Western Kentucky University’s online bachelor’s degree programs have been ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

WKU finished in a three-way tie for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in the rankings released this week. Pennsylvania State University World College was first and WKU tied with Daytona State College and University of Chicago-Illinois.

WKU was also ranked 11th in Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, 35th in Graduate Education Programs, 70th in Graduate Nursing Programs and 84th in Master’s of Business Administration Programs.

“This recognition is a validation of the hard work and dedication of our faculty in developing and teaching online programs at WKU,” Beth Laves, Associate Vice President for Extended Learning & Outreach, said.

The Division of Extended Learning & Outreach (DELO) operates WKU’s online offerings and supports faculty in the development of courses, training, tools and resources to enhance the learning experience and heighten student engagement.

“WKU Online Program Services staff also provide award-winning student services that play a significant role in making our program stand out,” Dr. Laves said.

She said those services include access to an Online Presentation Coach, Online Writing Center, electronic resources from WKU Libraries, research assistance, a directory of Top Tools for Online Learners, Online Tutoring and Career Services and other services specifically designed for distance learners and free of charge.”

Ten years ago, WKU had 1,262 undergraduate students enrolled in one or more web courses. By fall 2014, online enrollment had quadrupled with 4,949 WKU undergraduates taking at least one web course.

WKU makes 12 bachelor degree programs available online: Sociology, Child Studies, Family Studies, Organizational Leadership, Interdisciplinary Studies, Computer Information Technology, Dental Hygiene, Environmental Health Science, Business Administration, Registered Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Systems Management and Technology Management. Students have the opportunity to earn a certificate or degree through more than 80 online program options at the undergraduate and graduate level.

“I am extremely proud of our faculty and our partnership with DELO, which allows us to produce such a great program,” Dr. Douglas Smith, Department Head of Sociology, said.

Dr. Smith teaches in the online master’s in criminology program and said that students in the program are typically adults working in the criminology field looking for a degree to advance their careers. The program began in 2008 and has had 21 graduates and currently has more than 50 students enrolled.

To determine its rankings, U.S. News analyzes data that reflects how an institution’s online bachelor’s programs are being delivered and their effectiveness at awarding affordable degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

“WKU achieved the number 2 ranking based on a high level of student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology and its peer reputation in distance learning,” Dr. Laves said.

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