ASU's online bachelor's-degree programs were ranked No. 4 in the country, according to a popular online ranking by U.S. News & World Report. Ohio State and Penn State were tied for No. 8.
The program moved up seven spots, having tied for 11th place in the magazine’s 2016 rankings.
“The work being done here at ASU Online through EdPlus at ASU continues expanding access to higher education for students around the world, and through our technology-enhanced, digitally enabled platform, we are able to deliver many of the same high-quality degree programs as those offered on-ground,” said Phil Regier, University Dean for Educational Initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at ASU.
“We strive to allow all individuals who are interested in pursuing their education the opportunity to achieve this goal."
ASU Online had 17,589 undergraduate students and 6,261 graduate students in the fall term.
The magazine releases several higher-education rankings throughout the year, most recently rating ASU as the most innovative university for the second year in a row.
ASU's online program earned a score of 92 out of 100. The magazine’s top three online bachelor’s programs were Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, which ranked first with a score of 100; Temple University; and the University of Oklahoma.
Other ASU Online programs that ranked highly were two from the W. P. Carey School of Business — the master’s in business, which ranked third in the nation with a score of 96, and the MBA, which was fifth. Both programs’ rankings were the same in 2016.
“We continue to improve our online business degrees through strong partnerships with industry and executives helping us tailor our programming towards skills and needs of the future,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business.
“With strong competition in the online business school space, we are thrilled to be recognized again as one of the leading online business programs in the country.”
ASU’s online criminal justice program also ranked fifth this year.
U.S. News scored its “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” based on four categories: student engagement, 40 percent; faculty credentials and training, 20 percent; student services and technology, 20 percent; and peer reputation, 20 percent (partially based on a survey of high-ranking academic officials).
One of ASU’s most celebrated innovations was the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, launched two years ago, which offers full tuition reimbursement to Starbucks employees who pursue an online degree through ASU.
Jessica Ohrt is an ASU Online student pursuing a degree in sustainability.
Jessica Ohrt began pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in sustainability last year when she was a Starbucks barista, and tuition for her first semester was reimbursed. She then left her job at Starbucks, but she decided to continue working on her ASU Online degree.
“I looked for a local college that had a sustainability program that would be comparable, and there wasn’t one. It was such a distinctive program and set of classes that I decided to stick with it,” said Ohrt, who lives in Marietta, Georgia.
Ohrt became interested in sustainability while serving as a Girl Scout leader for her daughter’s troop years ago.
“We did a lot of work on environmental responsibility and citizenship, and then it was like, ‘Oh, I can get a degree in that!’ ”
She likes that the courses keep students on track and are self-directed, so she could work in between caring for her granddaughter.
“I could watch a lecture in the evening or on the weekends, and if I woke up at 4 in the morning and wanted to get something done, I could,” she said. “The flexible approach was appealing to me.”
Ohrt expects to graduate in December and is considering working for a government agency or a nonprofit focusing on environmental justice.
“I’ve learned that sustainability is not just global warming and recycling. It’s also social stability and people having access to food and transportation and shelter,” she said.
Sustainability is one of more than 60 undergraduate online degrees offered at ASU.
U.S. News & World Report assessed 1,328 online degree programs to compile the 2017 list. Rounding out the top 10 online bachelor’s degree programs after ASU were Western Kentucky University; California University of Pennsylvania and West Texas A&M University (tied for sixth); and California Baptist University, New England Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University World Campus and the University of Illinois Chicago (all tied for eighth).