ECU’s online programs ranked among the best in the nation

Online programs at East Carolina University have been ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.  

ECU’s online graduate programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing, as well as online bachelor’s degree programs, were listed among the country’s 2019 Best Online Programs in a Jan. 15 ranking by U.S. News.

“ECU is so very proud of the faculty and the students who are at the heart of such positive outcomes,” said Dr. Ron Mitchelson, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It’s gratifying to have the quality of our efforts in the online domain so well recognized at the national level.”

ECU’s criminal justice graduate program placed the highest in North Carolina and tied for 17th out of 71 schools ranked nationally. There are 72 master’s students enrolled in the program in ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

The program offers a master of science in criminal justice, a graduate certificate in criminal justice education and two multidisciplinary certificate options. Students are able to tailor their coursework to meet their interests in advanced academic study, career advancement or applied solutions in the administration of justice, said Dr. William Bloss, chairman of the department.

ECU has held the top spot in North Carolina since U.S. News started the online criminal justice graduate program ranking, Bloss said. “We are committed to educating the next generation of criminal justice leaders,” he said. “To be ranked as the 17th best program in the nation is an honor, and it provides further evidence of our commitment to academic excellence and student success.” 

ECU’s College of Nursing graduate programs were tied at 27th out of 170 schools ranked, up from 34th last year. The college had 295 students enrolled in its online master’s programs as of fall 2018.

ECU’s online graduate programs in nursing also ranked the highest in the UNC system and tied for 13th overall in U.S. 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 in its graduate program to be recognized.

“Our online programs have become a key part of the educational opportunities we provide at the College of Nursing,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. “They allow the flexibility for nurses to continue working while taking the necessary steps to advance their careers and become leaders in the profession.”

The College of Education’s 11 online graduate education programs tied at 29th out of 299 schools ranked.

“We’re very pleased with the national recognition our online education programs continue to receive,” said Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education. “This ranking is truly a testimony to the commitment and hard work of our award-winning faculty and the excellence of our students.”

ECU’s online Master of Business Administration program placed 90th out of 285 schools ranked in the nationwide listing. This year, 750 students enrolled in ECU’s MBA program. Of those, 668 are online only, 63 students are completing both online and face to face coursework, and the remaining 19 are taking classes only on campus.

“The college’s alumni, faculty and staff continue to add to a strong foundation that provides flexibility and options to its students and delivers an impactful ROI or return on the individual,” said Dr. Paul Schwager, interim dean of the College of Business.

Also this year, ECU’s online bachelor’s degree programs tied at 150th out of 348 schools ranked. ECU’s online bachelor’s programs also tied for 82nd overall for the best online programs for veterans.

This fall, about 9,100 ECU undergraduate students took online courses, with more than 3,500 of those students taking online courses only. 

“With so many different options now available to the online learner, our focus continues to be on accessibility and affordability, coupled with academic and student support. These factors greatly help to sustain and empower the individuals we serve online and are key elements to ECU’s success,” said Jennifer Baysden, associate director of ECU Academic Outreach, Continuing and Distance Education.

ECU has been a longtime leader in distance education in North Carolina, and recently packaged its more than 100 online degree and certificate program offerings at ECU Online. ECU remains committed to providing an unmatched level of support for distance education students from its online bookstore and library to online advising and tutoring, Mitchelson said.

“ECU Online is more than online courses,” said Dr. Regis M. Gilman, executive director of Academic Outreach, Continuing and Distance Education. “It is the gathering of online university academic and student support services, the same caring and expertly skilled faculty who teach on our campus in Greenville, and the access we provide to quality courses that come together as remarkable programs.”

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. For every program, more schools were ranked this year than last year.

The complete listing can be viewed on the U.S. News & World Report website.