Updated January 5, 2021
Understanding Not For Profit Colleges Online
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 masters and bachelor 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 regionally accredited non profit 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 not for profit schools get smarter and more aggressive with advertising and online promotion to push their online programs.
What Does It Mean To Be A Non Profit University?
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).
Can a non profit school charge tuition?
The answer is absolutely yes — virtually all not for profit campus and online colleges charge tuition. They only difference is that they do not need to show a profit above their costs. Some of their administrators, in fact, 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. As a result, a nonprofit degree from an online college may not necessarily be your cheapest option.
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.
Generally, the non profit schools are more targeted in their online program offerings. They 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.
What Exactly Is A Nonprofit, Private or Not For Profit College?
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
Nonprofit Online College and University List
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 including nursing (RN to BSN), education, organizational leadership, business, marketing and psychology.
Get info on these and other programs at Grand Canyon
Click to read more on Grand Canyon Accreditation
Purdue University Global
A very large and well-known school with over 40,000 students on 11 campuses and in a large online degree program, and regional accreditation. Offers a very wide range of degrees in Criminal Justice, Education, Health Care, Nursing, Computer Technology, Information Systems and Legal Studies.
Learn more about Purdue’s degree programs
Liberty is a private Christian school that has grown into one of the world’s largest provider of online degree programs. The school offers a very wide range of Associates, Bachelor’s and Masters degree programs in Business, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Project Management, Web Development and other specialties.
Get free info on Liberty University’s online degree programs
AU is a private research university founded in Washington, D.C. in 1893. It’s widely known for it’s politics programs. Offers masters degrees in areas including economics, strategic communication and international relations.
Get info on these and other programs at American University
A private university with five campuses, Antioch was founded in 1852. It’s online programs have a strong focus on career preparation. Degrees include a master of arts in clinical mental health.
Get free info on Antioch University
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 graduate certificate and masters degree programs online in management, organizational leadership, nursing, public health, business administration and more.
Get info on these and other programs at Benedictine
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE
Cal State Northridge is part of California’s massive public college system. It has over 38,000 students. Notable alumni of the school include Eva Longoria, Deborah Winger and Mohamed Morsi, the 5th President of Egypt. The school offers several master’s degrees online in humanities, instructional design, public administration, engineering management and social work.
Get free info on Cal State Northridge
Based in Auburndale, Massachusetts, Lasell was founded in 1851. The school places a strong emphasis on internship programs, and has regional accreditation. Offers a wide mix of online masters degree programs including MBA, communication – public relations or marketing, criminal justice, human resources, sport management, project Management, rehabilitation science.
Get free info on Lasell 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 master’s degree programs online in international relations, military history and business administration.
Get information on Norwich 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