Online Colleges in Maryland

The state of Maryland has a lot to offer aspiring college students, including a variety of colleges and universities that offer students the opportunity to earn a flexible, online degree. Read the data we've gathered below to learn more about online colleges in Maryland, including a list of 10 online schools ranked by affordability.

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Home to John Hopkins University, one of the oldest research universities in the nation, Maryland has long been a leader in postsecondary education. During the first statewide forum on college completion in January 2013, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called for "new ways to use the Internet, online learning and course redesign" in order to reach the statewide goal of 55 percent of adults holding a college degree or advanced credential by 2025. As of 2011, the Lumina Foundation estimates that only about 45 percent of the state's working age citizens hold at least a two-year degree.

According to 2012 data from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, industries in the state with the highest expected growth rate from 2010 to 2020 include health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and professional, technical and scientific services. Some of the biggest employers in the state include healthcare companies like University of Maryland Medical System, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Helix Health System, and aerospace contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation. Many entry-level and advanced positions in these growing companies require a college degree -- and thanks to the rise of online education, more Maryland residents now have the opportunity to earn one.

Earning a college degree is a fairly common practice in the state of Maryland. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 percent of Maryland residents age 25 or older have earned a Bachelor's degree and 16.4% have earned a graduate or professional degree.

There are over 2.5 million employed people in Maryland, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates from 2013, who make an annual mean salary of $52,850. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that degree-holders in Maryland earn considerably more on average; those with a Bachelor's degree earned $58,749 and those with an advanced degree earned $80,883.

These figures make it very clear that a college degree is a good investment in Maryland, which should be seen as encouraging for aspiring students in the state. Fortunately, the state of Maryland is home to plenty of colleges and universities that offer innovative online learning opportunities for students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state is home to 40 different schools where students can earn a Bachelor's degree.

The Most Affordable Online Colleges in Maryland

The following list ranks the 10 schools in Maryland that offer online degrees at the lowest tuition costs. This ranking is based on a number of factors that are important to prospective students such as the actual degree programs that are taught online, and information on tuition fees, accreditation and notable alumni. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (2013-2014) and reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students. See our Methodology section for more details on the ranking methodology.

#1 - Chesapeake College

  • In-State Tuition: $4,952 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 2 Associate degree programs

Chesapeake College became Maryland's first regional community college when founded in 1965, and has worked diligently to address the needs of the local student population ever since. Fortunately for students, that also includes the addition of a few online degree programs aimed at providing students with a convenient and affordable way to earn a college degree. The school's current online offerings include an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences and an Associate of Arts in Business Administration.

#2 - Prince George's Community College

  • Tuition: $5,570 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: Associate degrees in seven different subject areas

As one of the most diverse schools in the country, Price George's Community College claims to enroll students from over 128 countries around the world. The school currently offers a wide range of Associate degrees that can be earned online in topics such as Accounting; Business Management; Criminal Justice; Economics Pre-Law; Psychology; Business Administration; and Paralegal Studies. Several certificate programs also round out Prince George's online offerings.

#3 - Frederick Community College

  • Tuition: $6,339 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 5 Associate degree programs

Frederick Community College has made career training its mission, with a focus on degree programs and certifications that can put students into the workforce in 1-3 years. Associate degree programs currently offered online at FCC include Business Administration; Business Management; Emergency Management; General Studies; and Emergency Services/Fire Science. Online certificates in Emergency Management and Medical Administration are also available.

#4 - University of Maryland- University College

  • In-State Tuition: $6,552 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 95 undergraduate and postgraduate programs
  • Notable Alumni: NFL Player Ray Lewis

University of Maryland-University College students have access to the best of both worlds. First, they are able to attend a respected state University that has been nationally and regionally accredited for excellence in higher education. And second, they can earn their degree online in any one of the 95 career-relevant Bachelor's, Master's, or certificate programs currently offered, from Accounting to Computer Science, and Cyber Security to Art History.

#5 - University of Maryland-Baltimore County

  • In-State Tuition: $7,698 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 3 Master's degree programs
  • Notable Alumni: Co-Founder of Outback Steakhouse Robert Basham, American Idol Producer Gail Berman

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County is an honor's university that offers several unique online degree programs to students. Those programs include Master's degrees in Emergency Health Services; Information Systems; and Instructional Systems Development. Online students at UMBC also have the option to earn several online graduate certificates as well.

#6 - University of Baltimore

  • In-State Tuition: $7,838 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs:1 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Baltimore Orioles Owner Peter Angelos

At the University of Baltimore, 86 percent of the schools' faculty members hold the highest degree in their field. The University offers several fully-online and hybrid degree programs. Currently, those programs include a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master's degrees in Business Administration; Global Leadership; Public Administration; and Interaction Design and Information Architecture.

#7 - Montgomery College

  • In-State Tuition: $8,664 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 2 Associate degree programs
  • Notable Alumni: Singer-Songwriter Tori Amos, Actor Paul James

Online students who attend Montgomery College have the convenience of studying online or taking advantage of the resources available at the school's physical campus. That's because, in addition to focusing in a high quality of instruction, the curriculum for the school's online and on-campus degree programs are exactly the same. Currently, the school offers two associate degrees that can be earned online- an Associate of Arts in Business and an Associate of Arts in Information Systems.

#8 - University of Maryland-College Park

  • In-State Tuition: $9,162 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs:7 postgraduate programs
  • Notable Alumni: Artist Doris Downes, Muppets Creator Jim Henson

The University of Maryland-College Park, one of the nation's premier public research universities, offers a wide range of degrees and certificates that can be earned online. Online Master's degrees offered include Bioengineering; Energetic Concepts; Fire Protection; Nuclear Engineering; Project Management; Reliability; and Sustainable Energy.

#9 - Kaplan University- Hagerstown Campus (Visit School Site)

  • Tuition: $13,411 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 16 Bachelor's and 6 Master's degree programs

Unlike other schools on this list, Kaplan University places its online education goals first and foremost. Because of their focus on using technology to educate their students, Kaplan is able to offer far more online degree programs than many other schools in Maryland. Their current offerings include Bachelor's degrees in Accounting; Business Administration; Criminal Justice; Communications; Early Childhood Development; Environmental Policy and Management; Fire and Emergency Management; Fire Science; Health Care; Human Services; Information Technology; Legal Studies; Nutrition; Paralegal Studies; Psychology; and Nursing. Online Master's degrees can be earned in the fields of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Business; Education; Health Sciences; Technology; and Nursing. A huge selection of online Associate degrees and certificate programs are also offered.

#10 - Washington Adventist University

  • Tuition: $21,020 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 2 Master's degree programs
  • Notable Alumni: Fashion Designer Rachel Roy

Washington Adventist University may attract online students looking for convenience and integrity in a Christian-centered learning environment. Washington Adventist University currently offers two graduate degrees that can be earned entirely online- a Master of Arts in Public Administration and a Master of Business Administration.

Online Colleges: Expert Interviews

Marcia Watson

Marcia Watson, Vice Provost, University of Maryland University College

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at your school?

UMUC employs a student-centered learning model that emphasizes learning through doing. The UMUC model is NOT built around taped lectures. Instead, students and faculty are together in a highly interactive classroom where students are presented with tasks that are drawn from the real-world of the intended career. Students learn, and demonstrate their learning, through structured projects that may involve working in groups. The goal is to prepare students to be able to accomplish the kind of tasks that they will be doing on the job. For environmental management, for example, that means conducting an environmental assessment or writing a management plan. For this reason, UMUC seeks to hire faculty who are scholar-practitioners, with actual experience in the fields they teach.

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

Students who are most successful in online programs are those who have good time management skills, who are willing to take responsibility for their own learning, and who are goal-oriented. Good communication skills are very important: contact with the professor and with other students may be largely in writing, or through synchronous verbal sessions, and it helps to be able to express yourself clearly and to understand what others are saying, in the absence of the body language cues that are present in a traditional classroom.

And it goes without saying that a certain amount of familiarity with a computer or mobile device is essential. In addition, a wise student will research the various online programs that are available, looking at time commitment needed, costs, student support services, faculty credentials, program accreditation and reputation, and other aspects. The traditional college experience usually starts with a campus tour where prospective students can learn if the school is right for them, and it's just as important to find the right fit with an online program.

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

When online learning first started, the approach was to try to mimic the traditional classroom, for example, by providing live or pre-taped lectures along with "study hall" kinds of sessions. Now that online learning is coming of age, we know more about how students can learn most effectively in the online environment. Online learning offers three potential areas of development:

  • providing an enriched multimedia learning environment that harnesses the power and interactivity of the Internet to go well beyond what traditional textbooks and lectures could provide;
  • offering a personalized learning environment that uses software to assess what a student already knows, and what areas need more work;
  • making use of mobile devices so that students can study anywhere, anytime, and can stay in touch with faculty and with advisers at the touch of a button.

    Dr. Cyntha L. France, Director, Faculty Development Center & Professor of Instructional Design, Chesapeake College

    Q. What kind of online programs does your school offer?

    Chesapeake College offers two fully online programs.  One is an A. A. in liberal arts and sciences and the other is an A. A. in business administration.  The majority of courses in the general education program are regularly offered in an online format. These online courses and programs have been in place for seven or eight years.  The college provides these online options principally to meet the needs of students for flexibility in scheduling.  Many of our students work and have families to care for, so finding time to come to campus is often difficult.  Our online course registrations make up about 16% of our total registrations.

    Q. Are online students treated differently than students on campus?

    Online students need and deserve access to the same support services that on-campus students enjoy. We have done a fine job providing online access to library and tutoring services. Many of our online classes include an “embedded” librarian or tutor who is very familiar with the class, and is easily accessed by students through the course site on our learning management system. Technical help is available 24/7 via phone or email. Teachers in online classes are committed to meeting certain course-delivery standards, including rapid responses to questions, timely grading, and encouragement of active engagement. Much work has been done on course design to ensure that they are well organized, meet the student learning outcomes shared by on-campus counterparts, offer many opportunities for significant interaction with the instructor and other students, and include fair and authentic assessments. Students (with certain restrictions) can register for classes and pay for them online.

    Q. What does it take to succeed in online courses?

    Students who are considering enrolling in an online course or program need to think seriously and honestly about how well they can manage their own time. Success in an online course usually requires that a student log in on a regular basis to participate in the class and complete the work as scheduled. Too often, the tendency is to put off doing work in an online class. You don’t have a defined meeting time, and no instructor is standing in front of you demanding that you turn in your work. I think that’s the most common barrier to success for students in online courses. Sustaining the effort over a long degree program can be difficult.  

    Q. How do you see online education changing?

    I’m no futurist, but it does seem to me that online education in the future will be everywhere. It will be provided by corporations, interest groups, individuals, as well as more traditional educational institutions. I think we will see more movement toward competency models, away from traditional degree programs. Learning experiences will become increasingly social, making use not of social media and real-time video and audio connections. We are already seeing greater access to education across the globe because of online options. I hope that continues and expands.

    Snapshot of Maryland Cities

    The following data breaks down Maryland's economic and demographic landscape by metro area. All economic data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 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.


    The biggest metropolitan region in Maryland includes the city of Baltimore and surrounding areas, known as the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for May of 2013, this region is home to 1,280,700 workers who earn an annual mean wage of $51,900. The Cost of Living index for this area is 119.4, with home prices averaging $161,300.

    The city of Baltimore and the surrounding area has a total population of 2,710,489 people who make up 6.9 percent of the state's labor force.

    Fun Facts for Online Learners
    Students who pursue an online education in Baltimore will not only have easy access to the nation's capital, but they will also study in close proximity to four Fortune 1000 companies and a wide range of industries who call the area home. The Baltimore area also boasts the 4th highest median household income in the United States, which came in at $66,970 in 2012.

    Maryland's second largest metropolitan area covers the city of Hagerstown, Maryland and its surrounding counties. According to the BLS, the region employs 101,170 workers who earn a mean annual wage of $41,770. Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the median housing value in and around Hagerstown was $166,100 from 2008-2012.

    Based on 2008 census estimates, the Hagerstown region boasts a total population of 263,753 residents who represent 6.8 percent of the state's labor force.

    Fun Facts for Online Learners
    Although this region lies in the scenic and fertile Cumberland and Shenandoah valleys, it is still only 60-90 minutes from the nation's capital and all it has to offer. Students in the area will also have access to cultural activities, parks, and public areas, such as the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Historical Park.

    The Salisbury region has a slightly smaller workforce than the two biggest metro regions in Maryland, with approximately 50,780 people who earn an annual mean wage of $40,470. Salisbury house prices average $160,800 from 2008-2012.

    The Salisbury area makes up 8 percent of the labor force for the state with a total population of 109,931.

    Fun Facts for Online Learners
    The area surrounding Salisbury shows an incredible interest in the natural harmony between humans, animals, and the environment. Students in the area can explore this side of themselves by visiting local attractions such as the Salisbury Zoo, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, and Pemberton Historical Park.

    Helpful Resources

    Maryland students interested in an online degree should first research available schools and programs. One popular resource for the area's students is MarylandOnline.org, an online learning portal created specifically for students in Maryland. Currently, 20 colleges and universities collaborate with MarylandOnline.org and offer a considerable number of resources to students who access the portal.


    1. "Bureau of Labor Statistics," Civilian labor force and unemployment by state and metropolitan area, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm
    2. "Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_12580.htm
    3. "Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41540.htm
    4. "Bureau of Labor Statistics," May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_md.htm
    5. "C2ER," The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
    6. Chesapeake College, http://www.chesapeake.edu/onlinelearning/degreeoptions/
    7. Dr. Cyntha L. France, Director, Faculty Development Center & Professor of Instructional Design, Chesapeake College, interview with the author May 2015
    8. Frederick Community College, http://www.frederick.edu/degrees-certificates.aspx
    9. "MarylandOnline.org," http://www.marylandonline.org/
    10. Montgomery College, http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/distance/before/odc/
    11. Prince George's Community College, http://www.pgcconline.com/
    12. Kaplan University, http://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/home.aspx
    13. The Lumina Foundation, www.luminafoundation.org
    14. Marcia Watson, Vice Provost, University of Maryland University College, interview with the author May 2015
    15. Maryland Department of Labor, dllr.state.md.us
    16. "The National Center for Education Statistics," College Navigator, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MD&l=93&ic=1
    17. The University of Maryland-Baltimore College, http://www.umbc.edu/online/
    18. The University of Maryland-College Park, http://ischool.umd.edu/content/mls-online
    19. University of Maryland-University College, http://www.umuc.edu/
    20. University of Baltimore, http://www.ubalt.edu/academics/online-programs.cfm
    21. "U.S. Census Bureau," American Fact Finder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF
    22. "U.S. Census Bureau," American Fact Finder, Baltimore, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF
    23. U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/2436075.html
    24. U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/2469925.html
    25. Washington Adventist University, http://online.wau.edu/

    View Online College Courses in Maryland Below

    This list also contains online colleges that accept students from Maryland.

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