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U.S.News & World Report released recently the first-ever edition of Top Online Education Program rankings. Online bachelor’s degree programs as well as graduate online degree programs in business, engineering, nursing, education, and computer information technology were ranked.
There will be no print component to the Online Education rankings, and the full data and rankings will only be available through the subscription-based U.S. News Online Compass. These rankings are in response to today’s high demand for education provided in a flexible manner. With many distractions to detract from one’s schooling, online education has become increasingly popular due to its adaptability.
“Online learning has fast become an integral part of education,” said U.S.News & World Report Editor and Chief Content Officer Brian Kelly. “People are hungry for more information regarding online education and we are in a position to give these people the best information available.”
While U.S. News has applied some of its ranking standards used for traditional schools, many new measures have been developed and were used to evaluate online programs. In order to be considered for the rankings, online degree programs needed to have at least 80 percent of their course content available online.
Online bachelor’s degree programs were ranked in three different categories: student engagement and assessment, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology. The online master’s degree programs were ranked in similar categories, but were evaluated on student engagement and accreditation as opposed to assessment. There was also a separate indicator ranking for admissions selectivity.
There were no numeric rankings for overall program quality this inaugural year. Instead, U.S. News created non-numeric honor roll lists of online programs. There is one honor roll for online bachelor’s degree programs and one each for the master’s degree programs, excluding computer information technology. Each list includes programs that performed well across a series of numeric indicator rankings.
“The importance of online education will only continue to grow and it is something that U.S. News is excited to be a part of,” said Kelly. “We will continue developing how we evaluate online programs so that we can provide the best information we can to help people make their right choice.”