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Top 15 Innovative Online Schools


Learning has never been more accessible due to the growth of online schools. Whether you’re a beginner searching for guidance or a mid-career professional looking to broaden your skillset, there is something for everyone. This article focuses on innovative online schools making a difference with their online programs.

How is an Online School Innovative?

The primary focus of all of these innovative online schools is on the student experience. And, the programs on this list focus on harnessing emerging technologies to improve the online experience and better serve students.

They provide excellent customer service, incorporate interaction into each online class, provide coaching, and use algorithms to track your progress, among other things. The best online schools take pride in their creativity, giving students from all walks of life the tools they need to obtain a high-quality online education.

These schools keep updated on the latest technology available in distance learning degree programs. They even offer support after you graduate. Counseling and networking opportunities are two more examples of how these schools are innovating the online learning environment.

Related Resource: Which Type of Online School Accreditation is Best?

What Should You Look for in an Innovative School?

One factor to consider is the teaching methodology used. You should pick a curriculum that fits your learning style, whether it’s through online lectures or hands-on learning.

Another factor to consider is if the school encourages research and development practices, community involvement, and charitable activity in its students. Does the school use innovative concepts to promote positive engagement throughout its programs?

15 Most Innovative Online Schools

1. Penn State World Campus

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 6 associate’s degrees
  • 32 bachelor’s degrees
  • 46 master’s degrees
  • 1 doctorate
  • 71 certificates

Tuition: $632–$950 per credit; if you take more than 12 credits per semester, you’ll be charged a flat fee of $7,738–$11,398. Graduate school tuition varies depending on the degree. There are additional IT costs.

Penn State World Campus is the second-largest campus in the Pennsylvania State University system, with approximately 20,000 students. They provide an online, accessible, and high-quality education to meet the needs of anyone seeking higher education outside of the typical campus setting. Penn State World Campus can provide more than 175 degree and certificate programs designed and taught by Penn State staff through collaboration with Penn State’s academic departments and schools.

Each of their students contributes to their educational experience by bringing their life experiences and professional qualifications to the online classroom.

Penn State World Campus students are leaders in business, the military, and other organizations. They balance their job, family, and education. And they excel at community service.

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2. Ohio University

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 5 associate’s degrees
  • 18 master’s degrees
  • 8 bachelor’s degrees

Tuition: $590 – $1179 per credit

The OHIO experience is unique and transformative for students. The academic and personal growth of its students is vital to Ohio University’s mission. Ohio University is known for its faculty of experienced teachers whose research improves knowledge across many specializations.

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3. Liberty University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 12 associate’s degrees
  • 121 bachelor’s degrees
  • 125 master’s degrees
  • 41 doctoral degrees

Tuition: $330– $1200 per credit

Liberty Institution is one of the largest Christian institutions globally and one of the largest private non-profit universities in the United States.

While studying globally online, you can design your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree to match your area of interest. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, certificates are available. Liberty will prepare you for a competitive job market with over 700 programs of study, innovative technology, and a talented faculty.

Academic support and advisors are also available to online students. Liberty gives online students the support they need to succeed. Students get help designing degree completion plans they can examine with their advisers. They also have access to various virtual tutoring choices through the online writing center.

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4. Fort Hays State University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 2 associate’s degrees
  • 32 bachelor’s degrees
  • 15 master’s degrees
  • 2 doctoral degrees
  • 16 certificates

Tuition: $226.88– $529.68 per credit

FHSU is a comprehensive public university dedicated to educating and mentoring students among its dedicated, inventive, and caring faculty and staff.

Their purpose is to create the engaged global citizen-leaders that the world urgently requires today. FHSU is routinely rated as one of the best universities in the United States. After graduation, a staggering 95% of FHSU students find work or pursue higher education possibilities.

FHSU is the best value in online education, with more than 200 online degree and certificate programs, as well as innovative staff and student tools to help you along the way.

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5. Northern Arizona University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 46 bachelor’s degrees
  • 32 master’s degrees
  • 1 doctorate
  • 25 certificates

Tuition: $344 to $3,281 per credit

Northern Arizona University has become one of the nation’s top up-and-coming universities because of its online degree programs and innovative online approach. Its most notable innovation is Personalized Learning, a self-paced online degree program based on a competency-based paradigm. They are available to NAU online students. Self-paced Personalized Learning students pay a fixed subscription fee rather than a per-credit tuition fee. They can earn credit for work and life experience.

If the Personal Learning method is not for you, traditional online learning with regularly scheduled classes is also available.

NAU has over 80 bachelor’s and master’s degrees available in standard online and blended online/in-person formats. The Online Learning Consortium recognized them in 2016, awarding the university $100,000 for their unique and creative offerings.

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6. Excelsior College

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 10 associate’s degrees
  • 31 bachelor’s degrees
  • 12 master’s degrees
  • 7 certificates

Tuition: $510 per credit; $695 per credit for graduate degrees

Excelsior College was one of the first schools to develop and provide online courses in the 2000s. They continue to expand and change to meet new educational opportunities and the changing demands of adult learners. Their commitment to helping students succeed by addressing their educational needs has given rise to the idea of an ecosystem that encompasses all of the services:

  • Stackable credentials
  • Instructor-led and self-paced courses
  • Independent study for credit by examination
  • Prior learning evaluation

Excelsior offers 40 degree programs in business, health sciences, liberal arts, nursing, public service, and technology. Dedicated academic advisors and faculty members foster and promote academic achievement as students work toward career progress and life goals.

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7. Southern New Hampshire University

Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 8 associate’s degrees
  • 52 bachelor’s degrees
  • 32 master’s degrees
  • 17 certificates

Tuition: $320 per credit ($627 per credit for graduate programs)

Southern New Hampshire University has grown from an accounting and secretarial science school to a university with over 200 business, education, liberal arts, social sciences, and STEM programs, ranging from certificates to Ph.D. degrees.

SNHU ensures that students keep up with emerging technologies and professional requirements by redefining higher education to meet the needs of today’s students and workforce. The university provides exceptional support and service to students who want to achieve their goals and change their lives and the lives of people around them. And, they will provide you with a world-class educational experience through nationally recognized academic programs.

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8. University of Florida

Accreditation: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (business accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 18 bachelor’s degrees
  • 35 master’s degrees
  • 6 doctoral degrees
  • 2 certificates

Tuition: $129.18 per credit in-state, $552.62 per credit out of state, graduate tuition varies; one-year MBA programs cost $48,000, and two-year MBA programs cost $58,000, respectively.

Because of its dedication to the value of education, UF Online is the most affordable and well-regarded online university program in the country. No matter where you are in the world, the institution offers more than 200 degree and certificate programs entirely online.

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9. Drexel University

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 11 bachelor’s degrees
  • 65 master’s degrees
  • 2 doctoral degrees
  • 74 certificates

Tuition: $790-$18405 per term

Drexel University is one of the largest accredited online institutions, with over 140 online certificates and degrees. However, Drexel’s spirit makes it one of the top certified online colleges. Because of Drexel’s long history of cooperative education, more than 500 businesses have partnered with them, offering up to 40% tuition reductions to their employees. Drexel is a pioneer in online course design best practices thanks to its experimentations with virtual reality, gamification, and remote technology.

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10. Western Governors University

Accreditation: The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 24 bachelor’s degrees
  • 36 master’s degrees
  • 4 post-baccalaureate programs

Tuition: $12,760-$31,900 Total Average Tuition

WGU is known for its multi-dimensional delivery and flexible learning architecture. This approach allows everyone to tailor their learning path, adapt to changing workforce demands, and provide relevant routes for an individual’s first and next opportunity.

Western Governors University concentrates on bachelor’s and graduate programs in teaching, business, information technology, and health.

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11. Bellevue University

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 47 bachelor’s degrees
  • 25 master’s degrees
  • 1 doctorate

Tuition : $430- $780 per credit

The Accelerated Cohort Bachelor’s Degree is one of Bellevue University’s most popular programs. It is designed to help students transferring 60 semester credit hours accomplish their degree quickly.

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12. University of Southern California

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 68 master’s degrees
  • 3 doctoral degrees
  • 18 certificates

Tuition: $2,005 and may reach $2,255 per credit (Full-time); $1,928 ( Part-time)

Students must meet the same high admissions standards as on-campus students to enroll in USC’s online programs. The value of a USC degree acquired online is not less than a traditional degree. This is demonstrated by the fact that tuition costs are the same for on-campus and online students.

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13. Boston University

Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 1 bachelor’s program (degree completion)
  • 30 master’s degrees
  • 2 doctoral degrees
  • 21 certificates

Tuition: $1,830 per credit -$29,280 per semester

The innovative online learning programs at Boston University demonstrate how technology and education can coexist. BU’s online courses are built from the ground up in collaboration between academics and instructional designers, rather than using a one-size-fits-all learning management system. Professors can use instructional designers to assist them in creating interactive course content, original videos, and more. BU not only follows online course design best practices. It sets the bar by creating custom-designed websites and online content for its distinctive online degrees.

Boston University, one of New England’s most famous private research universities, has been a mainstay in the nation’s higher education center since 1839. For years, the institution has been at the edge of educational innovation. That tradition has continued into the twenty-first century, with BU earning a reputation for innovative online courses.

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14. Brescia University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 10 Associate’s programs
  • 4 master’s degrees
  • 1 certificate

Tuition: $425/credit hour

Brescia University’s top-ranked online program has accomplished much more than merely offering online coursework and degree programs. BUOnline is a complete, alternative learning environment for nontraditional students. Brescia established itself as one of the top approved online universities. Its instructors use the best online course design practices, and the programs are delivered in 8-week terms.

BUonline is Brescia University’s alternate learning environment for distance learners, which provides convenience, flexibility, and affordability to students seeking to pursue their education. Its students are able to study to do so in a way that meets their individual needs.

Over ten degree programs are accessible online at the Certificate, Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s levels. Most BUonline courses are given in an eight-week accelerated format, allowing students to complete their degrees swiftly and efficiently.

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15. University of Minnesota-Crookston

Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Online Degrees Offered:

  • 16-degree program
  • 5 certificates

Tuition: $418.55 per credit

The innovative online courses and degree programs offered by the University of Minnesota-Crookston distinguish UMC. Today, UMC continues to expand on its online leadership experience and reputation.

UMC Online provides more than 20 entirely online degrees and certificate programs. They do not charge out-of-state tuition for online students. And job placement rates of more than 93 percent demonstrate that UMC is a force in education.

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How Do You Choose the Most Appropriate Online College?

In the realm of online education, there is no such thing as the finest online school or the best online degree program. However, there is a better option for you. Ask yourself these five questions to begin your search for the best online schools and institutions for you:

  • What do you want to do with your degree?
  • Are you interested in pursuing a degree at a certain level?
  • What majors will help you achieve your professional goals?
  • How much can you afford to pay for an online degree program?
  • What level of independence do you require?

Innovative Online Schools: Begin your Educational Journey Today!

Distance learning used to be an isolated, text-based arena, but things have changed. Today, institutions around the country embrace cutting-edge technology to assist in developing an interactive, multimedia-rich digital curriculum. These online schools establish virtual environments that allow students to connect with their peers, teachers, and support systems more efficiently.

When evaluating an online college, there are numerous variables to consider. To pick a program that meets their goals and needs, students should look into the total cost of the degree, any on-campus requirements, and concentration options.

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