Do Rankings Really Matter When You Shop For The Best Online Programs?

Create your own "Best" programs rankings

Are you currently searching the web for best online programs in your field of interest? We collect a significant amount of data from online program websites to share for free with prospective students. And we COULD develop a proprietary algorithm to create a variety of “best” rankings of online degree programs. But we think that there are already too many of these nonsensical rankings sources. It’s truly unfortunate that most are taken seriously as a way to evaluate the quality of  online programs.

What thoughtful person isn’t curious about online degree programs that are, allegedly, the Most Affordable or the Best? But, be careful. Researching online program options is an overwhelming task as thousands of programs are now online. This could lead you to find short-cuts to select your best online programs based only on a few web-based sources that bill themselves as “authoritative”.

You ultimately OWN your purchase decision when you take shortcuts to pick an online degree. Why would you rely on marketing firms who are using rankings to market programs?  You can do your own evaluation based on what’s most important to you using the Online Degree Database.

Here are 3 of many possible examples that prove the rule on why you should create your own short-list of online programs to consider. You don’t have to accept rankings offered by marketers as authoritative.  Most are inherently biased and vastly under-represent your available options.

Example One

There have been numerous stories in the media over the past few years documenting institutions caught providing false data to U.S. News & World Report. The US News methodology relies on institutions being truthful when providing their proprietary data annually in a survey. It also asks institutions to provide specific data points that may be difficult, if not possible, to provide. The pressure to perform well in U.S. News & World Report rankings creates the temptation to cheat or guess / estimate responses. This significantly undermines the value of these rankings to students. It’s a huge thorn in the side of institutions too who come under increasing pressure to rank highly.

Example Two

Many websites offer a listing of ‘Most Affordable Online Colleges’ or some other such tuition-related measure.  If you look at the way they create the rankings, you’ll find that the data used are usually very limited.  For example, one prominent site says their affordability ranking is created using one year’s tuition at both undergraduate and graduate levels. To their credit, they gather their data from the tuition pages on university websites and provide the link to the tuition page to verify these data. But the data are misleading because:

  1. Students generally want to know the total cost of the degree, not just one year’s tuition.
  2. Fees are left out of the annual cost equation (in the case of one #1 ranked institution, the graduate fully online fees raised the total cost per credit to $426 from the $255 reported on the website).
  3. Many institutions price online programs differently (e.g. the online MBA at one institution may be 20%+ more expensive than their online M.Ed. program). This simplistic ranking approach completely obscures this information and offers a misleading impression of real costs to you.

Example Three

Many websites use “proprietary multi-criteria optimization” algorithms that analyze key data points to come up with their rankings. It all sounds very impressive to anyone who is looking for help in finding their best online program.  But, the “multi-criteria” indicators are taken from widely available, high-level data that institutions report to the federal government. The lists of online programs they then feature are only those that pay them to gather prospective students leads. These are not necessarily the best options for you based on what’s most important to YOU.

This secret sauce approach to fancy modeling is a common trait among rankings websites. And they use rankings to game Google algorithms to earn higher SEO scores with large amounts of often meaningless content. How is this helpful to you when you are researching online degree programs for your best options?

Why Accept Less?

The Online Degree Database knows that it’s better for you to have all of the data to use in your decision-making. It’s not helpful to have a hastily-thrown-together, misleading summary of these data. We give you the data and the tools you need to create YOUR OWN FREE short-list of online degree programs. You choose the criteria and the approach that makes the most sense for you. Then you apply it to the universe of available programs in our database. We help you complete the due diligence that a purchase this important deserves!

And, we never ask for or sell your contact information to universities. Our university sponsorship program, a source of funding for the database, is attractive to universities for several reasons: They see the value in competing fairly against each other. And they agree that student enrollment should be driven by positive program characteristics, not the size of the online program marketing budget.

Create Your Own Short-List of Best Programs

We’ve created and published simple, unbiased rankings of online programs by program type using our data before. And we’ve demonstrated how our data are more reliable than what you find at other websites (check out our other blog posts). But with our data, you decide what is BEST. And as mentioned before, it’s free.

Use our interactive tool to select a degree program and complete your own “best” online program analyses. Generate as many free reports as you need to get the result you desire.

Take some time to consider these criteria:

  • Is the location (state) of the school a top priority for you?
  • Is it important that the program is professionally-accredited?
  • What is the total tuition of the program (total cost per credit as reported by the program website times the total credits required to complete the degree)?
  • Is the institution Public or Private? For Profit or Not-For-Profit?
  • What is the minimum GPA requirement you need based on your undergraduate transcripts?
  • Does the online program require a GMAT / GRE score for admissions consideration?
  • Are there specific concentrations you are interested in?

With nearly 5,000 online programs from over 950 institutions in the database (as of July, 2019), you know that the online program research you complete with our website is truly the very best possible.

Example of Personalized Best Online Programs

For our example, we use our interactive tool to generate a hypothetical “Best” online MBA programs short-list. Criteria selected for our best online MBA rankings example are hypothetical and random. They include:

  • Programs with total tuition less than $15,000
  • Undergraduate GPA required for admission to program is minimum 3.0 on 4.0 scale
  • Professionally accredited by AACSB
  • 100% online, does not require students to attend any part of the program on campus
  • Only include Not-For-Profit institutions

The five criteria represent one possible, straight-forward, personalized algorithm for defining BEST online MBA programs among many that are possible. We define “best” here as most affordable, AACSB-accredited, 100% online, with minimum 3.0 GPA requirement, at only not-for-profit institutions online MBAs. The 13 online MBA programs that fit our hypothetical criteria are shown in the table above.

But clearly there are other combinations of criteria available in our database that are more relevant to you. Resist the temptation to use marketing websites that promise the best but deliver limited information and use our database instead!

Data & Tools Designed To Meet Your Needs

Because you start your selection process with very close to the universe of available programs, your free reports are very unique and valuable products.  We help you cut through the misleading information offered elsewhere and give you what you really need to be sure you complete an accurate search: a personalized BEST online program list from the most accurate and complete source of online program information available.

The free report that identified this list of programs provides additional information about these institutions. It includes the location (state), degree name, and public/private institution status.  It also includes a link to the program website of the online MBA, so you can continue your research on your own. And, we’ve recently added more detail about the universities, which you can reach via a link on the free report too.

Create your personalized “Best Online Program” short-list today!

2018 Most Affordable Online Master of Accounting Degrees – No GMAT Required

Online Master of Accounting Degrees

Start your search for online Master of Accounting programs now!

Most Affordable Master of Accounting Degrees

If you are searching for the most affordable online Master of Accounting degrees, look no further! We have researched ALL of the available programs in the market to create our recommended list. Other websites only include the programs that they market. We know that finding the right online master of accounting program is a daunting task. With more than 91 of these online programs in the market today, prospective students spend hours, even weeks, of time researching and looking for their best program option. We carefully collect the information published on each institution’s website for the 2017-2018 school year* and select those programs with characteristics that are most important to you.

Our final list is comprised of 100% online Master of Accounting degrees with total tuition under $30,000. All are professionally-accredited. Only those programs that do not require interested students to submit GMAT scores with their applications made it to our final list. This list of criteria – 100% online, total tuition under $30,000, professionally accredited, no GMAT required – ensures that you can:

  • keep working full-time while you earn your degree (no required on-campus residencies)
  • be sure your program meets the highest standards for teaching and learning (AACSB or ACBSP-accredited)
  • pay a reasonable price (under $30K total tuition)
  • skip the time and effort of studying for and taking the GMAT exam, so you can move more quickly to meet your career goals!

Great Online Master of Accounting Programs

Here are the programs on our list again, but this time we also include the online program page hyperlinks to make it easy for you to check out the details of these programs on your own!

  1. Liberty University
  2. Plymouth State University
  3. Post University
  4. California Baptist University
  5. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
  6. Southern New Hampshire University
  7. Maryville University of Saint Louis
  8. DeVry University
  9. Kaplan University
  10. Colorado Technical University

As noted in the table at the top of this post, all programs noted here are professionally accredited. Clarion University of Pennsylvania is accredited by AACSB. The other nine programs are accredited by ACBSP. Liberty University and Maryville University of Saint Louis are nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Ranking. The remaining programs are at regionally ranked and unranked institutions.

Eight programs charge a unified rate of tuition, which means it costs the same for in-state and out-of-state students to attend the online program. The lowest total tuition is at Liberty University ($18,450). However, if you live in New Hampshire and qualify for in-state tuition rates, then the program at Plymouth State University is your lowest cost option ($16,560) on this list.  Colorado Technical University ($28,080) is number ten on our list.

More details on the admissions criteria for each of these programs are also presented in the table above. All programs require you to send transcripts from any institution of higher-education that you’ve attended. Most require applicants to pay an application fee, provide letters of recommendation, resumes, and statements of purpose. And most require a minimum GPA for applicants earned during their undergraduate education. Only a few require applicants to complete an interview with an admissions representative or complete essays.

The Online Degree Database Difference

What makes our Top Ten list special? No other website offers you an unbiased list of online programs based on information from the universe of available programs. In fact, if you use other published lists to start searching for the right online Master of Accounting program, you might overlook some very good programs!  See my post with a recent evaluation of this here. The Top Ten lowest total tuition online Master of Accounting programs, overall, are included in that post.

We are the best source of accurate, comprehensive, and free information for searching online degree programs. We have over 3,900 online degree programs from more than 900 institutions in our database.  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. Our reports are FREE to you. Generate as many reports as you like. We never ask for your contact information because we are not a marketing firm looking to sell leads, unlike other search websites.

Search for your best program options for online Master of Accounting, MBA, Master of Analytics, Master of Data Science, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Social Work, Master of Public Health, and many more of the most popular, career advancing programs. We also have details for online bachelor’s degrees in Business, Criminal Justice, Nursing, Social Work, and more!

We believe that students researching online degree options deserve accurate, unbiased information about online degree programs! And we believe that there are 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.

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.

*The Online Degree Database is not a marketing firm. Our goal is to provide prospective students with unbiased information about online programs from the universe of programs available in the market for free.

The Real Cost of Online Degree Rankings

Start your search for online Master of Accounting programs now!

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.