Why Study Online?
Online learning offers many benefits, including cost savings. By not living on campus or traveling to campus for classes, students can save money on housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses. Some schools also offer lower tuition rates for online classes and do not charge online students many of the fees they charge students who spend time on campus.
Online programs also offer greater flexibility than on-campus programs, enabling students to more easily balance school with personal and professional responsibilities. Asynchronous online classes do not require set meeting times, allowing students to access course content and assignments at their convenience. Synchronous courses require set meeting times, which typically offer less flexibility but more structure than asynchronous classes.
Frequently Asked Questions
|Does it matter where I live if I go to online school?||Online students can access course materials and assignments from any location, so they can attend programs all over the country without relocating. However, some schools charge out-of-state students higher tuition rates than in-state students.|
|Do I get in-state tuition if I go to an online school?||Some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live, while others only extend tuition discounts to in-state students.|
|Does an online degree take the same amount of time as an on-campus one?||Online degrees typically require the same number of courses and take the same amount of time to complete as on-campus degrees.|
|Can I get financial aid for online school?||Yes, online students often qualify for the same financial aid opportunities as on-campus students.|
Top 10 Best Value Online Schools in Virginia for 2020
|Ranking||School||Location||Average Net Price|
|1||Averett University||Danville, VA||$11,520|
|2||University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||$17,845|
|3||Mary Baldwin University||Staunton, VA||$16,556|
|4||George Mason University||Fairfax, VA||$19,064|
|5||Radford University||Radford, VA||$15,636|
|6||Old Dominion University||Norfolk, VA||$15,917|
|7||James Madison University||Harrisonburg, VA||$17,753|
|8||Regent University||Virginia Beach, VA||$16,779|
|9||Norfolk State University||Norfolk, VA||$14,824|
|10||Bluefield College||Bluefield, VA||$21,574|
Accreditation for Online Programs
Accreditation is a voluntary review process that colleges and universities undergo to demonstrate that their programs meet high academic standards. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. One of seven regional accrediting bodies, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits online schools in Virginia.
Programs within a school may also receive accreditation, such as business, social work, and nursing programs. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission ensures that online schools seeking accreditation meet established standards for quality, such as employing qualified faculty and providing support for students. Learn more about accreditation.
2020 Best Value Online Schools in Virginia
This guide ranks the best value online schools in Virginia so students can find the best fit for their budget, schedule, and career goals.
Based in Danville, Virginia, Averett University began offering educational programs tailored to working students 25 years ago. Averett developed its Individually Designed Education for Adult Learners program for students who find structured courses challenging to complete due to work or family commitments. These online programs include bachelor's degrees in business administration, computer information systems, sport management, and sociology. Averett also offers an online master's degree in accounting.
Averett's online students benefit from small classes taught by experienced faculty. Interactive technology allows students to collaborate on group projects and take part in robust discussions. As one of the top Virginia online schools, Averett utilizes semester-based independent learning throughout online courses.
Student success counselors assist prospective students from application through graduation. Averett's Blount Library provides thousands of resources online, and students in the Danville area can always visit the campus library. Should students need help with their classes, Averett offers complimentary access to Smarthinking online tutoring.
University of Virginia
Charlottesville-based University of Virginia offers students access to individual courses, professional certifications, and accredited degrees through its online learning platform. Sixteen of UVA's 17 online degrees focus on graduate study in education, counseling, engineering, and business.
UVA developed a virtual university that combines live sessions and asynchronous coursework. Online students enjoy access to a virtual library, technical support, and software. Program success coaches ensure students remain on track for their goals, and the virtual library offers 24/7 access to resources.
The bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies welcomes up to 60 transfer credits toward graduation. Students can choose concentrations in healthcare management, business, art and society, and cybersecurity analysis.
UVA partners with providers like Coursera to offer open education courses and non-credit classes. These programs help students gain critical skills for their work or pursue areas of interest outside their formal degree plan.
Mary Baldwin University
Based in Staunton, Virginia, Mary Baldwin University opened in 1842. The university launched programs designed for adult students in 1977. Today, about 500 learners take part in online programs at MBU.
MBU offers more than 30 online programs, with certificates, undergraduate, and graduate degrees available in many fields. MBU helps students complete their degree online by accepting up to 84 transfer credits toward undergraduate degrees. Transfer students can also earn college credit for skills and knowledge gained through professional or military training, by examination, or evaluation of a prior learning portfolio.
Online students may also apply for grants and scholarships, including funds for first-responders and students who served in the military. MBU also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans and holds recognition as a Military Friendly School.
George Mason University
With more than 50 online and hybrid programs, George Mason University offers the flexibility that working professionals need to complete their degree and achieve their educational goals. This Virginia online school's offerings include bachelor's and master's degrees in business, education, engineering, health, and science.
Mason offers both asynchronous and hybrid online courses, and academic advisors help online students plan their educational path. Distance learners also enjoy access to the school's five libraries, with online access to thousands of resources. Mason's writing center provides tutoring, workshops, handbooks, and virtual appointments. The university also ensures online learners can take an active role in student life with extracurricular opportunities. Technical support ensures students remain connected to their coursework.
Radford University, a public university in Radford, Virginia, serves approximately 12,000 students from its 204-acre campus. Founded in 1910 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women, Radford University continues to expand educational opportunities for students seeking online schools in Virginia. The university's online presence includes fully online degrees in health science, business, education, and criminal justice.
The university offers online courses in synchronous and asynchronous formats, with some programs incorporating on-campus sessions for a hybrid experience. Faculty receive extensive training in developing online courses and teaching in a virtual setting. Online students benefit from resources like the Knowledge Center, which offers tutoring and academic coaching through virtual appointments.
The university welcomes transfer students, with no limit on the number of credits accepted. However, students must complete at least 45 credits through Radford University to graduate.
Old Dominion University
With more than 100 degrees available, Old Dominion University's online programs prepare graduates for in-demand careers in engineering, health sciences, computer science, and business.
The university's first satellite delivery program launched in 1994. Today, more than 12,000 students enroll in online classes each semester. ODU offers both synchronous and asynchronous online courses.
Furthermore, the university provides distance learners with a comprehensive collegiate experience. Live and pre-recorded conferences ensure students can take part in professional development activities, special campus events, and commencement. Tech support ensures students can access the Blackboard and Professional Learning Environment platforms.
The Norfolk-based school partners with Virginia's community colleges, providing guaranteed admission for transfer students. ODU evaluates transfer credit on a case-by-case basis.
James Madison University
Based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, James Madison University offers access to high-quality online degrees for undergraduate and graduate students. JMU's unique Adult Degree Program serves learners who balance work and family commitments. Graduate students can earn one of four online master's degrees or a specialized professional certificate in computer science, education, and speech and language pathology.
The Adult Degree Program welcomes applicants who are at least 22 years old with 30 or more college credits. JMU offers 18 concentrations in fields like healthcare leadership, business and information technology, professional workplace communication, and human resource management. Online students benefit from career and academic planning assistance, access to library resources, and academic coaching.
JMU provides a high rate of undergraduate research and a 90% freshman retention rate. Ninety-six percent of graduates report employment or graduate school acceptance within six months.
Regent University, a private Christian school in Virginia Beach, offers flexible online degree options tailored to the needs of working students. Regent offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in fields like business, education, law, and nursing.
Regent's online courses use traditional 15-week schedules or accelerated eight-week formats with asynchronous learning. Services for distance learners include advising, academic labs, faculty mentors, and counseling services. Regent's Center for Student Happiness offers technical support, workshops, and success coaching. The university's ministries team also provides personal mentoring and weekly gatherings.
Regent allows students to transfer up to 90 credits toward their degree. Regent also offers institutional scholarships and aid. The military-friendly school welcomes active-duty personnel, veterans, or spouses and dependents. Scholarships and grants for military students can cover up to 100% of undergraduate tuition.
Norfolk State University
Norfolk State University offers eight bachelor's degrees and six master's degrees through its online learning platform. Flexible, asynchronous courses allow students to learn when convenient. Programs include cybersecurity, education, healthcare administration, and business in addition to psychology, history, and an RN-to-BSN bridge program for nursing.
This Virginia online school's extended learning office supports distance learning through technical support and access to e-learning tools and services. NSU participates in Quality Matters to ensure online courses provide high-quality instruction. Faculty members undergo a certification process for online teaching.
Students also enjoy access to academic support services, including Pearson's MyLab and SmartThinking online tutoring. Virtual computing labs help students use specialized software for their coursework, and virtual study rooms allow for class collaboration.
NSU welcomes transfer students. Eligible students can apply for a transfer grant. Applicants who complete prerequisite courses successfully qualify for guaranteed admission.
Southwest Virginia's Bluefield College offers online learning with small classes, accelerated schedules, and asynchronous courses. The liberal arts college offers both bachelor's and master's programs in business, nursing, human services, education, and criminal justice.
Affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the private institution partners with Columbia Baptist and Seminary of the Open Bible to provide a Christian college experience. Students can take part in learning experiences through their partner church.
Most of the college's online classes boast an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Courses require eight weeks, allowing students to focus on one or two courses at a time while balancing work and family commitments. Academic support includes online library access, academic coaching, tutoring and labs, and testing services.
Online students qualify for federal and state financial aid. Bluefield College also offers grants and scholarships specifically for distance learners. The school also participates in veterans and military benefits programs.
Career and Salary Outlook for Graduates
While salaries vary by location and experience, Virginia professionals earned a mean annual salary of $56,740 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the Northern Virginia metropolitan area, workers earned $72,600, on average, which is well above the national average of $53,490. Virginia workers also benefit from a low 2.6% unemployment rate (February 2020).
Graduates from an online school in Virginia enjoy many benefits. For instance, workers typically earn higher average salaries and experience lower rates of unemployment with each level of education they attain. According to the BLS, the median weekly wage for graduates with a bachelor's degree is $1,248, compared to $887 for graduates with an associate degree and $746 for high school graduates.
Financial Aid for Virginia Students
Students attending Virginia online schools may qualify for financial aid opportunities, including loans, grants, and work-study programs. Students can apply for federal aid by submitting the FAFSA. In addition to grants, which do not require repayment, the federal government offers unsubsidized and subsidized loans to eligible students. Students who accept loans must start repaying them once they stop attending school.
Students may also qualify for additional forms of financial aid, such as work-study programs and scholarships. Like grants, scholarships do not require repayment.
Scholarships for Virginia Students
Many organizations, companies, and foundations offer scholarships to Virginia college students to help cover education costs. Organizations may award scholarships based on factors like financial need, academic qualifications, student interests, or other criteria. We cover several scholarship opportunities for Virginia students below.
AdvanSix STEM Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students from eligible Virginia cities, like Hopewell, planning to major in a STEM field qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must take at least six credits, demonstrate financial need, and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $1,000Apply for Scholarship
The Esperanza Education Fund Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students born outside the U.S. (or with parents born outside the U.S.) who are living in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C., and planning to enroll full time at a public school may apply. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
Amount: $5,000-$20,000Apply for Scholarship
Scholarship for Survivors
Who Can Apply: Undergraduates from Virginia under age 25 who were diagnosed with or treated for cancer within the last five years may apply. Applicants must submit an essay and verification of their medical diagnosis.
Amount: $3,000 per year ($12,000 total)Apply for Scholarship
Virginia Chapter of HIMSS Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Student members of the Virginia Chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society enrolled in a program related to health information or technology may apply.
Amount: $5,000Apply for Scholarship
VSCPA Educational Foundation Undergraduate Accounting Scholarship
Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens enrolled in an accounting program at a Virginia college or university may apply. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $1,500-$3,000Apply for Scholarship
Since public colleges and universities receive state funding, they typically charge lower tuition rates to in-state students than out-of-state students. In-state students at public, four-year institutions paid an average of $12,637 in tuition and fees in 2016-17, while out-of-state students paid an average of $33,428.
To qualify for in-state tuition at state schools in Virginia, students must demonstrate residency in Virginia for at least one year. Some schools, especially private schools, offer the same tuition rates to all students, regardless of residency. Others offer substantially discounted tuition rates for online classes.