UNCG’s online master’s programs in education and nursing shine in U.S. News’ just-released 2014 rankings for Best Online Programs.

At 45th in the nation, UNCG’s online master’s in nursing program ranked alongside Yale’s and out-ranked Duke’s.

UNCG’s online master’s program in education ranked 61st among similar programs across the country.

Online program rankings in both fields are based on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, peer reputation and admissions selectivity.

“This recognition from U.S. News is a huge point of pride for UNCG and really shows that we are at the cutting edge of higher education as it evolves,” says Chancellor Linda P. Brady. “It also reflects this university’s mission to make challenging academic programs available to a diverse student body with diverse learning needs and preferences.”

The School of Nursing was ranked based on two online programs, the master’s in nursing education and the master’s in nursing administration. Currently, 34 students are enrolled in the education track and 33 in the administration track.

“The ranking is a testament to the excellence of our faculty and well-prepared students who are enrolled in each of these online concentrations,” says Eileen Kohlenberg, associate dean for graduate programs in the school. “We anticipate further growth in each area as we prepare to meet the challenges of healthcare delivery and the preparation of the healthcare workforce. The School of Nursing has been an National League for Nursing Center of Excellence in Nursing Education since 2005.”

The School of Education was ranked based on its master’s programs in three areas — dance education, Latin and Specialized Education Services. Those programs involve 16 full-time faculty and 119 students who collectively take 29 courses offered completely online.

“We are delighted to learn of our ranking, which places us as the second-highest institution in the UNC system in regards to the quality of our online master’s in education programs,” says Karen Wixson, dean of the School of Education. “Our faculty and staff are committed to developing challenging programs where students receive a quality education in an online format, which allows us to expand our reach to the greater community. Our students tell us they want convenience, but not at the cost of quality — they want to be challenged and welcome our venture into this form of instruction. While we have just started our expansion into online teaching and learning, we are pleased with our progress and will continue to focus on providing our diverse community of students a variety of educational options for their success.”

Projections for next year indicate a dramatic increase in enrollment numbers and faculty as the school offers more programs fully online, says Anthony Chow, assistant professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies and the school’s director of online learning.

“The new rankings are a clear indication of the School of Education’s commitment to providing quality instruction, and our ability and success in evolving with and meeting the changing needs of our students and society. We are recognized as a campus and UNC system leader that is getting stronger and more agile in the e-Learning space, which increases student access to our nationally recognized faculty and programs,” Chow says.

Chow, who compiled the school’s data for the U.S. News survey, expects to see an increased demand for online courses in the state and the nation. Nationally, online learning continues to grow as 32 percent of all U.S. college students in the 2012-13 academic year have taken at least one online course, the largest ever, and 69 percent of academic leaders view e-Learning as a strategic priority.

UNCG is a statewide leader in online education at both undergraduate and graduate levels. From 2007-2012, UNCG has seen an average of 13.6 percent of its undergraduate courses offered online, close to twice the average of 7.5 percent for the UNC system. About 16.1 percent of UNCG’s graduate courses are offered online. In terms of total student credit hours generated online, UNCG ranks third at both the undergraduate and graduate levels behind only East Carolina and N.C. State.

For full U.S. News rankings, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education.