Competing against 311 universities, U.S. News & World Report ranked Utah State University Online’s graduate education program third in the nation. Since 2015, USU Online’s graduate degrees in education have been ranked in the top 15 and continues to improve year over year.
“We moved up two slots from last year’s rankings as a university” said Andy Walker, department head and associate professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. “In our field, ITLS is tied for first place. We’re moving up in part because of improved rankings in engagement and student excellence.”
The program has also had to adapt to a different student population.
“The majority of our students are working professionals and they bring that experience into the classroom," Walker said. "Naturally, this improves the quality of discussions and learning for each cohort.”
A revised curriculum also helped online master’s degree programs jump from fifth to third place.
“Based on input from current students, alumni and prospective employers, we have worked hard to revise curriculum,” said Walker. “Our faculty played a key role in collecting data, and have worked even harder to use that data to inform changes in their classes.”
Beyond the curriculum, faculty take an interest in individual students that is a key part of their experience. As noted by Jim Tessers, an ITLS master’s student, faculty “commitment to education, which includes dealing with the whole student, including their strengths and weaknesses is a crucial piece to helping them develop and complete their programs.”
USU was one of the first to launch a 100 percent online program in the fields of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. USU Online now offers more than 33 online degrees, as well many licensure and certificate programs. U.S. News & World Report is the preeminent college ranking system and conducts an annual screening process to compile its rankings of elite online universities, allowing top programs to be recognized among those in the same field.