Annual online program rankings give students looking for online options a way to compare and prioritize which online program is best for them

Which online programs are ranked best?


Annual online program rankings give students looking for online options a way to compare and prioritize which online program is best for them

[Editor’s note: This press release originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report’s site.]

Learners looking to complete or further their education online can use the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report, which just released its 2021 Best Online Programs rankings.

The rankings evaluate more than 1,600 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. These programs offer an alternative option for prospective students looking to fulfill their academic goals while pandemic restrictions remain in place in much of the country.

The Best Online Programs rankings only include programs that are designed to be administered online. In other words, the rankings do not evaluate schools or programs that are temporarily virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University moves back up to No. 1 this year. For MBAs, Carnegie Mellon University ties with the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill for the top spot. Columbia University has the top-ranked computer information technology master’s program. Tied for No. 1 among Best Online Master’s in Nursing programs are Rush University and the University of South Carolina. The No. 1 master’s programs in education and engineering are at the University of Florida and Columbia University, respectively.

For the first time, U.S. News published specialty rankings of bachelor’s programs in business and psychology. These complement the master’s level specialty rankings across 18 subject areas such as finance MBA and nursing administration/leadership. In addition, the annual Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings credit select programs for their success in enrolling military veterans and active service members and making federal financial benefits accessible for them.

Alongside the rankings, U.S. News produces editorial content throughout the year on paying for school, balancing work and studies, finding tutoring resources and more. Prospective students can also use the Online College Compare tool to research and compare different programs.

“As in-person gatherings remain limited, we might see more interest in online degrees than in pre-pandemic years,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “But online degrees aren’t only practical in the short term – distance education can also be conducive to a schedule that includes full-time work or other commitments.”

U.S. News comprehensively evaluate online degrees at the program level rather than the school level. The rankings are based on indicators such as student services and technology, faculty credentials, and student engagement, using data collected directly from each institution. Only degree-granting programs that are offered primarily online by regionally accredited institutions were considered, and the programs that score the highest are those applying educational best practices specific for distance learners.

2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs

Bachelor’s Programs
1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide (FL)
2. University of Illinois—Chicago
3. University of Florida

Master’s Programs

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

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

Computer Information Technology
1. Columbia University (NY)
2. Johns Hopkins University (Whiting) (MD) (tie)
2. University of Southern California (tie)

Criminal Justice/Criminology
1. University of California–Irvine
2. Boston University (tie)
2. Sam Houston State University (TX) (tie)

Education
1. University of Florida
2. Clemson University (Moore) (SC)
3. University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign

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

Nursing
1. Rush University (IL) (tie)
1. University of South Carolina (tie)
3. Duke University (NC) (tie)
3. Ohio State University (tie)

Laura Ascione