20 Best Online Colleges for Veterans for 2024

best online colleges for veterans

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be a challenging journey – to say the least.

Yet one way to ease that transition is to consider attending college. Although you might not feel as though you fit the mold of the traditional college student, you’re starting with an advantage: you have a considerable amount of life experience backing you up. Many veterans appreciate the convenience of an online degree.

Whether your goals are to increase your job prospects or to develop new skills, attending college is a great way to adapt back to civilian life. You may feel like you’re an outsider, but you’re certainly not alone – about 5.06 million Americans with veteran status have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

It all comes down to choosing the right school – and finding a program that will help you meet your goals. Here are 20 of the best online colleges for veterans (and tips for finding the right one).

Why Should You Attend College After Your Military Service?

Transitioning from military service to civilian life is a significant shift that may come with its own set of challenges and opportunities.

One compelling reason to consider attending college after military service is the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Higher education can provide valuable skills, knowledge, and experiences that can help you successfully navigate your post-military career path.

Plus, you’ll be able to expand your skill set and explore new interests. College can serve as a platform for networking, connecting with peers, mentors, and industry professionals, which can be crucial for career advancement in the civilian workforce.

Pursuing higher education after military service can lead to increased earning potential. Studies have shown that individuals with a college degree tend to earn higher salaries and have better job security compared to those without a degree. By investing in your education, you are investing in your future financial stability and professional success.

As you’re considering college options, know that online schools are a compelling choice for veterans. They offer flexibility, so you can balance your studies with other commitments like work, family, or simply navigating the transition back to civilian life. They also offer a supportive, inclusive learning environment that caters to the unique needs of veterans.

Tips for Choosing the Best Online College as a Veteran

Now that you know why you should attend college as a veteran, the next question is – how? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Understanding the GI Bill and Other Benefits

The GI Bill is one of the most significant benefits available to veterans. It covers up to the full cost of in-state tuition and fees at public universities and up to $27,120 at private institutions. It can also help cover housing, books, supplies, and relocation expenses.

There’s also the Yellow Ribbon program. It provides additional financial support for expenses not covered by the GI Bill. It is available to veterans who meet GI Bill eligibility requirements and covers costs at participating private or for-profit schools.

Not all schools offer Yellow Ribbon benefits and those that do only offer them to a set number of students per year – most of the time, it’s first come, first served, so check in with your school ASAP to find out your eligibility.

It’s also important to note that each individual branch of the military offers its own tuition assistance programs. In some cases, this can cover up to 100% of tuition expenses. For example, the Air Force provides up to $4,500 per year for active duty and reserve members, while the Coast Guard offers up to $3,750.

Of course, veterans can apply for the same scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial aid that non-veteran students can, too, as well as those that are more military-specific. Examples include the Pell Grant, which offers up to $7,395 for the 2024-2025 award year, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for children of service members who died in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11.

Consider the Overall Cost

Regardless of which benefits you use to pay for your education, know that the cost of attendance will vary widely depending on where you choose to attend school (and other financial aid you might qualify for).

In general, private schools will cost more than public schools (though you’ll pay more at a public school if you’re out of state versus in-state – private schools offer a uniform tuition rate regardless of residence).

The average cost of college in the United States is $36,436 per student, per year, including books and living expenses. As an in-state student at a public school, you’ll pay closer to $26,000 – at a private school, it’s more than $55,000 (this is all before financial aid and veteran benefits kick in, of course).

The beauty of attending an online college is that you’ll pay far less, both for private and public schools. These online schools typically charge tuition at a lower rate than what’s billed on campus, and even if they don’t, you’ll save on the cost-of-living expenses (since you won’t have to foot the bill for a dorm or meal plan).

Investigate Support Services

As a veteran, it’s doubly important that you consider what support service might be offered to you as a student, either online or on-campus.

Many offer unique orientations specifically for veterans or active-duty military members, something that can be especially helpful as you’re trying to adjust to civilian life.

Many online colleges also offer dedicated tutoring and other support services to help you get up and running. They may be able to help with application fee waivers, career assistance, internships, priority registration, and countless other services – so don’t be afraid to ask.

How to Transfer Credits as a Veteran

Transferring military credits can significantly reduce the time and cost of earning your degree. Many online colleges allow veterans to transfer credits earned through military training and experience.

Start by collecting your military transcripts, such as the Joint Services Transcript (JST) for Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, or the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) transcript for the Air Force. These transcripts outline the training, coursework, and exams you completed during your military service.

Check with the colleges or universities you are interested in attending to understand their credit transfer policies. Many institutions have dedicated offices or advisors who specialize in evaluating military transcripts and determining how they align with academic programs.

Then, you’ll need to request an evaluation. Submit your military transcripts to the institution’s admissions office or designated department for evaluation. They will assess your military training and experience to determine which credits can be transferred towards your chosen degree program.

Don’t be afraid to ask about opportunities for credit for prior learning, either. Often, this is done through examinations like CLEP (College Level Examination Program) or DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests). These tests allow you to demonstrate proficiency in specific subjects and potentially earn college credits.

20 Best Online Colleges for Veterans

Without further ado, here are 20 of the best online colleges for veterans. All schools have been vetted and analyzed according to our methodology by enrollment professionals.

1. Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University, or SNHU, offers some of the best programs for veterans. It has more than 200 online programs, making it a versatile choice for veterans. Popular majors include:

  • Business Administration
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences

You can bring in up to 90 transfer credits for military training and there’s a 30% tuition discount for active military personnel and their spouses. SNHU also honors the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program.

2. University of Maryland

Another military-friendly college is the University of Maryland’s Global Campus. Here, you can choose from more than 90 different online programs, with the most popular majors here being:

  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Biomedical Sciences

You will need a high school diploma to be admitted but you may be able to transfer credits for your military experience and training. The school offers reduced tuition via military scholarships, the GI Bill, and Yellow Ribbon Program.

3. Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University has more than 100 different online programs and certificates, both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

One of the top highlights of this school is its emphasis on specialized support for military students. You’ll be paired with an advisor who works only with military members and veterans. Plus, you may qualify for transfer credits for your military training.

As is the case with the other schools on this list, Thomas Edison offers discounted tuition rates, tuition assistance programs, and military-specific scholarships. You can also tap into GI Bill and Veterans Affairs benefits.

The most popular programs here include:

  • Liberal Arts
  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Military Systems Technology
  • Human Resources

The average tuition and fees (before any aid) for in-state students at Thomas Edison is just $7,372, making this school a steal for any veteran.

5. University of Florida

With average in-state tuition and fees coming in at just $6,381 and the typical GI Bill benefits covering $4,155 of that, the University of Florida is one of the most affordable choices for veterans looking for an online degree.

There are all kinds of financial aid options at this school in addition to the GI Bill, with the Department of Defense kicking in additional funding for veterans and active-duty military members.

You’ll have access to academic counseling and other resources meant to address your unique needs as a military veteran, plus ample community and networking opportunities. If you’re looking for support in addition to affordability, you’ll find it here at the University of Florida.

Some of the most popular majors include:

  • Business Administration and Management
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Sport and Fitness Administration
  • Education

6. Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Rutgers University, New Brunswick is known for its commitment to inclusion – and that philosophy is demonstrated nicely in how the school works with its veteran students.

There Are dozens of online degrees here, many of which are paired with outstanding research and career-development opportunities. You’ll be able to access career services, academic advising, and counseling, too.

Although the tuition here is slightly more expensive, even for in-state students, the GI Bill covers an average of $6,075 per student each year.

7. University of Massachusetts

Originally known as Brandman University, the University of Massachusetts is a military-friendly school with nearly 100 different online programs to choose from. Although one of this school’s standout features is its veteran-friendly student services (like transition programs and counseling), another benefit is its affordability.

The school offers tuition assistance programs and discounts of up to 50% for military personnel, in addition to both GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Benefits.

The most popular majors here are:

  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Early Childhood Education and Teaching

8. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona has a variety of online programs that are flexible enough to cater to military personnel, with all the quality and rigor of online degrees. There is a dedicated team of staff who are there specifically for veterans and their families.

The average GI Bill benefit comes in at more than $10,000 per student, the Department of Defense kicking in substantial funding as well. The University of Arizona is a public school with affordable in-state tuition and fees.

Some popular programs of study include:

  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Computer and Information Sciences

9. George Mason University

George Mason University (GMU) is renowned for its commitment to providing a supportive and flexible learning environment tailored to the unique needs of military veterans. It has dozens of online programs, including popular choices in:

  • Cyber Security
  • Business Administration
  • Health Informatics

The school has a dedicated veteran support staff and counseling services, with affordable in-state tuition that starts at just $13,401. The average GI Bill benefit is more than $10,000, making this a smart choice for veterans looking for an inclusive (yet affordable) pick.

10. University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW-Madison has a comprehensive support system for veterans and a long list of reputable online degree programs. Here, you’ll be able to tap into the GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Program, with the average GI Bill benefit being more than $8,000.

Some popular majors include:

  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Business

11. Villanova University

Villanova University is known for its high-quality educational experience and strong community values. There are dozens of online bachelor’s degree programs here to choose from, with popular majors including:

  • Nursing
  • Business Administration
  • Public Administration

Again, Villanova offers dedicated veteran support services and has a one-of-a-kind commitment to service and community engagement. This private school is more expensive than many others on this list – both out-of-state and in-state degrees cost around $61,000 per year, on average – but the average GI Bill benefit is also higher, at more than $18,000.

12. Syracuse University

You can benefit from an education at one of the country’s most military-friendly universities without having to brave the cold, snowy winters when you choose to study at Syracuse University online. This school has about 60 online programs, including those in:

  • Communication and Journalism
  • Social Sciences
  • Business Management

As a student here, you can get support for experiential transfer credits. With a 15:1 student to faculty ratio, you’ll benefit from personalized instruction and hands-on learning opportunities designed specifically with veterans in mind.

This school’s tuition varies widely depending on the program, but you’ll find ample financial support for vets here. Syracuse University was a pioneer in creating the original GI Bill in 1944, so it makes sense that the school provides veterans with access to both the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program along with the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits program and tuition assistance.

13. Citadel Military College of South Carolina

The Citadel is a school that was made by veterans for veterans and is known for its commitment to military values.

Here, you can tap into specialized veteran support services like counseling and career guidance. With its military culture, the school is well-equipped to understand and support you with the unique challenges you face. The roughly 2300 members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets here aren’t required to serve, but about a third of each class will go on to become officers in each branch of the military service.

Popular majors include:

  • Business, Management, and Marketing
  • Military Science, Leadership, and Operational Art
  • Engineering
  • Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, and Firefighting

14. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers over 100 degree programs online, making it one of the most versatile options for military students.

Some popular majors include:

  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice/Safety Studies
  • Political Science and Government
  • English Language and Literature

The school provides military benefits via the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. The school also has a dedicated Veteran Readiness and Employment office. There’s even free tuition for students who are members of the Florida National Guard!

15. Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) is a top choice for military personnel, offering nearly 300 online programs. It’s home to the famed Pat Tillman Veterans Center, which provides specialized services to veterans and active-duty military members.

The average cost per credit hour is just $561 for in-state students, with popular majors including:

  • Organizational Leadership
  • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
  • Biology
    Registered Nursing

As an enrolled student here, you can receive transfer credits for your military training. You’ll also have access to GI Bill benefits, the Veterans Educational Assistance Program, and tuition assistance. Your spouse and dependents can tap into a variety of benefits, too.

16. CUNY School of Professional Studies

Located in the heart of New York City, CUNY School of Professional Studies also has a variety of online programs for veterans who don’t want to venture into the Big Apple to earn a degree.

This school has been offering online programs for nearly two decades, with all online classes recorded so you can access the material whenever it’s most convenient for you. The school offers credit for prior learning in addition to GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon benefits.

Another benefit of CUNY? You’ll save a ton of money on textbooks, since all required course materials here have been replaced by open educational resources.

The school is best known for its programs in:

  • Psychology
  • Data Science
  • Health Services Administration

17. Averett University

Averett University’s Graduate and Professional Studies division has seven main programs for online learners, including:

  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Education

Here, you’ll enjoy military discounts on tuition of up to 50%, along with access to military scholarship and GI Bill, Veteran Readiness and Employment, and Yellow Ribbon benefits.

18. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is renowned for its aviation and aerospace programs, offering flexible online degrees for more than two and a half decades. All courses are delivered in an accelerated nine-week, asynchronous format.

Some of the most popular majors include:

  • Aeronautics
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Aerospace Science and Technology
  • Project Management

19. Texas A&M University – College Station

Texas A&M University provides a diverse range of high-quality online degree programs and strong veteran support services. As a student here, you can tap into GI Bill benefits (the typical student will receive around $9,000, plus Department of Defense tuition assistance benefits).

You’ll also benefit from robust support services, including career counseling and academic support.

  • Some popular majors include:
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Criminal Justice/Police Science
  • Psychology, General
  • Biology
  • Accounting
  • Curriculum and Instruction

20. Liberty University

Liberty University offers over 100 online bachelor’s programs and 300+ online master’s programs, catering to military students with specialized benefits.

This military-friendly school offers tuition discounts and assistance (independently as well as through the Yellow Ribbon Program, GI Bill, and the Survivors’ and dependents’ Educational Assistance Program). There are also technology fee waivers and additional support given to veterans during deployment periods.

Though the list of potential majors is long, some popular degrees include:

  • Accounting
  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Sports Management
  • Aviation
  • History
  • Law
  • Communication

Your Path to Success Starts with One Simple Step

You’ve served your country – now, it’s time to focus on your own dreams.

By choosing one of the best online colleges for veterans, you can take the first step toward furthering your education and enhancing your skills.

Don’t wait – make the most of your benefits and explore these veteran-friendly schools.