2022’s best online university programs

Even before the pandemic disrupted colleges and universities, online learning was becoming a popular option: In fall of 2019, about 37% of postsecondary students nationwide were enrolled in a distance learning course, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The last two years have only helped that trend, and on Tuesday, U.S. News & World Report released a resource to help would-be students — its 2022 rankings of the best online programs.

“The uncertainty caused by the pandemic may result in more people considering the merits of an online education,” said Liana Loewus, managing editor of education at U.S. News. “As students consider what’s right for them and their schedules, they can use the data provided by U.S. News to research their options and make informed decisions about their academic future.”

It’s the 10th year for the rankings, and this year, U.S. News ranked 1,651 programs out of the over 1,700 that it assessed. Rankings were based on such factors as student engagement; services and technologies available to students; faculty credentials and training; and expert opinion on a program’s academic quality.

Local standouts

The rankings of online programs comprise several categories, and a few universities in the region did well in each.

Johns Hopkins and Virginia Tech, for instance, have the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked programs, respectively, on the list of best master’s in computer information technology. (Three other universities in the region — George Mason, James Madison and Maryland-Baltimore County — are all tied at 42nd in that same ranking.)

2022’s best online university programs

Georgetown (tied for No. 7), William & Mary (tied for No. 18), George Washington (tied for No. 21), American (tied for 35th) and George Mason (also tied for 35th) are regional standouts in the ranking of best online master’s in business (non-MBA) programs.

Maryland-College Park was tied for 12th, and James Madison was tied for 24th in the ranking of best online MBA programs.

George Washington also scored well in the best online bachelor’s program ranking, tying 14th overall.

The University of Virginia was tied for No. 8 overall among best online master’s in education programs. Other regional standouts included George Mason (tied for No. 41), George Washington (tied for No. 46) and Towson (also tied for No. 46).

Johns Hopkins and Maryland-College Park (tied for 12th overall), George Washington (16th) and Virginia Tech (20th) were standouts in U.S. News’ ranking of best online master’s in engineering programs.

And in the ranking for best online master’s in nursing programs, D.C.’s Catholic University of America was tied for No. 6 overall, with George Washington not far behind, tied for No. 8 overall. Another standout: Virginia Commonwealth, tied for No. 20.

Overall standouts

Here are the top performers for each ranking. See the complete detailed rankings on the U.S. News website.

Bachelor’s Programs

  1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide (FL) (tie)
  2. University of Florida (tie)
  3. Medical University of South Carolina (tie)
  4. University of Illinois—Chicago (tie)

Master’s Programs


  1. Indiana University—Bloomington (Kelley) (tie)
  2. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) (tie)
  3. University of Southern California (Marshall) (tie)

Business, non-MBA

  1. Indiana University—Bloomington (Kelley) (tie)
  2. University of Southern California (Marshall) (tie)
  3. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) (PA) (tie)
  4. University of Georgia (Terry) (tie)

Computer Information Technology

  1. Columbia University (NY)
  2. Johns Hopkins University (Whiting) (MD)
  3. Virginia Tech

Criminal Justice/Criminology

  1. University of California—Irvine
  2. Sam Houston State University (TX) (tie)
  3. University of Massachusetts–Lowell (tie)


  1. Clemson University (Moore) (SC)
  2. University of Florida
  3. University of Georgia (tie)
  4. University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign (tie)


  1. Columbia University (Fu Foundation)
  2. University of California — Los Angeles (Samueli)
  3. Pennsylvania State University—World Campus (tie)
  4. Purdue University — West Lafayette (IN) (tie)


  1. Ohio State University (tie)
  2. University of Pittsburgh (PA) (tie)
  3. University of South Carolina (tie)
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