Top Online Programs

Online master’s degree programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing nationally ranked

East Carolina University’s online master’s degree programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing are among the best in the nation in a new ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

ECU’s Joyner Library is a popular study spot. (Photo by Steven Mantilla)

Nursing was No. 14 of 186 online master’s programs ranked, placing it in the top 10% in the country. The program also was No. 5 of 22 of the best online master’s programs for veterans. The nursing administration/leadership specialty ranked 11th.

“This national recognition of our dedication to excellence and practice readiness for our online graduate students is a significant point of pride for our college, university, region and state,” said Dr. Bim Akintade, dean of the College of Nursing. “In all the categories that we were evaluated for we have made significant gains or held our ground. These rankings are a welcome validation of the quality of our faculty and students, and the same quality of students and faculty are represented in our baccalaureate and doctoral-level programs as well.”

ECU’s online master’s program in criminal justice placed in the top 25% in the nation at No. 22 of 93 programs ranked. It is the top ranked graduate program in North Carolina. Criminal justice also placed 12th in best programs for veterans, the only UNC System program recognized in that category.

“We are proud that we continue to be recognized as a national leader for online graduate education in criminal justice, and that our graduate degree remains the No. 1 program in North Carolina,” said Dr. Heidi S. Bonner, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “The structure of our program is ideal for adult learners with busy schedules, and students learn from faculty who are recognized scholars.”

ECU’s online education program is in the top 20% in the country at No. 63 of 303 institutions.

“The College of Education proudly stands among the top 20% of online master’s programs in education, a distinction that speaks volumes about our faculty’s dedication and expertise,” said Dr. André Green, dean of the College of Education. “This honor reflects more than our position in rankings; it showcases our commitment to nurturing graduates who not only master their disciplines but also carry a deep-seated drive to enact positive change in their communities. Our program is designed to arm students with the innovative tools and insights needed to raise the bar in education, preparing them to be the vanguard of a transformative movement. Achieving such a prestigious spot in the top fifth of online master’s programs underscores our dedication to excellence and our pledge to continue evolving, aiming always to contribute meaningfully to the educational landscape.”

ECU’s MBA program in the College of Business’ Thomas D. Arthur Graduate School of Business ranked No. 147 of 345 schools, placing it in the top 45% in the nation. The MBA also placed 97th in best programs for veterans. There are 693 students enrolled in ECU’s MBA program. Of those, about 87% are online-only students.

“The Arthur School’s online programs, which include the MBA, the Master of Science in Accounting and Master of Science in Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality, continue to be a strong focus on how we deliver leadership curriculum to anybody from anywhere and at their own pace,” said Dr. Linda A. Quick, assistant dean of the Arthur School and associate professor of accounting.

ECU also was recognized for best online master’s in computer information technology programs.

Although the weights given to each category varied among the types of programs, all graduate programs were evaluated by the following criteria and indicators:

  • Engagement: Graduation rate, class size, one-year retention rates and time-to-degree deadline.
  • Faculty credentials and training: Number of faculty with terminal degrees, number of tenured faculty and preparedness of faculty to teach distance learners.
  • Services and technologies: Student indebtedness, technological infrastructure and student support services.
  • Peer assessment: Based on survey responses from high-ranking academic officials.
  • Student excellence: Acceptance rate of the program and undergraduate GPA of new students.

Only schools ranked in the top half of the overall best online programs were considered for the best for veterans list. To qualify, programs had to be certified for the GI Bill and had to enroll a critical mass of active duty or veteran military students.

Online programs at more than 1,750 colleges and universities were assessed as part of U.S. News 2024 rankings.

(Ben Abel, Kristen Martin, Michael Rudd and ECU’s Institutional Planning Assessment and Research office contributed to this story).