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### Top Online College Programs Ranked by U.S. News

U.S. News & World Report unveiled its 2024 Best Online Programs rankings on Feb. 7, with four universities in New Jersey securing a position for bachelor’s degree programs and 20 higher education institutions appearing on the lists across multiple graduate categories.

The rankings and accompanying resources provided by U.S. News aim to assist students in making informed decisions tailored to their specific needs amidst the increasing prevalence of distance learning. LaMont Jones, the managing editor for education at U.S. News, emphasized the importance of empowering students with data to facilitate educational and professional fulfillment.

Before the onset of the pandemic in 2019, approximately 36% of college and university students in the U.S. engaged in at least one distance learning course. By 2021, this figure surged to around 60%, indicating a significant shift towards online education.

The evaluation process for the rankings involved assessing over 1,752 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs at regionally accredited institutions, ultimately ranking 1,680 programs. These rankings, now in their 12th year, consider various factors such as program design for distance learners, affordability, and timely degree completion across different student demographics.

Each discipline underwent specific evaluation criteria, focusing on the program’s suitability for diverse learner profiles, including traditional college-age students, working parents, military personnel, professionals, and lifelong learners. Participation in U.S. News’ annual data collection is a prerequisite for inclusion in the rankings, with universities either opting in or out of the assessment process.

Among the New Jersey universities recognized, Rowan University received the most acknowledgments, including accolades for its bachelor’s programs and six graduate programs across different categories.

The rankings encompass a range of institutions in New Jersey offering both bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in various fields such as business, education, nursing, criminal justice, information technology, and engineering. Notable mentions include Rutgers University, Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Rider University, among others.

The commitment to providing quality online education is evident in the statements from university representatives such as Daniel White, the associate provost for online programs at NJIT, emphasizing the importance of flexibility and global accessibility in education delivery. Provosts and senior vice presidents from institutions like Montclair State University and Rider University expressed their dedication to offering high-quality and accessible educational opportunities to students.

Berkeley College, recognized for the 11th consecutive year, celebrated its rankings on social media, highlighting the institution’s commitment to excellence and student success through a flexible and supportive approach to online learning.

In conclusion, the recognition of these universities in the Best Online Programs rankings underscores their commitment to innovation, quality education delivery, and student success in the evolving landscape of online learning.