools. Courses for this major include cultural factors of education, research techniques for community organizers, and foundations of community-based organizations.

#13 — Troy University

Troy, Alabama

  • Tuition: $7,800/academic year in-state, $15,600/academic year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Established in 1887, Troy is a public Institution with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on colleges. Remote degree seekers can take advantage of approximately 40 low-cost bachelor’s programs online at Troy. The university offers undergraduate majors in areas including occupational education, management, history, and cybersecurity.

Remote students in its social work program complete required courses such as ethics, professional communication skills, and a 400-hour practicum. Learners can also earn a bachelor’s in computer science online at Troy. Required courses for this major include operating systems, analysis of algorithms, and data structures.

#14 — Weber State University

Ogden, Utah

  • Tuition: $278/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

WSU is a public institution with more than 10 low-cost bachelor’s programs online. Remote learners today choose from programs such as nursing, English, health services administration, and health information management. Online students at WSU also receive access to online career coaching, tutoring, and writing labs.

Degree-seekers can earn a BS in emergency health science. Required courses for this 128-131-credit bachelor’s degree include human resource development, epidemiology, and introduction to pharmacology. WSU online students can also complete a bachelor of integrated studies online. Learners in this flexible program design their own path of study by choosing coursework from three concentration areas.

#15 — Columbia College

Columbia, Missouri

  • Tuition: $375/credit
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Established in 1851, CC it’s a private institution with approximately 10,000 students. Online students can choose from 10 low-cost bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, the school offers several scholarship opportunities for online students and veterans. CC provides fully online degrees in areas including accounting, business, computer science, and the humanities.

Distance students at CC can earn an RN-to-BSN. This 120-credit program requires students to complete courses such as biomedical ethics, pharmacology, and community health nursing. CC also offers a BA in communication studies. Major course requirements for this degree include social media and virtual communities, performance studies, and media criticism.


The Future of Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Despite the rise in admissions rates for two-year technical schools and community colleges, students are still flocking to four-year colleges and universities for quality education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program is still the most popular way students gain a postsecondary education. By 2029, an estimated 11.1 million students will be studying at a four-year bachelor’s degree-granting institution.

For many of these students, online learning will constitute some or all of their educational experiences in college. In fact, the NCES reports that nearly 36% of undergraduate students participated in some form of distance learning in 2019 while 15% were enrolled in fully online programs.

To keep up with this trend in online education, more and more colleges and universities across the nation are investing in their distance learning programs. In particular, these schools are offering more of their courses and programs online and creating new bachelor’s degrees exclusively for their online students.

The Admissions Process

To get the most precise information available about a particular college or university and their online bachelor’s degree programs, you’ll need to speak to an admissions officer. However, most schools have similar (if not exact) criteria for online admissions as they do for their traditional on-campus students.

You’ll be required to fill out an application and pay an application fee. In addition, you’ll be asked to submit your academic transcript from high school. If you’ve taken college classes at any other college or university, you’ll need to send in your grades from those courses as well. This allows the school to evaluate what kind of student you are and predict how successful you’ll be if and when you’re admitted. Some colleges and universities will mandate specific GPA requirements, and some are more competitive than others, so be prepared for this.

In addition to an academic transcript, most schools require college entrance exam scores (i.e., SAT or ACT), though there is evidence that this requirement may be on its way out. Other admissions requirements for online bachelor’s degree programs could include personal statements, writing samples, letters of recommendation, and even interviews.

Types of Bachelor’s Degree Online Programs

When considering online undergraduate education, you’ll want to take a close look at all of your options.

Hybrid Bachelor’s Degree Options

Some undergraduate degree programs combine distance education with traditional on-campus instruction. For many students, these hybrid offerings provide the best of both worlds in terms of convenience and overall experience. If your schedule allows it, you may want to consider the advantages of attending class in person for part of the time. For instance, you’ll get more face time with your professor, and you may find that a classroom setting is more conducive to focused learning.

Asynchronous Online Bachelor’s Programs

Asynchronous online bachelor’s degrees are the most flexible in that they allow students to work at their own pace and on their own schedule completely online. These programs don’t require specific log-in times, for instance, and provide students with access to course materials (including pre-recorded lectures) at any time of day.

Synchronous Online Bachelor’s Degrees

In comparison with asynchronous bachelor’s degree online programs, students enrolled in synchronous programs are required to attend virtual class meetings at pre-determined times of the day and week. It’s a lot like having a traditional class schedule except that you can show up to class by simply turning on your computer rather than making a commute. Technology like streaming video and web conferencing makes these types of online degree programs more interactive than their asynchronous counterparts, but you’ll have to keep a regular schedule in order to enjoy this benefit.

Online Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs

Online degree completion programs are abbreviated offerings that enable students who have already taken some college courses toward a bachelor’s degree to complete the requirements for this degree online. These programs allow students to transfer in the credits they’ve already earned so that they don’t have to start over on their bachelor’s degree. The exact number and type of credits a degree completion program will accept will depend on the school.

Accelerated Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Traditionally, bachelor’s degree programs were designed to be completed within four years of full-time study. With online learning, however, it’s possible to shorten this completion time by enabling students to take more classes per term. This is how accelerated online bachelor’s degree programs work. Students enrolled in such programs can cut down on the time it takes to earn their credentials and get on with their careers or postgraduate study. Keep in mind, though, that these accelerated bachelor’s degree online options aren’t actually shorter (at least not in terms of curriculum requirements); they just require that you do more work in less time.

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