How to Find the Top Online Degree Programs

Five Methods:Local CollegesOnline Only InstitutionsChecking Accreditation StatusChecking for Transferable CreditsChecking the Rankings and Opinions

If you are ready to earn your degree online and want only the best, it's essential to know how to find the top online degree programs among all the many choices offered out there. It is possible to do, and here's how.

Method 1
Local Colleges

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    Create a list of colleges in your area. The Department of Education (“DOE”) offers a free College Navigator. This allows you to choose your area, major, and the type of program you are looking for (2-year, 4-year, or less than 2-years), and then generates a list of colleges that meet your requirements.
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    Determine which colleges and universities on your list offer online degrees or distance learning. The best way to do this is to visit each institution’s website, which should provide a listing of all degree programs available. You can find each institution’s website using the College Navigator provided by the DOE. If an institution does not offer distance learning programs, cross it off your list.

Method 2
Online Only Institutions

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    Add online only institutions to your list. Once you have a list of the institutions in your area that provide online degrees, search next for colleges and universities that may not be in your area, but offer online degrees to residents of your state. To find online degree programs, consult online organizations and databases.

Method 3
Checking Accreditation Status

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    Determine which colleges on your list are accredited. In order to ensure that your degree will be recognized by potential employers, you will need to get your education from an accredited institution. [1] Non-accredited institutions will carry little or no weight with many employers and can therefore be a waste of your money and time. The DOE offers a searchable database of accredited colleges and universities. Use this database to determine which colleges on your list are accredited. Once done, you can eliminate any that are not.

Method 4
Checking for Transferable Credits

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    Ensure that all schools on your list have transferable credits. A college’s credits should be transferable to other schools. [2] This gives you greater freedom to complete the degree elsewhere or to change programs if this turns out better for you. If the college is not offering transferable credits, cross that institution off your list.

Method 5
Checking the Rankings and Opinions

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    See where national ranking organizations place the schools remaining on your list. U.S. News provides the most recognized rankings for colleges and universities. It also maintains a database of the online degrees and programs offered by top universities.[3]
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    Consult college and university ranking and review organizations. There are many online organizations, directories, and companies offering college and university reviews and rankings based on information obtained from students, teachers, and the DOE. Some websites you may want to consult include:
    • The College Degrees: The College Degrees websites provides potential students with a database of online degree programs, a top ten programs list, educational articles, and discussion boards.
    • The Online Education Database: The Online Education Database (“OEDb”) provides a list of online degree program rankings based on eight factors, including acceptance rate, financial aid, graduation rate, online programs, retention rate, scholarly citations, student-faculty ratio, and years accredited.
    • Get Educated: Get Educated provides a wealth of information about various online degree programs and schools, including rankings and student reviews.
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    See what students and former students have to say. Read some reviews written by students who obtained or are obtaining an online degree. There are many websites offering such reviews
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    Make a decision about the online degree program for you. By compiling the information concerning availability, accreditation, transferable credits and reputation/ranking, you can make an informed choice about a suitable online degree that will get you where you want to be in your chosen career field.


  • Call the college or university to clarify questions and issues that you may have. They will have people dedicated to explaining all of this to you.

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