Sometimes high school students find that a diploma from a traditional school will not fit their needs. Many struggle to succeed in such a setting. In other cases, students fall behind in the classroom and need a way to supplement their learning. Some students do not have their advanced academic needs met in a traditional setting and they wish to get ahead. These are just a few of the many ways that an online high school can aid and support the various needs of high school students today.
Using the Best Value Methodology, the editors at Value Colleges have ranked the Top 25 Best Online High Schools in our nation. Our methodology takes into account:
- tuition costs
- graduation rate
- exemplary successes as educational institutions
Additionally, all the schools listed below are accredited institutions. Many of them offer a variety of diploma tracks or online coursework options. These include world languages and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Plus, some schools offer classes for adult learners as well as traditional high school-aged students.
1. Stride K12
Stride K12, formerly known as K12 Online School, offers a tuition-free online school that is available in all fifty states (and Washington, DC). Stride works for students who wish to learn at their own pace, in their own space. This best online school for high school provides an engaging and interactive curriculum created by a team of seasoned educators. K-12 also offers private classes; however, these are tuition-based. This best high school online also offers special education classes & STEM classes.
K12 Online School, as one of the best online high schools, is accredited by Cognia. This global nonprofit company works to ensure that exceptional education is available to all. The online faculty for K12 is state-certified. They get consistent training in the effective methods of teaching students remotely and online.
Highlight: K12 Online School also offers career prep services that begin while students are in middle school.
2. International Virtual Learning Academy
The International Virtual Learning Academy (IVLA) is one of the top online high schools. They offer students an alternate path to academic success. Founded in 2007, this best online school for high school provides individualized learning in a safe & accommodating learning setting. They allow students to learn at a pace that works for them. The International Virtual Learning Academy, as a best high school online, is accredited by Cognia and the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC). They have NCAA approval for students in the United States.
The International Virtual Learning Academy offers students more than 1,900 online courses. They offer three paths to high school graduation:
- basic diploma for community college
- honors diploma
- path to a four-year university
Highlight: The International Virtual Learning Academy offers classes to its more than 900 students across 50 states, 30+ countries, and eight times zones!
3. Excel High School
Excel High School (EHS) is one of the best online high schools in the Golden State and beyond. They offer self-paced programs with unlimited tutoring online. All high school and middle school programs are offered full-time. This best high school online offers three paths that lead to a standard diploma, a diploma for adults, or an honors high school diploma. Excel High School’s students have gone on to four-year schools that include
- University of Michigan
- Baylor University
- Texas State University
- Duke University
- Arizona State University
Excel High School, among the best online school for high school options available, has accreditation from:
- Middle States Accreditation Commission in elementary and Secondary Education
- as well as Cognia
Highlight: Excel High School is an award-winning distance-learning education. They use the latest online technologies to deliver a world-class education to students in the U.S. and across the globe.
4. NorthStar Academy
NorthStar Academy (NSA) is a non-profit online Christian educational facility. They serve a student population from fourth to twelfth grade. As one of northern Mississippi’s best online high schools, NorthStar Academy is a member of the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS). This best online school for high school offers students a flexible learning environment. Dedicated and certified Christian educators commit to a Biblical worldview.
NorthStar Academy, among the best high school online options, integrates faith & learning through its distance-learning options. More than 3,000 students learn across the globe in 200 classes for students in grades four through twelve. NorthStar Academy has received full accreditation from Cognia and ACSI – the Association of Christian Schools International.
Highlight: NorthStar Academy consistently ranks among the leading online Christian schools that offer an online high school education. They offer start dates available each Monday.
5. James Madison Online High School
James Madison Online High School (JMHS) is among the best online high schools offering distance learning in Georgia and beyond. James Madison Online High School, as a best high school online, holds regional accreditation from the SACS – the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools. They have national accreditation by the DEAC – the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. This best online school for high school offers asynchronous diploma educational programs with open start dates.
James Madison Online High School operates as a for-profit online high school. It began in the mid-1990s to offer students an alternate study path to a high school diploma. James Madison Online High School has partnered with the University System of Georgia’s eCore academic programs available for 10th through 12th-grade students wanting to earn college credits while earning a high school diploma.
Highlight: As a Tier 1 school, graduates can enlist in the armed forces.
6. BYU Independent Study
Brigham Young University Independent Study is a best online school for high school, offering students grade 9 through 12 an affordable option and alternative path to earning a high school diploma. As one of Utah’s best online high schools, enrolled students are offered a faith-friendly academic environment, with BYU’s individualized support with regard to academic advice, interactive teaching & class options, graduation planning, and tutoring services. Brigham Young University Online High School is Cognia and MSA-CESS accredited.
Brigham Young University Independent Study traces its roots to Brigham Young Academy and was established in the mid-1870s and operated for nearly ninety years. Now, Brigham Young University offers students the opportunity to enroll in this best high school online in Utah.
Highlight: Brigham Young University Online High School seeks to develop a balanced student with intellectually challenging classes, spiritually strengthening, and a lifelong love of service to others and learning.
7. Florida Virtual School
The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is one of the country’s best online schools for high school alternative options, middle school and elementary school students who are in need of an alternate, safe, and flexible educational path. The Florida Virtual School offers tuition-free online education to any student who is a resident of Florida. As one of Florida’s most innovative and best online high schools, FLVS offers part-time, flexible, or full-time educational programs and is also available internationally through the Florida Virtual School Global school.
The Florida Virtual School was chartered in the late 1990s as the first public distance-learning high school operating on a statewide basis in the country and operating as its own school district in Florida.
Highlight: This best high school online now provides online educational options for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in all of the Sunshine State’s 67 school districts.
8. Penn Foster Online
Penn Foster High School Online (PFHS) is one of the largest, most innovative, and best online high schools in the country that offers self-paced academic high school programs and classes that lead to a diploma. Among the programs offered by this best online school for high school are a traditional diploma, early college-level classes, or vocational tracks in plumbing, electrical, carpentry, I.T., and health care. This best high school online has received accreditation from DEAC and the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools.
Penn Foster Online High School is a distance learning educational high school that was founded as a correspondence school in the 1890s to help educate coal miners to advance their careers and to increase the safety of workers.
Highlight: Penn Foster Online High School holds the distinction of being the largest high school in the nation with a student enrollment that includes all fifty states.
9. Mizzou Academy
Mizzou Academy is an innovative and best online school for high school that offers a variety of unique educational options to meet the varied student needs. Mizzou Academy operates as the only program of its kind that is housed with a research-intensive college. As one of the state’s best online high schools is available, Mizzou Academy serves students in Missouri and across the globe, with students from more than forty international locations. This nationally ranked best high school online is accredited by Cognia and the NCAA.
Mizzou Academy was developed through U.M.’s College of Education and Human Development to offer innovative interdisciplinary education programs, first for high schoolers but now for students in elementary and secondary schools. More than 7,000 students from the United States and other international locations attend classes offered by Mizzou Academy.
Highlight: Mizzou Academy offers its students more than 200 courses from which to choose.
10. Virtual Learning Academy Charter School
Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) is ranked among the most unique and best online high schools in New England and beyond, offering a variety of education programs for students in elementary, middle, and high school plus adult and working learners. These educational options from N.H.’s best online school for high school are free to any resident of New Hampshire. Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, as a best high school online, is approved by the state’s Board of Education, NCAA, and an A+ rated non-profit organization.
Established in 2007, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) operates as a state-approved charter school with about 700 students. Ten years later, the school now serves more than 13,000 full-time students and nearly 30,000 part-timers.
Highlight: Virtual Learning Academy Charter School’s sole mission is for their enrolled students to find academic and life success.
11. Virtual Virginia
Virtual Virginia (V.V.) is one of Virginia’s best online high schools, offering virtual education opportunities to students in the commonwealth in place of or augmenting a more traditional high school education. This best high school online offers cutting-edge technology that ensures online learners have the same opportunity and access as those studying in a physical school. This best online school for high school offers individualized and customizable programs to help parents engage students in their areas of interest.
Virtual Virginia (V.V.) is a program administered by the state’s Dept of Education that can trace its original roots to the Virginia Satellite Education network established in the 1980s. Virtual Virginia’s is mission is to provide a new frontier in education options, meeting the unique needs of remote students.
Highlight: In addition to online programs for students, Virtual Virginia offers educators cutting-edge training and support functions.
12. New Learning Resource Online
New Learning Resource Online (NLRO) is among the best online high schools in the Southern U.S., providing a simple, easy-to-navigate online education system that offers students an alternate path to a high school diploma. New Learning Resource, as a best high school online, offers an open enrollment all year, with education programs that have been professionally developed. In addition, enrolled students at this best online school for high school can complete the program at their own pace. Available programs include programs for high school students, adult learners, summer school students, plus a job corps center, among others.
New Learning Resource Online is a distance learning platform that is accredited at the national, regional (DEAC), and state (MDE) level. All educators at New Learning Resource are state-certified.
Highlight: New Learning Resource Online offers two pathways for students to earn their high school diploma, the standard pathway or the district diploma pathway.
13. National High School
National High School (NHS) is among the southern U.S.’s best online high schools, offering comprehensive high school educational coursework developed by certified educators and curriculum developers. In addition, this best online school for high school also offers classes for adult diploma-seekers, as well as credit repair and recovery classes. This best high school online is available to those students between the ages of 13 and 18 with two graduation pathways – an advanced diploma or a regular high school diploma. Each of these programs requires the completion of 24 credits to graduate.
National High School is a distance learning platform that is designed to serve the diverse needs of online students seeking an alternate path to a high school diploma.
Highlight: National High School is a nationally recognized online secondary school that has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools & the council on Accreditation & School Improvement.
14. Oak Meadow School
Oak Meadow School (OMS) is among Vermont’s best online high schools with progressive education options and strong academic standards that seek to hone each individual student’s innate talents and interests. This best online school for high school is also available to middle, elementary, and preschool students. Oak Meadow School’s curriculum is creative, rigorous and encourages critical thinking and analysis. Oak Meadow School recognizes it has been strongly influenced by an academic method known as the Waldorf Education.
Oak Meadow School was founded in the 1970s as a secular day school that offers students a learning environment of support and joy. This best high school online offers a military discount on tuition to active members and veterans.
Highlight: Oak Meadow is accredited as a homeschool program by the NEASC, the first in the history of the agency.
15. Sevenstar Academy
Sevenstar Academy is a distance learning Christian School that is ranked among the best online high schools in Texas, offering a biblical worldview in addition to a rigorous distance learning program. This best high school online has received accreditation from ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) and Cognia, which was formerly known as AdvanceED. In fact, all of the classes that are offered by Sevenstar Academy are approved by the NCAA, and the U.C. Coursework is offered for 6-12 grade students, including honors, world languages, etc.
Sevenstar Academy was founded in 2007 as an online Christian school and is one of 200 schools that offer Kingdom education. This best online school for high school offers students a start date every Monday, with the option of completing the classes at an accelerated pace if students want.
Highlight: Students can opt for dual credit classes offered in partnership with Cristian Universities.
16. Laurel Springs School
Laurel Springs School (LSS) is among the most unique and best online high schools often used by professional athletes and actors who require alternative options to complete their education. Laurel Springs School, as a best high school online, offers programming options for students in the grades from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Newsweek rank Laurel Springs School among the best online school for high school options available in the marketplace. Laurel Springs School is accredited by Cognia, the WASC, with a variety of approved NCAA coursework.
Laurel Springs School was created in the early 1990s to offer distance education that customizable and flexible for students with diverse needs. Students attending classes at Laurel Springs School represent each of the fifty states, plus more than 100 countries.
Highlight: Famous alumni of Laurel Springs School include Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Kristin Steward, Emma Roberts, Kendall Jenner, and Evan Rachel Wood, to name a few.
17. Liberty University Online Academy
Liberty University Online Academy (LUOA) is a private Christian online academy and ranked among the most innovative and best online high schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond. This best online school for high school provides customized learning plans, flexible enrollment, and certified educators. Liberty University Online Academy, as a best high school online, offers programming options at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, with dual college enrollment options for 11th and 12th grades.
Liberty University Online Academy is a division of Liberty University, among the largest universities with a Christian curriculum in the globe. Students in Liberty University Online Academy are offered certified teachers that hold an advanced degree in their subject.
Highlight: Liberty University Online Academy is open to students across the globe; all that is needed is a computer and the internet.
18. Texas Tech University Independent School District
Texas Tech University K -12 (TTU K-12) is a best high school online that is ranked among the most innovative and best online high schools in the Lone Star State. This Lubbock-based best online school for high school is available tuition-free, full-time programming for students in grades Kindergarten to the twelfth grade. Texas Tech University K -12 is a candidate for NCA CAI and SACS CASI. Students in Texas Tech University’s K-12 work at a pace that is comfortable, make up failed credits, supplement a traditional curriculum with classes not available, or take summer classes without attending a more traditional summer school.
Texas Tech University K -12 was created in the 1990s as a ‘special purpose school district’ developed for those students who had unmet educational needs through a traditional education path.
Highlight: Students from more than 70 international locations have attended classes at Texas Tech University K-12.
19. North Dakota Center for Distance Education
The North Dakota Center for Distance Education (NDCDE) is one of the most innovative, cutting-edge, and best online high schools in the state of North Dakota. This North Dakota best online school for high school has received accreditation from the NCAA, Cognia, and the state’s Department of Public Instruction. This best high school online offers programs at the elementary, middle, and high school, plus dual college-level coursework offered in partnership with Mayville State University, with start dates available on an ongoing basis, with an end data auto-generated for 20 weeks.
The North Dakota Center for Distance Education was founded in the mid-1930s to meet the educational needs of non-traditional students around the globe. In addition, the Dakota Center for Distance Education operates as a nonprofit institution of education.
Highlight: Classes offered by the North Dakota Center for Distance Education can be timed to coincide with the students’ district’s school calendar.
20. Forest Trail Academy
Forest Trail Academy (FTA) is South Florida’s best online high school classes offering innovative alternative solutions to meet the educational needs of students not met by traditional high school settings. Classes offered by this best online school for high school are aligned with a national standard curriculum but offered exclusively online. This best high school online has received accreditation from Cognia, NACOL, and Accreditation International (A.I.), plus MSA CESS and the National Council for Private School Accreditation.
Forest Trail Academy was established as a private school that is registered with the Sunshine State’s Department of Education. Forest Trail Academy offers programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Forest Trail Academy also offers two homeschool options, a secular program and a Christian-Based correspondence program.
Highlight: Students graduating from Forest Trail Academy receive an online high school diploma from an accredited school.
21. Franklin Virtual High School
Franklin Virtual High School (FVHC) is among the most innovative & best online high schools in Northern Florida and the southern U.S. This Tallahassee-based best high school online is accredited by the Florida Board of Education and Cognia (AdvancED). This best online school for high school provides a cost-effective educational option to students and families in need of an alternative path to a high school diploma. Franklin Virtual High School offers more than 200 high school level, accredited classes to full-time enrolled students.
Franklin Virtual High School was founded in 2010 and is designed to offer education and academic programs to students in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades.
Highlight: In addition to high school classes, Franklin Virtual High School offers preparation classes for the SAT and ACT exams.
22. Greenways Academy
Greenways Academy (G.A.) is a distance-learning best online school for high school located in St Louis but serving students virtually from all over the world. As one of the Midwest’s best online high schools, Greenways Academy performs as a source for enrolled students in need of extra help or as an alternative path to those students in need of an alternate educational setting. This exceptional best high school online is available for one class or on a full-time basis. The programs and coursework are NCAA-approved and accredited by WASC and Cognia.
Greenways Academy is St Louis’s leading online school, offering programs and classes from multiple providers that include Rosetta Stone & Florida Virtual, to name a few. Programs can be customized for IEP’s or students with a 504 plan.
Highlight: Greenways Academy offers dual enrollment programs for high schoolers through its partnership with Arizona State University.
23. North Carolina Virtual Public School
North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) is the largest and best online high school program in the Tar Heel State and the southern United States. Students enrolled in this best online school for high school have the option of selecting from more than 150 academic classes, including A.P., flex, and blended coursework, to name a few. This best high school online even offers the opportunity for middle schoolers to earn high school credit if eligible.
North Carolina Virtual Public School was chartered in 2007 and now operates as the state’s official virtual school, offering distance learning options across the state. More than 35,000 students attend classes each year, making North Carolina Virtual Public School the second-largest virtual school in the nation.
Highlight: North Carolina Virtual Public School offers difficult-to-find subjects like Mandarin Chinese or Arabic, among others.
24. The Keystone School
The Keystone School (KS) is one of the longest-running and best online high school diploma in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Students enrolled in this best high school online receive Cognia-accredited programs and classes. The Keystone School is available to students of all ages, even for those students enrolled in this Pennsylvania-based best online school for high school internationally. Keystone School encourages students to reach for their potential, thus allowing for accelerated classes for students with interest.
The Keystone School was established in the mid-1970s as a supplemental program for high schoolers and to offer homeschool options. More than 200,000 students have enrolled in the programs offered by the Keystone School.
Highlight: A former #1 tennis player, Maria Sharapova, is an alumnus of Keystone National High School.
25. Indiana University High School
Indiana University High School (IUHS) is a distance learning school that is ranked as the 2nd best high school online by The Best Schools. As one of Bloomington’s best online high schools in Indiana and beyond, I.U. High School has received full accreditation from Cognia. Get Education.com ranks I.U. High School as the fourth-best online school for high school for college prep, A.P., and honors programs. In addition, Indiana University High School’s coursework has received approval from NCAA.
Indiana University High School was founded in the mid-1920s, offering distance education through the postal service to students residing across the United States. Indiana University High School serves nearly 2,000 students each year.
Highlight: Indiana University High School is recognized as one of the founding member schools creating the Indian Virtual Learning Consortium.
What Is An Online High School?
In simpler terms, an online high school is a modern type of school. They offer education to students through the internet while in different geographical locations. Some people will refer to these schools as virtual high schools. Others will refer to these schools as cyber schools. But, it’s important to note that an online high school follows the same curriculum that other traditional schools use.
An online high school is an online school that provides individuals with an education similar to that of a traditional high school. Students are able to complete their coursework online. Students typically study subjects such as math, science, English, history, art, and foreign languages. Some students can also take advantage of the typical extracurricular activities offered in a traditional high school. These activities might include sports teams and clubs as well as field trips.
Many online high schools also allow students to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school.
The primary benefit of an online high school is that there are fewer time constraints for students who are enrolled in these schools. An online high school can work around a student’s schedule, allowing them to complete their coursework when it is convenient for them. This is often in the morning or later in the evening, rather than requiring that students attend an extremely early or late class time.
Online high school may also be a good choice for students who have dropped out of school. Students who left conventional school may not like the GED process and still want classes. Getting a GED takes a lot of self-motivation. Many online high schools allow students to complete their online high school diploma at any age. Thus, they can attain that goal and return to school for their online high school diploma.
Online high schools also provide college preparation. College preparation may include:
- standardized exams
- study skills
- college courses
- advanced placement
A college prep track for online high school students can get you ahead quickly. Consider whether your program offers a college preparatory diploma or college prep diploma path.
How Can I Get Started?
Getting started in an online high school is just like getting started in a traditional high school for the most part. The actual process may depend on your state’s laws. There are several steps that you should be aware of.
First, you will want to check with your local school district about applying for a high school diploma online. You may also want to look at how much the online high school costs. Some states allow students to take online classes from private online high schools at a reduced price. Take this into account when deciding whether or not an online high school is right for you.
Start planning out your schedule like you would if going to a traditional high school. Online high school isn’t any easier, just more convenient. It will still take time and hard work, especially if you want advanced placement.
There are several considerations that you should take into account when deciding whether or not an online high school is right for you. First, check with your state’s laws regarding these types of schools. You will also want to find out how long it takes to earn a diploma through an online high school. Many students who enroll in these schools often decide to drop out; therefore, if you decide to continue your education, it could be beneficial to complete more than one class at a time.
Are Online High Schools Accredited?
It is important to choose an accredited online high school. Many online high school programs come from colleges and universities. The online high school programs they develop must meet the same strict standards of the Department of Education. This is true for public and private schools where students attend class in person. They may not use the term “accreditation.” Yet, nationally accredited high schools must adhere to the highest standards of school improvement possible.
Accredited online schools will provide students everything they need to graduate and pass the aptitude tests such as the SAT or ACT. Colleges rely on these tests to help place students in the right college courses. Students who attend the best accredited high school online get every opportunity to succeed. They receive valuable lessons and resources they can rely on as they continue to move forward in their education. Many of the best accredited online high schools offer college credit for advanced placement. Students can enroll once they begin to show that they are ready for that level of education.
An accredited online high school will monitor your student’s progress. They then challenge them with courses that will allow them to continue to move forward. Students who study online will often advance much faster with fewer distractions. They spend less time performing activities they have no interest in. They are able to fully commit to their schoolwork and focus on the things they feel are most important.
The Department of Education provides a list of accredited online high schools.
Are Online High Schools Free?
Many public schools offer free online programs for students of all ages. These start in Kindergarten and go all the way up through high school until they graduate. For students who attended public schools in the lower grades, attending a free online high school may offer the best options. This is especially true for students who didn’t thrive in a classroom setting. They could have anxiety, medical concerns, feel distracted, or not feel comfortable. There is no need to search for cheap online high schools. Most students can get online high school for free. Free is the cheapest online high school.
Private online high schools will cost money, however. An online private school may charge tuition at any rate it chooses. There are many online charter schools today, however. As a public-private hybrid, online charter schools offer the benefits of both private and public.
Free online high schools from a public school system must adhere to the Department of Education’s strict standards for online learning. An online private school may not. Standards include both curriculum and teaching methods. This ensures that students who learn online get the same quality education as those who are still attending school in a classroom. A high school student who learns online will also receive the same benefits as those in a classroom. Breaks or recess time are still included to give students a break from studying.
Every state that offers diploma programs online offers free online high school. That includes many kinds of distance learning platforms. While every state may not be as advanced as others, they are all working to provide a uniform learning environment for their online diploma program. Students would prefer to complete their high school education at home. Students have the advantage, especially when they have unique challenges. Learning disorders or health concerns may keep them from focusing in a classroom setting.