Top 10 Cheapest State Universities for Online Bachelor’s Degrees 2024

Author: Brenda Rufener
Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
Reading level: Grade 8
Reading Time: 10 minutes, 20 seconds
Original Publication Date: April 2019
Updates: 4

This article profiles the top 10 cheapest state universities for an online bachelor’s degree.

An online bachelor’s degree can open doors for career advancement or getting your first job. PayScale says the average salary for individuals with bachelor’s degrees is $61,000. This number varies by occupation and industry. It can offer insight into what one can earn with an online bachelor’s degree. Also, one does not have to go into debt to earn an online degree. Accredited and top-ranked state schools offer cheap online bachelor’s degree programs. See our related article covering state schools with the lowest out-of-state tuition.

Featured Programs

Top 10 Cheapest State Schools for an Online Bachelor’s Methodology

When creating this list, we started with an initial pool of 367 colleges and universities. We referenced U.S. News and World Report, and College Navigator to do this. We reviewed universities that have at least one online bachelor’s degree program. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria:

  • Accreditation from recognized governing agencies
  • School and/or bachelor degree program rankings with U.S. News and World Report
  • Had more than one online degree program
  • Affordability

We then listed the programs on our list according to raw affordability. All tuition figures are for in-state students. Be sure to check with your school of interest. Some schools also grant in-state tuition to out-of-state online students.

Below is our list of the 10 cheapest state universities for an online bachelor’s degree for 2024.

#10 – Colorado State University

Online Bachelor’s in Anthropology, Economics, Psychology

Fort Collins, Colorado

Website
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,400

Affordable online bachelor’s programs are available at Colorado State University. The public institution offers several disciplines that lead to a bachelor’s degree. Classes are taught online by CSU’s esteemed faculty. They are structured in a way that is ideal for working students. Online degree offerings include:

  • Agricultural Business
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Fire and Emergency Services Administration
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Psychology

CSU has received rankings from publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks it #140 in best national universities and #141 in best value schools. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #20 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.

Pros:

  • Commitment of diversity
  • Focus on student success

Cons:

  • Some issues with transferring credits have been reported
  • Difficulties with the admissions process have been reported

#9 – Sam Houston State University

Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, General Business Administration, Homeland Security

Huntsville, Texas

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,296

Sam Houston State University offers cheap online bachelor’s degree programs. They are designed for working and busy students. SHSU has one of the largest selections of online bachelor’s degree programs. It caters to the needs of distance learning students. Programs can be completed entirely online. Options include:

  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Homeland Security
  • Liberal Studies

Some programs, like nursing, may require minimal classroom or lab attendance. Online classes are taught by university faculty. Students can rest assured that they are learning from credentialed instructors. U.S. News and World Report ranks Sam Houston State #230-#301 in best national universities. Also, the online bachelor’s degree programs rank #76 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

Pros:

  • Flexible career opportunities
  • Student support and resources

Cons:

  • Limited networking opportunities
  • Graduation rate is lower than the national average

#8 – Utah State University

Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, Psychology, Special Education

Logan, Utah

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,138

Classes are taught by Utah State instructors and delivered entirely online. These programs ideally fit the busy schedules of working students. Several minors are also available online and include disciplines like:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Instructional Technology
  • Learning Sciences
  • Public Health Nutrition

U.S. News and World Report ranks Utah State #205 in best national universities and #112 in top public schools. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #15 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#7 – Thomas Edison State University

Online Bachelor’s in Communications, Computer Science, Criminal Justice

Trenton, New Jersey

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,519

TESU is one of the least expensive state schools for online bachelor’s degrees. It offers one of the largest online bachelor’s degree selections for working students. Majors include:

  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Liberal Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology

Also, several business degree options allow students to customize their online BBA. They can fit career goals by selecting one of nine areas of specialization. Thomas Edison State instructors teach online courses. The public university is accredited and ranked. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as a top regional university in the North.

#6 – Southeast Missouri State University

Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,418

SMSU offers cheap online bachelor’s degree programs for working and busy individuals. They can earn their degree flexibly and conveniently. All programs offer online classes taught by university professors. Some of the most popular online programs include:

  • Computer Information Systems
  • Criminal Justice
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Nursing
  • Psychology

Southeast Missouri is an accredited public institution. It has received rankings from publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #90 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #20 in top public schools. The online bachelor’s degree programs rank #84 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#5 – Missouri State University

Online Bachelor’s in Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Finance, Hospitality Leadership

Springfield, Missouri

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,376

MSU is one of the cheapest state universities for online bachelor’s programs. The school offers inexpensive tuition for online students nationwide. It provides convenient courses taught by full-time faculty. The online curriculum is the same as what is taught on campus. Online programs include bachelor’s degrees in:

  • Communications
  • Criminal Justice
  • Finance
  • General Business
  • Health Services
  • Hospitality Leadership
  • Nursing

Missouri State is an accredited and ranked institution. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #111 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #32 in top public schools. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #76 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#4 – Appalachian State University

Online Bachelor’s in Education, Nursing, Social Work

Boone, North Carolina

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,364

Appalachian State University offers affordable online bachelor’s programs. The degrees are in areas, such as:

  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Pprofessional Studies

In fact, online undergraduate degrees include disciplines like:

  • Child Development
  • Communication Studies
  • Elementary Education
  • Management
  • Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • Social Work
  • Special Education

Programs feature an online curriculum—classes are taught by Appalachian State University faculty. U.S. News and World Report ranks Appalachian State #8 in best regional universities in the South. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #93 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News. The school lands in the #3 position on our list for affordability.

#3 – Alcorn State University

Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Child Development, Criminal Justice

Alcorn State, Mississippi

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,084

Featured Programs

Alcorn State University is one of the cheapest universities for an online bachelor’s. The school offers three undergraduate programs:

  • Business Administration
  • Child Development
  • Criminal Justice

Classes are delivered entirely online. They are taught by the same faculty who instruct on campus. Alcorn State is accredited and ranked with major publications. It offers quality education for busy and working students. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #89 in best regional universities in the South and #35 in top public institutions. Also, the online bachelor’s programs have received recognition by U.S. News.

#2 – Minot State University

Online Bachelor’s in Management, Marketing, Nursing

Minot, North Dakota

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,064

Minot State has affordable online bachelor’s programs. Those seeking a degree from an accredited state university may it a great fit. The school offers a large number of online bachelor’s degree programs. In fact, undergraduate majors include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Human Services
  • International Business
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Nursing

Classes are delivered entirely online and taught by the same university professors who lead courses and programs on campus. Minot State has received accreditation and is ranked by U.S. News and World Report. U.S. News ranks the school #128-#165 in best regional universities in the Midwest. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #248 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#1 – Fort Hays State University

Online Bachelor’s in Accounting, Business Administration, Education, Management Information Systems

Hays, Kansas

Website

Undergraduate Tuition: $5,130

FHSU is our list’s most affordable state university for an online bachelor’s. This school offers the most affordable online bachelor’s programs on our list. Also, Fort Hays State’s Virtual College offers one of the largest selections of online majors. Students may choose from 60 affordable, award-winning, and ranked online programs like:

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • International Business
  • Marketing
  • Nursing

U.S. News and World Report ranks Fort Hays State #128-#165 in best regional universities in the Midwest. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #42 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much money can I make with an online bachelor’s from a state university?

PayScale reports the average salary for individuals with a bachelor’s degree is $61,000. The average salary varies by industry and experience. They broke down the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor’s degree. It can help students decide what they want to major in when seeking a high return on investment. PayScale reports that your major affects your earnings more where you go to school.

We reviewed the top ten majors reported by PayScale. The bachelor’s in petroleum engineering ranks number one in early career pay. Early career pay–the median salary for alumni with zero to five years of work experience–is $82,700. Top-paying majors include information and computer science and operations research/industrial engineering. Both majors average $80,000 per year with zero to five years of work experience

We reviewed the top ten majors reported by PayScale. The bachelor’s in petroleum engineering ranks number one in early career pay. Early career pay–the median salary for alumni with zero to five years of work experience–is $82,700. Top-paying majors include information and computer science and operations research/industrial engineering. Both majors average $80,000 annually with zero to five years of work experience.

Other top-paying majors include:

  • Computer Science
  • Computer Engineering
  • Welding Engineering
  • Marine Engineering
  • Informatics
  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Construction Science
  • Management

Early career salaries exceed the national average of $61,000.

What is the average length of time for online bachelor’s degree programs?

The average online bachelor’s degree time varies by school and program. Traditional college courses last sixteen weeks. Online programs often offer accelerated classes. These compress courses to six-, eight-, or ten-week sessions. Students pursuing an online bachelor’s finish their degree sooner than traditional students.

Our research found that finishing an online bachelor’s degree takes three years. This is 12 months shorter than most traditional bachelor’s programs.

Transfer credits can shorten the time spent earning the online bachelor’s degree. Programs that accept transfer credits may have requirements. Some schools may only accept credits from regionally accredited institutions. They may also only accept transfer credits for particular core classes. Students may shave up to two years off their degree by transferring credits.

Enrollment also impacts the time required for an online bachelor’s degree. Part-time programs require less time on studies. But it can also extend the overall time spent earning the degree. Full-time programs often require more courses taken at one time. This allows students to earn their degrees quicker than part-time students.

What are the best majors among online bachelor’s degree programs?

The Princeton Review recently published a compilation of the best bachelor’s degrees. Popular programs are not always the best majors to pursue. Don’t select a major because your friends are studying or you heard classes were easy. This could cheat you out of self-discovery and a viable career..

Below are the top four majors for online bachelor’s degree programs based on research. The following programs hold up against more popular majors in aspects like:

  • Alumni Salaries
  • Job Prospects
  • Graduation Rates

Business

You don’t have to be a born leader to major in business. What you will need are:

  • Effective communication skills
  • The ability to crunch numbers
  • The ability to analyze financial data

Majoring in business provides a foundation for various job opportunities. This includes careers like:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Accounting
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing

Communications

Majoring in communications hones your speaking skills and makes you more effective in public speaking, interviewing, and team building. The major prepares you for a wide variety of career options in:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Government
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Social Services

Computer Science

As a computer science major, you will learn about applications, hardware, software, and technology that fits into business scenarios. Being exposed to Big Data, cloud technology, gaming technology, and programming languages may help you decide which industry you want to spend your days in.

Economics

Economics involves heavy doses of analysis, critical thinking, and theory. Individuals majoring in economics often pursue jobs in

  • Business
  • Government
  • Social Science

What are the admission requirements for online bachelor’s degree programs?

To earn an online bachelor’s degree, certain requirements are needed for admission. While programs may vary on degree requirements, there is a general consensus when admission boards review applications. Overall, admission boards seek students showing academic promise and the ability to complete a bachelor’s degree.

While potential and academic promise may be partially subjective, standards allow admission boards to evaluate students based on particular qualifications. The most common admission requirement is being a high school graduate. Having a GED satisfies this requirement. If you were homeschooled, a transcript may also be accepted.

Top ranked online colleges and universities require strong high school performance. This requirement may be showcased by your GPA and rigor of advanced placement courses taken in high school. Official high school transcripts are required along with the completed application.

Transfer students from accredited colleges or universities must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher for admission into most online bachelor’s degree programs.

Do employers look at online bachelor’s degree programs differently than traditional bachelor’s degree programs?

The number of job candidates holding online bachelor’s degrees has dramatically increased over the last several years. As a result, recruiters report acceptance of these degrees by employers has also become more common.

Over the last decade, diploma mills–unaccredited institutions offering online degrees–gave employers, recruiters, and other gatekeepers negative perceptions of online degrees. However, thanks to accredited state universities now offering online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, the stigma has since changed.

In fact, today, earning an online bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university can be seen as an advantage to employers. Business professionals and entrepreneurs favor recent graduates of online programs who have balanced work and family obligations while earning their degree. Employers think of the amount of discipline required to balance multiple obligations and commitments. To hiring committees, earning a degree while tending to life obligations tells a lot about the job candidate’s discipline.

With the growing number of state colleges and universities offering online bachelor’s degrees from accredited programs, employers are taking notice. Before you enroll in a program, human resource professionals offer sound advice. Make sure the online bachelor’s program is accredited. In order for a potential employer to recognize your degree, accreditation is necessary.

CVO Staff

Additional Resources:

This concludes our list of the top 10 cheapest state schools for an online bachelor’s.