In only its fifth year of operation and fourth year of rankings eligibility, the University of Arizona has quickly established itself as one of the nation's leaders in online education.
Arizona Online is tied at No. 11 out of 353 programs in the 2020 Best Online Bachelor's Programs rankings by U.S. News & World Report, released Jan. 14. With an 18-spot jump from last year and a 70-spot increase from the university's inaugural appearance in 2017, Arizona Online is one of the nation's fastest-rising universities in the rankings.
"The University of Arizona takes great pride in its ability to provide top-notch educational opportunities to students throughout the world, both in traditional classrooms and in online settings," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "This ranking places us among the elite schools offering online education and sets the stage for even higher rankings in the future as we are able to report additional graduation rates and student outcomes. This is an incredible testament to the talent we have here, and I am very pleased with what Arizona Online has accomplished."
U.S. News & World Report ranks programs based on student engagement, student services and technology, faculty credentials and training, and expert opinion.
In addition to bachelor's programs, U.S. News & World Report ranks online graduate programs.
Arizona Online saw significant year-over-year improvements in graduate-level offerings. In information technology graduate programs, which includes information systems, computer science, computer engineering and software engineering, Arizona Online rose to No. 3 out of 62 programs and No. 1 among public universities. These programs are offered through the Eller College of Management, the College of Science and the College of Engineering.
The Eller College's online MBA program cracked the top 10 for the first time, placing in a tie at No. 10 out of 335 programs, up from No. 21 in 2019. The nursing program offered through the College of Nursing jumped from No. 47 to No. 31.
"This rise in the rankings shows our commitment to offering a quality learning experience for our students," said Liesl Folks, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "From the moment someone shows an interest in one of our programs to the completion of that degree, we are completely focused on the student's journey. Our biggest success – and one that helped our rise in the rankings – is preparing students for careers by giving them access to quality online programming and keeping the human interaction at the forefront of the learning experience."
Many Arizona Online students are adults working full time and parents who seek the flexibility of online courses, or active military personnel who require the ability to study from wherever they are stationed or deployed. U.S. News & World Report ranks certain programs based on how well they serve veterans. Arizona Online received high marks in the following categories:
- No. 2: Computer Information Technology
- No. 6: MBA
- No. 8: Bachelor's
- No. 13: Nursing
"Arizona Online's notable increase in our rankings is a reflection of achievements and outcomes of our talented students," said Carmin Chan, director of online student success. "This is the first year of the rankings where we have been allowed to include our four-year graduation outcomes of the online students. Our emphasis on high-touch, student-centered advising practices and student engagement helps position our online students to thrive, all while balancing school and life."
In fall 2019, Arizona Online enrolled more than 4,400 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. One out of every 4 undergraduate students enrolled in Arizona Online this fall has a military affiliation.
"Within five years we have gone from having a limited number of fully online programs to offering over 30 online bachelor's degrees," Folks said. "We created our online programs thoughtfully by working with faculty experts and a team of designers who understand how learning happens in the online environment."