Thursday, May 30, 2024

Quality, strategic innovation propel UTSA Online to top U.S. ranking

Quality, strategic innovation propel UTSA Online to top U.S. ranking

FEBRUARY 8, 2024 — UTSA’s fully online undergraduate degree programs significantly improved their ranking, moving from No. 85 in 2023 to No. 57 today and into the top 20% of the more than 399 ranked institutions, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best Online Programs list, which was released earlier this week.

To create the 2024 ranking, U.S. News & World Report examined 1,600 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The new ranking represents the fourth consecutive year that UTSA Online’s programs have forged ahead in the rankings. UTSA’s 2024 position also make it the top-ranked online program in the UT System and among the top 10 ranked institutions in Texas.

“UTSA’s rising recognition affirms our commitment to providing high-quality fully online degree programs that allow our students the flexibility they need to return to college, pivot their career trajectories and advance in their respective fields,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “UTSA is creating upward mobility opportunities for our students and their families while growing the workforce and making a significant impact on the economic development efforts of our city, state and nation.”

“UTSA’s rising recognition affirms our commitment to providing high-quality fully online degree programs that allow our students the flexibility they need to return to college, pivot their career trajectories and advance in their respective fields.”

UTSA offers three fully online undergraduate degree programs in cybersecurity, multidisciplinary studies and communication; graduate certificates in facility management, data science and medical device commercialization; and a master’s degree in facility management. In Fall 2023, UTSA Online exceeded an enrollment of 1,000 students for the first time.

“When students seek an education online, they’re inundated with dozens of options that may vary widely in quality and cost,” said Heather Shipley, interim provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs. “UTSA’s fully online programs broaden access for adult learners, providing the opportunity for talented students to receive a top-tier education taught by world-class faculty at a premier public research university. It’s a formula for success, giving our students the knowledge, skills and experience needed for a bold advantage in their future careers.”

High-quality programs are a significant driver of UTSA’s 2024 ranking. U.S. News & World Report assessed each institution’s online programs in four categories tailored explicitly to measure online programs: Faculty Credentials and Training (20%), Engagement (35%), Services and Technologies (25%) and Peer Assessment (20%).

“UTSA’s data-driven approach to expanding its online programs is both deliberate and strategic,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost for the UTSA Division of Academic Innovation. “We craft distinctive degree and certificate programs and provide personalized service to ensure we engage our online students and they succeed.”

The UTSA Office of Online Programs, the organization that manages UTSA Online, is one of several under Academic Innovation. Academic Innovation is also home to the Office of Teaching, Learning and Digital Transformation (TLDT), which creates a seamless connection between distance learning specialists and fully online programs. When building a new program for fully online students, faculty work with TLDT instructional designers and distance learning specialists to create programs that provide a holistic college experience for learners who may never set foot on a physical campus.

UTSA Online faculty follow the same rigorous standards as faculty on campus — in fact, many of them also teach in physical classrooms at UTSA. Faculty leverage universal design for learning strategies and the full suite of academic technology available at UTSA. This collaborative course design process ensures classes are engaging, maximizes UTSA’s digital tools and resources, and provides students with personalized and innovative online learning experiences. UTSA Online students are also able to leverage academic support programs and dynamic technology like their on-campus counterparts.

UTSA Online designs its programs with non-traditional learners in mind. More than 75% of UTSA Online students are over 31 years old, 41% are parents, 62% are returning to school to pursue a career change or promotion, and 66% are employed full-time. Students often select UTSA Online for an education as it provides them with a more flexible schedule that can better fit into their lives.

As part of the process of launching a program, the Office of Online Programs works collaboratively with UTSA Enrollment Marketing and Communications to align efforts and ensure that the office’s online marketing is tailored for students who are only seeking a fully online degree or certificate. Students who request information about the fully online programs are contacted by a UTSA Online Enrollment Counselor. If a student is better suited to or will be better served by seeking a degree on-campus, UTSA staff connect the prospective student to the residential campus. 

U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 rankings also surveyed college administrators and academics in online undergraduate programs. The survey helps capture intangible factors that impact a program’s quality and may reflect employers’ perceptions of an institution’s academic programs. UTSA is leading the way in developing distinctive, fully online degree programs that respond to growing industries and gaps in workforce skills.

“UTSA Online provided me the opportunity to connect with so many experienced career professionals across an industry that I am passionate about,” said Shalita Myrick ’22, the first graduate from UTSA Online’s master’s degree program in facility management. “UTSA Online offered me the ability and flexibility to determine whatever was best for my personal life and my career.”

Brett Copeland

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.