Arizona Online has made an 18-rank increase from last year and has tied at 11 out of 353 programs in the 2020 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings, according to a U.S. News & World report released on Jan. 14. The online program has increased a total of 70 spots since the university’s appearance on the report in 2017.
Carmin Chan is the director of online student success for Arizona Online and is excited that the program has gained recognition so quickly into its creation.
“This was our first year being able to share graduation outcomes,” Chan said. “The way the U.S. News & World report works is in order to be able to share information about graduation outcomes, the program has to be in existence for a total of four years based on a graduation timeline.”
For being in its fifth year of operation, the University of Arizona has established itself as a leader in online education.
Liesl Folks is the senior vice president and provost at the UA. She was able to look into other online programs’ practices to see what would work best at the university.
“So, how do you rise quickly when you’re so new?” Folks said. “It’s by drawing in the best practices from others that have already tried and tested many different methodologies.”
The program puts a high premium on providing students with the same educational experiences, even if they’re taught fully online without any in-person classes.
“Our baseline requirement is that our quality should be absolutely equal, whether the program was delivered online or in person,” Folks said.
Several other UA online programs were ranked highly, and the Arizona Online graduate program was ranked third out of the 62 programs and first out of all public universities.
“Ranking is just a number, but at the end of the day I think our team certainly appreciates the opportunity to be recognized for the good work that we know we’re doing,” Chan said.
According to Chan, students are the real contributors to the rise in ranks.
“The ranking is a reflection of the hard work of our students and their success and their outcomes,” Chan said. “Ultimately our team strives to support our students and their education goals.”
For the future, Arizona Online and those in charge plan on adding more programs and features to the experience, allowing more students to be able to participate.
“We’re still investing in Arizona Online,” Folks said. “We’re still working out, for example, how to provide great student advising and great support and success coaching to students in online forums.”
The online program prides itself on always being accommodating to all students, even if it is just through a screen.
“I think we have to be very flexible when we’re dealing with our online students and make sure that we are providing the support structures they need when they’re feeling stressed,” Folks said. “Even if that’s not at a time of day when we would normally be engaging directly in face-to-face time or with the students in a particular class.”
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