U.S. News & World Report lauds College of Ed, online graduate program ranks fourth in nation

U.S. News & World Report official badge: Best Online Programs-Grad Education 2013U.S. News and World Report Magazine has ranked online graduate programs in the NIU College of Education as fourth best in the nation.

The magazine ranked 208 schools that met the criteria for all-online graduate programs, and each was measured in four categories.

NIU fared well in each: selectivity (13th); faculty credentials, both academic and specifically for teaching online courses (11); student services and technology (14th); and student engagement (fourth).

The engagement measurements included factors such as graduation and retention rates, time to graduation and class size and other factors.

LaVonne I. Neal, dean of the college, said the recognition by U.S. News and World Report underscores the college’s vision and planning efforts.

“I am proud and delighted that the efforts of our faculty and staff to pioneer programs that prepare our students to be leaders in the 21st century are being recognized,” Neal said. “This is a result of an intentional process aimed at positioning our college, our faculty and staff, and our students to maintain our high quality tradition of education while adapting to the tools required of them to succeed and lead in the 21st century.”

While this was the first time that the magazine formally ranked online graduate education programs, NIU appeared prominently in an “honor roll” of 14 such programs compiled by the magazine last year.

College of Education Dean La Vonne I. Neal

La Vonne I. Neal

Currently, two programs in the NIU College of Education are offered entirely online:

Both have been offered in an online format for three years, but have long enjoyed an outstanding reputation for their traditional classroom versions.

NIU’s College of Education is a link to the university’s roots as a teachers college that opened in 1899 to train teachers to work in one-room schoolhouses that dotted the prairies. The university remained primarily known for teacher education for more than half a century. One of the largest colleges of education in the state, it claims amongst its graduates one in four school superintendents in Illinois.

While proud of its history, the college keeps its focus on the future. Online learning is a key part of those efforts.

The top three schools in the rankings were St. John’s University (New York), Auburn University and South Dakota State University. Seven other Mid-American Conference schools made the list, with Central Michigan at No. 12. Three other schools from Illinois were also named, with Roosevelt University, in Lisle, checking in at No. 19.

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