Top 10 Online Colleges That Start at Any Time and Have Flexible Schedules

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: January 26, 2024, Reading time: 21 minutes

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Gone are the days when degree-seeker students should go to campus to attend classes and complete academic requirements. In this current era of digitalization and thanks to the advent of technology, online colleges are on the rise, paving the way for an easily accessible college education.

Especially in the year 2020, data from the National Center for Education Statistics states that 75% of all undergraduate students at least studied one course online.

And in 2021, three fourth of the U.S. schools planned to offer online learning systems due to the constraints and changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Online Colleges That Start at Any Time - fact

What makes online learning so popular with students? 

If you’re wondering whether you can start earning a college degree anytime, the answer is a short Yes. You can begin taking classes next week, after some days, or even next month. As online education and self-paced learning technologies continue to advance, there are more opportunities to earn a college degree now than ever before. 

Accessibility, affordability, and flexibility are all advantages of online colleges. The convenience of online education makes it easier for busy professionals to fit school into their schedules. 

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

10 Online Colleges with Flexible Schedules

 Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Since 1885, Arizona State University has grown into one of the country’s largest universities, enrolling over 51,000 students. Through ASU Online, the university offers a number of online degree programs, both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The fall, spring, and summer semesters offer two 7.5-week sessions and one 15-week session at ASU Online. All these available start dates allow you to enroll at any date you prefer.

The start dates for ASU Online programs generally vary from semester to semester, although it varies more for graduate programs. There are usually two or three summer start dates, with most starting in August, October, January, and March.

The first start date of summer programs occurs in May, and the second starts about six or seven weeks later. A summer session for other programs starts in May and lasts for 7.5 weeks.

ASU ONline’s Multiple Start Dates

Your degree can be completed around your schedule with ASU Online courses. Students can earn a degree and balance work, family, and other commitments by choosing from multiple start dates. Each year, six sessions start at ASU Online. 

Each program has the same start date in the fall and spring; however, summer sessions may differ. You can check their page for online degree programs to see updates. Despite missing the August deadline, you can begin your journey to a degree at Arizona State University this fall. 

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University started offering an online program way back in 1995. An innovative three-year bachelor’s degree in business administration was introduced in 1997 at this institution.

Online education is one of Southern New Hampshire University’s strengths. Professionals who specialize in e-learning develop their online programs. 

Course outcomes in each program are designed to prepare you for success in the workplace. With relevant, real-world experience and expertise in online learning and course delivery, SNHU’s online instructors are industry leaders. In your early classes, you’ll be taught by specially trained instructors.

On a weekly basis, you may be required to submit discussion posts, academic papers, readings, and other assignments at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Your coursework is due consistently, so you can complete it day or night, according to a schedule that works for you. 

Earn a Degree at Your Own Pace at SNHU

One major difference is that SNHU online classes don’t require you to be in front of your computer at a specific time. You freely create your own schedule. The weekly online assignments and discussion boards will replace in-person lectures. 

You might feel intimidated if you’ve never considered online degrees as a path to a new career or personal goals. However, enjoy the flexibility of this learning format and take advantage of its convenience.

Rather than having to adhere to a rigid schedule, students at Southern New Hampshire University online can maintain their regular schedule. Schoolwork can be done when it is convenient for you and at a pace that suits you. 

For undergraduates, the semesters last eight weeks, and for master’s students, they last ten weeks, so you can enroll year-round, doubling up when you can or taking a semester off when you need it.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

In order to advance your career, you need more tools and the flexibility to juggle school with your already busy schedule. This is where the University of South Dakota comes into the picture.

One of the country’s many accredited online colleges, the University of South Dakota offers high-quality online courses and convenient, convenient, and affordable programs.

With the same faculty teaching their programs on campus, USD maintains a challenging and rigorous curriculum that prepares you for your future career. They’ve got the online programs you’re looking for, from business to education to nursing.

You can easily register for courses and plan your schedule each semester, whether you are a non-degree seeking student or considering a full-time program.

You can choose from at least 50 online accredited programs, a variety of professional development opportunities, and hundreds of online courses at USD, whether you’re a non-degree-seeking student pursuing a certificate, full-time degree, or continuing education credit.

USD’s Flexible Schedules Even For Short Courses

If you are enrolled in courses to develop your skill set rather than pursue an academic degree, you may register without applying or submitting transcripts at the University of South Dakota.

You can register for courses and plan your schedule each semester regardless of whether you want to take just a few classes or consider a full-time program.

They are consistently ranked among the top universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, and Military Times, among others. With USD’s online programs, you will develop career skills directly applying to your chosen field of study.

Whether you’re an out-of-state student, a resident of the state, or take classes online, their tuition rates remain consistently competitive.

University of Illinois Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois Online primarily offers master’s and doctoral degree programs. Earth, society, and environmental sustainability is the only online bachelor’s degree currently offered as a distance learning program. 

There are, however, more than 1,200 online undergraduate courses to choose from, many of which offer flex formats. The student can start a Flex course at any time and complete it within 16 weeks.

With every online program they offer, real-world relevance is at the core. Along with gaining new insights and knowledge, you’ll gain practical skills you can use immediately. The same professors teach their online courses as they do on campus. 

With their academic and professional backgrounds, they know what it takes to advance professionally, so they are dedicated to helping you succeed.

At the University of Illinois Springfield, Your Schedule Is Their Schedule

With affordable and flexible online programs, you can prepare for leadership positions and new career opportunities at the University of Illinois Springfield. The school will work around your schedule. So you can choose from their five start dates in a year. 

It’s up to you when and where you study. In addition to promoting deeper understanding and retention of subject matter, fast-paced, 8-week courses help students earn their degrees more quickly.

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma - Online

Each University of Oklahoma’s online program boasts a world-class faculty combined with professors of practice. They provide students with an advanced curriculum and prepare them for future career success by partnering with industry experts. 

University of Oklahoma degrees are awarded to graduates of O.U. Online programs. The O.U. alumni network numbers more than 250,000, and graduates are forever part of it. In 130 years, O.U. has established a tradition of excellence, of which you’ll be a part. 

OU Online Learning At Your Own Pace

OU graduate degrees can be earned online at your own pace. You’ll receive the same degree as a student attending classes on campus, taught by the same world-class faculty and industry leaders.

A graduate program can be completed online at O.U. during the Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters. Decide the schedule that is most convenient for you. 

Regis College

Regis University

Over 3,600 students enrolled in various undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs at Regis College, a private Roman Catholic university established in 1927. The school was founded by the sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. Their graduate programs run twelve months a year, making it convenient for any student to enroll anytime.

Some of their online schools that offer online programs are:

Regis Online Programs: Designed to be Flexible for You

Taking advantage of their online programs is an easy way to keep up with your busy schedule. Their renowned faculty and industry-focused programs provide you with cutting-edge education.

Liberty University

Liberty University - Online

The Evangelist Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University in 1971, enrolling over 75,000 students across undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, including many online programs. This Christian university is well-known for its association with American conservatism and evangelism.

However, aside from their world-renowned commitment to Christian studies and beliefs, they’re also popular for offering flexible learning formats. Each semester at Liberty University Online is divided into three eight-week subterms and one semester-long subterm, providing multiple start dates throughout the year.

Flexible and Affordable at Liberty University

You can study in this online school at your own pace from home or the office at Liberty University while maintaining a level of structure that will help you meet your educational objectives. They provide a quality education that is accredited, flexible, and affordable. 

Graduate students earn credit for prior learning. And they allow you to transfer up to 50% of credits for a master’s degree and 75% for a bachelor’s degree. You can complete assignments at any time during the week that is convenient for you. 

Like full-time students of on-campus programs, online learners also gain access to the online library, study guides, support services, IT support, writing resources, and federal financial aid.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University - Online

The online courses at Colorado State University are delivered through various media, including videos, text, assessments, projects, and discussion forums, provided by instructors through a learning-management system or website.

They use Canvas as their online learning platform. With its intuitive, easy-to-use interface, you can easily meet your learning objectives in every course. 

The same professors and instructors teach CSU’s online college courses as do those who teach on-campus courses. Students complete their degree requirements and earn the same degree as their on-campus peers, as the online programs present the same challenges and maintain a reputation that is as stellar as the traditional program.

Completely Self-Paced Courses at CSU

There are no synchronous components in self-paced online courses, so students are free to complete coursework and assessments whenever they wish. Managing time to complete coursework, projects, and assessments by the end of the course is solely the student’s responsibility.

Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University

RMU Online offers online degrees through its RMU Online platform to its tight-knit student population of around 5,000. They offer more than 80 programs which are undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificates. There are five start dates each year on the university’s calendar.

RMU Offers Personal Attention to Online Students

The school focused on its students when designing RMU’s online degree programs. All services and opportunities are available to you, just as they are to their traditional ground students. The same level of personal attention is provided to their on-ground and online students at Robert Morris University. 

Student counselors, academic advisors, financial aid counselors, and technical support can help you achieve your professional dreams. Online programs at RMU consistently rank among the top in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report and others.

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University - Online

The online program at Eastern Kentucky University enables you to turn your job search into a rewarding career that offers opportunities for advancement. Richmond, Kentucky, is home to Eastern Kentucky University, an internationally recognized private university. 

EKU was established in 1874 and has grown to offer more than 50 online programs for adult learners pursuing a college degree or certificate. 

EKU’s Programs To Fit Your Schedule and Needs

A wide variety of undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate programs are offered online through Eastern Kentucky University. Their online programs are designed to fit the schedule and needs of prospective students, whether they want to begin, complete, or advance their education.

What to Expect from Online Colleges

Many learners often ask the question: how does an online degree program work? How is this program different from in-person programs, and why do students prefer it? A virtual format is used to complete coursework for online learners. Courses utilize the same materials and curriculum as those taught on campus. 

However, the major difference is the delivery of classes used by professors. Distance learners complete their graduation requirements online instead of attending classes in person. Many degree seekers appreciate this flexibility.

Labs, simulations, practicums, and internships can all be offered as part of an online program. All these are similarly offered in conventional class formats. Schools often assist distance learners in finding local places where they can complete in-person requirements. And the main priority is to work around their schedules so they can balance school and other obligations.

It takes the same amount of time to earn an online degree program online degree as it does to earn an in-person degree. An online bachelor’s degree can be completed in four years by a full-time undergraduate student, and a master’s degree can be completed in two years by a full-time graduate student.

However, online programs in flexible formats allow students to accelerate and speed up completion or take their time and pace according to their preferred schedules. 

Discussing Synchronous Vs. Asynchronous Class Formats

There are many types of online learning, but the best type depends on your preferences. There are set study schedules and live discussions in synchronous virtual classrooms, just as they are in traditional classrooms.

Meanwhile, as students digest instruction at their own pace, asynchronous classrooms look a little different. It’s best to differentiate between these two formats by learning what to expect from each one.

What to Expect in a Synchronous Online Class

There are many similarities between synchronous online classes and traditional classroom settings, including attendance, discussion, presentation, and oral exams. Webcams or Livestream forums are typically used for student interaction, and small virtual rooms are sometimes used for group work or a teacher’s office hours.

Depending on the educational institution, they usually choose one app or communication software that works for both the teacher and the students. It is possible for instructors to demonstrate a problem or process physically and to ask questions as they go along.

Some of the widely used apps for synchronous online classes are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Blackboard, and they also use other apps that enhance distance learning. In synchronous classrooms, students participate in chat rooms, share screens, answer polls, surveys, and share documents.

The online classroom may not provide as much visibility as in-person classes, but students can participate proactively while adhering to the synchronous classroom protocol.

What to Expect in an Asynchronous Online Class

By taking asynchronous online courses, students can study on their own schedule. It is possible for teachers to track attendance in a variety of ways, for example, by posting comprehension quizzes or tracking who watched lectures. 

This type of learning format is usually offered in programs that allow you to start at any date. Instructors can still engage and interact with asynchronous students by encouraging them to fill out polls and quizzes too.

Many learners go for asynchronous formats, especially if they want to finish their program at their own pace. Students can digest the material in asynchronous classes differently, such as spending more time on challenging content and going through lighter content more quickly. 

Online participation is important in asynchronous classrooms because teachers cannot evaluate students’ readiness in person. Students who prefer self-paced learning should be self-reliant, responsible, and diligent on their own, with less supervision from instructors and peers. 

Which Format is Best for You?

It is entirely up to the learner to choose the right class style. Asynchronous classes may be better suited for students who work unconventional hours and are servicing the military or participate in other extra-curricular activities and organizations.

Asynchronous learning may also benefit students with irregular sleep schedules, but learners who lack time management skills may not find it as useful. Those who need more help from their instructor would rather enroll in synchronous learning styles.

The learning style and personality type of prospective online students should be carefully considered when evaluating these class formats. Also, introverted personalities can succeed in asynchronous classes, while extroverted personalities thrive in synchronous ones.

A student should also consider their field of interest when enrolling online. In some cases, a specific program may be offered in limited formats, which may not suit your preferences. The key is to check your preferred online program and see if they offer flexible schedules.

Lastly, asynchronous classes might be the best option if a student wants to accelerate their education, but if you want to take time and decipher more about the topics and courses, synchronous can be your cup of tea.

Advantages of Online Colleges with Flexible Schedules

Students love the liberty of controlling their schedules without feeling pressured and stressed due to studies, work, or other obligations. There are several advantages associated with online learning, including the possibility of studying from home, lower costs, and flexible schedules.

In addition to professional competencies, online students develop virtual networking skills and technology proficiency. Here are the advantages discussed briefly in the context below:

Broader Network

Students from across the country enroll in online classes. It is possible to enroll students from other countries as well. Because of this global opportunity, students will be open and exposed to broader networks.

Students who attend class online have the opportunity to meet individuals they may not have met otherwise. You’ll get to meet learners from all seven continents of the world.

The diversity of students in virtual classrooms leads to interesting class discussions. It can make you more open-minded and welcoming to different cultures and beliefs. Students in online classes can sometimes organize study groups and local outings. The broad connections you can build on your online studies can be beneficial in many instances later.

Flexible Class Schedules

One of the ultimate perks of learning in online colleges is flexible class schedules. Online classes allow students to balance work, family obligations, and college education. Mothers who had babies at a young age can continue pursuing higher education while fulfilling their role as moms. 

Workers who need to earn extra dough can plan out their 9 to 5-day jobs and study college at night. Students pursuing a college degree can access online classes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Students who study online must possess strong self-discipline to meet their instructor’s deadlines while balancing their personal obligations. While flexibility is an ultimate advantage, it comes with responsibility and requires time management.

Nurture Professional Skills

You need many technical and soft skills to communicate with your instructor and fellow students. Both of which are developed when you study in an online college. You can nurture professional skills that you can use when you enter the corporate world.

Workplaces can benefit from many of these skills. Since online learners constantly have to get familiar with different apps and software for learning, this develops helpful computer skills later on. 

Cheaper Tuition Fees

Students who attend online classes benefit financially from saving on various costs, such as student services fees and gas. Ultimately, many students focus on this advantage when deciding to enroll in an online college. Using public transportation or parking on some campuses can also be expensive for students. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to accumulate such expenses with distance learning. Electronic textbooks can save students a great deal of money compared to hardcover textbooks, which can be quite expensive. Every savings that online learning offers is greatly helpful for a learner who wants to stay on top of their finances.

Study Remotely From Home Or Anywhere

A traditional classroom cannot offer the same level of comfort and convenience as studying at home. Taking courses from home saves students time and money since assignments and lectures are delivered electronically to their home computers. This also allows family members to stay with their children or parents while achieving a degree online.

Depending on the school you enroll in, most of them provide an online library and other resources that assist your education through and through. Therefore, you can complete your studies without visiting the campus frequently.

Great Outcomes of Flexible Schedules in Learning

As mentioned, students enjoy the perks of being able to enroll on different start dates and completing their program on flexible schedules. Online learning provides students with added flexibility, allowing them to learn at their own pace and even asynchronously, which is impossible in an in-person classroom. 

Take a look at the great outcomes from flexible schedule learning offered in many online degree programs:

Students have more flexibility with online or blended learning than with traditional classroom learning. Physical classrooms typically have specific times and locations for classes and tests. On the other hand, having flexible schedules means you can take your lectures and take the exams online at your preferred time.

It is possible to complete a test by a specific deadline, eliminating the need for both a time and location restriction. As this could be advantageous for learners, it also allows institutions to offer more slots to online learners. Teachers can accommodate to assist and teach more students since their schedules are in their own control.

Maintaining a healthy mental state can be easier when there are lesser time pressures and stress. Students who have heavier schedule loads for work could feel how burdensome and stressful it is to study for college. When they have too many things on their plate, it can somehow affect their mental state. 

As opposed to learning at a scheduled time, an asynchronous online course allows students to learn at their own pace, thereby improving their mental health. Also, this saves introverted students from face-to-face presentations that may cause them to feel uncomfortable and burdened. Speaking in front of a group can instill crippling anxiety in students in an in-person setting. 

In contrast, remote learners can benefit greatly from online discussion platforms. They may prefer to inquire and send direct messages to their instructors and advisors without having to show their faces. This relieves their stress. Also, students can easily make up for their absences and lost homework and projects when their schedules are flexible.

Virtual classes can save students time since they have many assignments, work, and other classes to attend. By opening their laptops before class begins, students can work on their assignments or get a few more minutes of sleep instead of commuting or walking to class. 

The benefits of online learning include the ability to learn at the pace of the student. With recorded lectures, students can watch parts of a lecture they need instead of sitting through an hour-long lecture. They can take more time to decipher a difficult topic and skip those that are easier for them to comprehend.

Summary Points

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