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May 28, 2016 08:26 AM EDT

Best Online Programs 2016: Number Of Students Opting For Flexible Online Programs Continue To Rise!

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Students enrolling in distance education courses have an opportunity to pick flexible online programs for finishing degrees, upraising or changing their careers and acquire new skills.

The number of students joining in distance education courses is continuously rising.

In 2015, the Babson Survey Research Group released data that divulged a 3.7 percent hike from fall 2012-2013 in the number of U.S. higher education students opting for at least one distance education class.

Although the aforementioned statistic notes the most sluggish rate of growth in over a decade, online courses continue to remain a feasible option for thousands of people, motivated by career preparation, according to survey data released by Aslanian Market Research in association with Aslanian Market Research, U.S. News reported.

Check Out Some Of 2016's Top Programs

Bachelors: For the second year in a row, Penn State-World Campus grabbed the number one spot among bachelor's program, neck and neck with Embry-Riddle, which tied for the fifth spot in 2015. Western Kentucky University saw a one spot drop that landed it on third spot, while the University of Illinois-Chicago dropped two spots to fourth.

Some major ranking changes this year include University of Georgia's shift to No. 5 spot from a tie at No. 90 in 2015, and West Texas A&M University propelling to a tie at No. 11, from a tie at No. 119.

Graduate MBA: An array of remarkable online MBA degree programs exists. These encompass human resources MBA programs and executive MBA programs available from leading business schools. Some of the best online MBA programs in the U.S. include the Temple University, Indiana University, and University of North Carolina, according to a list of best online bachelor degrees, top colleges on US News University Directory.

Graduate Business:  Indiana University-Bloomington retained its No. 1 spot among online non-MBA business master's degree programs. The University of Connecticut, on the other hand jumped one spot to grab the second position. No. 3 spot was taken by Arizona State University., and the University of Texas-Dallas fell to fourth place in the rankings.

Graduate Engineering: There are several noteworthy online engineering master's degree programs as well as online engineering doctorate programs offered by some of the leading online engineering colleges.

The University of California-Los Angeles ranks No. 1 among online engineering master's degree programs. . The University of Southern California rose to No. 2 spot this year from No. 3 spot last year.

Graduate Criminal Justice: A slew of exceptional online master's degrees are available in criminal justice - from forensics programs to law enforcement leadership programs are available from leading universities.

The University of California-Irvine dropped from its No. 1 spot last year, to No. 4 this year - Boston University grabbed the No. 1 spot this year.

Computer Information Technology (IT): There are several first-rate online master's degree in IT programs as well as online doctoral IT degree programs available in some of the best universities.

The University of Southern California tuned out to be the best of the lot, closely followed by Johns Hopkins University, Penn State-World and Virginia Tech, Boston University.

Graduate Education: There are many online master's degree in education, and some of them are exceptionally good.

The University of Florida turned out to be this year's star university earning the No. 1 spot, a 12 spot jump in the online education program ranking - It was a tie with the University of Houston, which held the top rank last year.

Graduate Nursing: Several leading nursing schools offer an array of online master's in nursing programs as well as online PhD in nursing.

From a tie for third in 2015, the University of South Carolina rose to No. 1 spot this year, with the Medical University of South Carolina falling one spot to No. 2.

The third spot was taken by St. Xavier University.

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