In the early days of online learning, for-profit schools tended to be the most dominant force. But things have changed drastically since then. Nowadays just about every school in the U.S. is providing some type of online learning, and a very wide array of private and nonprofit state colleges offer full scale degree programs online. If you feel less than comfortable about attending an online school that earns a profit, you now have a very wide range of nonprofits to consider.
Both small and large nonprofit schools have moved into digital learning. For some small colleges and universities that have generally been known only in their own geographic regions, online programs have offered a new way of gaining national notoriety and attracting students from anywhere in the world. At the same time, larger state universities and even very famous private colleges have put degree programs online because it allows them to attract new students without having to spend money to expand campus facilities to house, feed and teach them.
Click to a listing of MBA degrees you can get online from non-profit colleges
The result is that nonprofit colleges and universities are now competing aggressively for students with the for profit universities. Nonprofits like Liberty University have become household names across the U.S. through large marketing campaigns.
Although they’ve generated a massive volume of publicity in recent years, the fact is that for profit colleges and universities actually enroll less than ten percent of all American college students. That number appears to be dropping slightly, as non profit schools get smarter and more aggressive with advertising and online promotion to push their online programs.
What’s A Nonprofit Versus A For-Profit?
On the surface, it seems pretty basic: A for-profit school’s primary role may be to deliver learning programs, but it is operated as a business. Universities like Phoenix and Capella have to earn a profit from the tuition they take in, while non-profit schools, which are generally either private or state-funded public schools, don’t make any attempt to earn a profit. For profit schools generally must demonstrate earnings to shareholders, while no-profits have a variety of funding sources, but no actual shareholders. (alternatively, here are lists of religious private schools: Christian Online Colleges, and Catholic Online Schools).
But the reality of non profit schools is not completely simple. Some of their administrators are paid millions of dollars and given the kind of career perks one would normally expect only a corporate chief to get. Additionally, the online teaching programs at non profits are sometimes run somewhat independently of campus operations, and may have very high revenue goals for the school.
To you the student, the most first and most important issue is to make sure that any school you consider is accredited (keeping in mind that regional accreditation is the best, not national accreditation), that the degree program is targeted at a specific career that interests you, and that you will not be piling up too much debt during your education. Those all hold true whether you attend a for profit or non profit school. You will probably tend to find that accreditation is less of an issue with nonprofit schools, but don’t assume anything – make sure to research it yourself.
A Different Degree Mix
Generally speaking, the nonprofit schools are a bit more targeted in their online degree offerings, and tend to focus more squarely on career training than private and non profit schools, which sometimes offer hundreds of degree programs in fairly exotic subjects. A few nonprofit schools listed below focus on just one or two online programs they’ve chosen to build a expertise in.
“Nonprofit,” “not for profit” or “private”
The schools on this list tend to call themselves one of these three things. Is there a difference between the categorizations? Not really. The IRS says that “not for profit” describes an organization focused on one particular activity (like a hobby) while “nonprofit” is for an entity created for a purpose other than making a profit. If you think those two sound pretty similar you’re right. In practice, “nonprofit” and “not for profit” are used interchangeably. The two main types of schools in the non profit category are “private” colleges, which include many of the oldest, best known and most expensive schools in the U.S., and “public” schools, which are state or community schools that are supported financially by taxpayer money and administered through state governments.
For the sake of transparency, we should note that we are focusing here mainly on the nonprofit schools that have well developed programs and promote themselves nationally. And yes, we do earn a small fee if you inquire for information from one of them. If you have another school you would like to recommend for this list or feel one does not belong here, please feel free to write our editor here
AU is a private research university founded in Washington, D.C. in 1893. It’s widely known for it’s poliitics programs. Offers masters degrees in areas including:
– Public Administration
– Sports Analytics
– International Relations
Get info on these and other programs at American University
ANNA MARIA COLLEGE
Anna Maria is a Catholic school of about 1500 students based in Paxton, MA. It offers a variety of degrees with a strong career training focus. Master’s degrees in:
– Public Administration
– Criminal Justice
– Homeland Security
– Fire & Emergency Services
Get info on these and other programs at Anna Maria College
A Catholic private university located just outside Chicago, Illinois. The school, founded in 1887, describes itself as a “melting pot” of students from all religions, faiths and philosophies, and now provides a variety of degree programs online. Offers masters degrees and graduate certificates in:
– Public Health
– Health Policy
Get info on these and other programs at Benedictine
An Illinois-based private school of about 5,000 students, Bradley was founded in 1897. It was ranked 6th among Regional Midwest Universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 edition of America’s Best Colleges. Offers online masters degrees in:
Get info on these and other programs at Bradley University
THE BUSH SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT & PUBLIC SERVICE AT TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
Named for President George H.W. Bush, this is a graduate school of Texas A&M. In 2015, Foreign Policy Magazine ranked it in the top 25 among international relations graduate programs in the world. Offers online graduate certificate programs in:
– Advanced International Affairs
– Homeland Security
– Nonprofit Management
Get info on these and other programs at The Bush School
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY GLOBAL CAMPUS
Colorado state was one of the first big schools to enter the online education field back in 2007. It now serves 12,000 students with a variety of degree programs. The school specializes in non-traditional adult students who cannot attend a campus-based program. Offers a variety of bachelors and masters degree programs in:
– Criminal Justice
– Healthcare Administration
Get info on these and other programs at Colorado State
CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY NEBRASKA
Concordia is an affordable Lutheran college serving about 2,500 students in it’s undergrad and graduate schools. Established in 1894, it’s one of ten schools in the Concordia system. Offers online masters degrees in:
– Education – multiple specialties
– Healthcare Administration
Get info on these and other programs at Concordia Nebraska
CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY PORTLAND
Another school in the Concordia system of Lutheran liberal arts institutions, Concordia of Portland, Oregon was established in 1905 and now has about 5,200 online and offline students. Its online masters programs are very focused on education:
– Curriculum and Instruction
– Educational Leadership
Get info on these and other programs at Concordia Portland
Creighton is an old Jesuit (Catholic) based in Omaha, Nebraska that has a strong reputation in the midwest. Established in 1878, it now has a diverse population of 8,400 students. It offers masters degrees online in areas including:
– Healthcare Management
– Negotiation & Conflict Resolution
– Organizational/Transactional Negotiation
Get info on these and other programs at Creighton
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
EKU is one of the schools in the Kentucky public college system. It has over 15,000 students, and had recently undergone a significant rebuilding campaign. It’s large and diverse online programs include masters degrees in:
– Safety, Security & Emergency Management
– School Safety
– Occupational Safety
Get info on these and other programs at Eastern Kentucky
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
George Mason is a very large public research university with four campuses in Virginia, with over 34,000 students. It offers online masters and graduate certificate programs in:
– Health Informatics
– Health Systems Management
– Special Education
– Autism Spectrum Disorder
Get info on these and other programs at George Mason University
Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., is one of America’s oldest universities, having been founded in 1789. It has a national reputation for prowess in academics and sports – particularly in basketball. Georgetown is a nonprofit Catholic school, but a majority of its students today are not Catholic. Its list if famous alumni includes actor Bradley Cooper, comedian Jim Gaffigan, Ted Leonisis, owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards and Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Georgetown offers masters degrees online in:
– Professional Studies, Real Estate
– Sports Management
– Technology Management
– Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner
Get info on these and other programs at Georgetown
GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY
Grand Canyon is a private school founded in 1949 that has over 40,000 students, both online and at it’s Phoenix, AZ main campus. It’s recognized by Fortune Magazine a top-five online school for entrepreneurs. Online bachelor’s and master’s degrees are offered across many different subject areas:
– Organizational Leadership
– Health Systems Management
Get info on these and other programs at Grand Canyon
Click to read more on Grand Canyon Accreditation
HOFSTRA LAW SCHOOL
Hofstra is a large private, nonprofit school that has a good reputation for upwardly mobile students in the New York City area. It has over 11,000 students. Alumni include Francis Ford Coppola, Christopher Walken and baseball star Ken Singleton. It’s Maurice A. Deane Law School offers two online degrees:
– Master of Arts Health and Law Policy
– Master of Laws in Health and Law Policy
Get info on these and other programs at Hofstra
JOHNS HOPKINS CAREY BUSINESS SCHOOL
The Carey School is the newest college within Johns Hopkins, one of the oldest and most respected universities in America. Carey has a strong focus on training MBA students in four areas: enterprise risk management, health care management, financial businesses, and real estate and infrastructure. The school offers many business degrees online, including “flexible” MBAs:
– Health Care Management
– Financial Businesses
Get info on these and other programs at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is one of the oldest and best known private universities in America. Today it has over 20,000 students on it’s Baltimore Campus and in online programs. Over 36 alumni have won a Nobel Prize. The university offers online graduate certificate masters programs in many areas including:
– Food Safety Regulation
– Environmental Sciences
Get info on these and other programs at Johns Hopkins University
Keiser is a Florida-based school with a large online program. It’s a private school with top quality accreditation. It’s nursing and computer science programs in particular have received high rankings and U.S. News & World Report has named it as a quality school for veterans. Keiser offers a very wide variety of associates, bachelors and master’s programs in areas including:
– Criminal Justice
– Video Game Design
– Business Administration
– Social Media Communication
– Software Engineering
– Sports Medicine
Get information on Keiser University
SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY
St. Leo is a Florida-based, private non-profit school founded in 1889. It has over 16,000 students, and has been called one of the “Top Universities in the South” by U.S. News & World Report. The school has top quality accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It offers certificate programs and master’s degrees online in:
– Business – multiple specialties
– Criminal Justice – multiple specialties
Get information on St. Leo University
Private military school that’s operated in Vermont since way back in 1819. The school offers an unusual mix of liberal arts, civil engineering and military science programs. Over 100 army generals have come out of the school. About 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students total.
Norwich offers a variety of master’s degree programs online:
– Military (Masters in Diplomacy, History & Military History)
– Master of Public Administration (General, Criminal Justice, Leadership, Non Profit Management, Public Works Administration)
– Civil Engineering
Get information on Norwich University
Nursing Degrees From Non-Profit Schools
THE UNIVERSITY OF SAINT MARY
USM is a Kansas-based private school that was founded back in 1923. It has focus on adult education, and was called the “Best Midwestern College” by The Princeton Review. The per credit fee for its nursing RN to BSN program is affordable.
Get free information on University of Saint Mary’s RN to BSN program
Maryville is a St. Louis-based school founded in 1872. Originally a women’s school, it’s not coeducational, and has about 5,000 students. It’s online programs are focused on nursing. It offers a series of nursing certificate, doctorate and masters degrees in:
– Family Practitioner
– Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
– Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Get information on Maryville University
More on Grand Canyon accreditation:
In choosing a university, you should ensure your choice is regionally accredited, as this provides an assurance of quality as well as continual institutional program improvement.
Regional accreditation in higher education originated almost a century ago as an American process conferred by a nongovernmental agency. Today, one of the most respected agencies is the Higher Learning Commission, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and its predecessor have accredited GCU continually since 1968. GCU obtained its most recent 10-year reaccreditation in 2007.
To be accredited, the HLC’s examiners and trained peers visit GCU’s campus, analyze and accept the university’s operations and academic outcomes as meeting HLC’s core competencies.
Additional Accreditation for Nursing Education:
– Earlier Graduation – Our 4 credit classes allow you to complete your nursing degree in less time.
– Degree Variety – GCU offers bachelors and master’s degrees, as well as post-masters certificates. We offer high-demand programs such as RN to BSN, and MSN’s with multiple emphases.
– Accredited – The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions offers programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)1 and approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
– Learn From Leaders – At Grand Canyon University, classes are taught by industry leaders and subject matter experts.
– 1The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master’s degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
– GCU’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions is also approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
– ²Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Registered Nurses, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm