Online Colleges in Georgia

Georgia presents a rich offering of online colleges and programs for a wide swath of students from all backgrounds. Read the data we've gathered below to learn more about online colleges in Georgia, including a list of 10 online schools ranked by affordability.

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Introduction

As of August 2014 Georgia ONmyLINE (a database of online programs in the University System of Georgia) features over 250 degree programs and 4,700 courses in a range of academic fields. The number of degrees at each level is as follows:

  • Online Associate Degrees: 82 programs from 4 schools
  • Online Bachelor's Degrees: 48 programs from 16 schools
  • Online Graduate Degrees: 82 programs from 15 schools

Along with state schools, many national online colleges offer online programs to students in Georgia. Often, these schools have offered online education for many years and feature an extensive set of courses and degrees. Some, such as Argosy University and ITT Technical Institute, even have physical campuses in Georgia where students can attend classes.

Degree candidates won't be alone in the state of Georgia; 18 percent of Georgians 25 or older have earned a Bachelor's degree and 10.4% have earned a graduate or professional degree, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012.

There are 3.8 million employed people in Georgia, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates from 2013, who make an annual mean salary of $44,040. This is slightly below the average salary for Bachelor's degree holders in Georgia, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012: they make an average of $48,704, while those with a graduate or professional degree make $60,720.

This data indicates that if you live in Georgia, there's a much better chance of earning a higher wage with a college degree. Georgia's online college scene offers an array of institutions and program types to choose from. There are 76 institutions listed by the National Center for Education Statistics where students can earn Bachelor's degrees in the state of Georgia through both campus-based and online programs.

While many online degrees can be completed entirely over the Web, some programs may require a minimum amount of classroom attendance. In addition, some schools offer hybrid degree programs, allowing students to attend classes both online and on campus.

The Top Online Colleges in Georgia

This list of online colleges is ranked by tuition costs (lowest to highest) and includes key data points for prospective students, such as the number and type of online programs offered, tuition fees, and accreditation.


#1 - Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

  • In-state Tuition: $2,538
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 6 Associate degrees
  • Notable Alumni: Baseball player Johnny Corley.

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers over 20 degrees, diplomas and certificate programs online. Their online Associate degrees include Accounting; Banking and Finance; Business Administrative Technology; Business Management; Criminal Justice Technology; and Marketing Management.


#2 - The University of North Georgia

  • In-state Tuition: $4,219 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 1 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Musician Shawn Mullins

The University of North Georgia has campuses in Gainesville, Cummings, Dahlonega and Oconee. All campuses allow students to complete some of their core required classes through a program called eCore. UNG also offers undergraduate online degrees in Nursing and postgraduate degrees in International Affairs, Criminal Justice, Physical Education, and Education in Middle Grades Math and Science. A host of student resources are available to support online learners as they progress through their degree programs.


#3 - Armstrong Atlantic State University

  • Tuition: $5,085 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 6 undergraduate degrees and 2 graduate degrees.
  • Notable Alumni: Hollywood producer Stratton Leopold, actress Anna Enger, Senior Circuit Court Judge Phyllis Kravitch, and Lt. Col (Ret.) Joseph Purvis

A mixture of blended and fully online degree programs make Armstrong Atlantic State University a flexible option for a wide range of learners. All online courses are accredited and taught by the same faculty as traditional courses. Undergraduate degrees include Medical Laboratory Science, Radiologic Sciences, Respiratory Therapy and Nursing. Postgraduate degrees include Criminal Justice and Curriculum and Instruction. Certificates in the fields of health management, medical imaging and education round out the online offering.


#4 - Clayton State University

  • In-state Tuition: $5,153 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 8 undergraduate and 2 graduate degrees
  • Notable Alumni: Vice President of Norbert Dentressangle US Sherrie Miller

Clayton State University boasts 8 undergraduate online programs. Their Bachelor of Applied Science degrees include Homeland Security/Emergency Management; Technology Management with concentrations in Project Supervision, Aviation Administration, and Computer Networking; and Administrative Management with concentrations in Organizational Leadership and Applied Criminal Justice. Their Bachelor of Arts degrees include Liberal Studies with an English minor, and their Bachelor of Science degrees are in Integrative Studies, Information Technology, Dental Hygiene, and RN to BSN. Their Master's degrees include Nursing and Archival Studies.


#5 - Columbus State University

  • In-state Tuition: $5,514 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 7 undergraduate degrees and 13 postgraduate degrees.
  • Notable Alumni: None listed

Columbus State University, an accredited member of the University System of Georgia, offers online degree programs in Communications, Criminal Justice, Business, Accounting, Nursing and Education. In addition to its fully online programs, the school offers a variety of hybrid programs that give students the opportunity to take some of their courses online while utilizing the local campus as a physical home base. All of Columbus State University's online courses offer features such as discounted tuition, flexible class schedules, assigned advisors, and the full resources available to all other students at the university.


#6 - Southern Polytechnic State University

  • Tuition: $5,732 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 10 undergraduate degrees and 8 postgraduate degrees.
  • Notable Almuni: Former President and CEO of Georgia Power Mike Garrett

Southern Polytechnic State University offers online and blended learning delivery options for its students, including the eCore program that allows undergraduates to complete their core courses online. Online programs for undergraduates are in the fields of business, engineering technology, information technology, product development, and manufacturing operations. Online postgraduate programs are in the fields of accounting, business administration, communications, information technology, quality assurance, software engineering and systems engineering. A wide array of online certificate programs is also available to Southern Polytechnic students.


#7 - Kennesaw State University

  • Tuition: $5,818 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 5 undergraduate programs, 11 postgraduate programs
  • Notable Alumni: Basketball player James Wade, Jr., Senior PGA Golf Pro Larry Nelson, Georgia State Senator Doug Stoner.

Kennesaw State University offers a variety of hybrid and fully online degree programs designed and taught by KSU faculty. Undergraduate degree offerings include Information Security and Assurance, Management, Marketing, Sociology, and Nursing. Master's degree programs in Business Administration, International Policy Management, Nursing, and a wide variety of postgraduate programs in the field of education are also available online. In addition to these degree programs, KSU offers over 400 online graduate and undergraduate courses, including all of the General Education Requirement courses.


#8 - University of West Georgia

  • In-state Tuition: $5,837
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 1 undergraduate and 8 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Musician Zac Brown, U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Atlanta Braves Pitcher Rick Camp

In addition to eCore courses offered to help undergraduates complete required courses online, the University of West Georgia also offers a fully online BS in Criminology and a hybrid RN to BSN program. Their extensive array of online Master's degree programs include Early Childhood Education, School Library Media, Reading Instruction, Music Education, Applied Computer Science, Nursing, Instructional Technology, and Business Administration. Specialist and doctoral degrees in the field of Education, as well as a host of certificate programs, are also available to online learners.


#9- Valdosta State University

  • In-state Tuition: $5,889 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 50 undergraduate and 55 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Media Personality Nancy Grace, Actress Lisa Blount, and Congresswoman Amy Carter

Through Valdosta State University's eCore program, undergraduate students can complete some of their core required classes online. Students who would like to continue their full degree via online learning can choose from a variety of undergraduate majors, including Criminal Justice, Human Capital Performance, Legal Assistant Studies, Management and Organizational Leadership. Valdosta State University also offers online postgraduate degrees in a wide variety of disciplines, including education, health, business and public administration. A student support team provides helpful resources and administrative guidance to ensure online learning success.


#10 - Georgia Southern University

  • In-state Tuition: $6,071 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 3 undergraduate and 5 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Scientist Lee R. Berger, PGA Tour Golfer Aron Price, Actor Mark Collier

Georgia Southern University offers online undergraduate programs in General Studies, Information Technology, and Nursing and postgraduate programs in Business, Education, Health Care, and Engineering and Information Technology. GSU also offers blended courses for students who want to complete just part of their degree online. GetEducated.com, a consumer group that rates online colleges for cost and credibility, ranked GSU's Master's degree in Computer Science a top ten "best buy."


#11 - University of Georgia

  • In-state Tuition: $10,262 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 2 undergraduate and 6 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Actress Kim Basinger, Chef Alton Brown, the band R.E.M. (Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry.)

The University of Georgia promises consistency in quality between online and traditional degree programs; UGA online course are semester-based and faculty-taught. Currently, UGA offers undergraduate online degrees in Business Administration and Special Education, and postgraduate online degrees in Education; Food Technology; Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics; Internet Technology; Avian Health and Medicine; and Pharmacy, BioPharma Regulatory Affairs. UGA Online boasts a high retention rate of 94% and a high graduation rate of 83%.


#12 - Georgia Institute of Technology

  • In-state Tuition: $10,650 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: Summer online undergraduate courses and 7 postgraduate degrees
  • Notable Alumni: President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Prize Winner Kary Mullis, Comedian Jeff Foxworthy and President and CEO of Wal-Mart stores Mike Duke.

The Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing became the first school to offer a professional Master of Science degree in computer science that can be earned completely online. The curriculum is offered entirely in the form of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and offers enhanced support services for students. Georgia Tech believes that its low-cost program may help to address the shortage of qualified workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Georgia Tech offers a wide range of nationally recognized online master's degree programs in fields such as aerospace engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and information security. Georgia Tech also provides undergraduate students with the option to complete a variety of courses online during the summer term.


Online Colleges: Expert Interviews


Justin Mays

Justin Mays, Director of Distance Learning at Clayton State University

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at Clayton State University?

Our programs are mainly focused on the degree completer/adult learner student population. Our Bachelor of Applied Science degree, for instance, is geared towards students who have graduated from a technical college and wish to go on and pursue a four-year degree. Our Liberal Studies and Integrative Studies degrees accept a high number of transfer credits from other colleges and universities and allow students to custom build their degree program based on their academic or career plans.

We also have a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, for current registered nurses, and a Bachelor of Science Dental Hygiene program for current Registered Dental Hygienists. Some of our programs have synchronous, or live, components to them which may work better with a student's learning style as opposed to an asynchronous course.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Be sure to do your research before enrolling. Depending on your work/life commitments you may only have a certain time each day that you can work on your courses. If a course is synchronous it will involve you logging into class at a certain time to interact with the professor and your classmates. An asynchronous course does not require you login at a certain time so it is a little more flexible for the busier student. One method may or may not fit into your schedule depending on your previous commitments, so it's important to make sure you choose the correct mode (synchronous or asynchronous) of interaction.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

I think that we will begin to see more competency based education programs and courses come forward in the coming years.

This concept allows students to move through a program as they display certain skills that are needed for the program. Students can move through a program at their leisure as they display the skills, or competencies, needed. I think this will change pricing models for colleges as students could pay a set price up front, for six months, and work through the material as quickly or slowly as they are able. This would allow students to pay a lower price for a degree depending on how quickly they complete the material.

I also think that the more recent growth in wearable tech such as Google Glass and smartwatches will offer some interesting ways to make classes more engaging outside of the traditional classroom or online learning setting. I think we're in an exciting time in the growth of online learning, and I look forward to the innovations ahead.


Sabrina Cox

Sabrina Cox, Director of Distance Education at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College?

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers several online degrees, diplomas, and technical certificates ranging from Accounting to Criminal Justice to Medical Language Specialist. Online programs at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College follow the same admissions requirements, program objectives, course competencies and student learning outcomes as programs offered traditionally on campus. Students in online programs also have the same opportunities and resources as on-campus students.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Students interested in online learning should first assess their skills to determine if online learning is a good fit for them. There are many readiness assessments to help with this; Wiregrass Georgia Technical College uses the SmarterMeasure assessment. In addition, students need to ensure they have the proper resources such as a reliable computer meeting the hardware and software requirements, a stable Internet connection, the time to commit to online classes, and most importantly, the self-motivation needed to succeed.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

Online learning will continue to grow because of the convenience and flexibility it offers. Educators must produce quality online courses that are rigorous and meet accreditation standards to ensure student learning outcomes are met. Courses must be developed and updated to use new technology in education; however, courses should not be technology driven, but should be instructor driven with much interaction and online conferencing. As all students are not online learners, all teachers are not online teachers. Advising and placement of students and instructors in online classes are critical.


Snapshot of Georgia Cities

Here is a breakdown of Georgia's economic and demographic landscape by metro area. All economic data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2014 Cost of Living Index published by The Council for Community and Economic Research. All demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the latest Labor Force Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All data in the Facts for Online Learners section comes from the region's Chamber of Commerce website.


Atlanta
Economics
The biggest metropolitan region in Georgia includes the city of Atlanta and surrounding areas, known as Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta. With 2.3 million employed people who make an annual mean wage of $48,270, Atlanta is a solid place to acquire a college degree and earn a living. The Cost of Living index for this area is 96.7, with home prices averaging $247,333.

Demographics
The Atlanta area has a total population of 6.1 million people who make up 7.3 percent of the state's labor force.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
The Atlanta region is home to nearly 150,000 businesses, an award-winning symphony orchestra, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, the High Museum of Art, and the world's busiest airport. Atlanta also boasts four seasons and a relatively mild winter.


Augusta
Economics
Georgia's second biggest metropolitan area covers Augusta-Richmond County and employs 202,750 with a mean annual wage of $40,910. The Cost of Living index for this area is 87.1. Home prices, one of the six composite categories that make up the index, average $205,927 in this area.

Demographics
Based on 2012 census estimates, the Augusta region boasts a total population of 575,898 people who represent 7 percent of the state's labor force.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
This region is located on the border between Georgia and South Carolina. People living in this region can enjoy performances at the historic Imperial Theatre, a variety of exhibits at the Morris Museum of Art, or outdoor activities on the Augusta Canal.


Savannah
Economics
Though Savannah may have a smaller workforce at 152,050 people, employees are paid a slightly better mean annual wage of $41,640. Savannah house prices average $205,496; the total Cost of Living index is 93.1.

Demographics
The Savannah area makes up 7 percent of the labor force for the state with a total population of 347,611.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
Savannah is known for its historical architecture and natural beauty. More than 12 million people visit this area yearly and spend more than $2.1 billion, fueling a vibrant tourist industry and urban preservation movement.


Helpful Resources

There are several online tools to help students find programs that meet their academic needs. The Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus allows students to browse virtual courses and degree programs offered by institutions throughout the South, including 20 online colleges in Georgia. For those interested in a state university, Georgia ONmyLINE is a database of distance education programs offered by the USG's 35 schools. Students can search available degrees, apply to colleges, and even register for classes through the site. Finally, Georgia Virtual Technical Connection hosts an electronic directory of the 25 vocational schools in state offering associate degrees and technical certificates online.


Sources:

  1. Armstrong Atlantic State University, http://www.armstrong.edu/Online/degree_programs/online_degrees_certificates
  2. "Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce," About Augusta GA, http://www.augustametrochamber.com/augusta-region/about-augusta-ga/
  3. "Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ga.htm
  4. "Bureau of Labor Statistics", Economic News Release, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm
  5. "College Navigator", National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=University+of+Georgia&s=GA&l=93&ic=1&id=139959#expenses
  6. Columbus State University, http://online.columbusstate.edu/
  7. Clayton State University, http://www.clayton.edu/distancelearning
  8. Clayton State Names 2014 Alumni Award Winners, Clayton State University, September 24, 2014, http://www.clayton.edu/news/blog/Post/114895/Clayton-State-Names-2014-Alumni-Award-Winners
  9. "C2ER," The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
  10. Georgia Institute of Technology, http://dlpe.gatech.edu/dl/
  11. Georgia Southern University, http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/online/
  12. Justin Mays, interview with the author, November, 2014
  13.  Kennesaw State University, http://learnonline.kennesaw.edu/programs/graduate_degrees.php
  14.  "Metro Atlanta Chamber," Life in Atlanta, http://www.metroatlantachamber.com/atlanta
  15. Sabrina Cox, interview with the author, November, 2014
  16. "Savannah Area Chamber," About Savannah, http://www.savannahchamber.com/about-savannah
  17.  Southern Polytechnic State University, http://www.spsu.edu/onlinelearning/
  18.  "The National Center for Education Statistics," College Navigator, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=GA&l=93&ic=1
  19.  "The United States Census Bureau" The America Community Survey, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/
  20. The University of North Georgia, http://ung.edu/distance-education-technology-integration/online-programs.php
  21.  University of Georgia, https://online.uga.edu/
  22.  University of West Georgia, http://uwgonline.westga.edu/
  23.  "U.S. Census Bureau," American Fact Finder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_S1501&prodType=table
  24.  Valdosta State University, http://www.valdosta.edu/academics/elearning/
  25. "Wikipedia.org," List of Metropolitan Areas of Georgia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_areas_of_Georgia
  26. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, http://www.wiregrass.edu/online/programs.php
  27. Wiregrass Holds Summer Commencement Ceremony, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, August 13, 2012, http://www.wiregrass.edu/news/2012/summer_commencement_ceremony.php




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