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USU Distance Ed is ranked nationally

staff writer

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 01:01

distance education

Kylee Larsen

Blair Larsen talks about fault lines in her Monday night GEO 3100 course. The class is part of USU's Regional Campuses and Distance Education Program, the only Utah program of its kind ranked recently in a national report.


USU’s Regional Campuses and Distance Education Program was recently ranked 48th in the nation as part the 2014 edition of the U.S. News and World Report.

According to Robert Wagner, vice provost of Distance Education, more than 2,000 schools submitted applications and just more than 200 schools received a ranking. No other school in Utah was ranked in the list.

“Our program provides access to education in flexible ways,” Wagner said.

One of the options students can take is online courses. USU offers more than 350 online courses and eight online bachelor degrees. There are also six online master’s degrees. The master’s online program ranked 70th in the same report.

Rankings in the U.S. News and World Report were based on five requirements: student engagement, faculty credentials, peer reputation, student services and technology.

According to Wagner, part of the success of the program stems from the land-grant mission USU follows. USU has a presence in each county in Utah, either through the regional campuses or the smaller education centers. Classes are also available through broadcast courses.

More than 500 faculty are employed by the program. Angie Minichiello, principal instructor of engineering at the Brigham City Regional Campus, has been involved in the Distance Education program for the last five years.

“It’s a great program,” Minichiello said. “It fills an important need,”

Minichiello said one of the benefits of the program is the availability of classes in the evening. Many of her students are in their late 20s or 30s and are balancing families and work while also getting a degree. The program also provides an environment for a variety of learning styles.

Minichiello said the technology has had its drawbacks, as a large portion of the student interaction comes through computers. However, the technology has recently seen several improvements.

“Because of the technology, there are always new approaches,” Minichiello said.

Minichiello echoed Wagner in expressing that the primary benefit of the Distance Education program is the flexibility it provides in earning a degree.

Josh Mason, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, said he benefited from this increased access. As a father of six kids, his close proximity to the Brigham City campus has been a part of his success.

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