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‘U.S. News’ Releases New Rankings of Online Programs

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2014 rankings of Best Online Programs. Nearly 1,000 programs answered questionnaires from U.S. News last summer for this year’s rankings. In 2012 only 860 questionnaires were submitted. Only all-online, degree-granting programs in popular areas, such as nursing, technology, and business, were evaluated.

The online graduate business program at Indiana University at Bloomington ranked first this year in its category, up from third place in 2013.

Idalene Kesner, dean of Indiana’s business school, said the rankings help administrators compare their online programs with others in the market. “That’s especially important in online programs,” she said, “because your students can come from anywhere, not just regionally based students.”

Indiana has improved its online courses by working to have them mirror residential courses, Ms. Kesner said. The same professors teach online and in the classroom, and students in both circumstances get similar benefits, including trips to international locations and project-based courses. Such changes, she added, have also attracted more applicants to the online program.

The ranking methodology of U.S. News has evolved. For the 2014 report, peer reputation was added as a weighing factor. Student engagement (which continues to be the most important factor), faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, and admissions selectivity were also counted. The scores were rounded for the first time in three years, allowing for ties in rankings.

This year’s top-ranked online programs include:

Bachelor’s degree: Central Michigan University and the State University of New York College of Technology at Delhi tied for first place, Pace University and Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus tied for third place, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide and the University of Florida tied for fifth place.

Graduate business programs: Indiana University at Bloomington took first place, with Arizona State University second, the University of Florida third, and the University of Texas at Dallas fourth.

Graduate education programs: Northern Illinois University took first place, Indiana University at Bloomington second, and Central Michigan University third.

Graduate engineering programs: Columbia University took first place, the University of California at Los Angeles second, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison third.

Graduate computer-information-technology programs: The University of Southern California took first place, Boston University and Virginia Tech tied for second, and North Carolina State University took fourth.

Graduate nursing programs: St. Xavier University took first place, the Medical University of South Carolina second, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst third.

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