How Were the Online Education Data Collected?

Here's the methodology used in this year's online education guide.

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The number of institutions offering courses and degrees taught via E-learning technologies grows rapidly every month. To help you navigate this expanding universe, we've created two searchable directories of an institution's overall E-learning offerings—courses, certificates, and degrees via Internet, video, CD-ROM, and other distance-education technologies—and also a directory that focuses on online graduate-level degree programs in six disciplines: business, engineering, education, public health, nursing, and library science.

Method of data collection

During the winter of 2008 and this spring, U.S. News surveyed over 2,800 colleges, including several online entities or "virtual universities." For the fourth year in a row, U.S. News also surveyed two-year colleges that grant associate's degrees or certificates. Institutions reported their credit-granting E-learning and distance-education offerings for the 2008-2009 academic year. All institutions that were surveyed have at least two characteristics in common: They are all regionally accredited and offer E-learning or distance-education courses for credit. Some of the institutions, particularly those that offer online graduate degrees, are also professionally accredited by an appropriate association (depending on the discipline).

Each institution that responded to our survey has a page in the directory. Schools that did not offer any E-learning courses during the 2008-2009 academic year can be found here.

To learn about how we use such terms as "distance education," "online education," and "E-learning," please consult our glossary.