For a successful school experience while serving in the armed forces—or after your return to civilian life—you may want to look for military friendly colleges.
With the right school on your side, you can balance getting an education with fulfilling your military responsibilities. Plus, military friendly universities offer an array of other benefits for veterans and service members, such as providing credit for your military experience.
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Before settling on a college, you may want to check out the options for military-friendly schools.
Online Military Friendly Colleges
As a member of the military, you’ve likely been through extensive training programs, gained valuable skills, and acquired important life experience. Even still, you could benefit from a college education and a degree.
During your military service, education could put you on the path toward promotions. Becoming an officer usually requires holding at least a bachelor’s degree. If you didn’t enlist with a degree already in hand, now could be the time to change that.
Perhaps the idea of transitioning to civilian life has been on your mind, or perhaps you’re already a veteran. Holding a college degree could enhance your resume and qualify you for new job opportunities. Whatever your reasons for getting a college degree, choosing a military-friendly school could be a strategic move.
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Colleges are considered military-friendly when they offer services and programs that meet the unique needs of service members and veterans.
Characteristics of a military-friendly university might include:
- Discounting military members’ tuition
- Employing a counselor who specializes in military matters
- Encouraging a network of military alumni
- Giving refunds when students get deployed mid-semester
- Granting college credits for previous military experience
- Having flexible online classes with 24/7 access
- Hosting support groups for military members
- Offering military-focused college majors
- Providing career counseling for veterans and service members
- Understanding the financial aid options available for military personnel
The best military-friendly colleges understand that people can go back to school at any stage of their military careers. Some students are currently on active duty. Others are in the reserves. There are also college students who are veterans or retirees.
Top colleges understand these distinctions and offer support services to meet the needs of each group. For example, those on active duty may be best suited for flexible online classes. People in the reserves or the National Guard may be in a position to participate in military-friendly work-study programs.
Veterans looking for a new career path might appreciate the guidance of career counselors who understand this transition. The best colleges for veterans will offer more military-specific programs, and thus the better a fit for you they may be.
Choosing an Online Military Friendly College
Many online colleges advertise themselves as military-friendly institutions, but it’s your job to pick the one that’s the best match for you.
You may want to keep the following considerations in mind during your search:
- Academic support. Especially if this is your first time in a classroom in a long while, you may need an extra hand. You can look for colleges that offer tutoring and other academic services.
- Accreditation. Regional accreditation is the mark of a good school.
- Areas of study. Depending on your goals, you may want to major in something related to a military degree, such as security, intelligence, or military history. Alternatively, you might have a different subject matter in mind. Either way, you can pick a college that offers your preferred major.
- Camaraderie. You might want to go to a school that has networking, socialization, and support opportunities exclusively for the military community. Military counselors could be another valuable resource.
- Financial aid. Military tuition benefits can be used at any school, not just ones that are labeled military-friendly. Even still, you might appreciate a college that’s experienced in helping military members make the most of the GI Bill and other benefits.
- Format. Online programs with asynchronous classes and materials available around the clock may be the best fit for your busy military schedule.
- Price. Your military tuition benefits may cover only so much of the cost. A lower-priced school could save you money, and some colleges also provide extra discounts for people in the military.
- Refund policy. Some schools will refund your tuition if you get deployed in the middle of a semester.
- Transfer policies. If you can transfer in a large number of credits, including credits for military courses and work experience, you may be able to complete your degree more quickly.
You may want to speak to fellow military students about their experiences before you settle on a college.
College Credits for Military Experience
Many online schools for military members offer college credits based on students’ past military training and experience.
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Requesting credit for your past experience is often beneficial. The fewer classes you have to take, the more quickly you can get through school. Also, taking a lighter class load has the potential to save you money. Here’s how the process might go for you:
- View Joint Services Transcript. Go to the Joint Services Transcript website to view an unofficial copy of your transcript. It will include information about your military training, your test scores, and the positions you’ve held.
- Review document. Look over the Joint Services Transcript to make sure that all the details are present and accurate.
- Send copies. Have official copies of your Joint Services Transcript sent to the college.
- Submit other documentation. Submit any other requested documentation, such as a portfolio, to the school.
- Complete requested exams. Take any placement or assessment exams that your college requests.
- Wait for response. Wait to hear information on what credits you can receive in exchange for your experience.
- Follow up. Follow up with the registrar or an admissions advisor to ask any questions. You can also inquire about the next steps in signing up for classes.
Decisions about credit for military experience are made on a case-by-case basis. Even at military-friendly schools, these credits are not guaranteed, and different schools may assess your Joint Services Transcripts in different ways.
Benefits of Online Military Friendly Schools
For military members and veterans, online college classes could be a strategic way to work toward a degree. Here are some potential benefits of online studies:
- Financial aid. Military financial aid isn’t just for on-campus students. Online college students can take advantage of these benefits too.
- Flexible schedules. Life in the military can be demanding. You may need a college that lets you engage with coursework at a different time each week. Online schools often provide 24/7 access to course materials so that you can complete your assignments whenever you’re available.
- Generous transfer policies. Online colleges often cater to adults with work experience. They sometimes grant college credit for the things people have already learned on the job. That can include experience gained through military service.
- Military student support. Although online students don’t go to campus, they may still have access to a wide variety of college programs and services. At a military-friendly online school, that might include virtual support groups, tutoring, career counseling, and financial aid guidance.
- Vast networks. Some colleges maintain networks of military alumni. Because online colleges attract students from all over the country, the alumni network may be extensive and diverse.
Accredited online colleges offer robust educational opportunities, so you might consider signing up for an online program.
Military Friendly Online Colleges Admissions Requirements
As a military member, your college application may look a little different than other students’ admissions materials. Here’s what you might turn in:
- Application form
- Joint Services Transcript
- School transcripts—from high school and any colleges you’ve been to
- Standardized test scores (only required by some schools)
Some colleges offer online or in-person admissions events especially for military members. That could be a strategic opportunity to get your questions answered and learn more about what a school has to offer.
The most credible military friendly colleges online hold regional accreditation. You can check out a school’s accreditation status by visiting the US Department of Education’s website.
Regional accreditation tells you that a school adheres to certain high-quality standards, educating students effectively and operating according to reliable principles. Accredited coursework is often transferrable, so if you choose to switch schools, your past credits might go with you. Also, an accredited degree might help you qualify for a graduate program like a masters in military history online or on campus.
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Becoming a military officer usually requires holding an accredited bachelor’s degree. Civilian jobs may require accredited degrees too.
Financial Aid and Scholarships for Online Military Students
People who have served in the military have access to exclusive financial aid opportunities. Military-friendly financial aid options include:
- Tuition assistance. People who are currently serving on active duty or in the reserves can receive a monthly tuition benefit. Depending on the cost of your schooling, this benefit might cover the full amount.
- Top-Up program. Students who are eligible for GI Bill benefits can get additional tuition assistance through the Top-Up program.
- GI Bill. There are actually two different versions available: the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill. These provide several years of funding for eligible students. The money can be used for tuition, housing, and other school-related expenses.
- Scholarships. Many scholarships are offered exclusively to members of the military, veterans, or military family members. Some are just for disabled veterans.
Of course, state and federal aid may be an option too. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to learn more. You may qualify for grants that will never need to be repaid, and you might get loans as well. Loans must be repaid after college.
Some members of the military qualify for loan repayment programs. These usually require a minimum term of service before you can qualify.
What Are Military Friendly Colleges?
Military friendly colleges are schools that make it easy for service members or veterans to get a college education. They cater to the military population and offer valuable support services.
Colleges for military members offer a variety of worthwhile benefits. For example, these schools may offer online classes so that students can do schoolwork whenever it fits with their schedules. They may also specialize in providing transfer credit or financial aid for service members.
Military-friendly schools might also have support groups, counselors, and alumni networks that are just for military personnel and veterans.
Does the Military Pay for College?
The military has many tuition benefits for service members and veterans. Those on active duty and in the reserves can get tuition assistance to cover a portion of their college costs each year.
Some can receive even more by applying for Top-Up benefits. Also, there are two GI Bill options. They cover a large portion of educational expenses. To take advantage of military funding for college, it’s necessary for you to meet all the eligibility requirements. Depending on the programs you use, you may be required to have served for a certain length of time.
Can You Be in the Military While in College?
Yes, you can take college classes while you’re enlisted in the military. The military may even cover part of the costs. One option for military schooling is to take classes online.
Distance learning can be a valuable asset for service members. Online coursework can typically be completed around your military responsibilities. Another option is to be in the National Guard or the reserves so that you’re not on duty most of the time. That way, you can take classes online or on-campus during normal school hours.
Is Getting Into an Online Military University Worth It?
Yes, getting into an online military university is worth it for many students. Your military promotions may depend on having a college education. Typically, becoming an officer in the military requires holding a bachelor’s degree. Plus, a college degree may be beneficial for your post-military career.
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In general, unemployment rates are lower among people who have been to college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s a 3.5% unemployment rate among people with bachelor’s degrees. The unemployment rate for high school graduates is 6.2%.
Best Online Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University offers online degree programs for students in the military. U.S. News & World Report ranked ASU #4 for best online bachelor’s programs for veterans. ASU features multiple start dates and asynchronous classes. Students can pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees. Areas of study offered include electrical engineering, forensic psychology, and global security.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Averett University’s online degree programs are flexible to help fit into military students’ busy schedules. Many programs are offered in an accelerated format, and there are five start dates offered throughout the year. Students can pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees in a variety of subjects. Areas of study offered include leadership studies, computer information systems, and education.
Averett University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Colorado State University offers support to its military students by helping them figure out transfer credits and guiding them to the right courses for their programs. Students can earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees online. Courses are fully online or blended with synchronous and asynchronous options. Areas of study offered include anthropology, agricultural sciences, aerospace engineering, and political science.
Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Drexel University is a Yellow Ribbon school, which means it pays tuition for eligible veterans. The school also provides extra support and mentoring for veteran students. Drexel offers over 150 online programs. Many are fully online and all run on a quarter schedule. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees online. Areas of study offered include creative writing and software engineering.
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
George Washington University is a Yellow Ribbon school that offer free tuition to eligible veterans. The school also has veteran support services in place to help students be successful. GWU has over 100 online programs. Students can earn associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees. Fields of study offered include management, publishing, and biomedical informatics.
George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Georgia Southern University has been named a Military Friendly school for the past ten years. The school offers fee waivers, benefits, and resources for active-duty military, veterans, and their families. Georgia Southern offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs made to fit busy schedules. Fields of study offered include world languages and cultures, respiratory therapy, and instructional technology.
Georgia Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Indiana University—Bloomington has been serving military students since the early 1800s. The school’s Center for Veteran and Military Students offers help and resources for current students and their families. IU offers over 100 online programs. Many are fully online. Students can pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in fields like applied science, music technology, and more.
Indiana University – Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Military students at Lamar University may be eligible for tuition assistance. The school also offers other resources for military students, including fee waivers and dedicated support systems to help them make the transition to students. The school offers several online degrees that military students may be able to earn credit for because of their experience. These include studies in criminal justice and international studies.
Lamar University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Liberty University offers several benefits for its online military students, including certain discounts and benefits when taking approved online courses.
LU’s staff supports military students to help them be successful. Students can earn undergraduate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees through the schools 8 week, online courses. The school offers 8 start dates a year. Areas of study offered include aviation, cybersecurity, and homeland security.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
North Carolina State University has been named a military-friendly school by several organizations. NC State offers flexibility and resources for military students and their busy schedules. The school offers over 100 online programs for undergraduate, master’s, or doctorate degrees. Areas of study offered include aerospace engineering and public sector leadership.
North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Northern Arizona University provides its military students with benefits, resources, and services to help them be successful while at college. Military students may be eligible for fee waivers, tuition assistance, and more. Students can follow traditional or personalized online formats to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees in fields like global business and paramedic care.
Northern Arizona University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
At Northwestern State University of Louisiana, military students and eligible dependents pay a reduced tuition rate. Students may be able to earn credits for their training or test for certain credits. NSU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree programs. Some programs are fully online. Areas of study offered include unified public safety administration and homeland security.
The Northwestern State University of Louisiana is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Purdue University’s online program allows military students to earn credit for eligible training experiences. Students may also be eligible for reduced tuition, and Purdue offers special services and resources for military members. Many programs are fully online and asynchronous. Students can pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in fields like civil engineering and veterinary nursing.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Regent University is a Christian college with several awards naming it a military-friendly college. Dedicated mentors are available to help military students through every step of the application process. Regent offers 8 week, online courses and eight start times per year. Students can choose from online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields like law and national security and Christian discipleship.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University has served military students for over 80 years. The school offers eligible students discounted tuition for online programs. Students may also be eligible for up to 90 transfer credits. Online courses are 8 to 10 weeks long, and many are fully online. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered in fields such as engineering and health.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.
Syracuse University helped to create the original G.I. Bill in 1944 and has been a leading supporter of military students since. Military students can receive multiple avenues of support from benefits, scheduling, and resources. The school offers online degree programs for associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Fields of study offered include creative leadership and applied data science.
Syracuse University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Texas Tech University is committed to helping its military and veteran students successfully make the transition from service to academia. Newsweek ranked TTU the number one online university in the country. Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees online, and many of these programs’ courses are fully online. Fields of study offered include political science, instructional technology, and agribusiness.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Thomas Edison State University has counselors and other resources to help military students obtain benefits and optimize their schedules. Students may be eligible for tuition discounts and transfer credits. Online programs start every month. Students can earn associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in fields like homeland security, entrepreneurship, or cloud computing.
Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Alabama was named a gold-ranked Top 10 Military Friendly school and is a Yellow Ribbon school. UA offers special services for military students, including advising, tuition help, and tutoring. Online programs are either fully online or offered in a hybrid format. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees online. Fields of study offered include advertising and nursing.
The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Arizona was ranked one of the best online programs for veterans by U.S. News & World Report. Students may be eligible for benefits to help them with their education. The school offers over 150 programs that are fully online. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are available in fields like cyber operations and entrepreneurship.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
U.S. News & World Report named the University of Central Florida one of the best online bachelor’s programs for veterans. Military students are paired with success coaches to help them maximize their benefits. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. Many programs are asynchronous and fully online. Fields of study offered include aerospace engineering and psychology.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maine has a veteran’s services office in place to help students understand their benefits and find resources. Military students may be eligible for additional benefits.
The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that can be earned online. Online classes follow the school’s semester schedule, though a few summer sessions are also offered. Fields of study offered include surveying engineering technology, nursing, and spatial informatics.
The University of Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Maryland Global Campus allows military students to earn degrees faster by transferring service for credits. Military students may be eligible for other benefits and resources as well.
The school offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees that can be earned online or in a hybrid format. There are multiple start dates offered each year. Popular fields of study offered include joint military strategy and accounting.
University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts—Global is dedicated to helping military students get a quality education. UMass Global works with students to help them get the most out of their benefits and resources. Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees online. The school offers multiple start dates a year and flexible scheduling. Fields of study offered include legal studies and business analytics.
UMass Global is accredited by the WSCUC Senior College and University Commission.
The University of Nebraska—Lincoln has a variety of support systems in place to help military students claim benefits, find resources, and achieve success at college. UNL offers online undergraduate and graduate programs for military students, including degree completion programs. Fields of study offered include applied science, engineering management, and professional journalism.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of North Dakota offers several services to help military students get the most out of their college experience. Advisors are available to help students with scheduling. Tutors are also available. Online students can choose from self-paced or semester-based programs for undergraduate or graduate degrees in fields like aerospace sciences or chemical engineering.
The University of North Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of North Georgia is one of only six Senior Military Colleges in the country. The school’s Corps of Cadets seeks to prepare students for leadership roles. Students can choose between two tracks: a military track or a civilian track. UNG currently offers only one online program: a BS in Political Science.
UNG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Utah has many special services for military students and veterans. It offers quite a few resources, including advising and tutoring. There are also many veterans-only benefits. The University of Utah aims to provide its online students with the same quality education its on-campus students receive. Students can pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees online in fields such as economics or legal studies.
The University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Wisconsin—Madison offers support for military students, including helping them maximize state and federal benefits. Students may be able to earn credits for their military experience. UW—Madison’s online programs are designed to be flexible for busy schedules. Online students can earn bachelor’s degrees in one of seven subjects, including marketing or nursing.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your College Degree Online
Going back to college can be a beneficial choice for anyone affiliated with the military. Whether you’re currently on active duty or inactive duty, getting a college degree could enhance your career potential. The same holds true for retired service members and veterans.
When it comes to colleges for veterans and military personnel, accredited online institutions could be the strategic choice. Online schools can often accommodate busy military schedules. Also, online colleges commonly cater to adult learners and have a variety of support services in place. Some services may be tailored especially to military members.
Why not start looking at military-friendly colleges today?