The new online program ranking includes an updated methodology, expanded rankings and 18 new specialty rankings

U.S. News releases online program rankings for 2020


The new online program ranking includes an updated methodology, expanded rankings and 18 new specialty rankings

Ohio State University–Columbus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide, and the University of Illinois—Chicago take the top three spots for best online bachelor’s degree programs in U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Online Program rankings.

The rankings are particularly helpful for adults interested in furthering their education, especially amid growing awareness that workers will need to invest in their skills and continue learning throughout their careers–referred to as “upskilling.”

Related content: Efforts to upskill workers grow across industries 

The rankings evaluate more than 1,600 distance education bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The master’s programs include seven disciplines, such as nursing, business and engineering.

For the first time, Rush University in Illinois is the top school among Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs. Among online MBAs, Indiana University—Bloomington and the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill tie for No. 1. Ohio State University—Columbus places highest among Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, while the University of Southern California remains at the top for computer information technology master’s programs. The University of California—Los Angeles ties with Columbia University in New York for the top spot among master’s-level engineering programs. For master’s-level education, Clemson University in South Carolina is home to the No. 1 program.

This year, U.S. News reduced the weight of acceptance rates for online master’s programs to give more credit to schools that provide online help with course registration, admissions counseling and building a resume. Additionally, U.S. News significantly adjusted its formula for GRE and GMAT scores to account for the vast majority of master’s programs not requiring these exams from applicants.

In addition, 18 new specialty rankings have been added within several disciplines: education, engineering, MBA and nursing. These specialties include civil engineering, special education, nursing administration and more.

“Prospective students now have a lot of options when choosing an online undergraduate or graduate program,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “For people looking for more flexibility as they pursue their higher education goals, U.S. News has information on relevant factors like accreditation, graduation rates and student support services.”

In addition to the rankings, U.S. News offers editorial content covering career search advice, paying for school, applying to programs and more. The Online College Compare tool allows students to search and compare different programs based on individual interests.

Using data gathered directly from each institution, U.S. News is the only publication to evaluate online degrees at the program level rather than the school level. The methodologies are based on factors such as student engagement, faculty credentials, and student services and technology. Only degree-granting programs that are offered primarily online by regionally accredited institutions were considered.

2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs
Bachelor’s Programs
1. Ohio State University–Columbus
2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide (FL)
3. University of Illinois—Chicago

Master’s Programs

MBA
1. Indiana University—Bloomington (Kelley) (tie)
1. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) (tie)
3. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) (PA)

Business, non-MBA
1. University of Southern California (Marshall)
2. Indiana University—Bloomington (Kelley)
3. Villanova University (PA)

Computer Information Technology
1. University of Southern California
2. Johns Hopkins University (Whiting) (MD)
3. University of Arizona

Criminal Justice/Criminology
1. University of California—Irvine
2. Sam Houston State University (TX)
3. Boston University (tie)
3. University of Massachusetts—Lowell (tie)

Education
1. Clemson University (Moore) (SC)
2. University of Florida
3. University of Virginia (Curry)

Engineering
1. Columbia University (Fu Foundation) (NY) (tie)
1. University of California—Los Angeles (Samueli) (tie)
3. Purdue University—West Lafayette (IN)

Nursing
1. Rush University (IL)
2. University of South Carolina
3. Johns Hopkins University (MD)

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione