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Multiple Online Programs at USM Earn High Rankings by U.S. News & World Report

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 10:23am | By: Van Arnold

Several online programs at The University of Southern Mississippi have been rated among the nation’s best in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings.

The University’s online MBA program experienced the most impressive change in the 2020 rankings, climbing from No. 119 last year to No. 74 in the current list.

Additional programs earning recognition from U.S. News include:

  • Online bachelor’s degree programs ranked No 93 nationwide, first among Mississippi institutions. 
  • Online bachelor’s degree program for veterans ranked No. 58 nationwide, first among Mississippi institutions. 
  • Online master’s degree in nursing program ranked No. 66 nationwide, tied for first among Mississippi institutions.

"We are very proud that our online MBA program was ranked in the top 75 programs for 2020 by U.S. News & World Report. It is especially impressive considering the program has only been offered fully online since the 2016 - 2017 academic year,” said Dr. Bret Becton, Dean of USM’s College of Business and Economic Development. This ranking is the product of the considerable efforts of Dr. Elizabeth LaFleur, Associate Dean and MBA Director, Heather Sison, MBA Advisor, and the many faculty who deliver instruction to our students.

The online MBA program at USM typically requires 2.5 years to complete. Enrollment from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, totaled 85 students, and 21 graduated during that time period. A total of 36 students have earned their degrees since the program’s inception in 2016.

Among the other notable facts and figures of the program:

  • The average age of the program’s new students is 34 years old. 
  • Average years of post-undergraduate degree work experience is 12 years (19 of 34 new entrants had post-undergraduate degree work experience). 
  • 100 percent of students were employed at the time they enrolled in classes. 
  • 92 percent of students who first enrolled July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018 re-enrolled or graduated in the next 12 months. 
  • Online MBA students hold titles such as Chief Operations Officer, Business Manager, Cost Accountant, President, Owner, Account Manager, and Vice President. 

Becton noted the importance of acknowledging the highly qualified and diverse cohort of online students who have helped contribute to the program’s success.

Together, they have developed a highly respected program that provides working professionals the opportunity to complete a distinctive, high-value, affordable MBA program while balancing work-life demands,” he said. 

In establishing the 2020 rankings, U.S. News chose factors that weigh how these programs are being delivered and their effectiveness at awarding affordable degrees in a reasonable amount of time. More than 350 college and universities are included in the 2020 rankings. 

The U.S. News ranking underscores the University’s commitment to student-veterans and their families and comes on the heels of prestigious recognition from the previous year. In its 2019-20 rankings, VIQTORY listed USM at No. 3 nationwide among research institutions who have earned the Military Friendly® designation. For the third straight year, USM earned gold status – the highest ranking handed out by VIQTORY. In addition, Military Times ranked USM at No. 9 nationally for services provided to military students, marking the University’s first entry into the Top-10 by that publication.

“We strive to be the best across Mississippi and tops in the nation when it comes to providing the ultimate in educational opportunities for our military students and their families. This 2020 ranking by U.S. News & World Report offers tangible evidence that our hard work is being recognized,” said Maj. Gen. (U.S. Army, ret.) Jeff Hammond, Director of USM’s Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families.

USM’s online master’s degree in nursing maintained its position as a leading program, tied with Delta State University as the best among Mississippi institutions.

For the 2020 list, U.S. News assessed more than 1,600 online degree programs – an al- time high. The rankings measure overall academic quality and are across varying disciplines such as business, nursing and veterans programs. U.S. News also updated the methodology this year to give credit to schools that provide online help with course registration, admissions counseling and building a resume building.

USM has been offering online degree programs since 2011-2012. The majority of the online classes are recorded and archived so students can access lecture material at their convenience.

“We are delighted and encouraged to see the recognition that USM has received from U.S. News & World Report in its 2020 rankings for online programs,” said Dr. Tom Hutchinson, director, Office of Online Learning at USM. These rankings are a reflection of the hard work and ongoing commitment by our University faculty, staff, administrators and students as we continue to strive for academic excellence in all of our online programs.”

To see the complete list of U.S. News & World Report rankings, visit:

To learn more about online programs offered at USM, call 601.266.5518 or visit: