Most Expensive Online Bachelor’s Programs for Out-of-State Students

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matter to you in your college or grad school search.

When it comes to deciphering the true cost of an online program, most students want to see the total program cost – the amount of money they’d be paying if they took all of their required courses at that school.

But that figure is rarely easy to come by, according to a recent study, since many programs prefer to advertise their per-credit price instead. The move may make some sense, since many online students start with some credits already applied toward their degree.

Students who manage to find the total cost of online bachelor’s degrees might be surprised by what they find. While many assume online education is an inexpensive option, that’s not always the case.

[Learn why online education may not cost less.]

 At the 10 public schools with the priciest online bachelor’s programs for out-of-state students, for example, total program cost is more than $91,000 in 2014-2015. While that’s less than four years’ worth of tuition at some of the country’s most expensive brick-and-mortar universities, it’s not exactly community college cheap, either.

Ohio State University—Columbus has the most expensive public bachelor’s program for out-of-state students, according to data reported by 126 ranked public online bachelor’s programs in an annual U.S. News survey. Out-of-state students attending Ohio State online pay $1,070 per credit and up to $128,400 for the total program if they take all of their courses at the school – though those who enrolled with previous credits wouldn’t pay the full price tag.

Among the 126 ranked programs that reported data to U.S. News, the average total program cost is $52,830. North Dakota’s Valley City State University offers the cheapest tuition for out-of-state students earning bachelor’s degrees online. They pay $168 per credit and a potential total program cost of $20,160.

[Explore the cheapest online bachelor’s programs for out-of-state students.]

Below are the 10 most expensive public online bachelor’s programs for out-of-state students based on per-credit costs and the number of required credits. The total program cost doesn’t take into account any scholarships or other forms of student aid, nor does it include any of the extra fees that schools may charge.

Schools labeled RNP, or Rank Not Published, fell in the bottom one-fourth of their ranking category. U.S. News calculates numerical ranks for RNP schools, but does not publish them. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School Out-of-state cost per credit Credits needed to graduate Out-of-state total cost U.S. News rank
Ohio State University—Columbus $1,070 120 $128,400 8 (tie)
Central Washington University $677 180 $121,860 194 (tie)
West Virginia University $927 120 $111,240 RNP
University of Georgia $893 120 $107,160 90 (tie)
New Mexico State University $796 128 $101,888 161 (tie)
University at Buffalo—SUNY $816 120 $97,920 136 (tie)
University of South Carolina—Aiken $777 122 $94,794 119 (tie)
Florida State University $776 120 $93,120 161 (tie)
Northern Arizona University $771 120 $92,520 131 (tie)
University of Michigan—Flint $766 120 $91,920 RNP

School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed 296 public, private and for-profit schools for our 2015 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings. Schools reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of these survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. These data are specific to schools’ online bachelor’s degree program offerings and have no influence over U.S. News’ Best Colleges rankings assessing traditional bachelor’s programs. The tuition data above are correct as of Jan. 27, 2015
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