10 Most Affordable Small Liberal Arts Online Colleges

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Students fresh out of high school are faced with a large number of choices when it comes to getting further education. First is the choice of whether or not to go to college at all and opt for a more trades-related degree instead.

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For those who do decide to pursue college, the number of choices to make: whether to go for education in-state or out-of-state, and whether or not to go for their dream university or choose one that’s more local or more affordable, such as liberal arts colleges.

What is a liberal arts college? In simple terms, it is an institution mainly focused on undergraduate-level education and emphasizes providing students with a more general knowledge base in the liberal arts (which itself has a wide scope) and the general sciences. 

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Liberal Arts colleges differ from other higher education institutions in a few key points. First, they tend to have a more generalist emphasis compared to trades/vocational schools and tend to be much smaller size-wise compared to most major universities. 

Recent developments have added a new dimension to higher education: more and more institutions are offering their programs online, opening more possibilities for a wide range of students. 

This article features ten schools that are some of the most affordable small liberal arts online colleges. Definitions vary with regard to what makes a college small, but a generally accepted metric is a population of below 5,000 students. 

Not all small colleges offer online degrees, however, so we’ve included a number of colleges that have populations between 5,000 and 10,000 students. There are also some in this list that are online components of major universities. Key data points on population and average costs were sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator

City Vision University

Student Population: 182

Average Net Price: $7,403

City Vision University is a primarily online university operated by TechMission, a Christian nonprofit organization, and is based in Kansas City, Missouri. It has a distinct emphasis as a Christian organization and focuses on providing programs geared towards urban ministry and social service programs. According to the latest data, City Vision University has around 182 students.  

While City Vision University’s range of academic offerings isn’t as impressive as other larger universities, it does excel in the ones that it does, which includes bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in Addiction Counseling, Nonprofit Management, and Christian Ministry and Leadership. Students can save further through a generous transfer policy or using Veteran’s Benefits & Pell Grants, which potentially make applying for loans unnecessary. 

University of Arkansas Grantham

Student Population: 5,436

Average Net Price: $9,546

The University of Arkansas Grantham is a public university in Little Rock, Arkansas, and is primarily online. It is the most recent addition to the University of Arkansas system, becoming a part of it in 2021. It currently has over 5,400 students enrolled in its four colleges. 

The University of Arkansas Grantham offers Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Certificate online programs. The fields of interest vary from Computer Science and Criminal Justice to Strategic Communications, Multidisciplinary Studies, Paralegal, and more. Students who enroll can also be eligible for a new laptop provided by the university for free.  

Charter Oak State College

Student Population: 1,602

Average Net Price: $10,191

Founded in 1973 in New Britain, Connecticut, by the State Legislature, Charter Oak State College is a public online college, and while it mainly serves adult learners, does provides a range of opportunities to earn educational credits.

Charter Oak offers a wide range of undergraduate & graduate programs, as well as graduate certificates & credential programs. Its wide range of online bachelor’s degrees on offer include Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Organizational Leadership, Cybersecurity, and more. 

University of Florida Online

Student Population: 5,356

Average Net Price: $10,791

The University of Florida is one of the state’s most prominent public research universities and is part of the State University System of Florida. Its University of Florida Online dates back to 2014 and currently has around 5,300 students enrolled. 

Through UF Online, students get to enjoy the caliber of education offered by the University of Florida in a more convenient & flexible format. Students may enroll in a wide range of bachelor’s degrees, which include Anthropology, Advertising, Geography, Biology, Psychology, Public Relations, Sociology, and more. 

Bryant & Stratton College Online

Student Population: 9,050

Average Net Price: $14,506

Bryant & Stratton College is a private college that operates campuses in several states, with an online education division that hosts over 9,500 students. It is a Middle States Commission on Higher Education-accredited institution.

Bryant & Stratton College Online offers diplomas, associate’s, and bachelor’s degree programs in several areas that include Business, Technology, Education, Healthcare, Hospitality, and Human & Legal Services. Coursework in online classes is accessible to students 24/7, and students have a chance to complete their coursework at their most convenient time. 

Colorado State University Global

Student Population: 9,565

Average Net Price: $14,826

Colorado State University’s Global Campus, or CSU Global, is one of the most recent additions to the Colorado State University System, being established in 2007 in Aurora, Colorado. Like a number of other online universities, CSU Global focuses on non-traditional learners and adult professional learners, offering undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs.  

CSU Global offers undergraduate and graduate programs across all fields, such as Information Technology, Cybersecurity, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and more. CSU Global also prides itself on its affordable tuition rates, which haven’t increased in over ten years, as well as a generous range of financial aid options. CSU Global also follows a tuition guarantee, where students get a locked-in tuition rate throughout their stay. 

Johnson & Wales University – Online

Student Population: 2,505

Average Net Price: $20,242

Johnson & Wales University is a private university in Providence, RI. While it is a traditional university, it does have around 2,505 students enrolled in its set of online programs, which includes 20 bachelor’s degree programs. 

Johnson & Wales University’s online undergraduate program offerings cover numerous fields including Psychology, Liberal Studies, Computer Science, various Management programs, and more. JWU is also widely recognized across the country not only for its value but also for its high career outcome rates and expansive network of internship sites for applicable degree programs.

Los Angeles Pacific University

Student Population: 1,895

Average Net Price: $22,605

Los Angeles Pacific University (LAPU) is a private Christian university affiliated with the Azusa Pacific University system. While a large portion of its student population is adult learners, its students come from various backgrounds and enrolled in its online associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. High School graduates applying for programs are not required to take SAT scores. 

Los Angeles Pacific University features a wide range of bachelor’s degree programs, including Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts programs. These programs include the Humanities, Liberal Arts (including a special Teacher Prep track), Psychology, Criminal Justice, Digital Marketing, and more. LAPU also prides itself on its special student-centered approach to online teaching and guidance. 

Florida Institute of Technology – Online

Student Population: 1,230

Average Net Price: $24,115

The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), or Florida Tech, is one of the state’s major universities, with many of its students enrolled in Engineering & Science programs. FIT’s online division is one of its recent additions and has over 1,200 students based on current data.

While it has a pronounced emphasis on the engineering and science fields, FIT Online’s academic offerings include programs from the fields of Psychology, Management, Accounting and Business. Some of these programs are also offered as Associate’s Degrees. FIT Online also doesn’t skimp on student support in the form of career guidance, online library resources, and even job search prep assistance.

The King’s College

Student Population: 384

Average Net Price: $34,192

Located in New York City, The King’s College was founded in 1938. It is a private Christian liberal arts college that awards mainly bachelor’s and associate’s degrees to an average population of less than 500 students.

Despite being a relatively small institution, King’s College offers a number of its bachelor’s degree programs fully online and accessible 24/7, including the fields of Politics, Philosophy, & Economics, Liberal Studies, Business Management, and Religious & Theological Studies. Through online learning, students can complete a degree in under four years, all while paying affordable tuition rates and benefitting from financial aid options. 

Regardless of a student’s financial/economic status and capacity, getting further education after high school isn’t necessarily an impossible dream. Smaller colleges, especially those that offer online classes, offer an attractive option for many, and certainly, there are advantages with smaller institutions, especially when it comes to being in a more close-knit learning community. The traditional path to university can quickly become expensive for many—even with financial aid & scholarships—but other alternative options can give students the perfect opportunity to get the knowledge & skills required to start to prosper. 

Sources

  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator
  • Times Higher Education
  • City Vision University
  • University of Arkansas Grantham: Online Degrees
  • Charter Oak State University: Bachelor’s Degree Programs
  • University of Florida Online: Online Undergraduate Degrees
  • Bryant & Stratton College Online: Online Degree Programs
  • Colorado State University Global: Academic Programs
  • Colorado State University Global: Tuition and Cost
  • Johnson & Wales University: Explore Majors & Programs
  • Johnson & Wales University: JWU at a Glance
  • Los Angeles Pacific University: Degrees & Programs
  • Florida Institute of Technology: Programs
  • The King’s College: Online Learning