New Rankings: The Best Online University Programs Based On Their ROI – Forbes

Posted: October 21, 2020 at 2:58 am


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With salary and debt numbers gathered from the U. S. Department of Educations College Scorecard, a ... [+] new ranking system uses colleges' return on investment (ROI) to evaluate institutions.

As more students turn to online education during the pandemic, theyre becoming increasingly interested in learning about the costs and payoffs of online degree programs. Now, Optimal (formerly the SR Education Group and the host forGradReports.com) has rebranded its Guide to Online Schools as a new source of such information.

The new product is called OnlineU, and this month it released 2021 Best Colleges for Return on Investment Rankings. The rankings are based on major-specific median salary and mean debt numbers gathered from theU. S. Department of Educations College Scorecard.

The pandemic has significantly accelerated the growth of online learning and delivered us into a territory where there is not a lot of qualitative or quantitative information yet, said Optimal founder and CEO Sung Rhee. OnlineU is looking to fill this space with our data-driven articles and outcomes-based rankings focused specifically on return on investment, so students are able to vet the value and outcome of their choices rather than playing the guessing game.

To determine mid-career return on investment (ROI), schools were ranked by graduates salaries and debt payments 10 years after graduation, accounting for standard salary growth and interest on debt payments. Each school was given a percentile "ROI score" that shows how the salary and debt of alumni from that school's online programs compared to similar ones.

A statistical score was calculated that compared each degree programs 10-year ROI with the average 10-year ROI for all other programs in the same field. The scores for the programs offered online at each school were averaged and schools were ranked from highest to lowest on this average score. To be considered, schools needed to have the necessary data available for a minimum number of online programs at the associates, bachelors, and masters level.

The Top 20 Online Universities based on bachelors degrees include public, private non-profit, and for-profit institutions. They include traditional campus-based institutions as well as those that are exclusively online:

The Top Ten Online Universities based on masters degrees are all well-established public or private, nonprofit schools.

In addition to these rankings, the site also ranks individual degree programs in a number of fields.

Every college ranking system is limited by its methodology, and consumers need to understand that interpreting the results must be tempered by what data are collected and how. In the case of these online degree rankings, the reported salaries are specific to a limited time frame, and theyre extrapolated from earlier figures. The debt figures cover only federal loans, not other sources. Additionally, universities with a small number of online programs, and programs with a small number of graduates are not included.

Finally, the value of college should not be measured only in terms of dollars and cents. Many students dont go to college merely as a financial investmenta plan to make a profit. They want to learn how to lead informed, engaged livescombined withthe opportunity to be paid well as they do so.They want to encounter new ideas from people who are different from them. And they want to develop relationships that give lasting meaning to their lives. No ranking system fully captures all those motivations.

Nonetheless, understanding future financial outcomes is of interest to prospective students and their families as they grapple with the question of whether a college education is worth it. The 2021Best Colleges for Return on Investment Rankings offers some useful information on that score.

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New Rankings: The Best Online University Programs Based On Their ROI - Forbes

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October 21st, 2020 at 2:58 am

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