Like other students, veterans and active-duty service members gain most from distance education that is affordable, accessible and well-regarded. The Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings measure these factors in consideration of benefits available specifically to people with military experience.
To ensure academic quality, all schools included in this ranking first had to be numerically ranked in U.S. News & World Report's 2013 Best Online Education Programs rankings.
This means each program is housed in a regionally accredited institution, and performed well enough on a multitude of factors - including faculty credentials, support provided to students, high graduation rates and low debt loads - to be included in the broader rankings.
Veterans and active-duty members who frequently change residencies place great value on the portability of their course credits as well as costs, so every program included in this ranking also had to report the following to U.S. News during the Best Online Education Programs data collection between August and October 2012:
• Offering at least one credit-granting course listed in the Defense Activities for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Catalog of Nationally Accredited Distance Learning Programs
• Belonging to an institution that is a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium
• Belonging to an institution certified for the GI Bill
• Belonging to an institution participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program
U.S. News ranked programs meeting all four of these criteria. Ranks were assigned numerically, in descending order of Best Online Education Programs ranks among corresponding disciplines.
For example, if the No. 7 program in the broader Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs rankings was the highest-ranked school to meet the veterans-focused criteria listed above, then that program would be No. 1 in the Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs for Veterans rankings.
There are separate rankings of the best online bachelor's degree programs for veterans, and the best online master's degree programs for veterans in business, education, engineering and nursing. In total, 153 out of 829 online degree programs that reported data to U.S. News in these disciplines are included in the Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings.
For detailed explanations of the overall Best Online Education Programs rankings, see the individual discipline methodologies.