Programs make huge jump from No. 61
The University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education online programs earned a dramatic increase in national ranking compiled by the prestigious U.S. News and World Report, climbing from 61 to 25 among 238 higher education institutions.
"I would like to commend dedicated online education program administrators and staff as well as innovative faculty who work together to provide high-quality online education," said Jaekyung Lee, dean of the Graduate School of Education. "I expect that GSE will continue to play a national leadership role in online education and serve as a model for pedagogical innovations."
The national magazine, which issues annual rankings of colleges and programs, rated the best online master's in education degree programs based on five categories: student engagement, student services and technology, faculty credentials and training, admissions selectivity and peer reputation.
The dramatic rankings increase in one year follows the UB Graduate School of Education's increased emphasis to offer more online programs, giving students living away from Western New York the ability to take UB courses off campus.
"Our online programs attract students from all over the world who seek collaborative experiences with our full-time research faculty, seasoned practitioners and, equally important, each other," said Christine Kroll, assistant dean for online education. "Offering academic programs online was a natural extension of the way we collaborate globally with our own colleagues to develop innovative strategies that are designed to bring together students with differing worldviews and experiences."
There were 30 online students when the school launched its first fully online program in 2001. By the fall of 2013, the Graduate School of Education offered seven online programs and enrolled more than 250 students. The school has recently received state approval for a variety of new programs and hopes to offer 15 fully online programs by the fall of 2015.
Twenty percent of the current total enrollment of the Graduate School of Education is fully online, according to school officials. These students complete all coursework, practica and internships in their local area, then graduate from UB without ever coming to campus.
"Most of our students earn master's degrees," Kroll said. "Others earn advanced graduate certificates that are required for New York state licensure or New York state teaching extensions, and others simply take a course or two to keep current in their professional field.
"The average age of our online students is 44, most of whom are employed and raising families and live across the state, county and world," she said. "These students are typically unable to attend UB's brick and mortar campus, so giving them an opportunity to attend UB online is an opportunity they might not otherwise have. All of our students can complete their coursework 24/7 and can earn a degree even though proximity may have prevented it in the past."
The U.S. News and World Report survey ranked the online graduate education program at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Ill., as the top program in the country, and Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., second. UB's program is ranked 25th, tied with the University of Missouri in St. Louis; Pennsylvania State University's World Campus in College, Pa.; and Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. Stony Brook University - the only other SUNY school to make the top 50 - is rated 22nd.
To see the full rankings, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/education