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Online Graduate Degree Programs Top-Rated

Rankings Reflect 'Commitment to High Quality Online Instruction, Student Success'

Jan. 16, 2014

Amanda Hofer lives and works in Alabama — and she also is a Cal State Fullerton graduate student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science's online software engineering program.

With higher education options no longer limited by a geographic region, Hofer said the growing offerings of online programs gave her the "opportunistic edge to choose a program based solely on its strength," which is why she chose CSUF.

"So, yes, even in Alabama, the Cal State Fullerton name is recognized and respected," said Hofer, a software engineer for Boeing Co. who lives in Madison, Ala.

The engineering program, along with online graduate degree programs in business and education, earned top ratings in U.S. News & World Report's 2014 "Best Online Programs" rankings released Jan. 8.

"I selected CSUF because full-time professors teach every class in the curriculum," added Hofer, who plans to graduate in May. "While having learned enormously from the professors presenting very articulate lectures, one of the distinguishing educational factors is working in teams. Throughout the program, I observed an exponential growth in teamwork and leadership in both my teammates and myself, which is a 'must-have' skill to succeed in the professional world."

For the 2014 rankings, engineering programs ranked No. 16; education programs ranked No. 22; and the business program in information technology ranked No. 23. This year's rankings included evaluations of nearly 1,000 distance-education programs in the country. Only degree programs that are 100 percent online were included in the rankings.

"The College of Engineering and Computer Science started the online degree programs strategically with an emphasis on professional practice," said Dean Raman Unnikrishnan. The college's master in science in environmental engineering, first offered in fall 2012, was also included in the rankings.

"Our M.S. in software engineering was designed to be online to provide instruction in a format that is consistent with the practice of software development in industry, deploying cutting-edge tools, using industry standards and with an emphasis on software quality," he said.

The M.S. in environmental engineering stands out because of its content is rooted solidly in civil engineering with focal points on water quality, air quality, regulatory issues and sustainable development, added Unnikrishnan.

The College of Education's online graduate programs include the M.S. in instructional design and technology, offered since the fall of 2002 and also is CSUF's oldest online degree program, and the master of science in education degree program with concentrations in educational technology, elementary curriculum and instruction, reading and secondary education — all launched in fall 2010.

"We are pleased to be recognized as one of the top online programs in the nation and the best in California. This ranking reflects our commitment to high-quality online instruction and a very high rate of success for our students," said Claire C. Cavallaro, dean of the College of Education.

Mihaylo College of Business and Economics has offered the online master's degree program in information technology since 2005 and also takes prides in delivering a high-quality program that helps students advance their careers.

"It's quite an honor to be among the top 25 graduate programs in the national rankings," said Anil Puri, dean of Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.

Puri credited the college's high ranking to the "high quality of the program and commitment of our faculty in delivering top-notch business programs."

Over the last decade, the college has strived to improve the quality of the graduate program by maintaining small class sizes, in order to give students the attention and support they need to be successful, he said. As a result, "student satisfaction is very high."

With online learning becoming more prominent in higher education, the top rankings also pave the way to develop more online degree programs at CSUF, Puri added.

As a result of better and more robust data, U.S. News made changes to this year's methodology. The modified format also means that comparisons with previous year's scores would be invalid. Visit U.S. News online for more information.

Media Contact:

Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & Research