ASU online ranks No. 4
Arizona State University is ranked among the Top 5 in the country for its online programs, according to an annual survey by U.S. News & World Report.
One Arizona university — and another with ties to the state — are ranked among the Top 5 in the country for their online programs, according to a popular survey released this week.
Arizona State University’s online bachelor’s degree programs were again ranked No. 4 in the country, the same as last year, according to the annual survey by U.S. News & World Report.
The top three online programs were Ohio State University, Florida’s EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University, which also has a physical campus in Prescott, and Temple University in Philadelphia.
This year’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs ranked 346 schools on factors such as faculty credentials, class size, graduation rates and student-loan debt. The survey also considered the support services available, the technological infrastructure and the program’s reputation.
“The top programs not only demonstrate strong academics but also create learning environments that are particularly well-suited to remote students,“said Anita Narayan, managing editor of education at U.S. News, in a statement.
In Arizona, Northern Arizona University’s online bachelor’s degree program was ranked No. 47 while University of Arizona’s was No. 56.
Some schools have objected to the methodology that U.S. News uses to calculate rankings and chosen not to provide information for the purposes of being evaluated. For example, peer reputation (how a university is regarded by top college administrators at other schools) makes up 20 percent of an online program’s score.
One of the state’s largest online providers, the private Grand Canyon University, again did not participate in the U.S. News rankings this year because of disagreements over the methodology used, said Bob Romantic, a university spokesman.
He added that the university does participate in other rankings that measure learning outcomes, such as the College Learning Assessment.
Grand Canyon has about 70,000 online students.
The University of Phoenix, also a private school, was not ranked in this year’s bachelor’s degree survey. Officials did not respond to a call or email about whether the school participated in the survey.
Online degrees were once the specialty of private, for-profit schools. But state-funded schools increasingly have expanded their online programs.
All three state universities have put additional emphasis into online with the goal of boosting access to a college degree, particularly for people who live in rural areas and can’t relocate to attend school.
About 31,000 students attend classes fully online through ASU Online. Enrollment typically grows by about 20 percent each year.
In 2014, ASU Online launched an initiative with Starbucks to help the coffee giant’s employees complete college degrees. The Starbucks program enrolls about 8,000 students with a total of 1,000 Starbucks employees graduating as of December.
The goal is to eventually have up to 15,000 employees enrolled at any time.
“We are obviously gratified that we did well in the rankings,” said Phil Regier, the university’s dean for education initiatives. “Rankings are inexact, but they certainly provide us one measure of progress and success.”
Many of the students enrolled in ASU Online work full time, live in small communities and likely wouldn’t attend college if not for online programs, he said.