The Real Cost of Online Degree Rankings

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The Real Cost of Online Degree Rankings

There are a lot of online education directory websites (owned by marketing firms) that offer rankings of online programs based on a wide variety of program characteristics. But, is the information they present unbiased, accurate, and based on criteria that are most relevant to you, the student? And, just who benefits from these published rankings?  Presumably, they help you save money on an online degree?

Published rankings, like the “2018 Most Affordable Online Colleges for a Master’s in Accounting”, have been created for the purpose of marketing programs. They shouldn’t be confused with unbiased, accurate, information that will help you make the best decision on what online programs to consider if cost is important to you.

It’s worth a closer look

Let’s take a closer look. The first ten of 24 online Master of Accounting programs ranked by the website referenced above for affordability are shown in the table below. I spent two hours reviewing the actual program websites for these online programs. See my notes on this list in the column called ODD Evaluation of Top Ten. These illustrate some of the problems frequently found with this type of ranking analysis.

search online master of accounting programs

(Sources: https://www.onlineu.org/most-affordable-colleges/accounting-masters-degrees and web searches by OnlineDegreeDatabase.com)

The #1 program in this ranking is offered at National Paralegal College. This institution is accredited by DEAC, a national accrediting body for distance education programs. Online programs offered by institutions with this accreditation may be less appealing than those offered at regionally accredited institutions.  And, in fact, the methodology posted on this website explicitly states that only regionally accredited institutions are included in their rankings analyses. Well…

The tuition published here is ‘Annual Tuition’ which is not Total Tuition. If you are searching for an online Master of Accounting degree and have thought about what you can afford to pay, you are likely thinking in terms of total tuition, not annual tuition. And, many online programs offer students full-time and part-time options. What you pay is determined by how many courses you take each year. So, this makes the annual tuition detail somewhat misleading, and at best, confusing.

Three of the programs listed here aren’t even Master of Accounting degrees. The first, at National Paralegal College, is a Master of Taxation degree, which does not prepare you to sit for the CPA exam. Two others, at Tennessee Wesleyan University and University of North Alabama, are online MBA programs with Accounting concentrations.

Emporia State University’s online Master of Accounting program’s tuition varies by student residency. In-state total tuition is $10,680, but this detail is missing.  Only the out-of-state or one-rate (unified) tuition is apparently referenced above.

The tuition reported for Tennessee Technical University is completely wrong, even if you multiply what they have here by two, to account for the difference between annual and total tuition. However, I must say that finding the correct tuition on this program’s website was very difficult. But after about 20 minutes of searching, I found a statement on the program website that said the tuition for the online program is the same as the tuition for the online MBA at this institution. The actual tuition is higher than what’s posted on this list. Finding costs on online program websites is frequently difficult — check out my blog on this here.

For the record…

Picking one online education directory was necessary to make my point. But frankly, most other online education directories do this too. See U.S. News & World Report Rankings, Poets & Quants, onlinemba.com, etc. The purpose of these rankings is to get the attention of students searching for online degrees. Even I use this approach to drive eyeballs to my website, but my rankings use up-to-date data from my unique database. I don’t generate leads or market specific programs with my ranking reports.

We’re on a mission to help our industry do better. We owe it to you, the student, who is researching online degree options, to provide accurate, unbiased information about online degree programs! And we owe it to some truly great online degree programs that might not get the visibility that other programs do because they don’t have a large advertising budget.

The Online Degree Database Difference

If you used this list to start searching for the right online Master of Accounting program, you might overlook some very good programs that are not included here. This is my biggest concern about published rankings of any kind.

The Online Degree Database painstakingly collects the actual online Master of Accounting tuition data from university program websites. We gather program details for all of the most popular online degrees, including the MBA, MPA, MHA, MSN, MSW, and more.

Here’s what we found when we ranked our online Master of Accounting programs in the Online Degree Database by affordability only, using total program tuition for out-of-state / one-rate (unified) programs:

2018 Most Affordable Online Master of Accounting Programs
(Source: www.onlinedegreedatabase.com, 2018)

The programs in the table above are all from regionally accredited institutions. They are the low cost-subset of 91 total online Master of Accounting programs currently found in the Online Degree Database.  Nine of these programs are 100% online, and the other, Wilmington University, offers a low residency program where 90% of the curriculum is delivered online. Five programs – Boise State University, University of South Dakota, Emporia State University, University of West Florida, and Southern Utah University – are AACSB-accredited. American Public University’s program is accredited by ACBSP and Wilmington University’s program IACBE-accredited.

If you happen to live in Kansas and want to get an online MAcc, then Emporia State University offers your lowest cost option.

Only three programs (Boise State University, Wilmington University, and Emporia State University) from the first list are on the more accurate list from Online Degree Database. Our list includes SEVEN other programs that are actually Master of Accounting programs with lower total tuition than the first list provided.

Search online degrees using the BEST source

We have the best source for searching online degree programs. With our database, you can develop an accurate list of online degree programs using the criteria that are most important to you.  Visit our Available Programs page, and select online degree programs by degree type, tuition range, professional accreditation, GMAT requirement, location, and more. The reports we provide are FREE to you. Generate as many reports as you need. We don’t ask for your contact information because we are not a marketing firm looking to sell leads.

And, one more thing

Once you’ve narrowed down your degree choices using the Online Degree Database, consider hiring an expert to help you make your final decision. Check out the innovative new consulting services offered by Clear Degree. They offer students like you professional, personalized assistance in finding the best degree program at a better price in less time, and can save you thousands of dollars in time and tuition.

Universities, work with the Online Degree Database directly to access unique and relevant intelligence about the online degree market. Contact Michelle at michelle@onlinedegreedatabase.com for more information.

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