NIU College of Education Earns Top Ranking From U.S. News & World Report

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DEKALB (WIFR) -- Northern Illinois University is the best place in the nation to earn an online master’s degree in education according to U.S. News and World Report, which released its third annual rankings of online programs – the only ones published that compare data of online degree programs rather than the schools that offer them.

The NIU College of Education jumped from last year’s No. 4 ranking to earn a perfect score of 100 and sit atop a list of 170 graduated schools ranked. This year’s measurements incorporate program ratings by peer institutions and assign greater weight to student engagement.

“This top ranking is a result of our continuing efforts to serve our scholars’ technology-driven lifestyles and set a high standard for online education,” said Dean LaVonne I. Neal. “I am proud of the efforts of our faculty and staff to uncompromisingly maintain our tradition of high quality education.”

Online courses are offered in the college’s departments of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF), chaired by Patrick Roberts, and Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA), chaired by Wei-Chen Hung.

ETRA offers a program aimed at students wanting to become technology specialists, and LEPF has a program for students wanting to become school business managers. The programs began in 2009 and offer cohorts that typically graduate within two years: 85 percent of all students enrolled graduate in two years. There are currently four cohorts with a total of 121 students enrolled.

U.S. News assessed nearly 1,000 such programs, up more than 16 percent from the 2013 list, in recognition of the growing role of online education “in the higher education landscape.”

“Students and employers are increasingly finding value in the way subjects can be mastered in a digital environment,” the magazine wrote. “Schools are responding with a proliferation of course offerings.”

Programs ranked are those which grant degrees and offer the classes needed to complete those degree completely online – the federal government standard for qualifying as distance learning programs.

Although blended learning programs that combine courses in brick-and-mortar classrooms and online education were not considered, programs with orientations, testing and support services with in-person requirements did figure in the mix.

NIU scored well in three of the four measurement categories.

Students can earn a master’s degree by going through a sequence of 36 credit hours. The certification program is tailored for students that already have a master’s degree and are seeking state certification, which requires 30 credit hours.

For more information on the NIU College of Education, call (815) 753-1948 or email

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