The Best Online Colleges in Texas for 2021

The Best Online Colleges in Texas for 2021

Amanda Push picture
Amanda Push Contributing Writer
Updated September 26, 2022

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Over the last few decades, college tuition across the nation has become pricier and less affordable for students. Given that most students will have to take out loans or find other routes to fund tuition, it’s more important than ever to find the most affordable ways to get a college education. 

If you’re a student in the Lone Star State, you may be looking to find cheap online colleges in Texas that will give you access to top-tier education without breaking the bank. Luckily, there are a number of solid career paths and colleges to choose from to give you a high potential return on investment. This includes career paths like nursing and accounting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses in Texas earn an average salary of $74,540 per year, while accountants and auditors earn an average annual salary of $79,360. According to the BLS, general and operations managers in Texas earn an average salary of $121,270 per year. 

If you’re a student in Texas who’s trying to balance affordability with opportunity, you can find insight into the costs of attending Texas online colleges, along with some options for the most affordable online schools below. This information will help you narrow down the options that fit your needs and get started on your path to higher education.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Top Colleges in Texas

#1 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX
#2 University of Houston-Downtown Houston, TX
#3 Lamar University Beaumont, TX
#4 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, TX
#5 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
#6 Tarleton State University Stephenville, TX
#7 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
#8 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
#9 Texas A & M University-Commerce Commerce, TX
#10 Concordia University Texas Austin, TX

Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

How important is my GPA during my undergrad?

Your GPA is very important, no matter your career path. If you’re seeking a position in a field that requires only an undergraduate degree, you may think your GPA is not as important as it would be if you were planning to enroll in a competitive graduate program after graduation. That’s not entirely true.

Your GPA should not be seen as something to simply satisfy your degree requirements — you should still strive to have the highest GPA possible. In some cases, you may be asked to provide your GPA to potential employers if you have limited work history or are planning to go into a field with stiff competition.

For those who want to earn their master’s degree or continue their education, your GPA will play a pivotal role in your entry into a graduate program. In most cases, the graduate programs you apply to will require you to have a decent GPA and a solid GRE score, so don’t discount your GPA — no matter what path you choose.

How do I know the school I want to go to is worth it?

It all depends on your ultimate goals. In generaal, though, when deciding on a school, you should weigh the quality and affordability of the intuition as well as other costs into your decision making. School reputation and the quality of education alone isn’t enough to solidify a decision, but you need to know you’re getting out of a program what you’re putting in.

If a school has a solid reputation, a good alumni network, and other career-related perks, you may find it’s worth paying more in tuition for. On the other hand, a school with cheap tuition but no accreditation or other issues may not be worth the cost of tuition, inexpensive or otherwise.

Is distance or online learning inferior to in-person instruction?

Not at all. The same materials and coursework is offered to online students as it is to students who take the classes in person. That said, one or the other type of instruction may not work best for you, so you need to be realistic in what type of learning model you need to succeed. The decision to learn remotely or in-person will depend on your needs and your capability to learn best in one or the other environment.

In-state tuition cost in Texas

In-state residents in Texas pay, on average, about $5,180 per year for tuition, including community college tuition. Tuition for four-year public institutions in Texas currently hovers near $8,231 per year, while private institutions will run in-state students about $24,040 in tuition per academic year. 

Institutions like Rice University and Baylor University cost about $50,000 for an entire four-year degree. At a cost of about $12,500 per year, the more renowned institutions come with a steep tuition price compared to other in-state universities and colleges offering the same programs. 

Your books and supplies, which should be factored into the total costs, will run you about $2,833 per year in Texas on average. 

Out-of-state tuition cost in Texas

The average out-of-state tuition cost for Texas’ public universities is about $18,577 per year. The average price for books and supplies is about $2,833 per year in this state. 

Average cost of room and board in Texas

Room and board costs in Texas will depend on whether you live on campus or off of campus. In some cases, off-campus housing is the most affordable option — but you may be required by your school or program to live on campus during your first year.

In general, on-campus housing costs average about $13,340 per year in Texas. The price for off-campus housing is slightly higher in this state, with an average price of about $13,764 per year. The real cost of off-campus housing will depend highly on the area of the state you attend college in.

Professional Organizations for Students in Texas

Students can join professional organizations to learn about their discipline's subfields and careers. Many professional organizations offer student membership rates and scholarship opportunities, and associations may host student chapters at large schools. Members often gain access to career resources, networking events, and continuing education, and organizations usually advocate for students and professionals. Online students in Texas can choose from national and state organizations, such as those below.

Members own and govern this professional association for Texas educators. ATPE collaborates with all stakeholders to improve Texas public education. The association serves Texas public school teachers, administrators, and staff. ATPE offers legal protection, advocacy, leadership opportunities, and educational tools.

This professional association comprises more than 1,000 Texas psychologists and graduate students. TPA advocates for legislation and regulations that ensure high-quality mental healthcare and education. Members receive access to professional development and networking opportunities, peer consultations, professional discounts, and relevant publications.

This state board oversees examination and licensure of engineering and land surveyance professionals. The board also offers educational resources, including webinars, publications, and relevant news.

The leading association in the career and technical education field, CTAT provides various learning programs and career opportunities for vocational and technical students. CTAT fosters instructional partnerships with Texas industries and businesses, provides online networking opportunities, and offers technical assistance.

If you’re looking for scholarship opportunities in Texas, these can include:

Scholarship for Women In Engineering

  • Reward amount: $1,000-$8,000 across four years
  • Requirements: Any female student who is pursuing a bachelor or graduate degree in an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • Deadlines: Varies according to each specified scholarship/grant; applications open on March 1 of every year

Texas Public Education Grant

  • Reward amount: Varies depending upon the student’s financial needs and their institution’s financial aid office
  • Requirements: Any student who demonstrates financial need who has also registered for Selective Service
  • Deadlines: March 15

National Health Service Corps

  • Reward amount: Varies; the award depends on the student's financial needs
  • Requirements:
  • Must be a U.S. college student
  • Must be enrolled full-time at an accredited institution pursuing either of the following primary care degrees:
  • Physician
  • Dentist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Physician’s assistant
  • Application submission deadline: May 11
  • First day of class deadline: September 30

Best Online Colleges and Universities in Texas for 2021

  1. The University of Texas at El Paso

    El Paso, TX



    Located in a binational urban area that includes Mexico's Ciudad Juárez and New Mexico's Las Cruces, UTEP serves a student body that comprises 80% Hispanic learners. The public university offers more affordable tuition rates than many research institutions and is among the most affordable colleges in Texas.

    UTEP offers online degrees including eight bachelor's options and 10 master's degrees. The university delivers bachelor's programs in criminal justice, media advertising, and Chicano studies. Students can pursue a degree-completion program in multidisciplinary studies. Master's students can earn degrees in education, music, engineering, and the arts. UTEP also provides bachelor's and master's programs in nursing.

    Distance learners can access career counseling and library resources, as well as an online writing center and assistive technology lab. UTEP delivers online classes asynchronously, which helps working learners balance their coursework with professional and personal obligations. The El Paso campus also offers affordable tuition rates for those seeking an engineering degree. Tuition averages about $8,961 per tuition year at this public university, which has a graduation rate of 75% for first-time students pursuing bachelor’s degrees. It will take you about four years to complete your undergrad degree here.

  2. University of Houston-Downtown

    Houston, TX



    UHD enrolls more than 15,000 students annually, about a third of whom study online. One of the best online colleges in Texas, the public university offers online programs that prepare graduates for a variety of careers.

    Students with at least 15 transfer credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA can enroll in UHD's online bachelor's degree-completion programs. Bachelor's degree options include majors in the humanities, business, and public service. Students can pursue an interdisciplinary studies major to develop their own course of study. UHD also offers online master's degrees in nonprofit management, criminal justice, and security management.

    Learners can complete most programs entirely online. However, some distance programs include onsite orientation, testing, or lab requirements. UHD maintains articulation agreements with Houston-area community colleges to facilitate seamless transfers. Online students may be eligible for institutional scholarships. This public university has a graduation rate of 73% for first-time students pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. Tuition here costs, on average, about $11,570 per year and it will take you about four years to finish your undergraduate degree.

  3. Lamar University

    Beaumont, TX



    A public research university founded in 1923, LU is located in Beaumont, a small city in Southeast Texas. LU is part of the Texas State University System, which maintains the lowest average tuition and fees of any university system in the state.

    Online students at LU can choose from a variety of bachelor's and master's programs. The university offers 13 bachelor's programs for freshmen and transfer students. The bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree-completion program is ideal for working professionals. In addition to accepting transfer credits, LU offers credit for work and military experience. Students in the general studies bachelor's program craft a personalized interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum.

    Other bachelor's programs train students for careers in engineering, social sciences, business, communication, and nursing. LU provides more than 30 master's and certificate programs in areas including education, counseling, business, nursing, and public service. Lamar University, a public institution, has a graduation rate of 66% for first-time students pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. Tuition costs, on average, are about $10,460 per year. It will take you about four years to earn your degree at this school.

  4. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

    Odessa, TX



    Part of the University of Texas System, UTPB enrolls nearly 9,000 students annually online and at its campuses in Odessa and Midland. All online students pay the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. Distance learners can access academic advising, career services, and tutoring.

    UTPB students can choose from a variety of online bachelor's and master's degrees. The university offers 12 online bachelor's programs in fields including business and social sciences. UTPB's interdisciplinary bachelor of arts in humanities program helps students maximize their transfer credits.

    Learners who plan to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering can earn a bachelor of science in industrial technology. UTPB also offers an online RN-to-BSN program. The school delivers eight master's degrees in disciplines including education, business, public administration, and criminal justice. As part of the public University of Texas system, the Permian Basin campus has an average yearly tuition of $10,400. It will take you about four years to complete your degree here. The graduation rate at UTPB is 63% for first-time students getting their undergraduate degrees.

  5. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX



    A large public research university, SHSU is located north of Houston in the Piney Woods region of East Texas. With similar online and on-campus tuition rates, SHSU ranks among the most affordable online colleges in Texas. All of the school's majors incorporate some online classes, and the university provides many fully online degree options.

    SHSU's fully online programs include 18 bachelor's and 30 master's programs. The university also offers certificates and two doctorates in education. Bachelor's and master's degree options include majors in the social sciences, criminal justice, business, and communication. Additional master's degree options include library science, mathematics, education, band studies, digital forensics, and sustainable agriculture.

    Bachelor's students can choose from a variety of minors. Learners can design their own bachelor's curriculum by combining three minors into a single degree through SHSU's bachelor of science in integrated studies program. SHSU offers a solid education to students who enroll in exchange for about $10,760 per year in tuition costs. This school has a graduation rate of 75% for first-time students earning their undergrad degrees. It will take you four years to earn your undergraduate degree at this school.

  6. Tarleton State University

    Stephenville, TX



    One of the leading colleges in Texas' central region, Tarleton State University is part of the Texas A&M University System. Tarleton enrolls students online, at its main campus in Stephenville, and at four additional campuses statewide. Founded in 1899, Tarleton was named in honor of Texas settler John Tarleton, an early benefactor of the school.

    Tarleton offers online programs at the bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Applicants to the university's bachelor's programs must have fulfilled lower-division requirements through previous college courses, professional training, or military experience.

    Undergraduate and graduate options include degrees in business, psychology, information technology, engineering, nursing, and criminal justice. Bachelor's students can major in kinesiology, health professions technology, and veterinary technology. Graduate students can pursue degrees in education, English, agriculture, and public administration. Distance learners receive online access to academic advising and career counseling. Tarleton State University has a graduation rate of about 65% for first-time students pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. At this university, an undergraduate degree will take you four years to complete. Tuition costs, on average, about $10,330 per year.

  7. LeTourneau University

    Longview, TX



    Based in the small East Texas city of Longview, LETU is a private Christian institution. Emphasizing applied sciences and career preparation, LETU is one of a handful of dedicated polytechnic colleges in Texas.

    LETU offers many associate, bachelor's, and master's programs fully online. Undergraduate students can major in computer science, criminal justice, human services, business, aviation, education, theology, and psychology. A bachelor's program in interdisciplinary studies features an option to prepare for Texas teacher certification. Master's degrees include options in education, business, counseling, healthcare administration, and leadership.

    Distance learners take most courses in an accelerated five-week format. LETU provides online tutoring. Distance learners pay significantly lower tuition rates than on-campus students. Online tuition rates vary based on the student's program and transfer credits, but distance learners typically pay less than half of the on-campus rate. LeTourneau University is a private school with an overall graduation rate of 63%. The tuition at this school costs, on average, about $32,490 per year. It will take about four years for you to complete your undergraduate degree at this school.

  8. Texas Tech University

    Lubbock, TX



    Enrolling more than 40,000 students annually, Texas Tech is one of the largest colleges in Texas. The Lubbock-based university launched off-site courses in 1966 and today offers more than 80 remote programs.

    Texas Tech delivers online programs in a variety of disciplines. Bachelor's-level offerings include programs in education, business, humanities, social sciences, and agriculture. The university also offers its unique wind science program online. Students interested in interdisciplinary studies can design their own major through programs in general studies and university studies. Texas Tech offers master's and doctoral programs in many fields, including library science, engineering, computer science, healthcare, and performing arts.

    Online students pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency and may be eligible for institutional scholarships. Texas Tech offers several scholarships for transfer students. Texas Tech has a retention rate of 87% for first-time undergrad students, and Texas residents can expect to pay about $11,600 a year for tuition. As with most other undergraduate programs, it will take four years to earn your bachelor’s degree at this school.

  9. Texas A & M University-Commerce

    Commerce, TX



    Located in the northeastern part of the state, TAMUC is a member of the Texas A&M University System. The public university enrolls students at its main campus and through six satellite locations and online division. TAMUC awards more than $72 million in financial aid annually.

    Students searching for Texas online programs can choose from bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs from TAMUC. Learners with up to 85 transfer credits can pursue individualized bachelor's programs in applied arts and general studies. Students typically complete these interdisciplinary degrees in about two years. Other fully online bachelor's degree options include programs in criminal justice, organizational leadership, and agribusiness.

    TAMUC offers online graduate programs in fields including education, social sciences, humanities, science, and business. The university also offers hybrid programs at all levels. Distance learners can access online library resources and career counseling. TAMUC has a graduation rate of 63% for first-time students seeking their undergraduate degree, and an average yearly tuition rate of about $9,820 for Texas residents. It will take you about four years to finish your degree at this school.

  10. Concordia University Texas

    Austin, TX



    Based in the state's capital city, Concordia is a private Lutheran-affiliated university. The institution enrolls about 2,500 students annually online and at its 389-acre Austin campus. One of the most affordable private colleges in Texas, Concordia awards institutional scholarships to all incoming students.

    Concordia offers a curated roster of online programs, with seven undergraduate options and 10 master's programs. Bachelor's students choose from programs in business, communication, computer science, criminal justice, psychology, and multidisciplinary studies. Eight master of education programs prepare graduates for a variety of administrative and specialized education careers. Concordia also awards master's degrees in business and public health.

    Concordia provides virtual tutoring, and students can also consult online library resources and job boards. All Concordia students must complete six credits of biblical studies. A Concordia University Texas bachelor’s degree will take you four years to finish. The graduation rate at this school is about 68% for first-time students pursuing their undergrad. Tuition at Concordia averages about $33,800 per year, which is quite a bit more expensive than the other schools listed.

Amanda Push picture

Amanda Push


Amanda Push is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Grad School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, and others. Her writing has also been featured at,,, and

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