The Best Online University Programs Based On Their ROI

As more students turn to online education during the pandemic, they’re becoming increasingly interested in learning about the costs and payoffs of online degree programs. Now, Optimal (formerly the SR Education Group and the host for has rebranded its Guide to Online Schools as a new source of such information.

The new product is called OnlineU, and this month it released 2021 Best Colleges for Return on Investment Rankings. The rankings are based on major-specific median salary and mean debt numbers gathered from the U. S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard.

“The pandemic has significantly accelerated the growth of online learning and delivered us into a territory where there is not a lot of qualitative or quantitative information yet,” said Optimal founder and CEO Sung Rhee. “OnlineU is looking to fill this space with our data-driven articles and outcomes-based rankings focused specifically on return on investment, so students are able to vet the value and outcome of their choices rather than playing the guessing game.”

To determine mid-career return on investment (ROI), schools were ranked by graduates’ salaries and debt payments 10 years after graduation, accounting for standard salary growth and interest on debt payments. Each school was given a percentile “ROI score” that shows how the salary and debt of alumni from that school’s online programs compared to similar ones.

A statistical score was calculated that compared each degree program’s 10-year ROI with the average 10-year ROI for all other programs in the same field. The scores for the programs offered online at each school were averaged and schools were ranked from highest to lowest on this average score. To be considered, schools needed to have the necessary data available for a minimum number of online programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level.

The Top 20 Online Universities based on bachelor’s degrees include public, private non-profit, and for-profit institutions. They include traditional campus-based institutions as well as those that are exclusively online:

  • University of Virginia
  • Northeastern University
  • Excelsior College
  • Capella University
  • SUNY Empire State College
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage
  • Roger Williams University
  • Thomas Edison State University
  • Rider University
  • Colorado State University Global
  • Drexel University
  • University of Maryland Global Campus
  • Concordia University, St. Paul
  • St Joseph’s University
  • Brandman University
  • Bellevue University
  • Miami University
  • Western Governors University
  • American Pacific University System
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide

The Top Ten Online Universities based on master’s degrees are all well-established public or private, nonprofit schools.

  • Fordham University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Northwestern University
  • Columbia University, New York
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • California State University, Northridge
  • George Mason University
  • University of Minnesota
  • St. John’s University
  • University of Maryland

In addition to these rankings, the site also ranks individual degree programs in a number of fields.

  • So for example, if you’re considering earning a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Design, the University of Montana
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Georgia Tech Professional Education Expands and Updates Military Programs for Active Duty Service Member Professional Development

SAVANNAH AND ATLANTA, GA, Oct. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Georgia Tech Professional Education is updating its impressive selection of Military Programs, which now includes the addition of U.S. Army Credentialing Assistance opportunities to assist active duty service members.

Credentialing Assistance allows soldiers from around the nation to pursue credentials and off-duty training programs that support their professional development and prepare them for meaningful employment upon transition from service.

Georgia Tech Professional Education’s military programs offer skill development in sought-after subjects, such as lean six sigma and project management. Upon completion, participants receive a professional certificate from a world-renowned academic institution and are better positioned for career advancement.

U.S. Army Credentialing Assistance funds training for soldiers that leads to credentials, licensure, certification and even recertification through ACCESS, ArmyU plus books, fees, materials and exams. Georgia Tech Professional Education programs are CA-eligible and available online, making it easy for service members anywhere to enroll in some of the nation’s top courses.

“Georgia Tech Professional Education Military Programs have long been sought-after resources for our local service men and women, and have – over the past few years – become valuable options for military members across the nation, thanks to online platforms,” said Dr. James R. Wilburn, Military Academic Program Director for Georgia Tech Professional Education. “We’re pleased to diversify our offerings and provide even more ways to take advantage of them through Credentialing Assistance.”

Georgia Tech has an established history of supporting military programs. The Project Management Institute (PMI), the national credentialing agency for all project management programs, was founded at Georgia Tech in 1969. Now, over 50 years later, project management programs are offered at Georgia Tech Professional Education as one of the course options eligible for Credentialing Assistance.  

Soldiers in any state can apply for Credentialing Assistance to help support their enrollment at Georgia Tech Professional Education by going to To learn more or take advantage of the excellent training, opportunities and guidance offered by Georgia Tech Professional Education, contact Kenya Harrison at [email protected]

Among the first of its kind in the U.S., Georgia Tech-Professional Education Military Programs includes a variety of options, including transition courses that provide education for veterans and job opportunities to help active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses translate military values and experience into a successful civilian career. In addition to Credentialing Assistance, the Veterans Education Training and Transition (VET2) program is a fully-funded military transition program that combines classroom and/or online instruction with internship opportunities to provide education for veterans and job opportunities to help active duty service members, veterans, and military spouses translate military values and experience into a successful civilian career.


Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) is the global campus and lifetime education arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a top-10 ranked Public University by U.S. News & World Report. GTPE offers more than 600 courses and bootcamps, 63 professional certificate programs, and 13 online degree programs in tech, business, and industry

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America’s gifted education programs have a race problem. Can it be fixed?

This article about gifted education was produced in partnership with The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. This is part 1 of the series “Gifted Education’s Race Problem.”

BUFFALO, N.Y. — On a crisp day in early March, two elementary school gifted and talented classes worked on activities in two schools, 3 miles and a world apart.

In airy PS 64 Frederick Law Olmsted, in affluent, white north Buffalo, 22 would-be Arctic explorers wrestled with how to build a shelter if their team leader had frostbite and snow blindness. Unusually for Buffalo’s public schools — where 20 percent of students are white and 46 percent are Black — about half of the fourth grade class was white.

In PS 61 Arthur O. Eve, on the city’s majority-Black East Side, 13 first graders, all of them Black, Latino or Asian American, folded paper airplanes in their basement classroom as part of an aerodynamics and problem-solving lesson. Unlike at Olmsted, the highest-scoring elementary school in the city, students at Eve scored around the dismal city average in math and English in 2019, when fewer than a quarter of students passed state tests.

The gifted program at Eve opened two years ago as a way to increase access to Buffalo’s disproportionately white, in-demand gifted and talented programs. Buffalo educators hoped Eve’s new program would give more children — particularly children of color — a chance at enrichment and advanced learning.

Yet two years in, Eve’s gifted classes are under-enrolled, while Olmsted always runs out of room — last year, more than 400 children applied for 65 gifted spots. And even though the district made it easier to apply for gifted classes, Olmsted gifted classrooms still don’t look like the rest of the district. White families flock to Olmsted, and eschew the new program at Eve, while families of color have come up against barriers, including an IQ test children take as young as 4, that experts say keep gifted education out of reach for kids who need it.

At PS 61 Arthur O. Eve on Buffalo’s East Side, Sarah Malczewski’s first grade gifted class prepares to launch the paper airplanes they designed to fly as far as possible.Danielle Dreilinger for The Hechinger Report

Buffalo’s struggle to create an integrated, equitable gifted program demonstrates a longtime challenge that has recently gained attention: Gifted education in America has a race problem.

Nearly 60 percent of students in gifted education are white, according to the most recent federal data, compared to 50 percent of public school enrollment overall. Black students, in contrast, made up 9 percent of students in gifted education, although they were 15 percent of the overall student population.

Many factors contribute to this disparity. Gifted education has racism in its roots: Lewis Terman, the psychologist who in the 1910s popularized the concept of “IQ” that became the foundation of gifted testing, was a eugenicist. And admissions for gifted programs tend to favor children with

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