Online College Rankings Coming Soon
The second U.S. News & World Report ranking of online education programs will be released in January with improvements to the inaugural online college ratings first released in 2012.
Unlike last year, the list will include a numerical ranking on the overall quality of online educational programs.
The 2013 rankings, which will be released Jan. 15, will feature top choices in bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs as well as master’s degree programs in business, education, nursing and computer information technology.
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This differs from the 2012 rankings, in which there were no numerical values attached on overall program quality.
The 2012 rankings rated 196 online bachelor's degree programs and 523 online master's degree programs. The bachelor’s programs were ranked in three categories, while master’s degree programs were ranked in four.
The data collection was much more extensive this year, with 860 schools filling out complete U.S. News questionnaires, up from 717 last year. More crucial to the rankings, U.S. News received more in-depth data, including one-year retention rates, graduation rates and student debt levels.
Another change from 2012 is that some schools were not evaluated because they did not meet the federal guidelines for distance learning programs, which is that they offer 100% online course delivery.
In gathering the detailed information to produce the new rankings released in 2013, a survey questionnaire asked respondents to grade the online degree programs at other schools on a scale of 1-5.
The reputation of an online program can be important because some employers are wary of degrees that don’t come from traditional programs and ones they aren’t familiar with, according to an article on CNN.com.
Though many employers are changing that attitude as online degrees become more common, experts say in addition to checking a school’s accreditation, looking at its reputation can help lead to a degree that will be widely accepted.
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The U.S. News rankings are specifically designed to give anyone considering an online program the information needed to make a selection and are a compliment to the Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools rankings that students used for decades.
U.S. News & World Report started ranking online programs because online learning is becoming increasingly interwoven in all levels of education.