Students considering an online college in Florida can find many options for degree programs that align with key industries in the state. Whether you're currently working in healthcare or financial services, or you're looking to explore career options in fields like aviation or clean tech, you can find multiple offerings of online degree programs at the associate, bachelor's and graduate levels in Florida.

At a glance, here is a high-level overview of the landscape for Florida online college options:

  • More than 100 online colleges and universities are available in the Sunshine State; about 40 are public and almost 70 are private.
  • Of the private nonprofit online schools in Florida, 15 are faith-based institutions.
  • Online associate degree programs are available at 90 schools, online bachelor's degrees can be earned at almost 100 colleges, and advanced degrees can be earned online at 61 Florida colleges.
  • The Florida State University System offers the most online majors — more than 200.

While Florida ranks second in the nation for its number of students enrolled in distance education, the state's leaders want to grow that number — delivering 40 percent of its undergraduate credits online by 2025. The state also wants more of its residents to earn college credentials. Complete Florida aims to help residents who may have earned some college credits (but not a degree) complete their certificate, associate or bachelor's degree program at Florida colleges, including online schools.

Read on for data and rankings regarding different aspects of the Sunshine State. We rank the best online colleges in Florida, describe Florida-specific financial aid resources, and go into detail on the state's best industries, among other topics.

What Makes a Good Online College in Florida?

To help students find the right online college, we have compiled rankings of the online colleges in Florida that have been accredited by official agencies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Accreditation is an endorsement of the educational standards of an institution; learn more at our "What is College Accreditation?" page, or check the Florida Department of Education's website.

In addition to accreditation, our rankings are based on carefully chosen criteria. Regardless of major, online students can benefit from schools that offer career services, academic resources, affordable tuition or financial aid, which is why these are some of the factors we assess. Details about the data points we use for our rankings — and why they matter — can be found in the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.

Best Online Colleges in Florida for 2019-20

With so many online colleges in Florida to choose from, finding the perfect school for you can be overwhelming. Our rankings can help you narrow down your search, but rankings alone can only tell you so much. That's why we include data and information regarding how these top online colleges in Florida serve their students, from the number of online programs they offer to details about their online resources.

1

University of Florida - Gainesville

Tuition & Fees
$6,381
Distance Education Participation
58%
Number of Programs Offered
50
School Type
4-year

What is UF like?

A public land-, sea- and space-grant research institution, the University of Florida attracts more than $700 million in research funding each year for projects such as the Emerging Pathogens Institute, the McKnight Brain Institute and the LIGO gravitational wave detectors. The school was sixth in the nation for the number of engineering degrees awarded in 2017-18, and it tops our list of the best online colleges in Florida for the second year in a row.

What online programs are at UF?

Online programs at UF tend to focus on STEM subjects, such as science and engineering, but a variety of programs in fields such as education and business are also available. Many online programs at UF are delivered through the Canvas platform, although others use different delivery methods. UF Edge is used by the university's engineering department, for example, and features recordings of live lectures that are posted online.

What online resources does UF offer?

The UF Career Connection Center offers individualized career development and opportunities to connect with industry leaders, while the e-Learning Help Desk and e-Services Library Desk offer additional resources. An online News Lounge features details on UF successes, helping every student to feel like a Gator whether they attend class on-campus or online.

 
2

University of Central Florida - Orlando

Tuition & Fees
$6,368
Distance Education Participation
58%
Number of Programs Offered
45
School Type
4-year

What is UCF like?

The University of Central Florida stresses access, impact and innovation as key parts of its online programming. The university has offered online degree programs for over 20 years and has approximately 200 full-time tenure-track faculty teaching its many online courses.

What online programs are at UCF?

Fully online as well as "mixed mode" hybrid programs and courses are available through the Canvas learning management system, which has been in use at UCF since 2012. Especially popular online undergraduate subjects by enrollment include the criminal justice and psychology degree programs. Meanwhile, the upper-division nursing and nonprofit management programs attract large numbers of UCF students at the graduate level.

What online resources does UCF offer?

The UCF Online Connect Center exists to help online students "from application to graduation." The Center's enrollment coaches and success coaches work to help students navigate online programs and courses that can meet their goals. Other resources at the university include the school's writing center, career services and academic advising, internships and experiential learning opportunities.

 
3

Florida International University

Tuition & Fees
$6,556
Distance Education Participation
60%
Number of Programs Offered
45
School Type
4-year

What is FIU like?

Florida International University has been an active avenue of online education for more than 20 years. It is part of Complete Florida, the Electronic Campus and the Florida Virtual Campus, and its many resources benefit distance learning students from all across the world. FIU is notable for its R1 research ranking — the highest possible ranking from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — and for rising from position No.7 on last year's ranking for the best online colleges in Florida.

What online programs are at FIU?

Fully online, hybrid and web-assisted degree programs at FIU are delivered through the Canvas management system. Many of the school's fully online degrees have multiple start dates each year. FIU also participates in the Quality Matters process, which ensures that online courses are certified for excellence. As of January 2019, 334 online courses at FIU were Quality Matters certified.

What online resources does FIU offer?

Online learners at FIU have access to Canvas support, tutoring and development opportunities to strengthen their global awareness and leadership skills. Students also work with Success Coaches in order to stay connected to school, to obtain resources and guidance, and to progress toward academic goals.

 
4

Florida State University

Tuition & Fees
$5,656
Distance Education Participation
40%
Number of Programs Offered
15
School Type
4-year

What is FSU like?

With eight faculty members earning Fulbright awards in 2018-19, it's no surprise that Florida State University returns to our list of best online colleges in Florida for a subsequent year, rising from No.8 to an esteemed No.4. The state-designated preeminent university emphasizes research at the undergraduate level and works to promote diversity and inclusion in its student body.

What online programs are at FSU?

Most online courses at FSU are available via asynchronous instruction, meaning students have flexible timelines for completing assignments. Furthermore, all undergraduate programs are "advanced standing," or "degree completion," programs, requiring applicants to have earned 60 or more semester hours of credit before enrolling. Students transferring into FSU with an AA degree from a Florida public community college or university are eligible for direct entry into the college of their choice, so long as they meet any additional requirements for their proposed major.

What online resources does FSU offer?

All online degree-seeking students at FSU have a personalized degree roadmap created for them, which helps to ensure progress toward completion of a degree. In addition to having faculty as instructors, some online courses incorporate online learning facilitators or teaching assistants to check in on student progress or answer questions about course content. Online learners also can find resources through the Canvas Support Center and the Office of Distance Learning's newsletter.

 
5

University of South Florida - Main Campus

Tuition & Fees
$6,410
Distance Education Participation
53%
Number of Programs Offered
22
School Type
4-year

What is USF like?

A well-known research university, the University of South Florida offers online degree programs, corporate training, lifelong learning and other opportunities through its Innovative Education (IE) initiative. This initiative aligns with the school's strategic plan to increase student success through degree completion and community partnerships.

What online programs are at USF?

In addition to fully and partially online undergraduate programs, USF offers online graduate degree programs in disciplines such as business, education and engineering. Students access courses for their online degree program through the Canvas learning management system. Individual courses can also be taken separate from full programs; the OASIS Schedule Search serves as a quick way for students to identify online courses at the school.

What online resources does USF offer?

Students can access tutoring support, test preparation and the writing center through the school's Learning Commons Online, a partnership between the USF library and the Tutoring and Learning Services. Tech support at the school can help students to use various Google apps, the USF Application Portal and UStoreFile.

 
6

Florida National University - Main Campus

Tuition & Fees
$13,250
Distance Education Participation
48%
Number of Programs Offered
26
School Type
4-year

What is FNU like?

Florida National University makes our list of best colleges in the Sunshine State for another year, rising three places from its position last year at No.9. The university satisfies its mission of educating students from diverse cultures on both a local and an international level. While FIU partners with various local businesses to enrich its educational experience, it also maintains an International Studies Department that attracts distance learners from around the world.

What online programs are at FNU?

Online FNU students use the Blackboard management system to access and complete assignments and activities. Students can choose from more than 20 self-paced degree programs, including online associate, bachelor's and master's degrees. These include programs with eight-week terms and courses that start every two months. FNU is also a Military-Friendly designated school, and its online programs are available for military students regardless of whether they are stationed in Florida or not.

What online resources does FNU offer?

An FNU Mobile app allows online students to stay connected to their coursework on the go. Online learners also have help through the university writing lab, the FNU Library and the various resources of the Academic Advising Center. FNU's Job Placement team helps both campus-based and distance learners find employment opportunities in their degree fields.

 
7

The University of West Florida

Tuition & Fees
$6,360
Distance Education Participation
63%
Number of Programs Offered
22
School Type
4-year

What is the UWF like?

Research, collaboration and big ideas are significant parts of the experience at the University of West Florida, a public university located in northwestern Florida. The university offers a Student Scholars Symposium and Faculty Research Showcase and also has built global partnerships to foster international experiences and cross-cultural understanding among distance learners.

What online programs are at UWF?

An array of fully online undergraduate and graduate programs, certificates and accelerated bachelor's and master's programs is available to UWF students, primarily delivered through the Canvas learning platform. Accelerated offerings include various emphases through the school's MBA degree program, which can be completed in as little as 14 months, and multiple online Masters of Education programs.

What online resources does the UWF offer?

The university's Online Campus can be used for registration, enrollment and tracking classes. Students can access electronic databases and various online journals through the UWF library. Meanwhile, online tutoring, a grammar hotline and review of class papers upon request are all available through the school's Writing Center.

 
8

Herzing University-Winter Park

Tuition & Fees
$14,000
Distance Education Participation
57%
Number of Programs Offered
22
School Type
4-year

What is Herzing like?

Founded in 1965 as a computer training institution, Herzing University has evolved to offer undergraduate and graduate certificate programs as well as full degree programs. The career-focused Winter Park site is just one of Herzing's many campuses, all of which are proud of their accessibility; not only do they maintain an open admissions policy, but every campus "admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin."

What online programs are at Herzing?

Students of Herzing University-Winter Park can pursue on-campus, online and hybrid degree programs. The university's "Everywhere Classroom" is designed to easily connect students with their instructors, content and other learners, while its "Pathways to Success" program provides vertical alignment between online degrees. Herzing's distance-based programs range from business to healthcare, nursing, technology and more. Coursework is typically delivered on an asynchronous schedule.

What online resources does Herzing offer?

Online learners are assigned their own dedicated student service advisor, and they can also access a student bookstore and library, academic coaching and tutoring, and even a writing center online. The Career Services Department features a job board and blog and works to provide students with contacts for regional and national employers.

 
9

Saint Leo University

Tuition & Fees
$22,220
Distance Education Participation
74%
Number of Programs Offered
62
School Type
4-year

What is Saint Leo like?

Saint Leo, Florida's oldest Catholic university, began educating students in 1889 and added online education 20 years ago. The school offers numerous online clubs and organizations to its off-campus students. In fact, membership in Saint Leo's online organizations has increased 300 percent over the past four years. Saint Leo also ranked as one of the best online faith-based colleges in America in our ranking of top online Christian colleges.

What online programs are at Saint Leo?

Online programs at Saint Leo University are specifically designed for adult learners seeking 21st-century skills. To accommodate working adults' needs, there are six different start dates for online programs each year. Most online courses are offered in eight-week terms, although some classes last for 16 weeks. Various online business administration degrees with specializations and online master's degree programs are included in the university offerings. In fact, Saint Leo also made our list of best online schools for business administration degrees.

What online resources does Saint Leo offer?

The Student Life Department at Saint Leo is an excellent way for students both on- and off-campus to stay connected with one another. Students can participate in a virtual open house or join online associations and clubs, such as the Military Family or Student Communications clubs. The Career Services Department also hosts monthly career-focused webinars, which are archived for easy access by students.

 
10

Florida Atlantic University

Tuition & Fees
$4,831
Distance Education Participation
44%
Number of Programs Offered
18
School Type
4-year

What is Florida Atlantic University like?

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in the early 1960s to make higher education more accessible to learners. True to that aim, FAU now has more than 13,000 students taking online courses each semester. This university emphasizes research opportunities for STEM-based programs, and its partnerships with the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and the Max Planck Society help to broaden opportunities for students interested in these fields.

What online programs are at Florida Atlantic University?

More than 50 percent of programs at Florida Atlantic University have some kind of distance-based component. Courses can be completed "anywhere, anytime" within an academic semester, and students use the Blackboard learning management system to access their curriculum and assignments whenever is most convenient for them. Other delivery options at FAU include email and interactive television.

What online resources does Florida Atlantic University offer?

New online learners can contact the school's success coaches to help navigate coursework, submit assignments and use the online platform. Students also can schedule one-on-one eSuccess consultations to build skills for academic success and can access materials from the library through the Distance Learning LibGuide and the library's mobile app.

 

Affordable Online Colleges in Florida for 2019-20

Many students are concerned about the cost of pursuing a higher education and are looking for a quality, yet reasonably priced school. Below, we rank the most affordable community colleges and universities in Florida. The schools are listed by their in-state tuition as it was reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Financial Aid Resources in Florida

In addition to its sunny climate and fantastic institutes of higher learning, Florida also offers numerous grant and scholarship opportunities for its resident students, which serve to encourage them to stay in-state for their college years. This is partially thanks to the Florida Department of Education's Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), which administers a variety of state-funded grants and scholarships to assist Florida residents with the net costs of college.

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Florida?

Luckily for Sunshine State residents, there are numerous need- and merit-based financial aid packages available, especially for those interested in pursuing undergraduate studies in their home state. Some programs run by the state are only offered at partner institutions, so be sure to see which schools participate before you apply.

1

John C. Pace Jr. Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$5,000
Application Deadline
March 1
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL
Criteria:

Maximum award is given to applicants who rank in top tenth of their graduating class, with priority given first to graduates from Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties. Second priority is given to graduates from other schools in West Florida, and third priority to graduates from other Florida schools. Application is required. Ten minimum awards are given to applicants who meet other criteria.

2

American Legion Department of Florida General Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$2,500
Application Deadline
March 1
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicants must be direct descendents of American Legion members in good standing or deceased U.S. veterans who would have been eligible for membership. They must be seniors at accredited Florida high schools who plan to pursue undergraduate study upon graduation. Funds must be used within four years of graduation, excluding active military service.

3

American Legion Auxiliary Memorial Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$1,000
Application Deadline
January 1
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a member or the daughter or granddaughter of a member with continuous membership in a unit within the Department of Florida for at least three consecutive years prior to date of application. Applicant must be a Florida resident and must attend a Florida school. Application must be requested by January 1.

4

Florida Striders Track Club College Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
N/A
Application Deadline
March 11
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a Northeast Florida resident for the past two years who is a graduating high school senior and who is a runner and active in track and field events. Transcript, essay, and personal reference required.

For an in-depth look at the different forms of financial aid, read our Ultimate Guide to Grants or our Ultimate Guide to Scholarships.

Student Loans in Florida

Florida does not have a state-specific loan program for students since their financial aid programs focus on scholarships and grants. While earning scholarships and grants are preferable to taking out student loans, loans may be necessary for some students to cover the cost of college. In that case, students should fill out a FAFSA and look into federal student loans.

Learn more about student loans, including federal loan programs, in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Florida

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Florida

Nearly 41,000 students sent in applications to be part of the 2018 University of Florida freshman class. That was a 16 percent jump from the year before, and the increase was largely attributable to out-of-state students trying to get into one of Florida's premier institutions. Meanwhile, over at Florida State University, the school saw a 35 percent increase in the number of non-resident applicants.

Out-of-state tuition may seem like an obstacle for these students, but Florida offers a number of options to help offset non-resident prices:

And these aren't your only options. There may be scholarships, grants or other kinds of programs available to out-of-state students. The links below have some program details to get you started, but the best source of information is your school's admissions and financial aid offices.

 

Best Careers in Florida

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary
9,059,97015.7%$26,157$45,077
Employment in Florida9,059,970
Employment Growth in Florida15.7%
Median High School Salary in Florida$26,157
Median Bachelor's Salary in Florida$45,077

Top Florida Industries

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

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (except copyrighted works)2,592,77016%$68,242
Funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles1,665,78015%$64,789
Air transportation3,298,05017%$62,129
Monetary authorities-central bank1,913,43017%$70,524
Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities3,363,69015%$63,122
Ambulatory healthcare services6,449,52017%$61,165
Telecommunications4,025,44015%$62,494
Data processing, hosting, and related services3,421,95014%$64,727
Water transportation3,038,95016%$58,247
Broadcasting (except Internet)3,184,65015%$62,776

Many of the highest demand jobs in Florida belong to financial professionals. This is no surprise, as the Sunshine State is home to 170 commercial banks with approximately $131 billion in assets as of 2019. However, many other industries are thriving in Florida, several with help from public organizations and the state government itself.

For example, Florida's international trade has necessitated enormous growth in the state's air and water transportation industries, which the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has the responsibility of improving with various projects and initiatives. Or as another example, there's the Florida Association of Broadcasters. They support local radio and television stations such as Magic 107.7, WDBO-FM 96.5, WTVJ, and WOFL by hosting annual conventions, posting job and internship opportunities, and inviting current and future broadcasters to various workshops.

According to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of all jobs in the state should require postsecondary education by 2020. In response to this, the governor has challenged higher education institutions to become more affordable and to prepare students to enter the workforce, so that more students have a better chance at filling some of the most in demand jobs in Florida. "Finish in Four, Save More" is one of the governor's initiatives for this purpose — it challenges Florida's state colleges and universities to remove fees for online classes, inform incoming freshmen of the amount of money they'll save if they graduate in four years, and ensure students receive credit for college and AP classes they took in high school.

Let's explore the best jobs in three different Florida metro areas, so that you can determine which careers may be right for you based on your interests and location.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metro Area

Total Population
6,019,790
Median salary for high school grads
$25,250
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$44,544
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
30.3%
Median rent
$1,232

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Palm Beach International Airport are a few of the major airports that can be found in the Miami area. These large airports require many employees to run smoothly, which has caused airline pilots, copilots, flight engineers and similar careers to become high demand jobs in Miami.

In addition, there are several banks headquartered in this metro area, including BankAtlantic, Premier American Bank, and U.S. Century Bank. Banks are often in need of personal financial advisors to help their customers make informed decisions about their money and investments. And as the largest metro area in Florida, Miami has a lot of customers for its banks to help!

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight EngineersBachelor's degree$190,5903,260
Family and General PractitionersDoctoral or professional degree$210,8203,180
LawyersDoctoral or professional degree$145,43020,140
Personal Financial AdvisorsBachelor's degree$126,3005,370
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$108,5106,800

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

Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area

Total Population
2,978,209
Median salary for high school grads
$27,196
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$48,206
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
28.5%
Median rent
$1,014

The industry of law is one with multiple high demand jobs in Tampa — demand that has been created by the multiple law firms in the area, such as Holland & Knight LLP, Greenberg Traurig LLP, and Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. However, possibly the highest-demand industry in Tampa is health care. Facilities such as the BayCare Health System, HCA West Florida, Tampa General Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center are sources of employment to thousands of doctors, dentists and nurses in Florida.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Family and General PractitionersDoctoral or professional degree$223,5201,560
Dentists, GeneralDoctoral or professional degree$186,4901,440
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$94,2501,590
LawyersDoctoral or professional degree$113,4907,800
Nurse AnesthetistsMaster's degree$243,660N/A

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

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area

Total Population
2,390,859
Median salary for high school grads
$25,826
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$44,409
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
31%
Median rent
$1,107

The Orlando metro area is home to Edwards Construction Services and Hosanna Building Contractors, two booming construction businesses that have generated a high demand for construction managers to head their projects. Information security managers and computer network architects are also high demand jobs in Orlando due to the number of tech startups in the area, such as UniKey Technologies and FanHero.

In addition, the Orlando International Airport is a large, bustling airport that sees approximately 880 flights on a daily basis. With so many planes coming and going, it's no surprise that Orlando International creates a large demand for flight attendants.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Family and General PractitionersDoctoral or professional degree$214,8401,500
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$83,6404,230
Information Security AnalystsBachelor's degree$98,5501,180
Computer Network ArchitectsBachelor's degree$96,2001,570
Flight AttendantsHigh school diploma or equivalent$62,8602,600

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

Sources
Methodology

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:

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

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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