For the last eight years, the University of Florida College of Education has set the standard for online learning. Once again, UF is ranked No. 1 in the 2023 Best Online Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
UF earned the No. 1 spot nationally out of 329 other colleges of education for online graduate degree programs. The college has earned the top rank five of the last eight years (2016, 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023), dipping only one spot in 2018, 2020 and 2022. No other college of education has demonstrated this level of continued excellence.
Students across UF’s programs benefit from collaborative efforts and proximity to the college’s ongoing efforts to improve experience and learning outcomes in online education. Faculty affiliated with UF’s Institute for Advanced Learning Technologies and the college’s educational technology program push the boundaries of teaching and learning through leading research and challenging coursework.
“Our incredible faculty continue to translate research into practice, making meaningful advancements to teaching and learning for our students here and learners everywhere,” said College of Education Dean Glenn Good. “The level of continuous achievement we have experienced is demonstrative of our bold, collaborative approach and our dedication to impactful research and transformative instruction.”
Top 10 Among All Specialty Areas
The UF College of Education, again, was recognized by peers among all specialty area rankings. In 2020, U.S. News began ranking specialty areas of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration and Supervision, Special Education and Educational/Instructional Media Design, “to help guide prospective students who have particular interest in pursuing a degree or coursework with one of these focuses.”
These specialty area rankings are based on peer assessment of academic reputation. Eligibility requirements include the institution having “received at least five ratings from peer institutions, been ranked in the main online master’s in education rankings, and verified in the peer assessment they offer the specialty or else had this verified by U.S. News.”
The college was recognized as leaders in all specialty areas, with the following rankings:
- No. 2 – Special Education
- No. 3 – Curriculum and Instruction
- No. 4 – Instructional Media
- No. 6 – Educational Administration
“The college’s continued excellence in specialty areas is additionally meaningful as it represents recognition from our peers,” said Tom Dana, senior associate dean and director of the Institute for Advanced Learning Technologies. “We know how effective our programs are and what that means to our students, and so do other institutions across the nation.”
Faculty and staff at UF are committed to elevating student experience and consistently improving learning outcomes. The college’s team in the e-Learning, Technology and Communications department work collaboratively with faculty and students across disciplines to create learning environments that go beyond preconceived notions of online education. Jason Arnold, Ed.D., leads a group of highly-skilled instructional designers, videographers and editors, web and graphic designers, and systems developers who implement best practices and while leveraging emerging technologies.
“Our faculty, students and staff have continued to set the bar for online learning nationally, but this success has not occurred in a vacuum,” Arnold said. “Our innovation and intense focus on the learning experience has been honed from thousands of hours of work with faculty from across the university in a variety of fields, partnerships with external organizations and targeted online education research grants.”
According to U.S. News, a master’s degree in education can help further careers in teaching, instructional design and educational administration. Programs are ranked based on five general categories: engagement (30 percent), faculty credentials and training (20 percent), peer assessment (20 percent), services and technologies (20 percent), and student excellence (10 percent).
“This recognition is such an honor because the ranking reflects the truly outstanding work of our faculty and instructional designers,” said Tina Smith-Bonahue, associate dean of academic and student affairs. “As a result of their longstanding commitment to excellence in online education, students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend university have the opportunity to experience the best in undergraduate education. Engaging courses, designed and taught by experts, increases student achievement and persistence, and enables students from all walks of life to reach their potential.”
UF is No. 1 for Online Bachelor’s Program
UF has retained the top spot in U.S. News’ rankings for the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The college’s Bachelor of Arts in Education Sciences is among the No. 1 ranked programs.
The undergraduate program has become tremendously popular with 160 students currently enrolled. The education sciences program is designed to establish a foundation of knowledge, to allow graduates to pursue a variety of careers in education and education-related areas.
“The UF College of Education’s online undergraduate education is unique,” said Earl McKee, academic advisor. “From day one, students are supported by a dedicated academic advisor. Online advisors are able to connect students with a wealth of campus and virtual resources. On average, online undergraduate course sizes are smaller at about 28 students per class. This allows students to build rapport with their professors and engage in meaningful discussions with their peers. In addition, our online Gators are still Gators. There are several opportunities for our online students to engage with the Gator Nation through in-person and virtual events. All of these things, and more, create a vibrant undergraduate experience for our online students.”
College leadership shares this proud moment with the entire EduGator community, knowing that faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends everywhere have contributed to the college’s success. Dean Good reiterated that even though the college has been a leader in online education for the last eight years, momentum continues to grow.
“Individually, we are strong,” Good noted. “Together, we are unstoppable!”
At the University of Florida, we offer online programs that are tailored to working individuals who want to advance their knowledge and skills in order to improve their contexts. The majority of our students join cohorts where they build strong learning communities that push their thinking and practice, together, across traditional geographic borders. Student find that these learning communities renew their sense of purpose as educational professionals and provide pathways toward leadership that keep them committed to the profession. The vast majority of our online courses are taught by full-time faculty rather than a rotating list of adjuncts, and that helps with both program coherence and student support and guidance.
Success breeds success. We attract the highest quality students and retain the highest quality instructors. The Educational Leadership program works from a model of continuous improvement whereby we strive to know more and do more in preparing the next generation of school leaders. Our voices are included in state, national, and global conversations and our graduates consistently experience success in the institutions they ultimately come to lead.
The College of Education is top-notch at UF. Despite being an online program, most of my classes would require one to three Zoom sessions a semester to have the opportunity to virtually meet and engage with my professor and classmates. I valued these sessions because they built community and provided opportunities for us to work together and learn from each other. The COE provides opportunities for financial support through scholarships, which online graduate students can apply. The professors were always understanding of students being working professionals and were willing to meet at hours that not only worked with their busy schedule, but ours as well. Academic rigor and excellence was expected, but empathy and compassion was always present.
There is no such thing as a one-size fits all solution to education. Teachers, more than ever, need to feel empowered in finding solutions to improve education by collecting data to research their own classrooms to find strategies that work for their students in particular. The Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) graduate program was designed with a great deal of input from practicing educators. That is why it is job-embedded, where what educators learn can be immediately implemented in their practice to address challenges in real-time.
The TLSI program pushes you to not only improve your classroom, but also provides tools and encourages you to guide your colleagues’ to improve their classrooms and the school in general. If you are an educator that really cares about all students and strives to make a difference in your sphere of influence, then this is the right program for you!
I believe that we are continuously highly ranked for our online programs because we have faculty with a range of content area expertise and the knowledge and experience to integrate best practices in online teaching and learning into their courses. We also have faculty who work hard to make sure the programs are cohesive and up-to-date and students who are engaged and interactive in online coursework which improves the experience for everyone. In addition, we have support staff to help support students, address technical issues and support faculty with course design and development. Our online programs offer great opportunities for professional growth, career advancement, career transition and professional communication and collaboration.
I started with the instructional design certificate and enjoyed and learned so much from the classes that I decided to continue pursuing the M.Ed. program. And because I am attending the program while working full-time, I am able to apply the lessons and principles I’ve learned directly to my professional work. In terms of what has stood out, I think the variety and type of classes to choose from has been tremendously valuable. While some of the classes may be challenging, they all have been personally meaningful to me. Seeing many familiar faces throughout the program and in the same classes really helps to foster community even if many of us are from faraway places. Meeting such a diverse and highly talented group of fellow students has been an enriching experience.
The College of Education is the meeting place between educational theory and instructional best practice with both our instructors and supporting instructional design team collaborating on the design of online courses that engage the learner while also promoting a greater community of practice.
The online Reading Education program in the School of Teaching and Learning at UF offers a coherent, rigorous program of study that provides students with the knowledge, skills, tools, disposition, and experiences they need to succeed in the complex world of teaching. We have a talented and dedicated faculty who collaboratively work on curriculum and problems of professional practice, model best practices in the field, make explicit connections across courses and experiences, and provide timely, constructive feedback to student learning. We also have a support structure in the College of Education that is efficient and responsive to student needs. As a result, we have been able to attract a large national pool of outstanding students who are committed to learning and teaching.
I will say the Graduate COE online courses have been the most well designed and implemented Canvas courses I have encountered. As an adjunct professor at a local community college, my Canvas game has been elevated by just attending the UF courses. Very professional learning environment and I felt I was really part of a team. I know how folks are starting to tire of online learning post pandemic, but this level of online learning needs to be preserved for the inevitable periods of time when online learning will be the main form of learning in the future.
The University of Florida College of Education believes in our students and meeting their needs in the online setting. We consistently rank at the top because we have the best students and our faculty continuously improve their online teaching practices to meet the needs of our diverse students. We take the role of online learning seriously in this college!
I wanted to create and design more engaging courses for students to take in an online format. My current goal is to become an instructional designer so I can help educators and businesses make their courses creative and engaging for a diverse range of learners. There are always student events and activities held by the College of Education that welcome all students and provide the opportunity for social networking. My favorite part of being in the Ed Tech program is learning new technologies as they are emerging. Researching gamification, AI and VR technologies that are currently being tested for classrooms is exciting! It makes me feel like I am a part of something new and fresh.
When my youngest child went off to college, I decided to look into fully online graduate programs in the field of Educational Design and Technology. I applied to several schools, but UF was my first choice, as its online ed tech master’s program was ranked #1 in the country. I also appreciated the fact that I could plan my own pace and course of study for completing the program, as well as the fact that most of the courses are run in eight-week sessions, which allow me to focus on just one course at a time. The most rewarding thing about the program for me has been learning skills that I never imagined I could develop at this point in my life, from best practices for the creation and editing of educational videos to working with animation software to building websites using HTML and CSS.
As someone who is also undergoing a second bachelor’s degree, in person, I have found that my online professors are more approachable and responsive than my in-person professors. Furthermore, I have always felt supported through the discussion posts and collaborative work with my peers. I have formed friendships without having met my peers face to face. Peer responses in discussion forums are always encouraging with constructive feedback, and I have learnt an immense amount from these discussions. All the courses were highly applicable; however, there were some which assisted me in developing a large work portfolio that I would like to share with future employees. The practical aspect of having this portfolio, at the ready, to share, is invaluable.