Ranking and rating universities is done differently for online study.
- University reputation matters less.
- Teaching quality and use of technology are more important.
- The best online courses keep students engaged.
Stats on teaching ratings and other aspects of course quality have been used to rank online universities. This happens on a country-by-country basis using national survey data.
Australian Online University Rankings
Online Study Australia has ranked, you guessed it, the top online universities in Australia. The main criteria used are course satisfaction ratings (from a national survey of recent graduates), the depth of units offered, and course flexibility.
Heading the list is the University of New England. It scores well on most quality measures. The university is also one of the largest for online learning and tops many program categories.
Following UNE (in order) are Deakin University, University of Southern Queensland, Edith Cowan University and Charles Sturt University.
Online Study Australia provides a longer list of the leading accredited online universities.
Best Online Programs in the United States
US News recently released a report that ranked 1,200 online degree programs in the fields of business, nursing, engineering, information technology and education. Each of the courses had to offer at least 80% of its course content online.
When ranking the masters programs, the categories were student engagement and accreditation, admissions selectivity, student services and technology and faculty credentials and training. The bachelor programs consisted of student engagement and assessment, faculty credentials and training and student services and technology.
Here’s a round-up of some of the best online degree programs currently available at both bachelor and masters levels.
Online bachelor degree programs
Competing for the top online bachelor degree programs were several front-runners. University of Illinois—Chicago was noted for its student engagement and assessment, while Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide came out on top for student services and technology. Temple University, located in Philadelphia, stood out for faculty training and credentials. Overall, the top ranking was a tie between Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide and Pennsylvania State University—World Campus.
Online masters degree programs
Business: When it came to the top masters in business programs, institutions had different reasons for being ranked towards the top. Oklahoma City University snagged the top spot when it came to faculty training and credentials, California State University—Fullerton (Mihaylo) was noted for its admissions selectivity and Missouri University of Science & Technology was recognized for its technology and student services. For student engagement, Arizona State University (Carey) was the top ranked online school.
Computer Information Technology: For Student Services and Technology, Student Engagement, and Admissions Selectivity, no school was able to beat University of Southern California. For Faculty Credentials and Training, Virginia Tech was the leading university.
Education: If you’re interested in the top schools for online Master of Education programs, then University of Florida and University of Houston were at the top when it came to the honor roll. For faculty credentials and training, University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign was the leader and University of Florida was picked for admissions selectivity.
Engineering: University of California—Los Angeles (Samueli) took the top spot overall and in 3 individual categories: Faculty Credentials and Training, Student Services and Technology, and Admissions Selectivity. As for Student Engagement, Columbia University (Fu Foundation) was the top ranked engineering school.
Nursing: In the popular masters or doctorate of Nursing Practice, a few schools again came out as front-runners. University of South Carolina and Medical University of South Carolina were 1st and 2nd overall, scoring highly for faculty credentials and training. Johns Hopkins University in Maryland was the winner when it came to admissions selectivity. Let’s not forget to mention St. Xavier University for student engagement honors and University of Colorado—Colorado Springs for student services and technology.
The list is certainly not the be all and end all when it comes to determining the best online degree programs, but it certainly helps with narrowing down the field when making selections.