U.S. News Releases Online Grad Degree Surveys

Surveys are out, and questions from schools are in.

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All online education degree surveys are in the hands of eligible schools. On July 28, usnews.com launched surveys to master's degree level education programs in five disciplines: business, computer information technology, education, engineering, and nursing. If your institution has questions about which people in specific programs received surveys, including the online bachelor's degree survey sent a couple weeks earlier, contact OnlineEdOfficial@usnews.com.

We are pleased that so many schools have already either submitted or made substantial progress on their surveys. But the more schools that participate, the more questions they ask. Many of these questions resemble those submitted by participants in our recent WCET webcast. Our written responses to their open questions about survey design, rankings methodology, and the upcoming U.S.News & World Report online education directory are published on the organization's website along with an archive of the webcast and a near replica of the bachelor's degree survey.

To further ease the burden of our hard-working data team, below are answers to some of our most commonly received questions:

Q: The surveys are long and complex. Can my school get an extension?

A: Yes. In fact, we have already extended the general deadline for the online bachelor's degree survey until August 27. If your school needs a personal extension beyond that date for any of the surveys, there is a "help" button on the electronic survey tool that can be used to E-mail requests and questions to U.S. News data collectors. At this time, nearly all requests for extensions will be granted.

Q: Should my school complete the survey if it is offering an online degree program for the first time in 2011-2012 and cannot report data on 2010-2011?

A: Yes. Although schools with new online programs are not capable of providing the statistical data necessary to be included in the rankings, they can still have profiles in U.S. News's free searchable directory of online degree programs. In doing so, these schools can inform site readers that they are indeed administering online program(s), and can convey information about their programs' course offerings, admissions requirements, technologies, and tuition, among other distinguishing characteristics.

Q: My graduate school in one of your disciplines offers multiple specialized programs that are very different. Can I get a separate survey for each one?

A: No. We did not create separate surveys within disciplines this year. There also will be no online degree program rankings produced on specialized levels. Schools must aggregate data when calculating descriptive statistics. For questions asking about program characteristics (e.g., admissions deadlines, course technologies), schools should provide responses that represent the breadth of their offerings as accurately as possible.

Next week, we'll provide answers to additional questions.