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CU Denver Online ranks as one of best online schools

CU online is lauded for its support of women in STEM.
Photo Courtesy of AFCEA Tokyo

The programs have flexibility and diversity

CU Denver online programs were recently featured as one of the top online programs in the country. According to the SR Education Group—an organization designed to promote accessible and affordable online university programs—CU Denver was listed as a top university in multiple rankings regarding both its excellence in student support and affordability.

CU Denver was featured on the 2018 best online schools for women in STEM, 2018 most affordable online colleges for women in STEM, and the top 2018 disability-friendly online colleges. According to SR Education Group’s Marketing Manager, Nicole Hopler, the top schools for women in STEM and disability-friendly rankings are determined by “using a combination of manually researched tuition rates, academic strength [of the program], and STEM-friendly and disability-friendly scores.” These are scores which indicate how supportive the programs are to female and disabled students. The most affordable online colleges for women in STEM is based on both “affordability and support for female STEM students,” Hopler said.

The rankings were determined through data collected from school’s official websites, the American Society for Engineering Education,  and the National Center for Education Success. The STEM-friendly score is calculated by the combination of multiple factors, including the percentage of female STEM graduates, the number of online STEM degrees offered, and online support. The disability-friendly score is calculated with an aggregate of factors, such as types of services provided for students with hearing, visual, speech or learning impairments, thoroughness of online resources, and universal design for learning training.

Hopler finds these rankings particularly important because although women make up about 50 percent of the country’s workforce, they only make up “one quarter of the STEM workforce.”

The Academic Services Director for CU Online, David Thomas, isn’t surprised at CU Denver’s positive rankings.

To Thomas, what sets CU Denver apart from other online programs or online colleges is that the online programs are engrained within the normal academics. “If you take a psychology course online, it’s the same people who teach the ground unit—the same content. It’s transcripted the same,” Thomas said. “Our approach enriches the experience for everyone. We have smart, dedicated faculty with a lot of technology skills.”

By having mainly “hybrid” students, students who take classes both online and in the classroom, CU Online has been able to provide a certain flexibility that has resulted in a slightly increased graduation rate for students who take online courses. Thomas believes this may be due to the increased flexibility the online format offers, so  students can complete their degree while working around their busy schedules.

However, with over 20 full online degrees offered, there are 1,655 students taking all online courses this semester, according to Academic and Student Success Manager, Corey Edwards. For online students, the CU Online staff stresses constant communication with its students. The “enrollment navigator” team works to stay in contact with off-campus students to ensure that they’re not running into any issues with their coursework, and can still feel connected to the university.

Full-time online student Elizabeth Marsh, who also writes for The Sentry, can attest to this. “The online student experience at CU Denver has been priceless to me,” Marsh said. “I work a demanding full-time corporate job and have found the accessibility of CU staff and professors to be comprehensive.”

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