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FHSU scores well in U.S. News rankings

Special to The Hays Daily News

U.S. News & World Report, the news magazine that produces one of the most popular general rankings of colleges and universities, this week released its second annual national rankings that specifically target online education.

Fort Hays State University was again among the leaders in three of the categories.

The news magazine evaluated online higher education in six categories: bachelor's programs generally and master's programs in business, education, engineering, nursing and computer information technology. FHSU offers online courses in bachelor's, master's in business, master's in education and master's in nursing.

Based on the statistical data provided by FHSU, all four programs were judged to meet the U.S. Department of Education's definition for distance education: "All the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses that incorporate Internet-based learning technologies."

Three of the four FHSU online programs were ranked:

* Out of 1,767 institutions surveyed, FHSU's online bachelor's program was ranked 23rd.

* Out of 959 institutions surveyed, FHSU's online master's business program was ranked 93rd.

* Out of 1,043 institutions surveyed, FHSU's online master's education program also was ranked 93rd.

"We are not at all surprised that FHSU's online programs continue to be recognized nationally for their quality," said FHSU President Edward H. Hammond. "We continually improve our online programs to meet the changing circumstances of virtual students. Just this year, we created the Student Engagement and Advising Center to provide advising that is geared specifically to the needs of our adult online learners."

The new center provides six new online advisers in FHSU's four colleges -- the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Technology, and the College of Health and Life Sciences. The investment of approximately $350,000 makes advising available at the times of day it is needed from advisers who have specific knowledge of virtual learning.

Dennis King, director of the Virtual College, said in addition to the latest confirmation of the high quality of its online programs, FHSU's virtual students also benefit from low tuition.

"We are in the lowest 1 percent nationally in terms of online tuition," he said. "This report further supports our claim that FHSU students are getting a top-tier education at the most affordable price."

In a new wrinkle this year, U.S. News is offering badges for the 2013 Best Online Education Programs rankings. These badges will be available to the highly ranked schools for promotional purposes. FHSU's online bachelor's program, online master's business program and online master's education program all qualified to use the badges.

"We are recognized far and wide for our entrepreneurial, forward-thinking culture," Hammond said. "This recognition by U.S. News for the second year in a row shows our graduates, our current students and our future students that FHSU is the right choice for their online education."