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Best Colleges In Houston

Last Updated on November 26, 2022 by Ibrahim Agboola

Houston, located in the seat of Harris County, is the most populous city in the state of Texas, and claims the same in the entire southern US. Founded in 1836 and incorporated in 1837, Houston grew as a regional trading center for the rest of the century and now has a broad economy in energy—through oil and natural gas—as well as manufacturing, healthcare, and, of course, aeronautics.  

Houston has four state universities located within its city limits, one of which is Texas Southern University, an historical black university that’s considered one of the largest and most comprehensive in the US. The flagship institution for the University of Houston is, as expected, located in its namesake city, and hosts more than 40,000 students on its 667-acre campus. There are also two stand-alone institutions in the UH System in Houston, Clear Lake and Downtown, and two ABA-accredited law schools, the UH Law Center and Thurgood Marshall School of Law at TSU.

Home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, the city also has a number of medical schools and colleges, many within the dense triangle that consists of more than 50 not-for-profit medical-related institutions. The McGovern Medical School and the Baylor College of Medicine are among the throng, as well as the pharmacy schools from both TSU and UH, a school of optometry, and Prairie View A&M University’s nursing school.

The most selective university in the state, and most selective in the US, Rice University was founded in Houston in 1912. The only Catholic institution in the city is the University of St. Thomas, although there are other religious universities, such as the Houston Baptist University. The Houston Community College System serves the city, but there are campuses from the Lone Star College System, among others, serving sections of the more than 2.3 million living in the area.

An automobile-dependent city, Houston has an extensive freeway system in conjunction with limited-access highways. Public transport is handled by the METRO and features 75 local routes, and Amtrak provides service to Houston thrice weekly. The area has several airports, all of which are part of the Houston Airport System.

Best Colleges In Houston

Baylor College of Medicine 

Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the only private medical school in the Greater Southwest, is recognized as a premier academic health science center and is known for excellence in education, research and patient care. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked BCM as one of the top 25 medical schools for research. Currently, BCM trains more than 3,000 medical, graduate, nurse anesthesia, and physician assistant students, as well as residents and post-doctoral fellows.

Houston Baptist University 

Since its inception in 1960, HBU has grown into a thriving community of faith and scholarship.

Houston Community College  System 

HCC, the largest community college system on the Texas Gulf Coast, is comprised of five regional colleges.

Lone Star College  

Lone Star College is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the nation. The LSCS provides 180 programs to nearly 95,000 students seeking Associate Degrees, certifications for work in high-demand industries, and credits that enable them to transfer anywhere.

Prairie View A&M University 

Prairie View A&M is the second oldest public institution of higher education in Texas and the first state supported college in Texas for African-Americans.

Rice University

Rice University

The Princeton Review, Newsweek College Guide, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Worthmagazine, Financial Times, U.S. News and World Report and the Almanac of Architecture and Design all rank Rice as a top institution in the country.

Sam Houston State University 

Serving 16,795 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, SHSU’s Carnegie classification places it in the top 7 percent of U.S. higher education institutions.

San Jacinto College

San Jacinto College District’s three locations offer more than 140 degrees and certificates.

South Texas College of Law

One of the largest private law schools in the country, South Texas College of Law provides a diverse body of students with the opportunity to obtain an exceptional legal education, preparing graduates to serve their community and the profession with distinction.

Texas Southern University

texas southern university

TSU is one of two comprehensive Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the world.

University of Houston 

university of houston

Chosen as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education by The Princeton Review in 2011. Nationally recognized programs at UH include: Creative Writing, Health Law, Intellectual Property Law, Business Administration (undergraduate) and Space Architecture, the only graduate program of its kind in the world. More than 77 UH students and coaches have participated in the Olympics, earning 33 medals (19 gold).

University of Houston – Clear Lake

More than 7,700 students enrolled each semester, with nearly half of those students enrolled in graduate study.

University of Houston – Victoria

The University of Houston – Victoria recently opened its UHV Katy Campus at 2002 W. Grand Parkway N., Building 2 (off TX-99 and Franz Road, near I-10). As part of the UH System, UHV offers face-to-face programs in Victoria and Katy, as well as online classes that students can take from anywhere. Courses lead to 70 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professionals & Human Development. Since its founding in 1973, UHV has provided students with a quality university education from excellent faculty at an affordable price. 

University of Houston – Downtown 

UHD is a publicly-supported, urban university located in Houston’s central business district. UHD is considered one of the most ethnically diverse liberal arts institutions in the southwest, a distinction that indicates the student body accurately reflects the Houston community’s wealth of cultures, languages and nationalities. The University offers all students a specially tailored opportunity for quality higher education, as well as small classes and personal interest from faculty.

UHD offers baccalaureate degrees in more than 50 areas and seven master’s degree programs. As one of the four distinct and separate components of the University of Houston System, UHD offers major opportunities and access to unique educational experiences for students across the Greater Houston area.

University of St. Thomas 

University of St. Thomas - Houston

Catholic institution with more than 3,700 students from 40 states and 58 countries. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report, The Cardinal Newman Society and The Princeton Review Guide.

University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth)

Located in the world renowned Texas Medical Center, UTHealth brings together the School of Dentistry, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, McGovern Medical School, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Biomedical Informatics, the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center and the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.

Top Colleges For An Online Degree In Houston, TX

There are a lot of working students and professionals who are searching for the top colleges for online degrees in Houston, TX. With medical, educational and other professionals searching for affordable and flexible programs in the area, it makes sense that schools would want to take advantage of online education. This has caused the need for a ranking that focuses on online degrees in Houston, TX.

Online programs are a great way for students to complete their education; programs can be accelerated, have full-time or part-time options, and a variety of other features. Both students and professionals can benefit from flexible programs that can fit into their schedule. And, as more programs come online designed for students with different responsibilities, schools are choosing to expand their offerings, which can be seen in the ranking below.


This ranking is based on a points-based methodology. An initial group of schools, all located within 50 miles of the city, was found by searching for top colleges for online degrees in Houston, TX on the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator database. After the group of schools was curated, each program website was individually reviewed and rated based on several factors. These include:

Types of online degree options available (associate, bachelor, master’s, doctorate): 1 point per degree level.

Cost per credit hour:
Under $250 – 4 points
$251 – $350 – 3 points
$351 – $450 – 2 points
Over $451 per credit hour – 1 point

Regional Accreditation:
Present – 1 point

Student to faculty ratio:
10:1 or less – 3 points
11:1 to 15:1 – 2 points
Greater than 15:1 – 1 point

The final 10 schools, which are found below in descending order, were chosen based on their final point rankings.

10. Prairie View A&M University

Prairie View, Texas

The online master’s programs that are available from Prairie View A&M University are some of the best in the state. The programs available at this school were created for students interested in a wide variety of subjects at the graduate level. Developed specifically for working professionals, this school has chosen to create its own department, which is known as the Center for Innovation and Technology Service, to help support students. This center offers everything from academic advising to online tutoring, technical support and online educational resources.

Types of Degrees Available:
Cost per credit hour: $396
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 5

9. Rice University

Houston, Texas

Rice University has been noted as one of the top colleges for online degrees in Houston, TX, for graduate students. The most popular online programs at this school include the Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Nursing. Students at this school have access to synchronous and asynchronous courses, a full-service web forum for courses, part-time and full-time study options, and more. Classes are also kept to less than 10 students, providing every learner with the individualized attention that they have come to expect as par for the course from Rice University.

Types of Degrees Available:
Cost per credit hour: $1,935
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 6

8. Lamar University

Beaumont, Texas

Students at Lamar University are offered the chance to complete some of the best online programs in Houston, TX. The school provides over 25 programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level with certificates and noncredit learning also available through the online portal. Students will find a large mix of licensure programs, including degrees at both levels in education, nursing, and business; additional endorsements for teachers are also available. Through Lamar University, students will have access to an online portal that is supported by the Texas State University System. Services include technical support, an online library, an online bookshop, and advising services.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s
Cost per credit hour: $421
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 6

7. Texas A&M University at College Station

College Station, Texas

Texas A&M University at College Station is routinely considered one of the top colleges for online degrees in Houston, TX. Students at this school have access to over 60 degrees and certificates at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate level. Most degrees at this school are offered as hybrid or low-residency programs, but some are also available 100 percent online; students are highly encouraged to contact the school before making their decision about attendance. This school has a strong online portal and a dedicated online staff, meaning that students will be able to access advising and registration services, the online bookstore and library, tutoring sessions and office hours, all online.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate
Cost per credit hour: $423
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 7

6. The University of Houston

Houston, Texas

Some of the best online bachelor’s programs available in the city come from the University of Houston. Students at this school have access to undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees that range from nursing and education to hospitality management and engineering. All courses are available as either asynchronous or synchronous classes through the school’s online portal. Students can also choose to follow a full-time or part-time plan of study, providing them with flexibility for their degree. Online services include technical support, academic advising, tutoring sessions, and access to the school’s library and bookstore.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate
Cost per credit hour: $371
Student to Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 7

5. The University of Houston – Downtown

Houston, Texas

The University of Houston – Downtown is serious about its online programs. The school offers a self-assessment to interested students right on the website’s front page to ensure that students understand what it’s like to earn a degree from the school. Online programs include 15 bachelor’s degree completion programs and three graduate programs. Students at this school are unique in that they are able to access both online and on-campus services, even though they are registered as online students. This means that students can take advantage of the facilities on-campus if they require them but can also access the online suite of services available through the portal. With technical support, an online library and bookstore, academic and career advising plus more services, students at this school are fully supported by the school in order to meet their goal of graduating with a degree.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s
Cost per credit hour: $268
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 7

4. Texas Southern University

Houston, Texas

Students interested in completing a top-tier online bachelor’s or master’s degree will want to check out Texas Southern University. This school currently offers nine online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level; more have been announced and will be added to the online portal once they have been completed. Students can choose to major in homeland security, healthcare management, English, or criminal justice. The school has a strong online-focused staff that offers services such as academic and career advising, registration, technical support, and tutoring.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s
Cost per credit hour: $239
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 7

3. Houston Baptist University

Houston, Texas

Houston Baptist University has a strong commitment to online programs. This school offers over 30 different online programs at all levels of education, including bridge and dual degree programs. Students can choose to study nursing, Christian counseling, management, or criminal justice. There is a strong focus on Christian studies, making this a great school for students who wish to join the ministry once they have graduated from their program. With such a substantial offering of online programs, it comes as no surprise that this school has made it their mission to provide students with as much support as possible online; this comes in the form of academic advising, online tutoring, access to the online bookstore and bookshop, and online office hours.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate
Cost per credit hour: $395
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 8

2. Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas

The suite of online programs provided by Sam Houston State University could be considered a professional’s dream come true. Popular online degrees include programs from education and nursing, two professions that are in high demand within the state. Students here can complete their degrees with a great deal of flexibility; programs can be completed as either part-time or full-time courses of study, some programs are accelerated with short terms and summer school is always an option. The programs are supported by a staff that focuses only on online students, making the experience of attending the school one that the individual will remember for the rest of their life.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate
Cost per credit hour: $345
Student to Faculty Ratio: 23:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 8

1. The University of Houston at Clear Lake

Houston, Texas

The University of Houston at Clear Lake is at the top of this top colleges for online degrees in Houston, TX, ranking. With more than 20 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates available and affordable tuition rates, it’s definitely a school that all students should take a deeper look at. This school is unique in that the same professors who teach courses online are the ones who teach the online programs; this is possible because these professors have been trained to dispense online education. Students also have access to online services such as a bookstore, library, academic advising, career advising, and more.

Types of Degrees Available:
Bachelor’s, Master’s
Cost per credit hour: $305
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Total Points: 8

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Degree?

Online degrees lead to the same careers as on-campus degrees. With so many schools offering degrees at all levels of education, nearly all careers are open to professionals who choose to pursue online degrees. In fact, many working professionals choose online degrees in order to complete their education and advance in their career.

There are some exceptions which need to be discussed. High-level professions, such as medical doctors and lawyers, must complete medical school or law school in-person to become licensed to practice their profession. Similar professions that require in-person schooling include dentistry and pharmacology.

Putting aside the exceptions listed above, professionals in other areas, including education, nursing and engineering, will not experience blowback from having earned an online degree. It is rare that an employer will ask about the delivery method of a degree; rarer still is a school that distinguishes between online and on-campus diplomas.

How Hard Is It to Complete an Online Degree?

Online degrees are similar in terms of difficulty as on-campus degrees. However, completion may be difficult for some students based on a few factors. These include their part-time or full-time status, the length of the term, field experiences, and how a student handles the online learning experience.

Online students have the ability to choose between part-time and full-time study, something that is not always available to on-campus students. Working professionals often complete part-time degrees because it makes it easier for them to complete the program in a way that is suitable for them. Those that take on a full-time course of study may find that juggling a full course load as well as their personal and professional responsibilities may be too difficult for them, especially if their job entails long hours or the ability to work overtime.

Term lengths also play a role in how difficult a course, and therefore the degree, may be. Students in online programs often have the chance to complete accelerated terms; these range from four to 12 weeks as opposed to the traditional 16-week academic term format. While the courses may be shorter, they are more intensive than those provided in 16-week sessions. This may prove difficult for students who do not yet have a handle on advanced courses.

Field experiences may also prove difficult, especially for working professionals or those who have personal responsibilities that take up a lot of their time. Because field experiences often require weekly attendance at a worksite for 20 hours or more, busy students may have difficulty in scheduling these experiences at a time that is convenient for them. Because field experiences are required for graduation, this means that students will either have to drop their degree or stress themselves out while finishing the requirements for the degree.

Finally, students will need to gauge whether online education is the right choice for them. Online programs are self-directed and require discipline and focus in completing the coursework. Students who require a structure that mandates attendance on a school campus and in-person support services may find online education to be so hard that they choose to discontinue their studies. Therefore, it is recommended that students inquire about the online program and, if possible, take a school’s self-assessment “Is Online Study Right For Me?” test.

Who Would Benefit the Most from Completing an Online Degree?

Online degrees are a great choice for most students, but some would benefit more than others. Because these programs require discipline and focus, especially if the structure of the program is flexible, it may be more useful to students who are ambitious and committed to completing their degree.

Working professionals who are interested in completing their education may find online education to be a good choice for them. Professional programs, such as education and business, are designed for working professionals in mind. This means that the programs have flexible options, such as part-time study and asynchronous courses. Working professionals would then have the ability to continue working, take care of their responsibilities, and complete their education.

Adult learners, such as retirees, military veterans and others, may also benefit from online programs. This is because the programs are available online, eliminating the need to commute to campus. Students may also find it easier to complete online certificates and other endorsements through programs that enable them to take as much time as they need, within reason, to graduate from the school.

Students who have anxiety issues or are introverted would benefit greatly from an online program. Because online schooling reduces the need to interact with others in person, it greatly improves the chances of that student completing their degree. It also enables them to choose how they receive support, which can be a great feature for students who may need additional support.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Degree?

This question depends on a few factors: the degree classification, whether a student is full-time or part-time, and if a school offers accelerated terms.

Degree classifications include associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and specialist. How long it takes to complete the program depends on the type of program. Taking into account that most students choose to study full-time, on average, associate’s degrees take two years, bachelor’s degrees take four years, master’s programs take two years and doctorate and specialist programs take about four years.

However, part-time students make take one to two years longer than on-campus students. Part-time programs can include students who take anything from one to three courses every term. With this considered, part-time students have a longer program of study than full-time students; this is important to remember, as many online students choose to study part-time.

The third thing to take into account how long academic terms last for online programs. Some schools choose to use the traditional academic term structure, which is 15 to 16 weeks in length. This means that students can expect to complete their program on the same schedule as traditional campus students.

Other schools, however, have chosen to change the term structure for online students. Currently, online students may complete terms that last anywhere between four to 12 weeks in length. This means that these students may complete their degree in half the time that it would take an on-campus program.

Are Online Programs Really More Affordable Than On-Campus Programs?

Most online programs are more affordable than on-campus programs. However, how much more affordable online programs can be than on-campus programs depends on the school and the program. It is strongly encouraged that students do their research prior to applying for a program.

Online programs, on average, can be anywhere less than $5,000 to $15,000 in tuition fees than an on-campus program. This is due to the schools implementing in-state tuition or online-only tuition rates for their online programs. Students on-campus may pay in-state or out-of-state students.

But there are differences in affordability even between online programs. Private online programs are more expensive than public online programs; this is due to the school’s academic reputation and quality of the programs. Many online programs, regardless of their classification, do offer tuition assistance, so the average cost that a student may pay is about equal between private and public online programs.

Students should be aware that if they choose an online program that requires residency on campus for courses, their tuition fees may be higher than students who choose a 100 percent online course of study. This is because for those courses, students are paying the same tuition rate as on-campus students. Lab fees may also be required if those courses are mandatory for graduation.

Are Online Programs Easier to Apply to Than On-Campus Programs?

No, online programs are not easier to apply to than on-campus programs. There is a common misconception that because the programs are offered online, students who have less than ideal applications will be able to attend a program from a prestigious institution. This misconception is a myth; there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Most programs will have a tab on their website that describes the application process. In general, application requirements include education transcripts, extracurricular activities, personal references, and a personal statement. For graduate programs, GMAT or GRE scores may also be required.

The application process is exactly the same for on-campus and online programs; there are rarely exceptions to this rule. This is because schools offer the same quality of education to both sets of students, eliminating the possibility of lowering standards for online students. This is for the best; having a strong application ensures that students are committed and prepared for the program.

There are rare cases where the application process is easier for online students. This is reserved for online-only schools or schools that do not have a campus. Students should be cautious about programs that have scant application requirements, especially if the program is offered by a for-profit or online university.

What Kind of Services are Most Common in Online Programs?

Online programs are unique because all of the services provided to students are held online through the school’s virtual portal. This means that online students do not have access to campus services, but the features they have access to were designed specifically for them.

The most common service that online students have access to is technical support. Because the program is offered virtually, students will need 24/7 technical support. This can include chat rooms for help accessing the portal, a phone line for students, and more. It is critical that all online programs have technical support.

Another common service is online academic registration and advising. This service helps students choose their courses; online course schedules are available year-round. Academic advising pairs students with an advisor that can help them plan out their degree plan to ensure that they graduate in the time they have allotted.

Online libraries and bookstores are also commonplace. This makes sense because students need to have access to textbooks, and most online students choose to buy online textbooks. Bookstores may also have access to books that a student might need for a course at a slightly lower price than they might be able to find elsewhere. The online library provides students with free access to research resources and books that they may need for research projects and term projects.

The final common service that is offered by online programs is an online forum. Online forums are a great place for students to converse with classmates and professors. It also offers students the chance to have online tutoring services, which is generally offered through the forum. Courses, assignments and exams are all offered through this service, making it an easy and convenient way for students to complete their programs.

Online degrees are a mainstream way for in-service and pre-service professionals to complete their education. With avenues for completing undergraduate degrees and earning graduate and doctorate degrees, it makes perfect sense that students will want to check out what online offerings are available to them. This ranking of the top colleges for online degrees in Houston, TX, will provide students with a starting point for researching potential schools for their degree.