This Is America's Best Online College

The COVID-19 pandemic changed nearly every part of daily life in America, including the way Americans were educated. Schools had to decide whether to keep students in classrooms with safety measures implemented, go fully online or switch to a hybrid model.

While these changes were especially difficult for younger students, some colleges already had experience in educating students online. In the fall of 2019, more than 36% of college students took either some or all of their courses online. Just like in-person education, quality varies among online schools as some universities offer much higher quality online education than others.

To determine the best online college, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on academics, admissions, finance, alumni earnings and student life from school data clearinghouse Niche.

Different types of schools rank among the best online colleges, from two-year community colleges to large public institutions. Some schools prefer to teach the majority of their students online, while others excel at distance learning, even though most of their students prefer to learn in person.

The best online colleges we examined to pick the top one also vary widely in terms of cost, from a few that cost under $11,000 to one with an average cost of attendance of more than $63,000. Ideally, any person who gets a college degree will boost future earnings, but there is not always a correlation between tuition and future income. In fact, in each state, there is at least one college that is relatively inexpensive that can massively benefit its graduates down the road. They are the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes.

LeTourneau University tops our rankings. Here are the details:

  • Location: Longview, Texas
  • Admission rate: 45.5%
  • Median earnings of workers 10 years after entry: $48,200
  • Most common degree: Engineering

LeTourneau University ranks as the best online college in America largely because it received very high marks from Niche for its diversity, academics and value. Of all the schools that rank among the best online colleges, this is the only one with an admission rate under 50%.

Nearly 45% of students at this school took all their classes online in the fall 2019 semester, even before the COVID-19 pandemic moved nearly all classes online. LeTourneau University offers 19 bachelor’s degree programs and three associate’s degree programs to its online students.

Our methodology: To determine the best online college, 24/7 Wall St. considered schools with a grade of at least B+ in Niche’s 2021 Best Online Colleges in America report. Niche’s ranking includes four-year colleges and universities that are entirely online or offer a majority of their degrees online, and whose student body consists of at least 25% distance-learning students. Data on each school’s physical location also came from Niche. Supplemental data on admission rates in the 2019 and 2020 academic year, median earnings in 2015 of students who entered university in the and 2004 to 2005 academic year, and the most common degree awarded in the 2017 to 2018 academic year came from the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education.

Click here to see all the best online colleges.