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Online University Rankings: Top 5 List

Which are Australia's best online universities? Find out from distance learning rankings.

Online university rankings

Universities that specialise in distance education are more teaching focused than your average university. The sensible way to rank them is by looking at graduate satisfaction ratings, along with the depth and flexibility of courses. That's how we've ranked Australia's top online universities.

Top 5 Online Universities in Australia

If you're interested in studying for a degree online, here are the top 5 universities you may want to consider first.

Looking at overall performance, UNE is Australia's top online university. UNE remains Australia's second-largest online university and excels in arts, business, education, and science disciplines. It continues to achieve exceptionally high course satisfaction rates, with a recent survey indicating an 85.2% satisfaction rate among graduates—well above the national average of 77.6%.

Deakin University is a complete university when it comes to choice of study mode. Cloud (online) study is widely available for students who can't, or don't want to, regularly attend classes in person. At last count, Deakin had 61,163 students, with 17,440 (28.5%) classified as external, 16,250 (26.6%) as multi-modal learners, and 27,473 (45%) regularly attending campuses. Deakin University scores well on most student satisfaction measures and offers a full range of programs.

3. Charles Sturt University

CSU is Australia's largest online university. As you'd expect, CSU offers a great selection of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. CSU plays an important role in supporting regional study in NSW. The e-learning powerhouse is highly rated in information technology, arts and science. Check course and subject descriptions for individual programs to see exactly what CSU offers.
ECU is not the biggest online university. In fact, it's the 12th largest, with 6,219 online students. However, ECU outperforms many of the others in course satisfaction ratings. It's strongest in education, IT, business, and law. ECU achieved an impressive 83.6% course experience satisfaction rating among recent graduates in the latest national survey. That's 6 points above the average. If people who got their qualifications at ECU and entered the job market are happy, who are we to disagree?

5. University of Southern Queensland

The University of Southern Queensland is Australia's fifth-largest distance education university, offering courses in nearly every popular field. Serving the good people of Southern Queensland and beyond, USQ is a solid performer in many study areas. Its strongest faculties include engineering and health. We suggest you browse USQ's statistics by study area before enrolling.

Updated: 20 April 2024

Best Online Universities by Subject

Online universities have different areas of strength, as reflected in these subject rankings.

For a given subject, generally the top universities offer many electives, organise residential schools as required, deliver great teaching, and provide excellent student support services. Some statistical factors we consider are student numbers, course satisfaction percentages, and postgraduate tuition fees.

The best online business schools in Australia are the University of New England (UNE), Deakin University and Edith Cowan University (ECU). Each of these uiversities achieves excellent ratings by current students and recent graduates in national surveys. Deakin and UNE have large business faculties, with 4,324 and 2,788 online business students respectively. ECU is smaller, with 763 people enrolled in managemand and commerce courses. But you're still spoilt for choice, with 17 majors available for the ECU Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Computing and information technology degrees are widely available online. Some of the best choices are the University of New England (UNE), Charles Sturt University (CSU), and Edith Cowan University (ECU). Each has a well supported computer science program with high graduate satisfaction ratings.
The University of New England (UNE) and Deakin University provide some of the best study options for education and teaching. UNE's teaching program is comprehensive and highly rated. Deakin has good qualification and extension courses at the postgraduate level.
Australia's strongest online engineering schools are the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Deakin University. USQ has a large program that allows you to study off-campus wherever possible. Cloud (online) engineering students at Deakin attend a practice week each trimester.
The strongest distance ed universities for health and community are Deakin University and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). Both unis support distance learning in health fields by offering online and mixed-mode courses. You can study subjects such as health admin, nursing, public health and social work.
Law and criminal justice


The best online law schools are at the University of New England (UNE), University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Edith Cowan University (ECU) and Charles Darwin University (CDU). The law courses have high satisfaction ratings. CDU's law program has achievable entry standards. You can complete UNE and USQ Bachelor of Laws degrees in 3 years.
For online science courses, 3 of the best universities are the University of New England (UNE), Charles Sturt University (CSU) and Southern Cross University (SCU). Science courses are not always available online because of the need for lab classes and field trips. But UNE and CSU support large distance education programs. Where required, the universities organise residential schools for students to do hands-on learning.
The best online universities for communications and the social sciences are Charles Darwin University (CDU), Charles Sturt University (CSU), the University of New England (UNE) and Edith Cowan University (ECU). The universities offer wide selections of arts and humanities subjects. Course satisfaction rates among current students and recent graduates are exceptionally high.