The University of Central Florida unleashes the potential of its students with high-quality degrees, faculty with strong academic and industry expertise, and multiple educational pathways that best position students for success while advancing Florida’s workforce needs.
Online programs are a vital pathway for the approximately 73% of students enrolled in college who are considered nontraditional students. These students work a full-time job, are parents, are veterans or are working adults taking care of aging parents. They are completing a bachelor’s degree or looking to advance their career with a graduate degree. High-quality online programs fit their demanding work and home life — they can earn degrees, gain skills employers are seeking and prepare for the workforce of tomorrow while staying employed and supporting their families.
Today, U.S. News & World Report again recognized the quality of UCF’s online degrees, ranking the university No. 8 in the nation for overall Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. UCF tied for No. 1 in the country for the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology and ranked No. 7 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans.
Of the 17 UCF national online rankings from U.S. News, nine programs made the top 10 and four others were ranked in the top 15.
“UCF has a long history of leveraging innovation to increase the accessibility of high-quality degree programs that help students from all backgrounds unleash their potential and the potential of our community,” UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright says. “Our recent rankings show we continue to be among the best in the nation for online programs — providing flexibility and increasing opportunity for students to succeed in critical, high-wage jobs that support our local and state economies.”
UCF Online brings convenience and flexibility, with more than 100 fully online degree programs and 200 full-time faculty teaching online programs that reach more than 6,000 online students each year from around the country and the world. That includes in-demand programs such as healthcare, engineering, criminal justice, hospitality and education.
By focusing on excellence, UCF produces a skilled workforce to meet the needs of its community, Florida and beyond — including as the top source of talent nationwide for the aerospace and defense industry. U.S. News & World Report has recognized UCF’s growing national reputation in its annual ranking of high-quality online degree programs, as well as its Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools lists.
Highlights from the U.S. News online rankings include:
- 1 (tie) for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology, up five spots from last year
- 6 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs – Administration/Leadership
- 7 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs for Veterans, and Best Online Graduate Computer IT Programs for Veterans
- 8 for Overall Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
- 8 (tie) for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Business, specifically the BS Lodging & Restaurant Management program
- 8 (tie) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs – Educational Administration and Supervision
- 10 (tie) for Overall Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs
- 11 (tie) for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs – Nursing Education
- 12 (tie) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs – Curriculum and Instruction
- 13 (tie) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs – Educational/Instructional Media Design
- 13 for Overall Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs
For the No. 1 ranking of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology, Department of Psychology Chair Florian Jentsch credits the hard work of faculty, teaching assistants and staff for creating what he calls an “innovative, robust and educationally sound” degree program. “In psychology at UCF, nearly all faculty are involved in offering the online bachelor’s program,” Jentsch says.
Several programs have risen sharply in the rankings in a short time, including Overall Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, which has soared into the top 10 just five years after being ranked No. 66. The increase is a reflection of UCF faculty’s drive to meet the demand for high-quality advanced degrees to address nursing shortages in Florida and across the country.
Dorothea Ballai, a 27-year-old registered nurse who lives in Stuart, says she initially was drawn to UCF’s online programs because of their high rankings. The flexibility she found in UCF’s master’s in nursing leadership and management program solidified her decision to enroll.
“The program has been so flexible and helpful, which allows me to work full-time. Because of UCF I’ve been able to further my education in a way I didn’t think I’d be able to. I was very thankful for that opportunity,” Ballai says. “The faculty are extremely phenomenal and so supportive. You can tell they want everyone to succeed. Even at a distance, I’ve always felt supported as an online student.”
Similarly, the university ranked No. 13 in the country for Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, having climbed 26 spots from No. 39 in 2018. UCF tied at No. 37 in overall Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs — an extremely competitive category — after rising 42 spots in just one year.
Rankings of best online programs for student veterans have risen in several categories, including Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, which moved up five spots since 2018. UCF’s Office of Military and Veteran Student Success focuses on the student experience and student success by providing intentional academic advising and career counseling for student veterans, active military and military-connected students who receive support professional staff and from peer mentors who understand the unique challenges they face.
The rise in rankings is a result of UCF’s deep experience with online learning.
“Our dedicated faculty’s hard work and commitment to students are key to providing the high-quality online programs UCF is known for,” says Tom Cavanagh, vice provost for Digital Learning at UCF. “By leveraging innovative technology and cutting-edge teaching practices, they create engaging learning environments that empower our students to learn, thrive and graduate with life-changing degrees.”
UCF began offering online classes in 1996 — long before most universities — and has continually fine-tuned its course offerings and kept pace with new instructional technology. Every faculty instructor who plans to teach online is paired with an instructional designer to learn the most effective way to deliver an online course. Through the UCF Center for Distributed Learning (CDL), all instructors receive over 80 hours of training in digital teaching before their first online course.
From admission to graduation, UCF Online students also have success coaches who work with them as advocates and guides though their fully online academic experience. A success coach is a specially trained, motivational partner who provides frequent and proactive engagement to co-develop strategies and skills to help students meet their academic, career and personal goals.
Davon Miller, a published author who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, chose UCF Online because of the flexibility to work at his own pace.
“My UCF Online experience has been great. I love that UCF Online provides students a success coach to ensure that we’re on top of things and it allows us to connect with someone from the university and not feel distanced, as the success coach encourages us and keeps us informed on happenings within UCF,” Miller said. “UCF Online also gives me the opportunity to not only connect with individuals within the Orlando area but others who may be located across the nation and world, allowing me to have relationships in places I’d never expect to find.”