Not all online universities are created equal. The Web is inundated with advertisements for online universities that claim to be everything degree-seekers need to get degrees and change their fortunes. Beneath the flashy ad copy, however, substantial information is nearly impossible to find. A recent ranking by Online Education Database ( is the first list to compare the slew of online colleges side by side.

Interestingly, based on such factors as financial aid, graduation rates, and retention rate, the most well-known schools are not at the top. Following is OEDb’s 2009 list of the top universities online:

salem international university10. Salem International University – This online arm of a private, for-profit institution in Salem, West Virginia offers a variety of degrees from Associate’s to Master’s in Business, IT, Education, Criminal Justice, and Biology. It received high marks financial aid and years accredited. Online programs are delivered monthly, letting students complete their programs faster. The MBA or M.Ed. programs, for instance, can be completed in 12 months.

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Financial Aid: 100%

Graduation Rate: 39%

Peer Web Citations: 41

Retention Rate: 54%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 13

Years Accredited: 46

western governors university9. Western Governors University – Scoring high in financial aid and retention rates, WGU boasts a full-array of online tools to help their students. Founded in 1997 by a collection of 19 western state governors, the university promotes an innovative mentoring program that pairs each student with a mentor through graduation. In these teams, students develop their own academic action plans to track their progress through every 6-month term.

Acceptance Rate: 37%

Financial Aid: 80%

Graduation Rate: 37%

Peer Web Citations: 467

Retention Rate: 78%

Student-Faculty Ratio: Not available

Years Accredited: 7

dickinson state university8. Dickinson State University – This North Dakota university’s online programs scored well in financial aid, retention rates, and years accredited. Online students can find programs in Agricultural Sales, Business Administration, Finance, Human Resources, Technology, and International Business. Students familiar with Blackboard or Moodle will find DSU’s online offerings familiar.

Acceptance Rate: Not available

Financial Aid: 91%

Graduation Rate: 37%

Peer Web Citations: 287

Retention Rate: 65%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 19

Years Accredited: 60

grand canyon university7. Grand Canyon University – Started as a private Baptist university in 1949, this school scored high in acceptance rates, financial aid, and retention rates. Respected programs from the College of Education, the Ken Blanchard School of Business, and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences offer students a tremendous educational experience backed by seasoned faculty.

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Financial Aid: 91%

Graduation Rate: 46%

Peer Web Citations: 252

Retention Rate: 69%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 13

Years Accredited: 41

liberty university6. Liberty University – This Christian university based in Lynchburg, Virginia, serves over 50,000 students in over 100 different academic programs. Its online programs focus on business, counseling, criminal justice, education, nursing, and Christian ministry. The university scores high in acceptance rate, financial aid, and retention rate.

Acceptance Rate: 98%

Financial Aid: 96%

Graduation Rate: 51%

Peer Web Citations: 567

Retention Rate: 73%

Student-Faculty Ratio: Not available

Years Accredited: 29

letourneau university5. LeTourneau University – LeTourneau enrolls over 3,200 at its Longview, Texas, campus. The interdenominational Christian university boasts the same quality as its on-campus courses in quicker, more convenient online courses. It scores high in acceptance rates, financial aid, graduation rate, and retention rate.

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Financial Aid: 99%

Graduation Rate: 52%

Peer Web Citations: 296

Retention Rate: 78%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 19

Years Accredited: 39

upper iowa university4. Upper Iowa University – UIU’s online liberal arts distance education programs include 15 centers in the U.S., an online program, an independent study program, and centers in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. They offer over 40 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. A full online MBA programs is also offered. UIU scores high in financial aid, retention rate, and small class sizes.

Acceptance Rate: 62%

Financial Aid: 96%

Graduation Rate: 36%

Peer Web Citations: 398

Retention Rate: 67%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 14

Years Accredited: 58

champlain college3. Champlain College – This Burlington, Vermont, college boasts outstanding class sizes and scholarly citations. Most of its degree programs are offered online, including associate’s, bachelor’s, and certificate programs. 6 master’s degrees can also be obtained online. It has offered refined it online programs since 1993.

Acceptance Rate: 59%

Financial Aid: 94%

Graduation Rate: 84%

Peer Web Citations: 521

Retention Rate: 77%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 16

Years Accredited: 18

regent university2. Regent University – This interdenominational Christian university, based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, offers degrees in over 30 courses of study. In fact, its degree programs reflect a surprisingly diverse array of studies: Communication, Journalism, Biblical Studies, Education, Business Administration, Government, and Counseling. This school excels in financial aid, scholarly citations, peer web citiations, and small class sizes.

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Financial Aid: 90%

Graduation Rate: Not available

Peer Web Citations: 1,070

Retention Rate: Not available

Student-Faculty Ratio: 10

Years Accredited: 25

nova southeastern university1. Nova Southeastern University – This private, coeducational, nonsectarian, research university offers robust online programs in addition to course at its three campuses. Faculty members and students interact via real-time electronic classrooms, discussion forums via threaded bulletin boards, real-time electronic classrooms that support graphical presentations and audio, and online submission of assignments in multimedia formats. NSU provides an email address and a directory for publishing assignments and resources to the Web for all students and faculty members. The Electronic Library provides access to online databases, many of which contain full-text documents. NSU combines the scholarly acumen of an established university with the best online tools.

Acceptance Rate: 51%

Financial Aid: 95%

Graduation Rate: 47%

Peer Web Citations: 4,950

Retention Rate: 60%

Student-Faculty Ratio: Not available

Years Accredited: 38

About the Author: Marcus Varner writes articles and blogs for Classes and Careers and numerous other sites. He earned a BA in English and a MBA in Marketing from Brigham Young University. He loves trivia, especially regarding comics, movies, books, science, and history.

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