A student takes notes during an online college class.

A student takes notes during an online college class. (Photo by Ground Picture on Shutterstock)

Online education provides needed flexibility for countless learners. From parents going back to school, to first-time college students, to career hoppers, online colleges offer opportunities to learn just about anything from just about anywhere. The first step is figuring out the best online colleges to choose from. 

In the years since the pandemic, the demand for online learning has exploded. A recent survey of 2,000 parents found that 44 percent are planning to return to school to chase a lifelong career dream. Of those surveyed, 47 percent stated that they would be most comfortable with fully online classes. Online learning helps make it feasible for busy parents to juggle the demands of family life, their current job responsibilities, and pursuing their academic and career goals.

Even those interested in STEM fields like engineering, nursing, and computer science can benefit from online college programs. While these fields of study have traditionally been relegated to a classroom environment, research shows that STEM students can learn just as much online. 

With the popularity of online college growing, the options have become even more difficult to sort through. Here at Study Finds, we scoured ten expert websites to make it easy to find the best online colleges for your learning needs. But as always, if you have a recommendation that we haven’t included, be sure to share it in the comments below!

The List: Best Online Colleges Ranked By Expert Reviews

1. University of Florida

With diverse learning opportunities, flexible schedules, and a fantastic admissions process, our top pick for best online colleges goes to the University of Florida (UF). “The University of Florida Online helps students feel welcome and supported right from the start,” says Intelligent. “They provide structured academic on-ramps that help students determine which program and learning format are right for them, which credits they can transfer from previous institutions, and how to prepare if they’re not quite ready for higher education.”

Students with all kinds of academic aspirations can find a fit at UF, choosing from “more than 200 graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificates online,” notes College Cliffs. And getting started at UF is made simple with the Flexible Learning program, which removes the all-too-common limitation of semester start dates. “It offers an ongoing enrollment that allows you to register and start your courses at your convenient time,” says Academic Influence.

2. Liberty University

Claiming number two on our list is Liberty University, one of the world’s largest faith-based institutions for higher learning. While known for its large on-campus population, Liberty also boasts a well-established online course catalog. “This Christian institution has long been a leader in online learning, with a wide array of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs,” says Intelligent. “Students can pursue degrees and certificates in fields of study like social work, psychology, education, religion, and criminal justice.”

Liberty’s significant student population is paired with a vast array of program offerings. “Over 100,000 students are enrolled in Liberty’s 15 colleges and schools, which offer over 700 degrees from the certificate level to the doctoral level,” says College Cliffs. Online students benefit from the wealth of courses and degree paths, with “more than 600 programs available globally via self-paced online classes,” adds Academic Influence.

3. Florida International University

It’s hard to beat Florida International University (FIU) for its top-notch research opportunities, student support, and renowned faculty. “The school offers more than 190 degree programs and certificates, with over 130 available online,” says Best Colleges. “Students in these programs benefit from FIU’s long tradition of research and inquiry, with access to cutting-edge innovations, expert faculty, and opportunities for unique hands-on learning experiences,” adds Intelligent

FIU is dedicated to cultivating student success, even when that student is located hundreds or thousands of miles away. “A success coach works with each student one-on-one. The program allows students to complete mock interviews, create their LinkedIn profiles, and earn certifications,” says Academic Influence. And FIU’s institutional culture extends beyond its Miami-based campus. “Earning an online degree from Florida International University means students can tap into the school’s culture of research and innovation from anywhere in the world,” Intelligent says.

A girl's graduation from Florida International University
Graduation at FIU. (Photo by John Benitez on Unsplash)

4. University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas (U of A) has multiple online offerings to fit the needs of all kinds of degree-seeking students. eVersity is U of A’s fully asynchronous program for online learning. “The University of Arkansas System eVersity has been offering high-quality education to students for generations,” says EdSmart. “The university has a mission to enrich individuals’ lives through high-quality education, accessibility, affordability, relevancy, and personalization.”

U of A also offers multiple programs through its main campus. “The public institution offers 42 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” says The Best Schools. “The school’s main campus in Little Rock, Arkansas hosts academic and career services offices available to online learners. Degree-seekers can participate in career-planning events like virtual job fairs by connecting with these academic advisors.”

5. Thomas Edison State University

Rounding out our list, Thomas Edison State University (TESU) is noted for its exceptional preparation of students for the professional world. “Adults looking to go back to college to boost their career prospects should feel right at home at Thomas Edison State University — most TESU students are non-first-time, part-time students balancing school with other responsibilities. TESU awards an average of 38 credits for prior work, life, or military experience, saving you time and money. As a result, 95% of recent graduates say they would recommend the school to others. says Best Colleges

At Intelligent, TESU wins the top pick for adult learners. “A key component of Thomas Edison State University’s mission is to serve adult and non-traditional learners. They support this mission with programs and courses designed to be flexible, accessible, and career-focused,” says Intelligent. “We love Thomas Edison State University’s commitment and passion to serve busy yet motivated adults,” adds Academic Influence.


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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.

About Anna Landry

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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