OEDb's 2008 Online Rankings
#1
OEDb's Online College Rankings 2008

Quote:Online higher education is growing, but a lack of transparency is preventing it from reaching its full potential. Even though online colleges are now receiving increased respect from top employers, diploma mills and the like limit the prestige of a legitimate online degree. We think more transparency is a good thing; a set of objective, quantitative rankings — however imperfect — should help shed some light on the relative attractiveness of the most popular accredited online colleges.

These rankings have been produced by OEDb, a database of accredited online education programs. In our rankings we included the most significant degree-granting undergraduate online colleges that operate nationally, as determined by our selection criteria. To our knowledge, our 2007 rankings were the first of their kind, and these 2008 rankings are meant to serve as an update with more colleges added.

For each college, we gathered data for eight different metrics — acceptance rate, financial aid, graduation rate, peer Web citations, retention rate, scholarly citations, student-faculty ratio, and years accredited. The overall ranking, shown below, ranks each college by its average ranking for each metric for which data was available.

Overall Results
This table simply shows the overall ranking of each college, with its average rank in the right-hand column reflecting the sum of all of its ranks divided by the number of metrics for which data was found for that particular college.

Overall Rank College Average Rank
1 Upper Iowa University 10.813
2 LeTourneau University 11.960
3 Liberty University 12.540
4 Nova Southeastern University 13.323
5 California University of Pennsylvania 14.232
6 Grand Canyon University 14.709
7 Regent University 14.742
8 Champlain College 14.960
9 Westwood College 15.428
10 Tiffin University 16.700
11 Dickinson State University 17.111
12 Walden University  17.500
13 National University 17.758
14 Fisher College 19.887
15 Colorado Technical University 20.165
16 ITT Technical Institute 20.186
17 Kaplan University 20.418
18 Post University 20.467
19 Franklin University 20.547
20 Peirce College Online  20.765
21 Western International University 20.891
22 Florida Metropolitan University * 21.223
23 Bellevue University 21.335
24 Capella University 21.712
25 University of Phoenix 22.722
26 Berkeley College 23.268
27 Granite State College 23.929
28 City University 23.956
29 York Technical College 24.047
30 Salem International University 24.504
31 South University 25.342
32 American InterContinental University 25.382
33 Florida National College 25.553
34 Darton College 25.584
35 Grantham University 25.636
36 Everglades University 26.771
37 National American University 27.175
38 Jones International University 27.554
39 Western Governors University 28.087
40 Herzing College 28.305
41 Ellis College 30.962

About the Online College Rankings
Quote:Established in September 2006, OEDb: Online Education Database is an independent for-profit organization located in Houston, Texas. We are dedicated to building a comprehensive database of the top accredited online colleges and the degree programs that they offer.

The methodology used to rank the colleges was developed by Jimmy Atkinson, founder of OEDb. Mr. Atkinson has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame. The data compiled for the purpose of this study was collected by Mr. Atkinson and his staff from January 10, 2008 – January 16, 2008.

The entire culture of learning is changing, and with that, formal education is too. One of the many ways in which formal education is changing is that it is now possible to study and earn a degree entirely online. While the opportunities for online education are rapidly gaining in number, there still exists a lack of transparency. We thought there was a need to cut through some of this by offering our rankings. Our main purpose in conducting this study was to show, as objectively as possible, which are the top accredited online colleges.

Our methodology certainly isn't perfect, but we strived to make consistent and logical at the very least. To that end, we feel that this first set of rankings is a good starting point. We plan to release new rankings annually. With time, our goal is to increase both the number of colleges we include and the amount of data we are able to collect.

Methodology

Quote:In putting together this methodology, we strived to be balanced and objective. To that end, we used only quantitative, reliable metrics with data from authoritative third parties. We do realize that no methodology is perfect, but we did our best to weed out any factors that would obviously skew the results.

Online College Inclusion Criteria

We wanted our rankings to include the most significant undergraduate degree-granting online colleges that operate nationally. Since there is no single authoritative list of online colleges on the Web — at least none that we could find — we went through multiple sources to find our initial list of colleges which we would consider for these rankings. Each source we chose is both well known and trusted. The colleges were culled from these sources from December 12, 2007 – January 10, 2008.

DETC — Institutions accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council are primarily distance learning based.

eLearners.com — Similar to DMOZ, eLearners.com provides a large list of online colleges which we did not want to miss.

Peterson's Distance Learning and Online Degree Programs Search — To make sure we didn't miss any notable online institutions that were regionally accredited and not listed on eLearners.com, we included any college listed in the distance learning and online degree programs search section of Peterson's.

US News & World Report's E-Learning Guide — To make sure we didn't miss any notable online institutions that were regionally accredited and not listed in the aforementioned DMOZ category or on eLearners.com, we included any college listed in the US News & World Report's E-Learning Guide's top 20 largest and top 20 oldest degree-granting online programs.

We then narrowed down these the list of colleges compiled from these four sources, based on the following criteria:

1. The college must be accredited. A college must be accredited for its degrees to be respected by most employers and other legitimate higher learning institutions.

2. The college must be listed in College Navigator. The College Navigator was commissioned by the US Department of Education to help prospective students compare higher education opportunities. We decided to exclude colleges not listed in College Navigator for two reasons: firstly, it would be impossible to rank them accurately without the trusted third-party metrics that College Navigator provides; secondly, we felt that any college not already in College Navigator was not notable and/or important enough to be included in our rankings.

3. The college must offer more than one undergraduate degree-granting program online. We wanted to exclude specialty colleges which only offered degrees in one subject.

4. The college, if campus-based, must offer at least 50% of its undergraduate degree-granting programs online. There are hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide that offer online programs. But very few are primarily online-based. Our rankings strive to rank only those that are primarily online-based.

The list of colleges used for our rankings is by no means comprehensive or perfect, but by using this methodology for selection we believe we included the majority of the biggest, most important, and/or most notable primarily-online colleges and universities in the United States. ....
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#2
Interesting to see ACCSCT-accredited Everglades University coming in at number 36, ahead of heavily advertised RA competitors such as Jones and Ellis.  

Everglades also had the highest retention rate of any of the ranked colleges.   Another heavy advertiser, UoPhoenix, was down at the bottom of those who reported data in that category.

Also interesting that Northcentral dropped off the list completely after finishing 20 out of 21 last year.  Is this evidence of a rapid decline in NCU's quality, or a rapid increase in the OEDb's accuracy?
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