U.S. News & World Report, the news magazine that produces one of the most popular general rankings of colleges and universities, released today its second annual national rankings that specifically target online education. Fort Hays State University was again among the leaders in three of the categories.
The news magazine evaluated online higher education in six categories: bachelor's programs generally and master's programs in business, education, engineering, nursing and computer information technology. FHSU offers online courses in bachelor's, master's in business, master's in education and master's in nursing.
Based on the statistical data provided by FHSU, all four programs were judged to meet the U.S. Department of Education's definition for distance education: "(A)ll the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses that incorporate Internet-based learning technologies."
Three of the four FHSU online programs were ranked:
· Out of 1,767 institutions surveyed, FHSU's online bachelor's program was ranked 23rd.
· Out of 959 institutions surveyed, FHSU's online master's business program was ranked 93rd.
· Out of 1,043 institutions surveyed, FHSU's online master's education program was also ranked 93rd.
"We are not at all surprised that FHSU's online programs continue to be recognized nationally for their quality," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "We continually improve our online programs to meet the changing circumstances of virtual students. Just this year we created the Student Engagement and Advising Center to provide advising that is geared specifically to the needs of our adult online learners."
The new center provides six new online advisors across FHSU's four colleges -- the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Technology, and the College of Health and Life Sciences. The investment of about $350,000 makes advising available at the times of day it is needed from advisors who have specific knowledge of virtual learning.
Dennis King, director of the Virtual College, noted that in addition to this latest confirmation of the high quality of its online programs, FHSU's virtual students also benefit from low tuition. "We are in the lowest 1 percent nationally in terms of online tuition," he said. "This report further supports our claim that FHSU students are getting a top tier education at the most affordable price."
Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, said: "We are very pleased with these rankings. Our online undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration degree is one of the true strengths of our college. Being ranked 23rd out of hundreds of business programs is a tremendous honor. This program not only serves Kansans, but it attracts quality students from across the nation. We devote full-time faculty to teaching as many of the classes in this program as possible and expect quality instruction and quality student work."
Bannister added: "We are pleased with the job placement of our graduates and the fact that we help many people who already have a job gain credentials to advance in their field."
He also noted the recognition for the online master's business program. "We are pleased that our MBA is the highest ranked of any Kansas school offering an MBA online," he said. "Nationally, our program is ranked ahead of many much-larger institutions. The online MBA market is very competitive with both domestic and international players. Fort Hays State University offers one of the most affordable online MBA programs and one that is very student oriented."
Bannister said FHSU faculty and staff work continuously to improve coursework, instructional tools, student support and faculty preparedness with the overriding goal of benefiting students.
In a new wrinkle this year, U.S. News is offering badges for the 2013 Best Online Education Programs rankings. These badges will be available to the highly ranked schools for promotional purposes. FHSU's online bachelor's program, online master's business program and online master's education program all qualified to use the badges.
President Hammond commended faculty, staff and administrators for their hard work in creating the excellent online learning environment. "We are recognized far and wide for our entrepreneurial, forward-thinking culture," he said. "This recognition by U.S. News for the second year in a row shows our graduates, our current students and our future students that FHSU is the right choice for their online education."