Known to many as the “Peach State” or the “Empire State of the South,” Georgia is home to some of the nation’s fastest growing counties, second only to Texas. Georgia holds a rich history both in terms of its development into the 8th most populous state in the U.S. and in its deep roots in Southern Culture dating back to the Civil War and America’s conception before that. Established in 1732, Georgia was the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies, and was named after King George II of Great Britain. It one of the original seven Confederate states to secede from the Union and was the last among them to return to it. Today, Southern pride, hospitality, and general warmth in social interactions are commonly reported features of Georgia’s culture and subculture, especially in the more rural areas of the state.
As the largest state in land area east of the Mississippi River, Georgia features incredibly diverse environments and ecosystems. From the Appalachian Mountains to the north, to the centralized riverlands and lakes, to the coastal plains and Atlantic Coastline of the southeast there are countless beauties to be explored in Georgia. It is also home to 115 institutions of higher learning, among which is the University of Georgia, the oldest public university in the United States. All Georgia residents who have graduated from high school or earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate will have access to The Hope Scholarship, though students must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher in a public college or university in-state to reap the benefits.
Students often choose to attend online colleges within their own state. While one might choose to move for a job or out of passion for the area, the most compelling reasons to move closer to one’s school of choice stem from specific school benefits.
Funding often plays a role in such a choice. Even though the courses are the same regardless of where they’re taken, Georgia schools often apply their in-state tuition rates for Georgia residents. Georgia also participates in the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market, so even those residing in nearby states may be able to get this benefit.
Likewise, schools’ support services will often be easier to access from a physically-closer location. Online students are often still entitled to the use of university facilities and resources, even though they do not take courses on campus. This can also make it easier to get more face time with one’s academic advisors, or connect with internship opportunities provided through campus events.
Living within the state can also speed up a degree or open up new opportunities. Hybrid programs which incorporate both online and traditional coursework can open up new degree options. Similarly, some schools will offer intensive coursework on evenings or weekends, or at specific times of year, which can further accelerate a degree program.
Compared with the rest of the nation, Georgia boasts relatively affordable higher education costs. In 2014-2015 the average annual tuition for public four-year colleges was $8,447 for in-state students. This falls squarely in the middle of the range of public four-year college education costs, with tuition of $4,890 in Wyoming and up to 15,160 in New Hampshire. While this means that Georgia public education isn’t astoundingly low or high, tuition for public four-year institutions is well below the national average cost of $13,000 per year. Public education is on par for public education in the south, however, with the average posted tuition of public four year colleges in the south at $8,709.
For private universities offering online degrees in Georgia, Savannah College of Art and Design is one of the more expensive, coming in at $36,045 for undergraduate tuition. For a world-class art-centered university, however, these fees are modest and further instill the notion that online education in Georgia is quite a good deal compared to the nation as a whole.
Featured Online Schools
Perhaps the highest value of online universities in Georgia is the top ranked Georgia Institute of Technology. Offering a number of degree programs entirely online, including a very affordable MS in Computer Science presented through MOOCs, Georgia Tech is a top 25 ranked national university that undergraduate students can attend for less than $5,000 a year. What a deal!
Atlanta is massive, and boasts the 10th largest city economy in the United States. Accordingly, Atlanta is home to some four online degree granting universities, a number which swells to eight when looking at surrounding metro area cities and suburbs. Two notable online-degree granting institutions in Atlanta city limits include Georgia Institute of Technology, the top ranked institution providing online degrees in the state, and Georgia State University, a strong state university offering one of the largest arrays of doctoral degrees online that we’ve seen at BestCollegeReviews. In Atlanta’s high tech and media based economy, students can’t go wrong with technical degree from Georgia Tech. What’s more, masters programs are $170 for in or out-of-state students taking online degrees through the school.
As home to one of the largest concentration of Fortune 500 company headquarters of any city in the US, there’s a ton of opportunity in Atlanta. Also of note is the relatively low cost of living, with an overall cost of living index 99% of the nation as a whole. For soon-to-be online students, Atlanta is second to none for a great mixture of opportunity, online course offerings, and cost of living.
The consolidated area of Augusta and Richmond Counties (roughly, Augusta, GA), are the second largest metro area in Georgia after Atlanta. While there are no online degree granting institutions located in Augusta, students living in Augusta are within three hours drive from Atlanta, Macon, and Athens. For online programs requiring more than periodic meetups or practicums, a three hour distance is usually designated as the outer range a student might be able to make regular trips at. With 12 online-degree granting institutions within this range, students in Augusta still have plenty of “local” online options even if none within the city limits.
Columbus, Georgia, and the nearby metro area are home to some 300,000 residents as well as one online-degree granting institution (within city limits): Columbus State University. While Columbus State University offers a wide range of bachelors and masters level online degree programs, students needing other offerings can easily expand their “local” options with two other institutions within 30 minutes, and access to Atlanta and Macon in under two hours. For many located in nearby Fort Benning, online education is one of the primary higher educational delivery methods, so those seeking to further their education online certainly aren’t alone in Columbus.
Cost of Living: 0.99
Top Industries: Media, Finance, Film, Transportation
Local Online Degrees: 8
Cost of Living: 0.93
Top Industries: Defense, Manufacturing
Local Online Degrees: 0
Cost of Living: 0.91
Top Industries: Defense, Education, Health Care
Local Online Degrees: 1
Cost of Living: 0.98
Top Industries: Manufacturing, Tourism, Transportation, Defense
Local Online Degrees: 1
Cost of Living: 0.91
Top Industries: Education, Support Services, Health Care
Local Online Degrees: 1
Cost of Living: 0.99
Top Industries: Biomedical, Research, Health Care
Local Online Degrees: 2
Cost of Living: 0.95
Top Industries: Defense, Aerospace, Health Care, Transportation
Local Online Degrees: 1
The Best Online Colleges in Georgia
1. University of Georgia
Online Programs: 14
The University of Georgia is a public university located in Athens, Georgia. According to US News, The University of Georgia is ranked as a tied 21st best public university in the United States. In addition the Carnegie Foundation ranks the University of Georgia at the top classification for research; that is, R-! Doctoral Universities “highest research activity.” With a land grant and sea grant, as well as on of the top ecology programs anywhere, The University of Georgia is a top-notch institution for agriculture and environmental sciences. Fine arts and culture permeate the experience at The University of Georgia. Campus is a cultural center itself housing the Georgia Museum of Art, Georgia’s official State museum. In addition to being one of the top public universities in America, The University of Georgia is also affordable, earning 10th place according to Kiplinger Magazine’s 2015 list of 100 best values among public colleges and universities.
2. Brenau University
Online Programs: 15
Brenau University is located in Gainesville, Georgia. Grainsville is located in the foothills of The Blue Ridge Mountains. Benau University is a private, not-for-profit university with around 3,500 students enrolled ranked as one of the top 15-best higher education values in the Southeast according to US News. Brenau University is known to emphasize professional preparation. Thirty percent of the student body is online learners. The online programming consists of an associates degree program, 4 bachelor’s programs and 10 master’s degrees. A Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies, Bachelor of Applied Science in Technology management among others as well as a Master’s of Education in Teacher Leadership, a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, a Master of Science in Nursing, and a fantastic Master of Business Administration as well as other programs can be taken completely online.
3. Kennesaw State University
Online Programs: 18
Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public university located in Kennesaw and is part of the University System of Georgia. KSU currently enrolls more than 33,000 students and is fully accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools. KSU amongst other things, is known for its vast options online offering 18 degrees 6 bachelors, 11 masters and one doctoral. The bachelor’s programs available consist of a bachelor of business administration in information security and assurance, a bachelor’s in business administration management, bachlor’s in business administration marketing, Bachelor of Science in nursing, and others. The graduate level programming includes a master of business administration, masters of education in educational leadership, Master of Science in international policy management, a master of education in special education and other. Historically, Kennesaw is known as the staging ground for the Great Locomotive Chase and was cited by Family Circle magazine as one of the nations 10 best towns for families.
4. Valdosta State University
Online Programs: 20
Valdosta State University (VSU) is an American public university located just 15 miles north of the Florida border in Valdosta, Georgia. VSU offers in-state tuition residents of Georgia, Florida and Alabama and has a student body representative of all 50 of the United States as well as 76 countries. VSU is comprehensive in that it offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, education specialism as well doctoral programs. VSU is accredited by the Commission on College of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. There is a fantastic Musical Theatre program at Valdosta State University. The online programs offered include a bachelor of business administration in management, a bachelor of science in office administration and technology, bachelor of science in criminal justice, bachelor of science in human capital performance, a master of business administration in healthcare administration, master of science in criminal justice, master of arts in English studies for language arts teachers a master of library and information science and other as well as 3 online doctoral programs, a doctor of education in leadership, doctor of education in career education, and a doctor of public administration.
5. Toccoa Falls College
Online Programs: 9
Originally inhabited by the Cherokee, Toccoa Falls is located in the northeastern region of Georgia an hour outside of Athens bordering the Chattahoochee National Forest home to the 186 foot tall Taccoa Falls which is located on campus. Taccoa Falls College is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is a private Christian liberal arts college. The college has been fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Taccoa College offers 35 degrees to a student body of 1200. Classroom size tends to be 13 with an overall 15:1 student to faculty ratio. In addition, Toccoa Falls offers 2 associate’s degrees (in business and general studies) and 7 bachelor’s degrees (in ministry leadership, nonprofit business administration, and bachelor in science in organizational leadership, sport management, counseling psychology, general studies and youth ministries all completely online.
6. Georgia State University
Online Programs: 44
Georgia State University (Georgia State) is located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia State is a public research university with a student population of about 40,000. Georgia State is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as listed as a research university with very high activity according to the Carnegie Foundation. Georgia State is fully comprehensive in that it offers degrees from associate to doctoral. Online, Georgia State really stands out for its advanced degree offerings. Georgia State offers 32 master’s degrees and 12 doctoral programs online! Georgia State has strong programming for future educators especially for exceptional learners and leaders in education including a Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education in Behavior/Learning Disabilities, Master of Science in Psychology and a Master of Education in Multiple and Severe Disabilities not to mention the 12 PhD programs completely online involving Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology, Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology, Doctor of Philosophy in Education of Students With Exceptionalities and many others.
7. Darton State College
Online Programs: 39
Darton State College is a four-year college that offers a number of opportunities for adult learners and military professionals. Darton is a state school located in Albany, Georgia. Albany, Georgia is located along the Flint River and home to many parks, gardens and trails. Darton State offers associate, career certificates and bachelor’s degrees. Academic programming features a nursing and allied health division. Darton State also offers 39 programs online; 38 associates and one bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing while the associate’s degrees are varied from music to business, physical education, early childhood education, sociology, art, histotechonology and computer information systems just to name a few.
8. University of West Georgia
Online Programs: 11
The University of West Georgia is located in Carrollton, Georgia 30 minutes from Atlanta. US News ranks University of West Georgia as the 42nd top public school in America. The University of West Georgia is a comprehensive school offering associate’s, bachelor’s, masters, certificate and doctoral programs. UWG has 86 programs of study; 43 at the bachelors level and 29 masters and 4 at the doctoral level as well as 10 certificates. Courses are available on campus and online. Online, UWG offers 11 programs 1 bachelor’s degree, 7 master’s degrees and 3 doctoral programs. From home or your favorite café, compete a bachelor of science in criminology, or a master of music in music education, master of business administration, master of education in early childhood education, master of education in media- instructional technology master of education in media- school library media, master of education in reading, master of science in applied computer science, master of science in nursing or a doctor of education in nursing education, doctor of education in professional counseling and supervision, doctor of education in school improvement.
9. Georgia Southern University
Online Programs: 26
Georgia Southern University is a public university located in Statesboro, Georgia, Statesboro is located between Macon, Savannah, and Augusta. Statesboro has a colorful history from the civil war through the reconstruction era to present day. In the midst of this historical exhilaration came what is now known as Georgia Southern University. Georgia Southern University is part of the University System of Georgia and is a land grant college. It offers 117 majors in a comprehensive program meaning that the spectrum of degrees offered range from associates to doctoral programs. The student boy is comprised of a diverse group of people from 49 states and 86 counties. Currently, Georgia Southern University enrolls over 20,000 students. Students enjoy a rich environment for learning. Campus houses a center for art and theater, botanic garden and a performing arts center. Online degree offerings include one bachelor’s degree and over 20 master’s degree programs including but not limited to a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Kinesiology, Coaching Education Emphasis, and many others.
10. Mercer University
Online Programs: 6
Mercer University is the oldest university in Georgia and is located in Macon, Georgia. Recently, US News recognized Mercer University as one of the top universities for undergraduate research and creative projects. Mercer enrolls more than 8,500 students in 12 colleges and schools and has a satellite campus in Atlanta as well as a School of Medicine located in Savannah. Mercer is a private church-affiliated university that harbors respect for religious diversity and is rooted in the liberal arts. Class size is smaller averaging at about 15 students per class. There are no teaching assistants at Mercer University. 90 percent of faculty has doctoral degrees or the highest advanced degree in their field. In addition, Mercer University is considered to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. Mercer offers 6 programs online 2 bachelor’s degrees and 4 master’s degrees.
11. Clayton State University
Online Programs: 8
Clayton State University is located in Morrow, Georgia and an approximate 20-minute drive from Atlanta. Clayton State University is a public university situated in a wooded area featuring five lakes in a large park-like campus. Clayton State University is a public university that has been acknowledge for its diverse population according to the US News. Clayton State University has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions and awards associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degrees. All students are required to have a laptop regardless of status. The distance learning program has recently expanded to accommodate non-traditional learners and offers 7 bachelor’s degrees such as a bachelor of science in nursing and a bachelor of science in Technology Management among others and one master’s degree in archival studies completely online.
12. Savannah College of Art and Design
Online Programs: 25
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private non-profit college located in Savannah, Georgia with degree offering campuses Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. SCAD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and enrolls around 11,000 students from across the United States and the world. SCAD was created to offer degrees in programs not-yet-available in the South. Since opening their doors in 1979 SCAD offers creative degrees that currently span a large creative spectrum. There’s a B.F.A. or M.F.A in almost all of the following fields: writing, architecture, animation, dramatic writing, design management, fashion, production design as well as so many others. SCAD offers exciting programs online including a bachelor of arts in photography, a master of fine arts in painting and 23 other exciting programs. For the creative-mind there is literally something for everyone at SCAD.
13. Columbus State University
Online Programs: 21
Columbus State University is a public institution located in Columbus, Georgia. Columbus is lies 100 miles southwest of Atlanta and contains the longest whitewater rafting course in the world located on the Chattahoochee River. Columbus State is fully accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools and offers associate’s, bachelor’s, certificates, and master’s degree programs to approximately 8,200 students representing all 50 states and international students particularly those from India, Japan, South Korea, Germany an the United Kingdom. Columbus State University offers an instate tuition of $3,528 and offers an 18:1 ration. Online, Columbus State University offers 21 bachelor and master’s level classes including a bachelor of business administration in business general, Bachelor of science in sociology and a Master of Science in Applied Computer Sciences as well as many other advanced degrees.
14. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Online Programs: 3
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is located in Atlanta, Georgia and is a public research university. Georgia Tech is known for its degree programs in engineering, computing, and business administration. The US News ranked Georgia Tech 36th amongst all college and universities and 7th among public national universities. Money magazine ranks the business school among the top. Georgia Tech also grants more engineering degrees to women than any other university and is considered by US News to be the number 7 best engineering school. Georgia Tech provides Ivy League education within a public university to a diverse student body. Georgia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to grant baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Online, Georgia Tech offers on bachelor’s degree in Aerospace engineering and a masters degree in computational science and engineering and a master of science in applied systems engineering.
15. Point University
Online Programs: 8
Point University is a private liberal arts college located in West Point, Georgia. With a total student body of around 1,500, and a Church of Christ-centered curriculum, the University is a great and welcoming environment, particularly for students of certain Christian denominations. Currently 19 degrees are offered fully online at the associates and bachelors levels. For a liberal arts college, many of the programs of study are particularly career centered, including degrees in leadership, criminal justice, and human relations at the associates and bachelors level. Christian Ministries degrees are also available at both levels of study offered by the university. A nice aspect of the program for students taking courses at both levels of study offered by the University, or in different fields is that all online coursework is billed out at the same relatively low rate (for a private school) of $395 per credit hour. As one of the number of online degree providers in the Atlanta area — particularly as a school with a Christian-centered message — Point University is a great fit for the right students.
Accreditation serves as a sign of a college or university’s independently-verifiable quality, and that plays a role in many other elements of college life. Most colleges will only accept credits in transfer from other accredited schools, and financial aid from the federal government generally requires accreditation.
In most cases, the highest accreditation standard available to a university as a whole is called regional accreditation, and is overseen by region-specific accreditation organizations. Georgia’s regional accreditation organization, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, oversees accreditation in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Individual programs at a school can also have programmatic accreditation, which indicates a specific program meets the prevailing needs of a specific field. Students should always make sure the school they’re attending has regional accreditation, and look into programmatic accreditation for any programs in which they’re interested, especially if they are highly technical.
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 a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.
- Contact your universities of choice to determine if any other forms are necessary.
- Search for private scholarships online or through your schools of choice.
By going through these three steps, many students secure grants, work-study programs, scholarships, or stipends, which defray the cost of education.
Great Georgia Higher Education Resources
- The Georgia Student Finance Commission is funded by the lottery of the state of Georgia, and provides a wide range of support for higher education and opportunities for individual student scholarships.
- Check out the Georgia Office of the State Treasurer for the most up-to-date and accurate information on 529 education savings plans.
- The Georgia Student Aid Commission is in charge of overseeing a wide range of grants and initiatives for increasing accessibility to Georgia schools. check out their list of financial aid programs here.
- For information on Georgia Hope Scholarships, financial planning, and opportunities for increasing college availability, check out the GA Futures organization. Check out their detailed and consumer-centered college search here.
- There are 22 technical colleges in Georgia. Check out the official site of all public technical colleges in the state here.
- Interested in attending a location of the Georgia University System? Start by checking out their site here.
- The Georgia Career Information Center provides accurate job and educational information to help inform students on career choices.
- The Georgia College and Career Clusters are ways of organizing curricular and major paths to center around occupational skills. Check out their guidance at the previous link.
- Affordable Learning Georgia supports educators and institutions replacing commercial learning materials with low cost alternative. Check out their list of compliant courses and institutions above.
- Whether you’re a student of Georgia State University or not, check out many open educational resources shared from Georgia Universities and educators under creative commons licensees. Many resources are meant to lower the cost of obtaining quality educational materials in Georgia.
- If you’re a student athlete at the University of Georgia, your alma mater is preparing you for future careers their own way. Check out preparing for a career, the Georgia way!