Best Online Colleges In Texas
Texas is home to some of the largest public and private companies in the country. The warm weather, natural beauty, and affordable cost of living make it a great place to hang your hat! With more than 200 colleges and universities, Texas, true to its reputation for all things big, offers some of the biggest opportunities for education and career growth as well.
Texas, like many other states in the country, needs more people with a college credential to meet the growing demand of the job market. Whether you’re fresh out of high school, or looking to change jobs by relocating to a new place, earning an online degree in Texas may allow you to compete for higher-paying jobs in this competitive job market.
Online degrees in Texas can give you the flexibility you desire to earn a college degree while still balancing work, family and other commitments. Enrolling in an an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or a doctoral degree program in any of Texas’ fine online schools affords plenty of opportunities to carve your career path.
20 Best Online Colleges in Texas
Whether you’re a fresh high school graduate, a career-changer or someone going back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree, you’ll want to know which online colleges are more likely to support your success as an online student.
Our ranking methodology used data from the National Center for Education Statistics. We pulled up accredited two- and four-year colleges and then focused on particular factors likely to be important to online students, such as the number of degree programs offered online, placement services for degree completers, the percentage of students working 6 years after starting their program and the percentage of students participating in distance education.
We believe this list of best online colleges in Texas are the best college choices, particularly for prospective students of online learning. To learn more about our methodology, view the “Methodology & Sources” section at the bottom of the page.
|Average in-state tuition||$27,870|
|No. of online programs||64|
|% of students in distance education||45|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$11,981|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,790|
|No. of online programs||10|
|% of students in distance education||64|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,054|
|Average in-state tuition||$8,103|
|No. of online programs||25|
|% of students in distance education||46|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,842|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,616|
|No. of online programs||52|
|% of students in distance education||53|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,649|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,808|
|No. of online programs||12|
|% of students in distance education||40|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,167|
|Average in-state tuition||$6,576|
|No. of online programs||52|
|% of students in distance education||50|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,182|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,268|
|No. of online programs||12|
|% of students in distance education||59|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,756|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,376|
|No. of online programs||15|
|% of students in distance education||58|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,984|
|Average in-state tuition||$29,630|
|No. of online programs||31|
|% of students in distance education||58|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$15,882|
|Average in-state tuition||$8,080|
|No. of online programs||18|
|% of students in distance education||52|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,611|
Why Earn an Online Degrees in Texas?
The Texas workforce is projected to grow by more than 2.5 million new jobs between 2014 and 2024 — an almost 21 percent increase. With low-skill jobs being replaced by those that require a bachelor’s degree or higher, online programs may be more important than ever because of the potential they present for more people to earn a degree. By 2020, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, in Texas:
- 62 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education
- 33 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
- 9 percent will require a master’s degree or better
Online programs in Texas can allow students the convenience of studying on their own terms. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), about 90 percent of students enrolled in fully online programs in Texas live in Texas, and about 75 percent of these are undergraduates.
With Texas being the second largest state in the country, 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 just to be on campus.
For those seeking graduate degrees, universities and colleges in Texas have been increasingly providing online master’s programs, particularly for fields such as nursing, physical therapy and education, according to a RAND-THECB report.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) works in collaboration with graduate and undergraduate institutes to encourage the development of online programs across the state so that more students have easier access to higher education. The THECB also ensures online degrees in Texas are aligned to high academic standards of education. The goal is to have at least 60 percent of Texans aged 25 to 34 hold associate degrees, a bachelor’s, graduate or doctoral level of education by 2030.
These initiatives have made online education in Texas worth exploring for students who want a college credential but just don’t have time for a traditional, campus program.
Top Online Degrees in Texas
Patterns in degrees awarded could be indicative of the needs of the Texas workforce. For example, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, bachelor degree awards in general engineering went up by 8 percent from 2013 to 2015, whereas master’s degrees in the same field shot up by more than 125 percent. According to workforce data, although the demand for engineers across the state is high, the supply of workers is only average or medium, possibly resulting in an increased demand for those who possess engineering degrees. Exploring job projections before taking a final decision could be beneficial in terms of in-state career opportunities.
Take a look at the top online degree programs in Texas based on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
Quality of Online Learning in Texas
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board encourages all online courses and degrees in Texas to follow the Principles of Good Practice for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs. Under these principles online offerings in any distance education program must focus on learning outcomes appropriate to the academic rigor and breadth of the degree awarded.
These principles ensure:
- Appropriate interaction between online students and faculty as well as among students
- A qualified faculty that must provide appropriate oversight of the program
- Distance students should receive clear, complete and timely information on:
- Assumptions about technological competence
- Technical equipment required
- Availability of academic support services
- Financial aid resources, along with the costs and payment policies
Online students should ask school advisers about these “quality” factors when exploring graduate and undergraduate online programs in Texas.
What to Look for in Online Degrees in Texas
To make an informed choice, students should understand the differences between online programs. Dr. Anthony Edwards, Director of Tarleton State University-Global Campus in Texas, suggests that online students ask the following questions:
- Does the institution offer only online classes or do they offer face-to-face programs as well?
- Does the institution offer the program you want in an online format?
- Does the institution offer academic and career advising for distance learners?
- Does the program require any on-campus residencies for program completion?
- Is the institution accredited?
- Is the program or academic college (division) accredited?
While even accredited online programs do not guarantee quality, they do provide distance students with assurance that there is oversight regarding the instruction and the online college’s authority to issue degrees. When it comes to red flags to watch out for, Dr. Edwards warns students should steer clear of online schools that are not fully accredited, online colleges they have never heard of, and online learning institutions with higher-than-average costs for tuition.
According to Edwards, finding out the answers to these important questions is one of the best ways to determine which school is for you. Edwards also says students of distance education who are self-motivated and have good time management skills tend to do best in an online learning environment. Beyond those qualities, students who understand technology also tend to excel. If you’re lacking in any of those areas, it might be wise to shape up before signing up for any form of online education in Texas.
Another factor to consider is the faculty of an online college. You might want to check out their experience in teaching online courses as well as the frequency of their availability for interaction with distance students. Institution-specific financial aid is another factor you might want to look at.
Top Occupations in Texas State
Texans work in a wide range of industries and careers. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics as our resource, we derived the following careers that employ a healthy number of college graduates in the state.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||1,820,280||$38,810|
|Sales and Related Occupations||1,262,690||$42,030|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||1,175,750||$23,860|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||1,049,310||$38,400|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||764,970||$51,130|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||676,860||$78,470|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||656,840||$45,410|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||643,140||$77,760|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||543,430||$26,730|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||530,380||$48,130|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||419,820||$21,290|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||385,370||$91,460|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||340,670||$27,250|
|Office Clerks, General||313,750||$36,720|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||300,820||$20,950|
|Protective Service Occupations||299,220||$46,520|
|Customer Service Representatives||291,550||$34,320|
Top Metropolitan Areas in Texas
According to a report by the Perryman Group, over 72.4% of Texans lived in metropolitan areas in the state, and these numbers are rising. In fact, the Census Bureau reports that the two of the three top metropolitan areas with growing populations in the nation from 2010 to 2018 were in Texas, namely the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro areas.
Here are the industries in demand in major metropolitan areas of Texas:
According to the July 2019 Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, the Austin-Round Rock met area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. It is also home to Dell, one of the area’s largest employers with over 22,000 employees. Austin-Round Rock has also received several accolades for being one of the most livable cities in the nation.
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land
If Houston was a country, its economy would rank 24th in the world. It’s no surprise as it is home to the headquarters of 21 Fortune 500 companies including Phillips 66, Kinder Morgan, Occidental Petroleum, and Apache among others. Data USA shows that the largest industries in the area are health care and social assistance employing around 372,938 people, retail trade employing approximately 348,296 people, and manufacturing with about 316,126 employees.
The latest figures available show that the median property values in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area ($214,900 in 2017), are lower than the average for the nation ($217,600). However, it is the opposite when it comes to median incomes with households earning $7046 more annually on average when compared to the median incomes of households across the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area also employs a large number of highly specialized workers including preschool and kindergarten workers, air transportation workers, and communications equipment operators. The highest paying occupations in the region include legal, architecture and engineering, and computer and mathematical occupations.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Texas
Federal, state, institutional and private funds may be available to help students fund their education in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programs. Colleges and universities also generally have financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants for students, waivers and on-campus student employment opportunities. Details of these are usually available on the institution’s website. Here is a list of federal and state financial aid for students in Texas.
- Pell grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program
- Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG)
- Toward Excellence, Access, and Success (TEXAS) Grant Program
- Senate Bill 1528
Institution-specific scholarships and grants available to Texans
- Texas A&M University Regents Scholarship
- Texas A&M University Texas Aggie Scholarship
- Sam Houston State University – University Grant
- Tarleton State University Grant
- Texas A&M University Honored Service Scholarships
- License Plate Insignia Scholarship
- University of North Texas Tuition Grant
- University of Texas at Tyler Education Affordability Grant
- University of Texas at San Antonio Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship
- Lamar University – HB3015 Grant for Graduate Students
- The Tall Texan Scholarship
Generally speaking, students do not have to repay scholarships and grants. Each scholarship or grant comes with its own terms, so students need to educate themselves about the scholarship they are applying for.
Here are a few more scholarships and grants in Texas you can read about. The financial aid options listed here are taken from recent data from Wintergreen Orchard House, a resource on scholarships and grants for higher education across the country.
Tests You May Need To Take
Admission to colleges and universities usually require taking one or more tests. Here are some of the common ones that students may need to take to enroll in an undergraduate program. Test requirements may vary depending on the program and institution.
SAT: The SAT consists of four sections: Reading, Writing, Language and Math (with a calculator) and Math (without a calculator).
ACT: It contains multiple-choice tests in four areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. Each question offers either four or five answer choices.
AP: Advanced Placement exams are taken in May each year, and a successful score could entail college credit and advanced placement in college.
CLEP: The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows students to earn credit for subject matter they already know through qualifying scores on any of the 33 examinations.
TSI Assessment: The TSI Assessment (TSIA) is part of the Texas Success Initiative program that helps colleges or universities understand if students are ready for college-level coursework in reading, writing and mathematics. Students who have already qualified on SAT, ACT or any statewide high school test are exempt. The same applies to those who have enrolled in a level one certificate program.
GED: The General Equivalency Development or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) measures proficiency in science, mathematics, social studies, reading and writing. It is for those who have not completed high school. Most colleges and universities consider a GED equivalent to a high school diploma which is an essential qualification for applying to any four-year degree program.
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
- Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, 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/
- 10 Things Employers Think About Your Online Degree, U.S. News & World Report, 9 January 2017, https://www.usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/slideshows/10-things-employers-think-about-your-online-degree
- America’s Top States for Business over the last 10 years, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/13/best-us-states-doing-business-over-the-last-10-years/
- Annual Earnings of Young Adults, The Condition of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, updated April 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cba.asp
- Distance Education – Frequently Asked Questions, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index.cfm?objectid=E9397403-05F0-E846-3DAFD76D7616EEEB, accessed November 2017
- Grants, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, University of North Texas, http://financialaid.unt.edu/grants, accessed November 2017
- Income of young adults, Fast Facts, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77, accessed November 2017
- Managing the Expansion of Graduate Education in Texas, Prepared for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board by the RAND Corporation, 2017, http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/reports/PDF/9279.PDF?CFID=67122485&CFTOKEN=51445105
- Recovery: Job Growth And Education Requirements Through 2020, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, https://cew.georgetown.edu/?s=job+growth+projections, accessed November 2017
- Scholarships & Financial Aid, Texas A&M University, http://financialaid.tamu.edu/, accessed November 2017
- Texas Long-term Industry Projections, Texas Workforce Commission, http://www.tracer2.com/publication.asp?PUBLICATIONID=797, accessed November 2017
- Texas, Best States, U.S. News & World Report, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/texas, accessed November 2017
- Long-Term Economic Forecast for Texas Metropolitan Areas, Perryman Group, 2018, https://www.perrymangroup.com/publications/column/2018/12/24/long-term-economic-forecast-for-texas-metropolitan-areas/
- Dallas and Houston Are Now Fourth and Fifth Most Populous in the Nation, The United States Census Bureau, 2019, https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/04/two-texas-metropolitan-areas-gain-one-million-people/
- Monthly Review of the Texas Economy — July 2019, Real Estate Center, Texas A & M University, 2019, https://assets.recenter.tamu.edu/Documents/Articles/1862.pdf
- Accolades, Round Rock Chamber, 2019, https://roundrockchamber.org/economic-development/about-round-rock/accolades/
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX, Data USA, 2017, https://datausa.io/profile/geo/houston-sugar-land-baytown-tx-metro-area
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, Data USA, 2017, https://datausa.io/profile/geo/dallas-fort-worth-arlington-tx-metro-area#economy
- Fortune 500 Companies, Data, Insight & Analysis, Greater Houston Partnership, 2018, https://www.houston.org/houston-data/fortune-500-companies
- Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area Profile, Greater Houston Partnership, 2017, http://hogg.utexas.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/02C20W00120Houston20Area20Profile1.pdf
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land Area, Go Big in Texas, Texas Economic Development Corporation, https://businessintexas.com/texas-regions/gulf-coast-texas/houston-woodlands-sugar-land-area, accessed July 2019
- Texas Top Employers, Livability, 2018, https://livability.com/tx/business/texas-top-employers
- A ‘Workaround’ to U.S. Ban on Student-Level Data, Inside Higher Ed, 2018, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/03/27/university-texas-system-releases-new-student-outcome-database
- May 2018 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm#N