About Top Online College’s Ranking Methodology

Top Online College recognizes that choosing an educational institution is a formative decision that shapes the rest of a person’s life. With so many colleges and universities claiming to be the best, students can feel overwhelmed by their choices. We’re dedicated to taking the guesswork out of selecting a college or university so students like you can start your future off on the right foot.

Top Online College provides prospective students and transfer students with an unbiased source of information on schools, empowering them to make informed decisions about their education and career. Our resources help academic hopefuls to identify schools that best meet their unique needs and ambitions — be it affordability, educational prestige, program availability, or something else. Our resources are always free, and they draw on reliable public data you can trust.

Our Ranking Criteria

Not all institutions are known for the same things. While one college may be best for someone with a low budget, another might be ideal for someone trying to graduate early. This means the things that matter most to one student, whether it be prestige, cost, or something else, may not even make the list of another student’s top priorities.

That’s why Top Online College strives to highlight a broad mix of educational institutions with various strengths across all categories rather than focusing on only one ranking criteria. We want to make sure each type of student is presented with the best options for whatever their needs are within the program they want to go into. The following are the respective categories we look at in choosing schools for our rankings:

  • Affordability
  • Time to graduation
  • Academic quality
  • Post-graduation earning potential

Along with the schools we name, we also provide the following supplemental information so you can easily compare schools against the others:

  • Location (public universities offer discounts to in-state students)
  • Average tuition cost
  • Admission requirements
  • Accreditation
  • Unique offerings
  • Acceptance rate

About Our Data Sources

Our program ranking pages are carefully compiled lists of online institutions using information from university websites and reliable data sources, including the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for college tuition information — the main government source of education-related data. Each school listed is an accredited institution with a respectable reputation. We hope that these lists will help students easily identify a college that best fits their priorities.


Please note that we have objectively selected each college based on its merits; we do not receive compensation for the information listed or allow payment in exchange for higher rankings. We know that choosing a school is one of the most significant decisions people ever make, which is why our top priority is to be a reliable source for prospective students.

As you research Top Online College’s ranking pages, rest easy knowing our selections have been made using reliable data sources and ranking methodologies. You can trust our lists to help you make an informed decision about your future.