delaware bridge

Best Online Colleges in Delaware Top Consensus Ranked Schools in Delaware

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programs have made it relatively easy to earn a college degree or brush up on professional or technical skills without totally upending your life. Having access to a degree or program that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to consider because of distance is a remarkable feature of online studies.

Students can earn degrees through online programs at all levels and subjects from Accounting to Zoology. In the 2019-20 academic year, National Center for Educational Statistics reports primarily online colleges conferred:

  • 150,201 associate degrees
  • 297,976 bachelor’s degrees
  • 144,692 master’s degrees
  • 14,380 doctorates

The First State

You may not know much about Delaware if you don’t live in the northeast or a neighboring New England state. Still, it’s a state rich in American history with signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and a U.S. President.

Delaware is a small state (2nd smallest after Rhode Island) known as “The First State,” having been the first colony to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and became the first state of the new United States of America.

It’s thought the Delaware area was first inhabited by people who crossed the land bridge from Asia to North America. Over 11,000 years later, Native Peoples from the Lenni Lenape (later known as the Delaware), Nanticoke, and Susquehannock tribes lived in the area.

The English first explored Delaware in 1609 and were followed by Dutch, Swedes, and Finns. In 1610, English explorer Samuel Argall named the area bay and river in honor of Virginia’s governor Lord De La Warr, hence the name Delaware.

A Brief Look at Higher Education in Delaware

As a small state (1,948 sq. miles and a little over 1 million residents), according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Delaware has seven universities and colleges, including a research university, two community colleges, one master’s and baccalaureate university, and special focus institutions. U.S. News and World Report (2023) ranks Delaware ranks #30 nationally in Education.

Delaware has emphasized higher education dating to 1743 when a petition by the Presbytery of Lewes seeking support for an educated clergy led to the opening of a college under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Francis Alison. Rev. Dr. Alison’s school became the oldest college in the state, Newark College (1834), and renamed Delaware College (1843.) Finally, these two schools merged and became The University of Delaware in 1921.

What would later become one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, The Delaware College for Colored Students, opened in 1891 and is now Delaware State University. When it opened, the school had five courses of study that resulted in a baccalaureate degree.

Are Online Degrees Right for You?

Internet Availibility

Widespread accessibility to the Internet in the 1990s made it possible for online classes to be provided primarily for adult learners and/or students whose home and work responsibilities made attending on-campus classes difficult. These nontraditional students drove the advancement and improvement of online education nationwide.

Average Age of the Online Student

Working adults (aka nontraditional students) were the target demographic, but now, students from all demographics utilize online education in the United States. The older, working adults remain the most common demographic in the student bodies of accredited online colleges. One important difference between younger college students and working adults is obvious. Working adults often do not have the option of attending traditional college classes.

U.S. News and World Report suggests the average age of online students is 32. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2020, nearly 20% of the workforce comprised workers 65 years and older.

Online Programs in Delaware

In 1998, the Delaware County Community College was the first Delaware college to offer online courses via the Internet. Today, more than 30,000 students take online courses in programs across the state in its colleges and universities.

It’s increasingly common for employed adults from all fields to seek advancement and career change through accredited online colleges in Delaware and elsewhere. There are still many programs offered online that specifically cater to adult students seeking career advancement. One common example is the ubiquitous online RN to BSN program for advancing working nurses, which seemingly every online college offers.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic that started in 2020, colleges and universities sought ways to maintain enrollment and help students continue their studies. On-campus courses were moved to online options using websites and platforms such as ZOOM so students wouldn’t fall too far behind.

As more full-time students of traditional college age have joined nontraditional students enrolled in online colleges in Delaware, schools have changed to accommodate students from all walks of life and outside the state boundaries.

Types of Distant Education Formats

100% Online

Some degree programs may offer online classes, live or taped lectures, group projects via Zoom, etc. While you can study coursework at times convenient, you’ll still need to meet assignment and exam deadlines.


This kind of distance education format has online coursework but also requires some in-person attendance. If your degree requires skills such as nursing, you may be required to attend intensive, on-campus sessions. Sometimes called immersive, these sessions are usually held over 2-3 weekends. Immersives allow you to meet and collaborate with your professors and cohorts. Plenty of advanced notice is given on immersive regarding dates, times, and intensive lengths.

If your curriculum requires a practicum experience, schools will typically work with you to identify proctors and agencies in your home community to complete the practicum requirement.

Carefully review the online format of any Delaware online programs you’re interested in attending and ensure it fits your schedule and daily life.

What Are the Benefits of Studying Online?

First, it’s important to know that the same faculty designs online courses and offers the same classes as on-campus classes. Secondly, there once was a stigma associated with online diplomas, but that no longer exists, and in fact, your diploma will look just like others from your school. Online degrees offer:

  • Convenience – Earning your college degree without traveling to a campus is a terrific benefit. With online coursework, you can study at times that are easier for you. Also, you can save money on transportation, parking, food, and housing costs.
  • Accessibility – Online degrees make earning a degree from a college or university outside of your community and state possible. Delaware online programs offer degree options that are fully accessible every day, 24/7 hours, via a simple internet connection.
  • Flexibility – Students can find viable and flexible academic options for those who could not attend a traditional on-campus class because of work, family obligations, and/or disability.

Popular Majors in Delaware

BusinessHealth ProfessionsManagement
EngineeringBiology & Biomedical SciencesPsychology
EducationSocial SciencesCommunication
(U.S. News and World Report, 2023)

Delaware Education Stats

Higher education is the fourth largest general fund category in Delaware’s budget expenditures. Funding allocation in the state is budgeted at $303 million in state and local funding and $714 from tuition revenue (State Higher Education Finance, 2023). The latest education budget figures are for 2022.


Delaware has a population of just over 1 million (U.S. Census, 2020). A total of 57,548 students from Delaware and elsewhere are enrolled in Delaware colleges and universities.

Student StatusUndergraduateGraduateTotal
Only Online Study8,9245,38514,309
Some Online Study21,5301,68923,219
No Online Study16,4323,58820,020
(Source: univstats, 2023)


The population of Delaware is predominantly white and more women than men are enrolled in higher education. A snapshot of enrollment:

Black/African American11,9998,2153,784
American Indian/Indigenous 15710255
(Univstats, 2023)

Retention/Graduation Rates

Delaware higher education schools have a 74.31% graduation rate. Retention rates average 77% for full-time students and 26% for those attending part-time and more women (75.99%) graduate than men (71.84%.)

Save Money by Starting College with an Associate Degree

One educational option that’s grown in popularity over the years to help you save money on your online degree program is earning an Associate Degree to complete your first two years. Delaware has some excellent two-year community colleges.

Two-year community colleges offer online associate’s degrees that allow you to enter a four-year college or university as a third-year student. How does this help? Since two-year and four-year colleges and universities typically have tuition rates, you’ll be able to save two years worth of those costs.

Many students opt to complete their associate’s degrees online through a community college before pursuing a bachelor’s degree through traditional or online programs. It’s possible to earn your degree completely online, something that was unheard of several years ago. Some students who choose this path enroll in an online bachelor’s program right away. You can save money by first doing an online associate’s degree at a community college before enrolling in a four-year school.

Know the Cost

There can be additional charges for online degree programs. While you won’t be charged activities, transcripts, or other on-campus fees as an online student, you may be charged technical fees. You should talk with an admission advisor to determine your exact charges.

Delaware has some of the lowest tuition costs anywhere in the country.

PublicType of InstitutionEstimated Tuition Cost Per Academic Year
4-Year In-State$11,343
4-Year Out-of-State$24,862  
2-Year In-State$2,290
2-Year Out-of-State$5,720 
(Source: Education Data, September 2023)

The average tuition cost for graduate programs in Delaware run from $13,701 (in-state) and $13,495 (out-of-state).

Paying for an Online Degree Program

Affordability is always a concern when enrolling in college, but you may have options you didn’t realize were available for an online degree. You’ll be surprised how online degrees can save money: you won’t have to stop working or have the typical housing costs, transportation, meal plans, etc.

Let’s look at some ways in which you can save money before we talk about scholarships, federal, and state assistance.  

Transfer Credits

Transferring previous college credits will save you overall tuition costs since tuition is usually charged by the credit hour. Any courses you pass at an accredited institution may be transferred to the new online school, but you’ll need to have your academic transcript and FAFSA® sent to your new school.

Work/Life/Military Experience

Nontraditional students returning or entering school for the first time may have experience working in a particular field or military training that could qualify for academic credit. You’ll want to check with an admissions advisor to discus your life experiences that may qualify for academic credit.

Degree Completion

Perhaps you started a degree program at one time but weren’t able to complete the program. Online programs may offer degree completion options which will typically apply courses you’ve already taken towards a degree.

Employer Assistance – If you’re employed, you’ll want to talk with your supervisor or HR representative to see if education assistance may be part of your employment benefits package. Some employers offer financial assistance in the form of tuition payment or reimbursement. More employers are willing to assist in paying for advanced education, especially if the degree will benefit your work (i.e., you work as a nurse and want to earn an M.S. in Nursing.)

Educational Support for Delaware Residents

This state puts a premium on education and has two programs for state residents designed to offer not only financial help, but other help as well.

Student Excellence Equals Degree Program (SEED)

This program offers Delaware residents free tuition (excluding books and fees) at Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) or the University of Delaware’s Associate in Arts Program. You’ll want to be sure to check eligibility requirements for this generous scholarship program at DTCC and UD.

Delaware Goes To College

Delaware Goes To College is an online hub for Delaware high school students that offers a wealth of information on applying to colleges, choosing a major, and even obtaining financial aid. This is a terrific resource for all Delaware students, whether they are taking classes online or through a traditional instructional method. The best-known resource this organization offers is probably the Delaware Goes To College Academy, which advises exceptional students from disadvantaged households.

The Delaware Goes To College Academy is available to students in their senior year of high school. It is administered by the academic counselors at the student’s high school. The program starts right at the beginning of the school year, as the advisors can help high school students pick the right classes that will increase their likelihood of getting into the college of their dreams. Perhaps the most vital aspect of the program is the college admissions advising. Many students in the Academy come from families without much experience in higher education. The advising through the DGTCA gives them the guidance that students from less-disadvantaged backgrounds may be able to get from their college-educated parents.

Can You Get Financial Help Even if You’re Not a Delaware Resident?

Absolutely, you can if you financially or academically qualify. By talking with a Financial Aid Counselor at your chosen school and doing some research and creative thinking, you may qualify for financial assistance for your online studies.


Federal Student Aid

It all starts with the Free Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. You’d be surprised how many financial opportunities rely on the information you report on the FAFSA®. To qualify for need-based assistance, federal and state assistance, and need-based scholarships, you must complete the FAFSA® to be considered for opportunities.

Accredited online programs will typically qualify for Federal Student Aid and may include low-interest loans, federal and state grants, scholarships, military education assistance, and more.

Scholarships and Grants

Universities and colleges have scholarships available for academically or financially qualifying students. Scholarships will have various eligibility requirements, including, but not limited to, academic major, GPA, ethnicity and heritage, state of residency, gender, etc. Most degree programs will automatically consider you for any scholarships you may qualify for based on specific criteria, but be sure to talk with someone from financial aid to be sure.

States will offer need-based grant funds for in-state students attending one of the state’s colleges or universities.

Can You Get a Scholarship for Online Education?


In the early days of online education, most of the degree programs were offered by unaccredited schools and didn’t qualify for federal or state educational funds. However, those days are long gone. Nearly every accredited college in Delaware offers an online degree program or even multiple online degrees. However, you don’t have to have to go deeply into debt to earn a degree online.

Organizations that award Delaware scholarships don’t put online students of accredited schools in a different category than students taking classes traditionally. Certain schools even offer a Delaware scholarship incentive program specifically for online students. Such programs can be found on each school’s financial aid page, along with further info about the various sources of Delaware scholarships.

Continuing Education Courses

Adult students may even qualify for a scholarship in continuing education studies that is offered by a Delaware scholarship incentive program.

Continuing education classes are often part of non-degree programs that adult learners take online. It used to be difficult for these students to find financial aid. However, attitudes have changed toward continuing education classes and online education in general, and it is not nearly as hard to find a scholarship for continuing education online programs as it once was. As with other types of financial aid, continuing education scholarships can be best located through each individual school’s financial aid page, as many scholarships are actually dispensed through the school.

You’ll also want to check out the scholarships identified by the Delaware Department of Education. Examples of available scholarships include:

ScholarshipAwardGeneral Eligibility
Herman M. Holloway Sr. Memorial ScholarshipFull tuition, required fees, room, board, and books at the Delaware State UniversityHigh School Seniors
FAFSA required
B. Bradford Barnes Memorial ScholarshipFull tuition, required fees, room, board, and books at the University of DelawareHigh School Seniors
FAFSA required
Charles Hebner Memorial Scholarship $1,250/year (renewable)Enrolled Fulltime
FAFSA required
Career Based Scholarship$5,000/year (nonrenewable)Delaware Resident
Enrolled in specific majors
FAFSA required
Scholarship Incentive Programs $1000/Undergraduate
Delaware Resident
FAFSA required
Educator Support Scholarship$5,000/yr (nonrenewable)Undergraduate or Graduate
Delaware Resident
FAFSA required

With an Internet search, you may also identify scholarship opportunities related to your major from corporations, societies, and professional organizations. Examples include (but are certainly not all):

NursingAACN; Nurse JournalEngineeringSociety of Women Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers
BusinessApple Scholars; Wells Fargo; State FarmSocial ScienceHarry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation; The Gates Scholarship
PsychologyAmerican Psychological AssociationEducationNational Education Association; School Superintendents Association

Other Things to Look for in an Online Degree


While most colleges and universities are accredited, it’s important to be sure that the online programs are accredited. Accreditation means the school meets specific educational standards of Department of Education (DOE)-approved agencies.

Accreditation agencies may include:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

If you’re earning a professional degree that requires a license, you’ll want to look for individual programs accredited through professional organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET), Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA)

Not all schools can accept online students from any state for one reason or another. Be sure to check that your school/program accepts students from your state for its online programs.

Check the college or university website for membership in The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA was established to streamline and monitor online degree programs nationwide.

Best Online Colleges in Delaware

The College Consensus ranking of the Best Online Colleges in Delaware combines the results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to create a unique college meta-ranking. This approach offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective missing from other college rankings.

The Best Online Colleges & Universities in Delaware category is limited to schools in Delaware offering online degree programs at any level. Schools not qualifying for a Consensus Score were ranked by their Student Review score.

Delaware State University

Delaware State University

This university ranks in the Top 10 of the U.S. News and World Report’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and its Best Value, Most Innovative, and Top Public Schools rankings. DSU began in 1891 as an agricultural and mechanical science college for black students and has earned a regional reputation as a top public STEM, professional, and research university. Delaware State University Online offers bachelor, master, and doctoral programs in business, social work, nursing, public health, and education. The university has a growing reputation for research, particularly undergraduate research, and a number of dedicated research centers. The 2023-24 academic year tuition for DSU online courses is a reasonable $380-$550 per credit hour, depending on the degree level.

Wilmington University

wilmington university logo 9737

Founded in 1968, Wilmington University is a private research institution quickly becoming one of Delaware’s largest and most successful. The university accepts up to 90 transfer credits, and classes begin every other month, making it easy to begin your studies. You’ll join over 15,000 students and choose from one of the 130+ online programs offered in online and hybrid formats at WilmaU, ranging from professional certificates to doctoral degrees. The university has a physical presence in New Jersey and Delaware and offers online navigators, 24/7 technical support, library resources, advising, and tutoring. With affordable tuition, six individual colleges (including schools of healthcare and law), a 17:1 student-faculty ratio, and more than 91% of WilmaU graduates would recommend the university to others.

Related Rankings:

Best Colleges & Universities

Best Colleges & Universities in Delaware

Best Colleges & Universities in the North

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?