January 26, 2021
Contact: Sara Diedrich, 573-882-3243, diedrichs@missouri.eduIn the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has forced much of higher education to pivot to remote learning, online programs at the University of Missouri are being recognized among the best in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2021 Best Online Programs Rankings.

That includes Mizzou’s online bachelor’s programs, which climbed 85 spots to No. 14 out of 337 public and private institutions. MU — which offers 16 online bachelor’s degrees — tied with Illinois State University, North Carolina State University, University of Central Florida and University of Oklahoma. For the fourth consecutive year, Mizzou’s online master of education programs ranked higher than any other institution in Missouri, climbing 45 spots to No. 15. MU tied CUNY-Hunter College, Portland State University, Texas Tech University, University of North Texas and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Additionally, MU’s online graduate business degrees — in a category that excludes MBA programs — also climbed in the rankings, rising 86 spots to No. 34 out of 164 institutions, tying with Colorado State University, University of South Dakota and West Texas A&M University. Online programs at Mizzou also ranked well in a category that U.S. News calls “Best for Veterans.” MU’s online graduate education programs rank No. 5 for veterans and its online bachelor’s programs ranked No. 9 for veterans.

“It was an unprecedented year for higher education, but our dedicated team of professionals continued to provide our online students with the same high quality of education that has long been recognized among the best in the nation, this year we worked hard to enhance our digital platform and student experience while working to grow enrollment” said Matthew Gunkel, chief of eLearning for UM System. “Our online programs are developed by the same faculty who teach on campus and provide participating students with a degree that truly means something.”

The new rankings are included in the 2021 edition of the Best Online Programs rankings released today by U.S. News & World Report and are based on data from 2020.

Increased access to quality online education is a strategic goal for the UM System, which now promotes more than 260 online offerings from its four universities through Missouri Online. Efforts are paying off with enrollment of distance students growing 41% systemwide over the past five academic years. This is growth in fully online programs and doesn’t include enrollment in courses that may have been moved online due to the pandemic.

U.S. News ranked schools with online graduate programs in five general categories: engagement; expert opinion; faculty credentials and training; services and technologies; and student excellence.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the vast majority of students enrolled in the ranked bachelor’s online programs have earned at least some college credit. Rather than first-time college students, they are more likely to be working professionals in their 20s to 40s looking to advance in or change their careers. Consequently, the factors U.S. News selected to make comparisons between programs did not include measures only applicable to teenage applicants, such as high school grades and standardized test scores. Instead, it chose factors that weigh how online programs are being delivered and their effectiveness at awarding affordable degrees in a reasonable amount of time.