There are two options for online public schools: those that are state-funded, and those that are sponsored by a college or university. An online public school's quality, flexibility and costs are influenced by its governing body, whether state or collegiate.

State-funded online public schools are free to resident minors, and they are usually regionally accredited. They have strict guidelines and limited course offerings. Frequently they cater only to limited resident populations, such as students from specific districts. Each state's Department of Education keeps a list of online programs funded by that state. These programs follow the state's approved curriculum.

High school diplomas awarded by online programs sponsored by a college or university often have regional accreditation, and their course offerings are much more diverse than those of state programs. Advanced and dual credit courses may be offered, making it possible for students to earn a full year of college credit by the time they graduate and receive their high school diploma. Gaining admission to such programs can be difficult, however, and in these programs students have less interaction with their instructors. Collegiate high school diploma programs can also be expensive. For students planning to go on to college and earning dual credit for their courses, however, collegiate high school diploma programs can be a great value.