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Why U.S. News Ranks Online Programs for Veterans

To be included, online programs have to offer a range of benefits to people with military experience.

A military woman on the computer

Students with military experience can search the rankings to find an online program best suited to them.

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The second annual edition of Best Online Programs for Veterans is now on usnews.com. There are distinct rankings of online bachelor's programs and online master's degree programs in businesseducationengineeringcomputer information technology and nursing.

Last November, U.S. News released the Best Colleges for Veterans, which are rankings of traditional brick-and-mortar programs. Some may wonder why U.S. News publishes specialized rankings for people with military experience. Shouldn't the best schools for veterans and active-duty service members be the same as the best schools for everyone else?

Yes and no.

Yes, because veterans and service members, like everyone else, value reputable schools where students stay enrolled and graduate with manageable debt loads. For this reason, in order to be included in the Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings, a program first had to be numerically ranked in the 2014 Best Online Programs rankings. Furthermore, the rankings of programs for veterans mirror the order in which programs were ranked for the broader Best Online Programs rankings.

But measures like retention and debt may vary among different kinds of students. That is why some programs are better suited than others for people with military experience.

For example, a GI Bill-certified public university that charges in-state tuition to all veterans applying from out of state will be more affordable than a school not offering this benefit. Likewise, the ability to transfer course credit among schools in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium creates a higher likelihood students in these programs will eventually complete their studies, even after relocating for work.    

This is why to be included in the Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings, programs also had to provide multiple federal benefits that make earning degrees easier and more affordable. Although veterans and active-duty service members may still prosper at schools that do not offer a full array of benefits, they may nonetheless wish to narrow their searches by reviewing a list of programs that allow them to take advantage of these benefits.

For a full explanation of how the 2014 Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings were computed, see the methodology.