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Best Military-Friendly Online Colleges

Explore the top 50 military-friendly colleges with numerous online programs. Learn what benefits are available to active and reserve members of the military, veterans, spouses and dependents.

Top 50 Military-Friendly Online Colleges

To compile our list of the best military-friendly colleges in the country, we considered affordability, curriculum and faculty quality and benefits and programs for members of the armed forces. Below are the top 50.

1. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
University Park, PA $13,988 72%

Pennsylvania State University's World Campus offers nearly 200 programs online and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Online programs offer asynchronous learning, allowing students to work at their convenience, and many enable students to study at their desired pace. Military students can qualify for various military benefits, including financial aid, and have access to priority registration, exclusive academic advisors, military student webinars and other military-support resources. Undergraduate tuition is $576 to $617 per credit hour, and graduate tuition varies by program but can cost around $1,200 per credit hour.

2. Liberty University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Lynchburg, VA $22,584 97%

Liberty University has been offering distance education programs since 1985 and currently offers more than 400 programs from the associate's degree level to the doctoral degree level. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and allows students to transfer in up to 50% of a master's degree and 75% of a bachelor's degree. Military students may qualify to earn credits towards their programs for military training and other experiences. Military students have significantly discounted tuition rates; undergraduate military students have a tuition rate of $250 per credit while military graduate students have a tuition rate of $275 per credit hour.

3. Nova Southeastern University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Fort Lauderdale, FL $30,900 100%

Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the SACSCOC and offers more than 200 programs online. Qualifying military students can apply for several scholarships and grants through the school's financial aid office, and are eligible for discounted tuition. While graduate program tuition varies, undergraduate online military students pay $614 per credit hour instead of the standard $1,038 per credit hour. Online programs include those in computer science, business, counseling, education and public health.

4. University of Arizona

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Tucson, AZ $12,467 92%

The University of Arizona offers more than 100 programs online and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Tuition varies by program, but undergraduate programs are between $500 and $550 per credit hour. Military and veteran students may be eligible for several types of financial aid and tuition assistance, including the GI Bill. University of Arizona offers the Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program, which assists veterans with the transition from military to education to civilian employment.

5. Arizona State University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Tempe, AZ $10,822 96%

Arizona State University has 5 physical locations and an online community as part of its Pat Tillman Veterans Centers and offers up to $10,000 to qualifying veteran students as part of the Tillman Scholar Program. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers more than 300 certificate and degree programs online. Online tuition varies by program but ranges from $530 to $728 for undergraduate students and from $532 to $1,397 for graduate students.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH $31,136 75%
7 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS $10,383 89%
8 Regis University Denver, CO $36,810 99%
9 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA $53,244 100%
10 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA $18,380 97%
11 National University La Jolla, CA $13,320 0%
12 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND $8,695 90%
13 Colorado State University-Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO $11,707 80%
14 East Carolina University Greenville, NC $7,188 81%
15 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO $7,376 91%
16 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA $7,323 94%
17 Purdue University Global Cedar Falls, IA $13,343 100%
18 Florida International University Miami, FL $6,546 89%
19 George Washington University Washington, DC $55,230 81%
20 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ $11,564 94%
21 University of Florida Gainesville, FL $6,381 93%
22 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS $8,624 94%
23 Ball State University Muncie, IN $9,896 90%
24 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI $19,338 97%
25 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI $27,124 100%
26 Webster University Saint Louis, MO $27,900 98%
27 New England College Henniker, NH $37,914 95%
28 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX $11,870 76%
29 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX $28,870 97%
30 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN $22,275 99%
31 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN $9,090 93%
32 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH $11,000 83%
33 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO $9,972 85%
34 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR $11,166 86%
35 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX $19,582 98%
36 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO $9,440 97%
37 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY $9,666 99%
38 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX $8,296 89%
39 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA $10,560 93%
40 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX $9,080 78%
41 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA $7,922 97%
42 Santa Fe College Gainesville, FL $2,563 68%
43 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS $11,148 86%
44 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY $10,512 96%
45 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA $9,267 92%
46 Washington State University Pullman, WA $11,584 90%
47 Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK $9,019 91%
48 Champlain College Burlington, VT $41,010 100%
49 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI $12,960 95%
50 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL $23,020 100%

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the 2018-2019 undergraduate school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose a Military-Friendly College for Online Programs

There are several things that you should consider when deciding on a college for a military-friendly online program.

Programs Offered

The first consideration in choosing a school is what programs they offer online. You should first consider your career objectives and review available programs at candidate schools. Confirm with your admissions counselors that the programs are available for online completion.

Accreditation

If you plan on using federal student aid or obtaining a license after graduation, you may be required to attend an accredited program and school. Even if accreditation is not required for your program, it can mean a better educational experience.

Flexibility

While many online programs allow students to study at their own pace, some programs are only offered in specific formats. Ask your admissions counselors about the flexibility of your chosen program to see if military students are able to study part-time/full-time as needed.

Faculty

It's important to have faculty that are experienced and available. Experienced faculty can often provide additional insight, and available faculty might be able to respond to student inquiries much sooner than faculty at other schools.

Military Affairs

Military-friendly colleges have advisors dedicated to military members, military student clubs and other special services, but not all schools offer the same resources and support. Ask each school about what benefits and resources are available to military students.

Cost

Compare total program costs for each school that you're considering. Ask each school about military tuition discounts and financial aid, as many schools with military benefits offer cost savings to military students.

Type of Learning

Most online programs are delivered through asynchronous components, meaning that students can access and work on course assignments throughout each week. While asynchronous learning is the most flexible, synchronous (scheduled) course components offer more structure.

Residency Requirements

While most online programs can be completed without ever going to campus or attending any on-site requirements, some programs do include face-to-face components. Ask your candidate schools about any residency requirements involved with your program.

Online College Program Benefits for Veterans and Military

In addition to benefits provided by the United States military and veterans affairs (including the GI Bill), online students can qualify for various military and veteran benefits. Depending on the school, these benefits can be available to active and reserve duty members of the military, military spouses and veterans.

Tuition Discounts

Some schools offer tuition discounts to qualifying military students. Tuition discounts may be offered as a percentage or specific monetary amount. For example, a school may charge $400 per credit hour for standard students and $250 per credit hour for qualifying military students.

Enrollment Assistance

Military-friendly colleges sometimes have exclusive military admissions and enrollment representatives. Because they're specifically trained to work with military students, they're able to consider and include factors such as transitioning to learning and learning styles (structure) when choosing the appropriate program and course structure.

Educational Support

Many of these schools also provide support to military students throughout their program. Military support advisors work with students to ensure that students stay on the planned academic track and make adjustments as necessary. Support representatives may also manage military activities, such as training, deployment and relocation.

Tutoring

Military students also have access to tutoring resources for their online programs. Students can log into school websites to access tutoring assistance and other materials that can help them increase their understanding of various course topics.

Spouse Benefits

The spouses of military members also enjoy benefits such as grants, scholarships and other forms of financial aid to pursue a degree. Career services for spouses are also available and may include unemployment benefits, licensure and certification aid and hiring preferences for certain job vacancies.

Career Services

At many schools with military services, students have access to resources for transitioning to employment after graduation. Career services work with military students to prepare for their professional civilian roles after they complete their programs through resume creation, job searches and other career readiness tools.

Credit for Military Experience

While not available everywhere, many schools offer credit to students for military experience. Students are usually evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and credit is given based on the American Council on Education policies. By receiving credits for military experience, students are able to decrease their overall program requirements and total program cost.

Veteran Student Organizations

Military students can join veteran student organizations where they find a network of support, resources and fellowship. One of the most notable is the Student Veterans of America (SVA).

Admissions Requirements for Military-Friendly Online Programs

Admissions requirements for online programs are very similar for military students and civilian students. Students entering undergraduate programs need a high school diploma or an equivalent along with qualifying scores on the ACT or SAT. Graduate students usually need to have a bachelor's degree prior to beginning their program. All military students typically need to provide a copy of their military transcript or discharge papers with their application.

In addition to military and educational transcripts, students may need to have earned a certain GPA on their previous degree or diploma, usually between 2.0 and 3.0. Other items required for admission can include some combination of the following items:

  • Recommendation letter
  • Personal statement/essay
  • Resume (including any volunteer experience)
  • Application fee (when required)
  • FAFSA completion
  • English-proficiency test scores (for non-native English speakers)

Using Veterans Affairs Benefits

Military students should check with the VA (Veterans Affairs) to see what benefits are available to them. VA benefits can include the GI Bill, assistance for spouses, survivors and dependents and other educational benefits. All VA benefits are processed through the Veterans Affairs website. After completing an application, students will receive their results in 4 to 8 weeks. Where applicable, students will then submit a copy of their benefits approval letter (called a Certificate of Eligibility) to their school.

Why is Accreditation Important for Online Military Students?

Accreditation is important for online military students because it represents a quality educational experience and is also required for some students. Students may be affected by two different types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic.

Institutional

Institutional accreditation applies to an entire school and shows that the school has been evaluated and accredited by a third party. In order to qualify for the accreditation, a school must meet specific criteria such as faculty experience, curriculum and graduation rates. Institutional accreditation may be preferred by some employers and is mandatory for most types of financial aid.

Programmatic

Programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs, such as those in education and dentistry. This type of accreditation also represents quality criteria and is only applicable to some program types. Most programs leading to licensed careers have programmatic accreditation; for these types of careers (such as nursing and teaching), candidates are usually required to graduate from accredited programs.

Costs of Online Programs for Military Students

The cost of an online program for military students varies drastically based on the benefits that they are eligible for from the VA. For example, students who are eligible for the GI Bill can often have entire costs covered and receive a supplemental housing allowance so that they can focus on their education while completing their program.

The cost also varies by school, with military students paying anywhere from around $250 to more than $1,000 per credit hour in tuition. Some schools offer flat-rate costs that include tuition and other fees, while most schools itemize or separate those costs. In addition, the level of the program (graduate or undergraduate) and length of the program also play a huge part in determining the total program cost.

The table below compares costs of potential undergraduate and graduate programs for qualifying military students, including veterans, active and reserve duty, spouses and dependents.

Program Degree Level Credits Required Previous Education/Qualifying Experience Transfer Credits Credits Needed Tuition per Credit Total Program Tuition
Associate's Degree Undergraduate 60 High school/GED 0 60 $250 $15,000
Associate's Degree Undergraduate 60 High school/GED 0 60 $500 $30,000
Associate's Degree Undergraduate 60 High school/GED
Credit for military experience
20 40 $250 $10,000
Associate's Degree Undergraduate 60 High school/GED
Credit for military experience
20 40 $500 $20,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 High school/GED 0 120 $250 $30,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 High school/GED 0 120 $500 $60,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 High school/GED
Credit for military experience
20 100 $250 $25,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 High school/GED
Credit for military experience
20 100 $500 $50,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 Associate's Degree60 60 $250 $15,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 Associate's Degree60 60 $500 $30,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 Associate's Degree
Credit for military experience
80 40 $250 $10,000
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate 120 Associate's Degree
Credit for military experience
80 40 $500 $20,000
Master's Degree Graduate 40 Bachelor's Degree 0 40 $350 $14,000
Master's Degree Graduate 40 Bachelor's Degree 0 40 $1,000 $40,000
Master's Degree Graduate 40 Prior Graduate Coursework
Military Experience
20 20 $350 $7,000
Master's Degree Graduate 40 Prior Graduate Coursework
Military Experience
20 20 $1,000 $20,000

The table values represent example tuition costs and credit hours, and do not include other fees (such as distance education and course materials fees). These other fees usually add up to several thousand dollars over the course of online programs.

Professional Organizations for Military Graduates of Online Programs

There is a multitude of professional organizations and resources available to current and former military members and their families. Some of the organizations available to military graduates of online programs are listed below.

  • Association of the United States Army - AUSA offers individual, family and organizational memberships. Benefits include networking, access to publications and discounts, professional development opportunities and advocacy.
  • Marine Corps Association & Foundation - Membership of MCA&F includes subscriptions to two iconic Marine Corps publications as well as networking, professional development and the potential to be recognized by one of the organization's publications.
  • National Association of American Veterans - All United States citizens are eligible to join NAAV, with membership available at associate, regular and lifetime levels. Benefits include assistance with various veterans claims and referrals, as well as information for completing veteran processes (such as obtaining records).
  • Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association - AFCEA provides educational and networking opportunities for military, industry, government and educational individuals and organizations. Membership includes publications, discounts, access to 140 chapters across the globe and continuing education.