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
A private school that’s one of the most affordable online schools in the U.S., but has solid accreditation. Founded 100 years ago, the school offers online associate’s and bachelor’s degrees with several specializations:
– Criminal Justice
Get info on Baker College Online
Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, United States, founded in 1878, is a private, not-for-profit, undergraduate- and graduate-level higher education institution with multiple campuses and online programs. It’s been ranked as one of the top 15-best higher education values in the Southeast by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers a liberal arts associate degree online, as well as bachelor degree programs in business and other areas:
– Liberal Arts
– Business Administration
– Early Childhood Education
Get info on Brenau 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