If you are a veteran looking for an online school, odds are good that Penn State could be the college for you.
U.S. News and World Report has named the university’s World Campus as the best online bachelor’s degree program for veterans.
“We are proud to serve those who have served our nation,” President Eric Barron said in an email. “At Penn State, we have developed multiple programs geared toward the distinct needs of our service members. We have one objective and that is to provide an education where and when our veterans need it so they can re-enter the workforce and succeed.”
“They looked at program reputation, faculty credentials, retention rate, graduate debt load, accreditation, participation in GI bill benefits, and Penn State participation in the Yellow Ribbon program,” said Ginny Newman, assistant director of defense sector education.
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All of that added up to Penn State leading the pack of 737 online degree programs, edging out No. 2 Daytona State and No. 3 Western Kentucky. The 2014 gold medalist, Central Michigan, fell to 12th place.
Penn State, however, appears to be poised to defend its position, coming on the heels of last year’s second-place win as best overall university for veterans, according to U.S. News. State College also netted first place among “Best Places for Veterans” from financial services group USAA.
The World Campus also has been named the best online program overall for bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News.
It is that intersection of online excellence and veteran focus that Newman says is instrumental.
“Veterans tend to be typical adult learners. They are older and they need flexibility and convenience. Online, they don’t need to travel, they could relocate, they could have families. An online education suits their needs,” she said.
They may also be continuing an online education they began while actively serving.
“As a veteran, when they transition out, they can be used to studying online,” Newman said.
Penn State World Campus will make that even easier come fall when it rolls out a new program at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, teaching defense and business courses thanks to a five-year agreement announced in March.
Graduate programs also were noted as veteran best bets. Penn State’s engineering, education, computer information technology and non-MBA business programs were all ranked fourth place. The World Campus MBA program was tied for No. 5.
“Service members study at all levels. What we see particularly with students choosing Penn State, online MBA students have the highest percentage of veterans of any online programs,” Newman said. “Particularly at the graduate level, they are looking for a world-renowned institution.”
Penn State has 4,000 veteran students, with 45 percent of those attending the World Campus.