Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Of the four different degree levels, the bachelor’s degree was by far the most popular type awarded in the 2015-16 academic year — almost double the number of associate degrees. Between 2000-01 and 2015-16, the number of bachelor’s degrees granted by postsecondary institutions increased from 1.2 million to 1.9 million — a huge jump in numbers. Of those awarded in 2015-16, over half of the bachelor’s degrees were focused in six fields of study:


  • Business
  • Health professions
  • Social sciences and history
  • Psychology
  • Biological and biomedical sciences
  • Engineering

This increase is likely the result of more employers requiring bachelor’s degrees for positions that only required high school diplomas or associate degrees in the past. Another reason for the increase is the increased availability and flexibility of online bachelor’s degree programs. Individuals can now earn bachelor’s degrees through traditional campus-based schools, online programs, or hybrid programs.

5 Reasons to Earn a Bachelor Degree

There are five major reasons why individuals may have the desire to pursue online bachelor’s degree programs.
  1. Bachelor’s degrees are becoming the minimum credential to land most jobs. Degrees earned at the bachelor’s level can help qualify individuals to work in their industry of choice.
  2. Having a bachelor’s degree increases an individual’s earning potential and professional value. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with bachelor’s degrees earn $2.3 million throughout their work life while those with only a high school diploma earn an average of $1.3 million during their working years.
  3. The education and skills learned through a rigorous degree program can give you the confidence to pursue workplace opportunities and to deal with challenges.
  4. Bachelor’s degree holders may be more satisfied in their careers because they have an increased chance of finding a job that pays well, offers employer benefits, and provides opportunities for growth.
  5. Students interested in careers that typically require a higher-level master’s or doctoral degree usually need to earn first a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in graduate school.

Timeline of a Bachelor’s Degree Program

A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to earn if a student attends school full-time. But whether someone is enrolled full-time or part-time, a bachelor’s degree program usually consists of 120 semester credits, or around 40 college courses. While every online bachelor’s degree program is unique, most follow the same general timeline.
First Year
In the first year, students usually focus on completing their general education courses. These courses may be related to English, math, science, social science and humanities.
Second Year
In the second year, students start taking courses that pertain to their particular major.
Third and Fourth Year
In years three and four, students usually dive deeply into major courses.They may also have options or requirements that involve internships or practicums.

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees

There are several types of bachelor degree programs available, although most are aligned with either the liberal arts or the sciences. These are the most common ones:

Top Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Rankings are important for students to consider when they’re exploring different schools’ bachelor’s degree programs. How do students know which program might be best for them? The methodologies behind rankings typically take into account data points that prospective students usually care about, such as tuition and fees, acceptance rates, and other factors. All of these are used to determine the top bachelor’s degree programs.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific degree being ranked. 1. Offer a bachelor’s degree program, either on campus, online, or via hybrid format 2. Have awarded at least one bachelor’s degree in 2015-16 3. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables listed below Based on those criteria, we ranked 1,371 colleges and universities in the United States on 19 criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics:


  1. Program prominence, based on how many bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 2016-17
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Number of programs that are offered at the bachelor’s degree level on campus
  8. Number of programs that are offered at the bachelor’s degree level via distance education
  9. The availability of any tuition plans
    • Payment
    • Guaranteed
    • Prepaid
    • Other
  10. Services
    • Academic/Career
    • Placement for Completers
  11. Credit offerings
    • Dual
    • Life
    • AP
    • Military
  12. Three-year repayment rate for completers

RankingSchool NameIn State Avg. Undergrad Tuition% Receiving Financial AidRetention RateCareer CounselingPayment Plan
1University of Florida$4,47793%97%10
2Ashford University$11,40091%23%11
3Florida International University$4,72189%90%11
4Northern Arizona University$9,73894%73%11
5University of Central Florida$4,47890%90%10
6Bellevue University$7,15289%77%11
7Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus$17,41665%93%11
8University of Memphis$7,68098%76%11
9Grand Canyon University$16,39998%64%11
10University of Phoenix-Arizona$9,55281%33%10

Financial Aid

Fortunately, there are several financial resources that can make obtaining a bachelor’s degree more cost effective. Eligible students may apply for scholarships, grants, and educational loans to help pay for their courses, books, and/or living expenses. While most scholarships are merit based and awarded because of a student’s academic or athletic achievements, the majority of grants are need based and distributed according to a student’s financial situation or their family’s financial situation. Education loans must be repaid with interest.

Why Accreditation Matters

It is vital for prospective bachelor’s degree students to select an accredited program as those programs have been determined by an official accrediting agency to meet or exceed the minimum standards of quality. By pursuing an accredited bachelor’s degree program, students may also be eligible for financial aid, transfer credits with ease, and appear more attractive to employers.

Fastest-Growing Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree

If you want to choose a degree program that’s aligned with the greatest potential job opportunities across the U.S., here are the occupations the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow the most in the 2016-26 time frame.
Financial Managers
Current Employment : 654,790
Projected Employment : 16%
Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.
Current Employment : 81,660
Projected Employment : 9.3%
Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other donations for an organization. They may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization's work, goals, and financial needs.
Information Security Analysts
Current Employment : 125,570
Projected Employment : 31.6%
Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increases.
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
Current Employment : 678,500
Projected Employment : 20.4%
Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.
Medical and Health Services Managers
Current Employment : 394,910
Projected Employment : 17.6%
Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must direct changes that conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology.
Operations Research Analysts
Current Employment : 99,680
Projected Employment : 25.6%
Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues, identify and solve problems, and make better decisions.
Personal Financial Advisors
Current Employment : 210,190
Projected Employment : 7%
Personal financial advisors give financial advice to people. They help with investments, taxes, and insurance decisions.
Registered Nurses
Current Employment : 2,982,280
Projected Employment : 12.1%
Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.
Social and Community Service Managers
Current Employment : 156,460
Projected Employment : 13%
Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage staff who provide social services to the public.
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Current Employment : 1,406,870
Projected Employment : 25.6%
Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Highest-Paying Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree

Want to maximize your investment in a bachelor’s degree? These occupations pay the highest wages nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Civil Engineers
Mean Annual : $94,360
90th Percentile : $144,560
Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Mean Annual : $156,390
90th Percentile : $208,000
Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals.
Computer Systems Analysts
Mean Annual : $96,160
90th Percentile : $147,670
Computer systems analysts study an organization's current computer systems and procedures and design information systems solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.
Construction Managers
Mean Annual : $105,000
90th Percentile : $164,790
Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.
Database Administrators and Architects
Mean Annual : $96,110
90th Percentile : $148,060
Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data are available to users and are secure from unauthorized access.
Financial and Investment Analysts, Financial Risk Specialists, and Financial Specialists, All Other
Mean Annual : $94,160
90th Percentile : $156,150
Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.
Industrial Engineers
Mean Annual : $92,660
90th Percentile : $134,070
Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.
Management Analysts
Mean Annual : $95,560
90th Percentile : $154,310
Management analysts, often called management consultants, propose ways to improve the efficiency of an organization. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.
Marketing Managers
Mean Annual : $149,200
90th Percentile : $208,000
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Mean Annual : $111,620
90th Percentile : $164,590
Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

What Comes After Bachelor’s Degree

After a earning bachelor’s degree, some individuals decide to further their education and pursue a master’s degree. Others may need to earn a professional license or certification that is required for their particular occupation. For instance, a registered nurse with a bachelor’s of science in nursing is required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for licensure with the Board of Nursing in their state. Additionally, teachers must obtain a credential that allows them to teach either a certain subject matter or specific grade level.

Browse Bachelor’s Programs by Subject features online universities and colleges offering bachelor’s degree programs in a number of disciplines. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Accounting & FinanceHuman Services
BusinessInformation Technology
Business AdministrationInterior Design
Business ManagementLiberal Arts & Humanities
Communication ArtsCulinary Management
Computer Information SystemsNursing
Computer NetworkingParalegal & Legal Studies
Computer SciencePolitical Science
Criminal JusticePsychology
EducationRetail Management
FinanceSocial Science
Game Software DevelopmentSoftware Development
Health Care ManagementTheology & Divinity
Health SciencesTourism & Hospitality
Human ResourcesVisual Communications
 Web Development
Article Sources


  • 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
  • Data on display: Projected new jobs by major industry sector, 2016-26, Career Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics,, accessed August 2018
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics,
  • Is a College Degree the New High School Diploma, The Washington Post,, Accessed August 2018
  • O*NET OnLine,, Accessed August 2018
  • Occupation Finder, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics,, accessed August 2018
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics,, Accessed August 2018
  • These 10 Industries are Growing the Fastest in the U.S., Forbes,, Accessed August 2018
  • Undergraduate Degree Fields, National Center for Education Statistics,, Accessed August 2018
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