US News publishes its ranking of the best online college programs for 2020

US News and World Report announced his Ranking of the best online programs 2020 today, the ninth edition of these rankings. This year, more than 1,600 programs have been ranked, compared to 1,545 last year and 677 during the first edition in 2012.

The list includes institutional level bachelor’s programs and graduate programs in seven fields (including specialties in these fields) – nursing, computer science, criminal justice, education, business (non-MBA), MBA and engineering .

American News also ranks the best online programs for veterans, and the top three schools, in order, for 2020 were Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, University of Florida, and Oregon State University.

Undergraduate programs

The top-ranked online bachelor’s program is Ohio State University, replacing last year’s leader Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, which slipped to second place. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in 2018. The University of Illinois at Chicago ranked third, up from fifth place last year. The University of Florida and Oregon State University finished fourth and fifth respectively. A total of 353 colleges were ranked.

The methodology used by American News to rank online undergraduate offerings is based on four factors, comprised of multiple metrics that are either self-reported by institutions or gathered through a peer-to-peer survey. Only degree-granting programs at regionally accredited institutions are included, and rankings are limited to programs where all required courses can be completed via distance learning courses incorporating internet technology (programs may also include in-person orientations, clinical requirements and trial.).

Turnout (35%) This factor leverages best practices in online education, including whether students have the ability to interact with instructors and classmates and whether exams are authenticated. Other components include retention rate, graduation rate, average class size, and the use of multiple assessments of student achievement.

Services and Technology (25%) This factor includes measures of student indebtedness (representing 50% of this overall factor), technological infrastructure (for example, do students have remote access to discussion forums), and the availability of educational services. support such as 24/7 technical support, counseling and course registration, libraries, career counseling and financial aid resources.

University degrees and training (20%) This factor is based on the percentages of online teachers who have a terminal degree, who have taken training to teach remotely, who have a master’s degree or higher, and who are tenured.

Expert opinion (20%) A survey of academic leaders tries to account for factors affecting the quality of programs not conveyed by quantitative statistics. It is a subjective measure of reputation, often based on general impressions of institutions.

Graduate programs

Although graduate programs are ranked using a similar methodology to undergraduate programs, there are differences in the factors and their weightings between the various categories. For example, “student excellence” is a fifth category used to rank all graduate programs, with weights ranging from 10% (nursing) to 15% (business, non-MBA). As another example, the importance given to “university degrees and training” ranges from 15% (MBA, business (non-MBA) and education) to 25% (engineering and information technology). The reason for these differences is far from obvious.

MBA (335 colleges)

1. Indiana University – Bloomington (Kelley) (tie)

1. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) (tie)

3. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Business, non-MBA (188 colleges)

1. University of Southern California (Marshall)

2. Indiana University—Bloomington (Kelley)

3. Villanova University

Computer Information Technology (62 colleges)

1. University of Southern California

2. Johns Hopkins University (Whiting)

3. University of Arizona

Criminal Justice (83 colleges)

1. University of California—Irvine

2. Sam Houston State University (TX)

3. Boston University (tie)

3. University of Massachusetts—Lowell (tie)

Education (309 colleges)

1. Clemson University (Moore)

2. University of Florida

3. University of Virginia (Curry)

Engineering (96 colleges)

1. Columbia University (Fu Foundation) (tie)

1. University of California, Los Angeles (Samueli) (tie)

3. Purdue University-West Lafayette

Nursing (183 colleges)

1. Rush University (Illinois)

2. University of South Carolina

3. Johns Hopkins University

Online programs continue to be a major source of higher education, especially for adults returning to school. According to National Center for Education Statistics, 2.2 million undergraduate students enrolled exclusively in online programs in fall 2017; Another 870,000 students were enrolled in online post-baccalaureate programs.

the American News Online program rankings approach this growing sector with an elaborate methodology, but retain some elements that remain problematic – relying on institutions’ self-reporting of much of the underlying data, putting too much emphasis on institutional inputs rather than student outcomes, and continuing to use peer assessments, which are even more suspect for this field than for traditional on-campus programs.

That said, most of the factors are reasonable and valid indicators of how high-quality distance education programs should work, at least in principle. And to his credit, American News adjusted the weightings this year so that acceptance rates and standardized tests are given less importance for the evaluation of graduate programs. While several factors still favor established institutions that can spend more money on their online programs, the ratings provide useful data for consumers, especially non-traditional students who might otherwise have few sources of information about their options. academics.

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