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/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2013-14, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed October, 2017, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Executive Summary, Demonstrating the Collective Economic Value of North Carolina's Higher Education Institutes, February 2015, http://www.northcarolina.edu/sites/default/files/documents/nche_1213_execsum_final_formatted_dated_feb2015.pdf
- Interview with Robin Thompson, MS, President of TT&K Inc.
- May 2016 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2013-14, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed October, 2017, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- North Carolina Employment Projections 2014 to 2024, North Carolina Department of Commerce, Updated April 2017, http://www.nccommerce.com/Portals/47/XML/Summary/2014-2024%20NC%20Employment%20Projections%20Summary.pdf
- North Carolina's Largest Private Employers, North Carolina Department of Commerce, https://www.nccommerce.com/Portals/47/Data/Manufacturing-and-Nonmanufacturing-Employers.pdf, accessed December 2017
- North Carolina’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Strategic Plan, North Carolina State Board of Education, http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/stem/overview/education-strategic-plan.pdf, accessed December 2017
- North Carolina Workforce Needs, Labor and Economic Analysis, North Carolina Department of Commerce, https://www.ncga.state.nc.us/documentsites/committees/BCCI-6578/2015-16%20Session/Meeting%20Documents/March%201,%202016/LEAD%20workforce%20subcommittee%203%201%20final.pdf, accessed December 2017
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, http://www.sacscoc.org/, accessed December 2017
Ohioans face a big challenge. While the economy is growing rapidly, there are not enough people with a college degree to meet the needs of its employers. According to a report released by the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, about 47 percent of jobs present today could be phased out in the next several years due to advances in technology. A report from the Lumina Foundation reveals that only 43.2 percent of adults hold a quality undergraduate credential. By 2025, the requirement of the Ohio workforce will be for 1.7 million more people with an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree. Are you up for the challenge?
Perhaps you want to earn a bachelor's degree to advance in your career but it's not possible for you to leave your job to attend college on campus; or you're fresh out of high school and want to work part-time or pursue diverse interests; or you missed out on completing your degree; or you're at a stage in life where you feel you want to start a brand-new career or just learn something new. Wherever your interests lie, you might consider earning a graduate or undergraduate degree through distance education in Ohio.
With the plethora of top-rate higher education institutes in Ohio, along with the nation's largest online tutoring collaborative (at no charge!), the online education avenue is certainly one to consider for distance learners from across the country who seek the growing job opportunities in this state. These institutes can offer students and professionals an excellent opportunity to earn online degrees and compete in the state's rapidly changing, technology-charged employment scene while still maintaining a work-life-study balance.
While more than 90 private colleges operate in the state, Ohio's public institutions include the following:
- 14 universities with 24 regional branch campuses
- 23 community colleges
Many of these public and private colleges offer academically rigorous online degree programs ranging from associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels that are on par with a quality on-campus degree program.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Ohio?
Online degrees can help make higher education more accessible (and often, although not always, more affordable) to even the busiest students. According to a report by the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission, the need for more workers with a college credential has led state colleges and universities to launch or expand their distance education offerings, while national and regional online schools continue to increase program options that cater to Ohio students. This trend hopes to meet the needs of the state's workforce and in turn, impact its economy.
By 2020, according to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, in Ohio:
- 64 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education
- 34 percent of jobs will require some college, an associate degree, or a postsecondary vocational certificate
- 21 percent of jobs will require a bachelor's degree
- 10 percent will require a master's degree or better
By the year 2022, 47 percent of the net job growth in the state is expected to be in occupations typically associated with some form of postsecondary education, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. About 28 percent of the job growth will be in occupations typically associated with a bachelor's degree or higher.
Those who continue to invest in their education once in the workforce — an increasingly feasible option thanks to online programs — could fare even better. Students who graduate from Ohio colleges are likely to have more job opportunities in the state's booming industries not to mention the improved quality of life typically associated with the higher pay that comes from earning a college degree. College graduates generally earn about 77 percent more than high school graduates, according to findings by the Economic Policy Institute.
Top Online Colleges in Ohio State
If you're looking for top online colleges in Ohio to pursue a graduate or undergraduate degree, we've tried to make it easier for you by taking data from the National Center for Education Statistics and setting up a methodology that focuses on factors likely to be important to you. We focused on metrics like accredited two- and four-year degree colleges, flexibility, graduation rates, tuition, student services and many more. For a complete list of criteria used for selecting online colleges check out our methodology at the end of the page.
Using our methodology we present you with what we believe are the 10 best online colleges in Ohio, particularly for students who want to enroll in distance education degree programs.
Top Ten Online Degree Programs in Ohio
We've used information from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics to come up with the most popular online degree programs in the state. Whether you're interested in pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice, Business Management or currently working as a registered nurse and want to compete for higher-paying jobs by earning a master's or bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you can complete any of these degrees online through fully online or hybrid formats, depending on the profession of your choice.
When you're considering an online program, do check whether the college or the specific degree program is accredited to make sure that you are enrolling in a program that meets quality standards.
Quality of Online Education in Ohio
Ohio was one of the early adopters and currently one of the largest subscribers to Quality Matters (QM), a nonprofit, quality assurance organization that helps educational institutes deliver high-quality online/blended programs through a process of assessment, improvement and certification of quality. Over 65 higher education institutes have joined the Ohio Quality Matters Consortium making it the largest statewide system in the country for QM. QM provides the necessary tools, resources, and training to empower faculty and institutes to design quality online classes that align with student educational goals. The process that has been put in place assures that online students receive quality education making online programs in Ohio a popular choice.
In 2012, colleges and university presidents in the state came together to develop funding recommendations for Ohio's two-year and four-year institutions. Four-year institutes adopted the following principles designed to incentivize degree completion based on the following:
- increasing student enrollment
- higher student success
- higher student degree completion rate
This performance-based model for higher education institutes aims to attract the best and brightest students and awards colleges and universities that help keep graduates in-state for employment or continuing education. Not only does this help to significantly improve the online education experience and increase employment opportunities for students, it also provides Ohio with a stronger workforce!
What to Look For in Online Degree Programs in Ohio
Those interested in distance education in Ohio may want to explore OhioLearns, an online platform containing a searchable catalog of degrees and certificate programs from Ohio's private and public two- and four-year colleges and universities. With the plethora of choices for online degrees, prospective students would do well to carefully consider an accredited college or degree program, along with the market value of the degree — the potential salaries aligned with certain occupations.
While the flexibility of distance education makes it easier for students to complete their degrees online (and potentially contribute to the state's economic growth), online programs are not the only way the state supports web-based learning. A program called the Ohio eTutoring Collaborative offers undergraduate college students web-based tutoring services at no charge. The program extends services to more than 600,000 students each year. While this program is open to students attending traditional and online colleges in Ohio, it is truly groundbreaking for the latter group, which does not necessarily have access to campus-based services. When choosing online colleges, students may want to check whether the college is a member institute of the Ohio eTutoring Collaborative.
Distance learners would also do well to check out the faculty of a college's online programs such as their experience in teaching online courses, the student-to-faculty ratio, whether the faculty offers one-on-one interaction or has adopted a student-centered instruction model. You may want to look at the requirement for coursework and how it compares with campus-based degree programs.
Top Occupations in Ohio
Overall, about 455,000 jobs are estimated to be added between 2012 and 2022 in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The top two industries expected to add the most jobs are education and healthcare services with healthcare occupations predicted to be in demand as the aging population increases. The largest sectors are manufacturing and financial services.
Some of the higher-paying occupations include registered nurses; elementary school teachers, except special education; accountants and auditors; general and operations managers; and secondary school teachers, except special and vocational education.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||815,630||$37,340|
|Sales and Related Occupations||515,320||$40,140|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||505,450||$23,100|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||401,800||$35,530|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||362,550||$77,650|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||328,420||$58,130|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||281,060||$70,520|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||206,510||$46,710|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||188,930||$29,680|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||187,630||$50,500|
|Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food||160,070||$20,490|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||157,240||$28,460|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Ohio
Is it possible to find funding for your online bachelor's or master's degree program? It is important for every student to know that funding may be available through grants and scholarships (if you qualify).
There are hundreds of financial aid options and each has its own factors of eligibility ranging from the financial need of the student, academic merit, athletic performance or military status. Some scholarships are awarded based on areas of study (such as STEM subjects or nursing). Other scholarships may be specific to women, or limited to those who live in a particular county. Some accredited online schools are known to be military-friendly and can offer financial aid to veterans who qualify. Many more factors like these make exploring scholarships financial aid options worth the time.
Grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs may provide partial or full assistance in paying for tuition, text books and out-of-pocket expenses. While loans have to be paid back, grants and scholarships are awards that generally do not have to be repaid.
The same federal financial aid programs available to students of other states are available to Ohio residents as well. In addition to federal student aid programs, Ohio state and institution-specific scholarships are available to online students as well, provided you fit the qualifying criteria.
We would invite students to explore as many options as they can. Campus students as well as distance learners (both in-state and out-of-state) can apply for grants and scholarships that apply to your situation.
- Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program
- Forever Buckeyes
- Choose Ohio First
- Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund
- Geological Survey Grant Program Enters Second Academic Year
- The Ohio State University Land Grant Opportunity Scholarship for Ohio Residents
- Shawnee State University Dr. Sol Asch Scholarship
- Cleveland State University Thomas Campbell Endowed Scholarship
- Columbus State Community College Future Scientists Scholarship Program
- Rhodes State College Thomas R. and Gloria P. Leech Scholarship
Take a look at more scholarships and financial aid options for students residing in Ohio that may help you save on tuition if you qualify.
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
To be eligible for admission in any college in Ohio you need to successfully complete minimum-level university preparatory courses in English, math, natural science, social science, foreign language, visual or performing arts. The state of Ohio does not have a minimum requirement for admission based on high school class rank or GPA.
You may need to take a SAT or ACT exam, but the state of Ohio does not have minimum score requirements for either of these exams.
Criteria for admission can differ from college to college and from major to major.