The University of Arizona College of Engineering's online program for master of engineering degrees has earned top ten spots in two of three categories in the inaugural edition of the Top Online Education Program Rankings by U.S.News & World Report.
The Online Distance Learning graduate program from UA Engineering was ranked No. 3 in Faculty Credentials & Training, No. 10 in Teaching Practices and Student Engagement, and No. 21 in Student Services & Technology, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The UA Engineering program offers graduate education programs that meet the professional education goals of specific organizations and industry partners. Master of science and master of engineering degrees are available in systems engineering, industrial engineering, engineering management and mineral resources. Professional graduate certificates and master's degrees in optical sciences and photonic communications engineering are also available through the distance learning program at the College of Optical Sciences.
All engineering online distance courses are typically developed and offered by the college faculty members, as opposed to adjuncts, said Larry Head, UA systems and industrial engineering department head. "Our distance courses are taught by the same faculty as the on campus classes. The content and requirements are the same for distance and on-campus," he said.
Advanced degrees and certificate programs are the norm for a practicing engineer, said Jeff Goldberg, dean of the UA College of Engineering. "We offer our programs to help meet these needs, and to offer a convenient approach for the working professional." In addition, Goldberg says, the materials developed for distance classes are also blended into the on-campus offerings to improve student learning and modernize content.
Mary Poulton, director of the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources and head of the UA department of mining and geological engineering, says the UA's distance and continuing education programs for mineral resources are among the largest and most innovative in the world.
"The (mining and geological engineering) department captures and streams all of its lectures for distance students around the world," Poulton said. This includes distance teaching collaborations with students at the University of British Columbia and the University of Pittsburgh.
Poulton says a popular seminar on mine reclamation and environmental management currently includes distance learning students each semester, and in the spring of 2012, an interdisciplinary course, Topics in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development, involving instructors from nine different UA departments, will also be distance delivered.
In addition to publishing online master's degree program rankings, U.S. News rated online bachelor’s degree programs in business, engineering, nursing, education, and computer information technology. The online program rankings by U.S. News were based on student engagement and accreditation, as opposed to assessment. In order to be considered for the U.S. News rankings, online degree programs needed to have at least 80 percent of their course content available online.