Central Michigan University's online undergraduate programs are No. 1 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
CMU's graduate education programs, for teachers and administrators, placed No. 3 and its online graduate business program ranked 17.
"CMU continues to be an innovator in online learning," CMU Provost Michael Gealt said. "Much credit can be given to the CMU faculty for our ongoing success. Students continually tell us that the accessibility of faculty is tremendous and that requests for information or help are responded to within 24 hours in virtually every case. U.S. News rankings affirm our faculty expertise and recognizes their work in creating an environment that engages our students."
CMU's Global Campus, which oversees the university's online programs, has been a pioneer in distance learning since 1971, when it was one of the first universities to take education directly to students and adults where they live and work.
CMU junior Samantha Jones is enrolled as a student in CMU's online psychology program. Jones, who lives in Dayton, Ohio, says marrying someone in the U.S. Air Force has made it difficult for her to predict where she will live given her husband's station assignments. She says
CMU's online program has ensured she can continue her education wherever she may move.
"For a person who doesn't have the time or access to a traditional college experience, this program is an amazing alternative," Jones said. "My education is incredibly important to me, and CMU's online program has been fantastic in helping me stay active in my studies. I often talk to people who are in a similar situation as me, and I always recommend they look into this program."
Today, more than 10,000 students are enrolled in online classes each year, some as full-time online students and others supplementing their face-to-face classes at the university's main campus in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
CMU senior Justin Gawronski of Macomb, an on-campus student who works as a residence hall assistant and is former president of the Student Government Association, says taking one online course a semester offers the flexibility his schedule needs.
"The eight-week courses give me the opportunity to be six credits ahead in one semester," Gawronski said. "Our online classes are absolutely on par with our on-campus classes, and the ease and flexibility of the combination is unmatched."
The ranking report evaluates programs on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, and student services, technology, and this year, peer review.
"The peer rankings are a testament to CMU's academic excellence and leadership," President George E. Ross said. "As an institution with more than 120 years of transforming lives through education, the U.S. News rankings speak to our leadership in evolving, strengthening and providing access to higher education across the nation."
Ross, the only Michigan appointee to the national Commission of Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education, was chosen for being a national thought leader in online teaching. The commission, whose final report was issued to the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2013, was tasked with developing and providing recommendations regarding the appropriate government oversight and consumer protection for distance education.
CMU also has been named to Military Advanced Education's list of "Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities" for the past six years. CMU's Global Campus has more than 50 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including more than 20 military bases.
"Central's commitment to establishing and implementing best practices for online learning is one of our greatest success stories. We are committed to making access to quality higher education available to all students -- adult, military, civilian and traditional college students," said Ray Christie, interim vice president of CMU's Global Campus.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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