The Complete Guide to Online Education in GeorgiaIntroduction to schools and colleges within the Peach State: Georgia.
Welcome to the first step in pursuing the education you’ve dreamed! No matter what degree you’re interested in achieving, nothing comes before finding the right school. Thankfully, Georgia offers an astonishingly wide variety of online programs, any one of which will allow you to pursue your degree while continuing to maintain your responsibilities outside of school. This flexibility can take many forms-some of the schools in this guide will allow you to complete your degree 100% remotely, while others will offer a hybrid program structure consisting of some online and some physical classes. This guide will offer an overview of 25 of the best colleges and universities through which you can pursue the degree you’ve dreamed of; as well as information about the general state of higher education in Georgia and the possibilities for seeking out financial aid.
A State Committed to the Future: Higher Education in Georgia
The higher education system in Georgia is thoroughly robust. Physical university campuses are scattered throughout the state, with a high concentration of schools in and around Atlanta. Many, if not all, of these schools offer online programs alongside their physical curricula. Moving beyond the overlap of their physical programs, most online programs will offer a range of courses of study, from entirely remote coursework to low-residency programs to programs that will offer a mix of online and physical work.
It is important to take a moment and note that the stigma associated with distance education has largely dissipated in the last decade. As even more programs have moved their offerings online, and the internet has become accepted as a near-universal part of how we communicate, an online degree carries the same weight as its physically-earned counterpart. In 2014, US News and World Report, reported that more than 75% of HR managers agreed that they would see an online degree with the same quality as its traditionally-earned counterpart. Furthermore, that statistic is only part of an upward trend in the acceptance of online degrees as part of the contemporary educational landscape.
Importance of an Online Degree
There is an undeniable logic that balancing the work of achieving an online degree with all the day-to-day concerns of a normal life sends an unmistakable message to employers. Not only is the holder of an online degree educated and prepared in their field, but they possess the discipline and focus to earn their degree in the midst of their normal life. As certification programs have caught up with online degrees, bringing more people into the higher education system with each passing year, the stigma has only dwindled; and there is not sign of that slowing in the future.
In Georgia, the collegiate system is primarily split between the University of Georgia (the state’s main university system) and a variety of smaller private and satellite campuses. The University System of Georgia has taken incredible steps to help make finding and pursuing and online degree as easy as possible through their OnMyLine system, a website designed to help you search for degree programs at any of the main University of Georgia Campuses and 29 smaller regional campuses and partnering institutions. The programs available through this set of partnerships range from 2-year Associate Degrees to 4-year Bachelor’s Degree programs, and even cover Master’s Degrees.
This proliferation of programs, all available online, allows you to maintain your work and family responsibilities, all the while pursuing the degree you need to advance your career. Your peace of mind is also covered through the vigorous accreditation each of these programs undergoes before being available to the public.
How Will I Pay for This? Financial Aid and Online Schools
Financial Aid is one of the top concerns before attending college. We all know how expensive college can be (and let’s face it, the savings an online degree can offer are often one of the top draws). Thankfully, there are a wide variety of options available for students to cut into these costs through financial aid both in the form of loans and scholarships.
The first step to funding your education through financial aid is to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). To submit this application for the 2017-2018 school year, the federal deadline is June 30. State Deadlines will depend on the college you will attend. Contact the financial aid office at your university of choice for more information. The FAFSA opens the door to a wide variety of of aid, and is in most cases the first step to accessing the funding that will cover your collegiate expenses. In 2012, for example, over 70% of undergraduate students in Georgia received federal aid for their collegiate education.
Federal aid, however, is by no means the only way to access funding for your collegiate dreams. Nearly every school will offer some variety of financial aid for their students, typically in the form of scholarships. Different schools will offer a variety of funding opportunities, for details, you will need to contact the financial aid office at your university. Outside of the opportunities directly through your university, there are an abundance of private scholarships available from organizations across the state.
Finding the right mix of funding for you will require some work, but thankfully this guide is here to make it as easy as possible. Here are some links to a variety of financial aid sources you can peruse. Unigo.com offers a wide variety of scholarships available specifically to Georgians. Scholarships.com is a further great resource, not only offering listings of scholarships specifically for Georgians, but even going so far as to offer a database of scholarship opportunities for online schools as well. These resources do not come anywhere near a complete listing of available resources but will give you an excellent place to start funding your dream. Pursuing a mix of these opportunities could cut down the cost of your degree by a tremendous amount.
Top 25 Best Online Schools in Georgia
The following list contains 25 of the best online colleges across the state of Georgia. Take a look through the list, and you are sure to find the program that is the right match for you!
1. Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology is consistently ranked as one of the top research universities in the country, and its graduate programs in engineering and computer science are in US News and World Report’s top ten programs nearly every year. The university offers a variety of online degrees through its graduate school, including programs in a variety of engineering fields ranging from Computer and Electrical engineering to a Professional Master’s in Applied Systems Engineering. These Master’s programs typically take 2 years to complete and offer a variety of opportunities for study.
2. Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University offers a tremendous variety of programs for the online student. The majority of these are aimed at graduate students, but there remain many opportunities for the undergraduate learner. Some of these programs include their online MBA, a wide variety of Educational Master’s degrees (ranging from Early Childhood Education to Reading Education to Secondary Education), and a variety of health fields such as Kinesiology and Nursing. For undergraduate students, there are degrees offered in General studies, Nursing, and Information Technology. Georgia Southern’s flexibility and tremendous quality of courses, have led US News and World Report to consistently rank them in the top 20 most popular colleges in the nation. Beyond this Kiplinger has ranked Georgia Southern University as one of the top 100 best values for public colleges and universities. If you prefer an educational experience that allows for some physical attendance and classroom work, many degree programs allow for coursework to be mixed between the two options.
3. Toccoa Falls State University
Toccoa Falls State University is ranked as the #3 Best Online College and offers a variety of accredited degrees through their online programs. These range from Associates in General Studies and Criminal Justice to a variety of Bachelor’s Degrees, including Non-Profit Business Administration, Counseling Psychology, and Ministry Leadership. These programs feature regular check-ins with faculty and follow the same class schedule as their on-campus counterparts. This school is a Christian University, and all their programs require completion of a series of religious studies courses. One particularly interesting feature of Toccoa Falls’ online programs is their flexibility with student activities. Online students will have the opportunity to serve remotely in SGA, participate in service and outreach opportunities, and even join a sport if they live within 40 miles of campus. Beyond this, on-campus services and facilities are available to the remote student.
4. Brenau University
Brenau University offers a variety of online programs at the Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s levels. Some of these programs include an Associate’s of Arts in Liberal Studies; Bachelor’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership, Accounting, or Nursing; and a variety of Master’s of Business Administration programs with concentrations in Accounting, Healthcare Management, or Insurance Management. All of Brenau University’s online classes are capped at a class size of 20. This low student-to-professor ratio gives the distance learner the ability to get the focus from their professors that can put them on the fast-track to success. Furthermore, these courses are offered on a condensed schedule, giving students the ability to complete a course on an accelerated 7-week time frame. Every professor who offers an online course at Brenau must first complete a four-week online teaching certification course, insuring that all programs offered through their online college will give students a quality education.
5. Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah College of Art and Design offers a wide variety of online programs at the B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. levels. At the undergraduate level these programs include degrees in a wide variety of art forms such as Photography, Graphic Design, and Game Design. At the graduate level, the offerings expand to include an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Illustration, or Fashion. There are a variety of courses offered beyond these options, allowing students with a wide variety of interests to pursue the degree that best align with their interests. Savannah was the first art and design university to win the Instructional Technology Council’s award for Outstanding Distance Education Program. One particularly interesting feature of Savannah’s programs is their insistence on collaborative creative work, even through their online programs. SCAD also offers a tremendous amount of financial aid to their students, with 97 percent of full-time beginning undergraduate students receiving some form of financial aid.
6. Georgia West University
University of West Georgia’s online programs are primarily aimed at the graduate level, though they particularly stand out in that they offer several doctoral programs online. Master’s degree programs include degrees in Business Administration, Music Education, and Applied Computer Science. At the doctoral level West Georgia offers degrees in Nursing Education, Professional Counseling and Supervision, and School Improvement. Programs through the University of West Georgia are certified by organizations as diverse as the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Students who are unsure of how prepared they feel for an online program will no doubt want to take advantage of West Georgia’s Smartermeasure Online Readiness Assessment. This tool is designed to help prospective students analyze their lifestyles and preparedness for college, helping them make sure they are ready for the online learning experience.
7. Albany State University
One of three historically black universities in Georgia, Albany State University offers a small variety of degrees through their online college system. At the undergraduate level, Albany State offers online degrees in Business Information Systems, Nursing, and Fire Services Administration. At the graduate level degrees are available in Early Childhood Education, Criminal Justice, and Nursing. Albany State is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
8. Georgia State University
This university offers a variety of Master’s Degree programs online, largely focused around education. Some of these programs include Master’s Degrees in Science Education, Mathematics Education, and Educational Research. Beyond these, the school also offers a Master’s in Instructional Design and Technology. Students interested in pursuing these degrees will be pleased to learn that GSU offers their classes on a flat fee basis. This means that all their classes are offered at a rate of $385 per credit hour, regardless of residency. Beyond this, Georgia State University’s partnership with GeorgiaOnMyLine allows students to partner their coursework not only through the state university itself but through a wide variety of regional campuses and partnering institutions. This combination is sure to make the education you want as easy as possible to achieve.
9. Columbus State
Columbus State has risen from its humble origins as a junior college housed in a hosiery mill in Columbus before moving its grounds to a former dairy farm. Now it is part of the University of Georgia’s system of colleges. Through offering a variety of programs in business, education, arts, nursing, and more it has earned a reputation as one of the South’s top regional universities. CSU offers a variety of degree programs at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. These include Bachelor’s of Arts degrees in Business, Nursing, and Sociology and Master’s degrees in Computer Science, Public Administration, and Educational Leadership among many others. Columbus State’s financial aid office offers a great variety of resources for pursuing funding opportunities for your degree. These range from scholarships through the local and federal levels, as well as guidance in applying for Georgia-specific funding opportunities. Prospective online students will need to take an online assessment to qualify for online programs.
10. Kennesaw State University
Enrolling more than 30,000 students, Kennesaw State is one of the top 50 largest public universities in the United States. Located in Kennesaw, the school is part of the University System of Georgia colleges, and offers an impressive suite of online programs. Many of these programs are nationally acclaimed such as their Business, Teaching, Nursing, and Math programs among many others. Kennesaw State offers programs with a variety of residencies ranging from completely online to some which are a hybrid of on-campus and online course work.
Kennesaw State offers programs at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, with Bachelor’s Degree Programs available in Industrial Engineering Technology, Geography, Sociology, and Information Security, among others. KSU also offers Master’s level programs in Education, International Policy Management, and Engineering Management. Beyond the programs listed, KSU’s online programs also offer a variety of available minors, allowing online students to access the full richness of a traditional collegiate education and maximize the value of their degree.
11. Point University
Known as Atlanta Christian College until 2011, Point University has a robust online program that is carefully tailored to allow students to complete their degrees from the convenience of their own homes and at their own pace. Point University offers a variety of Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees through their online program, including Christian Ministries, Child Development, Business Administration, and Human Relations. One of the top 10 accredited online schools in Atlanta, GA, this University offers programs at such a high quality that U.S. News and World Report has named Point University the 67th Best Regional college in the South.
Point University’s online programs support your education along two models one of which is completely asynchronous, giving students the freedom to complete their coursework according to their own pace. Alternatively, students can complete coursework through a more hybrid form of instruction, involving real-time video conferencing and more traditional online lectures.
12. Emory University
Emory University is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, and it is entirely understandable that their online programs enjoy much the same prestige. At the undergraduate level, Emory University offers a variety of Bachelor’s degree programs including Medical Imaging. For graduate students Emory offers a variety of MBA programs, and even expands their programs to the doctoral level including the Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Ministry programs. Emory enjoys an international reputation for its professional, liberal arts, and graduate schools, but perhaps most especially for its health care curriculum. Beyond this, Emory University regularly produces Fulbright and Rhodes scholars. As a result, it is no surprise that U.S. News and World Report has ranked Emory University as the 67th best university in the United States.
13. Atlanta Metropolitan State College
This college stands out on this list, if for no other reason than the sheer number of programs on offer. While many universities may offer a half-dozen or so programs through their online arm, Atlanta Metropolitan State College offers over 180 courses entirely online! Both the online programs and the courses themselves are entirely accredited, assuring students that they will receive the same high-quality education as their in-person peers. Prospective students will also do well to consult the Smarter Measure Learning Readiness Indicator, a quiz the college provides to help students assess their readiness for an online collegiate education.
14. The University of Atlanta
While not technically located within the city of Atlanta itself, the University of Atlanta is remarkable in its ability to service students living in the city. By no means though, does this impact their ability to service the entirety of the state. The University of Atlanta is remarkable in the breadth of its online programs, offering a wealth of 100% online courses. These programs run the range from career and associate’s programs to Bachelor’s and even Doctoral degrees. Some of the Bachelor’s degrees include Health Administration, Business, and Computer Science. University of Atlanta also offers a variety of Doctoral degrees, including Educational Leadership and Managerial Science. The Accreditation Service for International Colleges has not only accredited the University of Atlanta, but through this service, the University of Atlanta has earned premier status for its consistently high-quality education.
15. Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University is one of the top historically black and nationally accredited universities in the country and it is located in the heart of Atlanta for your added convenience. This school is a renowned member of the Atlanta University Center. The same distinguished faculty who teach the school’s high-quality in-person classes also lead their online programs. This school offers two fully online Master’s programs, one in Industrial Organization and another in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
16. Truett-McConnell College
Located in Cleveland, Georgia Truett-McConnell College is a public Baptist liberal arts college founded shortly after World War II. At the core of its mission, TMC strives to equip “students to make a positive impact for Christ through disciplined scholarship and Christian discipleship. Since 2010, this college has offered online degrees in fields such as World Missions, Psychology, Business, and Christian Studies. Online degree programs are designed for busy students and use Noodle software to make coursework convenient and easy-to-access. Both the Master’s and Bachelor’s programs on offer are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
17. Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University is one of the three regional universities associated with the University System of Georgia. GeorgiaOnMyLine, the online arm of this program helps to sever more than ten thousand students across the state. VSU not only offers wholly online degrees, but also has arranged its online courses to allow students interested in a mix of online and in-person education to complete their core curriculum in two years or fewer. This then frees up the student to limit their in-person time to courses directly related to their major.
Valdosta State offers a wealth of online-only programs for the busy student who prefers to complete their education remotely. At the Bachelor’s level these include degrees in Criminal Justice, Emergent Media and Communication, and Nursing. For Master’s degree programs, students can choose from degrees like Middle Grades Math and Science, Criminal Justice, and Public Administration. Valdosta also offers a wealth of certificate and minor programs including a Reading Endorsement and a Spanish Language and Literature minor. A host of accreditation agencies have endorsed Valdosta State including the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Schools.
18. Armstrong Atlantic State University
Armstrong Atlantic State University is an impressive contender in the realm of online education. Their offerings extend to Bachelor’s degrees in programs such as French and Radiologic Technology. Master’s programs include Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, and a Reading Specialist degree. Armstrong also provides a variety of certificate programs for their online learners such as a Cyber Crime certificate, a Strength and Conditioning certificate, and a Teacher Leader Endorsement certificate. Many of these courses are delivered on an asynchronous schedule, allowing learners to complete their coursework at their own pace. Some programs may include occasional visits to campus, but the majority are delivered entirely online.
19. The University of North Georgia
Online education has pierced to the heart of the educational system at the University of North Georgia. Beyond offering online programs like all the other universities on this list, core classes and general education requirements are offered online as well. This means that traditional students will be completing online coursework alongside online learners. All these courses are accessible through UNG online, the university’s online education system which provides access to discussions and online lectures, as well as allows students to request assistance from their instructors and turn in assignments. This commitment to online education is only further emphasized through asynchronous courses, letting the student determine the schedule for their education.
The University of North Georgia offers a variety of online degrees ranging from social work, political science, and sociology at the associate’s level. At the Bachelor’s level, North Georgia offers a degree in Nursing. For students pursuing a Master’s degree, options include International Affairs, Criminal Justice, and Physical Education. The University of North Georgia also offers a variety of certificate programs including certificates in Gerontology, Diversity, and Reading Education.
20. Fort Valley State University
Fort Valley State University offers a tremendous variety of online courses, ranging from fully online degree programs at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels as well as a long list of courses within their traditional university curriculum offered fully online. For undergraduate students, available online degrees can include Psychology, Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Organizational Leadership. At the Master’s level students can pursue an MS degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management in a program that is professionally accredited by The Council on Rehabilitation Counselor Education. Graduates of this program will be eligible to take the national exam and earn their Certified Rehabilitation Counselors credentials. One of three historically black universities in the state, Fort Valley State University is committed to delivering a quality liberal arts education rooted in the values of African-American culture.
21. Beulah Heights University
Beulah Heights University carries two particular distinctions for its online degree programs. Not only does the university offer a tremendous variety of coursework, but Beulah Heights carries its commitment to Christian education at the forefront of every program. As an aspect of Beulah Heights’ commitment to providing a strong Christian education, students will be expected to sign a statement of faith, regardless of whether they attend traditional classes or complete their degree through an online program. Among Beulah Heights’ degree offerings are Associate’s degrees in Religious studies, or Leadership, Bachelor’s degrees in Business; and Master’s degrees in Divinity, Leadership, Business Administration, Religious Studies. For students interested in pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree, Beulah also offers a PhD program to that end. Perhaps one of the most exciting elements of Beulah Heights’ online degree programs is their use of real-time discussion software and an insistence that students in every course participate in online discussions together, regardless of where they are studying from.
22. Reinhardt University
Reinhardt University stands out on this list for the rapid pace at which its courses are designed to be completed. For a large number of their programs, degrees can be earned in less than two years, often as little as 16-18 months. Available Bachelor’s degrees include programs in Healthcare Administration, Criminal Justice, and Business Administration. These degree programs are designed to be completed with a low course-load of only two courses per semester. Semesters last eight weeks, allowing students to work through their degree alongside their working lives. Online course offerings are not limited to the degree programs however; students will be able to complete courses in a variety of subjects beyond their immediate field of study including religion, philosophy, Spanish, and art. Reinhardt and its online degree programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
23. Shorter University
Shorter University is a small liberal arts university tucked in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. This university is a member of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and as an aspect of its religious commitments, students will be expected to sign a lifestyle pledge as well as undertake an education that is centered on Christian beliefs and values. Degree programs will include courses on theological and biblical topics alongside the degree-specific course-load. All classes will meet on an eight week schedule, and are taught asynchronously, allowing students to complete their courses at their own pace, through use of the school’s Moodle Learning Management System. Degree offerings include Business, Sport Management, and Christian Studies at the Associate’s degree level. Human Services, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Criminal justice are some of the Bachelor’s programs students can pursue. For graduate students, Management, Accountancy, and Healthcare Management programs are all available.
24. Mercer College
Mercer College is one of the oldest private universities in the state of Georgia, but don’t let this fool you. This college has thoroughly oriented itself to offer a variety of high-quality online degree programs. At the core of Mercer’s online programs, students will use Blackboard, WebEx, and Moodle Course Management Systems to engage in a learning environment steeped in collaboration. This is done through voice and videoconferencing, sidestepping the need to ever attend campus physically. Hybrid classes are available for students who prefer an education with occasional trips to a physical campus. Mercer offers Bachelor’s degrees in programs like Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Psychology, and Criminal Justice Leadership. Master’s degrees are offered for Early Childhood Education, Christian Ministry, an MBA program, and Health Informatics.
25. Clayton State University
Last, but certainly not least, Clayton State University is a well-rounded online school, offering more than a dozen online degree programs. Perhaps one of the most exciting of these is their Liberal Studies program, a Bachelor’s degree that allows students to tailor their education to fit their interests and needs, offering an excellent stepping stone to graduate-level studies. Beyond this, Clayton also offers degrees such as Bachelor’s degrees in English, Homeland Security/Emergency Management, Supply Chain Management, and History. Master’s level programs are available in Archival Studies and Nursing. As evidence off their commitment to online education, more than half of the students at Clayton State are non-traditional.