Those who serve in our armed forces often consider going to school while they serve and are interested in getting an education from one of the top online colleges for the military. Attending college while serving in the often stressful and unpredictable armed forces can be a challenge. That is why many military members choose to pursue higher education in an online program rather than attend traditional classroom-based courses. This allows them to prioritize their military service and gives them the flexibility to study and take tests when it works with their schedules.
Military members pursue all types of degrees. Most active duty service members have already attained a high school diploma and look to undergraduate or graduate degrees. These can help them move up the ranks if they choose to stay in the military, or it can help them secure a civilian job once they retire or end their service. Depending on their areas of interest, soldiers tend to pursue degrees in business, criminal justice, or psychology.
Most branches of the military offer pay grade increases to those members who have completed college credit hours. The level of increase depends on how many hours are completed. Unless the service member is attempting to secure a higher position in his or her chosen branch of service, the type of degree they pursue usually does not factor into their increase in pay grade.
For those service members who want to pursue a higher degree but do not know which subject they’d like to study, help is commonly available through many of the college programs. Personalized counselors can help the soldier determine what skills they have learned during military service and how they translate to a career in the civilian world. Counselors can also help them identify which areas of service were most fulfilling and how they can continue these pursuits after leaving the service. The top online colleges for military often provide individual support to help students figure out their ideal career path.
Attending college online provides the flexibility that military members require. Most colleges offer 24/7 availability so students can work on their degree when it best fits their schedule. They also offer frequent semester start times, and students have the choice to accelerate their degree or take fewer classes to account for rigorous military demands. Because of this flexibility, there is a wide range of time for how long it takes to complete a degree. Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs can take three years or less to complete. In comparison, an undergraduate degree interrupted by deployments or taken at a slower pace could take longer than the traditional four years
Admission for military students to online colleges is usually the same as for civilian students. Potential students must apply online and submit proof of a high school degree and relevant SAT or ACT scores. Some colleges also require a written essay detailing why the student wants to attend the school and what they hope to accomplish with their chosen degree.
Those in the military may have the added requirement of sending in documentation of their military service. These may include leave and earnings statements and military orders. Proper documentation also should be submitted to the college’s financial department to ensure that appropriate government aid is given to the student.
While still in the military, service members pursuing higher degrees can qualify for several financial perks to help them with the overall cost of education. Through the continued benefits of the G.I. Bill and the new Yellow Ribbon Program, many service members and their family members can obtain a college degree at little to no out-of-pocket expense.
Attending college online rather than on-campus has numerous perks for military members. Because of their rigorous schedules and possibility of deployment at any time, traditional coursework in a classroom setting does not normally fit into their lifestyle. Online colleges can be accessed from anywhere the student has a computer and network connection. This lets them continue their degree uninterrupted if they are transferred, are on leave, or otherwise out of the area. Military members are also able to pause their online degrees if they are deployed.
Active duty military members who achieve a higher degree can fast-track their military careers and apply for pay grade promotions or officer schools. Officers in the army, for example, tend to make salaries that are similar to mid-level executives in the civilian realm. For those service members who plan to pursue civilian careers after detaching from the armed forces, a college degree can mean the difference between a $30,000 per year job and a $60,000 per year career.
The colleges referred to in this list were compiled by referencing major directories such as Online Schools Center, Guide to Online Schools, and Reviews.com. Editors looked at school rankings and how consistently they were referred to throughout the different lists and publications. Those selected for this list were mentioned regularly and ranked high for top active duty military colleges online.
As one of the top-rated schools in the country, Arizona State University has been attended by more than 7,000 military-affiliated students over the past year. Their comprehensive veterans center is designed to empower the military and veteran community to experience success not just in their academic pursuits but also in their personal lives. The University boasts over 80 online bachelor’s degree programs and nearly as many master’s programs that feature the same excellent curriculum and instruction as you would find on campus.
With online courses in such diverse programs as urban planning, sustainability, cyber-security, biosecurity, emergency management, and more, this is an ideal way to secure a new career in a post-COVID 19 world. Arizona State University is one of the top active duty military colleges online due to its utilization of a variety of financial benefits under the G.I. Bill. Students can also receive credit for their prior military training.
EKU is repeatedly ranked as one of the top providers of online education to members of the military. The University has been working with military personnel for over 75 years. With a strong commitment to educating our troops, the school is known for its accommodation and flexibility in providing courses across 40 degree choices.
Undergraduate applicants will pay no application fee, and a full-time staff at the EKU Veterans Affairs office is available to help you every step of the way. Students can choose from a variety of online programs that fit well with military service, including Police Studies, Homeland Security, Corrections, Psychology, and more.
Florida State University’s online programs for military and veteran students are some of the best in the country. The school features an array of services to help military members achieve their educational goals, as well as transition acquired skill sets from military service to future careers. To this end, the University has developed a Strategies for Veterans Success Course that has become a popular offering among service members.
The school also retains over 40 veteran liaisons across a range of departments available to help support the education of armed forces members. This comes as no surprise, as the school employs over 300 faculty and staff members who served. If uncertainty about training, drills, deployment, or change-of-order status is concerning, FSU has one of the most accommodating programs on our list. Their top-ranked online learning platform for veterans and those in active service makes it even easier to work classes around a hectic schedule.
With more than 45 undergraduate and graduate programs available online, the University of Southern Mississippi has plenty of avenues for the military student from which to choose. In addition to their high-quality, faculty-developed online programs, the college also has a supportive environment that helps all military students apply, graduate, and further their careers.
The military-friendly atmosphere at the University extends to its online programs. The school’s Center for Military Veterans, Service Members, and Families exist to walk all those who have served through the education process from securing financial aid to graduation and beyond. This dedicated level of service makes the University of Southern Mississippi one of the top online colleges for military.
Headquartered in New Jersey, the Rutgers University Online program has affordable tuition options for veterans and active duty service members. Their flexible remote bachelor’s degree programs feature a combination of practical real-life and interactive learning, and students can pursue online degrees in Nursing, Labor and Employment Relations, and Business Administration.
The school goes above and beyond with their services to military members and their dependents. They maintain an Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services that features an array of resources. Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, they have moved many of these resources online, but they have done it in such an efficient and creative way that prospective students will likely find this option very appealing. The Vet House is now virtual, and students can access it every Monday through Friday online to chat with a staff member about any specific concerns they might have.
Through their Park Global Warrior Center, Park University provides a full spectrum of resources and support that guides military students through their online learning experience. This support, in addition to the college’s 500 courses online, makes Park University a top online college for the military.
Park University is dedicated to working with those who have helped make our world a safer place through military service. Customizable academic plans, financial aid assistance, and personal guidance from a knowledgeable staff are all available for student soldiers. The University also offers credit transfers for military-earned educational equivalence or on-the-job training. Students can test out of a course by taking an exam or demonstrating competency in the subject, cutting down on the time and cost of their education.
Maryville University has a strong program designed to help active duty service members, veterans, and their dependents reach their educational goals. As one of the top online colleges for military members, the school offers over 30 bachelor’s degree programs, including nursing, sustainability, criminal justice, cyber-security, and more. Students can transfer their military coursework for up to 30 credits at the school.
Another attractive benefit that makes Maryville a top online college for military students is its dedicated veteran services specialists and enrollment advisors. These professionals are available to help students navigate their V.A. benefits—including the yellow ribbon program. Students can expect assistance and support in the areas of financial aid, disability services, academics, employment, and V.A. benefits. Spouses of members are also eligible to receive the same high-quality education Maryville is known for.
Corporate recruiters rank Pennsylvania State University World Campus #1 in producing the best-qualified and prepared students in the workforce. This makes the college attractive to those military members who plan to transition to civilian life after achieving their degree.
Penn State has more than 125 online courses available to choose from and an academic military support team that guides student soldiers throughout their entire education. With grants and scholarships as well as full dedication to the G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, Penn State has earned its reputation for being one of the top online colleges for the military.
Along with flexible online programs ideal for military, military transfer credits, and tuition assistance, Liberty University has the added benefit of being a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Degree Network System. This allows the college to provide extra services to those serving in the military and ensures they do not lose credit due to frequent moves and duty station changes.
Military students benefit from DNS specialized degree features as well as the college’s strong partnerships with programs such as GoArmyEd, the Chaplain Candidate Program, and the College of the American Soldier. These added perks make Liberty University one of the top active duty military colleges online.
With reduced tuition rates, experience portfolio and skills translator services, and personalized support from their one-on-one dedicated military enrollment counselor, Drexel University has all its bases covered when providing a comprehensive education to service members. Drexel helps students transfer credit, utilize their G.I. Bill benefits, and create an educational path that will lead them to their ideal post-military career.
U.S. military members and their families also get assistance from a live tutor who is available to help them one-on-one with coursework, test-taking, studying, and questions. The college’s supportive environment and extra services make it the top online college for the military.
Soldiers who want to achieve a higher degree while completing their military service have many options to choose from. Selecting one of the top online colleges for the military will help them embark on an educational journey that will enhance their service and provide a smooth transition to civilian life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges for Active Duty Military Personnel
What Types of Financial Assistance Are Available to Help Those in the Military Pay for College?
There are a variety of financial aid packages available to service members wishing to pursue higher education. The most popular options are administered through the V.A. and include:
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
- Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
- Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
For service members who choose to attend private, foreign, or out of state colleges, the standard benefits may not cover the entire cost of tuition. For those students, the Post-9/11 bill also has a provision in place called the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Each branch of the military also administers its own tuition assistance programs that may help defray the cost of college courses. To determine your eligibility, you should check with your individual branch.
Additionally, service members and their families may be eligible for dozens of grants and scholarships to help them defray the cost of higher education.
Does the COVID 19 Epidemic Change Anything About the Admissions Process?
The uncertain nature of the Coronavirus pandemic has forced many schools to alter their admissions processes. The changes primarily affect on-campus activities as opposed to online signups. In fact, because of many of these changes, more online portals and resources have been developed that may even make the process easier for those students who are pursuing their education remotely.
Because each college is adapting to the crisis differently, it is recommended that prospective students reach out to their own admissions office to determine the best course of action. However, the admissions process itself remains largely the same. Students in the military should focus on highlighting the transferrable skills and knowledge they have gained through their experiences in the armed forces, elaborating on the places they have been, and any opportunities and challenges they have overcome.
What Should Active Duty Military Students Look for in a College?
Experts recommend that students who are serious about pursuing a degree at a military-friendly college look for schools with programs explicitly tailored to active duty service members and veterans. After identifying the major that interests them, students should do some research into the individual resources in place for members of the armed forces.
Schools should have active supports in place that help military students feel like an essential and welcome part of the campus community, as well as the academic and financial assistance needed to help them succeed in their studies. They will also want to ensure that the University provides additional resources to help them as they transition through graduation and move into their chosen careers. Talking to other Veterans on campus can be especially helpful when it comes to making the right choice.
Is Accreditation Important?
The best online colleges for military members will be accredited. Accreditation not only ensures that the school meets high academic standards of quality but is a vital feature that qualifies schools for federal aid programs such as the GI Bill. Further, employers and other schools will recognize an accredited degree, which is especially crucial if you want to transfer or go on to more advanced studies.
What Are Some Additional Benefits to Military Members Attending Online College?
To be successful at online learning, students need skills like focus, time management, and discipline. Most personnel have an advantage in this department as they have already acquired many of these traits while carrying out their service duties. This makes them particularly well-suited to online learning.
Restationing and deployments can make attending traditional classes rather challenging for many service members. Remote learning allows these students to access their lectures and courses at a time that is convenient for them, no matter what time of the day or night. Online classes are flexible enough so that soldiers can work them around already hectic schedules and responsibilities.
Prospective students who have recently returned from highly stressful deployments or combat situations may be at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. Since most on-campus courses would expose these individuals to crowds, sounds, and high levels of activity, some military students may be more comfortable in a remote setting where they can control the level of stress they are exposed to.
The best online colleges for members of the military will provide personalized resources, programs, and assistance to help students transition into civilian life with all the social and academic support they need.
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