Top 10 Best Online Colleges in Ohio

Ohio is one of the most purely American of states, settled and developed free of British influence, with a clearly-stated intention to make the frontier represent the very best of American values. George Washington himself called Ohio’s founding careful and deliberate. That careful deliberation extends to Ohio’s higher education system, as the needs of Ohio’s diverse regions and many economic bases requires a full command of the humanities, sciences, technology, and healthcare. With rural, agricultural regions, major metropolitan populations, and heavily industrial, Rust Belt cities, Ohio is many places, all going through their own demographic changes, economic shifts, and educational development. And for many of Ohio’s working adults, career-changing professionals, and 21st century students, online education is the most logical choice.

Ohio’s colleges and universities – from its private religious colleges to its major public research institutions – have taken on online education to meet a multitude of needs, from the demand for marketable, profitable credentials to the desire for freedom, flexibility, and convenience. Whether students are in Ohio or across the ocean, online education can help. The programs featured in Value Colleges’ Best Online College in Ohio have found the best balance between affordability, accessibility, and quality, and they deserve to be celebrated. Value Colleges selects institutions based on the number of available online programs, and the cost of tuition; all stats are gathered directly from the institution’s published catalog for complete accuracy. The tuition cost listed is the lowest possible rate, usually undergraduate and in-state (if residency is a factor). Prices and availability will vary, so consult the institution directly for specific details.

all images sourced from institution’s website


University of Cincinnati

One of the oldest college in Ohio, the University of Cincinnati was founded in 1819, though that early college and medical school went under within a few years. The college reopened in 1835, eventually merging with the Cincinnati Law School. The third time was the charm for the University of Cincinnati, when it was chartered by the state in 1870; in time, it absorbed the Cincinnati Law School, the same institution that had taken over the first Cincinnati College. Today, the University of Cincinnati is a state-sponsored municipal university (one of only a few in the nation), and has been ranked a top-tier national university – among the 75 best public universities – by U.S. News & World Report.

The University of Cincinnati has become Ohio’s premier online educator, offering more than 50 fully online degree programs from undergraduate, graduate, and certificate levels. UC has been a forerunner in adult education, and was a pioneer in experiential learning; the Cincinnati Plan was the first cooperative extension program in the nation, allowing students to alternate classroom learning and work experience. Cincinnati was also an early adopter in online education, now with decades to build quality and affordability. UC has been named a top online bachelor and graduate educator by U.S. News & World Report, and ranked as a best buy in online higher education by Forbes.

Online Programs: 51
Tuition: $459 per credit


Franklin University

Franklin University was built on adult education; as was common in the early 1900s, Franklin began with night classes at the YMCA in Columbus, OH, as the YMCA School of Commerce. From its founding in 1902, Franklin remained affiliated with the YMCA for more than 60 years, severing ties and opening its own campus in 1964. Throughout its history, Franklin has remained dedicated to accessibility, creating a network with Ohio’s community colleges for transfers and starting its first master’s program – an MBA – in 1993. Thanks to its excellent outreach programs, Franklin has also been recognized as one of the most military-friendly colleges in the nation.

Franklin University expands its emphasis on adult education into the digital world, with nearly 50 fully online degree programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Online students have access to all the same support services – including the library and tutorial services – as traditional on-campus students, and the online system is well-designed for collaborative work and building relationships with classmates and faculty. Franklin offers many business, healthcare, and technology programs online, as well as master’s degrees in business and computer science and several doctoral programs. Affordable tuition and a wide range of options makes Franklin University a top online college for Ohio.

Online Programs: 47
Tuition: $509 per credit


Ohio Christian University

Founded in 1948, Ohio Christian University was originally the Mount of Praise Bible College; OCU’s campus, the Mount of Praise, was a Churches of Christ in Christian Union campground where the church held its yearly revivals. The bible college was intended to prepare ministers for the church, a small Wesleyan-Holiness denomination, but as it grew over the latter half of the 20th century, the school expanded into a full college. In the last decade, Ohio Christian University has earned regional accreditation and seen its student body grow by leaps, as the university has extended its reach with online and adult degree programs.

In addition to regional outreach centers in Ohio and Georgia, Ohio Christian’s focus on online education in the 21st century has gained OCU a larger, more diverse student body and a growing reputation as an online educator. Ohio Christian offers 45 fully online degree programs, including many bachelor’s completion programs in highly in-demand areas like Data Analytics, nursing, business, and criminal justice; master’s degrees include the MBA and the MA in Ministry. Ohio Christian keeps tuition rates reasonable for their market-ready, practical degree programs.

Online Programs: 45
Tuition: $423 per credit


University of Toledo

The University of Toledo was originally the vision of a newspaper editor named Jessup Scott, who foresaw Toledo as a Midwestern center of commerce and industry. While Scott did not live to see his donation of land and motivation completed, the Toledo University of Arts and Trades was founded in 1872. That school fell under financial hardship, but was reopened in 1884 under the ownership of the city as the Toledo Manual Training School. The University of Toledo’s history as a trade school has kept adult education and outreach central to the university’s mission, never more so than in the 21st century, when Toledo has branched out with three dozen fully online degrees, and growing.

With its roots in adult and career education, the University of Toledo offers a host of market-ready, fully online degree programs calibrated for the needs of today’s working adults, and tomorrow’s adaptable professionals. Students can choose from associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s programs, as well as a fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice for aspiring nurse leaders and educators. Some programs may require visits to campus of experiential practice (such as internships), but those can be arranged in a way that remains convenient to the online learner. With its top online programs, the University of Toledo is well on its way to national recognition.

Online Programs: 36
Tuition: $335 per credit


Tiffin University

Tiffin University began in 1888 as the Commercial College (business school) of Heidelberg College, now Heidelberg University. Heidelberg was a liberal arts college founded by the German Reformed Church, while the Commercial College was an independent division that spun off into its own institution in 1917. From its beginning, Tiffin University was concerned with practical education with direct career and professional value, and that philosophy has continued through to the 21st century. Tiffin’s curriculum is as concerned with career goals and personal motivation as with applicable skills and industry-readiness.

In the last decade, Tiffin has grown significantly as it has reached beyond the traditional residential, on-campus education model to extension campuses and online education. While Tiffin offers programs at locations throughout Ohio and as far away as Romania, it is online that Tiffin has really shown what it’s made of. All online degree programs are taught by experienced practitioners in their field who know what today’s job market demands. Tiffin offers nearly 40 distinct online degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level, including business (Tiffin’s entire reason for existence), criminal justice, and education. Tiffin also keeps tuition reasonable to ensure students can obtain a degree that gets them somewhere without leaving them in debt.

Online Programs: 34
Tuition: $440 per credit


Ohio University

Founded in 1787, Ohio University was the first college chartered by the US Congress, and one of the first colleges in the Midwest, though it did not open for students until 1809, several years after the territory became a stable state. The school was such an important symbol for westward expansion that its original name was American University. Through the 20th century, Ohio University grew into one of the nation’s foremost institutions, becoming a center of research and culture for Ohio and the Midwest, and achieving the highest level of Carnegie Classification for research. Ohio is also a consistent top tier national university in U.S. News & World Report rankings.

As a major public research institution, Ohio University’s mission and purpose is far beyond the traditional on-campus, residential experience, though in Athens, OH (one of America’s favorite college towns), that is certainly important. Ohio is tasked with meeting the educational needs of every Buckeye, and to achieve that mission, Ohio must look to distance education. Online students have their pick of nearly 30 fully online degree programs, from bachelor’s degree completion programs (including partnerships with Ohio’s community colleges for easy credit transfer) to highly in-demand master’s degrees. Plus, as a public university Ohio is able to keep online tuition at a low rate, making Ohio University’s online programs a solid investment.

Online Programs: 27
Tuition: $240 per credit


Union Institute & University

Union Institute & University began as a bold, innovative collaboration between 9 colleges (including Bard College, Hofstra University, and Sarah Lawrence College) to establish an experimental school based on the British tutorial system, in which students work directly and one-on-one with faculty. From the beginning, Union was developed for interdisciplinary, low-residency education, allowing students to build their own courses and curriculum with an emphasis on real-world social relevance. At its height, Union had more than 30 participating institutions, but bankruptcy nearly put Union under. In 2001, Union purchased Vermont College and began a new era of growth and development.

Since Union had always prioritized self-motivation, non-traditional education, and low-residency scheduling, online education was a natural step, and Union Institute has become a respected online educator. Union’s online degree programs are developed with working adults in mind, with generous credit transfers, flexible scheduling, and any combination of online or hybrid that works for the student’s needs. Union’s curriculum is highly interdisciplinary, and students will find their education to be exceptionally market-ready and applicable to the modern working world. With its national recognition growing, and a satisfied student body, Union Institute & University is well on its way to becoming a household name.

Online Programs: 24
Tuition: $530 per credit


Bowling Green State University

With growth in Ohio’s population, and a boom in the public school system in the late 19th century, Ohio faced a serious shortage of qualified teachers, so the Ohio legislature founded two normal schools (2-year, experiential programs in which teachers were trained in real classrooms). The Bowling Green State Normal School was founded in 1910, quickly growing into a full state university, while its counterpart became Kent State University. Though the school nearly became a mental institution during the Great Depression (saved by a local letter-writing campaign), after WWII Bowling Green boomed, growing into a major regional university ranked in the top 100 nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

As a regional university, Bowling Green State is dedicated to outreach throughout Ohio, and the BGSU eCampus has made it possible for the university to give more people educational opportunity than ever before. BGSU uses accelerated, 8-week scheduling and 100% online coursework to help students earn their bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs on their own time, working around their current work schedules. With more than a dozen programs, and growing yearly, Bowling Green State offers marketable degrees, from business and education to criminal justice and allied health, all at an affordable tuition rate.

Online Programs: 14
Tuition: $434 per credit


Youngstown State University

A large, public urban research institution, Youngstown State University was founded in 1908. Like Franklin University (#2), Youngstown State began as an extension of the YMCA, beginning with law programs and evening courses; the school had grown into an independent institution named the Youngstown Institute of Technology by 1921. By the 1960s, Youngstown had become a public university, taking on the mission of providing for the people of Northeastern Ohio, once a center of the steel and manufacturing industries. Youngstown State is still a crucial educator, providing opportunity to the people of the Rust Belt to change careers, grow careers, and take control of their destiny.

As an urban research institution, Youngstown State’s degree offerings are focused on the most in-demand, immediately applicable fields, designed especially for the needs of working adults, career-changing professionals, and other nontraditional students. YSU offers a dozen bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, especially in the health sciences, including bachelor’s degrees in Allied Health, Public Health, and Nursing, and master’s degrees in Health and Human Services. Other valuable master’s degrees include the MBA and Criminal Justice. Reasonable tuition rates help make Youngstown State’s online degrees a great choice for Ohio’s prospective professionals

Online Programs: 12
Tuition: $540 per credit


University of Northwestern Ohio

Founded as a small school of commerce in 1920, the University of Northwest Ohio has entrepreneurship and calculated risk written into its DNA. From a small, narrowly focused school to a master’s-level university in less than a century, UNOH is open admissions – giving any student the chance to prove themselves and excel – and non-profit. UNOH is a unique institution – it’s the only college in the US with its own racetrack, and scholarships for motorsports, for instance – and its dedication to the most market-friendly, career-focused degrees, with a well-rounded, multidisciplinary education, sets Northwest Ohio apart.

UNOH was also an early adopter of online education, opening the Virtual College in 1993, when many colleges were still wondering if the internet was a passing fad. Students can choose from the MBA, or a solid selection of bachelor’s degrees and certificates, including Agribusiness, Healthcare Administration, and popular programs such as Sports Marketing & Management and Travel & Hotel Management. As a private college, UNOH offers its online degrees anywhere in the nation (except Maryland), and its incredibly low tuition rates make it a great deal not only in Ohio, but across the US.

Online Programs: 11
Tuition: $275 per credit