U.S. News & World Report Ranks UNC Charlotte Education Programs Among Top in the Nation

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In the 2021 rankings for Best Colleges from U.S. News & World Report, the Cato College of Education was ranked nationally for its online programs and among the top 10 for online special education programs.

UNC Charlotte Distance Education has been recognized consistently by U.S. News & World Report during the past four years, with several programs earning increasingly higher rankings.

Online Bachelor’s Programs are ranked 34th overall. Many of the current bachelor’s degree programs are degree completion offerings, with plans for expansion over the next several semesters due to increased demand.

“Each year, busy adults achieve their personal and professional goals by continuing their education online. These students often do this while balancing full-time jobs and family responsibilities,” said Asher Haines, interim executive director of the Teaching and Learning Connection at UNC Charlotte. “We will continue to invest in our online infrastructure to ensure our programs are high in quality and affordable. Ultimately, these top rankings are a testament to our faculty and staff who are committed to student success.”

Online Graduate Education Programs from the Cato College of Education are ranked 27th overall, up from 28th in 2020 and 29th in 2019.

The M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction ranks 13th in the curriculum and instruction category, placing for the first time. Lan Kolano, program director and department chair said, “The M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction program is committed to the preparation of knowledgeable, effective and reflective master teachers, instructional leaders and curriculum specialists in their fields. Through a lens of social justice, this 100%-online program uses innovative practices and community engagement to deepen candidates’ understanding of education, equity and advocacy in schools and their communities.”

The graduate Learning, Design and Technology (LDT) programs rank 13th in the Educational/Instructional Media Design category. The graduate LDT programs encompass a M.Ed., and a Doctoral program.

“The Learning, Design and Technology fully online program offers graduate certificates and master of education degrees in three concentrations (school specialist, training and development, and online teaching and learning) to allow students to align their academic pursuits to the professional objectives,” said Beth Oyarzun, program director and lead faculty member. “The courses are collaborative and project based allowing students to gain practical instructional design skills with their chosen learning content, context and tools. There are three full-time, award-winning faculty teaching the majority of the courses. The program has earned two Quality Matters program level certifications in program design.”

Florence Martin, program director of the Ed.D. in Learning, Design and Technology program said, “Students have the opportunity to work on real-world projects through various courses and also gain experience through internship and capstone projects.”

Cato College of Education’s graduate special education programs rank 10th in the nation for 2021. The special education programs include: a M.A.T. in Special Education (K – 12), a M.Ed. in Special Education and Child Development with concentrations in applied behavior analysis, academically or intellectually gifted, and special education.

“Our program comprises a wonderful community of professionals committed to the improvement of education, quality of life and dignity of people who may be left on the margins because they learn differently,” said LuAnn Jordan, associate professor and program director. “We provide options to learn and grow at a variety of program levels and for a range of students from newcomers to long-time education professionals.”

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are calculated based on: engagement: quality online bachelor’s degree programs promote participation in courses, allowing students opportunities to readily interact with their instructors and classmates, as is possible in a campus-based setting; services and technologies: programs that incorporate diverse online learning technologies allow greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance; faculty credentials and training: strong online programs employ instructors with academic credentials that mirror those of instructors for campus-based programs, and they have the resources to train these instructors to teach distance learners; and expert opinion: a survey of high-ranking academic officials helps account for intangible factors affecting program quality that are not captured by statistics.