U.S. News gives Mason online programs high marks

George Mason University’s national profile continued to climb in the latest assessment of online programs by U.S. News and World Report.

The university’s online master’s program in applied information technology is ranked 36th among U.S. institutions, and its online master’s program in accounting is tied for 63rd.

“The ranking not only speaks to the uniqueness of the program but also the sought-after graduates that the program produces,” Daniel Garrison, director of distance education in George Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering, said of the applied information technology master’s program.

Said Karen Kitching, director of Mason’s master’s in accounting program in the School of Business: “Our courses are designed to advance our students’ professional acumen, rather than teach basic accounting, while helping students meet the 150-hour CPA licensing requirement.”  

U.S. News defines distance education programs as those in which all required coursework can be completed through internet-based learning technologies with synchronous or asynchronous contact between students and instructors.

In judging the best online programs, U.S. News based its rankings on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, student services and technology, and admissions selectivity.

Garrison said Mason’s students in applied information technology are taught mission-critical leadership skills and technical foundations. They also learn system design, development and management.

“Before even graduating, many students are already highly placed in industry and government,” Garrison said. “This not only adds to the richness of discussion within courses but the integrity of the program and its graduates.”

In the online accounting program, students are taught advanced and emerging topics, such as fraud and governance. Soft skills such as communications, leadership and teambuilding, and technology skills that include data analytics, are reinforced throughout the curriculum, Kitching said.

There also is a mandatory week-long global residency requirement in which students travel with a Mason professor to a foreign country—France is the May 2017 destination—to meet business leaders, and study how global environments impact accounting and business.

“As far as I know, Mason is the only [master’s degree in accounting] program requiring global residency,” Kitching said.

The rankings are the latest accolades for Mason, which is one of 115 universities ranked in the highest tier of research institutions in the country by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.