- Undergraduate Programs, Florida State University, Accessed March 2017, https://distance.fsu.edu/students/undergraduate-programs
- Distance Learning Programs, University of North Florida, Accessed March 2017, https://www.unf.edu/distancelearning/about/Programs.aspx
- Online Degrees, Florida Atlantic University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.fau.edu/onlinedegrees/
- Academics at New College, New College of Florida, Accessed March 2017, https://www.ncf.edu/academics/academics-at-new-college/
- University of Central Florida, Accessed March 2017, https://www.ucf.edu/
- Online Campus, The University of West Florida, Accessed March 2017, http://uwf.edu/online/
- Transfer, The Florida College System, Accessed March 2017, https://www.floridacollegesystem.com/students/transfer.aspx
- University of Florida Online, Accessed March 2017, https://ufonline.ufl.edu/degrees/undergraduate/
- About USF, University of South Florida, Accessed March 2017, http://www.usf.edu/about-usf/index.aspx
- FIU Online, Florida International University, Accessed March 2017, http://fiuonline.fiu.edu/
- Online Programs, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Accessed March 2017, https://www.usfsp.edu/academics/online-programs/
- State Scholarship and Grant Programs, Office of Student Financial Assistance, Accessed March 2017, http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/SSFAD/home/uamain.htm
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
While it may be known for its warm weather and beautiful beaches, Florida is more than a popular vacation spot. It is also a great state for students who are ready to pursue a higher education. The state boasts a diverse mix of public and private universities and colleges that offer degree programs both on-campus and online.
The State University System of Florida includes 12 public universities. Some of these institutions have flagship campuses as well as satellite locations to make them more accessible. As for private institutions, Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida represents 30 not-for-profit schools across the state.
Some students may prefer to begin their education at a two-year school. In that case, the Florida College System includes 28 member schools that offer both technical training and associate degree programs. Thanks to the "2+2 system," those earning an A.A. degree at a Florida community college can easily transfer their credits to one of the state's public universities or a participating private institution.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Florida
There are many quality schools in the state, but here's a list of the best traditional and online colleges for Florida.
The University of Florida isn't just one of the best schools in the state; it's one of the best schools in the nation. When ranked against 1,649 colleges and universities nationwide, the University of Florida comes in fifth overall.
Among 56 Florida institutions, it ranks first for its graduation rate, the number of programs it offers and the low median debt carried by graduates. The school also ranks third in the state for its net price and fifth for the amount of grant aid it awards as a percentage of its tuition and fees.
What's more, the University of Florida makes the cut as one of the best online colleges for Florida. It ranks fourth for the number of distance education programs it offers. These include online degree programs in popular fields such as psychology and nursing. The school also has a top-rated online MBA.
Based in Tampa, the University of South Florida is another affordable option for students seeking on-campus or online Florida degrees. The school ranks eighth in the state for its average net price. When it comes to the average net price for low-income students, the University of South Florida lands in the fourth spot statewide.
Founded in 1956, the school is part of the University of South Florida System. It enrolls more than 40,000 students representing more than 130 countries. Those who aren't able to attend classes in Tampa can earn an online bachelor's degree in Florida through the school's degree completion program. This option allows those with an associate degree or the equivalent education to take their upper-level classes online. There are also online graduate programs available.
The University of South Florida ranks high for its institutional grant aid, graduation rate and the number of educational programs it offers.
Florida International University is noteworthy for its generous financial aid. The university ranks first out of 56 Florida schools when it comes to the amount of institutional grant aid it awards when calculated as a percent of its tuition and fees. That money may be responsible for keeping students out of debt. The school ranks fourth for the low median debt of its graduates. It also ranks in the top ten for its low net price and retention rate.
Those looking for online degree programs will find plenty of options at Florida International University. The school offers more than 20 undergraduate bachelor's degree programs in majors such as criminal justice, political science and finance. There are also graduate degrees, undergraduate and graduate certificates and continuing education courses offered online.
Florida International University is part of the State University System of Florida.
The University of West Florida is another top school from the State University System of Florida. It offers a number of support services which makes it an appealing choice to diverse students. There are remedial classes for those who need to improve skills, dual enrollment options for high school students and weekend, evening and online programs for nontraditional learners.
All that comes at an affordable price. The University of West Florida ranks third among 56 schools for its low tuition and fees. Once financial aid is factored in, its average net price is the second best in the state. The school also receives strong marks for its institutional grant aid, median debt held by graduates and the number of distance education learning opportunities it offers.
Students hoping to earn an online bachelor's degree in Florida can choose from one of the school's seven degree completion programs.
When it comes to education options, the accredited University of Central Florida is another standout. It ranks seventh in the state for the number of programs it offers and eighth for how many of those available online. The University of Central Florida is also the only school on this list that may offer credit for life experiences.
The university's 13 colleges offer more than 200 majors. As one of the best online colleges for Florida, there is a long list of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees available to distance learners. These include a B.A. in criminal justice, a B.S. in psychology, an M.A. in educational leadership and several doctoral degrees in nursing. The school also has a number of online certificate programs.
Students enrolled at the University of Central Florida return year after year. The school ranks seventh in the state for its retention rate and sixth for its graduation rate.
New College of Florida is not the place to earn online degrees, as it has no online programs. However, its Sarasota campus is still a top pick for students in the state. The school takes an innovative approach to education. Its one that doesn't rely on grades, but instead offers narrative evaluations from professors for each course or project. Rather than earn credit hours, students must complete seven educational contracts in order to graduate.
The average net price at New College of Florida is the most affordable in the state, and the college takes the top spot for that metric for this survey. That's likely thanks, in part, to the amount of institutional grant aid it awards. The school ranks third in the state for grant aid when calculated as a percentage of tuition and fees.
Students who study at New College of Florida often graduate on time, and the college ranks fifth for its graduation rate.
In terms of sticker price, there is no cheaper university in Florida than the accredited Florida Atlantic University. The school ranks first in the state for its published tuition and fees. It also ranks fourth for the institutional grant aid it offers as a percentage of that tuition. Combined, those factors help graduates walk away with their degree and the third lowest median debt in the state.
For those interested in distance learning, there are online degrees available through seven of the university's colleges. These include popular fields of study such as business, nursing and the arts. Many majors are available fully online at both the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to online courses, the school offers night and weekend classes for those who need a nontraditional schedule.
Florida Atlantic University is another member of the State University System of Florida. Its campus is in Boca Raton.
Founded in 1972, the University of North Florida is yet another affordable choice for Florida students. The school ranks second in the state for its low tuition and fees. It is also sixth out of 56 schools for the amount of institutional grant aid it awards as a percentage of its tuition and fees. When graduates leave the school, their median debt is the fifth lowest out of the schools surveyed.
With the exception of an RN-to-BSN track, online learning at the University of North Florida is limited to graduate programs. There are several master's and doctoral degrees in nursing and health sciences as well as graduate degrees and certificates in education. In the College of Arts & Sciences, there is an online M.S. in criminal justice.
Students at the University of North Florida have access to career counseling and placement services among other student support programs.
Florida State University holds the distinction of being the oldest continuous site of higher education in Florida. It was founded in 1851 and has its flagship campus in Tallahassee. Other university locations include Panama City, Sarasota and the Republic of Panama.
With more than 300 educational options, Florida State University is second only to the University of Florida when it comes to the number of programs it offers. Psychology is the university's most popular on-campus program, based upon the number of degrees conferred in 2015. Meanwhile, students wishing to earn an online bachelor's degree in Florida may be interested in the school's degree completion programs. These are available in fields such as criminology, computer science and social sciences.
The school is also noteworthy for its graduation and retention rates. It ranks third and sixth, respectively, for those metrics.
The University of South Florida System fills in the last spot on this list of the best traditional and online schools in Florida. The system's St. Petersburg campus earns high marks for its affordability. It ranks fifth in the state for the low sticker price of its tuition and fees. Meanwhile, its net price is the fourth lowest out of 56 Florida schools.
Online programs at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg include a fully online MBA, master's degree in digital journalism and design and a master's degree in educational leadership. Other individual courses may be offered online, and the school has weekend and night classes for on-campus students.
The University of South Florida St. Petersburg also made the list of best four-year schools in Florida thanks to its institutional grant aid and the relatively low median debt carried by graduates.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Florida
On-campus and online Florida degrees are available in a variety of majors. However, these are the programs that attract the most students in the state.
In-Demand Careers in Florida
The available degree options can be overwhelming, but students may be able to narrow their choices by looking for programs that will lead to in-demand careers. Here are a few of the occupations expected to see the most growth in Florida in coming years.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||55.9%||520||$62,160|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||51.9%||980||$39,530|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||50.1%||1,050||$24,570|
|Helpers--Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Stucco Masons||47.1%||470||$24,860|
|Rail Car Repairers||46.3%||770||$55,650|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||46%||4,640||$35,960|
|Insulation Workers, Mechanical||45.2%||1,310||$37,990|
|Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers||43.2%||11,360||$34,320|
|Plasterers and Stucco Masons||41.7%||2,460||$34,820|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||40.4%||2,280||$61,670|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||40.3%||5,340||$62,730|
|Mechanical Door Repairers||39.9%||1,400||$38,060|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||39.7%||5,120||$62,650|
|Parking Lot Attendants||36.9%||17,190||$20,350|
|Interpreters and Translators||36.5%||2,770||$42,170|
|Nonfarm Animal Caretakers||36.2%||11,830||$23,930|
|Physical Therapist Aides||35.8%||2,480||$25,860|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Florida
The Office of Student Financial Assistance in the Florida Department of Education offers a number of financial aid programs to state residents. These include the Bright Futures Scholarship, First Generation Matching Grant and Florida Resident Access Grant, among others. Plus, students may be eligible for federal aid, institutional grants or private scholarships.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Satisfactory academic progress and/or minimum 3.0 GPA are required to retain scholarship. Renewable for up to four years.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains a good scholastic record, financial need, and reapplies.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- State University System of Florida
- The Florida College System
- Florida Department of Education
- Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida
- Office of Student Financial Assistance
- Higher Education Coordinating Council