Three of Ohio State’s distance learning education programs have been recognized as some of the top online programs in the country, according to a recent study by U.S. News and World Report.
The Best Online Programs study, released on Jan. 12, ranked OSU’s online bachelor’s degree offerings at a tie for seventh, the College of Nursing online graduate program at fourth and the College of Engineering online graduate program at a tie for 25th.
“I think that the rankings affirm the hard work of our faculty to build these programs to provide a great learning experience,” said Robert Griffiths, senior director of digital scholarship for OSU’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning. “It shows Ohio State’s commitment to providing a top-notch learning experience for students, whether it’s done in the classroom or online.”
The rankings were based on the four categories of student services and technology, student engagement, peer reputation and faculty credentials and training, with the graduate nursing and engineering rankings using a fifth category of admissions selectivity, according to the study.
OSU currently offers 13 online programs and more than 300 online courses, and can enroll students from 47 states into its online programs, Griffiths said.
“For many individuals, especially those that are working full time or have a career or a family, pausing their lives to return to school isn’t an option,” Griffiths said. “Online learning provides an alternative for those that are not in position to have an on-campus experience.”
Griffiths said that last semester, there were 547 individuals enrolled in OSU’s online programs, with around 14,000 students who took at least one online course, whether they were enrolled in online programs or taking classes on campus.
OSU’s online programs do not have a separate hiring process or set of professionals to teach online courses, Griffiths said, as the classes are taught by OSU faculty, and follow the same class concept and course expectations of the corresponding on-campus classes.
“We are giving an equivalent experience and vigor,” Griffiths said. “It’s indicative through these rankings that show we are committed to these principles and ideals.”
OSU’s online programs have seen success, and the report shows evidence, as the university’s online bachelor programs moved up a spot from last year’s ranking of eighth, thanks to a score of 93 out of 100.
“We try to teach the ideas and concepts in the most effective way possible,” Griffiths said. “The ultimate goal is trying to achieve the goals of the course.”
The College of Nursing moved up two spots from last year’s rankings, and is now ranked fourth in the U.S. News & World Report‘s ranking of the best online graduate nursing degree programs this year, earning a score of 94 out of 100.
“I think our ranking, which has increased over the past many years, is due to the innovative approaches of our faculty,” said Cindy Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs and educational innovation for the College of Nursing.
Anderson added that the faculty in the online programs are expert clinicians who are able to provide the nursing students with the highest level of educational preparation.
“Students that complete the program are prepared to be certified in their specialty and be licensed as advanced practiced registered nurses,” Anderson said. “Our online graduate program is working to provide high-quality nurse practitioners to meet the nation’s health care needs.”
In addition, Anderson also attributed the college’s success in the distance learning programs to the technical support that it receives.
“The faculty members are supported for online delivery by exceptional technical staff which includes our IT staff in the college, as well as the support provided by the university,” Anderson said.
The College of Engineering was ranked among the best online graduate engineering programs in the country, earning a score of 62 out of 100, placing it at a tie for 25th.
Bob Mick, the director of professional programs for the College of Engineering, said in an email that these rankings represent the hard work and determination of the college’s faculty and staff in its online degree program.
The college’s faculty and instructional designers from ODEE develop the courses in the Masters of Global Engineering Program, Mick said.
“This enables faculty to increase student engagement, learning and satisfaction through better course design,” he said.
Mick added that the program provides flexibility for those enrolled and allows them to study and get a quality education around their work and life schedule.
“Students in our online degrees receive the same high-quality education as those on campus. The online courses are as rigorous as the in-person counterparts,” he said. “Weekly assignments, readings, discussions and other activities as well as exams are the same as the in-person version.”
Anderson said the rankings of OSU’s online bachelor and graduate programs provide a measure of the quality of the online programs as they compare to other programs across the country.
“The ratings reflect a high level of student engagement, a strong support of our online delivery and program development, the exceptional students that are in our programs and best practices for online education delivered by our faculty,” she said.