• Peer reputation (weighting: 25 percent): Industry opinion accounts for intangible factors on program quality not captured by statistics. Also, degrees with strong perceptions of quality among academics may be held in higher regard among employers.
• Student engagement (weighting: 23 percent): Quality engineering programs allow students opportunities to readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates. In turn, instructors not only are accessible and responsive, but they also are tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees in normal time.
• Faculty credentials and training (weighting: 23 percent): Strong online engineering programs employ instructors with the kinds of awards and academic credentials one would expect from a campus-based program, and have the resources to train these instructors on how to teach distance learners.
• Student services and technology (weighting: 17 percent): A program that incorporates diverse online learning technologies allows greater flexibility for students to take classes and labs from a distance. Outside of classes, a strong support structure provides learning assistance, career guidance, and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.
• Admissions selectivity (weighting: 12 percent): Student bodies entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions, and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework. Furthermore, online degrees that schools award discriminatively will have greater legitimacy in the job market.
Corrected 1/28/13: An earlier version of this article did not correctly define the scoring process for the “technologies accessible to students” ranking indicator.