The University of Central Florida’s online undergraduate programs are among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“[UCF’s] online programs ensure that more students are able to unleash their full potential by earning a high-quality degree.”
The publication’s 2019 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs List ranked UCF No. 14 in the United States. It is the university’s all-time highest ranking in this category, moving up two spots from its 2018 placing. UCF also ranked No. 10 for Best Online Programs for Veterans, No. 26 for Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, and No. 50 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs — all improvements from 2018.
UCF’s online programs are among more than 1,200 programs surveyed annually by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings take into account student engagement, student services and technology, faculty credentials and training and peer reputation. View the full 2019 rankings.
“UCF is committed to a providing a new model of higher education that meets students where they are and how they learn best,” says President Dale Whittaker. “These online programs ensure that more students are able to unleash their full potential by earning a high-quality degree.”
An Accessible, High-Quality and Affordable Education
For more than 20 years, UCF has invested in online education. Now, approximately 82 percent of UCF’s student body is enrolled in at least one online or blended-learning class. Through an initiative called UCF Online, students from anywhere in the world can enroll in fully online degree programs at UCF. The number of students in fully online programs at UCF has grown by more than 55 percent since the Fall 2017 semester.
James Mills, 35, is a health services administration major who works fulltime and is the father of two small children. A resident of Ocoee, Mills said UCF Online allows him to juggle his academics with his life’s many other responsibilities.
“With all that I have going on in my life, it would be quite difficult for me to commute from home to UCF’s main campus multiple times a week. UCF Online provides me the flexibility to pursue higher learning while working and being there for my family,” says Mills, who plans to graduate in 2020 and further his career in the healthcare field in Central Florida. “The professors are vested in our success and the coursework is structured to meet your needs, especially as a working professional. I consider UCF Online to be an exceptional educational experience. I am proud to be a Knight.”
“UCF Online provides me the flexibility to pursue higher learning while working and being there for my family.”
Students, such as Mills, who take the majority of their classes online often graduate quicker. On average, students who take 40 to 60 percent of their courses online graduate in less than four years. Also, because they do not pay many of the on-campus program fees, online students pay less per credit hour than most on-campus undergraduates.
Online programming continues to expand at UCF. Last year, UCF Online added an undergraduate degree program in sociology as well as graduate programs in art education, crime analysis and emergency and crisis management. Last year also saw a more than 50 percent increase in online student enrollment from the previous year, rising to 4,467 students in the Fall 2018 semester.
“There is definitely a growing national awareness of the breadth and quality of UCF’s online programs. Whether from external authorities such as professional organizations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or from our students themselves, who are enrolling in record numbers, we are extremely proud of the recognition,” says Tom Cavanagh, vice provost for Digital Learning.
Cavanagh notes that UCF has invested in faculty development to ensure online classes possess the same rigor as on-campus offerings. More than 75 percent of undergraduate online credit hours are taught by full-time faculty members. Additionally, faculty members who want to design and teach an online course receive 80 hours of specialized training and are paired with an instructional designer. Last year, UCF Online expanded its Student Connect Center and substantially expanded its staff to provide each online student with a dedicated success coach who helps them navigate UCF throughout their college career.
“A key element to UCF Online’s success is the high level of commitment from our dedicated faculty and staff. The same faculty who teach on-campus teach online. And every online student is assigned a personal success coach who is invested in their academic progress and graduation,” Cavanagh says.