A Guide to Online Colleges in Delaware

Get started with your search for top-ranked schools in Delaware. Discover which colleges offer programs that fit your needs.

Updated February 1, 2024

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On December 7, 1787 Delaware became the first state of the 13 original states to endorse the U.S. Constitution, hence one of its many nicknames "the first state." Thomas Jefferson gave it the nickname "the diamond state" because of its strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard. Delaware is home to tax-free shopping, beaches, casinos, and many well-preserved state parks. This "jewel" of a state is actually filled with hidden gems and many places to explore. Also home to the Delaware Bay, Delaware is home to the second most important navigational channel (after the Mississippi River) in the United States. The Bay is a protected salt marsh wetland that serves as a breeding ground for many aquatic species including oysters. Visitors of Delaware enjoy each distinct season with relatively temperate climate year round. If you're making a life in Delaware, the average household income is $20,000 over the national average. As of 2014, Delaware was listed as the 11th richest state in America after Maryland, and New Jersey — two of Delaware's three neighboring states. For individuals looking to make a quality life for themselves or their families, Delaware is a fantastic option. The university system provides high-quality educational opportunities, affordable prices, and degrees in career-ready fields. If you're looking for a the good life, it's no small wonder people choose Delaware.

In-state tuition is often applied to public schools offering online programs. Many online programs require some face-to-face time, or more numerous support services at their brick and mortar locations. Intensive study experiences–often on the weekends or in several week long bouts–enable many online students to accelerate their time until graduation. And students looking at online education can drastically expand their educational options if they also look to hybrid degrees (degrees where degrees can be taken partially, or mostly online). Finally, one of the most common stipulations in scholarships is that students be from a certain state or region, often more funds are available to students seeking degrees in-state.

Top Public Schools

The top public schools in Delaware offer online programs of study ranging from an associate to doctoral degree. Our top public universities are the University of Delaware, and Delaware State University. The University of Delaware is a top 100 school offering 16 online degree programs that range from associate to doctoral degree in fields like the arts, business, and nursing. Delaware State University is one of the best schools in the region and has high ranking in a number of degrees. Online, you can select from one of 5 bachelor's degree programs, and 4 master's degrees in fields of study like criminal justice, psychology, public health, and business.

Top Private Schools

The three private schools that offer online programs are Wilmington University, Widener University, and Wesley College. Wilmington University offers an outstanding 44 degrees completely online including 2 associate, 22 bachelor's, 17 master's, and 3 doctoral degrees. Widener University offers 12 degrees completely online in everything from an associate to master's degree. These degrees are career-ready and include fields like nursing, radiologic technology, business, and education. Wesley College offers both an M.A. in Sports Leadership, and M.A. in Education.

Featured Online Schools

How to Become a Resident

In accordance with the Board of Trustees under the authority of University Charter (14 Del. C 5106) residency classification is determined by the University in accordance with these guidelines: a person's true fixed home or domicile which is defined as the single place where one intends to remain without establishing a new domicile elsewhere. An individual must, therefore maintain a predominant physical presence in Delaware for a minimum of 12 months. Twelve months, in this case of this law in Delaware means, at least 183 days present during that 12 month period. A financial independent who wishes to classify for in-state tuition must meet all of the following conditions: at least 18 years of age, maintained domicile separate from parents for at least 12 consecutive months, is not claimed as a dependent for federal income tax, does not received financial assistance in any form from the parents of guardians, and can demonstrate the ability to pay for tuition and living expenses. Here is some evidence considered when the individual files for in-state tuition: a Delaware resident income tax return, a federal tax return showing Delaware as the state of domicile, a lease or proof of ownership of a permanent home, a valid Delaware driver's license, and evidence that the individual uses that residence such as utility bills, insurance records, and school records.

In 2015-16 the average published tuition prices for Delaware public four-year universities was $9,800 for in-state tuition. That’s about $400 above the national average for public schools (or, essentially an average price nationwide). Some of the highest value schools are also our top picks for online options. The University of Delaware is one of the top schools in the nation and the tuition rates are just over $12,000 for in-state tuition. Out-of-Staters will pay over double the price at $32,250 — much close to the average tuition cost for a private institution. Delaware State University's annual tuition is $7,532. Again, those out of state pay over $16,138 for tuition — more than double those in-state. Additionally, those studying online, saving $30,000 in room and board costs. There’s something to be said of staying in-state.

The Delaware Valley — also known as the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area — includes Wilmington, Philadelphia, Camden , Trenton, and Vineland New Jersey as well as the Northeastern-most tip of Maryland. This Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has a population of over 6 million where Philadelphia is this regions major industrial, commercial, and cultural center. As the fifth most populous city in the United States, residents benefit from Philadelphia's unique cultural amenities including the famous Philadelphia Museum of Arts and the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Another significant contributer to commerce is the Delaware Bay which, after the Mississippi River, is the most important navigational channel in the United States. The unique characteristics of this region include the incredible mix of nationalities from all over Europe, Asia, and Caribbean. Some of the most prominent colleges in the Delaware Valley include the University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, Temple University, and Wilmington University. If you're looking for online programming in the region on the Pennsylvania side of the state line, check out our Pennsylvania state guide here.

Like much of the Mid Atlantic, the seasons are distinct and humidity greater coming from the Atlantic Ocean known as a humid continental climate and sometimes a humid subtropical climate. If Delaware were hosting a party, it would be in Dover because Dover has every amenity for all types of events. Dover is just 15 minutes from the beach and the Little Creek Wildlife Area — the perfect way to get away and gather with friends and family. Or drive a little further and you'll be in Bethany, Rehoboth, or Bowers beach. The Firefly Music Festival takes place in Dover each year and hosts over 100 bands and is a great way to let loose. If you're looking to gather over some unique American traditions, then you're in the right spot. Dover is home to the First State Heritage Park as well as Amish Country which is slightly west of Dover where you'll find several Amish business. Dover even hosts its own Wine and Beer Festival.

When it comes to education, Dover is home to Delaware State University and the only historically black university in the state, Wesley College. Both universities offer fantastic online degree options in a variety of fields. After study hours, Dover offers some fantastic cultural opportunities by way of the Dover Symphony Orchestra, the historical district, and the Delaware State Museum which is actually a complex of four buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Less than two hours west of Delaware is Baltimore, Maryland, also known as "charm city". This rust-belt city has been through good times and bad but is referred to as "charm city" for a reason. The streets are historic, the buildings are getting a face lift, and the Baltimore locals are truly unique. Outsiders looking in will call Baltimorians "quirky," "spunky", and "colorful." Though currently going through its fair share of gentrification, the old Baltimore neighborhoods are still present and "kickin', hon." Just outside of the famous inner harbor area you'll find Little Italy where locals will still use the Italian language, play Boccie Ball and screen mafia movie favorites (as well as John Water's films) on the sides of buildings. Camden, home to this city's beloved Camden Yards, is where you'll find sports enthusiasts, business persons and often times, the intersection of both. Head further north and you'll be in historic Hampden — once known for its pajama-laden locals — now more of a beacon for the latest and greatest "scene" including craft pizza and craft brews. Right in the middle you find an eclectic group of Johns Hopkin's students, Peabody musicians, and the painted ladies: those are the row homes in historic Charles Village. Baltimorons (as they affectionately and jokingly refer to themselves) are welcoming to outsiders, tight-knit and family-focused, and once settled, tend to stay put. If you B'lieve in Baltimore, Baltimore will B'lieve in you, hon.


Population: 71,817
Cost of Living: 103.5%
Top Industries: Retail, Healthcare, Accomodation and Food Service
Local Online Degrees: 1


Population: 37,355
Cost of Living: 92.2%
Top Industries: Retail, accomodation, healthcare, education
Local Online Degrees: 2


Population: 33,008
Cost of Living: 104.7%
Top Industries: Education, Retail, Healthcare
Local Online Degrees: 2

The Best Online Colleges in Delaware

1. University of Delaware

Online Programs: 16
Type: Public

Founded in 1743, the University of Delaware is a public land, sea ,and space-grant institution located in Neward, Delaware. There are currently 22,074 students enrolled. According to U.S. News, The University of Delaware ranks as the 74th best school in the nation and 30th best public school. It is also a great option for veterans. As a land sea and space-grant institution, UD features a diverse set of research departments. The Carnegie Foundation places UD in the top 3% of research universities. In fact, theere are over 75 research centers and institutes, and over 4,500 students engaged in research at UD. There are seven academic colleges offering a range of degrees in fields like agriculture, the arts, business, engineering and more. The Middle Sates Commission on Higher Education accredits UD to offer comprehensive degree programs. The are 4 associate, 140 bachelor's, 115 master's, and 44 doctor​​al degrees. Online, UD offers 16 degrees from the associate to doctoral level in fields like the arts, nursing, administration and education.

2. Wilmington University

Online Programs: 44
Type: Private

Wilmington University is a private nonprofit research university located in New Castle, Delaware. New Castle is located in Northern Delaware on the Delaware River. There are 15,533 students enrolled who benefit from small classroom sizes and a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. We like Wilmington University for its flexible course options that include online learning, hybrid, and experiential learning where student gain credits through work experiences. This military-friendly university is affordable and offers reduced tuition rates for active duty military. In addition to flexible and affordable degrees, WilmU offers career-ready degree programs in fields that range from accounting to video and motion graphics. The Middle State Commission on Higher Education accredits Wilmington University to offer comprehensive degree programming including associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral and dual-credit certifications. Online, Wilmington offers a total of 44 degrees from the associate to doctoral level. Some online programs include an A.S. in Early Childhood Education, a RN to BSN, a MBA, and Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Innovation.

3. Widener University-Delaware Campus

Online Programs: 12
Type: Private

Widener University is a private institution located in Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware and was the first Swedish settlement in the United States. Currently, there are 6,218 students enrolled who benefit from small classes a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, and a faculty where over 90% have terminus level degrees. The student body represents 48 states and 37 foreign countries. The Middle States Association of College and Schools accredits Widener University to offer comprehensive programming including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. According to U.S. News Widener is ranked as the 183rd best school in the nation, with the 97th best engineering program. Other top-ranked programs include nursing, social work, and the arts and sciences. Degree and certificate programs are tailored to the needs of both traditional and nontraditional learners. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal Widener received one of the highest scores for their career preparation programming. In addition to a comprehensive program offered on-campus Widener also offers 12 online degrees including an associate in radiologic technology, a BA in Organizational Development and Leadership, and a Master of Education in Allied Health Education.

4. Deleware State University

Online Programs: 9
Type: Public

Delaware State University is a public historically black, land-grant university located in Dover, Delaware. Dover is the capital city of Delaware located 15 minutes from the Little Creek Wildlife Area. DSU also has satellite campuses in Wilmington, and Georgetown Delaware. There are 4,288 student enrolled who learn in small classrooms where the student-to-faculty ratio is just 15:1. According to U.S. News DSU is the 128th best school in the region, 43rd top public school and 14th on the historically black colleges and universities list. As a land-grant institution there are a number of research centers and institutes including CIBER or the Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research. Other colleges awarding degrees include the college of agriculture and related sciences, college of art, humanities and social sciences, college of education, health and public policy, college of mathematics, natural sciences and technology, and the college of business. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, DSU offers undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. Online, DSU offers 9 degree programs 5 bachelor's and 4 master's in fields like criminal justice, psychology, business, and sports administration.

5. Wesley College

Online Programs: 2
Type: Private

Wesley College is a private liberal arts college located in Dover, Delaware. Dover is the capital city of Delaware named by William Pen after Dover in Kent. There are nearly 1,500 students on the Dover campus who represent 21 states and 5 countries who learn in small classrooms and benefit from a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. Founded originally in 1872 by John Wesley the, founder of Methodism, this institution actually set to make education available to all races and faiths. As a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), Wesley College offers more than 150 study abroad programs in 38 countries across the globe and benefits from their international partners located in Europe, China, Australia, and Japan. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits Wesley to offer degrees to both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate degree programs include everything from accounting to sports management and graduate programs include business administration, nursing, environmental studies, occupational therapy, and education. Online, Wesley offers 2 of its master's degrees: the M.A. in Sport's Leadership and the M.A. in Education.

Monitoring the accreditation of a university you are interested in attending is incredibly important. Accreditation ensures your credits can transfer that you can receive Federal financial aid, and most importantly that certain standards of educational quality are during your schooling. The highest accreditation standard for most programs in the United States is provided by regional accreditation agencies. The regional accrediting agency for Delaware is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Making sure that a University you're hoping to attend is regionally accredited — or accredited by a real and respected accrediting agency — is one of the most important choices you can make in ensuring the quality of your education.

Three Steps for Securing Financial Aid

  • Submit your FAFSA.
  • Check to see if additional forms are needed at your university of choice.
  • Search and apply for private scholarships.

Through the previous three steps most students find themselves offered some sort of federal grant, work study, private grant, scholarship, or stipend.

Great Delaware Higher Education Resources

Delaware Department of Education
Delaware Department of Education includes resources for students, parents, and teachers and the latest in education policies, climate, and college success.
Delaware Community College
Delaware Community College provides two-year community college opportunities to a diverse student body.
Delaware Higher Education Office
Click here for more information on the office of higher education scholarships and assistance programs.
Delaware Technical Community College
Delaware Technical Community College offers associate, bachelor's, and certificates in technical fields like backing, accounting, and web development.
Delaware State Scholarships
Here is a list of Delaware State Scholarships.
Scholarship Incentive Program
Click here the application to the Scholarship Incentive Program (SCIP).
University of Delaware Scholarships
Click here for a list of University of Delaware Scholarship opportunities.
Delaware Scholarship Compendium
The Delaware Scholarship Compendium is a comprehensive guide for Delaware Students looking for scholarships.
Delaware Community Foundation
The Delaware Community Foundation seeks to provide scholarship opportunities to diverse learners.

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