We’ve ranked the 25 best online bachelor’s degree programs for 2020. Check out career, salary, job growth, and top colleges.
There’s never been a better time to earn your online Bachelor’s degree than right now. There are numerous financial aid options available, and because more universities are taking their degree programs online, the tuition rates are both competitive and affordable. Plus, there are now more programs available online than ever before.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Here are the 25 most popular online bachelor’s degree programs:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
- Criminal Justice
- Early Childhood Education
- Elementary Education
- General Studies
- Health Services
- Healthcare Management
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Organizational Leadership
- Nursing (RN to BSN)
- Project Management
- Social Work
- Sports Management
There are a wide-range of online bachelor’s programs available.
An online bachelor’s degree in accounting usually appeals to people who enjoy working with money and numbers. If you enjoy computation, working on budgets or taxes, balancing books or working with any other financial documentation, this could be the degree for you.
In this degree program, you’ll likely take a lot of accounting, taxation, economics and finance classes. In fact, you may decide to find a program that combines finance and accounting into one degree – a Bachelor of Science in Accounting & Finance.
Either way, the field can be a fairly lucrative one, with the average annual salary for degree holders being about $70,000 for a B.S. in Accounting and about $73,000 for a B.S. in Accounting & Finance.
2. Business Administration
With the average annual salary of a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) being about $65,000, a degree in this field can also be quite lucrative. Generally this degree appeals to those with effective communication and leadership skills. If you find yourself being drawn to lead group projects instead of working as part of the team, you could do well in business administration.
Courses for this particular degree field could encompass such fields as accounting, economics, finance, business administration, management, organizational leadership and more. Most courses are geared towards ensuring you can budget and manage company finances effectively. Additionally, courses should help improve your leadership and communication skills.
Other than mid- and upper-level management jobs, potential jobs in this field could include human resources management, financial analysis, accounting, operations, marketing, data analysis, corporate buying and more.
Degrees in communications could come in the form of visual communications, communications engineering, marketing communications, mass communications and more. If you’re an extroverted person who enjoys public speaking, storytelling and/or chasing down a good story, communications could be the perfect degree for you.
An average annual salary in the field of communications usually ranges from about $56,000 to the low $70,000 range. Depending on which particular communications major you pursue, this degree could lead you into a career as a marketing manager or director, public media specialist, public relations specialist or manager, communications manager, anchorperson, reporter, writer, editor and more.
Classes will vary depending on the specific type of communications in which you’re interested, but some classes that you’ll probably have to take regardless are composition, communications, marketing, sociology, business, journalism, public speaking, mass media, networking and more.
4. Computer Science
If tech, computers and the internet are more your style, you might consider a degree in computer science. Just as education is moving online, so is practically everything else. This means that there are tons of jobs out there available for a computer science major.
The field also pays well. The average annual salary for people with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is about $86,000, well over the national average. Careers in this field include all types of computer- and software-related jobs. Some popular choices, listed with their annual average salaries, are:
- Software Architect – $110,000
- Software Consultant – $104,000
- Head Software Developer – $103,000
- Software Engineer – $84,000
- Cyber Security Analyst – $79,000
- Data Engineer – $70,000
- Software Test Engineer – $63,000
These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential computer science jobs.
If you have a propensity for wanting to help people, the ability to listen without judgement, an empathetic personality and a natural curiosity about the behavior and attitudes of other people, an online bachelor’s degree in counseling could be a great choice for you. It’s a fairly steady career choice because people of all ages need counseling.
Some of the courses you might be required to take in the counseling curriculum include courses on addictions, substance abuse, human sexuality, marriage and family therapy, aging and the fear of it, group counseling theory, professional ethics, social and cultural diversity and more.
A degree in counseling could pave the way for you to find a rewarding career in many different fields. You could potentially become a substance abuse counselor, general mental health counselor, couples and family counselor, school counselor, eating disorders and body image counselor or something else in the field.
6. Criminal Justice
If you’ve ever considered becoming a police officer, homicide detective, criminal prosecutor or criminal psychologist, a good start for you would be a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. This degree usually appeals to people interested in upholding the law and seeking justice. If you have an extreme interest in what makes criminals do the things they do, this could also be a great starting point for you.
The majority of the courses you’ll take for this type of degree will focus on criminal justice and law classes. You’ll likely be required to learn about crime in America, crime statistics and crime prevention. Furthermore, you should take courses on investigation and gathering and examining evidence.
Potential bachelor’s degree-level jobs in this field include security manager, paralegal, case manager, associate attorney, sheriff, police or probation officer and more.
A bachelor’s degree in education, particularly secondary education, can equip you with the skills you’ll need to teach at the junior high and high school levels of public and private schools. This degree usually appeals to people who enjoy working with pre-teen and teenage children, have excellent self-control and can hang onto their patience under pressure.
If you hope to teach a specific subject, you’ll likely be required to take many general education classes, some classes specific to education and then many specific classes in the subject in which you’re hoping to teach. For example, if you hope to teach high school English, you’ll likely be taking a ton of literature and writing courses.
Additionally, you’ll probably take teaching-specific courses such as the following:
- Instructional Planning
- Introduction to Special Education
- Classroom Management
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Strategic Instruction
You’ll probably also be required to pass a licensing exam to become fully certified.
8. Early Childhood Education
The degree path for early childhood education also appeals to people who love working with children, but this path appeals more to those people who like working with children aged four to five and younger. A degree in early childhood education could ready for you a job in a daycare, nursery or pre-school classroom.
Furthermore, if you’re interested in becoming a live-in nanny or household assistant, this degree path could also work well for you because parents look much more fondly on live-in help that can help educate their young children.
Courses for this degree could include such subjects as child health and safety, math, science and language for young children, beginning literacy, language development and more. The average annual salary for a person with this degree is approximately $44,000.
9. Elementary Education
This is the third degree path on this list that could appeal to you if you love working with children. With this degree, you should learn all the skills you’d need to teach kindergarten through sixth grade in both public and private schools. Many of the courses you’d be required to take for this degree are very similar or the same as those you’d need to take for an education degree.
Additional classes could include the following:
- Courses in All Core Subjects (Math, English, History, Science)
- Art and Music Courses
- Foundations of Language and Literacy
- Diversity of Learners and Settings
In addition to readying you for a career as a potential elementary, middle or special education teacher, this degree could also help you find a job as a reading interventionist, public school administrator, personal tutor or something similar.
If you love reading and writing or if you want to pursue a career that will involve heavy research and writing, an English degree could be perfect for you. A bachelor’s degree in English is also an incredibly great choice if you hope to go onto graduate school because it gives you the foundation you need to research and write well.
In addition to taking a whole ton of literature and composition classes, other courses that might be required for you to earn your B.A. in English include literary and critical theory, multidisciplinary studies and history of the English language. Mostly, though, you’ll be taking a whole ton of literature classes.
Jobs for you after earning this degree could include writer, copywriter, editor, proofreader, technical writer, communications specialist, content writer, marketing manager, paralegal and more. Average annual salary for a B.A. in English holder is approximately $59,000.
As we mentioned earlier, finance degrees and accounting degrees are very similar. They’re so similar, in fact, that sometimes they’re combined together in one degree. This means that the same type of person who may be drawn to an accounting degree could also be drawn to a finance degree. Furthermore, the same skills and characteristics that could benefit you in an accounting program could also benefit you in a finance program.
Even the courses required to earn a finance degree are similar to the courses you’d be required to take to earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some examples of core finance classes would be various “principles of” classes, such as principles of marketing, financial modeling and accounting, professional development in finance and more.
If you do receive your bachelor’s in finance, you could potentially make good money. The average annual salary for this degree is $68,000.
12. General Studies
A bachelor’s degree in general studies is a wonderful degree because it leaves you open for so many different potential future paths. Whether you choose to go onto grad school or straight into the workforce after earning this degree, you have options. In fact, many employers actually seek out people with general studies degrees because they have such a well-rounded and wide array of knowledge.
With a general studies degree, you get to design your own curriculum to a certain extent, so it’s hard to provide you with a list of potential classes. It’s safe to assume, though, that you’ll take many general education courses in math, English, science, public speaking and history. Furthermore, you’ll likely pull most of your other classes out of humanities or business fields.
The average annual salary for a general studies degree holder is between $50,000 and $60,000.
13. Health Services
Careers in the health science field are generally safe and stable careers. We’ll always need doctors, hospitals and healthcare professionals. This degree field usually appeals to those who already have experience in health services or anyone who hopes to work in hospital, doctor’s office or other healthcare administration fields.
Courses in health services should help you to improve your communication skills, as well as teach you critically important healthcare skills, such as how to act in a crisis situation, how to assess and interview patients and family members and more. You should also take courses on quantitative and qualitative research methods, community health and more.
After you earn your degree, you should qualify for most administrative and management positions, which almost always require at least a bachelor’s degree to be considered. This is also a great degree to earn if you hope to continue on to med school.
14. Healthcare Management
The degree program for healthcare management is very much like the degree plan for health science. The two degrees appeal to much the same type of people, and even the courses are incredibly similar. The available job pools for both are practically the same pool.
So, if the two are so much alike, why are they two separate degrees? That’s actually a great question. Some people in the field argue that they should be combined, but for now, they remain two separate degrees. There’s a small difference in job responsibilities between people who have the two separate degrees though.
Although both fields tend to provide hospital management and supervisor jobs for their degree holders, people in healthcare management have less direct contact with the patients and staff. People who work in health science fields typically work with their staff. People who work in management typically oversee.
If you love studying the history of America, Europe, any other country or even the world, a degree in history is pretty much a no-brainer. Most people who major in history minor in secondary education so that they can teach history to middle and high school students. This isn’t the only option for a bachelor’s in history, though.
In addition to teaching history at the secondary or post-secondary education levels, a degree in history can also lend itself nicely to one of the following careers:
- Historical Consultant
- Museum Curator
You may also want to use your history degree to go onto law school, as many history majors do. The average annual salary for history majors is $65,000.
16. Human Resources
If you’re interested in working in a human resources department in practically any business in America, a bachelor’s degree in human resources can certainly help your chances. We’ve all likely dealt with a human resources person at some point in our lives, even if it was just during our recruitment/new hire orientation process.
Courses in a human resources program should teach you to deal with conflict in the workplace, to effectively recruit and hire the right people, to recognize when it’s time to let someone go and to assistant employees with their tax and benefit information. You’ll probably also be required to keep up with time sheets and budgets.
To these ends, you’ll probably take classes such as financial accounting, employee training, organizational ethics, legal issues, tax law, business law and more. Average annual salary for positions in HR is about $59,000.
17. Information Technology
Earning your degree in information technology (IT) is probably one of the most lucrative decisions you could make. The IT business is booming right now. This degree field appeals to people who are interested in computer science, tech, gadgets and fixing things.
Courses in an online information technology degree program could include:
- Fundamentals and Intermediate Computer Networks
- Fundamentals and Intermediate Computer-Based Systems
- Fundamentals and Intermediate Project Management in IT
- Foundations of Database Management
- Programming Languages
These are only a very few of the courses you might be required to take for this degree.
After earning this degree, you could potentially start a new career as a systems administrator or analyst, database administrator, cyber security specialist and more. Average annual salary is about $69,000.
No matter what field you work in, chances are you have a manager or management team on-site. Management is everywhere in every field. You might be well-suited to management if you’re good at communicating and directing others, solving problems and thinking critically and creatively about new solutions to old problems. You should also be hardworking and driven to succeed.
Courses in a management degree program center around helping you cultivate and/or improve these skills. You may be required to take classes in public speaking, communications, best leadership practices, organizational behavior, research skills, business strategy and HR.
These courses can help you become a great leader, helping you to win promotions to higher-level supervisory or managerial positions. Jobs such as executive, management consultant and policy analyst aren’t uncommon for graduates of this program. The annual average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in management is approximately $64,000.
If you have all the skills listed in the communications section and are also creative, innovative and love to sell things, you could go far in a marketing field. Just as almost every field needs managers, so too does every field need someone able to market their products. Marketing has become as essential to most businesses as production or sales.
The ultimate goal of any marketing degree program should, at the most basic level, teach you to sell products and services to reluctant buyers. This requires you to know how to promote products, who to promote them to, how not to oversell and how to price products competitively, just for start.
Classes could cover such topics as public speaking, foundations of e-commerce, sales and marketing, global marketing, graphic design, internet and social media marketing, types of media, business writing, finance management and more. The most popular jobs are normally in design, advertising and sales.
20. Organizational Leadership
Getting a degree in organizational leadership is somewhere between getting a degree in project management and business administration. This degree could be right for you if you’re interested in moving up in your current field or if you hope to change careers into a supervisory or leadership position within a specific field.
If you enjoy working with and guiding large teams of people, have good leadership and communication skills and just generally work well with others, a curriculum in organizational leadership shouldn’t actually be too difficult for you. This is because these are the things generally covered in this degree program.
For this field, it’s important you develop your skills as a team leader, while also learning core business concepts such as budgeting, cost control, risk assessment and more. This degree could open up jobs in many different fields, particularly those where people have to work together to succeed.
21. Nursing (RN to BSN)
Earning an online bachelor’s degree in nursing can be an extremely lucrative decision, particularly because the nursing field allows you to start working relatively early on and then earn money while continuing your education.
Furthermore, many colleges are now offering a flex nursing program known as an RN to BSN program. This is an excellent program that allows you to advance in your nursing career by using any knowledge you’ve already gained as an RN towards moving up the nursing ladder.
This is an online program in which you take online courses, moving at your own pace and taking exams to progress to the next level. This allows you to move swiftly or slowly – your choice entirely – into higher nursing positions without ever having to step foot on a college campus. This system focuses on nursing competency, not grades and assignments.
22. Project Management
A degree in project management is incredibly similar to a degree in organizational leadership. Most of the same courses and attributes apply to this program as to the organizational leadership program. With this degree though, you do a little more overseeing and a little less hands-on work.
Some courses you may be required to take to earn your bachelor’s degree in project management are as follows:
- Stakeholder Management
- Organizational Behavior
- Managing People and Promoting Collaboration
- Operations Management
- Effective Project Scheduling
- Risk Assessment and Management
There are also classes in leadership, accounting and economics that will likely be required with this degree program.
The annual average salary for people with this degree is about $66,000, and you can use it in a variety of different career fields.
A degree in psychology is very similar, in many ways, to a degree in counseling. However, psychology puts a little more emphasis on research and critical theory. The main goal of counseling is to listen to people and try to help them. Psychology attempts to help people, as well, but psychologists put more emphasis on finding the root causes of people’s behavior, not just finding a solution.
So if you’re interested in the human mind, human behavior – particularly aberrant behavior – and why people do the things they do, this could definitely be the way for you to go. You can also pick a specialization, such as child psychology, criminal psychology or something similar.
Despite your specialization, some potential courses could include educational psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience and aberrant behavior.
24. Social Work
If you have a large, empathetic heart that can’t stand to see people suffering or in pain and want to do something about it, a bachelor’s degree in social work could provide you with a life full of purpose. Social work is all about helping people within their own particular set of circumstances.
Often, this means working with people in very poor neighborhoods and could require you to reach out to them in their environments as opposed to yours. It’s not unusual for a social worker to work inside people’s homes, where they work or the schools their children attend. As a social worker, it’s also part of your job to connect people to social service organizations that could improve their stations in life.
We often hear about social workers working with abused and neglected children through departments like the Department of Human Resources (DHR). However, there are other potential jobs for social workers, too, such as nonprofit employee, supervisor or manager, mental health therapist, hospice worker, nursing home administrator, veteran’s outreach specialist and more.
25. Sports Management
If you have all the qualities needed to be a good leader or manager and also have an intense love of sports, a career in sports management could definitely be right for you. The main goal of a sports management degree program is to provide you with everything you need to know about marketing, management and finance within the sports world.
Potential courses include:
- Principles of Management and Finance
- Public Speaking
- Principles of, Intermediate and Advanced Sports Management
- Sports and Society
- Ethical Issues in Sports
- Sports Facility Design and Management
The average annual salary for someone with a sports management bachelor’s degree is about $50,000.
Source: All salary data provided by Payscale.com.
Accreditation for an Online Bachelor’s Degree
There are three main types of accreditation: regional, national and programmatic. However, if you want to ensure your online bachelor’s degree program is legit and respected across the United States, you’ll want to make sure your school is regionally accredited for the program you’re taking.
Regional accreditation is the most widely accepted form of accreditation, and as long as your school has it, then it doesn’t matter if you want to transfer your credits to a different school later or if you want to go directly into the workforce, your credits and degree should be accepted.
Without regional accreditation, neither employers nor other schools are required to accept your degree as legitimate or worth anything. You should avoid for-profit colleges as much as possible. Some of them do have regional accreditation, but many don’t. Furthermore, they cost a lot more than nonprofit schools.
Financial Aid for an Online Bachelors Degree
When you think of “financial aid” for college, you probably automatically think of student loans. They’re one route you can take, but they aren’t the only type of financial aid available. Loans are fine if you need them, especially if they’re federally subsidized loans, which have great repayment options, but grants and scholarships are better.
Scholarships can usually be found on your specific college’s website under the financial aid tab. There are merit-based scholarships, which are usually awarded based off excellent academics, and talent-based scholarships, which are awarded to those who can sing, dance, paint, play sports, etc. Scholarships can also be found online on sites such as Fastweb.com. They don’t usually have to be repaid.
Grants are other types of financial aid that don’t usually have to be repaid. The best grant at the associate’s and bachelor’s levels is the Pell Grant, which is awarded by the federal government to students who fall within a specific income bracket. You can apply for the Pell Grant and federally-funded loans by filling out the FAFSA.
How Do I Get My Bachelor’s Degree?
You can earn your bachelor’s degree by taking approximately 120 credit hours at a regionally accredited college or university. These programs can be either on-campus or online and in a myriad of different programs.
Depending on how many classes you take each semester and whether or not you’re taking any accelerated courses, it usually takes about four years to earn your bachelor’s degree. The specific courses you’ll be required to take will depend largely on your chosen major.
Can I Earn a Bachelor’s Degree Online?
Every semester, more and more colleges add more and more degree programs to their catalog of purely online or hybrid online/on-campus degree programs. This means that depending on what program of study you want to pursue, there is a really good chance you can earn your bachelor’s degree online. There are a few programs that aren’t yet available online, but they’re very few indeed.
Just remember to ensure your college and online degree program is regionally accredited before you enroll in it.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree online?
How long it takes to earn an online bachelor’s degree depends on a lot of different factors. First of all, whether you’re taking a full course load each semester or only taking a few classes will hugely impact the length of time it will take you to earn your bachelor’s degree.
Furthermore, if you’re enrolled in accelerated courses or an online flex program such as the one mentioned above in the nursing section, you might finish your bachelor’s degree much earlier than someone taking regular, full-time classes each semester. The goal is to reach 120 credit hours, however long that takes.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online?
The fastest way to earn your bachelor’s degree is to take a flex program like the Nursing RN to BSN program mentioned above or accelerated courses.
Accelerated courses usually last eight weeks or less. You take one or two classes each “term,” and then a new “term” starts immediately after the first term ends. This way you can take several terms in one calendar year, potentially cutting the time it takes to earn your bachelor’s degree way down.
If you’re going the traditional semester route, you can ensure you finish as quickly as possible by taking a full load of classes each semester and taking classes in the summer semesters as well.
Is a Bachelor’s Degree Worth It?
We believe a bachelor’s degree is definitely worth it. Being able to earn your bachelor’s degree online without having to work on-campus classes into your schedule means college is more convenient than ever. Furthermore, with the addition of flex programs and accelerated courses, you have the option to earn your degree faster than ever.
Bachelor’s degrees can potentially open up a whole group of promotions and new career options to you that you’ve never dreamed you’d have. Furthermore, most employers will pay more for an employee with a degree than an employee without one. So don’t wait another day. Apply for financial aid and find a program in which you’re interested. Enroll at an accredited university today.
List of 25 Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Program
Online bachelor’s degree options include Applied Leadership, Biochemistry, Business Data Analytics, Communications and Economics.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Business, Computer Science, Supply Chain, Management and Human Resources.
Charleston Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Agricultural Business, Computer Science, Economics, Fire and Emergency Services Administration.
Colorado State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Business, Accounting, Technology, Liberal Arts and Media Arts.
DeVry University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Business, Behavioral Health Counseling, Criminal Justice, Cybersecurity and Education.
Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Applied Science, Aviation, Business, Computers and Technology, and Space.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Christian Studies, Communications, Digital Design, English, Advertising and Graphic Design.
Grand Canyon University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Information Technology, Aviation, Business Administration, and Criminal Justice.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Applied Psychology, Information Technology, Management and Strategic Digital Communication.
Loyola University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Data Science, Digital Media, Financial Services, International Studies and Mathematics.
Maryville University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,
Online bachelor’s degree options include Healthcare, Nursing, Education, Engineering and Social Sciences.
The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Agricultural Sciences, Botany, Business Administration, History and Zoology.
Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Accounting, Business, Criminal Justice, Economics and Marketing.
Pennsylvania State University is accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Fire Science, Business, Criminal Justice, Health Sciences and Information Technology.
Purdue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Community Health Education, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Cyber Security and Data Analytics.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Accounting, Business Administration, Management, Criminal Justice and Information Technology.
Strayer is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Africana Studies, Business Administration, Communication, History and Cyber Operations.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Nursing, Psychology, Anthropology, History and Political Science.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Anthropology, Biology, Criminology, Geography and Psychology.
The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online bachelor’s degree options include History, Biology, Statistics, Kinesiology and Psychology.
The University of Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Applied Health Sciences, Education, Medicine, Social Work and Nursing.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Clinical Research, Criminology, Elementary Education, International Studies and Nursing.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Organizational Leadership, Integrative Studies, Lifespan Care Administration and Criminal Justice.
The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Business, Education, Nursing, Humanities and Sciences.
University of Phoenix is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online bachelor’s degree options include Business and Management, Education, Communication, Social Work and Human Services.
Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.