USM online degree programs rank among nation’s top


Affordable Colleges Online recognized The University of Southern Mississippi as one of the Best Online Master’s Degree for 2016.

Southern Miss ranked sixth among thousands of U.S. colleges with online master’s degree options. According to its website, AC online ranked the universities based on “factors students care about.” These factors include affordability, accessibility and quality. AC Online has distinguished its ranking scale by using a Peer-Based Value metric, or PBV.

The primary data points used to identify this recognition were in- state tuition and fees, percent of full-time undergraduate students receiving institutional financial aid, number of online programs offered and student-to-teacher ratio.

“We believe tuition should be at the forefront of the higher education conversation, so we manually research and standardize tuition data in order to make it straightforward and easily accessible,” ACO’s webpage states.

Southern Miss offers more than 20 online master’s degree in business, education, music, nursing and health related fields. It also offers bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. programs, as well as workforce training.

Interim Director of the Office of Online Learning Tom Hutchinson said the success behind the online programs is because of qualified faculty.

“Our faculty online is the same faculty we have here on-campus,” Hutchinson said. “The quality of their work and how they operate on campus resembles exactly what is done online in order to give students that face-to-face type of interaction through distant teaching.”

Through distance learning, students benefit from certificate programs, supplemental endorsements, single courses and hybrid and executive programs.

“Earning an MBA seemed like one of those hard, unobtainable things that were only meant for CEO’s and corporate sky-rises, or those who wanted to stay in school forever,” said Katherine Miller who earned her Master’s in Business Administration. “But I’ve actually learned it shows your willingness to work hard and advance your own industry understanding.”

Miller said that as an undergrad student, there is a lot of learning in the process, but as a graduate student there is more applying involved.

“Getting my master’s degree at Southern Miss was so unique because there is an energy at USM you can’t replicate anywhere else,” Miller said. “I wish I could have experienced courses in the new business building, but even with taking online courses, the professors are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the students are understanding the information.”

As tedious responsibilities become more and more demanding, many students across the nation are selecting an online education.

“Southern Miss offers an extremely affordable online program so that we can make education attainable to as many students as possible. It is such an honor for our university to be recognized for such a thing because it elevates awareness around the country of what Southern Miss has to offer,” Hutchinson said.