Best Online Colleges in FloridaContinuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges in Florida and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.

Sunny Florida is a popular vacation and retirement location — but it’s also a great place to attend college. With the flexibility of online college courses, you can enjoy all the fun of Florida while earning your degree and furthering your career.

We have researched and ranked all of the Florida colleges and universities that offer online degree programs to distance learning students. We then compiled a list of the best online Florida schools and then narrowed that list down to the Top 20 based on our ranking methodology.

Methodology

We have ranked the following schools based on the criteria of:

  • 50%: Freshmen Retention Rate and;
  • 50%: Graduation Rate

In cases where two or more schools tied, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names to determine their placement in the ranking. To obtain the two rates, we used each school’s site whenever possible. In cases where we were unable to find the information that we needed on a school’s site, we used U.S. News and World Report‘s database. The reason we chose to rank the schools based on their freshmen retention rates and graduation rates is due to the fact that these two rates are a very good indicator of how competent an institution is at providing students with a high-quality education while, at the same time, ensuring that students can take pride in the education that they are obtaining.

We also referred back to our own ranking of the top 100 best online colleges when ranking these colleges.

Top 20 Best Florida Colleges that Offer Online Degree Programs

20: Warner University

Warner University - online colleges in florida

Warner University is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-centric liberal arts college which is located in Lake Wales, Florida. Warner University was originally established in 1968 by the Southeastern Association of the Church of God which is based in Anderson, Indiana. Warner University is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is a regional accrediting body that is recognized by the United States Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Warner has also been named as having one of the most diverse campuses in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for four consecutive years. Warner provides students with a selection of 20 undergraduate degree programs on-campus for traditional students and 7 degrees online for distance learning students. Warner University also operates the Hunger Education and Resources Training (HEART), which is a simulated Third World village that provides participating students with training in related technology as well as providing them with an opportunity to live in an environment which is similar to many underdeveloped parts of the world.

School’s Website http://warner.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 61.0%
Graduation Rate: 40.1%
Final Score: 101.1/200

19: Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University - online colleges in florida

Jacksonville University, which is commonly referred to simply as JU, is a private and not-for-profit university which is located in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville University was originally established in 1934 by William J. Porter and was originally known as the Jacksonville Junior College. Today, Jacksonville University is a member of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida and is accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (the institution’s accreditor) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (a program accreditor). Jacksonville University offers a selection of more than 70 majors and programs at the undergraduate level, 23 master’s and doctorate programs and a variety of professional certification program. Many of the available academic programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Master of Science in Business Analytics degree program and their RN to MSN degree program. JU is organized into four colleges and two institutes, including the Davis College of Business, the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences, the Marine Science Research Institute and the Public Policy Institute.

School’s Website http://www.ju.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 73.0%
Graduation Rate: 39.5%
Final Score: 112.5/200

18: Southeastern University (Florida)

Southeastern University - online colleges in florida

Southeastern University is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Lakeland, Florida. Southeastern University, which is commonly referred to just as SEU, was originally established in 1935 in New Brockton, Alabama as a Bible college. The university moved to its current location in 1946 and became a liberal arts school in 1970. Today, SEU is organized into six different colleges and is the largest Assemblies of God institute of higher learning which is located in the United States. Southeastern University offers to its nearly 4,000 attending students a selection of 54 different Bachelor’s degrees, 15 Master’s degrees, 2 Doctoral degrees and numerous professional certification programs. 23 of the university’s on-campus academic programs are also available online in an asynchronous format to serve distance learning students. SEU is home to the Steelman Library, which features a collection which includes more than 100,000 books, 1,300 compact discs, and 2,500 videos. Steelman Library also provides students with a Curriculum Lab and with research databases.

School’s Website https://www.seu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 74.0%
Graduation Rate: 40.3%
Final Score: 114.3/200

17: Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University - online colleges in florida

Saint Leo University is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Saint Leo, Florida. Saint Leo University was originally established in 1889 by a group of Benedictine monks that were from the Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The school’s first student was a 12-year old child, and the youngest student to ever enroll was a 7-year old child in 1895. In 1920, the school was transformed into a preparatory school known as the Saint Leo College Preparatory School but was eventually reestablished as a liberal arts college in 1959. Saint Leo is the oldest Catholic college in Florida and is the sixth-largest located in the United States. Saint Leo is also one of the largest providers of a higher education to the United States military and military-affiliated personnel in the nation, having responded to a request from the armed services to offer degree programs on various military bases. Today, Saint Leo University offers 40 degree-granting programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally the university has a wide-selection of professional certifications from which students can choose. Many of the university’s academic programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format. Saint Leo was one of the first institutions in the nation to offer online courses, and the school’s distance learning students make up one of the largest segments of the student population.

School’s Website http://www.saintleo.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 70.0%
Graduation Rate: 45.3%
Final Score: 115.3/200

16: Bethune-Cookman University

online colleges in florida Bethune-Cookman University

Located in Daytona Beach, Florida, Bethune-Cookman University is a private, not-for-profit and United Methodist-affiliated Historically Black (HBCU) university. Bethune-Cookman University–which is commonly referred to simply as B-CU–was originally established in 1904 as the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School by Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights activist and philanthropist. In 1923, the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida and became a coeducational high school. The school obtained college status in 1931 and later became a university in 2007. Presently, B-CU offers to its 4,000 enrolled students the choice between 39 Bachelor degree-granting programs and six Master’s degree-granting programs through one of the 12 schools and colleges into which Bethune-Cookman University is organized. The 12 schools and colleges are: the School of Nursing, the School of Business & Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, the School of Graduate Studies, the School of Health Sciences, the School of Hospitality Management, the School of Liberal Arts, the School of Online & Professional Studies, the School of Performing Arts & Communication, the School of Science, Engineering, Mathematics, the School of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Religion.

School’s Website https://www.cookman.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 64.0%
Graduation Rate: 52.5%
Final Score: 116.5/200

15: University of West Florida

University of West Florida - online colleges in florida

The University of West Florida, which is commonly referred to simply as UWF, is a public space-grant research university which is located in Pensacola, Florida. UWF was originally established in 1963 as a member-institution of the State University System of Florida and is the third-largest campus in the system based on land size with a campus of approximately 1,600-acres in total. The University of West Florida is organized into five colleges (the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities; the College of Business; the College of Education and Professional Studies; the College of Health; and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering) through which UWF provides instruction to its more than 13,000 total enrolled students. In addition to the numerous undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs available through UWF’s five colleges, there are also more than 400 credit and non-credit courses that are offered in an online and asynchronous format. These courses go towards the 28 online undergraduate, graduate and certification programs that are available in which distance-learning students can enroll. UWF was listed in Forbes America’s Top Colleges ranking for the years of 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

School’s Website http://uwf.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 74.0%
Graduation Rate: 42.7%
Final Score: 116.7/200

14: Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University - online colleges in florida

Nova Southeastern University–which is commonly referred to simply as NSU–is a private, not-for-profit research university which is located in Davies, Florida. NSU was originally established in 1964 as the Nova University of Advanced Technology, and would later be renamed to Nova University in 1970 (and gaining its present-day name in 1994). The Carnegie Foundation classifies the university as being a Research and Community Engaged University with a High Research Activity rating. Additionally, NSU is fully accredited by the regional accreditor Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and has many specialized program accreditations from various other accrediting bodies. Nova Southeastern University is organized into 18 different colleges and schools through which the university provides the nearly 25,000 total enrolled students with a selection of 175 programs of study. These programs cover more than 250 majors which span across numerous areas-of-study and even includes interdisciplinary focuses. Many of these offered academic programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their online Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts Business program. NSU was listed as one of 20 global universities that could challenge the Ivy League schools and become a world renowned university by the year 2030 in a 2016 ranking written by the Times Higher Education.

School’s Website http://www.nova.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 74.0%
Graduation Rate: 43.4%
Final Score: 117.4/200

13: Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University - online colleges in florida

Commonly referred to simply as FGCU, the Florida Gulf Coast University is a public space-grant research university which is located in Fort Myers, Florida. FGCU was originally established in 1991 and is a member of the 12-campus State University System of Florida. The university is organized into six colleges, through which FGCU offers a selection of 51 Bachelor’s degree programs, 29 Master’s degree programs, 6 Doctoral degree programs and numerous professional certification programs available from which students can choose. Many of these academic programs are also available online in an asynchronous format, such as their Administrative Professional certification program and their Bookkeeping certification program. The six colleges are: the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Health Professions; the College of Professional Studies; the College of Education; the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering and the Lutgert College of Business. U.S. News and World Report ranks Florida Gulf Coast University as first-tier among Regional Universities in the southern area of the United States.

School’s Website http://www.fgcu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 78.0%
Graduation Rate: 46.7%
Final Score: 124.7/200

12: Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology - online colleges in florida

Florida Institute of Technology, which is commonly referred to as Florida Tech or simply as FIT, is a private and not-for-profit research university which is located in Melbourne, Florida. Florida Tech was originally established in 1958 as the Brevard Engineering College and, today is comprised of six academic divisions which place great emphasis on the study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Florida Institute of Technology is accredited by the regional accrediting body Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The university also has numerous specialized program accreditations, which programs such as their Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Aeronautical Science and Aviation Management, Clinical Psychology and the Behavior Analysis programs all having accreditations. U.S. News and World Report lists Florida Tech as a tier-one national university and PayScale ranks FIT as being the best institution of higher education in the state of Florida based on student return-of-investment (ROI). Additionally, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. lists Florida Tech as a “best buy” university in higher education. FIT conducts research into various cutting-edge technologies and sciences, including Solid State and Condensed Matter Physics, Robotics and Spatial Systems, Laser Optics and Experimental Particle Physics among others.

School’s Website http://www.fit.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 54.7%
Final Score: 133.7/200

11: University of Tampa

University of Tampa - online colleges in florida

The University of Tampa is a private and not-for-profit research university which is located in Tampa, Florida. The University of Tampa, which is commonly referred to simply as UT, was originally established in 1931 as the Tampa Junior College by Frederic Spaulding. The university is divided into four colleges (the College of Arts and Letters; the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education; the College of Natural and Health Sciences; and the Sykes College of Business). These are further organized into a selection of 200 academic programs of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; this includes professional certification programs. Many of these academic programs are also available online in an asynchronous format and are taught by the same dedicated faculty that teaches the on-campus counterparts. UT is affiliated with numerous organizations, such as: the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Chemical Society, the National League for Nursing, the American Alliance of Museums, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology among others.

School’s Website https://www.ut.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 72.0%
Graduation Rate: 62.0%
Final Score: 134.0/200

10: University of North Florida

University of North Florida - online colleges in florida

Located in Jacksonville, Florida, the University of North Florida–which is commonly referred to simply as UNF–is a public research university. Offered to its more than 15,000 enrolled students, are numerous undergraduate degree-granting programs (53 programs), graduate degree-granting programs (28 programs) and professional certification program to choose from, which are available through UNF’s five colleges. Many of these programs are also available in a fully online and asynchronous format to serve the university’s many distance learning students. UNF was originally established in 1972 and was accredited by the region’s accrediting body, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1974. The Princeton Review named UNF as the fifth-best “Best Value” university in the nation in 2006. UNF was appointed in this list again in 2007, 2009 and 2011. The same publication also named UNF as being one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The University of North Florida is home to more than 200 student-ran organizations and clubs, and has an active Greek Life presence on-campus, with both sororities and fraternities being present. UNF is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville and the Thomas G. Carpenter Library.

School’s Website http://www.unf.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83.0%
Graduation Rate: 52.3%
Final Score: 135.3/200

9: Johnson and Wales University

Johnson and Wales University - online colleges in florida

Johnson and Wales University is a private, not-for-profit career-oriented university which is located in Miami, Florida and which has campuses in Providence, Rhode Island; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Denver, Colorado. The Providence, Rhode Island campus is Johnson and Wales University’s first and largest campus. JWU–as the university is commonly referred to–was originally established in 1914 by Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales, both of whom were teachers. JWU presently has four academic units at its four campuses (the College of Business, the College of Culinary Arts, the Hospitality College and the College of Arts & Sciences) through which it offers the more than 16,000 enrolled students a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and a myriad of professional certification programs; many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format. The Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies degree program and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program are just two examples of the online academic programs that are available for distance learning students to enroll in. The university is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC), a United States Department of Education recognized regional accrediting body.

School’s Website https://www1.jwu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 57.6%
Final Score: 136.6/200

8: Florida International University

Florida International University  - online colleges in florida

Florida International University, which is commonly referred to simply as FIU, is a public research university which is located in University Park, Florida. Florida International was originally established in 1965 by a bill that was signed into law by then-governor W. Haydon Burns. Florida International University is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as being a Research University with a Very High Research Activity rating. FIU offers to its students a myriad of undergraduate degree-granting programs (60 programs), graduate degree-granting programs (122 programs) and professional certification programs from which to choose. Many of the university’s academic programs are also available in an online and fully asynchronous format and are taught by the same experienced faculty members as the on-campus counterparts, ensuring that distance learning students not only get a flexible education but that they obtain a career-defining one as well. In 2000, Florida International became the youngest university to be awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, which is the country’s oldest and most distinguished academic honor society. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report named FIU as a “Best Buy” in higher education, that FIU’s students are some of the least indebted students and that FIU has one of the safest campuses in the nation.

School’s Website http://www.fiu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 84.0%
Graduation Rate: 52.9%
Final Score: 136.9/200

7: St. Thomas University

St. Thomas University  - online colleges in florida

St. Thomas University (which is commonly referred to simply as STU) is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated university which is located in Miami Gardens, Florida, and which is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). St. Thomas University was originally established in 1961 but can trace its roots back to the Universidad CatÛlica de Santo Tom·s de Villanueva–a university located in Havana, Cuba–which was established in 1946 and was named after Saint Thomas of Villanova. St. Thomas is divided into six schools, through which the university offers to its 4,000 attending students a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs; many of which are available in an online and fully asynchronous format to cater to the university’s distance learning students. One of these six schools, the St. Thomas University School of Law, is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and has been since 1995. The School of Law is also home to one of the first Sports Administration programs in the United States of America.

School’s Website http://www.stu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 65.0%
Graduation Rate: 73.7%
Final Score: 138.7/200

6: Stetson University

Stetson University - online colleges in florida

Stetson University is a private, not-for-profit university with a campus located in DeLand, Florida and another located in Gulfport, Florida. The primary undergraduate campus is the DeLand campus. Additionally, Stetson University operates two satellite centers: the Stetson University Center (located in Celebration, Florida) and the Tampa Law Center (which is located in Tampa, Florida). Stetson University was originally founded in 1883 by Henry Addison DeLand, a New York philanthropist, and was initially known as the DeLand Academy. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is organized into four schools and colleges. Through these schools and colleges (the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Music, the School of Business Administration and the College of Law) Stetson University offers to its more than 4,000 students a variety of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs; many of which are available in an online and fully asynchronous format in order to appeal to distance learning students. The Master of Accountancy is one of Stetson University’s programs that is available fully online, for example.

School’s Website http://www.stetson.edu/home/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 62.5%
Final Score: 141.5/200

5: University of South Florida

University of South Florida - online colleges in florida

The University of South Florida (USF) is a public space-grant research university which is located in Tampa, Florida and which is a member institution of the State University System of Florida. USF also operates the St. Petersburg Campus (located in St. Petersburg, Florida) and the Sarasota-Manatee Campus (located in Sarasota, Florida). The University of South Florida was originally established in 1956, and former United States Representative Sam Gibbons played a big role in the university’s creation. USF is the fourth-largest public university in the state of Florida based on student enrollment size, with nearly 40,000 students in total being enrolled into an academic program at USF. The university is organized into 14 colleges through which more than 80 undergraduate degree programs, 130 graduate degree programs and a large selection of professional certification programs are available for students to choose from; many of which are available in an asynchronous and fully online format. The Carnegie Foundation classifies USF as being a Research University with a Highest Research Activity rating, making the university only one of three in the state of Florida to have this designation. USF is home to USF Health, which consists of the Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Public Health, the School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and the USF Physician’s Group.

School’s Website http://www.usf.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 89.0%
Graduation Rate: 65.2%
Final Score: 154.2/200

4: University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida - online colleges in florida

The University of Central Florida, which is commonly referred to simply as UCF, is a public space-grant research university which is located in Orlando, Florida. The University of Central Florida was originally established by the Florida Legislature in 1963 as the Florida Technological University. UCF is the largest university in the United States based on undergraduate student enrollment, as well as the largest by total student enrollment. Princeton Review named UCF as “an exemplary green institution” in their 2010 Guide to 286 Green Colleges. Additionally, UCF’s green initiatives have been showcased by the United States Department of Energy and the UCF College of Medicine on the Health Sciences Campus is the only LEED Silver certified medical school in the state of Florida. UCF is organized into 13 colleges through which students can choose to enroll in one of the available 90 undergraduate programs, 87 Master’s programs, 31 Doctoral programs, three specialist programs, one professional program (in Medicine) and numerous professional certification programs. Many of the available on-campus programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format and are taught by the same academic faculty as their on-campus counterparts.

School’s Website http://www.ucf.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 88.0%
Graduation Rate: 68.4%
Final Score: 156.4/200

3: Florida State University

Florida State University - online colleges in florida

Florida State University is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university which is located in Tallahassee, Florida and which is a member institution of the State University System of Florida. Florida State University, or FSU as it is commonly referred to, was originally established in 1851 and is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the entire state of Florida. Florida State University is organized into 16 schools and colleges, through which students can enroll into one of the 360 available programs of study. Many of the offered programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Bachelor of Science in Criminology degree program and their Emergency Management & Homeland Security undergraduate certification program among many others. The Carnegie Foundation classifies FSU as being a Research University with a Very High Research Activity rating, and FSU is home to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, which is the only National Laboratory in the state of Florida.

School’s Website https://www.fsu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 92.0%
Graduation Rate: 77.9%
Final Score: 169.9/200

2: University of Miami

University of Miami - online colleges in florida

The University of Miami, which is commonly referred to simply as UM, is a private, not-for-profit and nonsectarian research university which is located in Coral Gables, Florida. UM was originally established in 1925. The university offers its students a choice of 116 undergraduate degree-granting programs, 105 Master’s degree-granting programs, 63 Doctoral degree-granting programs and numerous professional certification programs through its 13 schools, colleges and divisions. These are the School of Architecture, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business Administration, the School of Communication, the School of Education and Human Development, the College of Engineering, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, the School of Nursing and Health Studies, the Graduate School, the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, the University of Miami School of Law and the Division of Continuing and International Education. Additionally, a partnership with the nearby Florida International University allows students from both of the schools to take graduate classes at either university, which allows graduate students to have a wider selection of academic programs.

School’s Website http://welcome.miami.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 93.0%
Graduation Rate: 81.3%
Final Score: 174.3/200

1: University of Florida

University of Florida - online colleges in florida

The University of Florida–which is commonly referred to simply as UF–is a public land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant research university which is located in Gainesville, Florida. UF was originally established in 1853 as the University of the State of Florida. The University of Florida is divided into 16 colleges through which the university’s 52,000+ enrolled students can pursue either an undergraduate degree (with more than 100 programs available), graduate degree (200 programs) or a professional certification program which span across various areas-of-study. Many of the offered academic programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format allowing distance learning students to obtain a higher education from a highly reputable institution of higher learning. UF is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as being a Research University with a Very High Research Activity rating and was designated as one of the two “preeminent universities” among the twelve universities of the State University System of Florida by the Florida Board of Governors in 2013. U.S. News and World Report named the University of Florida as the fourteenth best public university in the United States in their 2017 ranking. UF’s enviable freshman retention rate and graduation rate are what led to it being ranked as the best school in Florida that offers online academic programs.

School’s Website http://www.ufl.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 98.0%
Graduation Rate: 87.0%
Final Score: 185.0/200

Top 20 Best Online Colleges in Florida