Online programs at ECU get top marks

Online graduate programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing at East Carolina University have been ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

The magazine announced its 2018 Best Online Programs on Jan. 9. ECU’s online bachelor’s degree program also was recognized.

“ECU is known as North Carolina’s leader in distance education,” said Dr. Ron Mitchelson, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We have invested heavily to make sure that our online offerings are of the highest quality. We have excellent infrastructure and faculty who prioritize student success. These rankings help to validate our efforts.”

ECU’s criminal justice graduate program placed the highest in North Carolina and tied for 14th out of 67 schools ranked, up one spot over last year in a larger number of programs. There are 69 master’s students enrolled in the online criminal justice program, which is the second largest graduate program enrollment in ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

ECU students complete fingerprinting in a forensic science class.

ECU students complete fingerprinting in a forensic science class. The criminal justice online graduate program ranked the highest of all such programs in the state.

“This ranking, by such a prestigious organization, validates our efforts to provide the highest quality graduate education possible. Moreover, it affirms our mission to ‘educate the next generation of criminal justice leaders’ as our students and alumni are actively contributing to improving public safety in our communities,” said Dr. William Bloss, professor and chair of the criminal justice department.

The College of Education’s online graduate education programs tied for 18th out of 292 schools. This year, 720 total students are enrolled in 11 online education graduate programs.

“The College of Education was a pioneer in distance delivery and this ranking reflects the maturity of the program,” said Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education. “This recognition is truly a testimony to the commitment and hard work of our faculty and staff, and the excellence of our students.”

ECU’s College of Nursing graduate programs were ranked 34th out of 154 schools. Only master’s programs were ranked; it does not include ECU’s doctoral programs. ECU’s online graduate programs in nursing also ranked the highest in the UNC system and 14th overall in US News listing of the best online programs for veterans. A school must have been ranked in the top half of the best online programs, certified for the GI Bill and have enrolled at least 10 veterans or active service members to be recognized. In 2016-17, 389 students were enrolled in the college’s online master’s degree options.

“A key component to our mission of preparing highly-skilled nurse leaders is giving professional nurses more opportunities to advance in their careers,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. “The seven master’s programs that we offer online give nurses convenient ways to further their careers without leaving the workforce or relocating to our campus.”

ECU’s online Master of Business Administration program tied at 91st out of 267 schools ranked in the country. This spring, 784 students are enrolled in ECU’s MBA program.

“This recognition is emblematic of how the college and its faculty and staff are focused on student requirements, resource alignment, cross-functional collaboration and employee involvement,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business. “We do all of this for the student who wants to be the next, impactful leader of tomorrow.”

Also this year, ECU’s online bachelor’s degree programs tied at 143rd out of 346 schools ranked. ECU’s online bachelor’s also tied for 85th overall in US News listing of the best online programs for veterans. ECU – the leading provider of distance education in the UNC system – offers online degree completion programs in various disciplines at the undergraduate level for students who can’t take classes on campus due to work and family obligations or geographical barriers.

“Offering practical options for our online learners makes ECU the logical choice for many students,” said Jennifer Baysden, associate director for credit programs in the Office of Continuing Studies at ECU. “Accessibility and affordability coupled with academic and student support greatly helps to sustain and empower the individuals we serve online and are key elements to ECU’s success.”

This fall, about 8,200 ECU undergraduate students took online courses, with approximately 3,300 of those students taking online courses only, Baysden said.

To develop the rankings, U.S. News evaluated a combination of areas including student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, peer reputation and admissions selectivity.

The complete listing can be viewed at

ECU students make their way to class Monday, the first day of the spring semester.

ECU students make their way to class Monday, the first day of the spring semester. Online graduate programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing and ECU’s online bachelor’s degree program have received top marks.