For the seventh year in a row, Arizona State University has been named No. 1 among the nation's most innovative universities by U.S. News & World Report. ASU has earned the top spot every year - ranking ahead of schools like MIT and Stanford - since the inception of the category in 2016.
The university has a culture of innovation that is embedded in all aspects of its community. From curriculum innovation, prominent faculty, a diverse student community, state-of-the-art technology and extensive student support services, ASU embodies a forward-thinking mindset.
“Innovation is required to solve one of the most critical problems we face as a country: Unequal access to and achievement in higher education,” Phil Reiger, University Dean for Educational Initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at Arizona State University, said. “That’s why ASU Online has had a single focus for over a decade: Providing students the best programs, taught by the best faculty, with the best support. If we can deliver on that agenda using our advanced curricula and distinguished faculty, we will greatly enhance our learners’ upward social mobility, and we will have created opportunities for individuals across the world. I’m excited for what comes next."
In 2021, ASU launched more than 40 new online degree programs across several disciplines, including more than 25 in STEM-related fields, adding to the more than 200 online degrees currently available. Of these, several are the first of their kind in the online learning space while others are among the few offered in the nation.
- The Master of Architecture (MArch) is one of five online programs in the US and the most recognized. It is NAAB accredited and can lead to licensure in the US.
- The Bachelor of Science in biological sciences with a concentration in genetics, cell and developmental biology has the only concentration of its kind at ASU, which combines the study of three essential areas of life science.
- The Bachelor of Science in neuroscience program examines the functions of the brain and nervous system in relation to behavior, emotion and consciousness using cutting-edge research while building strong foundations in biology, engineering, mathematics and psychology.
- The Master of Education in special education, Master of Education in elementary education, and Master of Education in secondary education teacher certification programs provide students more versatility in choosing their career path by offering a dual certification route within a single program. These programs are also designed to prepare students to apply for applicable certification in Arizona.
The universities recognized in the innovation category were nominated by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans from across the country. Schools are chosen based on making the most innovative improvements toward curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology and facilities.
ASU, historically, has pushed the boundaries and disrupted the higher education landscape by reshaping what education should look like, how it’s accessed and how students are empowered to succeed.
A technologically advanced approach to learning
ASU has expanded the possibilities within the virtual reality landscape by building upon the virtual-reality lab experience offered to students enrolled in online programs. Dreamscape Learn pushes the boundaries and sets the standards for teaching and learning in the 21st century.
“This designation recognizes the work we have done -- and will continue to do -- to advance learning in higher education,” Mike Angilletta, President’s Professor and Associate Director of Learning Innovation, said. “With the narrative power of Dreamscape Learn, students will learn by doing science rather than by reading about what scientists have done.”
The new, immersive virtual-reality biology curriculum will redefine how students encounter highly relevant problems and how they engage, analyze and solve those problems while also improving student learning gaps.
This curriculum innovation builds on the hands-on learning experiences of the ASU online programs, such as biochemistry and biological sciences, where students have access to at-home lab kits that engage them directly with the learning material.
Since its first innovation designation, ASU has been a leader in the online learning space. ASU Online has broken barriers and forged partnerships that advance learning for all individuals, regardless of geographic location, and increased access to more learners.
- PLuS Alliance, a partnership between King’s College London and UNSW Sydney, is designed to enhance the global and interdisciplinary skills and perspectives of the next generation of research leaders by providing researchers with training in developing global networks, working across transdisciplinary teams, communicating research and leadership and career development.
- The Starbucks College Achievement Plan offers full tuition reimbursement for Starbucks employees who pursue an online degree through ASU. To date, more than 6,000 partners have earned their bachelor’s degree through ASU Online.
- The Uber Education Partnership provides a pathway to a fully-funded college degree for eligible drivers and their families nationwide.
The history of ASU is bold, and the future of ASU is full of possibilities. Our immersive curriculum, expert faculty and state-of-the-art technology continue to lead the way and open new doors.
Through it all, the university community persevered and innovated to continue to be of service. As we have done and will continue to do, we pulled together in novel ways to keep our mission of access, excellence and impact moving forward. This recognition reflects that determination, which is emblematic of the Sun Devil spirit.