Top 28 Best Online High Schools in the US [2024 Guide]

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Online high schools offer a compelling alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar institutions for high school students looking for flexibility, customization, and top-notch curricula. 

With remote learning options that can fit any schedule while providing rigorous college-prep academics, the best online high schools are redefining what a quality secondary education looks like. If you’re considering an online route for high school, read on to discover the schools leading the way in virtual learning.

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The Best Online High Schools

Several institutions stand out among the top online high schools for their exceptional academic programs, accreditation, and commitment to student success. 

  • Stride K12, formerly known as K12 Online School, offers students a tuition-free online high school experience across all 50 states. 
  • Stanford University Online High School, renowned for its rigorous curriculum and prestigious affiliation, provides a top-tier education to students worldwide. 
  • The International Virtual Learning Academy, accredited by renowned organizations, offers a vast array of courses and personalized learning paths.
Best Online High Schools in the US

The best online high schools in the US have low costs, high graduation rates, and exemplary success as educational institutions. Sometimes, high school students find that a diploma from a traditional school does not fit their needs, and 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 online schooling for high school students today.

SchoolAverage Tuition Per YearAdmission Requirements
Stride K12Free for in-state studentsVaries by state
Stanford University$26,000Transcript review, test scores, essays
International Virtual Learning Academy$8,900Transcript review, placement tests
Davidson Academy Online$25,500Transcript review, test scores, essays
Excel High School$5,400Age 14+, transcript review
The University of Texas at Austin High School$10,000Transcript review, test scores
NorthStar Academy$4,800Transcript review, placement tests
George Washington University$29,500Transcript review, test scores, essays
James Madison $6,000Age 16+, transcript review
BYUy Independent Study$2,700Age 13+, transcript review
Florida Virtual SchoolFree for Florida residentsResidency requirement
Penn Foster$1,180Age 14+, transcript review
Mizzou Academy$8,900Transcript review, placement tests
Virtual Learning Academy Charter SchoolFree for NH residentsResidency requirement
Virtual VirginiaFree for Virginia residentsResidency requirement
National High School$3,500Age 13-18, transcript review
Oak Meadow School$6,500Transcript review, placement tests
Sevenstar Academy$7,200Transcript review, placement tests
Laurel Springs School$16,500Transcript review, test scores
Liberty University$4,800Transcript review, Christian testimony
Texas Tech University Independent School DistrictFree for Texas residentsResidency requirement
North Dakota Center for Distance Education$250/courseTranscript review, placement tests
Forest Trail Academy$6,900Transcript review, placement tests
Franklin Virtual High School $6,000Transcript review, placement tests
Greenways Academy$8,500Transcript review, placement tests
North Carolina VirtualFree for NC residentsResidency requirement
The Keystone School$1,099/courseAge 14+, transcript review
Indiana University$250/courseAge 13+, transcript review

Please note that tuition rates and admission requirements are subject to change, and it’s always best to verify the current information directly with each school. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

1. Stride K12 

Stride K12 

Stride K12, formerly known as K12 Online School, offers a tuition-free online school 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 school also offers special education classes & STEM classes.

K12 Online School 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.
  • K12 Online School also offers career prep services that begin while students are in middle school.

2. Stanford Online High School

Stanford Online High School

Stanford University Online High School is a top online high school known for its exceptional academic rigor and quality instruction. With 64% of teachers holding PhDs in their fields and an average class size of just 13 students, SUOHS provides a personalized, elite learning experience. 

The school boasts a total enrollment of 903 students, of whom 12% receive financial aid. Graduates demonstrate impressive academic achievement, reflected in a mean SAT score of 1482. 

  • Located in Redwood City, CA, and founded in 2006, SUOHS offers a comprehensive curriculum featuring numerous advanced placement courses, including 25 post-AP and university courses. 
  • With an annual tuition of $28,160, this top online high school prepares students for success at prestigious colleges and universities worldwide.

3. International Virtual Learning Academy

International Virtual Learning Academy

The International Virtual Learning Academy (IVLA) is one of the top online high schools. It offers students an alternate path to academic success. Founded in 2007, this best online school for high school provides individualized learning in a safe and accommodating learning setting.

They allow students to learn at a pace that works for them. The International Virtual Learning Academy 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, including a basic diploma for community college, an honors diploma, and a path to a four-year university.
  • It offers classes to its more than 900 students across 50 states, 30+ countries, and eight time zones!

4. Davidson Academy Online

Davidson Academy Online

Davidson Academy Online is a highly prestigious online school in Reno, NV, founded in 2006 to serve exceptionally gifted students. With an annual tuition of $14,595, the academy offers a personalized and rigorous curriculum through Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs) rather than traditional AP courses. However, many students still excel on AP exams. 

Admission is exclusive, requiring scores in the 99.9th percentile or above on nationally normed intelligence tests. The academic caliber is remarkable, with a mean SAT of 1529 and an ACT of 34.

  • Graduates gain acceptance to elite institutions like Caltech, Rice, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Chicago, and Yale. 
  • Students manifest the depth of knowledge attained through its individualized, accelerated AP courses.

5. Excel High School

Excel High School

Excel High School (EHS) serves the Golden State and beyond. It features self-paced programs with unlimited online tutoring. All high school and middle school programs are offered full-time. 

This school offers three paths that lead to a standard diploma, a diploma for adults, or an honors diploma. Excel High School’s students have gone on to four-year schools like the University of Michigan, Baylor University, Texas State University, Duke University, and Arizona State University.

  • Excel High School has accreditation from the Middle States Accreditation Commission in Elementary and Secondary Education and Cognia.
  • Excel is an award-winning distance-learning education. It uses the latest online technologies to deliver a world-class education to students in the U.S. and across the globe.

6. The University of Texas at Austin High School

The University of Texas at Austin High School

The University of Texas at Austin High School provides a top online high school experience for students seeking to earn their diploma. With an innovative, interactive learning portal, the school caters to diverse learners, offering resources and academic advice for students with disabilities. 

The University of Texas at Austin High School features supplemental academic coursework tailored for Spanish-speaking students, ensuring an inclusive learning environment. 

  • Students benefit from flexible scheduling options and a rigorous curriculum aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. Once enrolled in a high school course, students have 150 days to complete it, with each course costing $260 per semester. 
  • The school’s commitment to excellence is reflected in its extensive AP courses, enabling students to challenge themselves academically and prepare for college-level work.

7. NorthStar Academy

NorthStar Academy

NorthStar Academy (NSA) is a non-profit online Christian educational facility. Its student population ranges from the fourth to the twelfth grade. As one of northern Mississippi’s best 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 committed to a Biblical worldview. NorthStar Academy 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.
  • NorthStar Academy consistently ranks among the leading online Christian schools offering an online high school education. Its start dates are available each Monday.

8. George Washington University Online High School

George Washington University Online High School

George Washington University Online High School, located in Ashburn, is a premier online institution renowned for its academic excellence. With an annual tuition of $12,000, the school offers a comprehensive curriculum featuring 16 Advanced Placement courses and instruction in five world languages. 

The caliber of education is evident in the remarkable achievements of its graduates, with 100% accepted into four-year colleges, including prestigious institutions like Swarthmore, Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford. 

  • GW Online High School alumni have collectively earned an impressive $2.7 million in scholarships, reflecting their academic prowess. 
  • The school’s rigorous standards are further demonstrated by an average SAT score of 1221, an average ACT score of 26, and an impressive average graduate GPA of 3.22, setting students on a path to success in higher education.

9. James Madison Online High School

James Madison Online High School

James Madison Online High School (JMHS) offers quality learning in Georgia and beyond. It holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS). It also has national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). 

This best online school for high school offers asynchronous diploma educational programs with open start dates. James Madison operates as a for-profit online high school. It began in the mid-1990s to offer students an alternate study path to a diploma. 

  • James Madison Online High School has partnered with the University System of Georgia’s eCore academic programs for 10th through 12th-grade students who want to earn college credits while earning a diploma.
  • As a Tier 1 school, graduates can enlist in the armed forces.

10. Brigham Young Independent Study

Brigham Young Independent Study

Brigham Young University Independent Study offers students in grades 9 through 12 an affordable option and an alternative path to earning a diploma. Enrolled students are offered a faith-friendly academic environment with BYU’s individualized support regarding academic advice, interactive teaching and class options, graduation planning, and tutoring services. 

Brigham Young University Online High School is Cognia and MSA-CESS accredited. It traces its roots to Brigham Young Academy, which was established in the mid-1870s and operated for nearly ninety years. 

  • Brigham Young University allows students to enroll in this high school online in Utah.
  • BYU seeks to develop balanced students through intellectually challenging classes, spiritual strengthening, and a lifelong love of service to others and learning.

11. Florida Virtual School

 Florida Virtual School

The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is one of the country’s best schools for high school alternative options for middle school and elementary school students who need 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 high schools, FLVS offers part-time, flexible, or full-time educational programs. It 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 statewide as its own school district in Florida.

It provides online study options for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in all of Sunshine State’s 67 school districts.

12. Penn Foster Online

Penn Foster Online

Penn Foster High School Online (PFHS) is one of the largest, most innovative schools in the country that offers self-paced academic high school programs and classes that lead to a diploma. This school has received accreditation from DEAC and the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools.

Penn Foster is a distance-learning educational high school founded as a correspondence school in the 1890s to help educate coal miners to advance their careers and to increase the safety of workers.

  • 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.
  • Penn Foster Online High School holds the distinction of being the largest high school in the nation, with a student enrollment from all fifty states.

13. Mizzou Academy 

Mizzou Academy 

Mizzou Academy is an innovative school that offers a variety of unique educational options to meet the varied student needs. It operates as the only program of its kind housed in a research-intensive college. 

Mizzou serves students in Missouri and across the globe, with students from more than forty international locations. More than 7,000 students from the United States and other international locations attend classes offered by Mizzou Academy. This nationally ranked best school 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. 
  • It offers its students more than 200 courses.

14. Virtual Learning Academy Charter School

Virtual Learning Academy Charter School

Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) is ranked among the most unique schools in New England and beyond. It features a variety of education programs for elementary, middle, and high school students, adults, and working learners. These educational options from N.H.’s best online school for high school are free to any resident of New Hampshire. 

We connected with the former Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., and this charter school was at the top of his list:

“The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School stands out as an exemplar. This school has a fantastic competency-based model that allows students to go at their own pace, but with ample opportunities to interface with teachers and gain support whenever necessary. 

In addition, the school focuses on discussion-based assessments, which can remove some of the test anxiety that many students feel and instead allow them to demonstrate their mastery of concepts through conversations with their teachers.”

Virtual Learning Academy Charter School 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.
  • Virtual Learning Academy Charter School’s sole mission is for their enrolled students to find academic and life success.

15. Virtual Virginia

Virtual Virginia

Virtual Virginia (V.V.) is one of Virginia’s best high schools, offering virtual education opportunities to students in the commonwealth in place of or augmenting a more traditional high school education. 

It 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 mission is to provide a new frontier in education options, meeting the unique needs of remote students.

  • It has cutting-edge technology that ensures online learners have the same opportunities 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.
  • In addition to online programs for students, Virtual Virginia offers educators cutting-edge training and support functions.

16. National High School

National High School

National High School (NHS) is among the southern U.S.’s best 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. 

National High School is a distance learning platform designed to serve the diverse needs of online students seeking an alternate path to a diploma.

  • The courses are available to those students between the ages of 13 and 18 with two graduation pathways – an advanced diploma or a regular diploma. Each of these programs requires the completion of 24 credits to graduate.
  • It is a nationally recognized online secondary school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools & the Council on Accreditation & School Improvement.

17. Oak Meadow School

Oak Meadow School

Oak Meadow School (OMS) is among Vermont’s top-quality schools. It offers progressive education options and strong academic standards that seek to hone each student’s innate talents and interests. This school is also available to middle, elementary, and preschool students.

Oak Meadow School was founded in the 1970s as a secular day school that offers students a learning environment of support and joy. This school offers a military discount on tuition to active members and veterans.

  • The creative and rigorous curriculum encourages critical thinking and analysis. It has been strongly influenced by an academic method known as Waldorf Education.
  • Oak Meadow is accredited as a homeschool program by the NEASC, the first in the history of the agency, helping students go from homeschool to college successfully.

18. Sevenstar Academy

Sevenstar Academy

Sevenstar Academy is a distance-learning Christian school ranked among the top-rated vritual schools in Texas, offering a biblical worldview and a rigorous distance-learning program. This school has received accreditation from ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) and Cognia, formerly known as AdvanceED. 

Classes are approved by the NCAA, and the U.C. Coursework is offered for grade 6-12 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.
  • Students can opt for dual credit classes offered in partnership with Christian universities.

19. Laurel Springs School

Laurel Springs School

Laurel Springs School (LSS) is among the most unique schools, and it is often used by professional athletes and actors who require alternative options to complete their education. It offers programming options for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. 

Newsweek ranks Laurel Springs School among the top schools in the marketplace. Laurel Springs 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 is 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.
  • 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.

20. Liberty University Online Academy

Liberty University Online Academy

Liberty University Online Academy (LUOA) is a private Christian online academy ranked among the most innovative and high-quality schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond. This school provides customized learning plans, flexible enrollment, and certified educators. 

Liberty University Online Academy is a division of Liberty University, among the largest universities with a Christian curriculum. Students at Liberty University Online Academy are offered certified teachers who hold an advanced degree in their subject.

  • It 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 open to students across the globe; all that is needed is a computer and the internet.

21. Texas Tech University Independent School District

Texas Tech University Independent School District

Texas Tech University K -12 (TTU K-12) is ranked among the most innovative schools in the Lone Star State. This Lubbock-based school is tuition-free, with full-time programming for students in kindergarten through the twelfth grade. 

Texas Tech University K-12 is a candidate for NCA CAI and SACS CASI. Students work at a comfortable pace while considering failed credits, supplementing a traditional curriculum with classes not available, or taking 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 students with unmet educational needs through a traditional education path.
  • Students from more than 70 international locations have attended classes at Texas Tech University K-12.

22. North Dakota Center for Distance Education

North Dakota Center for Distance Education

The North Dakota Center for Distance Education (NDCDE) provides a cutting-edge curriculum in North Dakota. This school has received accreditation from the NCAA, Cognia, and the state’s Department of Public Instruction. 

It offers programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, plus dual college-level coursework offered in partnership with Mayville State University. Start dates are available on an ongoing basis, with an end date auto-generated for 20 weeks.

  • The school 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.
  • Classes offered by the North Dakota Center for Distance Education can be timed to coincide with the student district’s school calendar.

23. Forest Trail Academy

Forest Trail Academy

Forest Trail Academy (FTA) provides some of 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 are offered exclusively online. 

This school has received accreditation from Cognia, NACOL, Accreditation International (A.I.), MSA CESS, and the National Council for Private School Accreditation. Students graduating from Forest Trail Academy receive a diploma from an accredited school.

  • Forest Trail was established as a private school registered with the Sunshine State’s Department of Education. 
  • It offers programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Forest Trail also has two homeschool options, including a secular program and a Christian-based correspondence program

24. Franklin Virtual High School

Franklin Virtual High School

Franklin Virtual High School (FVHC) is among the most innovative 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 school provides a cost-effective educational option to students and families needing an alternative path to a diploma. Franklin Virtual High School offers more than 200 high school-level, accredited classes to full-time enrolled students.

  • Franklin was founded in 2010 and is designed to offer education and academic programs to ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade students.
  • In addition to high school classes, Franklin Virtual High School offers preparation classes for the SAT and ACT exams.

25. Greenways Academy

Greenways Academy

Greenways Academy (G.A.) is a distance-learning best online school for high school located in St. Louis that serves students virtually from all over the world. It acts as a source for enrolled students needing extra help or as an alternative path.

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 is St. Louis’s leading online school, offering programs and classes from multiple providers, including Rosetta Stone and Florida Virtual. Programs can be customized for IEPs or students with a 504 plan.
  • Greenways Academy offers dual enrollment programs for high schoolers through its partnership with Arizona State University.

26. North Carolina Virtual Public School

North Carolina Virtual Public School

North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) is the largest and best online high school program in 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.

This school even offers the opportunity for middle schoolers to earn high school credit if they are eligible. North Carolina Virtual 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 it the second-largest virtual school in the nation.
  • North Carolina Virtual offers difficult-to-find subjects like Mandarin Chinese or Arabic, among others.

27. The Keystone School

The Keystone School

The Keystone School (KS) is one of the longest-running and best online high school diplomas 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, including international students enrolled in this Pennsylvania-based school. Keystone School encourages students to reach their potential, thus allowing for accelerated classes for interested students.

  • 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.
  • Maria Sharapova, a former #1 tennis player, is an alumnus of Keystone National High School.

28. Indiana University High School

Indiana University High School

Indiana University High School (IUHS) is a distance learning school ranked as the 2nd best high school online by The Best Schools. As one of Bloomington’s top-rated schools in Indiana and beyond, I.U. has received full accreditation from Cognia. 

Get ranks I.U. High School the fourth-best online school for college, A.P., and honors programs. In addition, Indiana University High School’s coursework has received approval from the NCAA.

  • Indiana University High School was founded in the mid-1920s. It offers distance education through the postal service to students across the United States. It serves nearly 2,000 students each year.
  • Indiana University High School is recognized as one of the founding member schools of the Indian Virtual Learning Consortium.

How Did We Select the Best Online Schools?

Using the Best Value Methodology, the editors at Value Colleges have ranked the top schools in our nation. Our methodology evaluates:

  • tuition costs
  • graduation rate
  • exemplary successes as educational institutions
Person watching an online lecture on their desktop monitor

Additionally, all the schools listed below are accredited institutions, including online public schools and private schools. 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.

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. It’s important to note that an online high school follows the same curriculum that other traditional schools use.

  • An online high school provides individuals with an education similar to a traditional high school. Students can 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 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. 

“Though not necessarily the right fit for all students, online high schools can also be fantastic options for students who need to go at their own pace,” Dr. Jerome Rekart shares. He continues to say,

“The flexibility of being able to spend as much (or as little) time as is necessary on given concepts can help students who struggle stay engaged with school because they don’t have to feel like they’re competing with others or are somehow holding back the class. 

Additionally, students who learn quickly can progress at their own pace and don’t have to be bored or disengaged as they wait for others in the class to reach their level of understanding.”

Attending high school online 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 schools allow students to complete their diplomas at any age. Thus, they can attain that goal and return to school for their diploma.

Can An Online Diploma Prepare Me for College Programs?

Online high schools also provide a rigorous college prep program. College preparation may include:

  • standardized exams
  • counseling
  • study skills
  • university level 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 a college diploma path.

Young woman taking notes while scrolling in her laptop

What Are the Benefits of Online High Schools?

Online high schools offer several key benefits, making them an attractive option for many students. These benefits include:

  • Flexibility: Students can complete their coursework on their own schedule, allowing them to balance their studies with other commitments, such as extracurricular activities, jobs, or family responsibilities. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for students who thrive in a self-paced learning environment or may have unique circumstances that make attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school challenging.
  • Personalized learning: Schools often provide personalized learning experiences tailored to each student’s individual needs, interests, and learning styles. This personalized approach can include self-paced coursework, customized course plans, one-on-one instructor support, and access to a wide range of electives and honors courses.
  • Reduced cost: While tuition fees vary among online high schools, many offer reduced costs compared to traditional private schools. Additionally, schools eliminate expenses associated with transportation, textbooks, and other materials commonly required in brick-and-mortar settings.

By providing flexibility, personalized learning opportunities, and potentially reduced costs, online schooling offers a compelling alternative to traditional educational models. These benefits can empower you to achieve your academic goals that align with your individual needs and circumstances.

What Are the Drawbacks of Online High Schools?

While online high schools offer several benefits, it’s important to consider their potential drawbacks as well. Some of the significant drawbacks include:

  • Lack of in-person interaction: This absence of face-to-face communication can make it challenging for some students to stay engaged and motivated. Additionally, students may miss out on social and collaborative aspects of traditional classroom settings, which can be crucial for personal growth and development.
  • Requires more self-motivation: Without the structured environment of a physical classroom and the direct supervision of teachers, students must take responsibility for managing their time, staying on track with assignments, and seeking help when needed. This level of self-motivation can be challenging for some students, particularly those who thrive in a more structured and supervised setting.
  • Technical issues: Slow internet speeds, software glitches, or hardware malfunctions can disrupt the learning process and cause frustration for students. Additionally, students may need access to specific hardware or software to complete certain core courses or assignments, which can add to the overall cost and technical requirements.
  • Potential for isolation: While online classes offer flexibility, students may feel isolated or disconnected from their peers and the larger educational community. This lack of social interaction can harm a student’s overall well-being and hinder their ability to develop important social skills.

Prospective students and their families must carefully weigh the potential drawbacks of online classes against their benefits. Be aware of these challenges to prepare yourself and develop strategies to overcome obstacles in your online schooling experience.

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 programs they develop must meet the same strict standards as those of the Department of Education. 

This is true for public and private schools where students attend classes 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 schools will provide students with everything they need to graduate and pass 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. 

Teacher doing a lecture through her laptop

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 institutions 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 institutions. So you can easily search for the best schools in California or West Virginia.

Are Online High Schools Free?

Many public education programs offer free online programs for students of all ages. These programs start in kindergarten and continue through high school until students graduate. For students who attended public institutions 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 institutions. 

Most students can get free online high school, which is the cheapest option. On the other hand, private online studies will cost money. 

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 private and public benefits.

Free online classes from a public education 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 still attending school in a classroom. A high school student learning online will also receive the same benefits as 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 an advantage, especially when they have unique challenges. Learning disorders or health concerns may keep them from focusing in a classroom setting.

How Can I Get Started?

Getting started in an online high school is, for the most part, just like getting started in a traditional high school. The actual process may depend on your state’s laws. There are several steps that you should be aware of.

  • First, check with your local school district about applying for a 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 you were going to a traditional high school. Online high school isn’t any easier, although it’s just more convenient. It will still take time and hard work, especially if you want advanced placement.

Several considerations should be taken into account when deciding whether an online high school is right for you. First, check 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. Should you decide to continue your online schooling education, completing more than one class at a time could be beneficial.

Student watching a lecture on her desktop monitor

How Can High School Students Transfer Credits to an Online School?

Transitioning to an online high school can be smooth if students plan ahead and follow the proper steps for transferring credits. When transferring to an online school, students should research which classes will transfer to the online school. 

I’m sharing my foolproof way of planning and communicating with prospective schools for a seamless credit transfer process.

  1. Research the school’s transfer policies: Review the online school’s website or contact their admissions office to understand their transfer credit policies. Common requirements include a minimum grade for transfer credits (usually a C or higher) and course equivalency evaluations.
  2. Gather transcripts and course descriptions: Obtain official transcripts from all previous schools attended, including detailed course descriptions or syllabi. These documents will help the online school evaluate which credits can be transferred.
  3. Submit transcripts and transfer credit request: Complete any required transfer credit application or request form provided by the online school. Submit official transcripts, course descriptions, and any additional documentation requested.
  4. Communicate with the new school: Maintain open communication with the online school’s admissions or advising staff throughout the transfer credit evaluation process. Clarify any questions or provide additional information as needed to ensure a smooth transfer process.
  5. Develop a course plan: Once the online school has evaluated your transfer credits, work with an academic advisor to develop a personalized course plan. Determine which remaining credits are needed to fulfill graduation requirements.

Follow these steps and actively communicate with your preferred virtual school. This will increase your chances of successfully transferring credits and potentially reduce the time and cost required to earn your diploma through an online program.

What Are the Types of Online High School Diploma Programs?

When earning a high school diploma online, students have several options beyond traditional online high schools. Regardless of the type of online high school diploma program, these options provide an alternative to traditional in-person schools, catering to diverse student needs, learning styles, and educational goals.


For students seeking a rigorous college preparatory experience, university-sponsored programs can be an attractive choice. Offered by higher education institutions in online or hybrid formats, university-sponsored programs often feature challenging coursework taught by professors, better preparing students for the demands of college-level academics. 

Top high schools like Stanford can have competitive admission rates and may provide opportunities for students to enroll in AP courses or earn college credits before graduating.

Charter School

One alternative is enrolling in a charter school, a type of public school that receives funding from state income taxes, donations, and grants rather than federal funding. 

Charter schools often focus on specific curricula or family needs, offering flexible schedules, unique coursework, and higher student-to-teacher ratios.

Private School

Another option for online high school education option is private schools, which rely on student tuition for operation. While many private schools provide scholarships or tuition assistance, they typically feature lower attendance rates, allowing for more one-on-one attention from instructors.

These schools may also offer a wider range of extracurricular activities compared to other school types.

What Are the Important Qualities of a Virtual School?

When evaluating a virtual school, there are several important qualities to consider. These qualities can guarantee high-quality online studies and a positive overall experience for students. Here are some of the key qualities to look for:

Young woman using a tablet for her tasks
  • Accreditations: Reputable schools should hold accreditation from recognized bodies, such as regional or national accrediting agencies. Accreditation ensures that the school meets specific standards for curriculum, faculty, and student services.
  • Years of experience: Schools with a longer history and track record of providing online education can be a good indicator of their stability and commitment to quality. However, newer schools can also be innovative and effective, so take time to evaluate their specific offerings.
  • Quality curriculum: A well-rounded and rigorous curriculum is crucial for a virtual school. The curriculum should cover core subjects, electives, and advanced coursework opportunities, such as honors or Advanced Placement (AP) classes.
  • Extracurricular activities: While not as extensive as traditional schools, some schools offer extracurricular activities, clubs, or organizations to foster student engagement and personal growth beyond academics.
  • Skilled instructors: The quality of instructors is paramount in a virtual setting. Look for schools that employ certified, experienced teachers trained in online instruction methods and can provide personalized support to students.
  • College preparation opportunities: For students planning to attend college, it’s important to consider schools that offer college preparatory courses, guidance on admissions processes, and opportunities to earn college credits while in high school.
  • Student services: Effective schools should provide comprehensive student services. These include academic advising, college counseling, tutoring, and technical support to ensure students have the necessary resources they need.
  • Technological support: Since virtual learning relies heavily on technology, schools should offer reliable technical support and resources, including online platforms, software, and hardware recommendations.
  • Financial aid: Some schools may offer financial aid options, scholarships, or payment plans to help make online studies more accessible and affordable for families.
  • Learning flexibility: One of the primary advantages of virtual schools is the flexibility they offer in terms of pacing, scheduling, and learning environments. Evaluate how well a school caters to diverse learning styles and individual student needs.
  • Graduation rate: While not the sole indicator of success, a school’s graduation rate can provide insight into its ability to support students throughout their academic journey and ensure they meet graduation requirements.

Evaluate these qualities carefully to help you and your family make an informed decision. This will allow you to find the perfect school that aligns with your education goals and learning needs.

Related Questions

How Do I Choose the Best Online High School?

When choosing the best online high school, prioritize academic quality by researching accreditation status, curriculum rigor, and the qualifications of instructors. Additionally, consider elements like course offerings, flexible scheduling, and student support services.

What Is the Best Online High School in Virginia?

In Virginia, Virtual Virginia is widely regarded as one of the top-rated online high schools. It offers a wide range of high school courses, cutting-edge technology, and customizable online high school programs to engage students in their areas of interest.

Is Online Schooling a Good Idea?

Online school can be an excellent option for high school students as it provides flexibility, self-paced learning, and access to advanced placement classes and college-level coursework. However, succeeding in an online learning environment requires self-discipline and strong time management skills.

Does Every State Allow Online Schools?

Every U.S. state allows students to attend online schooling. Some states have local schooling options, although students can access accredited virtual school programs across the country.

How Successful Are Virtual High Schools?

With accredited programs and quality curricula, virtual education can produce successful students. Despite potential challenges, online students can thrive in a self-paced learning environment.


Ultimately, being well-informed about online high school students’ options can open up a myriad of possibilities. Online high school students can thrive and reach their full potential with access to top-notch curricula, personalized learning experiences, and the flexibility to balance academic and personal commitments.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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