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 active duty military. Attending college while serving in the often stressful and unpredictable armed forces can be a challenge. That is why many active duty military members choose to pursue a higher education in an online program rather than attend traditional classroom-based courses. This allows them to focus on and prioritize their military service and gives them the flexibility to study and take tests when it works with their schedule.

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 either 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 their military service and how those translate to a career in the civilian world. Counselors can also help them identify which areas of service were most fulfilling to them and how they can continue these pursuits after they leave the service. The top online colleges for active duty military often provide individual support to help students figure out their ideal career path.

Attending college online provides the flexibility that active duty 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 time range for how long it takes to complete a degree. Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs can take three years or less to complete while 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 test 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 proper government aid is given to the student.

While still in the military, service members pursuing higher degrees can qualify for a number of financial perks that can 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 active duty 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 lists such as Online Schools Center, Guide to Online Schools, and Reviews.com. Editors looked at school rankings and how consistently they were mentioned throughout the different lists and publications. Those selected for this list were mentioned regularly and ranked high for top active duty military colleges online.

10. Idaho State University

A cutting-edge research institution as well as a top-rated educational system, Idaho State University is the perfect choice for a service member pursuing a degree in the health or technology field. With online courses in such diverse programs as psychology, dental hygiene, and emergency management, students can further their education and secure a career in a wide array of fields.

Idaho State University is one of the top active duty military colleges online due to its utilization of financial benefits under the G.I. Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance program. The college also has flexible credit transfer guidelines that can help those service members who have already obtained college credit at another institution.

9. Saint Leo University

The sixth largest provider of college courses to members of the United States military, Saint Leo University is committed to educating our troops. With knowledgeable counselors who help service members complete admission and qualify for maximum transfers and financial aid benefits through the G.I. Bill, Saint Leo University is clearly one of the top online colleges for active duty military.

The university’s flexible and accredited online degree programs fit into any potential student’s area of interest. Their programs focus on topics that fit well with military service including homeland security, computer information systems, criminal justice, and management. They also offer programs in professional studies and numerous liberal arts fields for those service members who want to make a change after separation.

8. Webster University

With over 40 years of dedicated educational service to our country’s military, Webster University continually strives to provide an outstanding classroom and online education to service members. Webster features military-focused student clubs and groups, engagement with various branches of the military, and a wide array of student services to help military members achieve their education goals.

Webster University is a top online college for active duty military due to its tuition assistance and fee waivers, participation in national assistance programs, and generous transfer of military credits policy. With military cooperative degree programs, Webster is a top active duty military college online.

7. University of Southern Mississippi

With more than 45 undergraduate and graduate program available online, the University of Southern Mississippi has plenty of avenues for the military student to choose from. In addition to their high-quality, faculty-developed online programs, the college also has a supportive environment that helps all active duty 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 exists to walk all those who have served through the education process from securing financial aid to graduation and beyond. This dedicated level of service is what makes the University of Southern Mississippi one of the top online colleges for active duty military.

6. Regent University

A globally respected Christian college, Regent University allows active duty military to earn up to 90 transfer credits that includes their military training and supports students with financial aid that can 100% cover education expenses. The school offers more than 110 areas of study, providing a quality education for every interest.

With 8 and 15-week online course selections and seven highly regarded accreditations, Regent University is a top online college for active duty military. With its faith-based curriculum and dedicated team that helps military personnel on every step of their education journey, Regent is a solid option for Christian military members.

5. Park University

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, make Park University a top online college for active duty 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 academic equivalence or on-the-job training. Students can test out of a course by taking a test or demonstrating competency in the subject, cutting down on the time and cost of their education.

4. Bellevue University

Bellevue University starts military students out right with a free evaluation of their military credits and a personalized education roadmap to help them reach their goals. With 25 online bachelor’s degrees to choose from a preferred tuition rate for current soldiers, Bellevue has many attractive benefits that makes it an online top college for active duty military.

Located near Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, NE, the University was founded by the military and has helped service members make the transition to civilian life for over 50 years. The college provides classes that start every month, six-week courses, and personalized service to help students start their degrees the right away and finish them quickly.

3. Pennsylvania State University World Campus

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 provides guidance for 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 active duty military.

2. Liberty University

Along with flexible online programs ideal for active duty 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 or DNS. 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 special 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.

1. Drexel University

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 family 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 active duty 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 active duty military will help them embark on an educational journey that will enhance their service and provide a smooth transition to civilian life.