New Jersey — more affectionately known as the Garden State — is home to both the world’s first boardwalk (at Atlantic City) and over 715-thousand acres of productive farmland. Lying along the northeastern coast of the United States, New Jersey claims 127 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and is bordered on its other sides by New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. New Jersey is home to Branch Brook Park which boasts the largest number of cherry blossoms in the United States, the Statue of Liberty National Monument, and Port Newark which is the largest port on the east coast and the third largest port in the United States. Despite being the 4th smallest state, New Jersey is the 11th most populous state and the most densely populated state in the nation, meaning that residents have access to numerous professional networks in both rural and metropolitan areas, international import-export markets, and countless opportunities for outdoor exploration. New Jersey also holds an impressive number of higher education institutions considering its smaller size. The state has a rich and diverse cultural history of higher education, as it is home to Princeton University, the #1 ranked school in the nation, and Rutgers University, the #25 ranked public university in the nation; it is also home to 19 community colleges, over a third of which offer online accredited degree programs. Although one of the many benefits of online degree and certificate programs is the fact that you can complete your schooling from anywhere, there are many reasons why students choose to obtain their online education from colleges and universities in their home state.
In-state tuition is often applied to public schools offering online programs, which can often mean saving thousands or even tens of thousands in tuition. Many online programs require some face-to-face time, or offer valuable support services at their brick and mortar locations that can give students an upper hand in their college education. Intensive study experiences–often on the weekends or in several week long bouts–enable many online students to double-down and accelerate their degree completion time. Students looking at online education can also drastically expand their educational options if they also look to hybrid degrees (degrees where degrees can be taken partially, or mostly online). Often times the capability to visit the campus of an online degree program yields numerous benefits such as developing a professional/academic network, building peer collaboration, and gaining knowledge of the area’s job market, which can be highly beneficial after graduation. In-state enrollment in online degree programs can save students money through state-specific assistance and scholarships as well. One of the most common stipulations in scholarships, however, is that students be from a certain state or region, and so often more funds are available to students seeking degrees in-state.
Featured Online Schools
Top Public Offerings in New Jersey
New Jersey holds a total of 30 public colleges and universities (including 19 community colleges). Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, is ranked #25 in the nation among public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report (2017). Rutgers University offers a total of 17 online degree programs (including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees) and over 150 online certificate programs. Rowan University, which is ranked the #5 Top Public School in the North by U.S. News & World Report (2017), offers a total of 21 online degree programs ranging from bachelor’s to doctoral degrees. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields, offers 13 online master’s degrees and 19 online certificate programs. Thomas Edison State University (TESU), one of the nation’s first schools designed specifically for adult learners, offers a total of 50 online degree programs ranging from associate’s to doctoral degrees and 28 online certificate programs (both for undergraduate and graduate students). Bergen Community College, the state’s leading producer of associate’s degrees, offers 16 degree programs which can be completed entirely online. In addition to these schools, 5 other community colleges (Ocean County College, Burlington County College, Brookdale Community College, Mercer County Community College, and Passaic County Community College) offer 37 other online associate’s degrees. One other public institution, Montclair State University, offers 2 online master’s degrees. Overall, the public online degree market is very strong in New Jersey with impressive coverage of degrees at the associate, undergraduate, and graduate level with excellent options in professional certification programs as well.
Top Private Offerings in New Jersey
Princeton University, which is located in Princeton New Jersey, is ranked the #1 school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report (2017). Princeton does not, however, offer any online degree programs. Though overall New Jersey does have 8 private colleges and universities which do offer online degrees. Seton Hall University (SHU), Fairleigh Dickinson University, Felician College, and Caldwell College all offer online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs while Monmouth University, Centenary College, and Georgian Court University offer online master’s degree programs. Saint Peter’s University is a christian institution that offers an array of faith-based online bachelor’s degree programs. Seton Hall University offers 11 total online degree programs (1 bachelor’s degree program and 10 master’s degree programs); however, some of these programs are hybrid and still require occasional on-campus visits. Fairleigh Dickinson University offers 15 online degree programs (1 bachelor’s degree and 14 master’s degree programs). While there is a wide array of prestigious public online bachelor’s and master’s degree options in New Jersey, students seeking online associate’s or a doctoral degrees will likely find their best bet is to explore the state’s public online colleges and universities.
According to the National College Board for the 2015-2016 school year the average cost of tuition and fees in the United States was $9,410 for in-state residents at public colleges and universities, $23,893 for out-of-state residents at public colleges and universities, and $32,405 for students attending private colleges and universities. For New Jersey colleges and universities, however, the average cost during the same time period was slightly lower. At public colleges and universities in New Jersey, the average cost of attendance during the 2015-2016 school year was $8,801 for in-state students and $13,944 for out-of-state students. For private colleges and universities in New Jersey the average cost of tuition and fees during the 2015-2016 school year was $22,181.
The cheapest institute of higher education in New Jersey for the 2015-2016 school year (by in-state tuition) was Thomas Edison State University (formerly Thomas Edison State College) with an in-state tuition of $6,135. The most expensive institute of higher education in New Jersey for the 2015-2016 school year (by in-state tuition) was Drew University (a private university) with a tuition of $45,552. Princeton University, the #1 ranked university in the nation, holds tuition costs of $43,450. For the 2016 school year, Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey), has an average in-state cost (tuition and fees) of $13,909 and an average out-of-state cost (tuition and fees) of $29,132. In the context of saving money, many students will find New Jersey’s public school in-state tuition costs are highly affordable compared to out-of-state or private university tuitions.
Newark with a population of approximately 277-thousand is New Jersey’s largest city and the second largest city in the New York Metropolitan Area. Located only 8 miles from Manhattan, Newark is the major cultural center of New Jersey. Newark then splits into five wards-Central, East, North, South, and West — each of which have their own personality. The Central Ward, which includes downtown Newark, has many historic sites and college campuses such as the Krueger Mansion, the Prudential Center, Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Berkeley College. The East Ward (also known as the Ironbound due to the railroads that surround it) contains more than 170 restaurants, wine shops, and specialty food shops, many of which reflect the ward’s Portuguese/Spanish/Brazilian cultural influences. The North Ward is home to Branch Brook Park, which has the largest number of cherry blossoms in the United States (4,300 cherry trees), North Newark’s Castle, the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and St. Lucy’s Church — all of which are excellent attractions for residents and tourists alike. The South Ward is home to Weequahic Park, Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal (the largest port on the east coast and the third largest port in the United States), and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (the city’s second largest hospital). Finally, the West Ward is home to the historic Fairmount Cemetery, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the Sacred Heart Church.
Jersey City, New Jersey’s second largest city, had a population of roughly 264-thousand people in 2015. This number represents an approximately 6.7% increase since 2010, making Jersey City the fastest growing municipality in New Jersey since 2010. Some estimates even suggest that the population of Jersey City will surpass that of Newark in 2016. This increase may be due partly to the fact that Manhattan is only a 10-20 minute train ride away from Jersey City, and yet the costs of living are significantly lower in Jersey City than in Manhattan and its other nearby areas. In the last few years Jersey City has undergone both significant revitalization and new development. Jersey City, which is bordered by the Hudson River on the east and the Hackensack river on the west, is home to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island, and Liberty Island. These rivers stimulate both trade and outdoorist culture, which is a well-known favorite among college goers. The booming city growth also means that students in the area have enormous opportunity in the growing city infrastructure in the form of valuable internships, new successful startup companies, and overall growing job markets.
Cost of Living: 1.19
Top Industries: Construction; Retail Trade; Transportation and Warehousing
Local Online Degrees: 30
Cost of Living: 1.25
Top Industries: Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Finance and Insurance; Transportation and Warehousing
Local Online Degrees: 1
Cost of Living: 1.27
Top Industries: Manufacturing; Retail Trade; Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 1
Cost of Living: 1.21
Transportation Top Industries: and Warehousing; Construction; Retail Trade
Local Online Degrees: 0
Cost of Living: 1.24
Top Industries: Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Retail Trade; Manufacturing
Local Online Degrees: x
The Best Online Colleges in New Jersey
1. Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Online Programs: 14
Rutgers University, which is The State University of New Jersey, is the eighth-oldest higher education institution in the nation. Established in 1766 as “Queen’s College”, Rutgers is one the the nine “Colonial Colleges” chartered before the American Revolution. Rutgers University is one of the nation’s top research universities and, according to the school’s website, brings more federal research dollars to New Jersey than all other colleges and universities in New Jersey combined. The Rutgers Online Managed Program formed in 2012 as the result of a partnership between Rutgers University and Pearson eCollege. The school boasts that this partnership allows the University to “deliver fully online degree programs on a national scale and successfully compete with well-established online providers.” The partnership results in online programs with the academic integrity of Rutgers University combined with the online resources and technical support services of Pearson eCollege. Rutgers University offers a total of 17 online degree programs and over 150 online certificate programs. And with the added support of Pearson eCollege resources, Rutgers online degree programs offer students some of the best online degree options in the state.
2. Seton Hall University
Online Programs: 11
Seton Hall University (SHU) is a private, Catholic university located in South Orange, NJ. Just 14 miles from Manhattan, Seton Hall University boasts that it has more than 17,000 internship opportunities available to its students and over 550 employers visiting campus each year to recruit graduates. According to the school’s website, between 86 and 88% of SHU graduates are employed in a career-related job within six months of graduation which is approximately 20% higher than the national average. The school’s career center, which is available 24/7 to online students, offers both in-person and web-based career resources such as assistance with resume writing, interviewing skills, and in exploring national employment databases. SHU offers 11 total online degree programs, some of which require “two or three on-campus long weekend residency programs.” These are designed to provide valuable face-time with both peers and faculty in order to promote intrapersonal collaboration and interaction, which often online degrees are unable to provide. Students are typically housed in a hotel near the Newark Liberty International Airport and their meals during the visits are provided. Costs associated with these on-campus residency visits (minus travel expenses) are included in the cost of tuition, making SHU’s online programs an attractive option even for students on the other side of the state.
3. Rowan University
Online Programs: 13
Rowan University, a public university located in Glassboro, New Jersey, is ranked the #5 Top Public School in the North by U.S. News & World Report (2017). Rowan University offers a total of 30 online degree and certificate programs that are designed according to the University’s overarching philosophy of student empowerment, flexibility, and convenience. Rowan University offers both fully online programs and several “hybrid” programs which combine online and face-to-face classroom instruction — a unique perk for residential online students. Rowan University offers 21 total degree programs (4 bachelor’s, 12 master’s, and 5 doctoral degrees) which can be completed entirely online. Several of Rowan University’s online programs are offered in accelerated formats in order to provide the “quickest path” to earning the degree. Additionally, Rowan University offers an online dual credit initiative for high school school juniors and seniors. This means that high-achieving high school juniors and seniors may begin working on their college degree early by enrolling in select Rowan University online courses for which they can receive credit from both the high school and university. For motivated high school students in New Jersey looking to accelerate both their high school and college education this program is likely too good to ignore.
4. New Jersey Institute of Technology
Online Programs: 10
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), one of the nation’s leading public polytechnic universities, was ranked as the #1 value among colleges and universities nationally in 2013 by comparing annual tuition cost to the average starting salary of graduates. NJIT, which is located in Newark, New Jersey, focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields. Currently, NJIT offers 13 online master’s degrees and 19 fully-online 12-credit certificate programs. NJIT offers both synchronous and asynchronous online learning, hybrid learning, and converged learning. Synchronous online learning requires that students and instructors participate in events (video sessions, examinations, etc.) that occur at a specific, scheduled time while asynchronous online learning may take place at any time. Hybrid learning combines online and in-person learning. Converged learning “integrates online and on-ground students into a single learning community, converging the physical and virtual classrooms.” In 2015, NJIT released their strategic plan for the next five years in which they state “Digital learning will be an integral part of every student’s experience, with instructors engaging students through ‘converged’ pedagogies where the boundaries between online and face-to-face instruction fade.” NJIT is truly a pioneer in higher education, empowering students to truly choose when, where, and how they learn.
5. Thomas Edison State College
Online Programs: 30
Thomas Edison State University (TESU), which is located in Trenton, New Jersey, was one of the nation’s first higher education institutes designed specifically for adult learners through incorporating distance learning, curriculums based on maturity, and self-motivation. The mission of TESU is to provide “flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults.” Formerly known as Thomas Edison State College, TESU was granted university status in 2015 afterwhich it was renamed. TESU now has a total of 50 online degree programs (11 associate degree programs, 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 12 master’s degrees programs, and 1 doctoral degree program) and 28 online certificate programs (16 undergraduate certificate programs and 12 graduate certificate programs). All of these programs can be completed entirely online without any campus visits required. For undergraduates new courses and terms begin every month, granting enormous flexibility in terms of coursework scheduling; for graduate students, however, new courses and terms are offered just four times a year. TESU’s well-developed online department offers many more specialized degree paths and more unique topics that are often unavailable at other online colleges
6. Bergen Community College
Online Programs: 15
Bergen Community College (BCC), a publicly supported two-year college in Bergen County, New Jersey, has produced the most graduates with associate’s degrees of any higher education institution in the state of New Jersey for three years in a row (2014, 2015, and 2016). According to the school website, BCC’s programs are designed to “prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, or for immediate entry into a career.” BCC has articulation agreements with over 30 colleges and universities such as Rutgers University, SHU, NJIT, TESU, Columbia University, and New York University, supporting easy transfer of credits from BCC to these other colleges. BCC offers over 90 degree programs, 16 of which can be completed entirely online. 5 of BCC’s 10 most popular programs in 2016 can be completed entirely online (Associate of Science in Business Administration [#2], Associate of Arts in General Curriculum [#3], Associate of Arts in Psychology [#7], Associate of Science in Business Accounting [#8], and Associate of Science in Business Management [#9]). BCC’s distinctive dedication to providing professional certifications and actionable associate’s degrees makes it one of the most specialized schools in the state. The effectiveness of this specialization is evidenced by the fact that the majority of its graduates take on employment and/or continued education immediately upon graduation.
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 California is the Middle State 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 New Jersey Higher Education Resources
- New Jersey Transfer
- New Jersey Transfer (NJ Transfer) is an organization designed to assist students who are interested in transferring from one of New Jersey’s 19 two-year community colleges to one of the state’s 25 participating four-year institutions. Services include, but are not limited to, assistance selecting which courses at the community college will fulfill degree requirements at both institutions, assistance finding course equivalencies, transcript evaluations, and information regarding events for potential transfer students.
- NJBEST College Savings Plan
- NJBEST 529 College Savings Plan is a higher education savings and investment program created by the state of New Jersey for New Jersey families. NJBEST plans can be opened with as little as $25 and the savings can be used at any accredited higher education institute, not just those in New Jersey. NJBEST offers “maximum flexibility and diverse investments” designed to align with the needs of almost any investor.
- Higher Education Student Assistance Authority
- Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) is an agency with the sole mission of providing New Jersey’s students and families “with financial and informational resources for students to pursue their education beyond high school”. This website provides information regarding HESAA’s available grants, scholarships, and loans. HESAA includes both need-based programs such as the New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant (TAG), the Part-Time TAG for County College Students, the Governor’s Urban Scholarship Program, and the Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship (NJ-GIVS) as well as merit-based programs such as the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS and NJ STARS II).
- New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education
- New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education (NJ PLACE) is a statewide initiative designed to help New Jersey residents apply their apprenticeship education towards a degree at a participating New Jersey college. Participating higher education institutes include New Jersey’s 19 community colleges, Rutgers University, and TESU. According to NJ PLACE’s website, they do not “promote apprenticeship as an alternative to a college education, but as an exciting and promising pathway to it.”
- Virtual Academic Library Environment of New Jersey
- Virtual Academic Library Environment (VALE) of New Jersey is an association of New Jersey libraries that works to further research and learning through collaboration and innovative approaches to information resources and services. VALE includes New Jersey college and university libraries as well as the New Jersey State Library.
- New Jersey Council of County Colleges
- New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) is the state association of New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. The NJCCC website lists resources for scholarships and awards, available credit and noncredit programs, the Community College Workforce Consortium, the Entrepreneur Certificate Program (ECP), and the New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey (NPTNJ) Program.