Looking to enroll in online colleges or a traditional college in Florida? Florida boasts a diverse mix of public and private universities and colleges offering degree programs both on-campus and in the virtual classroom.
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 from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Miami.
Some may prefer to begin or further 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.
While colleges in this ranking aren't fully online colleges, you may find an academic opportunity to engage in online curriculum at many of these campus-based Florida schools.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Florida
The best four-year colleges in Florida are the ones that are affordable, offer flexible class options and degree programs, and graduate their students on time. Using a methodology that considered these factors and others, here are school profiles of the ten top schools in Florida.
The University of Florida is a selective school that attracts top students from across the nation. Its 2016 incoming freshman class had an average GPA of 4.35 and an average SAT score of 1919. That means UF isn't for everyone, but those who are admitted with find an innovative institution that is home to rigorous academics and a robust research program.
There are 16 colleges at The University of Florida, covering diverse fields from journalism to law to veterinary medicine. The school is also one of the top online universities in Florida. In addition to its hundreds of on-campus degree options, there are numerous online degrees available in popular degree programs such as psychology and nursing. UF is also home to a top-rated online MBA.
With a campus in Gainesville, The University of Florida is the state's largest university and the nation's fourth largest, according to the State University System of Florida.
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.
Containing 16 colleges, FSU is second only to The University of Florida when it comes to the number of degree programs it offers. In addition to campus programs in popular fields such as psychology, business and the sciences, the university is one of the top Florida schools for online degrees. Florid State offers more than a dozen degree programs, such as undergraduate degree completion programs, that are designed for distance learners.
Nearly 42,000 students attend Florida State University each year. The school's faculty includes Nobel Laureates, Fulbright Scholars and Guggenheim Fellows.
When it comes to education options, the accredited University of Central Florida in Orlando is another standout. The school notes that it attracts more National Merit Scholars than any other institution in Florida, and it says nearly half its students graduate debt-free.
The accredited 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.
UCF has 13 colleges, including an innovative College of Optics and Photonics. Its campus is in Orlando, but ten regional locations make its educational programs accessible to students across central Florida.
Based in Tampa, the University of South Florida is another affordable option for students seeking on-campus or online Florida degrees. Founded in 1956, the school is part of the State University of Florida System.
Although a selective school, USF enrolls more than 50,000 students representing more than 145 countries. Of those, a significant number receive financial aid, which averages more than $10,000 per student. There are 14 colleges offering majors and concentrations that include popular programs in arts and sciences, business, health and engineering.
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 and its online courses. it may not count as one of the fully online colleges, but 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.
As Miami's only public research university, Florida International University is another of the top colleges in Florida. The Southeastern Florida school offers a number of innovative learning opportunities such as the world's only underwater ocean laboratory and a Wall of Wind storm simulator. The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival is also held annually at FIU.
What's more, undergraduate and graduate students alike looking for the best colleges in Florida for online degree programs may have to look no farther than Florida International University. The school offers numerous undergraduate bachelor's degree programs in majors such as criminal justice, political science and finance. There are also online 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 Miami is another Miami school in Southeastern Florida that attracts top-tier students from across the nation and world. Its more than 17,000 students create diverse learning communities within the university's 11 colleges and schools. These include schools of business, law, medicine and nursing. Within many of the colleges and schools, there are also a number of distinguished institutes and centers and opportunity for taking online courses.
Often referred to simply as the U, the University of Miami has a long history of providing quality education. It has an extensive alumni network and counts former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill among those who have received honorary degrees from the university.
Small classes sizes at UM help promote personalized learning, and the school has a strong track record of retaining students after their freshman year.
Founded in 1972, the University of North Florida is yet another affordable choice for Florida students. Its six colleges -- including the Brooks College of Health and the Coggin College of Business -- are known for their nationally ranked degree programs.
While the accredited UNF has its campus in Jacksonville, online degree programs are available. However, with few exceptions, online learning at the University of North Florida is limited to graduate degrees and online courses.
As one of the top schools in Florida, UNF offers small class sizes, and the vast majority of seniors participate in internships to gain hands-on experience prior to graduation. Jacksonville's University of North Florida also prides itself on providing a dynamic student experience. Its sports teams are part of the NCAA Division I, and there are hundreds of student clubs on campus.
Founded in 1961, Florida Atlantic University is another member of the State University System of Florida. Its main campus is in Boca Raton, but five other regional campuses are available.
For those looking for the best online colleges in Florida, there are distance education degrees available through seven of the university's ten colleges. These include popular fields of study such as business, sciences, 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, such as for those working on graduate degrees.
Meanwhile, on-campus students may work alongside faculty to conduct research in sciences such as biomedicine or ocean engineering, or coastal security. Like other top Florida universities, FAU offers a rigorous academic experience and a rich campus life to its students.
The University of West Florida is another of the best colleges in Florida. In addition to dozens of on-campus degrees, students hoping to earn an online bachelor's degree in Florida can choose from one of the school's degree completion programs.
As a regional school that is smaller than some of the other top colleges in Florida, UWF strives to create a close-knit community. On its Pensacola campus, students can participate in Greek life, attend one of hundreds of annual events or join one of the school's many intramural teams and sports clubs.
UWF was founded in 1961 as the sixth member of the State University System of Florida. In addition to its main campus, the university has an Emerald Coast location in Fort Walton Beach and maintains more than two dozen historic properties.
As a recent addition to the State University System of Florida, FGCU first held classes in 1997. The university was created to meet the needs of 21st Century students, and founders placed a particular emphasis on integrating technology into the learning experience.
Today, Florida Gulf Coast University serves as a hub of activity in Southwest Florida. The Fort Myers campus, about a two hour drive from Tampa, features state-of-the-art facilities and is home to NCAA Division I athletic teams. The student body has racked up an impressive record of service learning hours while the university has a reputation for graduating students who are able to successfully find employment or continue their education after earning their degree.
Florida Gulf Coast University is also one of the top colleges in Florida for online degrees. It offers students a selection of graduate and bachelor's degree completion programs for subjects from liberal arts to sciences to mathematics.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Florida
On-campus and online degrees in Florida are available in a variety of majors. However, these are the programs that attract the most students in the state, from Jacksonville to Orlando to Tampa.
In-Demand Careers in Florida
The above school profiles may be helpful to those looking to further their career by going back to accredited schools to further their educations. For both traditional students and these nontraditional students, the available degree options can be overwhelming. However, you can narrow down your choices by looking for programs -- from online colleges or campus-based ones -- that can lead to in-demand careers. Here are a few of the jobs expected to see the most growth in Florida in coming years.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||94.3%||-||$38,660|
|Home Health Aides||47.5%||32,960||$24,280|
|Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators||45.8%||460||$47,060|
|Personal Care Aides||40.4%||36,810||$23,390|
|Software Developers, Applications||40%||38,160||$95,610|
|Information Security Analysts||38.3%||5,600||$91,950|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||35.9%||6,330||$61,650|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||35.6%||34,950||$64,730|
|Terrazzo Workers and Finishers||35.6%||160||$41,640|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||33.2%||1,980||$26,860|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||33.1%||9,250||$80,990|
|Nonfarm Animal Caretakers||32.8%||12,890||$24,770|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||32.7%||2,810||$50,680|
|Operations Research Analysts||32.6%||4,130||$73,710|
|Biochemists and Biophysicists||32.2%||370||$82,830|
|Structural Iron and Steel Workers||32.1%||3,390||$43,880|
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 -- potentially helpful when looking to enroll in an online or other program.
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
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- University Facts, The University of Florida, Accessed March 2018, http://www.ufl.edu/about/university-facts/
- University of Florida, State University System of Florida, Accessed March 2018, http://www.flbog.edu/universities/uf.php
- About FSU, Florida State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.fsu.edu/about/
- We Are UCF, University of Central Florida, Accessed March 2018, https://www.ucf.edu/#stats-section
- About USF, University of South Florida, Accessed March 2018, http://www.usf.edu/about-usf/index.aspx
- A World-Class Institution, Florida International University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.fiu.edu/about/index.html
- Rankings & Facts, Florida International University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.fiu.edu/about/rankings-facts/index.html
- University of Miami, Accessed March 2018, https://welcome.miami.edu/
- Hallmarks of a UNF Education, University of North Florida, Accessed March 2018, http://www.unf.edu/info/hallmarks/
- Colleges of Distinction, University of North Florida, Accessed March 2018, http://www.unf.edu/publicrelations/marketing_publications/factsheet/Colleges_of_Distinction.aspx
- Florida Atlantic University, Accessed March 2018, http://www.fau.edu/admissions/index.php?audience=prospective-undergrad
- Mission, Vision, Values, University of West Florida, Accessed March 2018, https://uwf.edu/about/at-a-glance/missionvisionvalues/
- FGCU Fast Facts, Florida Gulf Coast University, Accessed March 2018, https://www2.fgcu.edu/CRM/fastfacts.html
- 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.