What Makes a Good Online School?

If you're interested in attending college via the Internet, it's important to choose a good online school. A good online school should be accredited and held in high esteem by employers. This article describes some of the characteristics of a good online school and tips for selecting one.

Online School Recognition in National or Regional College Rankings

Each year, the U.S. News and World Report prepares and publishes a list of America's best colleges. With the growing interest in online education, this publication started compiling a list of the schools offering the best online bachelor's degree programs. In 2015, the top four schools on this list were:

  • Pennsylvania State University - World Campus
  • Daytona State College
  • University of Illinois - Chicago
  • Western Kentucky University

These schools indicated that students could complete all of the requirements for a degree online; however, the types of degree programs offered might be limited. Therefore, aspiring applicants might want to contact schools to confirm a program's availability.

Important Facts About Online Schools

Common Courses General education courses, such as English, math, science and history; program-specific courses
Program Levels Certificate, diploma, undergraduate, graduate; varies according to school
Degree Fields of Study Varies according to school, but commonly include business, psychology, criminal justice
Other Requirements Some online degree programs may require offline clinical hours and/or internships

Criteria for Selecting a School


The accreditation status of online schools is available via the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) website. Good online schools may be accredited through DETC, or they may maintain accreditation through one of the regional accreditation organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Employer Recognition

The reputation of any school is an important component of its status. Potential employers should recognize a good online school's programs when hiring. A positive perception of the quality of the employees who previously earned a diploma or degree from the school helps future graduates looking for work. When selecting an online school, prospective students should consult recent graduates about the quality of their experiences with the institution.


Checking the history of a school is another way to check its quality. Online schools associated with larger brick-and-mortar institutions have the advantage of name recognition, as well as a longer history. Students should always look into how long a college or university has offered online education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

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