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College of Education’s online graduate programs earn No. 2 ranking from U.S. News & World Report

The College of Education’s online graduate programs received a No. 2 national ranking in a survey released by U.S. News & World Report.

The magazine collected data from 208 regionally-accredited institutions offering master’s degrees in education through Internet-based distance courses. Auburn finished second to St. John’s University by less than two points. St. John’s earned the top ranking with 70 points, followed by Auburn with 68.8. South Dakota State University, Northern Illinois University and the University of South Carolina rounded out the top five. In all, U.S. News & World Report provided numerical rankings externalweb for 143 institutions.

It marks the second consecutive year that U.S. News & World Report has identified Auburn’s online graduate education degree programs as being among the best in the nation. The College of Education earned a place on its inaugural Top Online Education Program Honor Roll in 2012, but the magazine did not provide overall numerical rankings.

In its assessment, U.S. News & World Report considered such factors as admissions selectivity, student engagement, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology. The College of Education ranked seventh overall in admissions selectivity, 11th in student services and technology and 13th in student engagement. In the category of faculty credentials and training, the college scored 82.6 on a 100-point scale.

“We’re delighted that U.S. News & World Report has recognized the excellence of our students, as well as our faculty’s commitment to providing quality instruction and keeping pace with ever-changing technological tools,” said College of Education dean and Wayne T. Smith distinguished professor Betty Lou Whitford. “We pride ourselves on bringing out the best in our students, whether they happen to join us on campus or online. Those who choose the latter option due to family or career obligations will find that they will be engaged, challenged and well prepared by our faculty.”

The college’s emphasis on providing Auburn University quality at the convenience of distance education students is underscored by some of the data included in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Of the college’s 139 distance education students, 95 percent were employed at the time of their enrollment.

“Students regularly praise the flexibility of our delivery system that allows them to work on a degree while maintaining a full-time job, and often a family as well,” said Brian Parr, associate professor and coordinator of the agriscience education program in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.

Julianne Wade, who is completing an alternative master's degree in business/marketing education, said accessible faculty and course content have enabled her to balance graduate coursework with career responsibilities. All distance education courses offered by the college are recorded and posted online so students can access information at any time.

“I can work on my class assignments when it is convenient for me, and I can still finish my degree in a reasonable amount of time,” she said. “I do not have to schedule my class around work or my work around class schedules.”

Leane Skinner, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and special projects coordinator for the college, said faculty have worked carefully to provide distance and on-campus students with the same learning experiences.

“Faculty go over and above to help distance students be a part of the 'AU Family' by developing courses that encourage continuous interaction among instructor, on-campus students and off-campus students,” she said.

The College of Education offers online master’s degree options in agriscience education, business/marketing education, elementary education, French education, Spanish education, music education (instrumental, vocal), rehabilitation counseling, collaborative teacher special education and early childhood special education.

Two other Auburn University academic units earned top 10 recognition in U.S. News & World Report's assessments, which also included online bachelor's degree programs, as well as online graduate programs in business, engineering, information technology and nursing. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering earned a No. 6 ranking, while the College of Business earned a No. 7 ranking.

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2013

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