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Personal Finance Reports

Top 25 Colleges for Adult Learners

For adult learners, deciding whether to head back to school or not is an important and often difficult decision. Unfortunately, there is an arguably even harder decision to make if they do decide to go back — what school to attend.

At LendEDU, our team prides itself on helping the public make tough financial and educational decisions by providing helpful information in an easily digestible way. This report focuses on the top colleges in the United States for adult learners. The ranking was determined based on the following criteria:

  • Breadth of Evening Courses Offered
  • Breadth of Online Courses Offered
  • Continuing Learning/Professional Learning Program
  • On-Campus Child Care
  • Flex Scheduling Options to Include Hybrid, 6, 9, and 12-week Courses
  • Breadth of Weekend Classes
  • Tuition/Affordability

​Below is the the ranking of the Top 25 Colleges for Adult Learners. We hope you find the report helpful. 

Best Colleges for Adult Learners Rankings

#1 Wilmington University

Wilmington boasts having a low tuition rate at just over $10,000. Combined with offering over 55 certificate programs for the working professional as well as 14 online degree programs. Wilmington university also has a population of students 25 and over that sits at 65%.

#2 Charter Oak State College

Charter Oak State College has a 91% student population rate of 25 and over that shows it accommodates to adult learners. Charter Oak offers credit for what you know, and has two main methods for adults to gain college credits. First, they offer a prior learning assessment that saves time and money in pursuit of a degree and also allows testing to gain college credits.

#3 Liberty University

Liberty University reports they have over 50 programs and certificate programs for adult learners to continue their education. They offer a variety of flexible learning schedule to help accommodate to the working adult that includes distance education, online learning, and hybrid courses.

#4 Wayland Baptist University

Offering an affordable rate of $19,110 allows Wayland Baptist University to attract 65% of learners above the age of 25. Wayland offers both a dozen online and continuing educational programs to appeal to adult learners. For those wishing to reach the pinnacle of education they offer a flexible learning option for a Doctorate of Management.

#5 Regis University

Regis University, a private Jesuit University in Colorado boast a total of 67 certificate and licensure programs with as little as four classes. Regis has over 89 percent of adult learners. Many of the programs are offered in the classroom, online, and in an accelerated format. Regis offers man options for the working adult to obtain professional certificates as well as finishing degrees.

#6 Granite State College

Based out of Vermont, Granite State College offers numerous certifications for adult learners in the education field. Whether experienced or new to teaching, options exist that cater to adult learners. They college offers online, face to face, hybrid, blended and field based course delivery giving many options to continue educaiton.

#7 Antioch College

Antioch is spread out across the United States in Los Angeles, Ohio, New England, and Seattle. Over 82% of all students attending Antioch are adult learners and they can choose from 18 online degrees to include a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change. Along with their flexible and online learning programs learners are offered a variety of choices.

#8 University of Houston

Located in one of the largest growing metropolitan areas in the United States the University of Houston offers plenty for the adult learner. Over half of all students attending the University of Houston can choose from 53 certifications to include Oil and Accounting to cater directly towards jobs working adults hold in the area. U of H also offers on campus child care as well as awarding working adults college credit for work experience.

#9 Peirce College

Adult students take advantage of an affordable tuition of $14,184 to attend college at this private school in Philadelphia, PA. Approximately 78 percent of all students are adult learners where they have 9 total online and flexible degree options. The college also offers two continuing education certificates.

#10 Empire State College

Part of the state University System of New York, Empire State boasts they offer a college “built around your life.” Twenty-six continuing education programs and 12 online degree programs are offered that attract the highest percentage of adult learners in the United States at 94%.

#11 Belhaven University

Belhaven College caters to adult learners at over 6 different locations across the Southeast United States. With 60 percent of all student’s adults, Belhaven provides flexibility with both their online courses that include 7 degree programs, and different locations.

#12 King University

King University located in Tennessee offers both 15 online degree programs, and 22 certifications. The University has thirteen education centers at local community colleges throughout the area to help adult students continue their education. The university offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) for adults that requires 2 years of work experience for those who do not have an undergrad in business.

#13 Metropolitan College

With a tuition of $18,730, 82 percent of all students attending Metropolitan College of New York are classified as adult learners. Catering towards business professionals the college offers a total of 5 different MBA concentrations that allows them to further purse career opportunities.

#14 Florida International University

Florida International University has over 200 bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degree programs that include 13 fully online degree programs. Located in Miami, Florida the college has access to many adult learners looking to increase their education for promotions.

#15 Brescia University

Located in Kentucky, Brescia University is a small Catholic Liberal Arts institution. The college has a student to faculty ratio of 14/1 that gives needed interaction for those adult students who are coming back to education to get a degree. Over half of all students attending Brescia are classified adult learners at 55%.

#16 Cardinal Stritch University

Cardinal Stritch University offers more than 60 fields of understudy covering a total of four different campuses, offering associates, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. Classes/Programs are set up for customary students, grown-up undergrad, graduate, and online projects

#17 Albertus Magnus

Located in New Haven, CT, Albertus Magnus offers both daytime, evening, and online courses for those pursuing studies. The College offers an accelerated format where students can earn 30 credits or more a year and take up to three classes in 5, 6, or 8 week formats. The college will also award up to 45 credit for prior learning, saving prospective students both time and money when evaluating their college options.

#18 University of Maryland University College

UMUC offers numerous locations for students to study from. UMUC has over 90 degrees’ specializations, and certification programs to choose from. The university is affordable with a tuition rate of $12,336 as well as having 81% of adult learners. UMUC boasts over 40 campuses worldwide to support adult learners at numerous locations, to include military installations overseas and territories.

#19 University of North Texas

The University of North Texas in Dallas offers adult learners an eagle express tuition plan for those returning to school. The plan can save students up to $3,000. A more traditional face to face university, UNT offers numerous evening courses catered towards the working adult in a large metropolitan area. Over half of the 37,231 students for the fall of 2015 were reported to be 25 and older.

#20 Saint Mary of the Woods

Saint Mary of the Woods is in Terra Haute, IN and has an acceptance rate of 100 percent. Saint Mary of the Woods has unique degree programs such as quine therapy, music therapy, and art therapy for those looking for specialty measures. They also have an outstanding 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Additionally, 95% of all students attending the college receive financial aid or scholarships to assist in their studies.

#21 Campbell University

The university located in North Carolina offers over 100 majors and programs for students across an online campus and four brick and mortor schools. They offer flexible 8-week night courses for accelerated degree programs and offer a free transcript review to allow students to see where they are in the process of receving their associate and bachelor degrees. The university also offers a PGA golf management program, one of only 19 in the nation.

#22 Tennessee Wesleyan College

Tennessee Wesleyan College offers smaller classes with 92% of all classes having under 30 students, as well as a student to faculty ration of 12:1. Three online and adult programs are offered, management excellence, online RN to BSN, and online MBA. With an affordable small campus setting, TWC tuition sits at $23,000 and approximately 65% of students are adult learners.

#23 Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University is based in Jacksonville, FL. Around 70 percent of all students attending the campus are adult learners. The university provides innovative learning through their experiential learning program. Through internships, education abroad, service-learning, and undergraduate research students can obtain college credits towards 70 majors the colleges offers. The college also offers an aviation program for those wishing to obtain pilot licensing.

#24 Baruch College

Located in New York City, Baruch college has 6,458 part-time students with most majoring in accounting, finance, marketing, and computer information systems. At $17,700 Baruch College offers affordable options for students looking to pursue education. The college offers six unique continuing and professional education studies to include a NY salesperson course and construction project management.

For the final rating, two colleges Goddard College and Bethel University tie.

#25 Goddard College 

Seventy-six percent of adult learners take advantage of the $15,786 tuition offered. Goddard offers a low residency model, where students attend an 8-day residency on campus, then work off campus for 16 weeks on their own with a faculty advisor. Students can design their own study each semester.

#25 Bethel University

Bethel University is also an affordable option for students at $15,764. They offer 10 degrees online, and 4 certification programs. For those adult learners wishing to purse a nursing degree, the Bethel nursing program boasted a 100 percent pass rate on the NCLEX, for nursing readiness. Bethel has 11 degree programs students can pursue across 9 campuses in Tennessee and Kentucky.


Mixed methods were used to assess a rank order of best schools for adult learners in the United States. Only non-profit, accredited universities were considered for this study. Our study determined rankings based upon ten constructs. We analyzed and weighted the following information for each institution:

  • Breadth of Evening Courses Offered
  • Breadth of Online Courses Offered
  • Continuing Learning/Professional Learning Programs
  • On-Campus Child Cared
  • Flex Scheduling Options to Include Hybrid, 6, 9, and 12-week Courses
  • Breadth of Weekend Classes
  • Tuition/Affordability

Based upon the initial phase of the research, the top colleges were assigned a score between 1 and 30 for each construct listed, with 1 being the highest. Each construct was assigned a value of 10% to provide even and consistent scoring across the board. Based on lowest scores, a final ranking of the top best schools for adult learners was reached.

Information for this study was also gathered from the following government agencies and other support agencies: The World Education Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Census Bureau, and the United States Department of Education.

Additional resources: