Online Edu By Team Education, 03 Nov. 2021

Affordable Online High School Programs: Programs for Adults, Dropouts & More

Looking for a fast and affordable way to get a high school degree online? Do you want to see the available online classes for high school diplomas or do you need a flexible program that fits your hours because you’re a working adult? There are plenty of courses starting now, find out more about your online high school options below.

Top online high schools in the US

In the 2018-2019 academic year, nearly 375,000 K-12 students in the United States attended an online school full-time. Students in online schools study from home and follow a defined curriculum, submitting their assignments through an online portal. Furthermore, students receive input and grades from certified teachers via email, web conference, or phone calls.

As Covid-19 continues to infect and kill more people in the U.S, many schools and campuses have opted for online learning over in-person classes. In response to the covid-19 protocols and isolation policies implemented in the United States, some online high schools are providing learning material for free or at greatly discounted prices. High school students, whose social lives are increasingly influenced by digital networks, are intrigued with virtual learning.

You’re in for a lot of work if you plan to go back to high school. When you graduate from high school, you gain access to new opportunities ranging from new jobs to college and career programs. Depending on your objectives, you may also begin your career training while still in high school. An increasing number of students are enrolling in programs that prepare them for careers in graphic design or digital marketing. Even more students are now studying the fundamentals of design and coding.

How Does Online School Work?

Virtual high schools are ideal for those who need to travel often, such as Olympians and professional athletes. The classes can also be easily modified to accommodate any special needs program, including Advanced Placement (AP) and college preparation. Gifted youth — the Geeks — and athletes or professional on the go — the Jocks — are currently swarming virtual high school quads. Online high schools have made it possible for non-traditional students to graduate on their own terms, whether they are a young artist, athlete, or going to school to complete their diploma.

After you’ve decided that online high school is the best option for you, you’ll need to decide which school to attend. Despite the fact that thousands of high schools around the country offer online diplomas or GEDs, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Students have a variety of options when it comes to narrowing down their school choices.

The following ranking represents the 6 best online high schools; these schools were chosen and rated based on the consistency of key online high school features. The official website of each online high school was used to gather tuition information.

What to Look for in an Online High School

Not all online schools and colleges are equal. How do you ensure you choose a quality institution? Below are checklist points to keep an eye out for:


The majority of students are opting for online high schools for at least two reasons: to grow their knowledge and earn a GED or diploma. Students must attend schools with approved programs that are respected by potential employers in order to achieve these goals. The first step in assessing the program’s quality is to determine whether or not it has been approved by the relevant accreditation bodies. The accreditation of online high school programs is crucial because it guarantees that you receive a high-quality education. Unaccredited programs will not cover the entire curriculum that you’ll need to succeed as a student. Check Out the Credit Transfer Requirements

Some online high school programs encourage students to simply make up for missed grades, allowing them to attend a typical physical school while still attending some classes online. These programs can help you not only keep up, but also get ahead of the game. Every institution, however, has its own credit transfer requirements. As a result, seeking an official transfer estimate from your prospective schools will assist you in making your school choice.

Full-time certified teachers

Teacher credential and accreditation typically go hand in hand. However, knowing how many full-time staff and semester-long contractors are available can be beneficial. Find out about the teachers’ educational backgrounds by doing some detective work. Check to see if they are accredited and licensed educators. Furthermore, having educators with real-world experience in the field allows them to have insider knowledge and guidance.

Is There A Dedicated Administrative Team?

This is extremely important for your online experience. You want to go to an online high school that is concerned about your education and will go to great lengths to ensure your progress. You need an administrative team who can immediately respond to your phone calls or emails, as well as send out necessary forms and applications.

Students don’t want to be disrupted by a broken website or course management system. The fact that the program is online does not exclude students from contacting a live person for assistance if they need it. Read Online Course Descriptions

The course catalog may be available online, but you may also request a more comprehensive digital copy by contacting the school. The course catalog will outline the course’s goals and objectives, as well as the necessary content, time constraints, and difficulty level. Take A Demo Online Class

If one is available, you can familiarize yourself with the technology by taking a demo online course. While some schools boast cutting-edge technology, it is not a replacement for education. Ascertaining that you will receive quality, useful knowledge in your courses will assist you in selecting an appropriate online high school.

Consider Tuition costs

Tuition costs vary by online school and course schedule, just as they do at any other school. If paying for your education is going to be a problem, prepare ahead of time to study and compare tuition rates for a variety of colleges. Also, be certain that you are aware of any extra costs that you might be required to pay.

The Top Online High Schools

Penn Foster

Penn Foster, initially established to enable coal miners get an education fit for advancing their careers and to improve worker safety. Penn Foster High School, on the other hand, was founded in order to provide young students with a modest education in lieu of typical high school placement tests. Penn Foster High School’s online programs are broken down into short, manageable sessions and are self-paced when it comes to lessons. In addition to core courses that add up to 16.5 credits, students must finish at least five optional credits in order to graduate from high school. College Preparation electives, General electives, and Vocational electives are the three types of electives available.

Over 150 courses are available to help high students in high school prepare for college and careers as well as to develop core competencies. The courses incorporate modern learning strategies and, mobile-friendly technology as well as interactive media.

Student needs and interests are met through vast student support services, such as an online library. Penn Foster is constantly working to improve the usability and accessibility of their content and portals for students with disabilities such as manual dexterity, hearing and vision.

Both adult learners as well as traditional students can enroll for the diploma program in the high school, on a rolling basis throughout the year. Additional programs and projects include veterans education benefits, DANTES, and an Early College program.

Campus Location: Scranton, Pennsylvania

Year Started: 1890

Tuition Fees:

The full-payment package goes for $949 $1, 219 if you choose the monthly package You’ll be required to pay $1,315 if you choose the monthly mail package

Graduation Credit Requirements:

You need at least 21.5 credits to graduate

Key Facts about the School:

With over 60,000 students, Penn Foster High School is one of the nation’s largest privately accredited high schools.

A majority of the school’s alumni have proceeded to excel in tertiary institutions and are contracted by top companies such as Amazon, Coca-Cola, Berkshire Hathaway, Bank of America and Tesla.

With the school’s user-friendly mobile platform, students can learn whenever and wherever they want.

Penn Foster High School has been fully accredited by the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, DEAC, AdvancED, as well as MSA-CESS.

Payment plans & Discounts: Many of Penn Foster’s online education courses are eligible for veteran educational benefits. Reservists could be eligible for veteran’s education benefits as well.

Smart Horizons Career Online High School

Smart Horizons Career Online High School accepts students of all backgrounds who want to earn a high school diploma. The school in its efforts to addresses student dropouts, often reaches out to the millions of Americans who do not have a high school diploma. Before classes begin, students enrolled in the online high school diploma program receive a Virtual Welcome Kit. Tutors and advisors offer immediate feedback and assistance with lessons, exams, among other activities throughout the learning process. Smart Horizons also offers career courses such as Certified Protection Officer, Child Care and Education, Home Care Professional, Food and Hospitality, Office Management, among others in addition to core courses.

Campus Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Founded: 2009

Tuition and Fees:

You only pay $1,295 a year if you go with the full payment plan The advanced payment plan is offered at $1386 a year Graduation Requirements:

Students require a minimum of 18 credits to graduate Key Facts about the School:

Smart Horizons Career Online High School was founded in response to the dropout crisis in the United States.

SHCOHS provides students with a high school diploma as well as a career-credentialed certificate in high-demand fields. All programs at SHCOHS are entirely online. AdvancED, SACS, NCA, and NWAC all accredit SHCOHS.

James Madison High School Online

James Madison High School is a for-profit private online school. Ashworth College, known for its online career-training programs, is a part of its history. JMHS offers two diploma programs: General Diploma and College Prep Diploma. In addition to the core course, the general diploma program requires five elective courses. General Mathematics, Accounting, Chemistry, Physics, Fitness, Pre-Calculus, Public Speaking, and Literature. Nutrition and Spanish are among the electives available for this program. Students interested in gaining real-world experience while obtaining a high school diploma will enroll in the Career Pathways track. Students only need to substitute specialized job skills training courses for two elective courses. Only three credits of elective courses are required for the College Prep Diploma. Accounting, Personal Finance, Fitness, Nutrition, Reading, Public Speaking, and Literature studies are among the options.

Campus Location: Norcross, Georgia Founded: 1996

Tuition and Fees:

The full-payment option is $1,199 The monthly-payment option goes for $1,699 There is an additional option of $400 for printed textbooks

Graduation Requirements:

Students generally require at least 23 credits for the General Diploma and Career Pathways track

You only require 23 credits to be awarded a College Prep Diploma Financial Assistance: Students can apply for grants through the Gary Keisling ACCESS Scholarship

Key Facts about the School:

• JMHS welcomes conventional students, adult learners, home schoolers, credit recovery students, and online students. • Online classes at JMHS are flexible, self-paced, and have eligible transfer credits. • Future students are welcome to enroll at any time in the year. • Students can select from a variety of live teacher-led lessons and engage with their personal JMHS Advocate; • The online Programs are affordable, and students can make monthly payments with no interest.

Whitmore School

Whitmore School, also known as CompuHigh, offers individualized instruction that allows students to set their own goals at their own rate. The school also has a curriculum for those who want to get a head start on their studies or make up for missed credits. It employs mastery-based learning and allows students to choose their own course of study. Aside from the General Studies course, Whitmore also provides a College Prep Track for students preparing to attend a four-year university. A Weekly Summary Progress Report and a Monthly Detailed Progress Report are used by the school to connect with parents. Diploma PLUS with Tutoring Program is for students who want unrestricted, online, one-on-one tutoring in Mathematics 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Campus Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

Year Founded: 1994

Tuition and Fees:

the Diploma Program (which is $425 per 1.0 credit) goes for $1,599 a year The Adult Education Diploma Program goes for $1,599 a year The Diploma PLUS Program goes for $1,899 a year The Diploma PLUS with Tutoring Program option goes for $2199

Graduation Requirements:

Students planning to enroll in a 4- year college program require at least 22 credits to graduate

Students intending to enroll in a community or technical school, as well as military personnel, must have a minimum of 18 credits.

Financial Assistance: Military or Sibling Discount

Key Facts about the School:

Whitmore School has an open enrollment policy that encourages students to enroll at any time during the year, and Guidance counselors work with students to create and design a Personal Graduation Plan.

Every year, the school holds a live graduation ceremony. Excel High School, Excel High School, based in Minnesota, started offering online distance education in 2004. Their self-paced online high school diploma programs are available at any time.

Excel High School offers three online high school diploma programs: regular, adult, and honors. Excel High School not only offers entirely online classes, but it also delivers all course materials through its online platform, eliminating the need to order or ship physical textbooks.

Excel High School offers a university preparatory advanced studies high school diploma (24 credits), a traditional high school diploma (21.5 credits), and an adult high school diploma program. Their programs are tailored for students who choose to move on to a community college, vocational college, technical college, or university to continue their education. Excel High School diplomas are also intended to meet entry-level job criteria and to train graduates to enter the military under tier one preferred status. Counselors are on hand to help you prepare the journey to a graduation.

Campus Location: Minnetonka, Minnesota

Year Founded: 2004

Tuition and Fees:

The Full Time - High School Diploma goes for $149 per Month The Adult High School Diploma goes for $99.90 per Month Online Middle School is $1,390 per school year or $ 139 per month on the payment plan. This is inclusive of unlimited, live online tutoring. Online AP Courses, which includes Honors and AP Track goes for $ 249 per month on the payment plan.

Key Facts about the School:

Excel High School offers accredited, online, standard middle school (6-8), traditional 9-12 high school, adult high school diploma, as well as dual enrollment options.

They also offer online summer school and credit recovery options available year-round.

Excel High School is an accredited award-winning, high school approved by the State Department of Education. Adult learners are accepted.

The Keystone School

The Keystone School is one of the most competitive private high schools in the country in terms of academics. It is accredited by the Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools of AdvancED and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Adults aged 19 and up can register for a Career High School diploma program, while high school students can participate in an online high school diploma program. They will work on their courses whenever they want, with no set deadlines. Adult education can take up to 5 months to complete, depending on the number of credits required for graduation. To graduate, students must complete five elective credits. One can choose from the many options available including Online Accounting, Business Law, Online Computer Fundamentals, Digital Video Production, Forensic Science, Life Skills among other courses available online.

Campus Location: San Antonio, Texas

Founded: 1974

Tuition and Fees

The online half-credit courses go for $289 – $369 The online full-credit courses go for $399 – $549 Graduation Requirements: Students require a minimum of 21 credits to graduate

Key Facts about the School:

Students can choose from over 120 classes, including core courses, Advanced Placement®, electives, and six world languages, through Keystone. Virtual classrooms, immersive graphics, and animated tutorials are all included in The Keystone School’s online classes.

Online students’ parents can access a software called Keystone Parent Observer Account, which allows them to monitor their children’s progress. The Keystone School uses the BlackboardTM Learning Management System, which provides access to program resources ranging from classes to assignments, at any time of the year.


With so many online schools to choose from, finding the right one takes time. The information in this guide to online high schools is designed to help families who are considering online schooling in their decision-making process. Using data like graduate success rate, accreditation status, and affordability, we created and frequently update this list to aid in your decision making. Whether you evaluate a school based solely on accreditation, reputation and research or you use a new Internet tool to decide; you should always prioritize what factors matter most to you personally. Education isn’t one-size-fits-all, and different high school choices are right for different students.