The Open Education Database (OEDB) continues to lead the way as a resource for students looking to forgo traditional, on-campus learning for online programs. Their new 2013 Online College Rankings is the kind of tool students need to compile their lists of best online colleges and make the most well-informed decisions about their education.

As one of the first websites to rank online colleges, OEDB is a pioneer in providing students with the best resources to navigate this new education model. The number of universities and programs now offering online options can be pretty overwhelming. With so many options available, many students get frustrated when trying to find programs that provide the best in education and value.

Rankings based on objective data are critically important for students — especially as online programs continue to gain legitimacy in the arena of higher education. This tool will help just about any student find a program that actually lines up with the criteria they care about.

How do the Rankings Work?

Currently, the rankings are split among the top 11 fields of undergraduate study, including criminal justice, marketing and computer science. Under each field there is a top-ten list culled from the programs that ranked the highest in data from OEDB’s eight different metrics.

These metrics are made up of part and full-time faculty ratios; rates of financial aid; acceptance, retention and graduation rates; years of accreditation; and rates of job placement for graduates. Each metric was determined according to what OEDB considers to be the critical components in any successful online education.

The rankings stack up programs from schools around the country in a side-by-side comparison. All of the schools included are accredited universities that operate an entirely online program on a national scale — each one granting a degree upon completion.

Students can also use this tool to cross-reference schools based on specific metrics like the graduation rate or full to part-time faculty ratio. The rankings based on the individual metrics list out much more than the top ten schools. Hundreds are listed, which will help students reference beyond the best programs to see where their program or school of interest measures up.

Whether you are just beginning to research potential programs, or you are finalizing your applications, the OEDB rankings should be a frequently cited resource. Choosing to pursue higher education is a major investment, and this tool provides you with the most accurate, informed data. It’s as simple and appealing as that.