Is An Online Degree Program Right for You? is committed to offering potential students insightful, data-based information on online degree programs, including rankings and other useful information such as job and salary outlooks. Use our resource to make an informed decision to start or to continue along your targeted education and career path.

Top Reasons to Choose an Online Degree Program

Students who enroll in online degree programs can balance study, work, family and social life on their own terms. Here are five other benefits:

Convenient, flexible programs: Depending on the specific course of study, students can still pursue a part-time job or schedule their work around study hours.
Potentially faster completion times: Many schools offer accelerated courses, year-round scheduling, and transfer credit policies to allow students to earn their degree and enter the workforce more quickly.
Variety of programs: The large number of schools that offer online degree programs means that students can choose from many options.
No commute: Students who don’t live near the college of their choice can still earn a degree without having to travel miles every day or move to another city.
Cost-effectiveness: Transportation to and from school and campus parking fees are two expenses online students don’t need to worry about.

The Value of a Degree

Postsecondary Students Enrolled in Distance Education

Postsecondary Students Enrolled in Distance Education

Enrollment in online courses and degree programs continues to grow. Recent data on postsecondary students shows that 2.82 million students took courses exclusively online and more than 6 million students took at least one class. Public institutions served the most online students, followed by private, nonprofit schools.

The right education can boost your earning power. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of formal education a person has had – and the type of degree earned – have a huge impact on wages.

Median usual weekly earnings, 2017

median weekly earning - online degrees

Yes, going to college typically costs significant dollars. But consider the wage difference between bachelor's degree holders and those with a high school diploma – more than $24,000 a year in 2017 – and multiply that over a multi-year career. College can be a very wise investment.

Popular Online Degree Programs

Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 15,673 online degree programs are available from 1,911 accredited schools. Hover over each subject category below to see the number of online degree programs available (no. of programs), current employment numbers, projected job openings by 2026 and the average salary for 2016.

How to Select the Best Online Degree Program and School

Whether you're investing in a car or college degree, you probably want the maximum value for your money. While affordability is a critical factor, it's not the only one. Consider these points before choosing your online degree program and school.

Choice of degree: Does the degree have marketplace value? How quickly are you likely to find a job after you earn your degree, how much are you likely to earn and what are your future career prospects?
Quality of school and degree: How well does a school and their degree program rank when compared with others? What's the school overall reputation?
Accreditation: Is the school accredited and therefore meets specific standards for education quality?
Type of program: Will a fully online program or a hybrid one best suit your needs? Would you be able to attend classes at a specified time - a synchronous program - or does your personal schedule require more flexibility - an asynchronous program?
Affordability: Understand the full cost of tuition and fees for the program. Ask whether the school offers alternative payment plans or guaranteed tuition plans, as both of those options may make attending college more feasible.
Financial aid: See what might be available either through the school, federal programs or even privately funded scholarships and grants. Ask if the school accepts transfer credit or "life experience" credit - both of which can offset your cost.
Student services: Does the school offer career counseling and placement services? How about academic counseling?
Type of school: Is the school public or private? Is it a not-for-profit or for-profit institution? Consider how or whether these factors might impact your decision.

Degree & Career Match-Up Tool

Explore degrees by Subject
Type the name of a degree program/subject into our Degree & Career Match-Up tool to see current data on related careers, such as salary, employment numbers, and projected job openings.
Explore degrees by Occupation
Enter a job title into our Degree & Career Match-Up tool to see which degree subject is typically associated with it. You'll also find employment outlook info such as salary and projected job openings.

Before You Enroll

Consider financial aid options and entry-level tests

The cost of higher education continues to increase, so it's wise to learn about financial aid, grants and scholarship options before you enroll. Make sure you understand:

And depending on the degree and college you choose, you may be required to take entry-level tests. These are the most common ones:

SAT: This exam tests your skills in reading, writing, language and mathematics (with a calculator) and math (without a calculator).

ACT: This multiple-choice exam tests your knowledge of English, mathematics, reading and science.

AP: Held in May each year, a good score in this exam could entail college credit and advanced placement in college.

CLEP: Get a qualifying score on any of the 33 examinations and earn credit for subject matter you already know.

GED: This test is for those who have not completed high school. It measures proficiency in science, mathematics, social studies, reading and writing. While a high school diploma is the usual entry-level requirement for 4-year degree programs, most colleges consider passing the GED equivalent to having a high school diploma.

  • 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
  • Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment, 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed July 15, 2016,
  • Online Learning Consortium, accessed July 15, 2016: Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, February 2015,; Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States, January 2013,;
  • Bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study, Digest of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, July 2013, accessed July 15, 2016,
  • How Employers View Your Online Bachelor's Degree, U.S. News and World Report, March 4, 2014, accessed July 15, 2016,
  • FAQs about Accreditation, U.S. Department of Education, accessed July 15, 2016,