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Best Cheap Online Degrees

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Online Degrees

Whether you’d like to go to college for the first time, continue your education after some time off, or get a degree to advance in your career, you can find what you’re looking for through the variety of cheap online degrees available across the country.

Through these programs, you gain the flexibility needed achieve success in your higher education journey. In most cases, these programs offer asynchronous courses, allowing you to view lectures, complete assignments, and take part in class discussions mostly on your own schedule.

Top 10 Best Cheap Online Degree Ranking

Rank School Location
1 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
2 University of the Southwest Hobbs, NM
3 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
4 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
5 Columbia College Columbia, MO
6 Prescott College Prescott, AZ
7 Ottawa University Ottawa, KS
8 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
9 Colorado State University-Global Campus Aurora , CO
10 Central Methodist University Fayette, MO

You’ll also find many different options when it comes to tuition and fees, the programs available, and the quality of the faculty and curriculum at each school. Thus, you’ll want to do your research and make sure the institution and program you choose provides the right fit for your needs, goals, and life circumstances.

The list below features the top 20 cheap online degree programs in the United States.

The 20 Best Cheap Online Degrees Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For the purposes of this ranking, qualifying schools are defined as public or private non-profit/not-for-profit colleges and universities with well-developed undergraduate programs that have a significant online presence. This means schools that offer at least 15 bachelor’s degrees (in total), at least 10 of which are available online.

Ranking Factors

To identify the best affordable online colleges, we considered three ranking factors. First, we calculated eligible schools’ average tuition cost per credit using in-state and out-of-state tuition data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). This measure of affordability accounted for 30% of each school’s final score.

We also evaluated each college’s focus on undergraduate education, both overall and specifically regarding online learning. To do this, we considered both the total number of online bachelor’s degrees that each school offers and the percentage of all undergraduate degrees that it offers online. High scores in both categories indicate a significant commitment – regarding both time and resources – to online undergraduate education. These measures accounted for 60% of each school’s final score (30% x 2).

Lastly, we paid attention to “extra” features that enhance the online learning experience for students. Specifically, we looked at whether or not each school offers course credit for past experience and/or evening and weekend classes. These measures accounted for 10% of each school’s final score (5% x 2).

Note that after we had tallied all the results, we rated the final scores on a curve so that the best cheap online college (ranked #1) earned the maximum 100 points.

  1. Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo, FL

    Focused on preparing adult learners for the jobs of the future, Saint Leo WorldWide offers dozens of cheap online degrees students can complete efficiently, allowing them to pursue greater career opportunities. Its average student age is 36 years old.

    The university's distance programs include five associate, 20 bachelor's, and 41 graduate degrees. Online learners can access career services and academic advising, along with virtual membership in a variety of student clubs and organizations.

    Based in Florida, Saint Leo has more than 40 satellite campuses across seven states. The university is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. University of the Southwest

    Hobbs, NM

    USW offers 28 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs, some of which students can complete through distance learning alone. All programs include at least some online classes.

    The university features an easy process for transfer students, typically accepting those in good academic standing with a GPA of 2.0 or above. Thanks to its status as a Yellow Ribbon school, military veterans can get all tuition and fees covered through their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Additional student services for online students include counseling, technology support, and career and academic services.

    Founded in 1962 and located in Hobbs, New Mexico, USW is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Davenport University

    Grand Rapids, MI

    Davenport University's series of cheap online degrees includes 12 master's programs, 15 graduate certificates, and 17 bachelor's programs. It also offers online associate degrees in accounting, business administration, computer information systems, finance, and health information technology.

    The school, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its asynchronous online course format means students do not need to attend lectures at set times. Instead, they can review materials, complete assignments, engage in class discussions, and take exams largely on their own time.

    Starting in fall 2016, Davenport began offering a 33% tuition discount for non-Michigan residents pursuing an undergraduate degree.

  4. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

    Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

    SMWC, located in western Indiana, offers three associate, 16 bachelor's, and four master's degrees completely online. The nonprofit college delivers all courses from a Catholic perspective, although it welcomes those of all faiths.

    The school features a low student-to-faculty ratio of about 13:1, and 95 percent of its students receive some form of financial aid. It also provides numerous resources for military members and veterans, even awarding credit for life experience and providing online tutoring for those who need a little extra assistance.

    SMWC, founded in 1840, is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It has an alumni network of nearly 8,500 across the globe.

  5. Columbia College

    Columbia, MO

    Established in 1851, Columbia College offers 55 cheap online degrees covering subjects like business administration, crime scene investigation, environmental studies, instructional leadership, and sports management. These programs include associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees, along with several certificates.

    Through the college's ""Truition"" initiative, online students pay no academic fees beyond tuition and do not need to purchase textbooks for their classes. The average student finishes a bachelor's degree in 3.5 years and a master's degree in one year.

    The college is located in Columbia, Missouri, and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its status as a Yellow Ribbon school means it delivers numerous services for military members and veterans, including scholarships, tuition discounts, and VA benefits assistance.

  6. Prescott College

    Prescott, AZ

    Arizona's Prescott College, which has been delivering distance learning opportunities since the late 1970s, now offers 32 cheap online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It even features an online Ph.D. in sustainability education, focused on K-12 and postsecondary learning across traditional and nontraditional settings.

    The school emphasizes the needs of military members and their families, assisting with eBenefits, post-9/11, GI Bill, VA benefits, academic advising, and career services. All students have access to the Learning Commons, which provides tutors in language, math, science, and writing. And, the college's digital library features more than 150,000 e-books.

    Prescott College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Ottawa University

    Ottawa, KS

    Located in eastern Kansas, Ottawa University offers 70 bachelor's degrees and 23 master's degrees completely online. These programs cover the arts and sciences, business, and education. Students can access all course materials, assignments, and discussion at any time of the day or night, providing a convenient format for working adults. Classes begin at six different start dates in the summer, fall, and spring.

    Ottawa University, founded in 1865, is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It has satellite campuses in Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, and Wisconsin. The university also allows prospective students to take a sample online class for free via its Blackboard course delivery platform.

  8. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH

    A pioneer in distance education since 1932, SNHU offers more than 200 cheap online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Students benefit from a variety of services, including an online library, technical support, tutoring, financial aid help, and veterans services. Undergraduate programs start at six points in the year, preventing students from having to wait to begin their pursuit of a degree.

    All students receive personalized guidance from an academic advisor and career advisors who help them progress in their programs, graduate, and find job and internship opportunities.

    SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

  9. Colorado State University-Global Campus

    Aurora , CO

    CSU's Global Campus offers 12 bachelor's and 13 master's degree programs covering diverse subjects like accounting, criminal justice, data analytics, human services, information technology, and organizational leadership. It features accelerated eight-week course formats, with new classes starting each month.

    Students get the peace of mind of a Tuition Guarantee that keeps their tuition rate at the same level from the start of the program until they graduate. They pay no student fees beyond tuition.

    CSU Global Campus, regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, was established by the CSU Board of Governors as the first independent and completely online university in 2007.

  10. Central Methodist University

    Fayette, MO

    CMU's online offerings include 22 online undergraduate programs, along with an MS in mathematics, an MSN clinical nurse leader, and an MSN nurse educator. The university features both eight- and 16-week class formats, providing a high level of flexibility for working adults.

    Distance learners have access to a variety of student services, including academic advising, a career development center, counseling, technology assistance, and a writing center. Its veterans services office provides help with VA benefits, degree planning, and other needs for military members and their families.

    CMU, founded in 1853 and located in Fayette, Missouri, is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 best cheap online degrees!

IPEDS Data Center

See Also:

The Best Affordable Bachelor’s Degrees
The Best Affordable Master’s Degrees

Related Resources:

Reviews of the Cheapest Online Degrees by Major
View all Cheap Online College Rankings

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