30 Largest Non-profit Online Universities

Getting a college degree is still a ticket towards getting a higher-paying career for most people. The problem is, with the fast pace many of our lives have taken, it’s sometimes difficult to get that degree, to find the time to attend classes or for some to even to get to campus. Even when you can make the extra time commitment, sometimes required courses are poorly scheduled, delaying completion of degrees. Or maybe you’re a member of the military and are stationed away from home.

Whatever the reason, the option to do an entire degree program online is very attractive to many students. While some colleges and universities only offer a few courses online, a growing number are offering full degree programs 100% online. Here are 30 of the biggest non-profit schools offering students the option to complete selected degrees entirely online.

NOTE: As of Fall 2012, the U.S. Dept. of Education, started requiring that schools report their enrollment numbers for online students — both for those taking one or more online courses, as well as those taking their entire degree online. We’ve taken that information into account here, which covers total enrollment for associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees. The rankings here are primarily based on enrollment figures collected from the IPEDS Data Center of NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) for institutions listed as being non-profit. School information is sourced from a combination of official Web sites and their corresponding Wikipedia entries.

30. George Washington University

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George Washington University in the nation’s capital, is named for the first U.S. president. It has ten undergrad and graduate colleges and schools, plus campuses in Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon, and Virginia. It receives regular high rankings for its Law, Business and International Affairs schools. It is particularly noted for being a politically active school, with notable alumni including former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, numerous senators, House representatives, and ambassadors, amongst others. The online offering for GWU includes undergrad (associate’s, bachelor’s) and grad (master’s, doctoral) degrees, certificates and one-off courses – some exclusively online – and hybrid options. See school Web site for more details.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1821
Location: Washington, D.C.
# online degree students (2012): 2351 (205 undergrad, 2146 grad)

29. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

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Saint Joseph’s College originally started as an institution for women, becoming co-ed in 1970. Its on-campus classes are small, averaging about seventeen students, but can be as small as six. Its original distance program started in 1976, aimed at adult learners. Currently, it’s online offering includes 26 undergrad degrees (bachelor’s, administration), 7 master’s degrees, 3 undergrad and 4 grad certificates, plus continuing education courses. Online students can start their programs in any month of the year and go at their own pace.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1912
Location: Standish, Maine
# online degree students (2012): 2375 (963 undergrad, 1412 grad)

28. University of the Cumberlands

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The University of the Cumberlands in southeastern Kentucky state is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. It’s a liberal arts school with four colleges: the undergrad school Cumberland College, the Graduate/ Professional Education Program, the Hutton School of Business / Management, and the Hutton Center for Leadership Studies. The online offering includes 8 programs with 5 bachelor’s degrees, 7 master’s degrees, 3 doctorates, and various specialist degrees and certifications.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1889
Location: Williamsburg, Kentucky
# online degree students (2012): 2407 (58 undergrad, 2349 grad)

27. Brandman University

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Brandman University is part of the Chapman University system and has 27 locations throughout California and Washington states, including the Antelope Valley campus, pictured above, plus the Online option. Brandman has four areas of study: Arts & Sciences, Business & Professional Studies, Education and Nursing & Health Professions, plus Extended Education, which covers various certificates. The university has been ranked by U.S. News in their Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, and is recognized as a Military-Friendly School by GI Jobs and Military.com. Brandman’s online offerings include 1 associate’s degree, 34 bachelor’s degrees, 23 master’s degrees, 6 doctoral degrees, 16 certificates (undergrad, grad, post-doc) and various authorizations and certifications. Terms run in 8-week sessions and allow for continuous enrollment.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1958
Location: Irvine, California
# online degree students (2012): 2491 (1498 undergrad, 993 grad)

26. Brigham Young University-Idaho

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Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYU-I) was founded in 1888 and formerly known as Ricks College, becoming BYU-I in 2001. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is affiliated with Brigham Young University (Utah), but operates independently. BYU-I has eight colleges housing 33 departments. Its online offering includes 9 certificates, 4 associate degrees, 10 bachelor’s degrees, with over 100 online courses. It runs on a trimester system of 14 weeks each.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1888
Location: Rexburg, Idaho
# online degree students (2012): 2534 (2534 undergrad, 0 grad)

25. Regent University

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Regent University was founded by media mogul and Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson, host of the Christian news TV show “The 700 Club.” It is considered a Top Military-Friendly School by GI Jobs and Military Advanced Education, and has discounts for military personnel and qualified family members. It is one of 22 universities receiving an “A” rating by ACTA (American Council of Trustees and Alumni), and was ranked by U.S. News in 2013 in the Top 10 for Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs. Regent offers online degree programs through the College of Arts & Sciences and seven grad schools, for a total of 7 associate’s degrees, 16 bachelor’s degrees, and 60 master’s and doctoral degrees.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1978
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
# online degree students (2012): 2904 (1313 undergrad, 1591 grad)

24. Wilmington University

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Wilmington University — originally Wilmington College, before 2007 — is based in New Castle, Delaware, near Wilmington (pictured above). It has seven academic colleges, multiple locations in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey states. WU is considered “military friendly,” with select bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that are 100% online and in which courses run for seven weeks each. For non-military students, the online offering includes over 80 programs, concentrations and certificates. This includes 29 undergrad degrees, 38 graduate degrees (master’s, doctoral) and 14 certificates. Over 50% of WU students participate in online learning, either for some courses or entire degrees.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1968
Location: New Castle, Delaware
# online degree students (2012): 2906 (1937 undergrad, 969 grad)

23. University of Southern California

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University of Southern California (USC), a high-research university, was originally affiliated with the Methodist Church but severed ties in 1952. USC was in Princeton Review’s 2011 Top 10 Dream Colleges list, based on voting from high school seniors and parents. USC is particularly noted for associated Olympic medalists, who have collectively won 287 medals — more than any other university. It has 22 academic units, with online offerings from 14 departments — primarily graduate degrees, graduate certificates and professional programs, with the Viterbi School of Engineering itself offering over 40 online graduate engineering programs.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1880
Location: Los Angeles, California
# online degree students (2012): 2979 (3 undergrad, 2976 grad)

22. Florida Institute of Technology

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Originally known as Brevard Engineering College, Florida Institute of Technology has 12 off-campus locations/sites in six states, plus the Extended Studies Virtual Site for distance learning activities for these locations, geared towards adult learners. (This is different than Florida Tech University Online programs and Continuing Education.) There are 20 grad degree programs via the Virtual site. Regular online offerings include 8 associate degrees, 15 bachelor’s and 15 master’s degrees (including eleven MBAs), as well as graduate certificates (including a Mini MBA) that count as credit towards a master’s degree. The College of Aeronautics also offers online programs, in this case three master’s degrees that have 16-week semesters (11 weeks in summer). The school ranked #10 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 National University Rankings list.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1958
Location: Melbourne, Florida
# online degree students (2012): 3407 (2285 undergrad, 1122 grad)

21. Regis University

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Regis University is named after St. John Francis (Jean-Francois) Regis, a Jesuit priest from France, born 1597. It has six campuses and three colleges, Regis College, College for Professional Studies, and Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, offering undergrad, master’s and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates and licensures. The flagship campus in Denver, Colorado, has been the site of visits from thirteen Nobel Laureates since 1996, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Other notable visitors include Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, President Bill Clinton, David Trimble and Lech Walesa, amongst others. Regis has ranked highly for many years by U.S. News, including ranking #20 in the 2014 best online graduate computer information technology programs. It is also considered a Top Military Friendly School by GI Jobs. Online degree programs are available through the College for Professional Studies and Reuckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, collectively offering 21 bachelor’s degrees, 30 master’s degrees, 30 grad and undergrad certificates and 2 doctoral certificates.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1877
Location: Denver, Colorado
# online degree students (2012): 3863 (1744 undergrad, 2119 grad)

20. Webster University

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Webster University was originally founded as Loretto College in 1915. The main campus is in Webster Groves, Missouri, an affluent suburb of St. Louis named after historic New England politician Daniel Webster, Secretary of State under U.S. president Millard Fillmore. The University has locations in 7 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as in North America. Webster has five schools and colleges collectively offering undergrad, master’s, doctoral degrees and certificates, licensures and accreditations. Class sizes are small, with an average of about 10 students. Its online offering includes graduate degrees and several grad certificates, which make up the bulk of online students’ studies. There are also 7 undergrad degrees and 3 undergrad certificates.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1915
Location: Webster Groves, Missouri
# online degree students (2012): 4092 (65 undergrad, 4027 grad)

19. Park University

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Park University started out as Park College in 1875, taking its current name in 2000. The school is named after George S. Park, who donated land for the original college. It has 40 campus centers in 21 states, some of which are military service members only, with the rest open to both civilians and military families. In addition to non-degree continuing education courses, it has online undergrad degrees in 11 departments with various concentrations. Some programs have Associate degree options as well. Online Master’s degrees are available in 7 departments, with several concentration options for Education and Teaching. There are numerous graduate certificates, one professional certificate in Urban Development, and a Diploma program in Music Performance. The university claims to be the largest provider of online education to the U.S. Military, with a relationship dating back to 1889 and with many of the satellite campuses situated on or near U.S. Air Force bases. The U.S. News and World Report Ranked Park University #60 in their 2014 list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: Park College 1875
Location: Parkville, Missouri
# online degree students (2012): 4157 (3863 undergrad, 294 grad)

18. Davenport University

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Davenport University has twelve campuses in Michigan, including Livonia (pictured above), with the main campus in Caledonia. It has four colleges:Technology, Health Professions, Arts & Sciences, and the Donald W. Maine College of Business. On-campus classes average about 16 students in a class, with the average student age being 21, and a female to male student ratio of roughly 3:1. Davenport U Online has programs from all colleges except Arts & Sciences. Online students can get degrees (8 associate’s, 23 bachelor’s, 7 master’s) and 11 post-bachelor’s and post-grad certificates.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1866
Location: Caledonia Township, Kent County, Michigan
# online degree students (2012): 4188 (2341 undergrad, 1847 grad)

17. Tiffin University

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Tiffin University has 7 regional campuses / academic centers and four schools: School of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, and School of Criminal Justice & Social Sciences, and the School of Graduate and Distance Education. The university offers undergrad (associate, bachelor’s), grad (master’s) and degree completion programs. Their online degrees option has BA (Bachelor of Arts), BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), BCJ (Bachelor of Criminal Justice) degree programs — each with a number of options for area of study. The BS (Bachelor of Science) degree program is focused on Healthcare Administration Information Technology. Online bachelor’s degree programs are small-class (10-15 students) and allow for completion within as little as two years. The four online Master’s degrees include an MBA with multiple concentration options.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1888
Location: Tiffin, Ohio
# online degree students (2012): 4300 (3304 undergrad, 996 grad)

16. Franklin University

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Franklin University, meant to serve adult students, has twelve campuses in Ohio and one each in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, plus an online option. It has three colleges: College of Arts, Sciences & Technology; Ross College of Business; and College of Health & Public Administration. The online offering includes 36 undergrad majors, including Emergency Management & Homeland Security, Internet Marketing, Social Media Design and others; and 9 graduate (master’s) majors, including M.S. – Instructional Design & Performance Technology. Franklin has a history with online education, including reportedly helping the Saudi government develop their first English-language online university, and being one of 29 original institutions supplying distance education to American soldiers.

Additional School Information:

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Founded in: 1902
Location: Columbus, Ohio
# online degree students (2012): 4418 (3767 undergrad, 651 grad)

15. Saint Leo University

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Saint Leo University, founded by Benedictine monks, is named in honor of Pope Leo the Great and is associated with the Holy Name Monastery and the Saint Leo Abbey. SLU is the oldest Catholic college in Florida and is also considered to be a military-friendly college, supplying education to military personnel since 1973, which includes online degree options. In fact, it claims to be one of the first American universities providing distance learning. It has well over a dozen continuing education centers in seven states. Its online offering includes 4 associate’s degrees, 16 bachelor’s degrees, 26 master’s degrees, 1 doctorate and 9 certificates.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1889
Location: St. Leo, Florida
# online degree students (2012): 4431 (2374 undergrad, 2057 grad)

14. Northeastern University

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Northeastern University was originally founded as an “evening institute.” It’s currently classified as a high-research activity university and has graduate campuses in North Carolina and Washington states. NU has nine colleges covering the fields arts, media & design; business; computer science; engineering; health sciences; law; science; social sciences & humanities and professional studies. There are online degree options from all of the colleges except law, totaling 38 degree and certificate programs. This includes 18 bachelor’s, 28 master’s and 2 doctoral degrees, as well as 2 undergrad and 18 grad certificates.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1898
Location: Boston
# online degree students (2012): 4649 (1079 undergrad, 3570 grad)

13. Drexel University

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Drexel University, founded by financier Anthony J. Drexel, is based in Philadelphia, Pennysylvania, and claims to be in the top 15 largest private universities in the U.S., and a top-10 employer in Philadelphia. It has six locations (five in Philly including the main campus, and one in Sacramento, California), plus partnerships with three colleges. Drexel has 15 colleges and schools, including the Honors (Pennoni) and the Professional Studies (Goodwin College) divisions. The online offering, Drexel Online, started in 1996. It includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certificate programs with the same curricula as the on-campus equivalents, and which are taught by the same faculty. Online tuition has reduced rates for Drexel alumni, military and over 500 partner organizations (corporations, schools, professional associations, and health systems). Additionally, several military-related options offer the possibility of free tuition for Drexel Online.

Additional School Information:

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Founded in: 1891
Location: Philadelphia
# online degree students (2012): 5234 (1565 undergrad, 3669 grad)

12. Baker College

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Baker College, based in Flint Township (pictured above), has a total of twelve campuses in Michigan state. The Auto/Diesel Institute and the Culinary Institute of Michigan are part of the fold. There is also Baker College Online, which added a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in educational effectiveness, in Fall 2013. The online offering includes certificates (1 undergrad, 2 postgrad), associate degrees (11), bachelor’s degrees (20), master’s degrees (12), and doctorates (1). Online materials are available 24-7, giving students flexibility of class attendance. Baker College Online is designated as a “Top Military-Friendly College” (by Military Advanced Education), and has been ranked by Military Times as being in the top 20 online / non-traditional schools for Vets.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1911
Location: Flint Township, Michigan
# online degree students (2012): 5849 (5035 undergrad, 814 grad)

11. Keiser University

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Keiser University started as a for-profit university but switched to non-profit in 2011. It has 19 campuses in total, including main campus in Fort Lauderdale (pictured above) and one each in Nicaragua and China. The online offering includes associate’s, bachelor’s (16), master’s (3) and doctoral (3) degrees, as well as certificates. The bachelor’s degrees include a program in Homeland Security, as well as two Administration programs conducted in Spanish. Classes are conducted in a one class per month approach, with the final exam taking place before a student’s next course.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1977
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
# online degree students (2012): 6356 (5546 undergrad, 810 grad)

10. Bellevue University

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Bellevue University, which was founded in 1966 as Bellevue College, is based in Bellevue, Nebraska, a part of Sarpy County — which has at least 20 locations on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Third Sarpy County Courthouse, pictured above. Bellevue offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, professional and corporate education, and is consider to be a military-friendly university, with a top-three ranking in Military Times’ Best for Vets: Colleges 2014 rankings list in the “Online and Non-Traditional” category. U.S. News and World Report gave it a top-ten ranking for a similar 2014 list of best online programs for veterans, as well as #18 ranking for best online bachelor’s degrees. The online offering includes 49 bachelor’s degrees, 27 master’s degrees, and one doctorate.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1966
Location: Bellevue, Nebraska
# online degree students (2012): 7501 (4435 undergrad, 3066 grad)

9. Indiana Wesleyan University

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Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) is an evangelical Christian university affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. Originally founded as Marion College in 1919 (classes in 1920), it became IWU in 1988. It has a total of 17 regional Education Centers in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky and is the largest private university in Indiana. Notable alumni include actor/ evangelist Kirk Cameron, and Hobby Lobby founder David Green. Many of the IWU’s online programs have been available since 1997. Online courses are accelerated and typically taken one at a time, running about eight weeks each. IWU also offers a Learning Management System, which functions as a virtual classroom that offers an interactive community where students can interact with classmates and faculty.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1920
Location: Marion, Indiana
# online degree students (2012): 7512 (4911 undergrad, 2601 grad)

8. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) currently has 2 residential campuses, in Daytona Beach, FL, and Prescott, AZ, plus over 100 learning locations throughout USA and the world. The Worldwide (online) campus offers associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, minor courses, master’s degrees, a Ph.D. program, certificate programs, professional and corporate programs, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from the three colleges (College of Aeronautics, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business), with an emphasis on aerospace. For online program, undergrads have twelve start terms and grads have five per year.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1970
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona
# online degree students (2012): 9629 (5969 undergrad, 3660 grad)

7. Columbia College

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Columbia College offers day and evening classes at its 34 campuses across the country, plus at Guantanamo Bay, and including the flagship location in Columbia, Missouri, in Boone County (named after famed frontiersman Daniel Boone – pictured above is the Boone County Courthouse.) The school has 10 academic departments offering undergrad and graduate degrees. The Online Campus appeared in 2000 and currently offers over 800 classes and 27 online degrees (bachelor’s, master’s). Courses run in 8-week sessions.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1851
Location: Columbia, Missouri
# online degree students (2012): 9824 (9206 undergrad, 618 grad)

6. Southern New Hampshire University

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Southern New Hampshire University, or SNHU, made Fast Company magazine’s 2012 list of the world’s most innovative companies — the only university to do so, and listed against companies like Google, Apple and HBO. SNHU has three schools (School of Education, School of Arts & Sciences, School of Business) and its online offering includes over 80 undergrad majors, over 80 grad degrees (including 40 MBA programs), and nearly 30 certificate programs. Programs are accelerated, with a grad degree taking as little as 15 months, and no GMAT or GRE is required for admission. Most of their grad programs have online courses can be taken from anywhere, including at their various centers.

Additional School Information:

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Founded in: 1932
Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
# online degree students (2012): 10503 (6515 undergrad, 3988 grad)

5. National University

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Based in La Jolla, California, an upscale part of San Diego, National University has over 45 locations in the states of California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia. There are five professional schools and one college, and they currently offer over 70 fully online degree programs (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate in nursing, teaching credential), with courses available 24 hours a day. Courses are taught one per month – for an accelerated pace that allows students to focus – and are interactive, with streaming videos, real-time discussions, online community, and more. The programs are geared towards adult learners and offer flexibility.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1971
Location: San Diego
# online degree students (2012): 10940 (5352 undergrad, 5588 grad)

4. Nova Southeastern University

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Nova Southeastern University is the result of a merger between Nova University of Advanced Technology and Southeastern University of the Health Sciences. The main campus is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with several other campuses, in the Bahamas and in 7 other cities in Florida. Originally a graduate institute in physical and social sciences, NSU currently has 18 schools and colleges with a range of programs that include Oceanography, Early Childhood Education, Teaching, Nursing, Computer and Information Science and more. Regional campuses have full-degree online programs, with videoconferencing options. Online courses have Web-based instruction, and assignments can be submitted online in various formats. The online offering includes 5 bachelor’s degrees, 50 master’s degrees, 14 educational specialist programs, 8 doctoral degrees and 6 grad certificate programs.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1964
Location: Fort Lauderdale
# online degree students (2012): 12006 (1066 undergrad, 10940 grad)

3. Excelsior College

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Excelsior College was originally founded as an external degree program of the NY state Board of Regents, and initially funded by Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation. While it is a constituent member of the University of the State of New York, it went non-profit and independent in 1998 and changed its name from Regents College to Excelsior on Jan 1, 2001. It’s virtual university offers undergrad (associate, bachelor’s), dual degrees and grad degrees from its five schools: Health Sciences, Nursing, Business and Technology, Liberal Arts, Public Service.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1971
Location: Albany, New York
# online degree students (2012): 39728 (37707 undergrad, 2021 grad)

2. Western Governors University

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Western Governors University, or WGU,was originally founded by 19 U.S. state governors in 1997. WGU is the first online university to be accredited by NCATE (for teacher preparation), and received $10M in funding from the U.S. Dept. of Education for a Teachers College. It has four colleges: Business, Information Technology, Teacher Education and Health Professions – each of which offers bachelor’s and master’s programs. An academic year consists of two rolling six-month study terms, starting on the first day of every month, and classes are six weeks long but vary in pace. As the school uses a competency-based learning model for degrees and certificates, students who commit more time upfront can finish their degree sooner. Students work entirely online with mentors, with some exceptions for teaching and nursing programs. Courses are based on licensed modules from commercial providers, and tests are proctored via webcam and other means.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1997
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
# online degree students (2012): 41369 (31353 undergrad, 10016 grad)

1. Liberty University

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Liberty University is a Southern Baptist institution in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded originally as Lynchburg Baptist College by televangelist Jerry Falwell in 1971. With both online and on-campus enrollment, it is reportedly the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world. It is also said to be the largest private non-profit university in the United States. Online enrollment now exceeds 90,000 students, who can choose from nearly 190 online degree programs: 60 undergrad degrees in multiple disciplines including Aeronautics, Nursing, Engineering; 113 graduate degrees; 12 doctoral degrees. For undergrad students, a small selection of courses are taken in a 16-week, full semester session, and the remaining courses are taken in 8-week, partially overlapping subterms.

Additional School Information:

Website
Founded in: 1971
Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
# online degree students (2012): 61509 (34357 undergrad, 27152 grad)