Four of Ball State’s Online and Distance Education programs topped almost all their peers in 2015 rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
The university’s online degrees in graduate education, master of business administration, and graduate nursing, as well as the overall bachelor’s programs, ranked among the best, according to the national publication.
U.S. News’ best-of lists are considered to be among the most competitive in the country.
“It’s a national look at our faculty, and it’s a national look at the integrated learning we provide,” said Jennifer Bott, Ball State’s associate provost for learning initiatives. “It validates the good work of our innovative faculty, committed student services and library staff and our expert instructional designers and learning technologists.”
U.S. News reviews information for hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the country. Rankings include seven graduate-level degree types and bachelor’s degrees as a whole at each institution. Ball State offers four of the degree types U.S. News reviews, and the university ranks in all four.
The publication then scores each academic program on four major criteria: student engagement (which receives the most weight), faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, and student services and technology.
“These rankings come to Ball State based in part on what our colleagues at other colleges and universities think of our programs,” King said. “That’s crucial because those folks are working as hard as we are to have the best. Those endorsements speak volumes about our programming.”
Competition for top spots in the annual report has grown tougher each year as more schools launch online programs.
U.S. News’ assessed 1,200 academic programs this year, which was 20 percent more than the previous year, the publication says.
The trick to staying ahead, Bott said, “I think it’s not being comfortable. … Not just saying ‘We’re good. We’re going to stay.’”
That has meant continuously researching new tools to engage students online, as well developing student services. For instance, the university created a web-based student commons for online students, where they can interact with faculty and other students, Bott notes.
More than 5,000 students are enrolled at Ball State exclusively online. And more than 7,000 on-campus students also take online courses.
Since online classes began in the 1990s, Online and Distance Education has grown to offer 60 degrees and certificates.
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