Ranking Distance Education Schools

February 15, 2012 Category: Distance Education

Nearly every college bound student researching which colleges and universities to apply to has referred to the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges lists at one time or another. Known for its popular and highly credible rankings of the top schools in the country, millions of soon to be college students rely on such lists to help their final decisions each year.

In the attempt to stay on top of the trends in education, the U.S. News & World Report is creating a new list, focusing on ranking the best distance learning schools. Seen as an unprecedented move, the director of research data for U.S. News, Eric Brooks, believes that with the increasing popularity of online education, it only makes sense to begin spotlighting the schools that make distance learning such an effective and practical option for students.

Distance Education RankingsIn the beginnings of online education, there weren’t enough course offerings or degree programs for distance learning schools to make the list for U.S. News. However, that has changed dramatically. Because U.S. News uses highly selective criteria, research and data collecting methods, distance learning schools in the past didn’t provide enough data to be thoroughly evaluated and ranked. Although online education has advanced rapidly enough, not just any school can make it onto this new list.

In order for distance learning schools to make the cut and be officially ranked by the U.S. News & World Report, they must meet the following criteria:

  • The school’s degree program must deliver 80% or more of its content online.
  • The online degree program offered must be through a regionally accredited college or university

By only accepting online degree programs through accredited colleges and universities, the U.S. News & World Report can maintain the credibility of its rankings. In the education industry, schools that are accredited are known for being reputable and meeting criteria that demonstrates their commitment to excellence in learning.

Despite there being more data available to properly rank distance learning schools, the U.S. News & World Report does recognize that there is still not enough data to allow them to evaluate whether or not an online education provides students with a better quality of learning compared to attending a traditional college or university campus and vice-versa.

So who made the cut and in what areas, according to the new lists put together by the U.S. News & World Report?

Top Online Bachelor’s Programs:

Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL

Pace University, New York, NY

University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Westfield State University, Westfield, MA

Highest Ranked in Student Services & Technology:

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

Florida International University, Miami, FL

Highest Ranked in Student Engagement & Assessment:

Bellevue University, Bellevue, NE

Newberry College, Newberry, SC

Troy University, Troy, AL

Highest Ranked in Faculty Credentials & Training:

Westfield State University, Westfield, MA

United States Sports Academy, Daphne, AL

St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA

Top Online Business Graduate Programs:

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Arkansas State University – Jonesboro, Jonesboro, AR

Brandman University, Irvine, CA

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