Online Colleges in Georgia

The first state-chartered university was born in Georgia in 1785, and the higher education system in the state has expanded quite a bit in the nearly 350 years since that historic founding. According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Georgia is home to a total of 173 colleges, universities, career academies, vocational schools and other postsecondary institutions, including some that serve nearly 40,000 students every year.

To find out more about Georgia, its educational options and potential careers, check out the different sections of this guide. They include:

Snapshot of Education in Georgia

Here's a breakdown of the types of degrees awarded by a few different categories of Georgia schools:

Campus-based Schools in Georgia
Institution type No. offering bachelor's degrees No. offering associate's degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 28 43 38 17
Private nonprofit 30 17 10 22
Private for-profit 16 34 66 11

If you're thinking about attending one of the campus-based or online colleges in Georgia, particularly if you'll have to relocate in order to attend, it can help to have some idea of the student culture in your prospective destination city. Here are some data published by the NCES and the U.S. Census Bureau that, when taken together, can give you an outline of the role that student culture might play in local life:

City Total estimated population
(U.S. Census, 2015)
No. of enrolled students
(NCES, 2016)
Student presence as a percentage of total population % of residents with bachelor's degrees
(U.S. Census, 2015)
Atlanta 463,878 96,296 20.76 percent 47.1 percent
Kennesaw 33,584 33,252 99.01 percent 38.0 percent
Athens 122,604 40,329 32.89 percent 39.3 percent
Statesboro 30,721 22,527 73.33 percent 28.3 percent
Decatur 21,957 24,463 111.41 percent 71.2 percent
Lawrenceville 30,493 18,427 60.43 percent 20.3 percent
Macon 153,515 13,276 8.65 percent 23.4 percent

Student presence figures of more than 100 percent may look startling, but those odd-seeming statistics have a perfectly boring explanation. Students are rarely counted by the U.S. Census as permanent residents of a city, so towns occasionally report an official population that's smaller than the enrollment numbers for its local university. One small town in north Georgia called Dahlonega had a massively lopsided 270 percent student presence metric, thanks to a population of less than 6,400 and a medium-sized local university (University of North Georgia) with enrollment of 17,289 in 2016.

A report by The College Board shows that the average cost of a year's tuition and fees at a four-year school in Georgia was $8,447 in 2015-16, but the range of different tuition figures can be pretty vast. In-state students pay less than $4,000 in annual tuition at Gordon State College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Dalton State College, for example, while private Atlanta institution Emory University charged $46,314 for two semesters of coursework the same year.

Students interested in a broader survey of the online schools and colleges in Georgia can check out this map. It shows the location of all colleges in Georgia that report offering online undergraduate or graduate degrees, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Online Education in Georgia

The upsides to online education may not apply to everyone, but if you need flexibility in course scheduling and feel like you could use a bit of a break on tuition, books and supplies, then online programs in Georgia might be the answer. Here's some NCES data on how many Georgia schools offer online degrees at each academic level:

Online Schools in Georgia
Institution type No. offering 4-year degrees No. offering 2-year degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 19 25 22 15
Private nonprofit 12 7 2 8
Private for-profit 6 9 7 5

Globally Ranked Traditional and Online Colleges in Georgia

A few Georgia schools have attracted attention national and international university ranking agencies, either for their overall educational quality, inclusive admissions policies or other desirable factors. Here's a chart that shows which of the campus-based and online schools in Georgia have been recognized in the last year or so:

Rankings for Campus-based and Online Georgia Schools
School Name
Ranking Agency
Emory University No. 79 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
Emory University No. 16 Best Colleges for Veterans U.S. News & World Report
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) No. 86 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
Agnes Scott College No. 67 National Liberal Arts Colleges U.S. News & World Report
University of Georgia No. 61 (tie) National Universities U.S. News & World Report
Mercer University No. 8 Regional Universities (South) U.S. News & World Report
Georgia State University No. 487 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings

Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia also both placed on the list of best colleges for veterans, at No. 30 and No. 50 respectively, and Emory University and Georgia Tech took spots No. 21 and 36 on the U.S. News national university rankings.

Top Degree Programs at Online Colleges in Georgia

Individual online programs in Georgia have also earned their share of recognition from educational ranking agencies. Here are a few of the highest-rated online graduate programs in Georgia, according to the 2016 findings by U.S. News & World Report:

Top-ranked Online Programs in Georgia
School name
Degree program
University of Georgia Education No. 3 (tie) Not only does this esteemed Athens institution have top-ranked teacher education programs for online students, it also ranks among the five best schools in the nation for online bachelor's degrees.
Georgia College and State University Nursing No. 8 (tie) Online students at this Carrollton-based school have multiple top-50 distance education programs to choose from, including master's degrees in business and management and several undergraduate programs.
University of West Georgia Information technology No. 18 (tie) Students with an undergraduate degree in any discipline at all can train to enter the IT job market with this skills-focused online master's in applied computer science from UWG.
Georgia Southern University MBA No. 28 (tie)

The online offerings at Georgia Southern are nearly as diverse as they are well-regarded, also placing among the top online programs nationally in non-MBA business, IT, education and nursing.

Savannah College of Art and Design Bachelor's degrees No. 24 (tie) Online bachelor's degrees in photography, graphic design, game development and more can be found at SCAD, along with 9 online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and 11 online Master of Arts (MA) degrees.

Industries and Degrees to Get in Georgia

Unemployment rates in Georgia are down from this month a year ago, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Labor (DOL), and opportunities in certain careers are positively booming. Here's a quick survey of some of the hottest jobs in The Peach State according to DOL numbers, with some additional data pulled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Hot Degrees and Top Jobs for Georgia Graduates
Why it's hot
Degrees that can help
Nurse Practitioner It would hardly be an understatement to say that health care jobs are a hot ticket in Georgia. Every one of the state's five fastest growing jobs has a health care focus, and opportunities for nurse practitioners are growing the fastest of all -- to the tune of a massive 52.7 percent increase projected by 2024. The job pays well, too; the BLS reported a mean annual salary of $94,420 for Georgia nurse practitioners in 2015. If you're already working as a registered nurse (RN), the typical next step is to return to school for an on-campus or online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Once you've got that, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a nurse practitioner concentration is the final necessary piece to your education. Some Georgia schools also offer accelerated BSN/MSN programs that allow ambitious students to earn both credentials on the same degree track.
Physician Assistant As another one of the five fastest growing jobs in Georgia, physician assisting has an immensely bright employment outlook over the next several years. Not only does the Georgia DOL project a 50.5 percent statewide increase in these skilled positions between 2014 and 2024, but the BLS projects 30 percent growth in the position nationally during the same period and reports an average 2015 salary of $96,530 in Georgia. As highly skilled health care professionals, physician assistants need master's degrees in physician assisting from accredited educational programs before they can become licensed to work in the field. Bachelor's degrees in science or health care subjects such as biology or nursing can help prepare you for physician assistant education, and some time spent working as nurse or paramedic can add considerable value to your candidacy.
Film and Video Editor The Peach State has been making a play to become the "Hollywood of the South" in recent years — The Walking Dead and recent smash-hit Stranger Things both shot scenes at numerous locations the state — and demand for behind-the-scenes film operatives is growing by leaps and bounds. A increase of 37.6 percent is expected for film/video editing jobs in Georgia between 2014 and 2024, more than three times the growth expected nationally for the position. Although there's no hard-and-fast industry standard degree for film and video editing, the BLS suggests that a bachelor's degree in a field related to film, communications or broadcasting can best prepare you for the day-to-day demands of the occupation. Some employers may also ask newly hired editors to complete a period of on-the-job training, particularly if their production methods use software, hardware or other processes that require a specific approach.
Interpreter/ Translator The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, thanks to our massive advancements in communications technology over the last couple of decades, but language barriers remain fairly difficult to breach by technological means alone. Jobs for interpreters and translators in Georgia are forecast to grow by 36.4 percent by 2024, and the state's yearly median salary of $46,120 outpaced the national average for such positions by about $2,000. Although the most important qualification for an interpreter or translator position is fluency in two or more languages, employers typically limit their hiring pool to applicants with a bachelor's degree. If you want to work with a company hoping to expand its influence globally, a degree in international business could be a plus, and if you want to work on translating great books into other languages then you might consider a bachelor's degree in literature.

Featured Online Schools in Georgia

Most of the accredited online schools and colleges in Georgia can offer a solid educational experience in the subject you're looking for, but a few of the state's institutions stand out from the crowd for their programs in certain fields. Here's a quick chart that lists subject areas where some of the top Georgia schools excel:

Institution Name
Online Degrees?
Top Programs
University of Georgia Yes Law, fine arts, teacher education (on campus and online), veterinary medicine, education administration (on campus and online), pharmacy, graduate business (on campus and online), social work, public finance, public administration, psychology, political science, history
Georgia State University Yes Health care law, teacher education (on campus and online), city management, nonprofit management, health care management, part-time MBA, public administration, social work, rehabilitation counseling, clinical psychology, advanced practice nursing, economics
Emory University Yes Advanced practice nursing, physician assisting, physical therapy, clinical psychology, primary care medicine, medical research, business, law, public health, English, African-American literature, sociology, political science, history
Georgia Tech Yes

Engineering, computer science, math, physics, chemistry, undergraduate business, information and technology management, public policy analysis, information systems, earth sciences, biological sciences, part-time MBA

University of West Georgia Yes

Information technology (online), MBA (online), graduate business, teacher education (on campus and online), nursing (on campus and online), public affairs, speech-language pathology

Georgia Southern University Yes MBA (online), information technology (online), graduate business (on campus and online), graduate nursing (on campus and online), clinical psychology, public affairs, public health
Georgia College and State University Yes Graduate nursing (on campus and online), MBA (online), graduate business (on campus and online), undergraduate business, public affairs, part-time MBA

How can I Enroll in an On-campus or Online School in Georgia?

The first step toward enrolling in a college program is identifying the right school and learning format for you. The college admissions process for both campus-based and online schools is both similar and typically laid out clearly on their official websites. There are some important considerations, however. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure programs are accredited before submitting an application; most financial aid awards and graduate schools require applicants to attend accredited colleges
  • Find and keep to all deadlines
  • Request letters of recommendation, transcripts and any other necessary items ASAP
  • For financial aid needs, fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) online and be sure to submit it on time; you also will need your — and maybe your parents' — tax and other financial information
  • Choose to have all schools on your prospect list receive your FAFSA

You can explore schools and potential careers here on our site. Decidingwhether you would like to attend a campus-based or online school in GA requires a little research and a lot of introspection — reaching out to a college admissions advisor can't hurt either.

1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed August 25, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed August 25, 2016, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00
3. U.S. News & World Report, accessed August 25, 2016: Colleges in Georgia, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/ga?_sort=tuition&_sort-direction=desc; Best Colleges for Veterans, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/veterans; University of Georgia, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-georgia-1598; Georgia College & State University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/georgia-college-1602; University of West Georgia, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-west-georgia-1601; Georgia Southern University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/georgia-southern-1572; Savannah College of Art and Design, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/scad-29258; Georgia State University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/georgia-state-1574; Georgia Institute of Technology, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/georgia-tech-1569/overall-rankings; Emory University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/emory-university-1564;
4. School pages, accessed August 25, 2016: History of UGA, University of Georgia, http://www.uga.edu/profile/history/; Online MS in Applied Computer Science, University of West Georgia, https://www.westga.edu/academics/cosm/computer-science/graduate-program.php; Programs, Savannah College of Art and Design, http://www.scad.edu/academics/programs?location=elearning&program=all; Accelerated BSN plus MSN, Emory University, http://nursing.emory.edu/admission-and-aid/accelerated-program/accelerated-bsn-msn.html; Online Master's Degrees, Georgia Institute of Technology, https://pe.gatech.edu/online-masters-degrees; Online Courses & Programs, Emory University, http://www.emory.edu/home/academics/programs/online.html;
5. Top Universities, USA, Center for World University Rankings, accessed August 25, 2016, http://cwur.org/2015/usa.html
6. Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, The College Board, accessed August 25, 2016, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time
7. Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 25, 2016: Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm; Physician Assistants, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Physician-assistants.htm; Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm; Interpreters and Translators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Interpreters-and-translators.htm;
8. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 25, 2016: Nurse Practitioners, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm; Physician Assistants, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm; Film and Video Editors, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes274032.htm; Interpreters and Translators, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273091.htm;
10. Georgia Film and Music, Georgia Department of Economic Development, accessed August 25, 2016: Stranger Things, http://www.tourgeorgiafilm.com/tag/stranger-things; The Walking Dead Tour - Ongoing!, http://www.tourgeorgiafilm.com/tour/the-walking-dead-tour-ongoing;
11. Georgia Film and Music, Georgia Department of Economic Development, asdf: Stranger Things, http://www.tourgeorgiafilm.com/tag/stranger-things; The Walking Dead Tour - Ongoing!, http://www.tourgeorgiafilm.com/tour/the-walking-dead-tour-ongoing

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