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Best Online Colleges for 2015In our most comprehensive ranking ever, we have rated the top 20 online schools in America. Our fourth annual ranking of best online colleges is a comparison of the strengths and opportunities of each university program.

The eight metrics included in our ranking are net price of attendance, acceptance rate, retention rates, graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios, percentage receiving grants or scholarship aid, percentage receiving federal student loans, and cohort default rates.

Schools must offer multiple 4-year online bachelor’s degree programs, be accredited and included on the U.S. Department of Education College Navigator database. We hope these rankings will help you on your journey of finding a reputable program that fits with your career and life goals.

Best Online Colleges for 2015
1) University of Florida - State: Florida - Students: 49,589 - Score: 99
2) Linfield College - State: Oregon - Students: 1,727 - Score: 97
3) Marist College - State: New York - Students: 6,303 - Score: 96
4) Pennsylvania State University - World Campus - State: Pennsylvania - Students: 45,628 - Score: 95
5) Huntington University - State: Indiana - Students: 1,260 - Score: 93
6) Misericordia University - State: Pennsylvania - Students: 2,830 - Score: 93
7) George Washington University - Washington, D.C. - Students: 25,260 - Score: 93
8) Appalachian State University - State: North Carolina - Students: 17,344 - Score: 92
9) University of West Georgia - State: Georgia - Students: 11,646 - Score: 91
10) University of Missouri - State: Missouri - Students: 33,762 - Score: 91
11) Northeastern University - State: Massachusetts - Students: 26,969 - Score: 91
12) Norwich University - State: Vermont - Students: 3,450 - Score: 90
13) Mount St. Mary's College - State: California - Students: 2,943 - Score: 90
14) Westfield State University - State: Massachusetts - Students: 6,092 - Score: 90
15) Eastern Illinois University - State: Illinois - Students: 11,178 - Score: 90
16) Everglades University - State: Florida - Students: 1,113 - Score: 89
17) Graceland University - State: Iowa - Students: 2,320 - Score: 89
18) St. Joseph's University - State: Pennsylvania - Students: 9,011 - Score: 89
19) University of Denver - State: Colorado - Students: 11,797 - Score: 89
20) Ball State University - State: Indiana - Students: 22,147 - Score: 89

Ranking Methodology

Here at we have chosen to rely on tangible, publicly accessible metrics for ranking colleges. No mysterious or subjective metrics like peer reputation or teaching quality are used. Instead, we used information each school reports to the U.S. Department of Education NCES and then weighed eight key metrics by what we felt were most important to least important. Statistics were pulled in January 2013.

Metrics with the highest weights into the final score for each university include: average net price, graduation rates, and loan default rates. In other words, we value affordability, ability to retain students through graduation, and preparing students for rewarding careers that keep students away from unmanageable debt. Metrics with lower weights include: percentage of students receiving grants, scholarships, and Federal aid; acceptance rates; retention rates; and student-to-faculty ratio. We think these metrics are important too, however, selectivity and small class sizes may not be as important to students choosing a degree online. Grants and scholarships are helpful as well, but average net price takes this into account when determining the true total average price for students. Average net price subtracts the average amount of grants or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. The total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees, books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.

In cases where universities have multiple campuses, we tried to use a representative location to collect data for. As each location has different graduation rates, the graduation rate was thrown out and replaced with the average graduation rate across all universities in our ranking. This prevents universities from being rewarded or penalized when a true graduation rate across locations could not be established. Additionally some graduation rates were thrown out when based on a statistically inadequate sample.

Write to us

Did you find an error, want to make sure your college is included in the 2015 edition or have comments or suggestions? Send us an email at rankings (at)

Colleges and universities who qualified for the list: Congrats! Feel free to use the Best Online Colleges 2015 badge above in your marketing efforts. We only ask that you link back to these rankings. Please write us above if you need the badge in other formats.

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