Continuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges in Alabama and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.
We have examined and ranked the schools in Alabama that offer online programs for their students. For this ranking, we used each school’s freshman retention rates along with their graduation rates in order to get a final score for each of the online colleges.
We hope this top 20 online college ranking will help you to decide which schools might be worth researching, and ultimately assists your selection of the Alabama school that can most effectively set your personal and professional life in motion.
We ranked each of the schools that offer online academic programs and which are located in the state of Alabama based on the following ranking criteria:
50%: Freshman Retention Rates and;
50%: Graduation Rates
To find the information needed to rank each school based on this methodology, we utilized each school’s website whenever possible to get the two rates. In instances that this information was unavailable directly from the school’s own website, we utilized the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and of National Center for Education Statistics. In cases where two or more schools were tied, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names as the designated tie-breaker.
The University of West Alabama, which is commonly referred to simply as UWA, is a public research university and is located in Livingston, Alabama. UWA was originally established by the area’s local Scots-Irish Presbyterian community in 1835 as the Livingston Female Academy. Livingston Female Academy was a church-supported and Christ-centric women’s only academy that was established to provide for the local women in the academic areas of art, music, the languages, and home economics. At that time, a core instructional curriculum was also offered that provided training and instruction to the attending women to ultimately lead them, upon successful program completion, to becoming qualified teachers for communities surrounding the Academy. UWA has undergone a handful of name changes over the course of its more than 180-year long history. The previous names that UWA has been known as are the Livingston Normal College (from 1878 to 1929), the Livingston State Teachers College (from 1929 to 1957), the Livingston State College (from 1957 to 1967), the Livingston University (from 1967 to 1995) and finally the University of West Alabama (from 1995 to the present-day). Today, more than 5,000 total students are enrolled in courses offered at UWA either in a traditional on-campus course or an asynchronous and extremely flexible online course; both of which are taught by the same dedicated and highly qualified academic faculty members. UWA offers more than 60 undergraduate programs and ten graduate programs through its eight academic colleges and divisions; the programs are available at the Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and Educational Specialist degree and certification levels of study.
Snead State Community College is a state-sponsored community college which is located in Boaz, Alabama and was originally established in 1898. Snead State Community College–usually referred to as just Snead–was founded by Anna D. Elder and was initially operated in her home as a grade school for girls. Operation and ownership of the school would later be transferred to the state conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church near the end of 1898. An unexpected influx of students enrolling into the school in 1901 necessitated the construction of a new school building which was utilized as a high school at the time. In 1906, a local businessman, John H. Snead, gave the school a gift of land and money; this led to the school later being renamed after him as a token of gratitude for the generous donation. The City of Boaz built a public high school in 1935, which prompted the second expansion by Snead, the addition of a new junior college; Snead would then phase out the operation of their primary school and high school, which both became completely defunct three years later in 1938. The Alabama Community College System was formed in 1963 and, as a result, Snead suffered a sharp decline in student enrollment. The decreased numbers allowed for the Alabama Community College System to purchase Snead in 1967, making it the 15th member institution in the newly created system. Today, Snead offers numerous undergraduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs to its students; many of which are available online.
Jacksonville State University is a public liberal arts university which is located in Jacksonville, Alabama and was originally established in 1883 as the Jacksonville State Normal School. The Jacksonville State Normal School would later be renamed to Jacksonville State Teachers College in 1930 and Jacksonville State College in 1957 before being renamed to its present-day name in 1967. The name changes that span across the university’s history each shed light on time in the past that JSU (which is what the school is commonly called today) chose to refine their teaching techniques, or to adapt the university’s offered curriculum into a more relevant one. These changes were made to keep up with the incessantly growing and ever-changing academic requirements and professional goals of the university’s numerous enrolled students. Each of these changes made by the school precipitated in a name change, to adequately reflect the capabilities and the current goals of the institution as a whole. Today, JSU offers to its more than 9,000 enrolled students a selection of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and certificate programs. In many cases, the programs are available both in an on-campus format and in an online format; with both options being taught by the same caring faculty members.
Located in Montgomery, Alabama, Amridge University is a private, not-for-profit and Churches of Christ-affiliated university which was originally established in 1967 as the Alabama Christian School of Religion. Historically, Amridge University has operated as a theological seminary with the primary goal of training ministers in the areas of Bible Studies and Christian Counseling. Today, Amridge University has broadened its curricula to include other areas-of-study, such as Business, Education, Liberal Arts, and Human Services. Amridge is organized into five different schools and colleges, including the College of Business and Leadership; the College of General Studies; the School of Human Services; the Turner School of Theology; and the School of Continuing Education. Through these divisions, Amridge instructs approximately 1,000 enrolled students that are seeking a degree or a certification in one of the available areas-of-study. The degrees available cover all levels of study–undergraduate, graduate and certificates–and many of the programs that are taught on-campus at Ambridge University are also accessible in an online and asynchronous format in order to cater to the university’s distance-learning students. Amridge University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the university’s Master of Arts programs, Master of Divinity programs, Doctor of Ministry programs and Doctor of Philosophy programs are accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).
The University of South Alabama, which is commonly referred to simply as USA, is a public research university which is located in Mobile, Alabama. The University of South Alabama was originally established in 1963 by an act of the Alabama Legislature as a replacement for the existing extension programs which were operated at the time in Mobile by the University of Alabama. The University of South Alabama is the only major public institution of higher learning which is located on the upper Gulf Coast. This strategic location is a significant attraction, drawing a larger amount of student enrollment, due to USA’s two older sister universities both being located more than 200-miles away from Mobile–the third most populous city located in the entire state. USA is organized into ten schools and colleges and, additionally, is home to one of Alabama’s two state-supported medical schools, The USA Medical Center. The schools and colleges that USA is organized into are the Pat Covey College of Allied Health Professions; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Mitchell College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Chemical Engineering and Assistants; the College of Medicine; the Doctor of Pharmacy Program; the College of Nursing; the School of Computing; and the School of Continuing Education and Special Programs. This number of schools and colleges allows the university to provide a large selection of various undergraduate, graduate and professional certification programs to the more than 16,000 students currently enrolled.
Located in Marion, Alabama, Judson College is a private, not-for-profit and Alabama Baptist Convention-affiliated liberal arts college. Judson College was originally established in 1838 by various members of Siloam Baptist Church. Three members of the congregation, in particular, played a highly instrumental role in the school’s founding; Julia Tarrant Barron (co-founder of The Alabama Baptist newspaper), General Edwin D. King, and Milo P. Jewett (who served as the 1st President of Vassar College). At the time of its creation, Judson College was operated as a women’s only college and is the fifth-oldest women’s only college located in the United States. Judson College was named after Ann Hasseltine Judson, one of the very first female American-born foreign missionaries and she was the first woman missionary from the United States to travel to Burma (what is known today as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) in 1813. Currently, the college offers to its students a selection of Bachelor’s degree programs in the study of the liberal arts and the areas of pre-professional studies. Many of the various undergraduate degree-granting programs which are offered through Judson College are also available in an online and fully asynchronous format, which allows the college to serve distance-learning students. Two of the offered online programs are the college’s Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration degree program and their Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music degree program.
Troy University is a public liberal arts university which is located in Troy, Alabama and was originally established in 1887 by an Act of the Alabama Legislature. The school would be known as Troy State Normal School until 1929 when the name would be changed to Troy State Teachers College. Troy would undergo two more name changes before settling on its present-day name. These other two names are Troy State College (from 1957 to 1967) and Troy State University (from 1967 to 2005). In addition to the university’s main campus in Troy, one satellite campus is operated in Dothan and a second satellite campus in Montgomery. These three locations together make up the Troy State University System, which was initially formed in 1982. Troy University is divided into four colleges (the Division of General Studies; the Sorrell College of Business; the College of Health and Human Service; and the School of Nursing College of Education). Additionally, Troy University is home to the Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, the Confucius Institute, the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, and three university libraries; one of which–the Troy University Library–is a Federal Depository Library. The three libraries together house collections which consist of more than 500,000 bound volumes, 40,000 media items, and a collection of approximately 1 million microform items.
The University of North Alabama is a public research university which is located in Florence, Alabama and is the state’s fourth-oldest four-year public university. The University of North Alabama, or UNA, was originally established in 1830 as LaGrange College and was located in a tiny mountain hamlet a few miles south of the town of Leighton, Alabama. After its establishment, UNA underwent a couple of name changes, with previous titles including the State Normal School at Florence, Florence State Teachers College, Florence State College and Florence State University. Today, the University of North Alabama is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a whole. In addition, the university has various programs which have been bestowed with accreditations from various programmatic accreditors, including the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) and the English Language Program Association (ELPA). The University of North Alabama is consistently rated as a top-tier university by U.S. News and World Report‘s annual Best Colleges rankings. UNA is widely noted for the three antebellum structures which are located on the school’s campus: Wesleyan Hall, Rogers Hall, and Coby Hall; all three of which are listed as part of the National Historic Register. The university’s campus is also host to the Collier Library, which houses a collection of more than 330,000 items. The library also boasts collections that once belonged to several noteworthy musicians, actors, and writers, such as W. C. Handy, Elinor Donahue, Thomas Sigismund Stribling, and Forrest J. Ackerman among others.
Tuskegee University is a private, not-for-profit and Historically Black University (HBCU) which is located in Tuskegee, Alabama. Tuskegee was originally established in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, a preeminent educator, author, orator, and the advisor to 26th and 27th Presidents of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. Tuskegee University’s campus is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site by the National Park Service and is the only college in the United States that is listed as a National Historic Site as a whole. Today, Tuskegee University offers enrolled students a selection of 40 Bachelor’s degree programs, 17 Master’s degree programs, a 5-year accredited Professional degree program in architecture, and 4 Doctoral degree programs, in addition to numerous professional certification programs. Many of these offered degree programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format. Tuskegee is organized into five colleges and two schools. These are the College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Brimmer College of Business and Information Science; the College of Engineering; the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health; the Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science; and the School of Education. Through these colleges and schools, more than 4,000 enrolled students are provided with a high-quality education each year. Tuskegee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), in addition to offering numerous academic programs which are endorsed by programmatic accrediting bodies. Tuskegee is tied for 4th place with Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia) in the 2017 U.S. News and World Reports Best HBCU ranking and was ranked as the 5th “Best Regional College in the South” in 2013 by the same publication.
Oakwood University is a private and not-for-profit Seventh-day Adventist Church-affiliated Historically Black University (HBCU) which is located in Huntsville, Alabama. Oakwood University was originally established in 1896 as Oakwood Industrial School. Oakwood University is organised into 15 departments including the Department of Biological Sciences; the Department of Business and Information Systems; the Department of Chemistry; the Department of Communication; the Department of Education; the Department of English and Foreign Languages; the Department of Family and Consumer Science; the Department of Health and Physical Education; the Department of History and Political Science; the Department of Math and Computer Sciences; the Department of Music; the Department of Nursing; the Department of Psychology; the Department of Religion and Theology; and the Department of Social Work. Through these departments, the university serves more than 2,000 degree-seeking students. Students can obtain a degree either through completing an on-campus program or an online and asynchronous program, such as their Organizational Management degree program, which is one of the online programs that are offered to distance-learning students.
The University of Mobile is a private, not-for-profit and Baptist-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Prichard, Alabama. The University of Mobile–which is commonly referred to simply as The U of M–was originally established in 1961. The University of Mobile is divided into six schools, colleges and divisions through which enrolled students can obtain an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree or a professional certification across a variety of areas-of-study. These six schools, colleges, and divisions are the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Christian Studies; the School of Education; the School of Nursing, and the Center of Performing Arts. The university’s College of Arts and Sciences students can enroll into a Bachelor’s of Science degree program in Engineering in addition to a secondary Bachelor’s degree program through a partnership with the University of South Alabama; with the University of South Alabama being the one that offers the Engineering program to participating students. Today, the University of Mobile still keeps true to its Baptist roots, with more than sixty-five percent of the student body identifying as being a Southern Baptist. The school’s core curriculum is also designed to instill and reaffirm the core beliefs of the Baptist denomination, with many of the student-ran and university-ran activities being intrinsically Christ-centric in nature.
The University of Montevallo is a public liberal arts university which is located in Montevallo, Alabama. Montevallo is the only public four-year liberal arts university in the state and is also a member institution of the prestigious Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). COPLAC is a consortium comprised of 30 public colleges and universities in the United States and one located in a Canadian province; the Council was created with the primary goal of ensuring that the public liberal arts member institutions provide their students with a quality education. The University of Montevallo was originally founded in 1896 as the Alabama Girls’ Industrial School (AGIS), which was a women’s only technical school and offered high school-level courses at the time. The central portion of the university’s campus is listed on the National Historic Register as being a National Historic District. That part of the campus was designed by the Father of American Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. The university is home to a very active Greek Life, including both sororities and fraternities. Additionally, the university is home to the James Wylie Shepherd Observatory, the Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve, and hosts the ValloCycle Bike-Share Program. The Bike-Share Program is a collaborative partnership between the City of Montevallo and the university which was designed to enhance the overall community walkability of the surrounding areas and provide the local citizens and students with access to a more sustainable alternative to traditional transportation.
Remington College–Mobile Campus is a member of the 16 institution Remington College group. This group of not-for-profit, private colleges operates campuses in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Lafayette, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; Dallas, Webster, Greenspoint, and Fort Worth, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee; Heathrow, Florida; the Mobile, Alabama campus, and finally, an Online Distance Learning division. The oldest location in the system is the former Spencer Business College, founded in 1940, in Lafayette, Louisiana. In contrast, the newest campus is in Columbia, South Carolina. Remington College itself is headquartered at the Heathrow, Florida campus. This institution prides itself in its community outreach efforts, offering programs such as: 3 Lives (a blood drive campaign), Adopt Our School (a school supply donation program), Cuts for Kids (a program which provides children with free haircuts), the Bone Marrow Drive, Prom Night Makeover (a program which provides free makeovers to local high school students for their Proms), and various Job Fairs designed to help introduce out-of-work adults with local companies that are hiring. Each of the 16 Remington College campuses is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and provide students with a selection of Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees across a variety of areas-of-study.
The University of Alabama–Huntsville Campus, which is commonly referred to simply as UAH, is a public space-grant research university which is located in Huntsville, Alabama. UAH was established in 1950 as an extension of the University of Alabama and was formerly known as the University of Alabama Huntsville Center. Today, UAH offers 83 degree-granting academic programs to more than 8,000 total enrolled students; these educational programs include 38 Bachelor’s degree programs, 29 Master’s degree programs, and 16 Doctoral programs. This array of programs is offered through the nine colleges that the University of Alabama–Huntsville is organized into, the College of Business; the College of Engineering; the College of Education; the College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences; the College of Nursing; the College of Science; the College of Graduate Studies; the Honors College, and the College of Professional & Continuing Studies. The university is also home to the UAH Propulsion Research Center, which provides research support to NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy in areas including air-breathing propulsion, solid, liquid and hybrid propellant combustion, electric propulsion and high-temperature material studies among others. U.S. News and World Report ranks UAH as a Tier-1 National University and the Carnegie Foundation considers the university to be a Research University with a High Research Activity rating.
Spring Hill College is a private, not-for-profit and Roman Catholic Jesuit-affiliated liberal arts college which is located in Mobile, Alabama. Spring Hill College (which is commonly referred to as SHC) was originally established in 1830 by the Most Reverend Michael Portier, the Bishop of Mobile at the time. Spring Hill College was the first Catholic college to be founded in the southern region of the United States and is the fifth-oldest such institution in the nation. Additionally, SHC is the third-oldest member institution of the 28-member Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). AJCU is a consortium committed to advancing academic excellence of its member institutions by promoting and coordinating collaborative activities, the sharing of resources, and advocating the representation of the efforts of Jesuit higher education institutions at the national and international levels. Spring Hill College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). U.S. News and World Report ranked Spring Hill College 14th among the top colleges in the southern region which offer academic programs at both the Bachelor’s and the Master’s degree levels in the publications 2010 ranking. Many of these Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs are available in an online and asynchronous format, in order to serve distance-learning students. There are more than 50 student-run organizations and clubs available on campus, including an active Greek Life of both sororities (6 in total) and fraternities (5 in total).
Commonly referred to by students and the local community of Birmingham, Alabama as simply UAB, the University of Alabama–Birmingham Campus is a public research university which was originally established in 1936. At the time it was called the Birmingham Extension Center, an academic extension center for the University of Alabama–Tuscaloosa Campus. UAB is comprised of 11 colleges, schools, and divisions. These are, the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Dentistry; the School of Education; the School of Engineering; the School of Health Professions; the School of Medicine; the School of Nursing; the School of Optometry; the School of Public Health, and finally the Graduate School. These schools supply the more than 18,000 enrolled students with a selection of 51 Bachelor’s degree programs, 46 Master’s degree programs, and 36 Doctoral degree programs which cover a myriad of areas-of-study. Many of these degree programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format, such as the university’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree program, their Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management degree program, and their Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree program among many others.
Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham–Southern College is a private, not-for-profit United Methodist Church-affiliated liberal arts college which is commonly referred to simply as BSC. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Birmingham–Southern College was created in 1918 due to a merger between Southern University (Greensboro, Alabama; founded 1856) and Birmingham College (Birmingham, Alabama; founded 1898). Birmingham–Southern College is home to the Elton B. Stephens Science Center and the N.E. Miles Library. The Elton B. Stephens Science Center is among one of the most extensive and largest science facilities located on a small liberal arts campus in the entire country. The N.E. Miles Library maintains a collection consisting of approximately 257,000 literary volumes, 57,000 government documents, and upwards of 20,000 audio recordings, CDs, and DVDs. The library also features an auditorium, student study areas, conference rooms, and an electronic classroom. All of which are available for student and faculty use. The Princeton Review in their annual Best 377 Colleges ranking consistently rate Birmingham–Southern College as being one of the nation’s top private liberal arts colleges. BSC has also been highlighted in the Reader’s Digest as being the country’s top liberal arts college in the area of safety preparedness.
The University of Alabama–Tuscaloosa Campus, which is commonly referred to simply as is UA a public sea-grant and space-grant research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. UA was originally established in 1820 by the General Assembly of Alabama and was named “The University of the State of Alabama.” UA is the oldest and the largest (by enrollment size; with more than 37,000 students) public research university in the state of Alabama. The only state-sponsored law school in Alabama is at UA, as well as some other academic programs which are unavailable elsewhere in the region. These include the university’s doctoral programs in the areas-of-study of anthropology; communication and information sciences; metallurgical engineering; music; the Romance languages; and in social work. The university’s nickname is The Capstone due to a speech in 1913 when then-president of the university George H. Denny lauded UA for being the “capstone of the public school system in the state.” Additionally, UA is consistently rated as being one of the top 50 public universities operating in the United States by U.S. News and World Report in their annual rankings. The universities numerous accolades and international recognition are due largely in part to the high-quality education that UA provides its students; with degree programs in a total of 117 different areas-of-study being available for on-campus students. Many of these programs are also available to distance learning students in an online and asynchronous degree program format.
Samford University is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Homewood, Alabama. Samford was originally established in 1841 as the Howard College. Howard College was initially located in Marion, Alabama on a piece of land that was donated by Reverend James H. DeVotie, a Southern Baptist minister and the father of Noble Leslie DeVotie (the lead founder of the Greek-Letter social fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon ΣΑΕ). Samford University today offers 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with 166 undergraduate majors, minors, and concentrations from which students can choose. The university is divided into ten different schools through which the various degree programs are offered to the more than 5,000 enrolled students. These schools are the School of the Arts; the Howard College of Arts and Science; the Brock School of Business; the Beeson Divinity School; the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education; the Cumberland School of Law; the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing; the McWhorter School of Pharmacy; the School of Health Professions, and the School of Public Health. Samford University is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and is the state of Alabama’s top-ranked private university, according to a ranking published by Forbes in 2015. The U.S. News and World Report ranked Samford 3rd in the South for regional universities, 3rd in the South for the best undergraduate teaching degree program, and 12th in the South for being a best value in 2015. The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) ranked Samford’s Brock School of Business as having the best new entrepreneurship program in the United States in 2010.
Auburn University is the top-ranked school in this article due to having the best combined total score of Freshman Retention Rate (at a robust 90.0%) and Graduation Rate (which is at a respectable 73.0%) for a combined total score of 163.0 out of a possible maximum of 200. Delving into Auburn University’s past and present might help to shed some light on how the public, land-grant, space-grant and sea-grant research university has achieved these scores. Auburn University is located in Auburn, Alabama and was originally established in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, which is what it was known as until 1872. The university would then change its name two more times in-between its original and present titles; Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (1872–1899) and Alabama Polytechnic Institute (1899–1960). Under the Morrill Land Act, Auburn University became the state’s first land-grant institution in 1872 and, in 1892, it went on to become the area’s first four-year coeducational school. Today, Auburn University is one of Alabama’s largest universities based on enrollment (with more than 28,000 total students) and is one of only two public flagship campuses in the state, the second being the University of Alabama’s Tuscaloosa campus. The university currently consists of thirteen schools and colleges: the College of Agriculture; the College of Architecture, Design and Construction; the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business; the College of Education; the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; the College of Human Sciences; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Sciences and Mathematics; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the Honors College; the School of Nursing; the James Harrison School of Pharmacy, and the Graduate School. Through these schools and colleges, Auburn provides a myriad of accolade-winning and nationally extolled degree programs; many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format and are taught by the same highly-qualified and dedicated academic faculty as the on-campus counterparts.