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USM Online Programs Among Nation’s Best in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Thu, 01/26/2023 - 06:32am | By: Van Arnold

Online programs at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) continue to rate among the nation’s best in rankings released recently by U.S. News & World Report.

In its Best Online Programs 2023 rankings, U.S. News ranked USM’s online bachelor’s program at No. 65 nationally, the bachelor’s in business at No. 44 and the veterans-bachelor’s at No. 41. All three programs are ranked No. 1 in Mississippi. USM also earned a No. 83 ranking in the best online MBA for veterans category, marking the first time that USM has been included in those rankings.

“These rankings are definitely due to our faculty's desire to offer the highest quality programs in the country,” said Dr. Tom Hutchinson, Dean of Online Learning and Enrollment at USM. “As a university, we strive to support our students and ensure our degrees will elevate them in their careers or open new opportunities for them.”

The 2023 rankings represent an upward trend for the USM programs. Last year the online bachelor’s degree was ranked No. 68. In 2021 the program was ranked No. 75, compared to a No. 93 ranking in 2020. The bachelor’s in business rose from the No. 51 position last year, while the veterans-bachelor’s climbed from No. 44.

By evaluating factors that involve interactivity, flexibility, and support, the U.S. News rankings give students and veterans a better idea of what to expect out of online programs such as the bachelor’s degrees at USM. As the highest-ranked Mississippi university on the list, USM represents the best in the state.

"These rankings are the product of much hard work and commitment by our faculty and staff to provide the very best learning experience for our online students,” said Dr. Bret Becton, Dean of USM’s College of Business and Economic Development. “We are especially pleased to be ranked at No. 83 for best online MBA for veterans as Southern Miss prides itself on being a military friendly institution and it is rewarding to receive recognition for contributing to this important university initiative. This is a clear message to prospective students seeking an online business education that Southern Miss offers some of the top programs in the country."

For the 2023 edition, U.S. News assessed an all-time high of 1,833 online degree programs and ranked 1,763 of them. The rankings measure overall academic quality at the baccalaureate and master's levels across disciplines in business (MBA and non-MBA programs), criminal justice, education, engineering, information technology and nursing.

U.S. News also produces the best programs for military veterans and active-duty service members ranking – which credits strong academic programs for enrolling veterans and making available ample financial benefits linked to federal programs.

While the methodologies used for the rankings are different for each discipline, they all incorporate metrics specific to online learning. The rankings only include
degree-granting programs that are offered primarily online by regionally accredited

"Most of the undergraduate programs in the Best Online Programs rankings are
degree completion programs, meaning the vast majority of their students already
have some college credit," said Liana Loewus, managing editor of Education at U.S.
News. "The methodologies are developed with those students in mind, setting these
rankings apart from those that are focused on recent high school graduates
pursuing higher education for the first time."

U.S. News assessed schools based on four categories. Here is a look at each category and its weight in the current rankings formula.

  • Engagement (35%): Quality online bachelor's degree programs promote participation in courses, allowing students opportunities to readily interact with their instructors and classmates, as is possible in a campus-based setting. In turn, instructors not only are accessible and responsive, but they also are tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough that students stay enrolled and complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

  • Services and Technologies (25%): Programs that incorporate diverse online learning technologies allow greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance. Outside of classes, strong support structures provide learning assistance, career guidance and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.

  • Faculty Credentials and Training (20%): Strong online programs employ instructors with academic credentials that mirror those of instructors for campus-based programs, and they have the resources to train these instructors to teach distance learners.

  • Peer Assessment (20%): A survey of high-ranking academic officials helps account for intangible factors affecting program quality that are not captured by statistics. Also, employers may hold in high regard degrees earned from programs that academics respect.

To see the complete rankings, visit:

Future students looking to work toward a bachelor’s degree can visit USM’s online programs page to get more information and help getting started.