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Complete 2014 Online University Rankings

What is an Online University?

Online universities provide a variety of certificate and degree programs in a distance-learning environment. Unlike many traditional brick and mortar institutions, online universities offer significant flexibility, allowing you to pursue continuing education goals around your own schedule.

The top online universities offer a range of educational experiences and career advancement opportunities. Online university rankings are a good way to learn about the different programs out there. But it is important to first understand how distance-learning works before researching which institution is right for you.

The key difference between traditional institutions and online universities is the physical classroom. Many people looking to further their education are simply unable to attend class on a regular basis due to personal schedules and commitments. By enrolling at online universities, credit can be earned with minimal or zero in-class time. Access to faculty and professionals is made possible without stringent time commitments. In short, distance learning brings the university to the student.Distance learning is not for everyone, but it continues to be a viable option for many. Enrollment has increased over the last decade, as advances in technology have made online universities more assessable. When choosing whether or not distance learning is right for you, consider what the online option provides for students:

  • Degree and certificate programs: Whether you are looking to earn your associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degree, or professional certification, accredited online universities provide a variety of programs and specialization tracks. Many online universities offer curricula across a wide spectrum of fields as well as industry-specific concentrations.
  • Technology: Through comprehensive online experiences, students are able to engage with curricula, access faculty, and interact with classmates from anywhere and at any time. Online universities offer many innovative digital tools to bring the classroom to you.
  • Hybrid programs: While many online universities allow you to earn credit without ever having to step foot in a classroom, hybrid programs are available that mix online curriculum and in-class instruction. This flexibility allows students to choose a continuing education experience that is catered to individual schedules.
  • Financial flexibility: Paying for school is an obstacle for many. Like traditional institutions, online universities offer a variety of financial aid options for their students. Furthermore, many programs are designed to work around full time jobs. Refer to online university degree rankings to compare tuition and fee information.

Accreditation of Online Universities

In order for a degree or certification to be recognized, the issuing institution must be properly accredited. This is the case for both brick and mortar institutions as well as online universities. Employers and educational institutions may not recognize a degree or certification issued from a non-accredited school. When looking at online university rankings, it is important to check for the school’s accreditation.

For an institution to receive accreditation, a third-party accrediting committee must first evaluate it. Regional committees evaluate most accredited online universities and brick and mortar institutions. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether or not the institution meets a certain set of educational standards. These standards are set to ensure the institution is committed to providing students with a competitive education.

There are two types of accreditation: institutional and specialized.

Institutional accreditation considers the overall quality of an institution and how an institution meets education standards. Accrediting committees consider a number of factors they believe are crucial in providing a quality education or certification program. Some of these factors may include:

  • Teaching: The institution’s programs must be appropriate in content and maintain a breadth and depth necessary to prepare students for work.
  • Governance: The institution must employ a sufficient number on the administrative end to maintain its operations and support students.
  • Library and technology: The institution must maintain quality information resources used to provide students access to educational materials and enhance academic offerings.
  • Financial stability: The institution must have a strong financial history and possesses the funds to ensure it can maintain operations on the long-term.
  • Student resources: The institution must provide student support in areas such as financial aid, advising and career counseling.

While institutional accreditation evaluates a university as a whole, some online universities may have specialized accreditation. Specialized accreditation evaluates particular schools or programs within the larger institution. These usually apply to national professional associations. When looking through the ranking of online universities for programs such as engineering, nursing, or law, be sure to confirm these schools have specialized accreditation.

How to Select the Best Online Degree Program

When reviewing online universities rankings for online degree program that are best for you, it is important to consider certain factors to ensure the program meets your needs and goals.

Accreditation: First and foremost, look for accredited online universities evaluated by a recognized accrediting committee (check with the The United States Department of Education for acceptable accrediting committees). This establishes that the overall quality of the education experience meets established standards. It also ensures coursework will be transferable to other educational institutions and/or recognized by employers. If you are looking into professional programs such as engineering, nursing or law, the institution should also have specialized accreditation in these fields.

Field of Study: Before selecting an online degree program you must first decide what you want to study. Certain programs may offer a comprehensive program in one field but provide less for another. Decide your field of study first, and then research the best online university rankings for that field. Let your interest decide the program, not the other way around. It is also important to note that many online degree programs are aimed at the professional and business fields. If you intend to study liberal arts or the sciences, you will have to dig a little bit deeper.

Program structure: One of the main benefits of online degree programs versus brick and mortar programs is flexibility. The top online universities offer curriculum options meant to cater to students with varying schedules. Decide which will work better for you: a semester system that starts on a specific date, or self-directed coursework that can be completed at your own pace. Make sure the program length (be it six months, one year, two years) will work with your long-term plans. You will also want to consider hybrid programs that mix in-class and distance learning, as these will provide other opportunities for customized learning experiences.

Cost of attending: It is a misconception that online degree programs cost significantly less than it would to attend a brick and mortar university. In reality, tuition for most online universities is comparable to public institutions, so review online university rankings for tuition information. One major financial benefit of online degree programs is they tend to require less extra expenditures, such as student facility fees, parking, room and board, and other school materials. Online universities still institute fees outside of tuition, however, so make sure the money required will work within your budget. Like traditional institutions, most online universities are committed to providing students with a variety of financial aid options. If you will need financial aid to participate in an online degree program, review the program’s financial aid options.

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Strayer University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA

92/100

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Kaplan University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctoral

90/100

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Sullivan University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctoral

90/100

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Liberty University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctoral

89/100

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DeVry University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctoral

87/100

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ECPI University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters

86/100

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Norwich University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Bachelors, Masters

84/100

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University of Phoenix

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctoral

83/100

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Capella University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctorate

81/100

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Post University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, MBA

79/100

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American InterContinental University

Degrees Offered: Associates, Bachelors, Masters

78/100

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Walden University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctoral

78/100

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Grand Canyon University

Degrees Offered: Associaites, Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral

77/100

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Northcentral University

Degrees Offered: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral

74/100

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Colorado Technical University

Degrees Offered: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral

68/100

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