U of A Online Programs Rank Well in U.S. News

Engineering, education, nursing online programs rated

Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Shannon Davis, left, and Kelly Roberts graduated Dec. 21 from the University of Arkansas with master’s degrees in nursing delivered online with a clinical component.

Shannon Davis, left, and Kelly Roberts graduated Dec. 21 from the University of Arkansas with master’s degrees in nursing delivered online with a clinical component.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four academic programs that are delivered online by the University of Arkansas ranked well in Wednesday’s release of the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Online Programs” rankings. Last year, the publication began ranking online academic programs separately from its annual general ranking of higher-education institutions.

The ranked online programs included a graduate program in the College of Engineering and several programs in the College of Education and Health Professions.

The Master of Science in Engineering degree was ranked No. 23 of 55 online graduate engineering programs, up from No. 25 last year among public and private institutions.  The online degree has been offered since 2009 and is open to students with a bachelor’s degree in any engineering field. It incorporates classes from the traditional master of science degrees in biological, chemical, civil, computer systems, electrical, environmental, industrial, and mechanical and transportation engineering, as well as operations management. The degree landed at No. 18 among the public universities on the list.

“I am pleased to see this program recognized once again, and I’d like to congratulate director Ed Pohl, his staff and the faculty who participate in the M.S.E. program for this achievement,” said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. “At the College of Engineering, we know the importance of making an engineering education available to as many students as possible, and our online master’s program is a vital part of that goal.”

Degrees delivered online in three areas by the College of Education and Health Professions were ranked for the first time in the 2014 report.

“The College of Education and Health Professions strives to focus on quality programs,” said Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions. “We are creating opportunities for students who are unable to access programs on campus. These rankings allow us to have another measure of where we are and what we need to continue to do to provide the best academic experience possible for students learning online.”

U.S. News ranked the graduate education programs delivered online at No. 42 of 166 ranked programs. The U of A programs were No. 34 among public institutions on the list. Graduate education degrees delivered online are master’s and doctoral degrees in adult and lifelong learning, master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership, a master’s degree in educational technology, master’s and doctoral degrees in human resource and workforce development education, an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction, a master’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in special education.

The bachelor’s degree in human resource and workforce development education, the oldest degree delivered online by the college, placed No. 56 on the U.S. News list of best online bachelor’s degree programs, which ranked 207 such programs. The U of A degree was No. 32 among public institutions. It was established in 1996 as a bachelor’s degree-completion program delivered by compressed interactive video broadcast to students who would meet at other higher-education institutions across the state; the program is now delivered completely online. Darrel Walker, a former Razorback basketball standout in the 1980s, graduated in December 2012 with a degree from the program earned while he worked as an assistant coach in the NBA.

The Master of Science in Nursing degree, which offers a concentration for nurses who want to become educators, was ranked No. 71 of 96 online graduate nursing programs. It was No. 48 among public universities. The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing graduated its first class of online master’s students in 2007.

The University of Arkansas Global Campus supports academic units in the development and delivery of online and distance education programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, access to national distance education organizations, and assistance with strategic academic program development and marketing.

“As the state’s flagship institution, the University of Arkansas is dedicated to enhancing statewide access to its academic offerings by adding new online programs each year,” said Javier Reyes, vice provost for distance education. “We are pleased that U.S. News and World Report has recognized these programs by ranking them among the nation’s best online programs.”

The university is committed to providing high-quality online programs by participating in initiatives such as the Quality Matters Program, a nationally known nonprofit program of Maryland Online Inc. This faculty-centered program provides training for faculty and staff members to design online courses based on national education standards and provides a peer review process for courses.

According to U.S. News, these are the only rankings that assess data on online programs themselves rather than the institutions housing the programs. These rankings do not measure the attributes of campus-based student and faculty cohorts that have no interaction with their schools’ distance education offerings.

The magazine reported a significant increase in the number of online degree programs reporting data to U.S. News across all six surveyed fields. Nearly 1,000 distance education programs submitted a completed U.S. News questionnaire during the summer of 2013, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Data included program-level, outcome-based measures such as one-year retention rates, graduation rates and indebtedness of students at graduation as well as peer review surveys.


Heidi Stambuck, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, stambuck@uark.edu

Camilla Medders, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, camillam@uark.edu

Kay Murphy, director of communications
Global Campus
479-575-6489, ksmurphy@uark.edu

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