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Online Accredited Degree Programs: College and University Options

Accreditation from a recognized agency attests to the quality of online programs offered at traditional and online-only schools. Even degrees that cannot be fully completed online may have hybrid programs that give a student the opportunity to complete the majority of coursework online and then take an internship or clinical lab on campus.

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When looking for online accredited degree programs, prospective students can consider options at the associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctoral degree levels. It can also be helpful to consider top-ranked institutions in various academic fields.

Online Accredited Degree Programs

In addition to online-only colleges, many traditional colleges have expanded their degree program offerings to include a wide variety of online degree program options, made possible due to advances in educational technology. The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education database of accredited schools can guide a prospective student to accredited degree programs offered online. Because program offerings change, prospective students may wish to follow up on colleges selected through the database by visiting the college's website, which may also allow students to apply for admission online.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Types of Degrees Available

A prospective student can typically earn any degree that is available at traditional colleges online with the exception of degree programs that require hands-on training. In addition to a full range of degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, many colleges also offer GED programs and certificates of achievement through online programs.

Associate's Degrees

Some associate's degree programs can be taken entirely online. Other disciplines, such as nursing and engineering technology, are often presented as a hybrid program. Students attend clinical labs or workshops on campus, but complete coursework online. Students can earn an Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Interdisciplinary Studies and Associate of Science in a variety of subjects, including:

  • Nursing
  • Human development and family studies
  • Information technology
  • Business administration

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degrees that can be earned online from an accredited college include a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts. Transfer students who hold an associate's degree or a minimum number of credits may complete an online bachelor's degree completion program. Majors are available in:

  • Early childhood education
  • Psychology
  • Political science
  • Liberal studies
  • Justice studies

Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Master's and doctoral degrees that are accredited can be earned online. However, many of these graduate programs may require a residency period. Many schools offer online graduate degrees in subjects that include:

  • Education
  • Business administration
  • Psychology
  • Information technology
  • Public administration

College and University Options

For 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked the top online degree programs in a variety of subjects, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each of these institutions was regionally accredited. Other criteria used in the ranking system included graduation rates, faculty instructor credentials and online student support services.

Online Bachelor's Degree

According to U.S. News & World Report, these were the top three schools for online students to earn a bachelor's degree:

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide
  • Temple University
  • University of Oklahoma

Online Graduate Criminal Justice

These three schools have the top offerings for individuals seeking master's degrees in criminal justice:

  • Sam Houston State University
  • University of Nebraska - Omaha
  • University of California - Irvine

Online Graduate Engineering

The top online graduate engineering programs are offered by these schools:

  • University of California - Los Angeles
  • University of Southern California
  • Columbia University

Online Graduate Information Technology

Graduate students looking for a top-notch online IT training program may want to consider:

  • University of Southern California
  • Virginia Tech
  • New York University

Online Nursing Programs

Aspiring nurses who want to study online can find excellent offerings from these accredited schools:

  • St. Xavier University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Duke University
  • Ohio State University

There are accredited online associate's, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in many subjects. Some of the best schools for online education have been identified by U.S. News and World Report.

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