Distance Learning

Penn State Leads Ranking for Top Online Bachelors

Determining the best online degree program to attend depends on what degree the student is going after, if the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report are any indication. The 2015 edition profiles more than 1,200 programs, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year's lists.

Rankings were determined, according to the magazine, based on scoring in four broad areas: faculty credentials and training, teaching practices and student assessment, student services and technology, and admissions selectivity.

For example, the best online undergraduate programs are run by Penn State, Daytona State College in Florida, the University of Illinois and Western Kentucky University. Penn State's World Campus gets the top nod for its 23 online bachelor's degree programs. The magazine reported that the program currently has about 4,400 students with an average age of 31.

The top three institutions recommended for those pursuing an online master's degree in IT are the University of Southern California, Virginia Tech and Boston University, in that order. The best online schools for earning a master's in engineering, according to the publication, are the University of California in Los Angeles, Columbia University and the University of Southern California.

"The convenience of distance learning and the increasingly connected nature of society continue to drive the popularity of online education," said Matthew Speer, director of sales and marketing for U.S. News University Connection, which published the results. "In 2014, the Online Learning Consortium reported that the percentage of students taking at least one Web-based class reached a new high of 33.5 percent. We expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. Education seekers of all types —  from recent high school graduates just entering college to professionals returning to earn an advanced degree —  are clearly sold on the value of online learning."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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