U.S. News & World Report has ranked the Clemson University College of Education as the #1 online graduate education program in the nation in 2024. Master’s programs across all three departments in the College have maintained the top overall spot, which it has held for six of the last seven years.
According to C.C. Bates, interim associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Education, maintaining this ranking for so many consecutive years sends a clear indication of quality to prospective students, those currently in the program and alumni of these programs making an impact in schools across the country.
She said the ranking also continues to signify the hard work put into curriculum design, delivery and innovation by faculty and staff.
“I know I speak for our entire College when I say we are proud of everyone involved in these programs, from College leadership to faculty and staff to each and every student,” Bates said. “Our faculty and staff work diligently to keep our programs relevant, engaging and convenient for students, and we have continued shaping them based on student needs and feedback. Every voice in this process is valuable and contributes to this achievement.”
Programs included in the overall ranking include the M.Ed. in teaching and learning, the M.Ed. in special education and the M.Ed. educational leadership. The teaching and learning program offered by the college remained highly ranked, while the educational leadership program rose six places to enter the top 10 in this category nationwide.
Bates said these programs are among those the College has innovated and improved due to demand from current and prospective students. It has become clear to College faculty and staff that working professionals in education have an increased desire for quality online graduate programs that allow them to further their careers while on the job.
Bates said student demand increased the emphasis on online program delivery. College faculty and staff agreed that prioritizing this method of instruction not only meets student needs but also aligns with Clemson University’s land-grant mission to serve the state of South Carolina. Online delivery of top-ranked programs allows the College to reach areas of the state that would be impossible through face-to-face instruction.
“Many of our graduate students are in rural areas, already working or both; it is not possible for them to be on campus to get the advanced degrees to further their careers and better impact their workplace,” Bates said. “Our programs allow the College to provide an environment of inclusive excellence and continuing education to teachers throughout the state and nation in both urban and rural areas, many of which do not have an institution of higher education nearby.”
Sarah Melton, a special education coordinator for the School District of Oconee County, recently graduated from the College’s M.Ed. in special education. She said the program’s availability online allowed her to work full-time in the district and stay involved in extracurricular activities.
Faculty plan out coursework for the entire semester, making it clear to students what the expectations are week to week. Melton said this clarity allowed her to create a weekly schedule around those assignments, spreading work out over multiple days to ensure she never got behind.
“That really made it possible to balance everything else in my life,” Melton said. “The faculty were also always available. Even though we did not meet face to face, they were always willing to meet individually. It is impressive that Clemson has a faculty that is, as a whole, so responsive to student needs through online instruction.”
Melton said the skills she learned in the program helped her to confidently support teachers in implementing behavioral interventions with students. She said the program also allowed her to understand how to meet the needs of students academically through Data Based Individualization, a research-based process for individualizing and intensifying interventions with students. Melton has gone on to present this practice at roundtables and webinars with other educators across the state, and she said connections made in the graduate program made these opportunities possible.
Achieving a top ranking requires a dedication to program quality and a determined commitment to graduating each student who enters the program. According to U.S. News, the highest-ranked programs at the master’s level perform well on traditional metrics — such as having selective admissions and credentialed faculty — while also successfully adapting their course delivery for educating students remotely. U.S. News provides comprehensive data and ranking of online programs to prospective students.
The College of Education offers master’s and educational specialist degrees that prepare professionals for teaching, school administration, counseling, human resources and leadership in higher education and athletics. The College offers many classes online to maximize accessibility and maintain quality.
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