Having a degree in hand can also help you qualify for a higher-skill — and higher-wage — job, whether you work for the government, in the education or health care industry, or in the professional and business services sector, for example.

Here's a brief overview of online colleges in the District of Columbia:

  • 10 online colleges in the district offer associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees.
  • While all of these online schools in are private institutions, the nonprofit ones include three faith-based universities, a historically black university, and a university for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • The most online degree programs can be found at George Washington University.
  • Associate degree programs are available at 7 online colleges, bachelor's degree programs are offered at 9, and master's degree programs can also be found at 9.

The District's Higher Education Licensure Commission wants to help more residents complete their education. The Back on Track DC program provides support and services that can help young adults reconnect to education, and its ReEngagement Center provides resources for those who hope to pursue a secondary education. Online students may benefit from this initiative.

Keep reading to find out the best colleges in the District in Columbia as well as the most affordable ones.

What Makes a Good Online College in the District of Columbia?

OnlineColleges.com has created many different rankings of the best online colleges in the District of Columbia to help students find a school that's right for them. Our rankings are determined based on very specific criteria, and the most important of them is that every school we take into consideration has been accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Many of the institutions in and around the District of Columbia are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), though some may hold other national or programmatic accreditations as well. Learn why this matters on our "What is College Accreditation?" page, or learn more about accreditation in the District of Columbia from the District of Columbia State Board of Education.

These online school rankings were designed to help students make more informed decisions prior to enrollment. We've accounted for and displayed a wide range of important data points, such as graduation rate, number of online programs offered, student support services available, and cost of in-state tuition. Students can refer to the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section on our "About Us" page for details on why these factors are important to the distance learning experience.

Featured Online Colleges in the District of Columbia for 2019-20

If you're thinking about distance-based opportunities in Washington, D.C., it's essential to investigate the programs and opportunities available before enrolling. To streamline that process for you, we've created this list, featuring eight online colleges in the District of Columbia. We display data relevant to online students for each of these colleges mdash; data like acceptance rate, graduate rate and retention rate, gathered by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS). We hope this information can help students to make a better-informed decision about which online colleges in Washington, D.C. they may want to apply to.


George Washington University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is GW like?

George Washington University is a prestigious private institution founded in 1821 by an act of Congress. GWU alumni include countless world leaders and influential figures such as Fulbright Program founder J. William Fulbright, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Samsung Chairman Kun-Hee Lee and President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. GW's goal is to inspire and educate the next generation of leaders around the world through quality education.

What online programs are at GW?

GW has remained in the top spot of our list of DC schools for two years running, and a large part of that has been thanks to its staggering program variety. This is further bolstered by the school's many options for specializations. For example, GW's extensive online nursing degree programs boast concentrations like psychiatric mental health, family nursing and executive leadership.

Most online degree and certificate programs at GW, including nursing, are available at the graduate level, with options in politics, security, engineering, public health and more. However, some online bachelor's degree programs are also available, primarily in the nursing and health sciences fields.

What online resources does GW offer?

As a member of the GW community, online students receive access to the GWorld Card, which allows discounts at certain DC restaurants, entry to the extensive GW library system and other student benefits. Online students can also take advantage of GW's career service center, job portal, tutoring, interview prep and even mental health services.


Georgetown University

Tuition & Fees
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Number of Programs Offered
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What is GU like?

Georgetown University has been offering quality education based on Catholic, Jesuit heritage and values for over two centuries in the nation's capital. With a learning style focused on critical thinking and self-reflection, this private institution helps distance learning students with busy schedules develop skills that help them stand out in competitive fields.

What online programs are at GU?

Most online programs at GU allow students to complete degrees at graduate and master's levels. For example, GU's online master's in real estate program can help students learn to tackle multiple roles in the field, with coursework on ethics, economics, subcontracting, markets, global industry knowledge and more. Undergraduate students are more limited in their choices at GU, but they can still complete much of a B.A. in liberal studies program online in a hybrid format.

Students can expect to complete coursework through either Blackboard or Canvas. While most courses are asynchronous, some video-based lectures are synchronous to encourage group discussion.

What online resources does GU offer?

Current online GU students can enjoy full access to the robust GU library system filled with renowned databases, eBooks, periodicals, webinars and other educational multimedia. The alumni program allows graduates to join an extensive network of over 7,300 ambitious professionals. GU welcomes all online students to take part in the DC campus commencement ceremony, but this is not required.


Gallaudet University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
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What is GU like?

Founded in 1864 by an act of Congress, this private institution provides barrier-free higher education to deaf and hard of hearing students. In 1988, the Deaf President Now movement, which catalyzed the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, launched on GU's campus. Students of all backgrounds and communication styles can take advantage of degree programs through GU, both on-campus and online.

What online programs are at GU?

GU offers two fully online degree programs: a general undergraduate program and an M.A. in advanced education. Online students can expect to complete coursework through the Blackboard learning system.

Other master's programs like clinical mental health counseling and sign language education are hybrid programs that involve limited on-campus attendance. Students may also complete non-degree professional certificates online in interpretation, linguistics and others. Students should check with an advisor to ensure that their entire program can be completed online.

What online resources does GU offer?

Online students can take advantage of GU's interpreting service, which includes deaf-blind interpreting for meetings, videos and events. GU students may also be eligible to receive software and apps like Google Apps, Echo360 and myThreads for video production. The GU library offers a wide range of general and deaf-centric resource material as well.


Catholic University of America

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CUA like?

A letter from Pope Leo XIII led to the founding of this private university in 1887. Well over a century later, CUA is pleased to offer a selection of degree programs spanning from theological studies to management and social work. Just like on-campus students, online students are expected to abide by Catholic-based relationship lifestyle policies.

What online programs are at CUA?

CUA offers a wide range of fully online certificate and graduate degree programs to distance learners. Students can expect to complete coursework through the Blackboard learning system. For students interested in pursuing a degree in nursing, CUA offers M.S.M., M.S.N., Ph.D. and D.N.P. programs.

Theology students can choose from programs like canon law, catechesis and spirituality. Meanwhile, non-degree students can complete professional certificates in innovative programs like Catholic-Muslim relations and creative teaching through drama.

What online resources does CUA offer?

CUA offers extensive online resources for students to build their careers. Portals such as Handshake, Glassdoor, WayUp, GoinGlobal and O*Net supply opportunities for students and graduates to build their professional skills, improve interviewing and apply for positions (including entry-level positions). Students can also enjoy streamlined tutoring services led by industry experts.


American University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is AU like?

American University is a private school in DC focused on empowering the next generation of students to create lasting change in their communities through knowledge. Media outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post and Fox News often reach out to AU's prestigious faculty members for comments and source material.

What online programs are at AU?

AU explicitly states that it does not offer online undergraduate degree programs. However, undergraduate students may complete many courses online, just not an entire program. AU does offer several master's degrees and graduate certificate programs fully online with 24/7 access through Blackboard.

Students keen on pursuing a career with the US government or related think tanks can consider master's programs in fields like counterterrorism, strategic communication, public policy and applied economics. AU also offers healthcare graduate certificates and master's programs in industries such as nutrition and sports analytics.

What online resources does AU offer?

AU has designed their online learning environment to encourage vital student and faculty discussion and communication through Blackboard, virtual open houses, student chats, message boards and webinars. Online students can also enjoy AU's expansive research library filled with thousands of eBooks, videos and databases. Tutoring and a digital writing center are also available to help students brush up their skills.


Howard University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is HU like?

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private research institution and historically Black university boasting a wide range of influential political and entertainment alumni. While HU offers degree programs in many fields, the university is most well-known for its law programs. Notable alumni include Senator Kamala Harris, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Marlon Wayans.

What online programs are at HU?

HU welcomes students of all races into its prestigious on- and off-campus degree programs and courses, which are hosted through Blackboard. The university offers a handful of master and graduate degree programs that their website states can be completed "almost entirely" online.

Through HU's nontraditional PharmD program, students can work their way towards a graduate degree in as little as two years. HU also offers an interesting 18-month executive MBA program that combines accounting, management and entrepreneurship into its curriculum, as well as a paralegal studies certificate program.

What online resources does HU offer?

HU's extensive library system includes databases, eBooks and research materials on law, general topics and detailed African history. Through HU's Department of Enterprise Technology, online students can access software and other digital tools like Office360, Apple and VPNs. The Moorland-Springarn Research Center offers one of the world's largest collections of resources on Black history and culture.


Strayer University - District of Columbia

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is SU like?

Strayer University is a career-driven school that's transformed its offerings to help working adults succeed through generous transfer credit opportunities, innovative money-saving solutions and flexible online programs. Each student at SU is assigned a success coach to help with planning course schedules and the university experience.

What online programs are at SU?

SU offers several online programs that allow students to earn a bachelor's, associate or master's degree or a graduate certificate. Courses can be bolstered by video content from Strayer Studios, assistance from the A.I. chat bot Irving, or the university's partnership with the financial news network Cheddar.

Staying true to its founding roots as a business college, SU offers a wide range of business management and marketing degree opportunities such as a graduate certificate in digital entrepreneurship. Those looking to pursue their MBA may want to investigate SU's Jack Welch program: a program built on the time-tested techniques of General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

What online resources does SU offer?

There are many online resources that can help Strayer students, but some of the most impressive are the financial resources the school offers. Undergraduate students at Strayer can enroll in the Graduation Fund program, which grants students one tuition-free class in their final undergraduate year for every three they completed in the years prior.

Meanwhile, graduate students pursuing an MBA may be eligible for the $3,000 Strayer master's scholarship. Transfer students can combine these benefits with the Transfer Credit Scholarship, which helps to cover course costs for students who transfer 27 or more quarter credits into the Strayer curriculum.


University of the Potomac - District of Columbia

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UOTP like?

Formerly Potomac College, University of the Potomac strives to make education accessible to working adults through flexible online degree programs and on-campus night or weekend courses. Despite being a relatively new institution compared to other DC schools, UOTP boasts an ever-evolving curriculum, designed with aid from their partnership with the University of Business and International Studies (UBIS) in Geneva, Switzerland.

What online programs are at UOTP?

Online UOTP students can choose from a broad range of fields and degree programs at the associate, bachelor's and graduate levels, most of them focused on either business or technology. UOTP regularly updates its courses based on current events and learning standards as part of its endeavor to teach students career-focused skills.

The field of international business has a particular appeal at UOTP, as their partnership with UBIS gives their courses a uniquely global angle, down to a dual degree program that combines a bachelor's in business from UOTP with a bachelor's in either business administration or international relations from UBIS.

What online resources does UOTP offer?

UOTP is a college concerned with affordability. Tuition rates are locked in at the start of degree programs, and eligible students can pay for tuition on a monthly payment plan rather than in a lump sum. Students can also pay a single resource fee to gain access to the online library, all UOTP e-textbooks, and other academic tools for research and learning. Finally, the university hosts multiple scholarships that can benefit students, such as the Multiple Family Member scholarship and the Good Hope Scholarship.


Affordable Online Colleges in District of Columbia for 2019-20

Curious about the most affordable online colleges in the District of Columbia? Look no further. Here is a list of the most affordable online colleges in this illustrious region, arranged by the costs of each school's tuition and fees.

Best Careers in the District of Columbia

Perhaps nowhere in the country is a college education more important than in the District of Columbia, aka Washington, D.C. With healthcare, government and professional services the three major employers in the region, many of the high paying jobs in Washington require advanced education. Students can use the data compiled here, which includes current and projected employment and average salaries, to help determine which career paths might be the best to pursue at online colleges in District of Columbia.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary
Employment in District of Columbia789,310
Employment Growth in District of Columbia7.6%
Median High School Salary in District of Columbia$29,871
Median Bachelor's Salary in District of Columbia$64,934

Top District of Columbia Industries

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Educational services; state, local, and private669,6509%$76,140
Ambulatory healthcare services572,9209%$76,533
Hospitals; state, local, and private608,4309%$75,525
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations624,2509%$73,412
Professional, scientific, and technical services621,2608%$76,321
Management of companies and enterprises615,8808%$74,770
Social assistance581,9709%$71,353
Administrative and support services627,0708%$71,685
Nursing and residential care facilities537,6409%$69,811
Insurance carriers and related activities513,2807%$80,471

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

In addition to various national museums and monuments, the District of Columbia houses more than 175 foreign embassies. There also are many well-known international organizations located in the District of Columbia, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Other notable organizations in the area include the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration and Veterans Affairs. This high concentration of public, private and federal institutions offers a vast array of high demand jobs in the District of Columbia.

Notable colleges in the region include Georgetown and Howard universities, as well as the District of Columbia Public Schools system, making education one of the most needed jobs in Washington, D.C. There are a wide mix of military, nonprofit and for-profit hospitals located in the greater metro region, including Walter Reed National Memorial Medical Center, which creates high demand for healthcare professionals as well. Combined, education and healthcare employ more than 131,000 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. That trails only government (238,000) and professional and businesses services (169,700).

With its high number of trade industry associations and membership groups, the District of Columbia employs tens of thousands of workers in executive and management positions. More than one-third of all membership organization employment is located in Washington, D.C. Growing industry clusters in the region include professional, scientific and technical services, administrative and support services, and social assistance.

In the section below, we'll spotlight several additional good jobs to have in the District of Columbia's primary metro area.

Best Jobs in Washington-Arlington-Alexandria

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

The greater Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan statistical area also includes the Pentagon in Arlington on the western shores of the Potomac River. Computer and mathematical positional are a major industry cluster in the region, employing more than 228,000 skilled workers, the BLS reports. A few of the high paying jobs in this sector include computer and information systems managers, software applications developers, systems software developers and information security analysts.

The legal field is yet another major employer, with more than 44,870 lawyers working in the greater MSA, the BLS notes. Legal positions account for 45.1 percent of jobs per 1,000 residents, which is far and away the highest concentration of lawyers in the U.S. mdash; New York is second, at eight percent.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
LawyersDoctoral or professional degree$179,98043,900
Information Security AnalystsBachelor's degree$114,88014,540
Software Developers, Systems SoftwareBachelor's degree$122,42030,230
Software Developers, ApplicationsBachelor's degree$117,45033,530
Computer and Information Systems ManagersBachelor's degree$173,47018,220

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.


Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  1. Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
  2. Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
  3. At least 1 percent of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
  4. "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0

We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using provisional 2017-18 data from IPEDS:

  1. Number of programs offered via distance education
  2. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2017-18 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.