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50 Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools 2018


cheap graduate schoolsAfter earning your bachelor’s degree, many students may find the thought of going back to school to earn a master’s degree to be daunting, and maybe even a waste of time and money. However, the master’s degree credential is steadily gaining in popularity for employers when it comes to that next level job you might be looking for. With a master’s degree, individuals are likely to receive greater recognition in their careers as well as an increase in salary and access to advanced positions within their chosen career path. Through earning a master’s degree, individuals become seasoned experts in their fields, which can lead to increased career satisfaction, higher earnings, and job security. While graduate level credentials undoubtably provide individuals a boon to their personal and professional lives, many are not able to attend a traditional, campus-based program due to work and/or family lifestyle restrictions. For this reason, we have compiled this list of affordable online graduate schools where students can further their education without disrupting their already busy lives.

Quick Links to Our Top 10

  1. University of West Georgia
  2. Wayne State College
  3. Georgia Institute of Technology
  4. University of Texas of the Permian Basin
  5. Amberton University
  6. Fort Hays State University
  7. Valdosta State University
  8. Columbia College
  9. Columbus State University
  10. University of the Cumberlands

Online learning options provide a flexible and often cost-effective way to update skills, gain credentials, and even earn a degree on your own time, from anywhere in the world. Our 50 Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools ranking provides a look into the institutions in which students can earn their master’s degree or complete a professional certificate program primarily through online study. Those institutions with the lowest per credit tuition rates have been selected to be featured in the ranking and offer among the most affordable online master’s degrees and professional certificates available. From a pool of over 300 regionally accredited institutions of higher learning known for providing relatively affordable tuition rates the 50 most affordable were chosen. Our hope is that this ranking will prove to be a valuable resource for those working adults and other nontraditional students who for various reasons are unable to attend, or would be significantly strained by the demands of a traditional, residential classroom who yet would benefit in their personal and professional lives from the attainment of an advanced degree or graduate level professional certificate. For prospective students in this stage of life, who do not want to break the bank in the pursuit of further education, this ranking’s focus on affordability should prove to be a most helpful resource. With among the lowest tuition rates available, these affordable graduate programs are fully accredited at the regional level and provide a reputably high quality of education at an affordable cost.

#1. University of West Georgia

The University of West Georgia (UWG) is a public comprehensive university located on a 645 acre rural campus in Carrollton, Georgia. A Charter member of the University System of Georgia (USG), UWG is the sixth largest public institution of higher education in the state and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Established in 1906, the University began as the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School. In 1957 the school became a four-year college and in 1996 gained university status. Today, UWG is classified as a SACS Level VI University (highest possible level of classification) and was named a Doctoral Research University R3 by Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (one of only seven other Georgia institutions of higher learning to qualify for this status). The University has a total enrollment figure of over 13,000, including more than 2,000 graduate students, and offers more than 87 fields of study through its six colleges and one school. UWG’s mission is “to enable students, faculty, and staff to realize their full potential through academic engagement, supportive services, professional development, and a caring, student-centered community.”

The Distance and Distributed Education Center makes higher education a possibility for those who face obstacles to taking undergraduate or graduate courses in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting. UWG seeks to extend the ability to earn credit toward a degree or certification program to those whose life circumstances, such as work, family, or distance, make attending face-to-face traditional classes impractical. Through distance learning, students can attend class whenever and wherever is convenient to them just with the use of an internet connection. A wide variety of graduate degrees are available through UWG which are offered fully online. Master’s and doctoral degrees are available as well as graduate certificate programs in subjects ranging from computer science and business administration to nursing and education.

Tuition: $169 per credit hour.

#2. Wayne State College

Wayne State College (WSC) is a leading comprehensive college in Northeast Nebraska distinguished by providing educational excellence in a small, personalized setting. It’s located on a 128-acre campus and boasts a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Wayne State College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It’s best known for its friendly atmosphere, exceptional academic reputation, success of its graduates and its affordability. WSC began as a college primarily for teacher education but now offers more than 90 undergraduate programs and four graduate programs. Education continues to be the most popular major. Students are provided with valuable opportunities for hands-on teaching experience. Business, criminal justice and pre-professional are other popular programs at WSC. The college has a solid reputation in educating future healthcare professionals as well, thanks to a high placement rate in the allied health fields at University of Nebraska Medical Center, as well as other regional schools. Graduate programs at WSC include business administration, organizational management and two education programs. The College currently enrolls over 3,500 students.

Whether interested in working toward a career-enhancing degree, upgrading job skills, or expanding intellectual horizons, Wayne State Online offers the convenience and flexibility of attending one of the world’s most respected research universities without ever having to leave home. A variety of quality online graduate degree and certificate programs are offered including fully online programs and degree programs with online options. A variety of master’s degrees in education, theater and dance, criminal justice, and library sciences are offered as well as a doctorate in transitional physical therapy are available.

Tuition: $215 per credit hour.

#3. Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, is a top-ranked public college and one of the leading research universities in the USA. Georgia Tech provides a technologically focused education to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students in fields ranging from engineering, computing, and sciences, to business, design, and liberal arts. Founded on Oct. 13, 1885, the Georgia School of Technology opened its doors in October 1888 to 84 students. The School’s creation signaled the beginning of the transformation of the agrarian South to an industrial economy. During its first 50 years, Tech grew from a narrowly focused trade school to a regionally recognized technological university. In 1948, the School’s name was changed to the Georgia Institute of Technology to reflect a growing focus on advanced technological and scientific research. In recent years, Georgia Tech has been a national leader in managing the global transition from an industrial economy to an information economy. Georgia Tech currently enrolls over 29,300 students and is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

From open online courses that are available to anyone, anywhere, at no cost, to online degree programs that are offered at a fraction of the cost of campus programs, Georgia Tech has partnered with leading providers of online learning platforms to deliver many of our world-class programs to learners around the globe. Getting a degree online allows students to build real-world knowledge and skills that can advance a career without interrupting it. Georgia Tech Online offers students the flexibility to study where they want, whenever they want, and to achieve a prestigious degree from a top-ranking institution. The Online offerings at Georgia Tech include Master’s of Science degrees in a variety of engineering and technical fields as well as professional master’s in systems engineering, professional safety and health, and manufacturing leadership.

Tuition: $223 per credit hour.

#4. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

In 1973, the Texas towns of Midland and Odessa gained an upper-level (junior and senior and graduate students) university. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB or UT Permian Basin) had been in the works since the Texas Legislature approved its development in 1969. Just over 1,000 students registered for the first classes at this school within the University of Texas System. UT Permian Basin began accepting freshman and sophomore students in 1991, changing the composition of the school from a mostly commuter campus to a more traditional, residential one. With three colleges, UT Permian Basin promotes as a part of its mission to “provide quality education to all qualified students in a supportive in-person and online educational environment.” Over 6,000 students are enrolled at UTPB, which is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

UTPB provides online degrees and courses for Texans as well as national and international students. Some degrees are offered in collaboration with other University of Texas System universities through the University of Texas Online consortium. UTPB offers a wide range of online undergraduate and graduate courses. Graduate programs are offered in Education, English, Business Administration, Accountancy, and Kinesiology.

Tuition: $261 per credit hour.

#5. Amberton University

Founded in 1971, Amberton University began as an extension campus of Abilene Christian University and was located in Mesquite, Texas. The University quickly turned its attention and interest to educational programs that catered to working adults. Now located in Garland, Texas, the University provides educational programs designed for working adults and founded on Christian principles. Amberton is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is committed to developing the technical and cognitive capacities of its students for problem solving in developing the student’s capability to identify and select solutions to economic, social, and personal problems.

Amberton university offers distance-learning courses that are identical to classroom courses in terms of learning outcomes and expectations. Both full-time and part-time professors who teach lecture courses also teach e-Courses. Admission to the University, costs, and expectations of performance are the same for all students regardless of the student’s location or course selection. Amberton offers a variety of master’s degree programs online in subjects ranging from counseling and professional development, to professional development and business.

Tuition: $265 per credit hour.

#6. Fort Hays State University

As the Western Branch of what would later become Emporia State University—the Kansas State Normal School– Fort Hays State University (FHSU) was founded in 1902 with 57 enrolled students. Fort Hays, a military base that had been closed since 1889, served as the first location of FHSU as the Western Branch of the Kansas State Normal School. Since the base was a distance away from the town of Hays, there was impetus to move the school closer. A family of prairie dogs had to be relocated first, but by 1904 the school had moved to its present campus site. Through the years the school had many names and incarnations—by 1977 it would finally become FHSU. With five schools and colleges on the main 200-acre campus (plus an additional 3,825-acre University Farm), over 14,000 students are enrolled at this public university. The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to FHSU.

Fort Hays State University is a leader in distance education, offering over 50 online degrees specifically designed for adult learners through its Virtual College. Students can take a class or earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. Online degree programs are fully accredited, affordable, and utilize the latest in learning technology for one of the best values in higher education today. At the graduate level a variety of master’s and doctoral degrees are available online as well as graduate certificates in a wide range of subjects.

Tuition: $280 per credit hour.

#7. Valdosta State University

Serving the heart of South Georgia, Valdosta State University is a public comprehensive university located in Valdosta, Georgia. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Valdosta State University (abbreviate VSU) offers more than 100 degrees and programs ranging from associate and bachelor’s to graduate, and doctoral degrees. Comprised of several colleges and schools, these include the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of the Arts, the Langdale College of Business Administration, the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the Graduate School, and VSU’s Honors College. The University has a three-fold mission, each portion of which is intertwined with the others. VSU’s student mission includes providing a “diverse student population with an inspired education, a safe learning environment, a nurturing community, and a wealth of experience”; the university mission is to operate “with a focus toward human, environmental, and financial sustainability” and to promote “social justice and service learning”; and VSU’s regional mission is to provide the region “with the resources and support necessary to develop and sustain a higher quality of living, greater economic and community development, and inspired innovation”.

eLearning at Valdosta State University offers students the opportunity to engage in educational programs online, or through hybrid, and technology-enhanced coursework. VSU offers a wide variety of master’s and doctoral level graduate degrees as well as certificate programs in subjects ranging from education and counseling to public administration and more. Some of VSU’s online programs are offered through eMajor, a statewide initiative that allows colleges and universities within the University System of Georgia to collaborate on in-demand degree programs and offer them in an accelerated online format to students at their respective institutions.

Tuition: $293 per credit hour.

#8. Columbia College

In 1851 the Christian Female College, an all-women junior college, was established in Columbia, Missouri by the State Legislature. Enjoying a covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination, students began their day with a six o’clock pre-dawn walk and then chapel attendance. Even through the Civil War the school flourished, and enjoyed its largest enrollment up to that point in 1866 with 182 students. By 1970 the school became a full four-year institution and allowed men to be admitted. The newly coeducational school became Columbia College (CC), and within the next five years extended its academic programming onto satellite campuses on military bases and through the Evening Campus for working adults. In 2000 the Online Campus was started, and now over 29,000 students are enrolled at the main campus, satellite campuses, and online at this private, nonsectarian liberal arts and sciences college. Columbia College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

At Columbia College Online students have the opportunity to fit their degree around their demanding lives with online courses. Class sessions last eight weeks and six sessions are available each year. With online classes, students complete the same coursework they would in a classroom, except they get to decide when to work on weekly assignments and deadlines. At the graduate level students can earn a Master’s degree in business, marketing, criminal justice, human services, or education. Professional certificates are also available online.

Tuition: $295 per credit hour.

#9. Columbus State University

Located in Columbus, Georgia, Columbus State University (CSU) is a public institution of higher learning within the University System of Georgia. Established in 1958, CSU’s main campus is located about 100 miles southwest of Atlanta; the University, which has a reputation for extending its dedication to learning out to the community, also operates the RiverPark campus located in downtown Columbus. CSU has an approximate student population of 8,200 and offers nearly 50 undergraduate majors and over 40 graduate degrees through its seven colleges and schools. In addition to its on-campus degree programs, CSU also offers a variety of online programs and courses. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC), CSU’s vision is to be “a first choice institution for discerning students who seek challenging programs, engaged faculty, and a vibrant, globally connected campus culture.” The University’s mission is to “empower people to contribute to the advancement of our local and global communities through an emphasis on excellence in teaching and research, lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, public-private partnerships, and service to others.”

Columbus State University offers online graduate degrees and certificate/endorsement programs that are flexibly designed for nontraditional students and working adults. These programs of study include Master’s degrees in computer science, early childhood education, educational leadership, nursing, public administration, and more. Students can also earn their doctorate in curriculum and leadership.

Tuition: $385 per credit hour.

#10. University of the Cumberlands

In 1888 Williamsburg, Kentucky, a delegation of eighteen Baptist ministers determined to start a college to help prepare students primarily from the Appalachia region to become “servant leaders” in their lives and vocations. The ministers started the Williamsburg Institute, and after acquiring the buildings of Highland College in 1913, the school was renamed Cumberland College (being on the banks of the Cumberland River and near both Cumberland Falls and the Cumberland Gap). With a student enrollment of just over 6,000, this private, Christian university was renamed University of the Cumberlands (UC or “Cumberlands”) in 2005. Affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, University of the Cumberlands is made up of four colleges and regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

At the University of Cumberlands Online students receive the same quality of education that they expect from a traditional classroom experience. Adult learners with busy lives, thus can advance in their careers through educational attainments without the need to disrupt their current work or compromise their commitments to their families. Graduate degree (master’s and doctorate) and certificate programs are available in educational leadership, business administration, information technology, counseling, teaching, nursing, digital forensics, and more.

Tuition: $315 per credit hour.

#11. Fitchburg State University

The State Normal School in Fitchburg was established to educate teachers in 1894 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The two-year program was initially attended by 46 women and taught by three instructors in a former high school building. A success, the school grew through the years and added buildings and produced the first-of-its-kind “practical arts teacher-training” program for men in 1911. By 1932 the school began offering four-year education degrees and the name was changed to State Teachers College at Fitchburg to reflect that. As the curriculum expanded to include other disciplines, several more name changes occurred. The school settled on the name Fitchburg State University in 2010. Now almost 8,000 students study in more than 75 academic degree programs on the 60 acre campus, as well as on 122 acres for ecological and nature research and 42 acres for recreation. Regional accreditation is provided through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Graduate and Continuing Education (GCE) at Fitchburg State offers more than 45 graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit courses for professional development and life-long learning. Many of these programs are offered fully or partially online. These programs meet the varied needs of adult learners and create opportunities for advancement no matter at what stage of life prospective students find themselves in. A variety of online graduate degree and certificate programs are available in subjects including business administration, education, forensic nursing, special education, and more.

Tuition: $319 per credit hour.

#12. University of North Dakota

Six years before officially becoming a state, North Dakota founded the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks in 1883. With a dedicated focus on providing a liberal arts education (a rarity in that day), the school included a normal school for the education of teachers. Coeducational from the beginning, eight male and female students made up the first graduating class. Those first students only paid $3.50 a week to be residential students, but had to contend with no furnace to heat the halls in the winter and windows that wouldn’t open to cool the summer days, as well as drinking water that had to be hauled in by barrel from town. Now this fully-equipped public university is classified as by the Carnegie Foundation as having high research activity and enrolls nearly 15,000 students. UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

At UND Online students can choose from 50+ institutionally accredited graduate certificates, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees. These online programs are both convenient and flexible and meet the needs of a multitude of learners. Courses include self-paced, independent study as well as semester-based courses that follow a semester schedule. Graduate degrees and certificates are available in a wide variety of disciplines from economics, aviation, and business administration to Counseling, education, psychology, and many more.

Tuition: $320 per credit hour.

#13. Western Illinois University

Recognized as a “Best Midwestern College by the Princeton Review and as one of 37 public universities ranked a “Best Midwestern University” by U.S.News & World Report, Western Illinois University serves nearly 10,000 students at its traditional residential campus in Macomb and its metropolitan, non-residential branch campus in Moline, Illinois. WIU offers an outstanding variety of in-demand bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, pre-professional programs, two doctoral degrees, and certificate programs. Western Illinois University’s residential campus is located in Macomb, Illinois with its non-residential, metropolitan campus in the Quad Cities/Moline, Illinois. WIU enrolls over 11,000 students and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Western Illinois University offers a variety of options for students who want to continue their education through an online learning environment. Whether expanding a current skill set, or looking to complete a degree, WIU is committed to helping students achieve their educational objectives. A handfuls of graduate degree programs are available online at WIU including a Master of Business Administration, Master in Instructional Design and Technology, and a Master in Elementary Education.

Tuition: $323 per credit hour.

#14. University of Central Missouri

Located in Warrensburg, Missouri, the University of Central Missouri provides students educational experiences designed to transform them into lifelong learners, dedicated to service, with the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed and lead in the region, state, nation and world. UCM is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and currently enrolls over 12,000 students in over 150 programs of study leading to certificates, bachelor’s degrees, masters degrees, educational specialist, or cooperative doctorates.

UCM’s online offerings focus on student success through innovative academic programs. Online instructors are the same professors teaching on campus, so they bring the same high-quality instruction to students engaged in online learning as they bring to the students in their classrooms. A wide variety of Graduate degree programs are available in disciplines from aviation safety and criminal justice to nursing, teaching, and many more.

Tuition: $324 per credit hour.

#15. Chadron State College

Located in Chadron, Nebraska, Chadron State College is a public institution with its roots in teacher education. Founded in 1911, CSC offers programs and courses in 52 majors and endorsements and eight master’s degree programs. Among its most popular programs are business administration, education, psychology, biology-health sciences, rangeland management, and justice studies. Today CSC enrolls about 3,000 students and is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Chadron State College offers a number of courses in an 8-week format to accelerate the completion of online program offerings. Online courses are delivered asynchronously so students do not have to be online at the same time as the instructor or other students. Online classes at Chadron State allow students the opportunity to learn according to their own schedules. Online graduate degree programs are available in Business, Counseling, Education, Mathematics, Organizational Management, and Psychology.

Tuition: $325 per credit hour.

#16. Southeast Missouri State University

In 1873 businessmen and local politicians from the town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri successfully petitioned to have a normal school (a school to train teachers) chartered in their town. Opened as Southeast Missouri State Normal School, classes were held at a nearby school until 1875, when the first building on campus had completed construction. Located close to the banks of the Mississippi River, the school would grow in size and academic scope and go through four name changes before becoming Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO or simply “Southeast”) in 1973, a hundred years after its founding. With a 328-acre main campus, online programs, and several extension campuses, Southeast currently enrolls almost 12,000 students in more than 200 academic degree programs in nine colleges and schools. Southeast is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (formerly the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges).

Southeast Online offers nontraditional students the opportunity to advance their career through further education without the need to live on campus or interrupt their lives. Over 30 highly ranked degree and certificate programs are offered entirely online and taught by the same faculty who provide instruction to traditional students in the classroom. Graduate degrees and certificates are offered in subjects ranging from business administration and management, education, and more. A variety of graduate levels professional certificates are also available for completion online.

Tuition: $325 per credit hour.

#17. William Woods University

William Woods University is a learning community of more than 3,500 students and faculty, including some 1,100 traditional undergraduates representing more than 35 US states and 24 countries on its 225-acre campus in Fulton, Missouri. William Woods University believes in a service-learning model, where students learn best through hands-on experience, and through the giving of their hearts, minds and talents. The University draws on a 146-year history of service and leadership in education which has given it values that endure and make the William Woods educational experience unique. Students are challenged to discover, lead, and achieve, often beyond what they ever dreamed possible. WWU is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

William Woods Online is ranked among the nation’s top online learning programs. Combining more than 140 years of academic excellence with a student-centered, service-oriented educational environment, and convenient, 8-week courses WWU offers flexibility and affordable tuition. Online courses at WWU are available are designed to promote collaboration and networking to provide the same educational experiences offered in on-campus programs. WWU offers a variety of specialized master’s programs online including an MBA in Entrepreneurial Leadership, an Med in Equestrian Education, Teaching and Technology, Athletics Administration, Curriculum and Instruction, and a Master o f Healthcare Administration.

Tuition: $325 per credit hour.

#18. Western Governors University

This private, entirely online, not-for-profit university located in Salt Lake City, Utah was the brainchild of nineteen United States governors during a 1995 meeting of the Western Governors Association.  Western Governors University (WGU) was formally proposed in 1996 and established in 1997, and there are four colleges that make up the university: the College of Business, the College of Information Technology, the Teachers College, and the College of Health Professions. The school uses a competency-based learning model, which means that each individual student has an educational journey very unique to their learning needs and competency in a given subject. Over 78,000 students are currently enrolled in WGU’s academic programs, and regional accreditation is provided by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Western Governors University is a nonprofit online university offering a convenient, flexible education online. WGU offers accredited online bachelor’s and master’s degrees specifically designed for working adults. Students will discover that WGU gives an outstanding quality education under the guidance of dedicated mentors. WGU offers graduate level degrees and certificates in education, business, information technology, health sciences, and more. WGU offers a multitude of student services for online students including full-text, online access to thousands of subscription-based scholarly journals, industry periodicals, magazines, and newspapers, as well as an extensive collection of ebooks.

Tuition: $333 per credit hour.

#19. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida (USF) is a major metropolitan, public research university based out of Tampa Bay, Florida. The University of South Florida System is comprised of three separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Established in 1956, USF is home to 14 colleges, including the Colleges of Arts; Arts and Sciences; Behavioral and Community Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering; Global Sustainability; Graduate Studies; Honors College; Marine Science; Nursing; Pharmacy; Public Health; and the Morsani College of Medicine. More than 36,000 undergraduate students are enrolled as well as over 10,000 graduate students with a 23 to 1 student faculty ratio. USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers 180 undergraduate majors and concentrations and numerous graduate, specialist and doctoral programs. With a vision be a “global research university dedicated to student success and positioned for membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU)”, the University’s mission is to “deliver competitive undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, to generate knowledge, foster intellectual development, and ensure student success in a global environment.”

USF Innovative Education (the university’s online division) offers students an opportunity to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree – or just a single course – in a convenient online format. Online programs are designed to meet students’ educational needs while empowering them to juggle the demands of busy lifestyles. Innovative Education offers more than two dozen online graduate degrees, including electrical engineering, public administration, global sustainability, instructional technology and more.

Tuition: $348 per credit hour.

#20. University of Missouri

The town of Columbia, Missouri benefited from the first public university to be chartered west of the Mississippi River when the Missouri Legislature passed a bill to establish a university in 1839. The Boone County locals advocated for their town to be the location of the school with a bid of $117,921 in donated funds and the promise of acreage. Two students were the first graduating class in 1843. Named the University of Missouri (affectionately nicknamed “Mizzou”), the institution became a land-grant university in 1870 and started to grow exponentially. Now the University of Missouri System’s flagship school, Mizzou has eighteen colleges and schools with over 33,000 enrolled students and more than 300 academic degree programs of study. This comprehensive public coeducational university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Mizzou Online offers students the opportunity to learn from anywhere with over 100 degree and certificate options and more than 1000 different fully online courses designed to deliver the same quality educational experience as the University of Missouri’s on-campus programs. Online graduate level degrees and certificates are available in disciplines including agriculture, food, and natural resources; economics; business; education; engineering; health sciences; environmental sciences; data analytics; journalism; public affairs; and more.

Tuition: $360 per credit hour.

#21. University of Illinois—Springfield

Sangamon State University in Springfield, Illinois was signed into creation by a legislative bill in 1969. Construction began, and a year later the first classes were held for 811 enrolled students–all upper-class or graduate students. Twenty-five years after the first class was held, SSU held its last commencement as higher education in Illinois was reorganized. SSU became one of three of the University of Illinois campuses and was renamed University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS). Remaining an upper-class school until 2001, UIS started admitting freshman first as “Capital Scholars” and finally as regular students after a general education curriculum was recognized and instituted by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in 2005. Sitting on a 740-acre campus, this public liberal arts university has just under 5,000 students and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online learning at Illinois Springfield offers flexibility and convenience with the same high quality as its on-campus coursework. UIS has consistently been ranked among the top universities for its online graduate and undergraduate programs. Graduate degrees are offered online in disciplines including: computer science, data analytics, education, environmental health, planning/management, human services administration, liberal and integrative studies, legal studies, public health, and more. UIS also offers a variety of online teacher certification programs as well as professional graduate level certificates.

Tuition: $362 per credit hour.

#22. University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public research university and the state of New Mexico’s flagship institution. Established in 1889, UNM is located on an approximately 800 acre campus near Route 66 in the heart of Albuquerque, a thriving metropolitan area of more than 500,000 people. The only Hispanic-Serving Institution to be classified as a Carnegie Research University with “Very High Activity”, UNM represents a “cross-section of culture and backgrounds”. UNM purposes to “engage students, faculty, and staff in its comprehensive educational research, and service programs” and has a mission to “provide students the values, habits of mind, knowledge, and skills that they need to be enlightened citizens, to contribute to the state and national economies, and to lead satisfying lives.” The University boasts many outstanding faculty members, including a Nobel Laureate, two MacArthur Fellows, 35 Fulbright scholars and several members of national academies. UNM is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

UNM Online offers online degree completion programs that provide students with flexibility to advance in their career paths. Online courses at UNM are delivered through the university’s learning management system, UNM Learn. Online courses are for-credit, academic courses, taught by UNM faculty. They follow traditional start and end dates each semester. Online graduate degree and certificate programs are available in such disciplines as dental hygiene; elementary education; secondary education; educational leadership; construction management; and organization, information and learning sciences.

Tuition: $363 per credit hour.

#23. University of Alabama

The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, serves as Alabama’s flagship university and was the state’s first public college. Founded in 1831, the University of Alabama (UA) strives to offer excellence in teaching, service, and resource, and has earned the nickname of “The Capstone of Higher Education”. With a vision to be known as the “university of choice” among Alabama’s brightest and best scholars and for all students seeking “exceptional educational opportunities”, UA’s formal mission is to “advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the world through the creation, translation and dissemination of knowledge with an emphasis on quality programs in the areas of teaching, research and service.” Incoming freshman make a pledge during convocation, promising that “As a member of The University of Alabama community, I will pursue knowledge, act with fairness, integrity and respect; promote equity and inclusion; foster individual and civic responsibility; and strive for excellence in all I do.” Offering nearly 200 degree programs, UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The University of Alabama’s online division “Bama by Distance” offers students the opportunity to complete their education and start on their career path or chart a new path by completing courses on their schedule from any location. Students can earn graduate level degrees and certificates in disciplines including business administration, communication and information sciences, education, engineering, human environmental sciences, law, nursing, social work, and more.

Tuition: $375 per credit hour.

#24. Kennesaw State University

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit, draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. The university’s alumni network is 100,000 strong. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. Kennesaw State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Kennesaw State University offers online learning options including fully online degree programs, certificate programs, hybrid online programs and a large selection of courses in online and mixed-model versions. Designed and taught by KSU faculty, distance learning at KSU offers high quality degree options with distance learning convenience and flexibility. The variety of online student resources found on the easily-to- navigate website include a virtual library, tutoring, advising, and tech support. Graduate level degree and certificate programs are available in business, computing and software engineering, education, engineering and engineering technology, nursing, social sciences, peacebuilding, autism spectrum disorder, information security, and more.

Tuition: $390 per credit hour.

#25. Indiana Univeresity

Located in Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University is a public research institution and serves as the flagship campus within the Indiana University system. Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, Indiana University is known for its creativity, innovation and academic freedom; the University’s mission is “to create, disseminate, preserve, and apply knowledge.” This mission is accomplished in many ways thanks to Indiana University’s commitment to providing students with “cutting-edge research, scholarship, arts, and creative activity”. The University boasts several culturally diverse and international educational programs and is committed to furthering economic development within the state and local region. More than 550 academic programs are offered, including over 100 online programs which are available to students all across the nation and globe. The University boasts 200 research centers and institutes and is also home to a world-class business and music school, the world’s first school of philanthropy as well as the nation’s first school of informatics.

#26. Indiana State University

Founded by the Indiana General Assembly as the Indiana State Normal School in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1865, a century later the school would become Indiana State University. Twenty-three students and three faculty members began class in 1870, five years after the school’s establishment. The school would grow and change names multiple times to reflect the expansion of both the academic programs and student enrollment–becoming Indiana State Teachers College in 1929, Indiana State College in 1961, and finally becoming Indiana State University (ISU or Indiana State) in 1965. Dedicated “to teaching and the creation of knowledge while maintaining its longstanding commitment to inclusiveness, community and public service, and access to higher education,” Indiana State is committed to an inclusive and diverse campus and multicultural expression and safety. The 435-acre campus houses seven colleges, which provide over 150 academic degree programs for the more than 13,500 enrolled students. ISU has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1915.

Offering more than 100 online degrees and academic certificate programs and hundreds of online classes from all of Indiana University’s campuses IU Online provides students the opportunity to earn an entire degree online or supplement on-campus college experience with online coursework. A wide variety of graduate degree and certificate programs are available in disciplines ranging from adult education, and health informatics, to library science, and recreational therapy and more.

Tuition: $404 per credit hour.

#27. Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University is a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research university located in Statesboro, Georgia. The largest and most comprehensive center of higher education in Georgia, South of Atlanta, Georgia Southern University (abbreviated GSU) offers approximately 120 degree programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate, many of which are available in a classical campus setting or an online format. More than 20,000 students make up GSU’s total enrollment, with representatives from all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 88 foreign countries. Established in 1906, GSU’s hallmark is their “culture of engagement that bridges theory with practice, extends the learning environment beyond the classroom, and promotes student growth and success.” The University is nationally accredited by the Commission on Colleges/Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and purposes to be “devoted to academic distinction in teaching, scholarship and service”. GSU’s mission is to be “committed to advancing the State of Georgia and the region through the benefits of higher education”. The mission statement continues, “The University fosters access to its educational programs, provides a comprehensive and fulfilling university experience, and enhances quality of life in the region through collaborative relationships supporting education, health care and human services, cultural experiences, scientific and technological advancement, athletics, and regional development.”

At Georgia Southern University, students can enroll in flexible online programs in business, education and healthcare as well as blended options that enable students to combine online and classroom work. Graduate degree programs and professional certificates are available in business administration, education, health and human sciences, engineering and information technology, and public nonprofit management.

Tuition: $410 per credit hour.

#28. University of North Alabama

Located in Florence, Alabama, the University of North Alabama (UNA) is a comprehensive, regional, state-assisted institution of higher education. Founded in 1830, UNA is the oldest four-year public institution in the state of Alabama. The University was reestablished in 1872 as the LaGrange College, the first state-supported teacher college south of the Ohio River and one year later became one of the nation’s first coeducational colleges. In 1974 the college gained university status and adopted its current name. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, UNA offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs through its several colleges. These include the College of Arts & Sciences; the College of Business; the College of Education & Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing. UNA’s  mission is to engage in “teaching, research, and service in order to provide educational opportunities for students, an environment for discovery and creative accomplishment, and a variety of outreach activities meeting the professional, civic, social, cultural, and economic development needs of our region in the context of a global community.” The University has a total enrollment figure of over 7,000 and boasts one of the highest international enrollment rates of any institution in its category.

Online Education at UNA has many online undergraduate and graduate programs as well as individual online courses. UNA’s online programs follow the “Quality Matters” rubric for quality assurance in online education which utilizes a peer-based approach to continuous improvement in student learning within the online and blended environments. Graduate level programs offered online at UNA include programs in criminal justice, education, family studies, history, business administration, nursing, and professional studies.

Tuition: $425 per credit hour.

#29. Idaho State University

When Senate Bill 53 was signed into law by the Governor of Idaho in the early spring of 1901, it paved the way for the Academy of Idaho to be established in Pocatello, Idaho later that spring. Due to the determination of the town’s mayor and the donation of private lands for the campus, a specific location was chosen (called the “Battle of the Blocks”). Classes started the following year, and within the next fifteen years enrollment would increase to 300 students and the name of the school would be changed to Idaho Technical Institute. The name would change three more times before becoming Idaho State University (ISU) in 1963, and now this coeducational public doctoral-research (as designated by the Carnegie Foundation) university offers 250 academic degree programs to the over 12,500 enrolled students online and at the main campus in Pocatello, and at the sister campuses in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities regionally accredits ISU.

Idaho State University’s online division eISU provides online educational opportunities for degree seeking students offered by various colleges across the university including the colleges and divisions of Arts and Letters, Business, Education, Science and Engineering, and Health Sciences. eISU provides students with distance education courses taught online using various educational technologies. A wide array of courses are offered each semester allowing students greater flexibility in completing course work while better managing the competing demands on their time. Graduate level programs are offered in Business Administration, Instructional Technology, Dental Hygiene, Public Health, Nursing, Speech Language Pathology, and more.

Tuition: $426 per credit hour.

#30. University of West Alabama

The University of West Alabama (UWA) is a state-supported, coeducational institution of higher learning governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor. As a regional institution, the University’s foremost commitment is to meeting the educational needs of the State and particularly of the West Alabama area. Valuing a diverse student enrollment, though, it also welcomes students from throughout the United States and from other countries. At the University of West Alabama, the emphasis is upon the traditional learner, but the institution is also committed to furthering the concept of lifelong learning and to serving the non-traditional student. It considers among its clientele are high schools, businesses and industries, governmental agencies, and professional workers. In serving these diverse publics, the institution employs not only traditional means of delivery, but it also seeks to expand its use of innovative technologies, including distance learning, and to networking with other educational institutions and agencies in order to more comprehensively address the needs of its region. UWA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

UWA Online makes degree programs accessible so that working adults and other nontraditional students can advance in their career through a personalized education designed to help the student achieve their goals at an affordable cost. A wide variety of degrees and certificates are available online at the graduate level including programs in teaching, early childhood education, high school education, instructional leadership, physical education, school counseling, adult education, conservation biology, and more.

#31. University of South Dakota

Prior to South Dakota’s confirmed statehood, the creation of University of South Dakota (USD) was initiated. The Dakota Territorial Legislature moved in 1862 to have the town of Vermillion be the recipient of a university. Without allocated funding however, it took the school twenty years to be able to raise enough money (through the support of Vermillion locals) to offer classes. On that last day of class that first year in 1882, 69 students were enrolled. Seven years later South Dakota was granted official statehood, and by that time USD had 500 students. A public coeducational research university with approximately 10,000 students and a beautiful 274-acre campus, USD is both the flagship university in South Dakota and an active participant in the sustainability movement in the state, aiming to help make “Vermillion the greenest town in South Dakota.” The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to USD.

USD Online and Off-Campus Education offers accredited, high-quality academic programs and courses with the flexibility, convenience, and affordability required by working adults and other nontraditional students. All programs feature courses taught by the same faculty that teach on campus, allowing USD to maintain a challenging and rigorous curriculum focused on preparing students to move forward in their career paths. USD offers online programs in business administration, public health, addiction studies, physical therapy, social work, education, kinesiology and sport management, music, and more.

Tuition: $444 per credit hour.

#32. East Tennessee State University

The East Tennessee State Normal School opened its doors in 1911 in Johnson City to twenty-nine high school and normal school students. The students in the normal school were entering a two-year program to become teachers. The normal school would become a four-year program and change its name to East Tennessee State Teachers College in 1925. Five years later the name would change again to State Teachers College, Johnson City and student enrollment would surpass 1,400 students. Two more name changes would occur–East Tennessee State College in 1943 and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) 1963. Now eleven schools and colleges serve over 14,500 enrolled students at this public university with multiple branch and extension campuses throughout the state. Part of the Tennessee Board of Regents university system (although governed by an institutional Board of Trustees), ETSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

With courses and programs led by courses taught by the same award-winning faculty teaching in the campus classrooms, ETSU Online provides students with the quality education they want with the flexibility they need. Whether looking for an entire online program or for a single online course to supplement on-campus course schedule, ETSU provides support for online students at every step of their academic paths. Graduate certificate and degree programs are offered in a wide range of disciplines including allied health, archival studies, community leadership, digital marketing, early childhood education, educational leadership, global sport leadership, human services, nursing, professional studies, public health and more.

Tuition: $444 per credit hour.

#33. Emporia State University

The Kansas State Normal School, a teacher’s college and Emporia State University’s predecessor, was first conceived of when Kansas became a state in 1861. Three towns were possible locations, but Emporia was chosen by the Kansas Legislature in 1863. Two years later classes began—eighteen students were taught by the school’s only professor (who also happened to be Kansas State Normal’s president). The first building to be constructed on campus was not actually finished until four years after the school’s establishment and after the first graduation was held. Two other normal schools in the state closed, which allowed for more state funding going towards the teacher’s school in Emporia. The name of the school changed several times as the curriculum grew—it settled on Emporia State University (Emporia State or ESU) in 1977. Almost 6,000 students are now enrolled in over 80 academic degree programs at Emporia State’s four schools and colleges. The Higher Learning Commission provides ESU with regional accreditation.

Emporia State University’s online and distance education is an important part of the university’s program offerings and has consistently been ranked among the best and most affordable online colleges available. Online students at ESU are afforded a multitude of student services including graduate advisors, library services, tutoring, disability services and more so that the experience of studying online is just as supported as those earning their degree in the on-campus setting. ESU offers more than 31 different graduate degree programs with 33 concentrations in disciplines including accountancy, art therapy, biology, business administration, clinical counseling, curriculum and instruction, English, informatics, library information management, mathematics, music, physical sciences, school counseling, school psychology, and many more.

Tuition: $457 per credit hour.

#34. Mississippi State University

The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi, established as a land-grant university in Starkville in 1878, started educating its first students in 1880. The Mississippi Legislature changed the name first in 1932 to Mississippi State College and then again in 1958 to Mississippi State University. Having the history of being a land-grant institution, Mississippi State is faithful to the ideals of “learning, research, and service.” The main University campus in Starkville now encompasses 4,200 acres, and additional research areas on the Plant Science Farm and the Animal Sciences Farm total more than 2,000 more acres, plus three satellite campuses in three other Mississippi cities: Meridian, Biloxi and Vicksburg. Twelve schools and colleges serves over 20,000 students, and the school offers over 175 academic degree programs. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants Mississippi State University with its regional accreditation.

MSU’s Center for Distance Education offers a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom administered through Blackboard learning technology. Online students are offered support through a variety of distance student services. Students can earn a graduate degree or certificate in areas including teaching, business administration, engineering, food science and nutrition, general biology, geosciences, information systems, workforce education leadership, and more. Degrees can be earned at both the master’s and doctoral levels and a handful of graduate professional certificates are available online.

Tuition: $458 per credit hour.

#35. Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a public, student-centered university located in Flagstaff, Arizona. Established in 1899, the University defines its character as “personal” and “independent”. Built upon the core values of Excellence in Education, Student Success, Educational Access, Diversity, Integrity, and Civility, NAU takes pride in its top-tier programs, cutting-edge research, and world-renowned faculty. The University has a total enrollment of 30,000 students and offers more than 150 degree programs. NAU’s mission is to “enrich lives and create opportunities in Arizona and beyond” through its “academic programs, research, public service, and creative endeavors”. The University’s mission statement continues, “We develop solutions to challenges and drive innovation in a supportive, inclusive, and diverse environment.” NAU’s vision is to offer “rigorous programs and pioneering research with substantial community impact” and to “provide the foundation for transformational student opportunities that prepare graduates to excel in creating a sustainable future, nationally and globally.”

NAU’s Extended Campus makes available a variety of accredited, entirely online degree programs designed with flexibility for working adults in mind. NAU also offers degree programs in a blended format, which means students complete some courses online and some in person at one of more than 30 campuses across Arizona. Online students take courses through the Blackboard Learn platform where they connect with professors and peers, participate in discussions and view lecture presentations. Classes are typically asynchronous, meaning students log in and complete coursework whenever is most convenient to them. Graduate degrees are offered in English, rhetoric, business administration, computing and technology, education and counseling, health sciences, mathematics, criminal justice, and more.

Tuition: $458 per credit hour.

#36. Southern Illinois University—Carbondale

Founded as the state’s second teachers school in 1869 with an impressive first class of 143 students and twelve academic departments, Southern Illinois University Carbondale now has a total enrollment of over 17,000 students and offers more than 300 academic degree programs. Considered the flagship campus of the Southern Illinois University system, SIU has proudly demonstrated inclusivity and a commitment to diversity since its inception. Claiming to be “where brains and heart intersect,” service and outreach to the Illinois community is held in regard as highly as the many academic programs the University offers.  Southern Illinois University Carbondale receives its regional accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission.

Southern Illinois University’s Extended Campus offers a number of online courses and degree/certificate programs that provide students a convenient pathway towards furthering their education and advancing their careers. 10 different graduate degree programs are offered online as well as a number of online certificate and non-degree programs. Programs are offered in disciplines including architecture, behavior analysis and therapy, business administration, health administration, health informatics, quality engineering and management, medical dosimetry, public safety, radiologic sciences, and rehabilitation administration and services.

Tuition: $460 per credit hour.

#37. Wilmington University

Wilmington University is a private, nonsectarian research institution based out of New Castle, Delaware, not far from the city’s historic district and Wilmington. Wilmington University grew out of a charter class which first met in 1968 with only 194 students; today the University has an average annual enrollment if 18,000 and offers a wide range of programs including bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Comprised of several academic colleges, these encompass the areas of Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Health Professions, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Technology, and Online and Experiential Learning. Wilmington University is all about providing high quality education in formats and schedules that are convenient and flexible for students. Most students are either commuters or enrolled online as the University offers programs in several locations across Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland as well as online. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Wilmington University’s vision is to “distinguish itself as an open-access educational institution by building exemplary and innovative academic programs and student-centered services while anticipating the career and personal needs of those it serves.”

Wilmington University online degree programs combine the same quality, real-world academics of traditional degree programs with a flexible online format. Students have access to accredited and relevant online programs designed to prepare them for leadership roles and career advancement. A vast array of graduate degree and certificate programs are available online in disciplines including accounting, human services, justice, family science, technology in education, business administration, career and technical education, cybersecurity, nursing practice, esol literacy, gerontology, homeland security, information systems, management, school leadership, special education, and more.

Tuition: $466 per credit hour.

#38. Western Kentucky University

Two normal schools were the outcome of a decision by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1906. Bowling Green would be the home of one—the Western Kentucky State Normal School. (The school’s earliest vision goes back to 1876 and the Glasgow Normal School and Business College of Glasgow, Kentucky. That institution moved to Bowling Green almost a decade later and transitioned to become Southern Normal School and Business College. The Southern Normal School was sold by Henry Harden Cherry, who became the founding president of the new normal school in 1906.) Classes began the following year in 1907, and the school would continue to grow and expand, merge with other schools, change names, and move to a permanent location. The year 1966 saw the school officially become Western Kentucky University (WKU), and now this public, coeducational university has over 21,000 students enrolled in the programs at the main campus, satellite campus, regional campuses or online. WKU has regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.

With more than 1,700 web classes offered each year, on demand options that allow students to start any day, and over 100 online degree and certificate programs, WKU Online‘s commitment to providing online degree options go beyond offering web classes. Students are also provided the tools needed to be successful. Nationally recognized support services for online learners include tutoring, career services, student success coaching and a team dedicated to fostering student success. Graduate degree programs are offered in disciplines including criminology, history, mathematics, organizational leadership, adult education, business administration, health administration, public health, social work, biology, child and family studies, nursing, and much more.

Tuition: $490 per credit hour.

#39. Colorado State University

Colorado State University-Global Campus is the online campus of the state-related public Colorado University System. Based out of Greenwood Village, Colorado, CSU-Global’s vision is to be “the premier provider of innovative, higher learning opportunities for nontraditional students in Colorado and beyond.”  A member of the three-university Colorado State University System, along with the flagship CSU campus in Fort Collins and the CSU-Pueblo campus, each campus within the Colorado State University System has its own distinct mission and is operated independently, though governed by the same System Board of Governors. Between the three campuses, the Colorado State University system serves nearly 40,000 students annually, including 7,000 graduates, and has over 200,000 alumni worldwide. CSU-Global holds the distinction of being the first independent, fully-accredited, 100% online state university in the nation; its core values include being Mission Focused, having Innovative Thinking, Accountability, Collaboration, Learning and Growth, and Professionalism. Its mission statement declares its commitment to “advancing student success in a global society, investing in human capital, expanding the state economy, and enhancing the quality of life for citizens in the state of Colorado and beyond by providing access to dynamic degree programs characterized by academic excellence, innovative delivery technologies, and strong stakeholder engagement.”

As fully online campus of CSU, CSU—Global‘s courses are 100% online and designed for working adults. CSU—Global offers accelerated 8-week courses and monthly starts. Graduate students at CSU—Global are offered the opportunity to customize their master’s degree with a specialization dedicated to a specific area of study, designed to best serve them in pursuit of their career goals. Master’s degrees can be earned in criminal justice, finance, healthcare administration, human resource management, information technology management, international management, organizational leadership, project management, teaching and learning, and more.

Tuition: $500 per credit hour.

#40. Ball State University

The philanthropic Ball brothers (Lucius, William, Edmund, Frank and George), manufacturing businessmen in Indiana, purchased the failed Eastern Indiana Normal School (a private teacher-training university located in Muncie, Indiana) in 1917 and donated the campus and facilities to the State of Indiana. One year later the Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division opened with 235 students. The state renamed the school in honor of the Ball brothers just four years later to Ball Teachers College, and five years after that to Ball State Teachers College. The school’s enrollment and campus facilities continued to grow, as did the curricular offerings, and by 1965 Ball State University (BSU or “Ball State”) became the final name. This public coeducational research university now has 22,000 students, eight colleges and two satellite facilities in Indiana. The Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits Ball State.

With over 70 online degrees, certificates, and educator licenses taught by the same faculty who teach on campus, Ball State’s online programs regularly rank among the best in the nation. Online learning at Ball State fits the student’s schedule because most classes do not meet at fixed times. Graduate degrees are offered at the doctoral and master’s levels with a number of online graduate certificates and educator licenses also offered. These include programs in disciplines such as adult and community education, behavior analysis, business administration, career and technical education, coaching education, educational administration and supervision, educational psychology, emerging media design and development, interior design, journalism, mathematics education, nursing, public relations, urban design, and more.

Tuition: $503 per credit hour.

#41. Florida International University

In 1965 Senate Bill 711 was presented as an impetus to develop a state university in Miami, Florida.  By 1969 Chuck Perry, who would be Florida International University’s (FIU) founding president, brought together three other visionaries–Butler Waugh, Donald McDowell and Nick Sileo–to begin planning the school. Abandoned airfield Tamiami Airport’s air traffic control tower (with no phone lines or potable water) would be the headquarters of development, and it remains on campus today ( called the Ivory Tower) as a symbol of FIU’s entrepreneurial spirit. Opening day for the 5,667 enrolled students would be historic as the largest opening enrollment in U.S. college history. An additional campus opened in 1977, and now this research-intensive public university has over 54,000 students studying in the twenty-three colleges and schools. Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools provides FIU with its regional accreditation.

Florida International University’s online programs are designed to get students on the fast track to success, with completion of some degrees in as little as one year. Programs are a convenient, flexible and affordable approach to building a better future. At FIU Online, students are supported by renowned faculty providing feedback, and the full resources of a respected, prestigious state university to support them in the pursuit of their education. Online graduate degrees and certificates are offered in a variety of disciplines including African diaspora studies, computer engineering, construction management, business administration, criminal justice, curriculum and instruction, engineering management, forensics, health informatics, healthcare, hospitality management, international business, nursing practice, public administration, special education, and more.

Tuition: $508 per credit hour.

#42. University of Central Florida

Founded in 1963 as the Florida Technological University, the University of Central Florida (UCF) was created as a visionary response to President Kennedy’s man on the moon speech in 1962. In 1964 the Florida Board of Regents purchased 1,000 acres (which was supplemented by almost 300 more acres donated from locals) near Orlando to be the site of the school. Intentionally integrated and coeducational, the school was from its beginnings an inclusive environment for students to prepare for careers in technology and space-related fields. The first group of students numbered just under 2,000, but now with many regional campuses and online programs in addition to the 1,415-acre main campus, this space-grant, public metropolitan research university boasts the largest enrollment at a single campus in the United States with over 66,000 students. Thirteen colleges offer over 200 academic degree programs, and UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

UCF offers more than 80 online degrees and certificates taught by the same expert faculty as our on-campus classes. Online degree programs combine an outstanding learning experience with personalized convenience and flexibility. UCF’s online courses are designed to provide the highest quality learning experience for both traditional and nontraditional students. Fully online programs include bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees, graduate certificates, 2+2 baccalaureate completion programs, and undergraduate minors and certificates. Online graduate degrees and professional certificates can be earned in disciplines including engineering, art education, criminal justice, digital forensics, educational leadership, English, health administration, hospitality and tourism management, instructional design and technology, social work, nonprofit management, nursing, and more.

Tuition: $511 per credit hour.

#43. Arizona State University

The town of Tempe, Arizona received a school specifically to train teachers for the area in 1885. Thirty-three students were welcomed to class at the Territorial Normal School’s simple, four-room school in 1886. Twenty donated acres provided the campus location, and the normal school provided students with high school diplomas and teaching certificates. By 1925 the school no longer granted high school degrees but rather required students to have graduated from high school in order to enroll in the newly renamed Tempe State Teachers College. Becoming Arizona State Teachers College in 1929 was also short-lived, as the school continued to grow to the point that it was renamed one final time to Arizona State University (ASU). Six extension campuses across the state make this public, research university home to over 80,000 students, and the Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits ASU.

ASU Online offers nationally ranked online education options that are accessible and flexibly designed for working adults. All online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus coursework and who lead research and discovery at ASU. Online graduate students leverage the support of graduate professors and advanced coursework alongside student support services to glean a top-tier education. Graduate courses at ASU Online often give students the chance to practice skills and gain real world experience in the student’s own community. Graduate degree and certificate programs are available in a wide variety of disciplines including art and design, behavioral sciences, business, communications, criminal justice, education, engineering, health, history, humanities, language, liberal studies, sustainability, and more.

Tuition: $512 per credit hour.

#44. Concordia University—St. Paul

Concordia University, St. Paul (Concordia) began as Concordia High School in 1893. Located at a temporary site next to Saint Paul, Minnesota’s Zion Lutheran Church, it was originally a training school for male high school students who wanted to become ministers within the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod denomination. The school quickly purchased five acres for a permanent campus and grew to include a junior college program. nearly collapsing due to the financial instability caused by the Great Depression, the school survived through student and local congregation support. The institution thrived once again after World War II, and the following decades saw big changes–females were admitted for the first time in 1950, and the school grew to a full four-year institution in 1962. Five years later the school was accredited as a liberal arts school, and the high school portion separated from the university to form Concordia Academy. Now serving over 4,000 students, Concordia is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Concordia University offers a wide variety of online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs are offered entirely online with all coursework being submitted through CSP’s online system. Graduate degree programs are available online in criminal justice, curriculum and instruction, educational technology, family science, human resource management, forensic behavioral health, leadership and management, creative writing, exercise science, and more.

Tuition: $514 per credit hour.

#45. Oregon State University

Oregon State University (OSU) is an international public research university located in Corvallis, one of the safest, smartest, greenest small cities in the nation. Founded in 1868, Oregon State is the state’s Land Grant university and is one of only two universities in the U.S. to have Sea Grant, Space Grant and Sun Grant designations as well. The university offers more than 200 undergraduate degree programs along with a variety of graduate and doctoral degrees. It is also the largest university in the state, with a total enrollment exceeding 28,000. OSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Oregon State’s Ecampus delivers a variety of educational opportunities for people interested in personal or professional enrichment and who prefer the flexibility of programs delivered online and off-campus. All class are developed by OSU’s renowned faculty, who are known worldwide for their research, expertise, and innovation and online students receive the same diploma and transcript as OSU’s on-campus students. Graduate degree and certificate programs are available in disciplines including business, natural resource sciences, engineering, public policy, adult education, teacher and counselor education, and more.

Tuition: $528 per credit hour.

#46. University of South Carolina

South Carolina College was founded in the city of Columbia on December 19, 1801. In 1805 the first classes were taught by two faculty members for nine students. The school flourished for more than 50 years, but the devastation of the Civil War greatly impacted the institution and forced it to close for a time. Upon reopening, the school became the University of South Carolina (USC) and progressively admitted African-American students in 1873–and was the only school in the South to do so during that time period. Unfortunately the school was closed and then reopened as an all-white institution in 1880 (it would not be until 1963 that African-Americans could again enroll). Beginning to thrive once again after World War II, the University today has fourteen schools and colleges, and offers the almost 50,000 students currently enrolled more than 350 academic degree programs from which to choose. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges provides USC with regional accreditation.

The University of South Carolina online education offerings include bachelor’s completion programs and online graduate degree programs in education, engineering, health information technology, and public health. Student’s will also find a variety of individual online courses. Online graduate degree programs are designed to bring the same quality and rich academic experience that USC’s on-campus students enjoy. The flexible, affordable format allows students to pursue advanced studies while continuing to devote time and energy to growth in their professional and personal lives.

Tuition: $533 per credit hour.

#47. University of New England

The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, an innovative educational community with two distinctive coastal Maine campuses, a vibrant new campus in Tangier, Morocco and a robust offering of degree and certificate programs online. UNE attracts internationally recognized scholars in the health sciences, life sciences, business, education, the social sciences and the humanities, allowing both our graduate and undergraduate students to engage in research and scholarship alongside dedicated faculty. UNE enrolls over 12,200 students and is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

UNE Online College of Graduate and Professional Studies offers online programs that are completely asynchronous, with no campus visits require. Students are afforded the opportunity to move their career forward with UNE by pursuing further education that is flexible to accommodate the student’s busy and demanding schedule. Offering graduate programs in education, health informatics, applied nutrition, public health, and social work as well as single science prerequisites for health professions courses, UNE’s innovative distance education format provides 24/7 access to curriculum wherever the student is located in the world.

Tuition: $540 per credit hour.

#48. Pennsylvania State University

Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania was established in 1855 as a degree granting institution. A gift of 200 acres in Centre County became the location of the school (the campus would continue to grow to over 10,000 acres), and in 1862 the school would become a land-grant institution (the federal Morrill Act of 1862 allowed states to sell federal lands in order to use the proceeds to then fund institutions of higher education. Penn State remains the only land-grant school in the state). The name was changed to Agricultural College of Pennsylvania at that time, but then changed again in 1874 to Pennsylvania State College. In 1953 the school became The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), and there are twenty-four campuses across the state. The main campus is in University Park, Pennsylvania, and over 47,000 students study at this flagship campus. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools regionally accredits Penn State.

Penn State’s World Campus is a highly ranked provider of online educational offerings designed for people who aren’t able to attend classes on campus or commit to full-time enrollment. Adult learners are able to advance their education and careers through a variety of degree and professional certificate offerings. Graduate degrees are available at the master’s and doctoral levels in disciplines ranging from accounting and applied demography, to supply chain management and turf grass management, and much more. Students in all program are guided by world class Penn State graduate faculty and learn from other career-focused students from diverse backgrounds.

Tuition: $542 per credit hour.

#49. Georgia College and State University

Known as “Georgia’s designated public liberal arts university” since 1996, Georgia College was founded in 1889 as a two-year college for women thanks to Augusta journalist Julia Flisch, who lobbied on behalf of instituting a publicly-funded school to teach women skills in business and education. Located in Milledgeville, the school became coeducational in 1967, and went through several name changes through the years before settling on Georgia College and State University. 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students now seek their education within the four colleges–the College of Arts and Sciences, the J. Whitney Bunting College of Business, the John H. Lounsbury College of Education and the College of Health Sciences. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants regional accreditation to Georgia College and State University. Georgia College and State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online programs at Georgia College are consistently recognized as some of the best in the country. Professionally focused, these advanced degrees provide students exceptional career advancement opportunities in many sectors including business, education, nonprofit and healthGraduate studies hosted online are some of the fastest-growing degree programs offered at Georgia College. Open to students nationwide, Georgia College’s online graduate degree programs can be completed from anywhere with internet access.  Online graduate degrees and certificate programs are offered in a wide variety of professional disciplines including business administration, supply chain management, public administration, teaching, educational leadership, library media, music therapy, health and human performance, nursing practice, and more. While some programs are offered entirely online with no campus visits required, others are offered through a hybrid model with some on-campus visits required.

Tuition: $544 per credit hour.

#50. Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University (ATU) is a comprehensive regional institution located in Russellville, Arkansas, United States. Founded in 1909 as the Second District Agricultural School, ATU has since grown to full university status and an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students. The university offers programs at both baccalaureate and graduate levels in a range of fields. The Arkansas Tech University–Ozark Campus, a two-year satellite campus in the town of Ozark, primarily focuses on associate and certificate education. ATU is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

eTech, Arkansas Tech University’s online division, is dedicated to providing a single focal point for any online training/degree programs and online resources that are made available at Arkansas Tech University. eTech provides information, training, and assistance to support students in their online education. Graduate level students can earn a variety of master’s degree and professional certificates fully online. Programs are available in disciplines including business administration, emergency management, nursing administration, health informatics, educational leadership, library media, special education, law enforcement, online teaching, and more.

Tuition: $548 per credit hour.

Why Get An Affordable Online Master’s Degree?

Whether you are a recent graduate of a bachelor’s degree program, or you have been working in your field for many years, a graduate level degree has the potential to provide graduates with a wide range of personal and professional benefits and can be just what is needed to boost individuals to the next level in their career paths. As more and more high school graduates are enrolling in bachelor’s programs each year, the bachelor’s degree is steadily being outmoded as the standard educational credential for establishing a career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a master’s degree by 2022. A master’s degree will benefit graduates in variety of ways including by providing specialized knowledge sought after by employers, increased access to upper-level positions in your industry, increased earning potential, improvement of valuable skillsets (research, writing, analysis, etc.), and forming a network of professional connections that will last beyond your formal studies. In today’s competitive job market, a master’s degree is one way of setting yourself apart from other potential employees to gain secure employment in a rewarding career.

However, for many individuals, especially those already working full-time or at home, earning a degree through the traditional route (taking coursework on campus) is not an option. Thankfully, many online programs have been developed to fill this need for flexible education that students can engage from anywhere at any time. These programs make it possible for working students to advance their education without disrupting their already busy career and family lives. Usually employing asynchronous learning technologies in which students log on to online learning systems at their convenience to do readings, participate in class discussion, and turn in assignments, students in these online degrees are not bound under the same time restraints of the traditional classroom. At the same time, because these programs are administered online, and regular on-campus visits are not required, students are also free to study from anywhere in the world where they can access the internet. This aspect is particularly advantageous in cases where individuals work lives dictate regular travel, or simply in cases where a quality program of study is not available in the direct vicinity in which they work.

In addition to the flexibility of online programs, on average, online programs will typically be cheaper than brick-and-mortar universities. For one reason, online programs (especially those offered by schools that specialize in online education) have fewer expenses in maintenance of property and facilities. Traditional colleges and universities, especially privately owned universities, have extremely high tuition rates. The average student enrolled at these universities can spend anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 each year just in tuition. With an online degree program, students can expect to pay a fraction of those tuition rates which also ultimately means that these degrees will have better return on investment meaning they will provide the greatest salary increase per dollar spent on tuition in a lifetime of earnings.

Are Cheap Online Master’s Degrees Still of Good Quality?

While many American believe that that online education is equal in quality to educational programs offered in traditional university classrooms, a large number of people still doubt its quality. Rightfully so; online colleges have been criticized for putting profits over the education of students and several for-profit colleges specializing in online degree programs have even been at the center of lawsuits claiming fraud. However, online programs remain a viable route for students to pursue further education. As more and more colleges and universities, from state universities to private Ivy Leagues are developing an expanding catalogue of online course and degree program offerings, it is important to understand how online education measures up against traditional campus programs of study.

Many online degree programs are taught by the same professors and under the same standards of instruction as the on-campus programs offered through the same university. While learning in these online programs will look differently from traditional counterparts, they are theoretically imparting the same quality of education. At the same time, it is important to understand that not all online degree programs (just as no all traditional degree programs) are created equal, and it is important that prospective students do their own research before enrolling in any program. The following criteria will help evaluate whether or not an online degree is of high quality or not:

A college’s accreditation holdings are a very good indicator whether or not the school meets certain academic standards that have been widely agreed upon by the academic community as baselines of a quality academic experience. In the U.S. regional accreditation is particularly important. There are six accrediting bodies that can award regional accreditation. Accreditation at the regional level not only ensures that academic standards meet the most recent standards of quality, but also that any coursework completed at the institution will be transferable to other institutions. The six regional accrediting bodies are: the Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, Souther Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. In programs where special licensure or certification are required to enter professional practice upon graduation, specialized accreditation will often be required. In whatever professional discipline your are pursuing a career in, ensure that a degree program will meet the basic requirements to attain licensure before enrolling.

Statistics such as graduation and student default rates can also tell students something about the quality of a school. These statistics are made publicly available with the College Navigator at the National Center for Education Statistics ( Low graduation rates for instance can indicate that students are not receiving adequate support for completion of their studies. High default rates on students loans can similarly indicate that a school’s financial aid advising is inadequate or that there is poor career placement services. While other factors do play into these statistics such as socioeconomic levels of the communities in which the school is situated, the statistics can also be an indicator of quality and should be taken into account.

The existence of strong student support services are likewise essential to quality programs. Just because students are enrolled online, doesn’t meant that they do not require support throughout their academic careers. Many online degree programs will highlight their student support services on their website. These may include student advisors, online tutoring options, library services, career placement services, and more. If not listed on the program’s website, students should be able to get information over the phone. Ensure that any program you enroll in has strong student support and if it doesn’t, this is a major indicator of a general lack of quality in the program.

Are Inexpensive Online Master’s Degrees Respected By Employers?

In the past, online degree programs have been perceived negatively by many employers according to a literature review conducted at Cleveland State University. This stigma was at least in part due to the exploitative and fraudulent practices of “diploma mills,” or unaccredited, for-profit universities which came under scrutiny in the last decade. Today, however, employers do not frequently call into question the qualification of employees who earned their degrees online. As it is becoming increasingly common for public universities, and even private Ivy League schools such as Harvard to offer an expanding catalogue of online programs, employers understand that a degree earned online imparts the same knowledge and skills as degrees earned in traditional classroom settings (albeit through different modes of learning). In fact, degrees earned online through accredited universities whether public or private, will typically look exactly the same as degrees earned through on-campus programs through the same university. Diplomas from these programs of study will not indicate “Online” anywhere on the document of completion. A Master’s degree from a respectable, accredited university is Master’s degree regardless of how one earned it.

However, if in an interview process it does come to light that a degree was earned through online study, many employers are now viewing students of online programs as stronger candidates due to their flexibility and ability to juggle full-time work and/or family commitments all while pursuing their degree. In highlighting this aspect of your education for employers, you can stand out from the pack as a highly disciplined and committed candidate which are qualities that all employers seek.

In the end, what counts from the perspective of most every employer is not whether or not, your degree was earned online or in a traditional classroom setting, but whether or not the institution that awarded your degree is well respected. An online Master’s degree from an unaccredited school will very likely get your resumé tossed out regardless of how much money you invested in that education, but a Master’s degree from an institution that is accredited and recognized as a leader in the field, will very likely be recognized and respected by potential employers regardless of what mode of education you undertook to pursue that degree.

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Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor