To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Best States for Business, 2017 Ranking, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/best-states-for-business/list/
- CNBC names Georgia No. 2 best state for business for 2017, July 2017, Atlanta Business Chronicle, https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2017/07/11/cnbc-names-georgia-no-2-best-state-for-business.html
- Complete College Georgia: Georgia's Higher Education Completion Plan 2012, https://oir.uga.edu/_resources/files/documents/GA_CCG_Plan.pdf, accessed February 2018
- Distance and Correspondence Education, Policy Statement, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, http://www.sacscoc.org/subchg/policy/Distanceandcorrespondencepolicyfinal.pdf
- Employment Projections, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm, accessed March 2018
- Fortune 500, Georgia Department of Economic Development, http://www.georgia.org/competitive-advantages/pro-business/fortune-500/, accessed March 2018
- Governor's High Demand Career Initiative Report, Technical College System of Georgia, December 2014, http://www.georgia.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/HDCI-Report.pdf, accessed March 2018
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020, June 2013, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.SR_.Web_.pdf
- Site Selection names Georgia tops for business for fifth-straight year, October 2017, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com/business/site-selection-names-georgia-tops-for-business-for-fifth-straight-year/AgYteXS6174jbGt7alWT2L/
Georgia is home to industry giants like Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, First Data Corp and United Parcel Service. Year over year, Georgia is consistently positioned in the top 10 for the best state to do business by Forbes, CNBC and Site Selection. The state's friendly business environment not only welcomes more companies to do business in Georgia but it can also open up a variety of job opportunities particularly to those who have a college credential.
According to a Georgetown University study, Georgia needs more than one million educated workers in the next few years to fill positions that require some college, a bachelor's, master's degree or higher. Read on to find out how an online degree program in Georgia can help you earn the credential you need to participate in this growing, education-dependent workforce.
Why Earn An Online Degree In Georgia?
Not only are degree holders likely to have a wider choice of job opportunities, they also statistically enjoy a higher income than high school graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median weekly earnings of adults over 25 with a bachelor's degree ($1,156) were 67 percent higher than for those who only had a high school diploma ($692).
Another great reason to earn a degree through an online education program is that there's growing demand by employers for more educated employees. The Center for Workforce Study at Georgetown University estimates that in Georgia, by 2020:
- 65 percent of all jobs will require with a postsecondary education
- 33 percent of all jobs will require some college, an associate degree, or postsecondary credential
- 22 percent of all jobs will require a college degree
- 10 percent of all jobs will require a master's degree or higher
Those contemplating online degree programs in Georgia should also know about the high demand for workers in specific jobs and sectors. Companies that participated in the state governor's High Demand Career Initiative identified 162 high-demand but difficult-to-fill positions. These jobs, such as mechanical and electrical engineers, software developers, computer programmers and business support roles (e.g., marketing, accounting and human resources) can be found in sectors such as:
- Automotive manufacturing
- Film and television
- Healthcare and life sciences
- Information technology
- Logistics and transportation
Efforts To Increase College Graduates In Georgia
So how does Georgia plan to meet the need for a growing and skilled workforce? State officials developed the Complete College Georgia Initiative, which aims to add about 250,000 new graduates to the workforce by 2020. The goal is to have 60 percent of those in the age bracket of 25 to 34 years with a college degree.
In addition, the University System of Georgia works with the Technical College System to achieve the following goals that are part of Georgia's Higher Education Completion Plan:
- Increase academic readiness for college
- Increase college access
- Make college more affordable
- Improve college completion rates
- Improve the time taken to a complete a degree program
Here's a glance at some of the specific services in place:
- USG's Adult Learning Consortium targets the needs of adult learners who have some college credit but who have not completed a degree.
- USG's eCore™ helps students complete general education courses online. Although not a full-fledged degree program, it covers courses typically required in the first two years of many degree programs and is designed for students who are just getting started in college or are returning after a pause in their education.
- The military-focused Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center (VECTR) aims to help Georgia veterans transition to civilian life by earning a higher education credential. This includes helping translate military and civilian experience into potential college credits.
Top Online Colleges in Georgia
We've used data from the National Center for Education Statistics to calculate these top 10 colleges in Georgia. Our ranking methodology includes obvious factors like accreditation, enrollments in online degree programs in Georgia, graduation rates as well as placement services, and percentage of students awarded financial aid. We believe these 10 colleges present the best opportunities for online students. For more information on our methodology, please click on the methodology section below.
Top Ten Online Degree Programs In Georgia
Accreditation is an important factor when considering online degree programs, so make sure your target school is aligned with specific standards of quality. This list of top Georgia colleges that offer online degree programs has been compiled using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
Quality Of Online Education In Georgia
With over 120 Georgia colleges offering online degree programs — an abundance of options — take care to consider the accreditation of your desired degree program or college.
Regional accrediting bodies include Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) which requires distance education courses of member institutes to comply with its Principles of Accreditation. These Principles include guidelines for curriculum and instruction, faculty, institutional effectiveness, library and learning resources, student services, as well as facilities and finances.
Other accrediting bodies related to specific degree programs include:
- National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
- Georgia Professional Standards Commission
- National Association of Schools of Music
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
While accreditation is a good sign that the college you are considering meets acceptable standards of quality education, look for schools that continually strive to improve the success of their online degree programs. For instance, the Georgia Southern University has introduced the Center for Online Learning that trains and equips faculty to develop and deliver quality online course content. Another sign of greater commitment to the success of online education is when a college participates in Quality MattersTM, a program that helps colleges nation-wide create a scalable process for online course quality assurance.
What To Look For In Online Degree Programs in Georgia
When it comes to choosing a school, Georgia ONmyLINE offers information on the online degree programs within the state's USG system. Their online portal integrates access and enrollment to all online and distance education offered by the system's 30 universities and colleges. The site features a wide range of online degree programs and courses, including those for students who desire to learn in nontraditional, flexible formats, such as compressed sessions that have multiple start-stop dates and hybrid formats that include an on-campus element.
Whether you're looking for an online program that's part of the USG system or one of the many other online education programs in Georgia that offer online associate, bachelor's or master's programs, students need to consider whether this type of format would be a good fit for their needs. Darren Adamson, PhD, Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northcentral University suggests that before signing up, students should make sure they are able to manage their time well. "It takes a unique focus to succeed in an online environment," says Adamson. "Because many online programs do not have scheduled class periods, students must be able to schedule their own time to 'go to class' — work on school."
Adamson also suggests that students prepare themselves to be deliberate with their social interactions in online programs. "Being in an online program can be lonely, so most online schools now have places to interact virtually," he says. "Be ready to take advantage of those."
According to Adamson, students seeking online degrees in Georgia should plan on thoroughly researching any program they're interested in ahead of time in order to avoid any "surprises." He also advises students that online education may not be as easy as it looks. "Online education may be convenient because you don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time, but legitimate schools and programs develop curriculum that is challenging," says Adamson. "You must plan to spend at least as much time as you would have had you gone to a campus-based school."
Top Occupations In Georgia
According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the state is home to 17 Fortune 500 headquarters, 450+ Fortune 500 companies, and 30 Fortune 1000 firms in key industries such as aerospace, agribusiness, big data, defense, tourism, manufacturing, and information technology. These bustling industries may make it easy for Georgia's college students in online degree programs to transition into the workforce upon graduation, whether for a full-time job or an internship.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||654,430||$35,920|
|Sales and Related Occupations||462,430||$36,940|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||411,950||$20,850|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||362,710||$34,690|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||272,520||$49,410|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||242,940||$75,250|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||234,750||$71,950|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||177,970||$45,380|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||149,270||$41,690|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||140,520||$85,890|
|Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food||130,370||$18,860|
|Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand||118,700||$27,190|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Georgia
Financial aid programs for postsecondary students are administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. With student debt a growing concern across the nation, the state of Georgia is taking the initiative to help its lower-income students by developing more financial aid programs. One example, Georgia's HOPE Scholarship program, is merit based. It requires high school students to graduate with a minimum 3.0 GPA and to maintain that same minimum cumulative GPA while they're in college. The Keep HOPE Alive scholarship was designed to prevent students from dropping out; it offers $1,000 to freshmen and sophomores who qualify.
There are a number of federal financial aid programs that may help qualified students receive financial assistance through grants, scholarships, work-study programs and more. Federal grants include Pell Grants and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education. Conditions do apply so look for financial aid programs you can qualify for. In addition to the HOPE scholarship, more institution and state-specific financial aid programs are available. Here are just a few:
- Gana Scholarship
- Emerge Scholarship
- Georgia Tuition Equalizer Grant
- Riding Forward Scholarship
- Achieve Atlanta
Since additional scholarships come and go, and aid tends to be school-specific, students pursuing online degrees in Georgia should spend some time researching aid options and exhausting all resources in the process. Specific financial aid may also be available depending on the school and program chosen, so it is always wise to check with your schools' financial aid office for more information.
Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-19 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Tests You May Need to Take
Many of the colleges in Georgia use the ACCUPLACER Test to determine whether a prospective student is college ready. The test consists of 3 examinations each in algebra, English and reading. Students must meet minimum scores in all 3 subjects to be considered eligible for admission. In most cases, high school grades are the predominant factors for determining eligibility but most schools will consider SAT/ACT scores as well.