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Maryland Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018

The state of Maryland’s educational system has a strong commitment to incorporating technology in all levels of learning and the many college-level distance learning programs available in this state benefit from such a commitment. Maryland programs provide maximum flexibility for online students balancing education, work and outside commitments. Tuition costs are important to consider when picking an online program, but so are factors such as a college’s accreditation status, financial aid opportunities for online learners and if a program allows transfer credits. This page will help start you on your search for the perfect online degree program in Maryland, and includes more on how to find the best accredited online programs in the state.

Maryland’s Best Online Colleges: The Most Affordable Options for 2018

The following colleges offer the greatest balance of academic rigor and student support, and are the best affordable online colleges in Maryland for distance learners. Rankings draw on a number of factors, including the quantity and range of online programs a college offers, the tuition costs in-state, and the amount of scholarships and grants students receive from the college. Students who want to find the best accredited online colleges in Maryland will find them ranked on our list below.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Capitol Technology University Laurel, MD 100.00 $22,176 8 100% 12:143%no yes yes
2 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD 99.23 $7,612 14 54% 17:184%no yes yes
3 Towson University Towson, MD 97.23 $6,004 14 35% 17:165%yes yes yes
4 Coppin State University Baltimore, MD 96.72 $4,089 3 56% 13:117%yes yes yes
5 Morgan State University Baltimore, MD 96.68 $4,960 7 50% 15:134%no yes yes
6 University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD 96.52 $6,172 5 58% 15:138%no yes yes
7 Washington Adventist University Takoma Park, MD 96.48 $19,995 3 94% 7:136%yes no yes
8 Frostburg State University Frostburg, MD 94.22 $5,800 6 51% 16:147%no no yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Baltimore City Community College Baltimore, MD 100.00 $2,288 3 13% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Hagerstown Community College Hagerstown, MD 98.91 $4,128 17 22% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 Prince George's Community College Largo, MD 98.47 $4,440 18 5% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
4 Chesapeake College Wye Mills, MD 97.11 $4,272 4 37% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
5 Harford Community College Bel Air, MD 96.30 $4,584 7 18% 19:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 College of Southern Maryland La Plata, MD 96.15 $4,752 16 8% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes

By the Numbers: Online Colleges in Maryland are Growing

Starting in 1995, Maryland committed to developing and fund educational technology programs in all areas of education. Thanks to these state-wide educational innovations, Maryland educators and students have a clear understanding of structure and value of online learning beginning in pre-kindergarten and continuing through postsecondary education. Out of 51 accredited colleges in Maryland, 35 offer distance learning opportunities and 20 are members of the consortium Maryland Online, which offers continuing education courses online. There are plenty of resources for online learning that both residents and non-residents can explore through the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Tuition, Financial Aid for Colleges in Maryland

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, attending a public, 4-year college in Maryland and paying out-of-state tuition cost students a couple thousand dollars less than the national average of $24,354 in 2015-2016. But online students who reside in Maryland will still pay significantly less than out-of-state students. Maryland has nine residency criteria for in-state tuition, including owning or renting a home in Maryland that contains most of your personal items, paying state income tax, having a Maryland driver’s license and being able to prove you are not living in Maryland just to attend an educational institution. Students must meet all criteria to qualify for in-state tuition.

In-state tuition: $8,942 (public 4-year)

$38,352 (private 4-year)

Out-of-state tuition: $21,768

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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In Maryland, do online college students pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

Online students attending a Maryland college degree program must live in-state and meet all of Maryland colleges’ residency requirements to receive in-state tuition. This also applies to students enrolled in hybrid programs that combine occasional on-site classes with online learning.

However, Maryland is a part of the Academic Common Market, a program through the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) that allows students living in one of 15 participating Southern states to attend certain colleges in these states without paying out-of-state tuition. You can check which Maryland colleges take part in this program and search for programs in Maryland on the Academic Common Market website or on the Maryland Higher Education Commission website. SREB is also launching a nationwide website for distance learning and adult learners in early 2018 with program information and access for all 50 states.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1. Students must meet Maryland’s residency criteria in order to qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in an online, hybrid or on-campus program.

  • 2. Students living in one of the 15 Southern states that are part of the Academic Common Market may attend a Maryland college for the in-state tuition rate.

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How do I apply for financial aid in Maryland?

Residents of Maryland applying for financial aid should first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between January 1 and March 1. The FAFSA allows you to be considered for government financial aid at the federal, state and institutional level. The Maryland Higher Education Commission website has information about applying for state financial aid, hosts the Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS) that students use to apply for and receive updates about their financial aid, and presents a guide for students exploring Maryland education and financial aid opportunities.

To receive state financial aid, students and their parents must be Maryland residents for 12 months if attending a 4-year college and 3 months if attending a 2-year or private career college. Student must also meet the minimum requirements of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy for their program.

  • GPA

    To qualify for financial aid, students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above.

  • Time commitments

    Most colleges require students receiving financial aid to take a full course load, usually 24 to 30 credits a year.

  • Max credit loads

    Students who take more than 180 credits over the course of their college career are not eligible for financial aid.

  • Credit completion

    Maryland colleges require students to complete between 50% and 75% of the credits they attempt each semester. This means a student must pass more than half their classes.

Maryland-Specific College Scholarships & Grants

Federal scholarships and grants are a great way to start financing your education, but the state of Maryland also provides many need-based grants, legislative or career-based scholarships and unique population grants to Maryland residents. The state offers scholarships and loan forgiveness opportunities for certain careers students pursue, though these may require you to reside and apply your degree in Maryland in order to qualify. For students who are not residents of Maryland and cannot receive state funding, individual colleges provide scholarships and grants for accepted students who meet criteria that range from academic and sports achievements to demographics and identities.

How do I know which grants and scholarships I can apply for?

Maryland scholarship and grant information is available through the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Students should look over these state grants as well as federal grants to see if they meet any of the requirements. Individual colleges also offer scholarships and grant opportunities to students who have a demonstrated financial need, a particular merit or who are part of a certain demographic or population. College-specific scholarships and grants in Maryland are listed on the College Grants Database.

There are regional scholarships available as well; Central Scholarship provides a range of scholarships to Maryland residents or to people who live within 200 miles of Baltimore. Grants are also available for students of particular faiths, races, ethnicities, and identities, such as the Korean American Scholarship Foundation’s Eastern Regional Chapter, which offers grants to students of Korean descent who are living and attending college in the Eastern United States. Life-experiences can likewise be a source of college funding, such as the Jacqueline Shearer Memorial Scholarship offered through the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, which is awarded to Maryland students who have had their lives affected by a cancer diagnosis, either in themselves or a loved one. Consider your own identity and background, then begin to search for scholarships that will connect with your own experiences, values, choices and plan for your future after earning your online degree at a Maryland college.

Where can I apply for scholarships and grants that are Maryland-specific?

The Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS) is a convenient way for Maryland residents to explore, apply for and receive updates about state scholarship applications. There are also memorial scholarships that have specific requirements, such as the Angie Houtz Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is based on academic performance and a commitment to attend college in Maryland. When you are accepted to an online program, you can also ask your college’s financial aid office if there are scholarship and grant opportunities that you would qualify for.

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Searching Through Maryland’s Accredited Online Colleges

Maryland offers a wealth of online degree programs, so it can help students interested in online learning to find ways to narrow down the search for the right colleges. Questions about funding and time commitment are common, but so are questions about how to apply previous academic credit or on-the-job experience towards a degree. Learn how you can customize the search for and find your perfect online program in Maryland.

Which Maryland colleges will use my transfer credits and relevant experience?

For students who initially intend to enroll in a Maryland community college before transferring to a 4-year college, the Articulation System for Maryland Colleges and Universities (ARTSYS) allows you to transfer more easily to 4-year University System of Maryland Institutions and other participating colleges. This transfer credit system helps evaluate chosen courses for their transferability and addresses how they apply to your planned degree.

University of Maryland University College partners with several military colleges to apply a student’s military training and experience toward various degrees, and allows students who have job experience as well as prior coursework to transfer their educational experiences. University of Baltimore accepts early college initiative credits for students who took college-level classes in high school. It can be a fiscally responsible idea to attend a community college and complete general education credits before enrolling in a 4-year college’s online degree program.

Many Maryland colleges also have less-rigorous admission requirements for students who have received 24 or more transferable credits from another institution. For example, Frostburg State University will accept students with 24 credits if they have a 2.0 GPA, while transfer students with fewer than 24 credits must have a 2.5 GPA.

I live in Maryland, but want to earn an online degree. Do I need to pick an online college in my state?

You do not need to pick a college in Maryland to earn an online degree. Because Maryland is part of the Academic Common Market, you can enroll in online learning courses at participating institutions in 14 other states and still pay in-state tuition. If you apply to colleges outside of the Academic Common Market, however, you may have to pay out-of-state tuition for your online degree.

How do I choose between all Maryland’s online college options?

Maryland colleges offer a range of online degree options with timelines that range from strict to adaptable. Think about the amount of time you would like to commit to earning an online degree, both in your everyday schedule and over the course of a degree program. You can then compare the cost of tuition at several different institutions and find out what scholarships and grants the different colleges offer based on need, merit, or extracurricular activity that you qualify for.

If you have transfer credits, check if online degree programs will count those credits toward your degree. View individual courses offered and see if there are certain professors you want to learn from. Online learning is an experience you can tailor to your own needs, so take advantage of Maryland’s many online degree programs to find the college that is just right for you.