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8 Tips for Choosing an Online University

| | 2 minute read

Have you thought about earning your degree online but don’t know where to start? We understand that not everyone can earn their degree on campus. You have a family, a full-time job, or an obligation that keeps you busy for most of the day. So, earning your degree online is your way to get the college education you want without having to commit to attending a campus during the week. How do you find the right online university?

Selecting a college or university to complete your online degree can be tricky and overwhelming. There are a lot of things to consider when trying to choose what is the best fit for you. We have created a list of 8 simple tips for choosing an online university that meets your educational goals! 

  1. Research accredited colleges and universities, as not all institutions are created equal. Learn more about accreditation on the U.S. Department of Education website
  2. Decide on and find your major. Be aware that not every university offers all majors and not all are available online.
  3. Verify the program and classes are offered fully online. Some degree programs are hybrid, a combination of online and on campus classwork. If you can’t travel, make sure the program offers the entire degree completely online.
  4. Check admission requirements and application fees. Also check to see if previous college credits will transfer.
  5. Compare tuition, fees, and financial aid. Investing in an education is like investing in your future. Ask the right questions. What does tuition cost? Do I have to pay out of state tuition? What financial aid is available?
  6. Keep an eye out for fees above tuition costs. These can include course fees, textbooks, course materials, labs, examination proctoring and online delivery fees.
  7. Ask about the faculty credentials. Who is teaching the online courses? Are the same faculty who teach on campus teaching online?
  8. Find online student services. Online students can’t walk into a campus office and ask for help. Make sure the institution has services and resources available specifically for online students.

One university that has been consistently ranked top in the nation for affordability and academic excellence in online learning is The University of Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss offers 14 undergraduate and 26 graduate degrees fully online and its Office of Online Learning provides support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs.

Tom Hutchinson, interim director of the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, says since most online students cannot access campus services, they need to choose an online university that can meet their needs. “We offer 24/7 student support and offer a wide range of services for our online students, including access to our Writing Center, Speaking Center, online textbook ordering, and even a student success website,” said Hutchinson. “When choosing a university to get a degree online, be sure to find one that can help you when you need it.”

Overall, when deciding to get a degree, look for the best value you can find with the highest quality of education. But don’t forget to keep an eye out for hidden values. “At Southern Miss, as an undergraduate student, once you reach full-time status of 12 hours, you can take up to 19 hours with no additional tuition cost,” said Hutchinson.

For more information online degree programs at Southern Miss, visit

Office of Online Learning

All blog posts are written and maintained by the Office of Online Learning at The University of Southern Mississippi. We provide support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs at the University.

For more information, email us at