WCU included on magazine’s list of top online program providers

Western Carolina University’s increasingly popular online degree programs are again among the nation’s best, according to rankings released recently by U.S. News & World Report.

In a review of undergraduate and graduate online programs offered by higher education institutions across the country, the magazine ranked WCU in 47th place among 259 schools in a category for “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.” In 2017, WCU was ranked 76th among 226 schools in the same category.

U.S. News & World Report assessed schools based on four general, weighted categories: student engagement (35 percent); student services and technology (25 percent); faculty credentials and training (20 percent); and peer reputation (20 percent). In the seventh year of collecting data from distance education programs, the magazine has expanded the range and depth of its online examination, this year assessing 1,490 online degree programs, 152 more than the 2017 list.

WCU also made the list of the “Best Online Graduate Business Programs (non-MBA),” coming in 59th out of 119 schools. Those rankings are based on the same factors, except for the addition of admissions selectivity.

More than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in WCU online degree programs, which have seen steady growth of up to 5 percent in the past four years, said Susan Fouts, director of WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach, which supports online degree programs.

“Western Carolina University supports distance students with expert faculty, advising, tutoring and other services because these students are important to the success and mission of the university,” Fouts said. “We’re pleased by the rankings but not necessarily surprised. Most of our students work full time, have families and own homes, all the usual obligations of modern life. By understanding the make-up of these students, WCU provides services to students on their schedule, not a routine 9 to 5 schedule.”

WCU offers online bachelor’s degree programs in birth-kindergarten education, criminal justice, emergency and disaster management, emergency medical care, engineering technology, business administration and law, and entrepreneurship, plus a program allowing registered nurses to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing. Master’s degree programs provided online by the university are construction management, entrepreneurship, health sciences, human resources, special education, nurse educator, nurse administration, project management, school administration, and elementary and middle grades education.

Information about the university’s online programs is available at the website distance.wcu.edu or by calling the Office of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397.