Finding the Best Online College Courses

Many different kinds of colleges and universities offer online learning courses. Online courses can be used to earn any level of degree, though not every school will offer every kind of program.

With so much available variety, it is important to know which programs will work best for your own educational needs. It is important to closely consider even the best institutions to make sure that they will provide you with the instruction that you need.

Best Online College Courses

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Online College Courses

Often, when students search for the best online college courses, they run into questions like:

  • What kind of accreditation does this program have?
  • What kinds of degrees are available through online college courses?
  • Can I earn a professional certificate online?
  • How much will this cost?

To find every answer, the following rankings and reviews have been compiled covering some of the best online college course providers. The reviews will examine costs, programs, accreditation, and unique positive and negative aspects of each school. Armed with the facts, you will be able to find the best online courses to fit your needs.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Online College Courses

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the schools below to go directly to the detailed review section for that school):

Top 6 Best Online College Courses | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Top Online Schools

Private or Public

Program Levels

Regional Accreditation

Cornell UniversityPrivateGraduate and CertificateMiddle States Commission for Higher Education
Drexel UniversityPrivateBachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, and CertificatesMiddle States Commission for Higher Education
PennState World CampusPublicAssociates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, CertificateMiddle States Commission for Higher Education
Rio Salado College OnlinePublicAssociates, CertificateHigher Learning Commission
University of FloridaPublicBachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, CertificateSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College
University of WashingtonPublicBachelor’s, Master’s CertificateNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Table: Top 6 Best Online College Courses | Above list is sorted alphabetically

What Is an Online Certificate Course?

Online certificate programs and courses are intended to give students or professionals in-depth knowledge about a very specific aspect of their field. Some certificates require some form of prerequisite, like a master’s degree or a number of years in a particular field.

Online College Courses

Image Source: Pixabay

Other kinds of certificates do not have requirements like this and instead can help professionals or students learn regardless of prior experience in the field. Certificate programs exist for areas of academic study, skilled trades, and career fields.

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What Are the Benefits of Online College Courses?

Online college courses and programs offer many benefits. Online programs are often less expensive than in-classroom learning but hold students to equal performance standards. Many online college courses can also be completed according to each students individual schedule. This give working professionals flexibility and does not require time off of work.

Online college courses also allow people to study at institutions that may be very far away. This keeps students from the expense of relocating and opens up educational opportunities to those who would be unable to move.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Online College Courses

Below, please find the detailed review of each online college course on our list of best online college courses. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top college online courses to score so highly in our selection ranking.

Cornell University Online Courses Review

Cornell University offers a number of online college courses. Though it offers more than just online degree courses, the entire program is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Cornell University Online Courses

Image Source: Cornell University


Cornell offers a wide range of online learning courses for students of all kinds. It offers 139 online degree courses, online certificate courses, and individual online learning courses that can be taken for no credit or certifications.

For enrolled, degree-seeking students, Cornell offers university online courses that can be used toward credit requirements for specific degrees. They also offer entire graduate level university online courses that allow students to earn degrees in Systems Engineering or Human Resource Management.

Some of the online college courses do require prerequisite qualifications, but many are available to students of any level.

The program has many different online certificate courses that can help students develop their skills in a number of fields. Students can earn credentials in online certificate courses like:

  • CPR Basic Life Support
  • Foodservice Management
  • Executive Leadership


The tuition rates for taking college courses online can vary greatly. For degree-seeking students, Cornell is relatively expensive; undergraduate tuition can cost as much as $50,712.

However, individual online certificate courses are priced individually. Some, like the CPR programs, cost $75 while others, like the organic gardening course, cost $675.

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Drexel University Online Courses Review

Drexel University is ranked among the 15 largest private universities in the U.S. with around 26,000 enrolled students. Drexel University has one of the oldest online degree course programs.

Online Diploma Courses By Drexel University

Image Source: Drexel University

They offer only accredited online courses that hold students to the same standards as the traditional, in-classroom programs. Every online college course has been approved by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, National League for Nursing, Middle States Commission for Higher Education, or the American Library Association.


Drexel University is one of the best online college course providers because they allow students to pursue college online courses for different levels of education. They have bachelor level online degree courses and programs in:

  • Business
  • Communications
  • Criminal justice
  • Education
  • General studies
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Technology

Students can also participate in Drexel University online courses at the Master’s level in 15 fields. These accredited online courses cover specializations like arts administration, cyber security, and special education.

Accredited online certificate programs are also available through this institution. There are online certificate courses in more than 45 concentrations ranging from public health to sports.

Some of these online certificate courses are available to students with any level of experience, but some have prerequisite requirements. Many are post-graduate certifications to help professionals specialize or advance within an established career.

Drexel University also offers doctoral level online courses in 3 areas:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Nursing

Tuition Rates

Tuition rates for these online college courses are individually set depending on the specific programs. For example, for the 2016-2017 academic year, tuition rates for the Bachelor of Science in Education online program was $479 per credit; however, the tuition rate for the Master of Science in Communication online program for the same year is $1,192 per credit.

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PennState World Campus Online College Courses Review

PennState World Campus is an online college course program available through Pennsylvania State University. Students can earn degrees and certificates from the well-renowned school regardless of their schedule or location. This program has accredited online certificate programs and degrees accredited by the Middle States Commission for Higher Education.

Online Degree Courses by PennState World Campus

Image Source: Pennsylvania State University


This is one of the best online university course options because online diploma courses are held to the same standard as traditional classes. This means that all students are issued identical degrees upon graduation. Penn State University online courses have more than six levels of educational options. Students can take accredited online courses to earn:

  • Associate’s degrees
  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Master’s degrees
  • Doctoral degrees
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s level certificate programs

Undergraduate level accredited online certificate programs include subjects and specializations like financial planning, nursing forensics, and weather forecasting.

Students can take these college courses online on their own schedule because most do not have set class times. Students can study on their own time but remain connected to classmates and instructors through an online network of chat, video conferencing, phone calls, emails, and more.

Tuition Rates

Tuition for this online college course program is paid per credit, and students are able to choose how many credits they want to tackle at one time. This allows them to control the cost of their education and pay for only what they can afford at the start of each semester.

The cost of individual online college course credits will vary depending on the number of credits that a student holds, the type of degree or certificate they are pursuing, and the number of credits they are seeking at one time. To help students determine the cost of a semester, the program website offers a tuition calculator.

Rio Salado College Online Courses Review

Rio Salado College Online offers students many different ways to use and take college course online to further their education. This school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Students can follow an accredited online certificate program or degree program to transfer their degree to a different institution, transfer online diploma course credits to an outside university, or improve professional growth.

Rio Salado College For Online Learning Courses

Image Source: Rio Salado College


Rio Salado College has accredited online courses for associate’s degrees that cover 21 subjects and 65 accredited online certificate programs. Students can earn degrees in fields like:

  • Adult learning and development
  • Military leadership
  • Mobile app programming

This is one of the best online college course providers for students using military benefits. There are many services and options designed specifically for the needs of both retired and active duty service members.

Students also have access to free tutoring services online or over the phone to offer guidance for anyone taking Rio Salado College courses online no matter how far away they are. Students can also use an extensive online library with 24/7 live librarian assistance via online chat.

Tuition Rates

Though this school offers fewer program options, it is one of the best online college course options for students seeking affordability. For the 2016-2017 academic year, students were charged $215 per credit hour for online learning courses.

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University of Florida Online College Courses Review

The University of Florida offers students nine different levels of education through university online courses. This school is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, which allows them to offer fully accredited online courses.

College Courses Online By UF

Image Source: University of Florida


Students can choose from over 16 undergraduate online diploma course programs. These university online courses can help students pursue degrees in fields like environmental management, anthropology, and business administration.

Students can also take bachelor’s completion online degree courses. Completion programs allow students with associate’s degrees to build on their education and earn a bachelor’s degree in 2 years. Some of these programs cannot be completed completely online.

University of Florida also offers 86 different masters, 3 different specialists, and 11 different doctorate level degrees through university online courses. There are also 82 different online certificate courses for both graduate and graduate level programs.

These online certificate courses can help students and professionals further their education for specific aspects of their chosen fields.

Tuition Rates

This school does not compromise on diversity for university online courses. Similarly, it does not compromise on cost, either. This is one of the best online university course providers in terms of cost because in-state students are charged $129 per credit hour. However, out-of-state students are charged a hefty $552 per credit hour.

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University of Washington Online College Courses Review

The University of Washington allows students to pursue three kinds of online learning courses. They follow a bachelor’s, master’s, or online certificate course program. This school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Accredited Online Certificate Programs With University of Washington

University of Washington


Students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree can only choose from two online learning courses. They may achieve a bachelor of arts in either early childhood and family studies or integrated social sciences. These degrees are both self-paced, but they do not have rolling start dates.

The University of Washington offers 18 master’s degrees that can be earned through college online courses. Each of these courses has individual levels of flexibility. Some are self-paced, some have set class times, and others are a combination of the two. None of them have rolling start dates, so it may be necessary to wait a few months for the next program.

There are over 50 online certificate course programs available through this school. Just like the master’s programs they have varying degrees of schedule flexibility. However, unlike the bachelor’s and master’s programs, which can both take years to complete, most of the online certificate courses can be completed in 4 to 9 months.


Tuition rates for these online college courses are variable. For example, the online accounting and finance certificate program costs $1,750 for 11 weeks of classes. However, the online bachelor’s degree in early childhood and family studies costs $181 per credit hour.

Conclusion- Top 6 Best Online College Courses

Finding the best online university courses is very important. The quality of your education can help you boost your career for years to come.

Though some schools will have more rigorous standards than others, it is important to consider each institution as a whole. This is because the best online university course program should fit into your life, work with your schedule and budget, and still give you the best education possible.

Accredited Online Courses

Image Source: Pixabay

To find the best school, keep in mind the highlights from our comparison:

  • Cornell University offers only two fully online degree programs.
  • Drexel University has one of the oldest online programs.
  • PennState Online provides online diploma courses for associates degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and both bachelor’s and master’s certificates.
  • Rio Salado College Online has many services for military students.
  • University of Florida offers tuition for only $129 per credit hour for Florida residents.
  • University of Washington has scheduled class times for some programs.

Though each school represented here has both positive and negative features, they are all well-respected, fully accredited institutions for higher learning. Choosing the best school is a unique process for every individual. Even the most prestigious school will not be the best fit if they do not offer programs that fit your needs.

To find the best online university course provider for your needs, remember your goals, budget, and schedule to find one that fits your life.

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