Online graduate programs in the NIU College of Education continue to perform near the top of the country, according to new rankings released today by U.S. News & World Report.
NIU places fourth (tied with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) in the current honor roll of 200 schools, earning a fifth consecutive spot among the nation’s Top 5 and its sixth nod overall.
Among the nine other Illinois schools ranked, only the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (tied for 10th) and the University of St. Francis (tied for 29th) are in the Top 50. Ten universities in the Mid-American Conference are ranked, including Buffalo and Ohio, which are among the five institutions tied for 10th.
Dean Laurie Elish-Piper considers the college’s annual recognition as “evidence of our high-quality online graduate programs.”
“Our faculty are at the cutting-edge of designing and delivering online education that is rigorous, engaging and interactive,” Elish-Piper said. “Our faculty, advisers and support staff are available to assist students in our online programs every step of the way so they can be successful in their programs and in their professions.”
The NIU College of Education offers three online master’s degrees within the departments of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA) and Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF).
ETRA Chair Wei-Chen Hung heralds a continued and collective effort “attributed to faculty credentials, both academic and specifically for teaching online courses, and student engagement.”
“One particular highlight this year is that we further enhanced our assessment approach by working closely with Research and Assessment faculty to develop assessment instruments and rubric that help us better prepare our students for job markets,” Hung said.
“We are also in the process of updating our curriculum to integrating emerging practices and technologies in the field.”
Acting LEPF Chair Carolyn Pluim (Vander Schee) calls the six-year streak of U.S. News recognition a “nice salute” to the hard work of students as well as talented faculty, including Patrick Roberts, who chaired the department from 2013 to 2016, and full-time professors and adjunct instructors who bring decades of diverse and practical experience.
“We’re committed to continually improving our modes of delivery, to making sure that our course content is relevant and current and to engaging students in what they need to know as school business officials,” Pluim said. “We also have a fabulous relationship with the Illinois Association of School Business Officials that helps us to recruit top students to the program.”
U.S. News & World Report began collecting data on online programs in 2012 – NIU made the “honor roll” that first year – on the belief that “online learning is becoming integral to all types of education, including higher education, and that consumers are hungry for information related to online degrees.”
Its rankings make no distinction between not-for-profit and for-profit sectors.
Rankings are based on five categories, which are weighted: student engagement (35 percent), student services and technology (20 percent), admissions selectivity (15 percent), faculty credentials and training (15 percent) and peer reputation (15 percent).