In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for online graduate programs in 2016.
Gone are the days when online education was limited to quick certificates or basic bachelor’s degrees. In the last decade or so, distance ed. delivery has evolved in a big way – to the benefit of many ambitious learners. No matter what your past education or experience with online learning, you can apply for a graduate program without ever leaving your living room. Take a look at our list of the top 10 online graduate programs – a combination of colleges and universities that balance costs on top of quality, all while designing some seriously superior grad-level curricula.
10. Amridge University
Founded in 1967 and online since 1993, Amridge is a pioneer of distance education and one of the best online graduate degree options. In fact, it was one of the first 15 pilot programs in the United States to test online teaching and learning! And the university continues to impress when it comes to distance ed. initiatives – students can even purchase iPads pre-loaded with all the software and tools they need for their studies. But Amridge is also grounded in traditional values: in keeping with its dedication “to the spirit of its Christian ideals and heritage,” the university’s 13 graduate programs focus primarily on spiritual and “helping” professions and include degrees such as Biblical Studies, Professional Counseling, and Marriage and Family Therapy.
Tuition and Fees: $13,900/yr
9. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Penn State is a well-recognized institution in the world of brick-and-mortar higher education, and now the World Campus can reach more students through its online accredited graduate degrees. This online branch offers a wide variety of master’s degrees in in-demand fields like Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems, Homeland Security, Nursing, and Engineering. You can even get your MBA or choose from educational specialties like Adult Education, Art Education, and Special Education. Penn State also has a special mission to serve military and veterans and participates in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon program. Most courses are available asynchronously for maximum flexibility, but students who need extra help can also log-on and get assistance from tutors, proctors, and course advisors in real-time.
Tuition and Fees: $19,320/yr
8. Aspen University
Aspen offers affordable online graduate programs in business, nursing, education, criminal justice, and technology, each with several specialty options, including an MBA in Project Management. Each course lasts ten weeks, and you can take up to three at a time, meaning you could complete a master’s degree program in just 12-30 months. The school works to ensure students don’t feel isolated despite studying online: you’ll have an advisor and academic counselor, receive personal feedback from professors on written assignments, and interact with your classmates in Aspen’s engaged community of online learners. But this doesn’t come at the expense of flexibility: classes are asynchronous, meaning you can “attend” them online whenever it suits your schedule.
Tuition and Fees: $4,050/yr
7. Colorado Technical University-Online
Advance your career without putting your life on hold – that’s the motto of CTU. In addition to a general-purpose MBA, there are 12 sub-specialties available, including Healthcare Management, Finance, and Technology Management. Beyond business, you can study other “hot” fields like computer science, criminal justice, management, homeland security, and information technology. What’s more, CTU professors are actively engaged in their fields and prepare their students with “up to date, real world knowledge” that they can take into the job market. But you won’t just make money postgrad; CTU can help you save cash while you’re studying, too, thanks to an innovative “FastTrack” program that helps you earn credit for prior coursework and earn your affordable online graduate degree even faster.
Tuition and Fees: $13,643/yr
6. Grantham University
Grantham is one of the most flexible schools in our online graduate degree rankings: with weekly enrollment and eight-week terms, you can start when it’s convenient and make rapid progress if you choose. This flexibility is especially ideal for military members and first responders, which Grantham welcomes with tuition discounts and scholarships. Indeed, many staff and faculty have experience as first responders and understand the unique time demands of this career. Degrees are available primarily in business, nursing, and IT, with several sub-specialties from which you can choose. You’ll also enjoy plenty of personal attention, from start-to-finish personal advising and small class sizes (limited to 25 students) to a Teaching and Learning Center that offers tutoring, webinars, and career assistance.
Tuition and Fees: $4,040/yr
5. American InterContinental University-Online
AIU calls itself the “Serious U” because it’s “serious about helping you further your education.” Its commitment to innovation makes it home to some of the best online graduate programs for non-traditional learners, including online masters programs in Accounting, Business, Education, Healthcare Management, and Information Technology. AIU also provides 24/7 support through phone, email and live chat; a career services team that will help you find internships, polish resumes, and prepare for interviews; and a unique online delivery system (called “My Unique Student Experience,” or MUSE) that caters to your individual learning style. This option, which lets you read, watch, or listen to course content depending on how you learn best, even helped AIU win a “Best of ELearning” Award in 2015!
Tuition and Fees: $20,090/yr
4. Western Governors University
This nonprofit university provides online masters programs primarily in business, information technology, nursing, and education, and offers several concentration options within each of these fields. For example, the Teacher’s College grants master’s degrees with licensure as well as advanced specialty degrees in Instructional Design, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology, among many others. And just because you’re studying online doesn’t mean you have to miss out on library access; WGU’s impressive collection features e-books, full-text access to thousands of scholarly journals and periodicals, and other invaluable resources for graduate students – and is open 24/7! The university charges flat tuition rates (collected every six months) so you pay by time instead of course or credit, making WGU a great option for an affordable online graduate degree.
Tuition and Fees: $6,790/yr
3. Walden University
Walden offers a wide variety of accredited online graduate programs, from general programs (MBA, Master’s of Public Health, or Master’s of Public Policy), to specialties like an M.S. in Addiction Counseling or School Counseling. Many programs also include practica and internships, during which you’ll work with a Walden faculty member and an on-site supervisor to gain real-world, job-relevant experience. This commitment to real-world action is most evident in Walden’s mission of social change: it hosts the Walden Service Network, which helps students and alumni connect for volunteer work around the world, as well as an annual Global Days of Service and a Scholars of Change video contest, which invites students to share their personal stories of service to their communities.
Tuition and Fees: $12,572/yr
2. American Public University System
When American Public University opened in 1991, its curriculum primarily catered to mobile military learners. Since then, the university has established a successful track record of serving non-traditional students of all backgrounds. And although today 42% of students are civilians, the university still proudly serves more military members than any other school. APU is also known for its unparalleled flexibility; from 8-week and 16-week course options to cheap online graduate degrees in a multitude of subjects (History, Humanities, Accounting, Business, and Cybersecurity are just a few), this school will provide the freedom and variety you need. And when it’s time to apply for jobs, the Office of Career Services will review your resume, coach you through practice interviews, and direct you to valuable industry resources.
Tuition and Fees: $6,150/yr
1. Trident University International
With nine different master’s degrees; 42 concentrations across in-demand career fields like business, the health sciences, and homeland security; and monthly start dates to maximize flexibility, Trident easily stands out in any online graduate degree ranking. The first fully online university to earn Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation, Trident knows what it takes to make students successful. Its Career Services Center provides guidance through self-assessment and interview training, while experienced advisors host helpful webinars on your postgraduate career options. And because the online college has a history of catering to veterans and adult learners, it has developed targeted financial assistance programs that include Federal aid, tuition discounts through corporate partnerships, and special rates for those affiliated with the military.
Tuition and Fees: $5,700/yr
This concludes our ranking of the best value colleges for online graduate programs.
See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.
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By CVO Staff
Published March 2016