Covering Louisiana

Jan 9, 2014 1:09 PM by AP

La. colleges lagging in online degree programs

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana didn't have a good showing in U.S. News and World Report's 2013 ranking of online degree programs, with only four universities ranked in the top 200.

However, the state's poor representation on the list doesn't necessarily mean Louisiana programs are lacking in quality.

Instead, college administrators offered a number of reasons why Louisiana schools might be lagging behind counterparts in other states. They tell The Advocate the most likely reason is that Louisiana's programs are newer and haven't had time to establish themselves.

LSU, for example, has had a smattering of online programs in the past, but didn't really make a strong push into the online marketplace until March. Southern University also just recently got into the act within the past year.

Of the Louisiana schools included in the U.S. News rankings, Loyola University had the best showing, coming in at 32nd.

Of the state's four public university systems, the nine-school University of Louisiana system had the best showing with three of its schools receiving the following ranks:

-Northwestern State University in Natchitoches came in at 108th.

-Nicholls State University in Thibodaux ranks 141st.

-The University of Louisiana at Monroe is ranked 160th.

Other Louisiana schools were listed in the report, but were not ranked.

Karla Hughes, the UL system's executive vice president and provost, attributed her system's representation on the list to the fact the schools have been at it longer than other institutions from around the state.

Hughes said the mark of a good online degree program is one that is designed around an already strong traditional program at the school.

"You have to draw on the strengths of the institution and the faculty has to be committed," Hughes said. Another hallmark of a strong program, she added, is one where schools incorporate a broad range of student support services.

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