Home | Education | Best Online Colleges for Military Personnel & Veterans: Top Ranked

Best Online Colleges for Military Personnel & Veterans: Top Ranked

Choosing the best online colleges for military members often hinges on flexibility, credit for service, and dedicated support. In this guide, we pinpoint colleges offering these exact benefits, ensuring your military experience translates to academic progress. We list institutions that truly fit the military lifestyle—no sales pitch, just the facts you need to decide on your future academic home. Expect detailed insights on accreditation, financial aid, and tailored degree programs further in the article.

Key Takeaways

  • Top online colleges acknowledge the value of military experience by converting military training into academic credits, with some awarding up to 90 transfer credits, and offer flexible and accessible programs for active-duty service members.
  • Military and veteran students have access to various financial aid options, including the GI Bill, tuition assistance programs, scholarships and grants, and the Yellow Ribbon Program, to ease the financial commitment of higher education.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program works in conjunction with the Post-9/11 GI Bill to provide additional financial support that covers tuition and fees exceeding the GI Bill’s annual cap, benefiting eligible veterans and active-duty members.

Premier Online Colleges for Service Members and Veterans

best online colleges for military

Among the vast landscape of higher education, there are certain online colleges that stand out for their commitment to serving military personnel and veterans. These colleges not only offer high-quality, accredited programs but also acknowledge the value of military training by translating it into academic credits. Institutions such as Indiana University Online and the University of Florida excel in this regard, offering a wide range of online bachelor’s programs and participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Moreover, these top online colleges provide specialized support services and flexible learning environments to cater to the unique circumstances of military personnel. Understanding that military duties can often be unpredictable and demanding, these institutions ensure that their online programs are flexible and accessible. This allows active duty service members to continue their education without compromising their commitments.

Recognizing Military Training as Academic Credit

One of the major benefits of enrolling in military-friendly online colleges is the ability to convert military training into academic credits. Through a collaborative evaluation process involving the American Council on Education and the Department of Defense, these colleges assess whether previous military experiences qualify for academic credits.

Certain online universities, such as:

  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Liberty University

They are particularly notable for accepting military experience as college credits. In some cases, these institutions may award up to 90 transfer credits to military students for job training or professional military education undertaken during service. This not only facilitates expedited educational advancement but also reduces the time and financial resources required to earn a degree.

Dedicated Support for Military Students

best online colleges for military

The journey to higher education can be challenging, particularly for individuals balancing military duties or transitioning from active service. Recognizing these unique challenges, military-friendly online colleges offer a plethora of support services tailored to the needs of veteran students, active-duty members, and their families.

Resources for military students include:

  • Military-specific financial aid and advising
  • Transition assistance upon entry
  • Specialized transition plans, academic advising, and career support at universities like the University of Central Florida
  • Support in exploring employment options, training requirements, and accessing vocational rehabilitation services
  • Educational counseling

These resources are designed to support military students and undergraduate students in their educational and career goals.

These dedicated resources and services ensure that military students, including military service members, are well-supported in their academic journey.

Flexible Learning for Active Duty Members

Balancing active-duty commitments with academic pursuits can be a daunting task. However, online colleges have revolutionized the learning landscape, offering flexible learning options to accommodate the unique schedules of active-duty military personnel. Through asynchronous coursework and pre-recorded lectures, these colleges enable active duty military members to learn at their own pace and schedule.

For instance, Drexel Online offers a robust course delivery schedule with 24/7 access to coursework and 10-week terms that start four times a year. By providing such flexible learning options and veteran support resources, online colleges ensure that military students can successfully navigate their educational journey without service interruptions.

Comprehensive Financial Aid for Military and Veteran Students

Pursuing higher education is a significant financial commitment. However, military and veteran students have access to a plethora of financial aid options to lessen this burden. These include:

  • The GI Bill
  • Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Military tuition assistance programs
  • Scholarships

The GI Bill, for instance, provides comprehensive coverage for educational expenses, including 100% of in-state tuition and fees at public universities, up to $27,120 at private institutions, and up to $22,805.34 per academic year at private or foreign schools for eligible military spouses and dependents. Furthermore, beyond tuition coverage, financial assistance extends to funding for school supplies, fees for college entrance exams, certification exams, and housing stipends for military students.

Maximizing GI Bill Benefits

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, available to individuals who have served on active duty for at least 90 days since September 10, 2001, is a significant source of financial support for military students. It provides:

  • In-state tuition and fees at public universities in full
  • Up to $27,120 at private institutions annually
  • Support for housing, books, supplies, and relocation

Additionally, veterans can leverage their GI Bill benefits to enroll in advanced degree programs such as master’s and doctoral courses. National University is an example of an institution offering programs to military and veteran students under the GI Bill’s coverage for up to 36 months of full-time enrollment. Even military spouses and dependents may be eligible to receive transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Tuition Assistance Programs

In addition to the GI Bill, each branch of the US Military offers a tuition assistance program. Available to active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members, these programs can potentially cover up to 100% of tuition expenses.

The specific annual tuition assistance amounts vary, with up to $4,500 for the Air Force and for Navy, Marines, and Space Force service members, up to $4,000 for the Army, and up to $3,750 for the Coast Guard. This initiative significantly reduces the financial burden of higher education, making it more accessible to military students.

Scholarships and Grants Specific to Military Students

Beyond the GI Bill and tuition assistance programs, military students can access specific scholarships and grants. These education benefits offered can provide significant relief to the overall cost of education.

The Yellow Ribbon Program, for instance, offers additional financial assistance, including tuition discounts and scholarships, bridging the gap in education funding for military students. By utilizing these scholarships and grants, military students can greatly reduce their out-of-pocket costs and focus on their academic success.

The Yellow Ribbon Program: Bridging the Gap in Education Funding

The Yellow Ribbon Program offers valuable support to active-duty officers and veterans by providing them with supplementary financial aid beyond the GI Bill. This initiative aims to bridge the gap and ensure these individuals receive the support they need. By collaborating with educational institutions, the program effectively reduces tuition and fees for Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries, focusing on costs above the annual maximum set by law.

Educational institutions participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program contribute a certain amount towards a student’s tuition and fees, which is matched by the program. This initiative further alleviates educational costs, making higher education more accessible to military students.

Eligibility and Application for the Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program is designed for individuals who qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100 percent benefit level. To be considered for the program, students must have existing Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The eligibility extends to those who meet the service requirements, dependents using transferred benefits, and Fry Scholars.

It’s crucial to note that the application process for the Yellow Ribbon Program involves direct contact with the Veterans Affairs. This ensures that veterans receive a precise assessment of their available benefits and can make an informed decision about their educational path.

Participating Online Colleges

A number of online colleges participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, offering significant tuition assistance to veterans. These include:

  • Oregon State University
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
  • University of Central Florida
  • Daytona State College
  • George Washington University
  • Fort Hays State University
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Drexel University

These colleges agree to uphold a fixed number of students who can benefit from the program and maintain enrollment certifications. Prospective students can utilize the available online search tool to identify schools that supplement their tuition through the Yellow Ribbon Program. This can greatly alleviate the financial burden and make the pursuit of higher education more feasible.

Tailored Degree Programs for Military and Veteran Students

Online colleges offer a wide range of degree programs specifically tailored to military and veteran students. From associate to doctoral level, these degree programs are designed to complement and build upon the skills veterans have obtained during their military service.

Institutions like National University and Liberty University offer such programs, ensuring that the education provided aligns with the experiences and career aspirations of military and veteran students. Notably, the United States features universities with online bachelor’s degree programs that are not only ranked for veterans but are also developed to meet their unique needs.

Career-Focused Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Top institutions such as the University of Florida, Arizona State University, and the CUNY School of Professional Studies offer competitive online bachelor’s programs for veterans. These programs span various fields and are designed to complement and build upon the skills veterans have obtained during their military service.

These online bachelor’s degrees are not just academic qualifications but stepping stones to a successful career. By aligning the course content with real-world applications and industry needs, these programs ensure that veterans are equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills to excel in their chosen career paths.

Advanced Degrees for Continued Professional Growth

For veterans seeking to further their education, online master’s and doctoral programs provide an excellent opportunity. These programs, specifically designed for military and veteran students, offer the convenience of recorded and archived lectures to accommodate their flexible learning schedules.

Institutions like the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin–Madison offer highly regarded online graduate programs that rank well for veterans. Moreover, veterans have the opportunity to pursue doctoral degrees at Liberty University, where they can also earn 21-hour certificates nested within these programs, enhancing leadership and professional competencies.

The Enrollment Process Demystified for Military Students

Enrolling in an online college can seem a daunting task, especially for military students juggling multiple responsibilities. However, the process can be straightforward with the right guidance. Generally, military students need to meet the minimum requirement of having a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification. Institutions like the University of Maryland Global Campus and Arizona State University require incoming students to have completed high school or possess a GED diploma for admission.

Once the admission requirements are understood, military students can proceed with the standard process of submitting their application, along with any required documentation such as proof of education and military service records. This process, although it may seem complex initially, is streamlined with the dedicated support of the online college’s admissions department.

Transferring Credits from Community College or Other Institutions

Many military students have previous coursework or military training that can be transferred as academic credits. For example, Liberty University allows military students to transfer up to 75% of a bachelor’s degree from previous coursework, life, or military experience.

To facilitate this process, military students may need to obtain a Joint Services Transcript, or a CCAF Transcript for the Air Force. With approximately 1,700 veteran-friendly colleges and universities recognizing military college credits, military students are positioned to expedite their educational advancement.

Preparing for Online College Success

Success in online college requires strategic planning and effective use of resources. Effective time management is critical when balancing academic responsibilities with military duties, personal commitments, and unexpected obligations. Creating a structured study schedule while allowing for flexibility can significantly enhance academic performance for military students.

Moreover, here are some strategies that can help military students stay organized and on track with their online studies:

  • Prioritize tasks and create a schedule using digital calendars and task apps.
  • Set clear, attainable academic goals.
  • Actively seek out academic advisors for guidance and support.
  • Embrace technology and utilize online resources for learning.

By implementing these strategies, online military students can foster a successful learning experience.

Military Spouses and Dependents: Educational Opportunities

The commitment to support military personnel’s education extends to their spouses and dependents. Various scholarships and grants are available to military spouses and dependents, such as:

  • Whisper Military Spouse Scholarship
  • My Career Advancement Account Scholarship
  • Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program
  • Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance

In addition, universities like National University and Southern New Hampshire University offer significant tuition discounts for military dependents and spouses. Eligible dependents can also benefit from the GI Bill, further expanding their access to higher education.

Navigating State and Federal Resources for Veteran Education

Veterans can access a plethora of state and federal resources for guidance and support in pursuing higher education. Government websites and their state’s Department of Veterans Affairs offices can provide valuable information and support for academic pursuits.

Financial assistance programs for in-state veterans are available in several states such as:

  • Wisconsin
  • South Dakota
  • Montana
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
  • Illinois

These programs aim to provide support and resources to veterans living within the respective states. Utilizing these resources, veterans can make an informed decision about their educational path and access the necessary support.


In conclusion, online colleges offer an invaluable opportunity for military personnel, veterans, and their dependents to achieve their academic goals. By recognizing military training as academic credit, providing dedicated support services, and offering comprehensive financial aid, these institutions ensure a smooth and accessible path to higher education. Whether it’s an online bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree, the opportunities for growth and success are vast and within reach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there online colleges that specifically cater to military personnel and veterans?

Yes, there are online colleges specifically catering to military personnel and veterans, offering accredited programs, credit for military experience, and dedicated support services.

What financial aid options are available to military and veteran students?

Military and veteran students have access to financial aid options such as the GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program, military tuition assistance programs, scholarships, and grants. These options can help alleviate the financial burden of pursuing higher education.

How do online colleges recognize military training as academic credit?

Online colleges recognize military training as academic credit through a collaborative process involving the American Council on Education and the Department of Defense to assess the qualifications for academic credits.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The Yellow Ribbon Program offers extra financial aid to eligible military students at certain colleges, helping to reduce their tuition and fees. This program aims to ease the financial burden for military students seeking higher education.

Can military spouses and dependents access education benefits?

Yes, military spouses and dependents can access education benefits such as scholarships, grants, tuition discounts, and the GI Bill. These benefits can help support their pursuit of higher education.