Top 10 Online Colleges for Veterans

Often, veterans have unique barriers to returning to a traditional classroom when working toward higher education goals which is why online colleges offer the perfect solution. Veterans may have social, family, or work obligations that make it difficult for them to attend classes that are held at local universities. It is also possible that the college or university closest to them does not have the degree program they wish to pursue. In addition, because of the format of online college programs, a veteran can obtain a degree in a shorter period.

One of the factors in selecting the top online colleges for veterans is that they offer credits for military experience. This means that some students can use their military career to “opt-out” of classes where they may have learned on-the-job experience while in the military. In addition, because the military offers training in many areas, a veteran may have already taken a class while in the service that would qualify as a class required for a degree.

Many other factors go into choosing the top online colleges for veterans. National rankings such as those created by U.S. News & World Report, Best College Reviews, The Best Schools, and Niche all played a part in choosing these top ten colleges. It was discovered that the schools were often mentioned across a wide variety of lists that indicate top colleges for veterans. The online college must also be accredited by a regional accrediting agency. Accreditation indicates that the school provides students with outstanding education and addresses any areas that the accrediting agency identifies as needing improvement. This is especially important if the veteran plans to further their education at the graduate level as many graduate degree programs will not accept undergraduate degrees issued by non-accredited schools.

Online degree programs require students to complete the same courses that traditional students complete. Grading for the courses is no different and online students are held to the same rigorous standards as traditional students. This means that a veteran who earns a degree online receives a degree of the same quality as a student who earns their degree the more traditional way.

According to the United States Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, people who hold college degrees earn significantly more than those without a degree. In 2015, people with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of $48,500 per year compared to those who held just a high school diploma who earned an average of $23,900. What is equally important is that college degree holders are more likely to obtain and retain a position than those with only a high school diploma.

Earnings vary widely, even for college graduates. For example, reports that engineers, including petroleum, nuclear, electronics, and chemical engineers, earn some of the highest starting salaries, ranging from $65,000 to $101,000. Actuarial science graduates earn $60,800 as an average starting salary, but by mid-career can earn as much as $119,000 annually. By comparison, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education has a starting salary of $30,700 with a mid-career average of $37,500. This indicates that the type of online degree the veteran chooses can have an impact on earnings after graduation as well.

Veterans have a wide range of interests and may also have varied experiences from their service. However, there are some degree programs that align well with former service members. Information Technology, or IT) degrees are growing in popularity among veterans. With a starting salary range between $30,000 and $85,000, IT specialists keep organizations running smoothly and keep them secure, something many soldiers will connect with their time in the military. The industry is expected to grow by 17 percent by 2022. Operations Managers are also a growing industry, offering a salary range of between $36,000 and $101,000 per year. An operations manager keeps an organization running smoothly and are often found in the manufacturing industry. Engineering, logistics, and financial services are also growing industries that veterans have found to be similar to what they did while serving the country.

All colleges have their own admission criteria. Normally, an application must be completed and there may be a fee to apply. Colleges often want official transcripts from a high school as well as from any college or university attended. For those applying as veterans, the college may require military documents like discharge paperwork, proof of service, and documentation of any training. Some programs may also require additional materials. For example, and graphic arts program may require a portfolio.

Once the decision has been made to achieve higher education goals, these top online colleges for veterans are the best option to be sure that the degree earned is of high quality, will provide the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve career goals and will provide the flexibility most working adults, especially veterans may need.

10. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

The relationship with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the military goes as far back as the 1920s. It was during that era that the Army Air Corps taught John Paul Riddle to fly, leading him to return the favor less than 20 years later when he trained thousands of Army Air Corps pilots, Royal Air Force, and French pilots as well as members of the Naval Aviation Corps during World War II. Embry-Riddle has been named one of the best schools for veterans by Military Advanced Education Magazine and their online program was ranked the top Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Veterans by the same organization.

Embry-Riddle offers 15 bachelor’s degree programs in a completely online format. They also offer 19 master’s degrees and one doctorate program. Embry-Riddle evaluates academic work and courses taken at outside institutions by veterans, offering what is known as a bootstrap program that enables students to apply for past credits and qualify for advance standing in order to complete their degree in less time. The university also offers special military and veteran tuition rates.

9. Troy University

Troy University has been working with members of the military since 1950. They are an educational partner with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard. The school has been recognized as a leading institution for veterans by U. S. News & World Report, GI Jobs, Military Times Edge, Advanced Military Education, and many more organizations that determine the top online college for veterans. Troy University recognizes the experience earned while serving the country and credit may be granted for those experiences. Troy University offers a wide range of degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels that are available completely online.

Students working toward bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice may concentrate their studies in Digital Forensics or Homeland Security. History students may concentrate in American/Latin American or European/Asian/African studies. Political science students may concentrate in American Politics and Public Administration or International Politics. Graduate degrees are available with concentrations and there are options that do not require a thesis.

8. Park University

Park University has a history of maximizing military experience, allowing the experience earned while serving the country to improve the future of those who served. The Joint Service Transcript allows veterans to earn up to 75 credit hours toward their degree as well as fair credit equivalencies towards the degree they choose. GI Jobs Magazine has named Park University a Military-Friendly School for eight consecutive years. The university not only offers online degree programs designed with veterans in mind, but they also offer a Global Warrior Center, providing unique support for service members and veterans who are transitioning into or out of the armed services.

Park University also offers accelerated courses which are eight-week terms that begin five times each year. This allows students to begin learning right away without waiting for a semester to start. The teaching program provides live audio and video so students can interact more easily with instructors.

7. Bellevue University

Bellevue University is dedicated to helping veterans return to school and achieve their higher education goals. Not only does the university accept military benefits, including the GI Bill, for tuition, they also strive to give veterans credit for courses already taken, military training and experience. Veterans will need to provide their military transcript to obtain credit. In addition, Bellevue University offers degrees that are priced exclusively for current and former military members which are available completely online.

Only undergraduate degrees are eligible for the reduced military tuition, however. Graduate degrees are not included.

6. Colorado State University Global Campus

Colorado State University appreciates the contributions of veterans and understands their unique needs when it comes to higher education. They created their Global Campus with military members and veterans in mind, providing them with a way to achieve their higher education goals. Colorado State University works with veterans not only to help them identify benefits that assist them with tuition, but also helping them identify programs that will help them grow in a current career or move into a new career. Colorado State University offers a comprehensive review of previous military coursework as well as experience to provide veterans with the maximum credits they can receive for their previous service. Colorado State University’s Global Campus offers a wide range of programs entirely online.

Some graduate degree programs may have a classroom component, so it is important to talk to an admissions counselor before enrolling.

5. Pennsylvania State University World Campus

Penn State World Campus aids veterans, military members, and their families so they may overcome the obstacles they face when trying to reach their higher education goals. Penn State works with veterans to transfer credits and in understanding academic policies. Veterans and members of the military may receive credit for Military Occupational Specialties Rating as well as Air Force Specialty Codes. To receive credits, veterans must submit SMART, AARTS, Coast Guard Institute, or CC of the Air Force transcripts. Penn State also offers Credit for Life Experience Tests (CLEP) which allows students to test out of classes based on life experiences that have provided them with the knowledge they need. The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) extends opportunities to service people and veterans who may reside outside the United States.

4. Columbia College

Columbia College fully complies with Executive Order 13607 which establishes principles of excellence for educational institutions who serve the military, whether they are active duty, family members, or veterans. The college is committed to a long-standing partnership with veteran communities, offering some of the top online programs for veterans. Transfer credits are available for Coast Guard Institute, JST and CCF as well as CLEP, DSST and DLPT examinations that can help veterans obtain their degree in a shorter time. There are also scholarships designed specifically for those in who serve or have served. Columbia College is a proud member of the Yellow Ribbon program and is a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges and SOC Degree Network System. Columbia College offers a wide range of courses that are available in a completely online format. They also offer hybrid options for those who may need the occasional traditional classroom setting.

3. Utah State University

Utah State University’s Veterans Resource Office was created to help veterans who are seeking to advance their education. The mission of the office is to help veterans return to civilian life, understanding that it can be a daunting adjustment. The office provides support for service members and families as they pursue their academic and career goals at the university. Utah State University accepts military credits based on the length of military service as well as whether the credit meets the criteria set forth by the university. In order to transfer military credits, students must submit DD214, DD295 or an AARTS/SMART transcript. Utah State University offers a wide range of online degree programs that allow veterans who may have work, family or school obligations to achieve their higher education goals.

2. Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University has been named one of the Best Online Programs for Veterans by US News & World Report for both their online undergraduate and graduate degrees. They are also named as a Military Friendly School. These designations are because Fort Hayes understands the issues faced by veterans and current military members. The online programs they offer are flexible, allowing adults to complete their degree program no matter where they are stationed. Their Virtual College fits the lives of busy adults, allowing them to complete classes when it is convenient for them and with tuition that is very affordable. Fort Hays also accepts military training toward credits needed to earn a degree as long as the student provides military transcripts indicating the courses taken. The school offers a wide range of degree programs that are available online, one of the reasons it has consistently been named on lists of the top online degrees for veterans.

1. University of Maryland University College

At the University of Maryland University College, veterans can receive credit not only for their training while in the service but also for their experience. Veterans can also receive credit by examination. This allows veterans to complete their degree more quickly and also save the costs of tuition. An official evaluation is conducted as soon as a veteran applies. In order to attend the University of Maryland University College, veterans complete the Veterans Online Application which qualifies the veteran for education benefits. Allow four to six weeks for the VA to issue a Certificate of Eligibility. Veterans must submit transcripts from all colleges or universities attended as well as any industry certifications earned. Veterans who have less than 24 transferrable credits earned after high school must also submit their high school transcript. Military transcripts should be submitted electronically. One of the reasons the University of Maryland University College is rated the top online college for veterans is the wide range of programs available completely online with no traditional classroom requirement.

When choosing an online college, it is important to choose one that has a good reputation and has been ranked as military-friendly if you are a veteran. These colleges are regionally accredited and provide the top online degree programs for veterans, allowing those who served the country to move into a new career or advance in a current career.


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