Ranking Online Schools and Choosing the Right One for You

Ranking Online Schools and Choosing the Right One for You

In March 2007, the first ranking of online school quality was published by the Online Education Database (OED), which reviewed 21 online programs,

Today, the OED ranks over 42 online programs on 8 criteria::

  • Acceptance Rate
  • Financial Aid
  • Graduation Rate
  • Peer Web Citations
  • Retention Rate
  • Scholarly Citations
  • Student-Faculty Ratio
  • Years Accredited

In the most recent ranking, Florida-based Nova Southeastern University led the pack.

Among other programs, Nova Southeastern University's Nusing School offers online RN-BSN, RN-MSN, MSN, and PhD's in Nursing Education programs.

In its ranking, OED favored schools with a competitive acceptance rate, significant financial aid availability, high graduation rates, high faculty retention rates, low student-faculty ratio, number of scholarly citations, and length of accreditation.

To be considered in the OED ranking, schools had to meet the following requirements:

  • Accreditation by a programmatic, national, or regional accrediting agency,
  • Be listed in the College Navigator (provided by the U.S. Department of Education),
  • Offer more than one undergraduate degree online, and
  • If campus-based, offer at least 50% of its undergraduate degrees online.

School rankings tend to get a great deal of media attention, especially when US News and World Report publishes their annual list of the nation's top colleges.

For as much positive attention as the rankings receive, however, they also tend to be heavily scrutinized and criticized. Factors such as the diversity of people, programs, and campuses suggest that it's not possible to realistically or fairly compare colleges side-by-side.

But rankings can be helpful.

They offer a comprehensive list of schools and easy access to presumably unbiased data. With online degree programs still relatively new in post-secondary education, rankings help you consider aspects you might normally overlook, such as peer review citations.

When looking at a school's ranking, it's important to consider your own personal factors and devise your own rankings system. What OED or US News might consider to be most important might be of little significance to you. Tuition costs, technology, and student support services are factors that many students consider crucial, but are not included in school rankings.

Other schools higlighed in the recent OED rankings include:

For OED's complete rankings, visit http://oedb.org/rankings

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