For the 2014 edition of the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs rankings, U.S. News & World Report incorporated program ratings by peer institutions. Each is weighted in the rankings through student engagement (30%); faculty credentials and training (25%); student services and technology (20%); peer reputation (15%); and admissions selectivity (10%).
Creating the 2014 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs rankings required two steps, according to a U.S. News & World Report article. Step one was compiling a list of nursing schools offering masters degree programs online. Step two was collecting data from these schools.
U.S. News & World Report sent statistical questionnaires to public, private and for-profit institutions granting a masters degree in nursing that was accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Respondents were asked to identify whether in academic year 2013-2014 they would be offering a masters in nursing program through Internet-based distance education courses.
U.S. News defines a distance education program as A program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses that incorporate Internet-based learning technologies. Distance education courses are courses that deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. Note: Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing or academic support services do not exclude a program from being classified as an online masters in nursing degree program.
Between the start of data collection in July 2013 and the September 2013 closing date, 130 (27%) said they would be offering online masters degree nursing programs in accordance with the definition, while the rest either said they would not or chose not to respond.
Because the number of online nursing programs is continually growing, 13 of the 128 ranked schools were not included in the peer reputation survey and did not receive any ratings. For ranking purposes, these schools were assigned the median peer reputation score derived from the data collected in 2013. These values are not published and will not carry over into future rankings, according to the article.
For a list of rankings, visit www.usnews.com/education/online-education/nursing.