Top 10 Schools for Non-Traditional Learners

non trad resized.png

What makes a school attractive to non-traditional learners? What criteria do we use to rank such schools? Non-traditional learners are looking for flexible options to obtain their degree. They also want attractive finance options and the ability to study part time and\or remotely. With these things in mind, College Factual looks at a number of criteria to obtain our top ten rank.

First, we look at student body composition – are most of the students classified as non-traditional? Are these students taking classes primarily online or through evenings\weekends? We then look at degree completion for the school with various weightings attached to 6 and 8 year graduation rates. Next, we look at financial factors – what are the loan default and repayment rates? With these criteria in place, we start to get a picture of the best schools for non-traditional learners.

The full methodology can be found on our Best Colleges for Non-traditional Students Ranking Methodology page.

1. Excelsior College

Excelsior College, located in Albany New York is a large private college with approximately 38,000 undergraduate students. What makes Excelsior unique and especially attractive to non-traditional students is that they offer all of their undergraduate courses in an online format. Courses are run every eight weeks so there’s no need to wait months and months to get a class started. Excelsior is also known for their liberal acceptance of transfer credits from other accredited institutions. With flexible schedules and reasonable tuition rates of about $12,000 per year, Excelsior is our top pick for non-traditional students. .

2. University of Utah

u of u.jpg

The University of Utah ranks second for non-traditional learners and #189 in terms of overall quality. The school is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and offers students a choice of six majors at the undergraduate level. Courses are taught online and follow the regular University semester schedule. Tuition and fees will vary depending on whether you are in-state ($8,800) or out-state ($28,000).

3. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities


The University of Minnesota offers students a choice of eighteen undergraduate online Bachelor’s degrees. Graduate and Doctoral degrees are also offered through the online program. If you live near the Twin Cities, the University also offers students a wider choice of “partially-online” courses where some travel to and from the campus will be necessary. Residents of Minnesota can expect to pay approximately $14,000 per year in tuition and fees while non-resident students will be closer to $26,000.

4. Union Institute & University

Union Institute & University specializes in providing non-traditional students a wide variety of major and degrees including twelve bachelor’s majors, eight masters and five doctorate degrees. The average tuition and fees are just under $13,000 per year.

5. Trident University International

Trident University is an online only university accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Trident offers students a variety of majors and degrees to choose from including associates, bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. Trident is also known for being a military friendly school by offering assistance and discounts for veterans. Military members can also qualify for transfer of military credits. Tuition runs about $9,200 per year.

6. Fort Hays State University


Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is located in central Kansas and is a medium sized public university. In addition to its campus setting, FHSU also offers a comprehensive online curriculum where students can earn associate, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. Tuition varies whether you are a resident of Kansas or not. Kansas residents can expect to pay about $5,000 per year with non-resident students paying just under $15,000.

7. University of Florida


The University of Florida (UF) is a large public university located in Gainesville, Florida with about 32,000 students. In addition to the large campus setting, UF also has a large online program which allows students to earn bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. The school offers about 200 programs. Tuition varies depending on your state of residence with Florida residents paying about $6,300 per year and outstate students paying just under $29,000.

8. Bellevue University


Bellevue University focuses on non-traditional learners with 80% of their students over the age 25. While they do offer campus based education at their Bellevue, Nebraska location, Bellevue also offers many of their courses in an online format. Bellevue offers bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. Tuition and fees run about $7,700 per year.

9. James Madison University

James Madison University (JMU) is a large public university with approximately 19,000 students. Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, JMU offers both bachelors and doctorate programs for students wishing to study online. Seven graduate level degrees are offered along with three undergraduate programs. Tuition for residents of Virginia can expect to pay just under $11,000 per year with nonresidents paying just over $27,000.

10. George Mason University

George Mason University (GMU) is located in Fairfax, Virginia and is home to just over 22,000 students. GMU offers students a variety of online and hybrid programs in both the undergraduate and graduate levels. About forty-three programs are offered as an online only program. Students of Virginia will pay about $12,000 per year in tuition while nonresidents can expect to pay about $34,000.

Are any of these schools right for you? Find out using College Factual’s college matching technology.