The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a highly ranked public institution. As a matter of fact, it’s #15 in Most Innovative Schools and #67 in Top Public Schools by US News. Besides traditional or on-campus programs, UCF also offers online ones. It sounds tempting to enroll, but is the degree you can earn from home legitimate and respected?
UCF Online is a legit school operating on the internet. The institution is accredited by an accreditor the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes. Needless to say, UCF Online’s more than 100 online programs and certificates are fully accredited and thus respected by employers.
Still on the fence as to whether or not a UCF Online degree is worth it? Read on.
This article will tell you practically everything you need to know about UCF Online before applying. By the time you get to the concluding paragraph, you will realize that UCF Online is legit.
Is UCF Online an Accredited School?
UCF Online is an accredited school. Its accreditor is a legit agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which is CHEA-recognized. UCF Online’s accreditation is the regional kind, which is widely considered more prestigious than national accreditation.
When applying to online schools, aspirants have to take one very important step beforehand. And it’s none other than checking whether the one they are about to apply to is accredited or not.
Having no accreditation is a major red flag!
Applying to UCF Online can give you peace of mind that you are going to attend a fully accredited school. It’s for the fact that it’s accredited by a legitimate and recognized accrediting agency.
What’s more, UCF Online has regional accreditation, and attending a regionally accredited school comes with many different perks.
For instance, it allows you to easily transfer credits to another regionally accredited school, online and traditional alike, should you decide to take your academic goals elsewhere. It also enables you to get your hands on more competitive financial aid programs, thus helping to make online learning even easier on the pocket.
Is a Degree From UCF Online Respected?
UCF Online is a part of UCF, which is a highly ranked accredited university. Due to this, it’s no wonder why a degree from it is respected. A degree earned from UCF Online is like a degree earned from UCF, albeit obtained virtually. A degree from UCF Online does not say it’s earned via the internet.
When it comes to computer science, information technology, artificial intelligence and just about anything that’s related to astrophysics, UCF pops into the minds of many due to its close proximity to NASA.
It’s also one of the biggest schools in the nation: its 1,415-acre main campus is home to 69,525 students.
Needless to say, online degrees from UCF Online are just as respected as traditional degrees from UCF’s physical campus. The fact that UCF Online and the degrees it offers are fully accredited reinforces this. Needless to say, a degree earned from UCF Online could help you land the job of your dreams.
Related Article: Is an Online College Degree Worth It?
Are Degrees From UCF Online Highly Ranked?
All online academic programs, which amount to more than 100, being offered by UCF Online are fully accredited. Some of them are highly ranked, too, by some of the most respected and trusted college ranking sites. For instance, many of UCF Online’s programs are included in various US News rankings.
Many graduating high school students check out rankings when building a college list.
Just because you are considering being a non-traditional student doesn’t mean that you should skip taking a look at college rankings.
If anything, you should check that the online school you are about to apply to and the online degree from it you are about to pay for are both recognized by reliable college rankers.
The good news is that besides the fact that UCF online is accredited, many of its equally accredited programs are highly ranked, too, by various college ranking sites.
Let’s take a look at the rankings of some of UCF Online’s programs by US News:
- #6 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs
- #8 in Best Online Master’s in Nursing Education Programs
- #9 in Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs for Veterans
- #12 in Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs
- #14 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
- #20 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans
- #27 in Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs
- #59 to #74 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs
- #108 in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs
Is UCF Online a Diploma Mill?
UCF Online is far from being a diploma mill. Being accredited by an accreditor that’s CHEA-recognized serves as proof of this. On the other hand, a diploma mill does not have any accreditation. And even if it claims to have one, it’s for certain that the accreditor is not legitimate and recognized.
The thought of enrolling at an online school is something that many students and their parents find unnerving.
It’s for the fact that the internet is a playground for predators, including those that prey on unsuspecting victims whose only desire is to obtain a degree. They are referred to as diploma mills.
Many diploma mills, in their attempt to rake in profit, claim to be fully accredited, just like legitimate traditional and online institutions.
However, upon further investigation, one will discover that their accreditors do not even exist. Whether a degree-granting website isn’t accredited or has a fake accreditor, be wary!
It’s a good thing that UCF Online’s accreditor is legit. So much so that it’s CHEA-recognized.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend UCF Online?
Per credit hour, the cost of a bachelor’s degree from UCF Online amounts to $179.19 for in-state students. Needless to say, the cost is higher for out-of-state students: $715.80 per credit hour. Per semester, the cost of attending UCF Online full-time can range anywhere from $2,150.28 to $10,737.
On average, non-traditional students enrolled online pay $282 per credit hour. This means that the average cost of earning an online bachelor’s degree, which consists of 120 credits, amounts to $33,840.
Different online schools charge students in different ways. Some of them charge a flat rate for an online degree. Others charge a flat rate per semester. And then there are schools operating on the internet that charge based on how many credit hours students take — UCF Online is one of them.
Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the total cost of earning a UCF Online bachelor’s degree per credit hour, based on the academic rate 2021 to 2022:
|EXPENSES||IN-STATE COSTS||OUT-OF-STATE COSTS|
|Capital Improvement Fee||$6.76||$6.76|
|Financial Aid Fee||$5.16||$5.16|
|Non-Resident Financial Aid Fee||$0.00||$25.55|
|Distance Learning Course Fee||$18.00||$18.00|
Using the figures given above, enrolling at UCF Online as an undergraduate student full-time, which means taking 12 to 15 credit hours per semester, will cost anywhere from $2,150.28 to $2,687.85 for Florida residents and anywhere from $8,589.60 to $10,737 for non-Florida residents per semester.
Is UCF Online Cheaper?
UCF Online has a cheaper sticker price than public colleges and universities. It doesn’t matter if a student is in-state or out-of-state — the cost is lower than the national average for public institutions in the US. Needless to say, UCF Online is cheaper than private colleges and universities.
As of this writing, the average cost of attendance at a public institution per year for in-state students is $25,864. On the other hand, the average cost amounts to $43,721 for out-of-state students.
This means that it’s cheaper to attend UCF Online for a year than a traditional college or university. This is true whether you are a Florida resident or a non-Florida resident.
To give you a much better idea of just how easier it is on the pocket to obtain a degree from UCF Online, take a look at the following:
- Cost per credit hour: $179.19
- Cost per semester (15 credits): $2,687.85
- Cost per year: $5,375.70
- Cost per credit hour: $715.80
- Cost per semester (15 credits): $10,737.00
- Cost per year: $21,474.00
Definitely, obtaining a degree from UCF Online is cheaper than getting one from a private college or university.
Based on the same source as the average in-state and out-of-state cost of attendance at a public institution in the US indicated earlier, the average sticker price of private schools in the land amounts to $53,949 per year.
What Test Score is Required for UCF Online?
UCF, the physical campus, does not have a minimum test score, except for those who wish to qualify for the Top 10 Knights program. Similarly, UCF online does not require applicants to meet a minimum test score. The SAT and ACT score ranges of most admits are 1170 to 1340 and 25 to 30, respectively.
Admissions officers at different colleges and universities consider different things when evaluating applicants.
At UCF, whether the main campus in Orange County or the one operating online, standardized test scores are one of the many admissions factors, just like academic rigor and GPA.
The good news is that UCF Online does not require aspirants to have a minimum SAT or ACT score in order for their applications to be considered. As a matter of fact, transferees with 60 transferable credit hours or more do not need to submit their SAT or ACT scores — and their high school transcripts, too!
Refrain from assuming that you will surely be accepted into UCF Online since there is no minimum test score to meet. To have an idea of your admissions chances, take a look at the following test score-related data:
- 25% of admitted students have SAT scores lower than 1170.
- 25% of admitted students have SAT scores higher than 1340.
- 25% of admitted students have ACT scores lower than 25.
- 25% of admitted students have SAT scores higher than 30.
What are UCF Online Students Like?
It’s safe to assume that the vast majority of the students of UCF Online are non-traditional. As a matter of fact, based on an online infographic the school created, only 19% of online students are aged 19 to 24. It also reveals that the majority of undergraduate and graduate students are employed.
Based on Niche data, 13% of UCF’s students are earning their degrees purely online.
Like other online schools, it goes without saying that UCF Online attracts non-traditional students mostly. Age is one of the things that separate non-traditional students from traditional ones — those who begin college at 25 years of age or older are generally considered non-traditional students.
True enough, based on the infographic mentioned earlier, 37% of online students are aged 25 to 29.
On the other hand, 22% are aged 55 or older. Around 19% of online students are aged 18 to 24. But because of the fact that they are enrolled online, they are more suited to be categorized as non-traditional students.
We can also get an idea of which types of students attend UCF Online based on the most popular programs or degrees the school operating on the internet offers.
Here are the fastest-growing majors at UCF Online by enrollment:
- Legal Studies, BA/BS
- Health Informatics and Information Management, BS
- Communication and Conflict, BA
- Psychology, BS
- Master of Public Administration, MPA
- Master of Social Work Online MSW
- Hospitality and Tourism Management, MS
- Executive Master of Health Administration, EMHA
- Crime Analysis
- Event Management
According to UCF Online’s website itself, the school specializes in providing high-quality online degree programs for talented students and working adults who are unable to attend its physical campus.
How Does UCF Online Fare Compared With Others?
UCF Online is often compared with other high-ranking online schools and those that are also parts of traditional or physical campuses. Based on various college rankings alone, it appears that UCF Online is better than some online schools primarily because some of its online programs rank highly.
Earlier, we established the fact that UCF Online has programs that are highly ranked, such as those that appear on the website of US News, which is one of the most popular and trusted college rankers.
But don’t put UCF Online at the top of your college list just because of its ranked programs.
It’s a good idea to compare it with other online schools using factors that matter to you the most — the sticker price, accreditation, the length of time it will take to complete a program, support available for the students, etc. What’s important is that you refrain from rushing when deciding whether or not you should enroll at UCF Online.
Check out some alternatives to UCF Online to help you get started with building your college list:
- American University. While American University offers online graduate degrees and certificates primarily, the school also offers a few undergraduate certificates, including Child Development Associate.
- Ball State University. College ranking-wise, Ball State University is a good online school. For instance, it’s #39 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by US News. Many of its online business programs are highly ranked, too.
- California State University. Made up of a total of 23 campuses across the Golden State, CSU is admired for its academics and value. Online and hybrid classes are also available from it.
- DeVry University. When it comes to technology-related online programs, DeVry University is a well-known school. However, some aspirants are daunted by the fact that it’s a for-profit institution.
- Gallaudet University. One of the nicest things about Gallaudet University is that its online classes are purely asynchronous, which means that you can earn your online degree at a pace that suits you the best.
- John Brown University. According to the Best Online Colleges and Universities in Arkansas ranking by College Consensus, John Brown University, which is in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, is #1.
- Liberty University. There are more than 130 online bachelor’s degrees available from Liberty University, which currently enrolls more than 100,000 online students.
- Purdue Global. As the name suggests, Purdue Global is an online school that’s a part of the Purdue University System. However, hybrid classes are not available — only purely online ones.
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock. All online undergraduate degrees offered by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are accredited. It also offers online graduate degrees and certificates.
- Walden University. According to the online school itself, Walden University has students from more than 145 countries and an alumni network consisting of more than 164,000 online degree holders.
Cons of UCF Online
The primary downside to attending UCF Online is the same as going to any other online school: it’s not for every type of learner. To be able to complete one’s degree, UCF Online students have to stay motivated and focused. Otherwise, it’s not unlikely for them to fail to graduate on time or at all.
At UCF Online, students have to take classes that come in many different forms.
Some of them are web-based, while others are video-based. Video-based classes come in a couple of types: live and flexible. As the name suggests, live video classes are two-way real-time meetings. On the other hand, flexible video classes are on-demand, which means students can access web courses at a time they find convenient or suited.
No matter the form of class, it’s a must for UCF Online’s students to be able to keep their eyes on the prize even without constant motivation from classmates and instructors.
This is exactly the reason why online learning is not for all degree-seeking individuals.
But the good news is that UCF Online offers help in the form of online coaches, veteran services and other tools. In most instances, it all starts with creating a myUCF account.
Related Article: Is Online or Traditional College Harder and Why
Just Before You Apply to UCF Online
So, is UCF Online Legit?
The online institution, which is part of UCF, a massive and highly ranked school, is accredited by an agency that’s fully recognized by CHEA.
Earning a degree from UCF Online is also cheaper than getting a degree from most traditional colleges and universities. But keep in mind that online learning, while many advantages are associated with it, comes with a few downsides. It’s true whether you are attending UCF Online or any other school on the internet.
For one, completing an online program requires students to be a certain type of learner.
This is why you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of attending an online school beforehand. However, going to UCF Online is suited for non-traditional students who like to go to a legit online school and earn a legit online degree.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.