U.S. News released its findings on the quality of online degree programs this week, and William Woods University ranked exceptionally high for bachelor’s degrees offered through distance learning.
WWU ranked seventh overall in Missouri and 141st in the country for online bachelor’s degrees.
In addition, AffordableCollegesOnline.org (AC Online), a resource for college affordability and financial aid information, recently identified WWU as one of the colleges and universities in Missouri with the most affordable online degree programs. William Woods ranked 14th among private, not-for-profit schools.
A proponent of online learning, Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said, “Online classes allow students to have a choice that best fits into their lifestyles. They have the same objectives and assessments with online classes as they would have in the traditional face-to-face delivery method.”
The methodology used by U.S. News for its rankings took into account student engagement, including best practices, graduation rates, assessments, class size, retention rates and time to degree deadline.
Another area considered was faculty credentials and training, which included Ph.D. faculty, preparedness to teach distance learners, tenured faculty, faculty who have more than a B.A. and technical staff available to faculty.
A third criteria evaluated student services and technology, including student indebtedness, technological infrastructure and support services.
For the first time, peer reputation was also measured.
Students can pursue associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees through e-learning at William Woods University. Online degree programs include an associate of arts, B.S. degrees in management, paralegal studies and interpretation studies in ASL–English; Master of Business Administration degree; and Master of Education degrees in equestrian education and in teaching and technology.
“For-profit schools no longer dominate the distance-learning landscape,” said Dan Schuessler, founder of AC Online. “So many of today’s top universities have added full online degree programs to their catalogs, making it much easier for non-traditional students to receive a quality education.”
Opponents of for-profit distance learning have cited both quality and affordability as drawbacks of online model. Yet over the last few years, traditional colleges and universities with proven quality have made online programs accessible via discounted tuition and assistance programs.
“Offering students great online programs is only half the battle,” said Schuessler. “The colleges on our list offer students quality, flexibility and affordability.”
According to AC Online, “Missouri, the “Show-Me” state, makes a strong show in online distance learning programs. Online colleges in Missouri are unsurpassed in the opportunities that they offer their students. With many degrees and certification programs that are equivalent to those earned on campus, online colleges in Missouri are an excellent way to receive higher education. These programs often make use of the same professors and curriculum, making for a high-quality online experience.”
When it comes to online degrees, AC Online found that two core elements take center stage: quality and cost. The best online degree programs (and the colleges that offer them) have been fully vetted by a national and/or regional accrediting body. In addition, many top programs have full distance learning programs with reasonable price tags, allowing a wider range of students to work toward success.
During its analysis, AC Online leveraged cost and accreditation from some of the most respected and reputable data sources available. Key sources and partners include:
- NCES collects and analyzes a vast collection of data related to higher education. In addition to accuracy, NCES offers great insight into academic demographics and trends.
- IPEDS serves as the leading source for data and information related to post-secondary education.
- The Carnegie Classification framework provides consistency and control when it comes to organizing institutional characteristics.
- Payscale.com provides top-notch career-related data on the local, state, and national levels. Their team of researchers and analysts work hard to ensure accuracy of all data and information.
All colleges, universities, and online programs included in AC Online’s review passed the following criteria:
- Public colleges (Carnegie classified), or
- Private, non-profit colleges (Carnegie classified), and
- Offered at least one degree program fully online
- 4-year degree-granting
- Full accreditation
- U.S. colleges only