When it comes to selecting an online college degree program, affordability is important. Students can find affordable education options at many kinds of schools, at various levels of education and in dozens of different programs of study. They just need to know what to look for when choosing an online degree program.

Types of Institutions

Online college degree programs come in many forms. Private, public, for-profit and non-profit schools offer them. You might be surprised at the various categories the most affordable online colleges fall into, such as state colleges like the University of Massachusetts, technical universities like Colorado Technical University and faith-based schools like Liberty University.

If you’re seeking an affordable online education, you can find one at a school that meets almost any imaginable requirements, as long as you’re willing to do some research.

Affordable Education by Degree Level

Naturally, online associate’s degree programs tend to be more economical than degree programs at higher levels of study, just as traditional associate’s degree programs are. Students in these programs take substantially fewer courses, which cuts the cost a great deal. They also often study through community colleges, where the tuition rate tends to be less than at four-year schools.

However, affordable online options exist at every degree level. Students can save a significant amount of money by turning to online education to earn their bachelor’s, master’s and even doctoral degrees, as long as they look for a school that offers a great value in education.

Most Affordable Majors for Online Students

Today, online college students have a wealth of majors to choose from, and schools are rapidly developing new online degree programs.

Some of the majors commonly found at the most affordable online colleges include:

  • Art and Design
  • Business
  • Computers and information technology
  • Criminal justice
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Human services
  • Humanities
  • Healthcare and nursing
  • Liberal arts
  • Math and science
  • Psychology
  • Social sciences

At many online colleges, the tuition rate is the same across disciplines. However, at other institutions, the cost of attendance may change based on a student’s school, department or major.

A slightly higher price tag shouldn’t discourage students from pursuing their dreams. Knowing that the tuition rate may be different from one major to another should, however, encourage students to research the cost of the degree programs they’re considering and compare tuition rates and other attributes.

Finding an Affordable Program

One way to begin your search for the right – and most affordable – online college program is to look at school rankings, specifically those that take cost of attendance into account. For example, U.S. News & World Report publishes rankings of the Best Value Schools each year.

Keep in mind, though, that affordability isn’t the only factor that counts when choosing an online school. You also want to pay attention to other attributes of a degree program, like reputation, curriculum, selectivity, retention rate, accreditation and test scores or job placement outcomes among graduates.