Best Online Schools for Associate Degrees

Explore the top 50 schools across the U.S. that offer online associate's degree programs. Learn what programs are available, how much they can cost and how to find financial aid and scholarships to pay for them.

Most Affordable Schools for Online Associate's Degrees

To find the best school for an online associate's degree program, you should review factors like accreditation, flexibility, programs available and costs. Fifty of the best schools that offer associate's degrees online are listed below.

1. Holmes Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Goodman, MS $3,410 91%

Holmes Community College has maintained accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) since 1934 and is a member of the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC). Students enrolled at any MSVCC college can register for online courses from other member schools and utilize additional resources and faculty expertise. Students of HCC can pursue dozens of associate's degree pathways, including those in education, health sciences and business. Online courses are available in 8-week and 4-week terms and online students have a tuition rate of $120 per credit hour (part-time) or $1,300 per semester (full-time, up to 21 credit hours).

2. East Mississippi Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Scooba, MS $3,540 96%

East Mississippi Community College was established in 1927 as a high school, later becoming EMCC and earning accreditation from SACSCOC in 1949. In-state online students have a tuition rate of $155 per credit hour or $1,650 per semester, depending on the number of credits they are taking. The school offers more than 450 classes online that allow asynchronous learning with weekly due dates. Students can pursue programs and courses in subjects such as accounting, English, mathematics, education and political science.

3. Allen County Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Iola, KS $3,080 86%

Allen County Community College has maintained accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission since 1974 and offers 40 associate's degree programs online. All United State students have a tuition rate of $60 per credit hour, regardless of their state of residency. Online degree options include an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of General Studies. Students can select from a variety of subjects, including education, communication, political science, information technology and business administration.

4. Northeast Mississippi Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Booneville, MS $3,976 99%

Northeast Mississippi Community College is a member of the MSVCC, which means its students can access online courses from any of the MSVCC member schools. The school has been accredited by the SACSCOC since 1956 and offers more than 20 programs completely online. Online students can pursue programs such as those in business, accounting, information systems technology, computer technology and general studies. Full-time students taking between 12 and 21 credit hours have a tuition rate of $1,655 (in-state) or $3,145 (out-of-state) per semester.

5. Santa Fe College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Gainesville, FL $2,563 68%

Santa Fe College has maintained accreditation from the SACSCOC since 1968 and offers a multitude of courses online, enabling many students to complete their programs without going to campus. Online courses include those in business, computer science, information technology, humanities and health sciences. Students can earn several types of associate's degrees, including Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Science. Florida students have a tuition rate of $107 per credit while out-of-state students have a tuition rate of $383 per credit hour.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Barton County Community College Great Bend, KS $3,584 91%
7 Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson, MS $3,180 92%
8 Central Texas College Kelleen, TX $3,390 66%
9 Foothill College Los Altos Hill, CA $1,563 40%
10 Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN $4,368 74%
11 Bucks County Community College Newton, PA $8,353 51%
12 San Joaquin Delta College Stockton, CA $1,288 76%
13 Vincennes University Vincennes, IN $5,902 89%
14 Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI $3,553 74%
15 College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV $3,492 76%
16 Georgia Military College Milledgeville, GA $6,480 93%
17 San Antonio College Walnut, CA $1,350 71%
18 South Texas College McAllen, TX $4,080 91%
19 Seminole State College of Florida Sanford, FL $3,131 74%
20 Tulsa Community College Tulsa, OK $3,349 88%
21 Purdue University Global Indianapolis, IN $14,343 Not available
22 Eastern Gateway Community College Steubenville, OH $4,240 100%
23 Finger Lakes Community College Canandaigua, NY $5,158 87%
24 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI $27,124 100%
25 Rio Hondo College Whittier, CA $1,360 84%
26 Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell, PA $10,350 66%
27 State Fair Community College Sedalia, MO $4,320 91%
28 Bismarck State College Bismarck, ND $3,992 83%
29 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN $5,335 86%
30 Great Basin College Elko, NV $3,128 75%
31 Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY $3,426 94%
32 Harrisburg Area Community College Harrisburg, PA $7,935 80%
33 Blinn College Brenham, TX $4,200 63%
34 National University La Jolla, CA $13,320 0%
35 St Petersburg College Clearwater, FL $2,682 74%
36 Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC $2,544 82%
37 Northwest Technical College Bemidji, MN $5,488 93%
38 Tyler Junior College Tyler, TX $4,762 79%
39 Western Texas College Snyder, TX $4,020 86%
40 University of Northwestern Ohio Lima, OH $11,350 94%
41 Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins, GA $2,778 88%
42 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL $20,208 88%
43 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE $3,480 89%
44 Cerro Coso Community College Ridgecrest, CA $1,290 73%
45 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX $19,582 98%
46 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN $5,692 90%
47 Pamlico Community College Grantsboro, NC $1,867 40%
48 Trinity Valley Community College Athens, TX $4,920 80%
49 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH $4,284 78%
50 Arkansas State University-Newport Newport, AR $2,760 87%

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

Choosing the Right School for an Online Associate's Degree Program

There are several factors that you should keep in mind as you review different schools for your online associate's degree program.

Programs Available

Make sure that the school you select allows you to complete the entire program online, as some schools may advertise a program as online but require you to attend campus components (such as exams or traditional classes). Keep in mind that some programs (such as nursing) do require some face-to-face components (like clinical practice hours).

Type of Programs

Keep in mind that some programs are structured to be transferred into a 4-year degree while other programs prepare you for a career after completion. Associate of Arts and those in general studies can transfer into most 4-year programs, while associate's degrees in science and applied science are typically more focused and transfer best into 4-year programs of the same subject area.

Careers and Salary

If you intend to enter the workforce after completing your associate's degree, consider the entry-level salaries that apply to the available fields of study. For example, if you are interested in healthcare, there are several positions available to graduates of associate's degree programs with varying entry-level salaries. We will explore them in greater detail below.

Flexibility

Many online courses feature asynchronous class components and assignments, meaning that you can log in and complete your work at times that are convenient for you. Some classes, however, do have synchronous components such as scheduled exams and live video discussions. Ask your schools about any required synchronous classes.

Why Accreditation Matters for Online Associate's Degree Programs

For schools to earn accreditation, they must meet quality standards that are set by accrediting organizations. Accreditation not only indicates that a school has been reviewed and approved for providing quality education, but it is also necessary if you are planning to use federal financial aid.

Schools can have one of two types of accreditation: national or regional. National accreditation affects schools across the United States while regional accreditation affects schools within specific regions. For example, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits schools within 11 states in the southeast of the United States.

Although either type of institutional accreditation reflects quality standards, there are some key differences between the two types.

  • Transfer Credits - Credits earned at regionally accredited schools can be transferred to any accredited school, but credits earned at nationally accredited schools can only be transferred to other nationally accredited schools.
  • Quality - Because regional accreditation only applies to a specific region of the U.S., it typically involves higher quality standards and is considered more prestigious than national accreditation.
  • Admissions Nationally accredited schools usually have more relaxed standards for admissions while regionally accredited schools are typically more selective.

How Much Does an Online Associate's Degree Cost?

The cost of online associate's degree programs is made up of tuition and other fees, which vary by school, student and program. Key costs that affect online associate's degree programs are discussed below.

Tuition

Tuition is the primary expense of online associate's degree programs and can range from around $50 per credit hour to $500 or more per credit hour. Most online associate's degree programs include around 60 credit hours of coursework, so students could have total program tuition of $3,000 ($50 per credit) or $30,000 ($500 per credit). Tuition varies by school and can also vary by program; some programs, such as those in nursing, may have a different tuition rate than other undergraduate programs.

Ways to Save on Tuition

Depending on their school, students can decrease the overall cost of tuition a few different ways: utilizing flat-rate tuition fees, earning credit for experience or qualifying for in-state tuition.

  • Flat-Rate Tuition - Many community colleges and other institutions offer flat-rate tuition which allows students to take more courses at the same price. For example, a school may charge $120 per credit hour or $1,300 for 15 to 21 credit hours, making hours 13 through 21 essentially free of tuition.
  • Credit for Experience - Students can often earn credits towards their programs for qualifying experience, such as independent study, training undergone in their jobs, and even life experience. Credits can be earned through exams and other assessments, depending on the school.
  • In-State Tuition - While many schools have one tuition rate for online programs that applies to students from any state, some schools discount tuition for in-state students. For example, an in-state student may have a tuition rate of $110 per credit while out-of-state students pay $380 per credit.

Other Fees

These itemized expenses vary by school but can include things like registration fees, distance/online learning fees, course fees and book/materials fees. Some of these may be charged per credit hour while others are charged per semester. One school may charge $800 per semester ($3,200 total for four semesters) while another school charges $60 per credit hour ($3,000 for 60 credit hours).

Financial Aid for Online Associate's Degree Programs

There are several types of financial aid available to students of online associate's degree programs, including loans, scholarships and work-study programs. Students interested in using financial aid should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While completing the FAFSA, and even after submitting it, students can add schools to have their results sent directly to those schools.

Scholarships

Students can find scholarships through a multitude of sources, including schools, state websites and the CareerOneStop (provided by the U.S. Department of Labor). Some of the scholarships available to online associate's degree students are listed below.

  • $1,000 A Portrait of You - Every month this scholarship awards $1,000 to outstanding students based on the quality of their created profile.
  • National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation - Each year students enrolled in restaurant industry-related programs (such as hospitality) are awarded scholarships of $2,500 to $10,000 based on merit.
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure College Scholarship Awards - $5,000 is awarded to exemplary associate's degree students whose parent has died from breast cancer.
  • DirectTextbook.com Scholarship Essay Contest - Students can earn $1,000 to $3,000 by writing an outstanding essay based on the essay prompt.
  • Technology - Students Scholarship Program - Full-time students can earn one of two $3,000 awards by writing an essay in response to an essay prompt.
  • American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Foundation Academic Scholarships - Students enrolled in occupational safety programs, including engineering and risk management, can earn one of around one hundred $1,000 to $15,000 scholarships.

Work-Study

Work-study programs are funded by the government and involve students working part-time while in school. Students may be able to work in a variety of roles, depending on availability, and can earn part of the costs of their programs.

Student Loans

Students can obtain student loans from private and government lenders, but private lenders should only be used as a last resort. Government loans offer flexible repayment plans with nationally-set interest rates. Federal loans are available as subsidized or unsubsidized; interest on subsidized loans is paid by the government while students are in school, while unsubsidized loan interest is the responsibility of students while in school.

Loan Forgiveness

The federal government offers loan forgiveness to qualifying students who work a certain number of years while making regular payments on their loans. Teachers who teach in eligible schools can qualify for loan forgiveness after 5 years and individuals who work in qualifying public-service positions can have their loans forgiven after 10 years.

Career Options for Online Associate's Degree Graduates

Graduates of online associate's degree programs can pursue a multitude of careers, including those in business, healthcare and education. The careers discussed below all typically require candidates to have an associate's degree for entry-level positions.

Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational therapy assistants assist patients with various therapies (such as stretches and exercises) to help them recover from injuries and improve skills for their daily lives. They need to have an associate's degree in occupational therapy and some hands-on practice.

Web Developers

Web developers create and design a variety of websites and are responsible for both the visual and technical aspects of websites. Web developers need to understand design as well as programming, and usually need to have a degree in a field related to web design.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Paralegals and legal assistants perform assistive tasks for lawyers, such as organizing files, preparing reports, handling presentation materials and conducting research. They typically need to have an associate's degree in a field related to paralegal studies.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers care for and educate children under the age of 5 and are responsible for tasks such as creating curriculum and organizing activities. Preschool teachers usually need to have at least an associate's degree in a field relating to early childhood education.

Funeral Service Managers

Funeral service managers direct and coordinate the supplies and services within funeral homes, including ensuring facility cleanliness and defining prices. Funeral service managers' educational backgrounds vary but can benefit from courses in business, communication and accounting.

Job Title Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028) Median Annual Salary (2018)
Occupational Therapy Assistants 33% $60,220
Web Developers 13% $69,430
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 12% $50,940
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 7% $29,780
Funeral Service Managers 5% $79,180

Salary and outlook data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Post University

    Post University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Post University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Baker College

    Baker College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Baker College:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Columbia Southern University

    Columbia Southern University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Columbia Southern University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »