How Much is the Cost of Online Bachelor’s Degree?

How Much is the Cost of Online Bachelor's Degree

In general, obtaining an undergraduate degree leads to increased lifetime earnings, but it require a substantial initial financial commitment. This is particularly evident in the present day, as the cost of a bachelor’s degree has nearly tripled since 1980 when adjusting for inflation.


Opting for an online college degree can serve as a means to reduce educational expenses, and in recent years, online degrees have experienced substantial growth in both popularity and quality. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to be aware of what to be cautious of to ensure that you are securing the most advantageous deal for your education.

Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online?

Many educational institutions now offer the opportunity to attain a bachelor’s degree without ever needing to physically attend a campus.

Although distance learning has been available for a considerable period, the popularity and quality of remote education have experienced significant shifts in recent years. From 2012 to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a 92% surge in remote learning, the number of students exclusively pursuing distance education at traditional universities had already increased by 36%.


The COVID-19 pandemic, similar to how it expedited the transition to remote work, also accelerated the adoption of remote learning. In the fall of 2020, approximately three-quarters of U.S. university students were enrolled in at least one remote course. This transition revealed to many students that online education can be just as effective as, or even superior to, in-person instruction. Technological advancements, including high-quality video conferencing and synchronous and asynchronous communication platforms, enable online students to engage with their peers and instructors just as effectively as their in-person counterparts.

In terms of academic qualifications, an online degree earned from an accredited institution carries the same value as a degree earned through in-person attendance. However, when you research online programs, it is imperative to ensure that the institutions you are considering are accredited, signifying that they have met specific quality standards. You can verify their accreditation status using the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

  • Is online college cheaper than in-person?

You might assume that an online degree would be more affordable since it doesn’t require physical facilities, but that’s not always the case.

Interestingly, at some public universities, the per-credit cost of online courses can be higher than that of in-person classes. Nevertheless, even at these institutions, online students can realize significant cost savings when it comes to expenses beyond tuition, such as avoiding the costs of campus room and board.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online?

The cost of an online bachelor’s degree, much like traditional in-person programs, can vary significantly from one institution to another.

In many universities, particularly state institutions, it’s common to find that the tuition for an online degree is the same as, or sometimes even more than, what you would pay for in-person education. Presently, the median annual tuition and fees for bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. are as follows: $10,940 for an in-state public university, $28,240 for an out-of-state public university, and $39,400 for private universities, according to data from the College Board. These figures pertain exclusively to tuition and fees and do not encompass additional expenses like room, board, and transportation, which are typical for in-person students.


Given that fewer than half of first-time undergraduate students complete their degrees in four years or less, the total cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree can often exceed initial expectations.

How Can You Reduce the Cost of an Online College Degree?

Even if you choose a low-cost, online-focused school, there are still ways to save on your degree. 

Apply for scholarships and financial aid.

Online undergraduate students have access to the same federal student aid opportunities as traditional students. They can apply for grants and loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is an online application managed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Online students are also eligible for numerous scholarship opportunities. Scholarship providers establish their own criteria, but typical qualifications may involve maintaining a strong academic record, having particular life experiences (such as being an adult learner returning to finish a degree), or being a member of a specific group (like a racial, ethnic, or religious group).

  • Examine tuition rates carefully 

Various schools have varying methods of presenting their tuition, fees, and related costs, making it difficult to make effective comparisons between programs. It’s important to calculate all the anticipated fees and charges and evaluate multiple institutions to avoid unintentionally paying for programs and services that won’t be utilized by an online student.

  • Look into transfer credits

If you have completed college courses or achieved equivalency exam credits in the past, check with the universities you are considering to determine if they accept transfer credits. University policies differ, but many online degree programs are known for being particularly accommodating when it comes to transferring credits.

  • Keep working while you study

Balancing work and studies simultaneously can be challenging, but it’s typically easier with online degrees due to their flexible schedules, which are often asynchronous in nature. Moreover, you can eliminate the need for commuting between your workplace and school. Even if your work earnings only partially cover your tuition or living expenses, this can substantially reduce the amount of loans you need to complete your degree.

Is an Online Bachelor’s Degree Right for You?

Online degree programs offer several advantages that can make them a great choice for many students. They allow you to reduce housing costs because you don’t need to move to campus or pay for on-campus housing. You can also save money on transportation and avoid time-consuming commutes.

Online courses are especially convenient for adult learners, as they can be easily integrated into your schedule, making it easier to balance studies with work and family responsibilities. Online programs often have diverse student bodies, with many working adults, which can provide valuable peer support.

The choice between an online and in-person degree ultimately depends on your specific goals, priorities, and responsibilities. If campus life and student activities are important to you, an in-person degree may be more suitable, while an online degree offers greater flexibility and cost savings.